Chili Day at The Nosh
The Nosh has one more outdoor event this season, but it'll continue indoors through the winter. Check out more information about the festival by clicking here.
With Ramova gone, Lindy's is probably the best old school chili parlor left in the city, so I was really glad to see it included here. And just as I remembered from my chili roundup a few years ago, Lindy's chili has a great spice profile with tender ground beef. Of course, that's all hard to see under the topping of salty shredded cheese and crunchy onion, but those flourishes actually help the chili, giving it a bit of pop.
Paulina Meat Market
Considering it is one of Chicago's most respected butcher shops, it makes sense that Paulina would go for a fairly straightforward and meat-heavy version. But when you have such good meat, why would you mess around?
Even though it was filled with beef and chilies, Taco Joint's offering was basically just carne en su jugo (the chef was totally upfront with the info to me). Not that there is anything wrong with that, especially if you're like me and love the stuff. The liquid was thinner than the other bowls, and with a very strong chili presence that was lightened somewhat by the sliced radishes and cabbage. This was another example of why I liked this event. Instead of a whole bunch of chili trying to do the same thing, each bowl was unique.
Crazee Heart (self-described as "Americana meets Honkytonk") seemed to be about the perfect band to have for the event.
I didn't know quite what to expect from Kuma's Too. Best known for its enormous burger, I prepared myself for the something extraordinarily meaty, spicy, and out of control. Yet, thanks to a generous pour of PBR, this was actually one of the most balanced bowls at the event. The beer added a slight sweetness, which cut though the heavy elements of the chili. All in all, one of my favorites.
My other contender for best in show came from the Asian-inspired Bento Box. The Bucktown joint's lamb curry chili was distinctively spiced and meaty, with a pleasant heat that was balanced by a cooling dollop of sour cream. Of all the offerings, this is the one that I couldn't help but finish. In fact, I kind of wish I'd gotten a bigger bowl.
Pecking Order's smoked ham and white bean chili was thick and very meaty. Personally, I would have liked some acid to help enliven each bite, but if you were after something that would immediately warm up your insides, this was your bowl.
After all the heavy versions, it was nice to end with a bowl of Plenty's chili verde. Instead of thick, this one was brothy and acidic, mostly thanks to the tomatillos. Not exactly what I crave when I want chili, but it was delicious nonetheless.