11 Killer Bowls of Chili Around Philadelphia

From all-veg versions to stews that include exotic meats
January 27, 2015
by Danya Henninger

Winter is best battled with a full stomach, and one of the easiest, most belly-warming ways to achieve that goal is by tucking into a grand crock of steaming chili. From all-veg versions to stews that include exotic meats, here are 11 fantastic chilis around Philadelphia.

1. Race Street Cafe

A blend of shredded steak, chicken and andouille sausage mingles with beans in the pot at this Old City tavern, where the tomato sauce picks up just enough heat from both chipotle and adobo peppers ($8.25).

2. McMenamin’s Tavern

A favorite spot for beer among Mt. Airy denizens, this old-school pub also does chili right, with beef, potatoes, carrots and celery swimming in a thick, lightly spicy stout stew. Served with a roll on the side for sopping up leftover sauce ($6).

3. Pork Chili at La Divisa Meats

Swing by Nick Macri’s new Reading Terminal Market stand (where Border Springs used to be) and check to see if he has his stewed pork chili available — made with a five-chile blend and lots of pinto beans, it’s a carry-home comfort dinner waiting to happen ($8/pint).

4. El Camino Real

Short rib is cubed and braised for this Texas-style chili at the Northern Liberties cantina, where the crock comes topped with plenty of cheddar, sour cream and jalapeños, along with flour tortillas on the side ($9).

5. Cook and Shaker 

A very hearty chili portion awaits hungry customers at this Kensington drinkery, where beef and beans are cooked with San Marzano tomatoes, carrots and onions and topped with cheddar, pita and pico de gallo ($12).

6. Tuk Tuk Real

Mexican and Thai flavors mix at this South Street taqueria, where the black bean-based chili is served over lemongrass rice and topped with sour cream and queso fresco ($7/cup; $10/bowl). Add a side of housemade tortilla chips for $1.

7. Taproom on 19th

Housemade “Fritos” and chihuahua cheese crumbles sit atop the smoky, garlic-tinged bowl of venison, black beans and red and green peppers at this deep South Philly pub, where the chili is taken as seriously as the red-sauce “gravy.”

8. Locust Rendezvous

One of the best dives in Center City does well by chili, where the beef-and-kidney-bean crock is spiced with jalapeños, cumin, coriander and a little cinnamon, then topped with shreds of cheddar ($5.25).

9. Varga Bar

Chef Evan Turney uses Kobe-style beef to make a rich chili at this Wash West beer haven, where he tops the bowl with horseradish crema and chives and serves it with grilled garlic bread ($7.50).

10. Fergie’s Pub

This Midtown Village mainstay takes its decor cues from the taverns of Ireland, but the menu has always been a mix of bar favorites from around the world, including the chili of house-smoked brisket and beans, which comes topped with melted cheese and plenty of sour cream ($9). Bonus: There’s also a vegetarian version, with portobello mushrooms ($7).

11. Good Stuff Eatery

At Spike Mendelsohn’s better burger joint in Rittenhouse, the “Uncle D's Famous Chili” is an homage to an actual Uncle Denny, whose catch phrase of “Put it in the chili!” inspired this spiced beef version, served with sour cream and house-baked corn bread ($6.50).

northern liberties
midtown village
bar food
washington square west
winter food