5 Places to Get Your Chili Fix in Houston (While It's Chilly)
The Chili Shak
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt A chili cheeseburger at The Chili Shak.
At this relatively new Braeburn spot, there are huge stacks of napkins on each tidy table -- and that's because you'll need them for the wonderfully messy chili dogs and chili burgers The Chili Shak sells. True to its name, everything on the menu features chili. You can get a bowl of it all on its own, of course, which tastes like Wolf Brand chili made by someone's loving father. (This is a compliment, I promise.) But it's best on top of a Frito pie with jalapeños and fine shreds of cheese or on a big, beefy burger with mayo, lettuce, melting cheese and crunchy red onions.
Although it's not very Texan, Houstonians love the Greek-style chili at Houston's oldest hot dog restaurant. James Coney Island was founded in 1923 by Tom and James Papadakis, immigrant brothers from Kastelli Gravias, Greece. The Papadakis brothers sold their "secret recipe" chili for 15 cents a bowl and topped hot dogs with it, just as James Coney still does today. And although the ownership has changed since then, the Greek chili hasn't. It's still full of ground beef and beans, stewed together in a faintly sweet sauce that tastes of nutmeg. It's not full-on Cincinnati-style chili, but it's close. And it's still so popular that you can buy it frozen at the store, to go.
Honorable mention: Jus' Mac
Photo by Troy Fields
Even though it's not a bowl of chili, the chili-topped Chili Cheese macaroni and cheese skillet at Jus' Mac remains one of my favorite dishes in Houston. Get it with a wedge salad (for a little textural contrast and, my God, something green), split them both with a friend and enjoy this chilly weather while it lasts.
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5015 Kirby, Houston, TX