When there is a nip in the air, many Philadelphians start thinking of one thing (no, not the Flyers or Snuggies): chili. Philadelphia-dwellers love their chili. Whether it’s meaty, beany or veggie, everyone seems to have an opinion about chili. Here are some local favorites.
Hours: Mon-Sat: 11:30 a.m. – 2 a.m.; Sun: 4 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Price: $7 – $9
Fergie’s, a classic Irish pub and neighborhood institution since 1994, seems like a strange place to find great chili. But according to Philadelphia Weekly, it’s the best thing on the pub’s menu. Fergie’s serves two types of chili: vegetarian chili, which is made from scratch and includes tomatoes, peppers and portabellos in a bread bowl; and brisket chili, a slow-cooked chili con carne with melted cheddar and jack cheese topped with sour cream. Go for the bowl of comfort, but stay for the twice-a-week games of Quizzo or the live Irish music every Saturday night. You may have just found your new neighborhood pub.
A Full Plate Café and Catering hosted a chili cook-off in June of 2011, and Northern Liberties’ Darling’s Diner competed against many worthy opponents and won first place for its vegan veggie chili. It also has a very tasty beef chili, and both can be had for a paltry $6.99. This cool diner is always open, so stop in for your bowl of choice anytime.
Hours: Mon-Thurs: 9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.; Fri- Sat: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Sun: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Price: $2.95 – $12.95
This modestly-priced chili has had more awards heaped upon it than Lady GaGa has latex. If you’re a newbie, Timmy himself will offer you a sample, after which you won’t be able to resist. Timmy D’s is kid-friendly and always has a good mix of regulars and new customers. Besides the chili, regulars rave about the sandwiches: the authentic roast pork with broccoli rabe and sharp provolone and the Milan panini with fresh Italian roast beef, roasted red peppers, sharp provolone, tomatoes, sweet onions and roasted garlic mayo are especially loved. As for the chili, you almost can’t afford not to try it: a 12 oz. bowl is $4.95, a pint is $6.95 and a quart goes for $12.95. If you try one of Timmy’s sandwiches, you can get a cup for $2.95.
Hours: Mon-Fri: 11:30 a.m. – 2 a.m.; Sat-Sun: 10:30 a.m. – 2 a.m.
Fans of Race Street Café’s house-made three meat chili call it a “three meat party in your mouth” and “best friend to great beer.” Those quips may also help you understand Race Street Café’s vibe: upbeat, low-key and friendly. For over 11 years, this unpretentious café/bar/bistro has been serving great food and abundant drinks in Old City. With 15 ever-changing beers on tap, it’s a beer-lover’s paradise. It even has an old-fashioned hand pump. It’s the kind of place that people come back to, even after being away for years.
Hours: Tues-Sun: 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.; Mon: 5 p.m. – 2 a.m.
In 1837, this handsome building in Old City was home to the Mechanics National Bank. Fast forward some century and three-quarters and you’ll find National Mechanics Bar and Restaurant, a delightfully wacky and eclectic eatery. And speaking of eclectic, you must try its Frito taco extravaganza. Listed in the “Nostalgics” section of the menu, it’s described as a “classic bag of Fritos opened up and topped with chili and shredded Monterey Jack.” Just like mom used to make—if mom was Carol Brady on Alice’s day off.
Other favorites are the pan-seared crab cake with a spicy roasted pepper aioli and saffron rice and a classic crème brulee. With 32 varieties of beer, bottled and on tap, and fun drink specials, there’s something for everyone at National Mechanics.
So there you have it– next time you’re feeling frosty, check out one of our city’s top chili spots and have a warm bowl of contentment.
Related: Top spots for soup in Philadelphia.
Trish Deitemyer is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.