Best Chili Dishes In Washington DC

January 8, 2014 8:00 AM

(credit: Thinkstock)

No chili is created equal. With so many tasty options, it’s hard to crown the best chili dish in the DC area. Put your taste buds to the test and visit these restaurants to compare delicious recipes. Determine the spices, meats and ingredients that suit your palate so you know what to look for – these recipes will likely surprise you.

Ben’s Chili Bowl
1213 U St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 667-0909

A DC institution, Ben’s Chili Bowl opened on U Street in the late 1950s. There are many loved variations of chili, mostly used as toppings, and sauces available, including veggie chili. The infamous chili sauce is a secret family recipe. Chili goes on practically everything at the restaurant: chili dogs, chili burgers, chili fries, chili cheese fries and chili and eggs. The most popular dish is the chili half smoke – once ordered by President Obama himself. Ben’s Chili Bowl also has a location in the Nationals stadium.

RelatedBest Places For Chili In DC In 2012

Gallery Place
707 7th St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 349-3700

Clyde’s has 10 locations in the Washington, DC area. The family restaurant and saloon is a welcoming gathering place for all. The Penn Quarter location is steps from the Verizon Center. Clyde’s chili appetizer is a classic and attracts many. It is so liked that it is even served on Old Ebbitt Grill’s menu. Clyde’s is open late, so chili is often served as a late night snack at the bar. The chili is rather simple and served with cheddar cheese or onions.

Hard Times
3028 Wilson Blvd
Arlington VA, 22201
(703) 528-2233

After Hazel’s Texas Chili Parlor in DC closed shop in the late 60s, brothers Fred and Jim Parker took it upon themselves to open another restaurant with excellent chili. Now, Hard Times is a small regional chain and has 16 locations in Virginia, DC and Maryland. There are four types of chili, none made with beans: Texas, Cincinnati, Terlingua and vegetarian – Cincinnati is the most ordered. The chili can be ordered as an appetizer, entrée, side or served as a topping. Owners recommend pairing chili with a Hard Times lager or home-made onion rings. The atmosphere in Hard Times is laid back and it’s a great place to watch sports with friends.

Lost Dog Café
5876 Washington Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22205
(703) 237-1552

Lost Dog Cafe is a gourmet pizza deli with four locations in the DC area. The restaurant deems its Santa Fe style chili as “soon to be famous.” The chili is mild, served in a cup or bowl and topped with shredded cheese and green onions. Chili is presented on its own or over spaghetti. Lost Dog has a sister restaurant, Stray Cat Cafe. The owners started a charity foundation to rescue stray cats and dogs from being euthanized, finding homes for the animals – hence the restaurants’ names. Stray Cat Cafe offers two chili dishes, one being vegetarian.

Peacock Cafe
3251 Prospect St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 625-2740

Peacock Café is a modern French-American restaurant and bar in Georgetown. Not necessarily known for its chili dishes, there is a yummy and highly acclaimed vegetarian chili on the appetizer menu that is made with tomato, beans, mushrooms, beans and tofu and topped with cheese and sour cream. Tofu is not a common chili ingredient, making Peacock Café’s option hard to find and rare among the rest.

Related: Best Hot Dogs In Washington, DC

Kelly Johnston is a freelance writer living in D.C. She graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in Fashion Retail and Merchandising and a minor in Journalism. Her work can be found at

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