Do beans belong in chili? Is chili best served on a bed of rice, noodles, or on its own, accompanied with nothing but a chunk of corn bread? There are few food debates that have stirred the pot as much as trying to determine the algorithm on what constitutes a prefect bowl of chili. And unlike the “is a hot dog a sandwich” debate (it’s clearly a sandwich [Ed. note: No, it isn’t!]), the chili debate is not just limited to what the best way to prepare the hearty stew but to whose chili is the best. Southerners, particularly Texans who claim the stew as their official state food, will assert that their interpretation, which doesn’t include beans, is the only way to enjoy the comfort food classic and will condemn Northern-style chili, which typically is made with beans. While it all boils down to a matter of opinion, we cannot resist an old-fashion chili cook-off because they combine a few of our favorite things: food samples, competition, and overindulgence. Cook-offs are neck and neck with baseball when it comes to America’s favorite pastime. And with the help of the Brooklyn Chili Takedown we might finally settle the great chili debate once and for all. Well, at least until next year.
This Sunday at Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, Matt Timms, the founder of Takedowns and the reason for the surge of food competitions in Brooklyn, pits 30 local chefs against each other for this annual, no-rule chili takedown. Though a champion will be declared, both a judge and crowd favorite, all those who attend are the true winners of the festivities because whether it’s served with beans or not, there’s nothing better than an afternoon of eating.
But if Sunday is too far away and you really need to satisfy that chili fix, here are 14 chili joints around Brooklyn to help prep you for this weekend’s Takedown.
The Brooklyn Star
The Tripe Chili has two types of meats, bacon and ground beef; two types of the beans, pinto and blacks; and comes garnished with cilantro, radish, raw shallots. Oh, and it comes with a bag of Fritos to add some crunch to the mix. 593 Lorimer Street, Williamsburg
Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue
So Fletcher’s BBQ combines two of our favorite comfort foods: mac & cheese and chili. Unfortunately it’s only offered as a side, which is a total mistake. Like, how could you not offer this comfort food masterpiece as your signature dish? 433 Third Avenue, Gowanus
If you’re a fan of Nathan’s chili dogs, but are tired of the long lines on Coney Island then we suggest trying Crif Dogs’ chili dog that is made with their secret chili sauce. 555 Driggs Avenue, Williamsburg
You can’t go wrong with a side of chili cheese fries, especially if it’s paired with a chili cheddar dog because really, is there ever such a thing as too much chili? 282 Atlantic Avenue, Boerum Hill
Sunset Park Diner and Donuts
I don’t know what it is about diners, but they always seem to be the perfect places to eat comfort foods, like chili. This version is particularly tasty and should totally be followed with a donut. 889 5th Avenue, Sunset Park
Frito pies, like the one at Hollow Nickel, are the perfect late night treat after an evening of drinking. 494 Atlantic Avenue, Boerum Hill
Bark Hot Dogs
Why should chili only be served in a bowl? When there are hot dogs, burgers, and fries that need to be garnishing? 474 Bergen Street, Park Slope
I know what you’re thinking, isn’t chili on a burger just a sloppy Joe? In most cases yes, but the Chili ‘N’ Cheese Steakburger is definitely the exception. various locations
We are kind of partial when it comes to things that have ‘Brooklyn’ in their name. So when Mooburger whopped up their house made Brooklyn Chili we were instantly smitten. 240 Court Street, Cobble Hill
Bonnie’s Grill understands that vegetarians should never be excluded from enjoying a warm bowl of a this hearty stew. Sure, this meat-less chili would make Texans fuming mad, but in this case? We’re more than happy to mess with Texas. 278 Fifth Avenue, Park Slope
The Brooklyn Icehouse
When your soup of the day is consistently chili, you have to consider that maybe it’s a chef favorite. 318 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook
Contrary to belief, but turkey and vegetarian chilis are worthy contenders in the “great chili debate,” and OutPost Café is ready to prove those who think otherwise wrong. 1014 Fulton Street, Clinton Hill
While they offer their A.K. chili as a side, the real magic is in their Chili con Queso Nachos which has their special chili on top of a bed of tortilla chips, among other additions like pickled jalapenos and their house queso sauce. 604 Union Street, Gowanus
Their loaded nachos with beef chili are some of New York’s best nachos, but we feel that their Chili Cheeseburger is worth an honorable mention because you can never go wrong with bacon and chili. 247 5th Ave., Park Slope
Get your ticket for the Chili Takedown this Sunday, November 22 at the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club here.