Whenever friends or family come into town, they want me to take them “somewhere Austin-y” to eat. Oftentimes, I resort to a short list of Tex-Mex go-tos – Trudy’s, Polvos, Matt’s El Rancho – and the occasional BBQ joint, but I always feel like the city has so many more Austin-y options that I’m missing. As the weather dropped drastically this past week, I found myself craving some good, hearty chili, and was instantly reminded of an Austin institution that has never been one of my “out of towner must visits”, but should be.
I’m referring to Texas Chili Parlor.
Whether you are a local or an out of towner, Texas Chili Parlor is a must, especially with these cooler winter temperatures – chilly weather outside absolutely calls for some chili inside. A local favorite, Texas Chili Parlor has been an Austin staple since 1976. Their menu is an eclectic mix of Texas favorites (see above examples), but they are most well known for their chili – and only have 5-6 different chili options to choose from. Despite being the smallest portion of the menu, I find that my eyes head straight for the chili section. In fact, I don’t even think I’ve ever looked at any other section. Why bother when I know exactly what I came for – that delicious chili. When it comes to chili, the aptly named Texas Chili Parlor knows what it’s doing – each option is simple, adding no unnecessary ingredients, which really allows for the essence of the chili to be the star.
While I was in college, I ate at TCP a few times with my dad, but have kind of forgotten about it over the past two years. But, I’ve fallen in love with Texas Chili Parlor again, and I’ve fallen hard. In the past two weeks, my roommate and I have already been twice, with plans to go again in the next few days. Seriously, when you’re looking for good, down home, Texas chili, this place can’t be beat.
Their classic chili (which comes in three varieties – mild, spicy, and hot hot hot) is chili like your grandma used to make with tons of slow-cooked brisket rather than ground beef, jalapeños, onions, and NO beans (like a true Texas chili). Now, the Spicy version is the restaurant’s most popular, though I’ve only ever been able to handle the Mild version (with a few extra jalapeños).
When we visited the other night, I opted to try something new, and I got the sausage and bean chili with some melted cheese on top – man, was that stuff good! I had always been a sucker for the classic, but after a bite of that sausage & bean pair, I think I might be singing a new tune.
What I especially love about Texas Chili Parlor (aside from the flavor), is that you are given three different size bowls to choose from. If you get the large like I always do (which is MORE than enough for one meal), you have enough for lunch the next day. And if you’ve never had next-day chili, you’re in for a treat – I think once chili has had a little extra thickening time, it tastes even better!
Pair this stuff with a nice, local beer, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a Texas meal. Next time you’re in town, or just looking for something different to try, might I suggest checking out the Texas Chili Parlor? I feel confident when I say that you’ll be happy you did (and if not for the chili, for the eclectic, neighborhood atmosphere).