7 Places to Warm Up With Chili
These restaurants serve up some of the tastiest meat and beans in town.
Frustrated with this yo-yo weather? Warm one day, freezing the next – it’s enough to make us want to curl up with a bowl of chili, the kind of comfort food that’s good in any season. Here are some places that do right by this all-American favorite.
Lost Dog Café
This locally-grown institution, which started in Arlington and now has five locations in NoVA, serves up its chili Santa Fe-style. It’s a milder recipe featuring beef, beans, onions, cumin and chili powder. A vegetarian version is also available. Lost Dog’s sister restaurant, Stray Cat Café, also has both chilis on the menu.
Lost Dog Café, North Arlington, South Arlington and McLean, lostdogcafe.com
Ben’s Chili Bowl
The recipe for Ben’s chili con carne is a closely guarded secret, but we do know it includes 100 percent Angus beef, vegetables and a secret spice mix that gives it a kick. Ben’s wife and co-owner, Vida Ali, notes that even the process for making the chili is a secret. The restaurant also offers a vegan version that skips the beef, and a “condiment chili” (just the basics: beef, onions and spices) that is ladled atop Ben’s famous half smokes, hot dogs and hamburgers.
Ben’s Chili Bowl, 1725 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, benschilibowl.com
Pork Barrel BBQ
Start your feast at this popular Del Ray barbecue joint with a bowl of the house-made White Chicken Chili with fresh jalapenos and corn. The dark meat chicken is smoked in-house using oak and hickory, and the bowl is topped with crushed tortilla chips and shredded pepperjack cheese. Pork Barrel made this menu item permanent after it won a prize at the 2014 Taste of Del Ray.
Pork Barrel BBQ, 2312 Mount Vernon Ave., Del Ray, porkbarrelbbq.com
Busboys & Poets
Busboys & Poets in Shirlington serves a beef chili that will satisfy your hunger, as well as your craving for sustainable sourcing. The stand-out dish features grass-fed ground beef as its base and a sprinkling of blue-corn tortilla chips on top, plus a bountiful helping of beans, cheese, sour cream and scallions.
Busboys & Poets, 4251 South Campbell Ave., Arlington, busboysandpoets.com
Texas Jack’s Barbecue
Texas Jack’s is named after the Virginia cowboy John “Jack” B. Omohundro, and its barbecue roots make for a particularly tasty (and Instagrammable) chili that would entice any cowboy to chow down. The recipe combines a trifecta of meats — ground beef, smoked brisket and pork, all smoked in-house — plus plenty of shredded cheese and sour cream for a flavorful, rib-sticking meal in a bowl.
Texas Jack’s Barbecue, 2761 Washington Blvd., Arlington, txjacks.com
Pentagon City’s contribution to the barbecue craze is Epic Smokehouse, where the menu features a belly-filling crock of goodness that combines pork and smoked brisket, smoked jalapenos, black beans, fire-roasted plum tomatoes and a touch of honey. It’s then topped with red onion, aged cheddar and smoked chili aioli.
1330 S. Fern St., Arlington, epicsmokehouse.com
Spider Kelly’s on Clarendon’s hopping nightlife strip features a Two Alarm Chili Over Rice, which has been on the menu since the restaurant’s opening in 2008. The base is a homemade stock made from slow-roasted chicken bones, and the gluten-free dish includes an extra zing that comes from poblano and chipotle peppers. It’s topped with an ample amount of cheddar and jack cheeses.
Spider Kelly’s, 3181 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, spiderkellys.com