Chili for the holidays? Why the heck not!
December 20th, 2011
07:00 AM ET
Share this on:

Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.

In the Hall of Fame of holiday foods - gingerbread men, roast prime rib, potato latkes - chili is what you’d call a holiday underdog. Unless you’re a major player in the competitive chili circuit, it’s probably not a big part of your Christmas tree decorating or stocking stuffing. (And even if you are a chili champion, hopefully you know where to draw the line.)

Still with all the monumental things people are doing with chili these days, I just might shake up my holiday menu. Maybe my family will decorate bowls of chili instead of cookies? Just thinking.

Chili, the restaurant
Lucky 777 Chili just opened in New York City (just in time for the holidays, I’d like to note). They serve just three kinds of chili—pork, turkey and vegetarian bean. But the 777 does come into play and not as a one-off Satanic reference: for their signature pork chili they use seven kinds of pork (sausages count, too), seven sauces and seven spices. If you want to start celebrating the holidays with chili you can mail-order containers of each variety of chili.

Chili, the five-way
Boy, chili aficionados like their numbers. Five-way, of course, refers to the maximum number of accompaniments that the beloved Ohio institution Skyline Chili will serve with their namesake dish. (Indiana, Kentucky and Florida are all now lucky enough to have their own Skylines.) Three-way chili is the signature: spaghetti topped with secret ingredient chili and a hefty amount of shredded cheese. The four-way adds diced onions or red beans; the five-way adds both.

Chili, the breakfast staple
Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington, DC, is a chili extravaganza. They have high-profile fans like Bill Cosby (who hosted their 50th birthday party; in return they named a sandwich after him) and a chili-focused menu: chili con carne, chili burgers, chili dogs, chili burger subs. If you can think of it, they probably have it, with chili on top. Even better you can have it, almost 24-7. Monday through Thursday, you can eat chili from 6 am to 2 am; Fridays you can eat it until 4 am. On Saturdays, you have to wait until 7 am to start ordering chili at Ben’s.

Chili, the diet option
When I think of chili, I don’t think about my diet. And when I think of The Cheesecake Factory, I'm also not thinking about my diet. My bad. CF’s white chicken chili (which also includes white beans, green chiles and a touch of cream) has pride of place on their SkinnyLicious menu, along with the Skinny Mojito, Skinny Margarita and Skinny Long Island Iced Tea. (Now we’re talking holidays!)

Previously - A chili cook-off and Chilly weather means chili weather

More from Food & Wine:

Delicious Chili Recipes

Best Fried Chicken in the U.S.

Best Pizza Places in the U.S.

Christmas Cookies

Best Burgers in the U.S.

© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

Posted by:
Filed under: Chili • Christmas • Content Partner • Dishes • Food and Wine • Hanukkah • Holidays • HolidayShopping • Kwanzaa

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Lana

    Skyline Chili is hands down THE BEST, ever period. Cincinnati is THE chili capitol of the mid-west. We have more chili parlors than anywhere in the country.

    December 20, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  2. Multi-Tasking @ Work

    Christmas Eve we always made White Chicken Chili with cornbread, taco's and a build your own pizza's. we always have about 30 family members over...Christmas Day is always a traditional dinner. of course, losing weight after New Years is a must, lol. got to indulge a little

    December 20, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  3. Charlotte

    Don't know what all this "chili" stuff is. In New Mexico, the proper spelling is "chile." They must be talking about TexMex :)

    December 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  4. Deneen

    Skyline isn't chili. It's just...not. Sorry. Having said that, what's wrong with chili for Christmas? With corn bread and a cold Noche Buena? That's the stuff!

    December 20, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • AleeD

      Skyline chili may not be traditional American chili, but it is deee-licious Greek chili. Warms you up on a cold day juuuust so.

      December 20, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • dlaw1313

      either you haven't ate it before or your retarded cause its the best chili ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      December 20, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
      • Relayman5C

        Skyline is wonderful, but so is Texas chili. They're just different ways of making chili. I don't think I've met a chili I didn't like. I do have to put hot sauce on Skyline to make it spicy enough, though.

        December 20, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
      • Deneen

        Wrong on both accounts, genius. Skyline tasted OK, but I would never describe it as chili, that's all. And if I couldn't capitalize or choose the proper form of "you're," I'd be real careful what names I threw around. But I imagine this comment will be totally lost on you.

        December 21, 2011 at 10:34 am |
      • KungFu Master@Deneen

        Be calm grasshoppah. It's obvious that dlaw has an IQ of 13. Learn tolerance for those less fortunate than you.

        December 21, 2011 at 10:38 am |
  5. DocOrlando

    There's nothing remotely satanic about 777 anyway; 666, perhaps.

    December 20, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  6. Kendra

    Maybe my family is just odd, but our traditional Christmas Eve dinner has always been a nice pot of chili homemade by my dad (the only thing he'd willingly cook, and we'd willingly eat made by him LOL). Then the leftovers (cold, of course) were set out in a bowl with a glass of milk for Santa (also my dad!). I don't eat chili the rest of the year; no one makes it like dad, and it would just be wrong!

    December 20, 2011 at 10:49 am |
| Part of