Chili Parlor in Metro DC

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2003/05/07 12:14:42 (permalink)

Chili Parlor in Metro DC

Hard Times Cafe is 50's style restaurant chain in the Metro DC area with serves great Texas (especially good), Cincinnati, Terlingua and Vegetarian chilis. A check on their website http://www.hardtimes.com shows that they have expanded from the DC area to Raleigh, NC, Indianapolis, IN, and London, England.
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    Ralph Cramden
    Junior Burger
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    RE: Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2003/08/04 06:13:51 (permalink)
    Thanks for the rec Cubs Fan. My wife and I are big Chili fans and you just can't find it here in Boston.. We do get down to the DC area though on occasion. Red Sox and Cub fans are spiritual partners. The main difference though having lived in both Boston and Chicago is that Red Sox fans get angrier when they inevitably fall short where Cubs fans see more humor in their ineptness. My dream world series.....Cubs and Red Sox.
    #2
    MikeS.
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    RE: Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2003/08/16 01:17:36 (permalink)
    Well heck, another new place for me try when I'm in the DC area.
    #3
    marberthenad
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    RE: Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2003/11/10 07:42:55 (permalink)
    Ben's Chili Bowl makes for great chili in a great place. Been there a few times, since I saw the Roadfood recommendation. It's located on U Street in DC. Worth a visit or two or three .... http://www.benschilibowl.com/main.html
    #4
    i95
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    RE: Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2003/11/21 07:52:57 (permalink)
    Next year, if anyone's in the DC area the week before Thanksgiving, let me know as a wonderful rural community less than an hour west of the big city in Virginia annually hosts a free "chili night" fund-raiser with different types of chili made and donated by a restaurant in nearby Leesburg, Virginia. It's always held on the Thursday preceding turkey day and features delicious vittles, a genuine mariachi band and a waitstaff working for tips (for a local food bank charity).

    A great "pre-holiday" tradition down in these here parts!!
    #5
    Pwingsx
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    RE: Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2003/11/22 00:28:31 (permalink)
    I love those kinds of customs. As long as there are roadfood people, these things will live on and on.
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    jm199
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    RE: Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2003/11/30 15:53:59 (permalink)
    Don't forget to get the onion tangle at Hard Times too. It is big portion, very greasy, and great to share. I go there after pickup hockey games (Clarendon location) and split it with three other tired teammates. Then we have their chili. They also have Old Dominion root beer there, with other alcoholic beers. Very reasonable prices.

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    MikeS.
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    RE: Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2003/12/01 05:29:24 (permalink)
    The wife and I ate at HardTimes in Herndon back in September and we weren't impressed. Not bad, just so-so.

    MikeS.
    #8
    wrfc5
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    RE: Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2004/03/15 15:49:52 (permalink)
    I've never been real impressed with Hard Times. Mainly this is a place to shoot pool and have some food.

    Its not exactly a Roadfood type of place, but Clydes (Georgetown, Tysons, Columbia) is famous for their chili. When I lived in England and was desperate for American food, my mom would mail me a couple cans of their chili.
    #9
    dgeorge
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    RE: Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2004/04/13 20:14:47 (permalink)
    I agree , my sister lives in DC and I never visit without going to Bens , one of my favorite places in the world.

    Kind of off topic but there is a place down the strret that is called cakelove , absolutely the best cake I have ever had ... and I have eaten alot of cake!
    quote:
    Originally posted by marberthenad

    Ben's Chili Bowl makes for great chili in a great place. Been there a few times, since I saw the Roadfood recommendation. It's located on U Street in DC. Worth a visit or two or three .... http://www.benschilibowl.com/main.html
    #10
    vicman33
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    RE: Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2006/01/06 13:53:46 (permalink)
    Also try the Vienna Inn in Virginia 20 minutes from DC.
    They are famous for their Chili Dogs and Chili Mac. no beans

    And their COLD beer
    #11
    Scorereader
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    RE: Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2006/01/07 09:44:30 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by dgeorge

    I agree , my sister lives in DC and I never visit without going to Bens , one of my favorite places in the world.

    Kind of off topic but there is a place down the strret that is called cakelove , absolutely the best cake I have ever had ... and I have eaten alot of cake!

    quote:
    Originally posted by marberthenad

    Ben's Chili Bowl makes for great chili in a great place. Been there a few times, since I saw the Roadfood recommendation. It's located on U Street in DC. Worth a visit or two or three .... http://www.benschilibowl.com/main.html



    cake love now has a cafe across the street. So now you can buy by the slice. They also do a light breakfast.

    Hard Times Chili is ok. Some locations are better than others. Old Town Alexandria was good, while Rockville was ok.
    But, since their hotdogs are average, I like to spruce them up with their chili. By themselves, it's decent, but together, they make music.

    I like Ben's too, but so far, Clyde's serves the best bowl IMO.
    #12
    Nachise
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    RE: Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2006/01/19 16:27:19 (permalink)
    Ben's Chili Bowl is the home of the Chili Half Smoke. The half smoke sausage is a DC tradition and even better with chili!
    #13
    Scorereader
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    RE: Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2006/01/25 11:42:29 (permalink)
    Breakfast at Ben's is also a treat too.
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    johns72604
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    RE: Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2006/01/25 12:23:12 (permalink)
    The Vienna Inn is awesome for chili dogs. Cheap beers, good chili dogs, and some very interesting wait staff to say the least.
    #15
    Davydd
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    RE: Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2007/12/23 10:44:06 (permalink)
    We went to the Hardtimes Cafe in old downtown Fairfax, VA for lunch and had their chilis. It seems from the first report they were expanding but the website now only shows restaurants in the Washington DC area. The chili was good. They had four different kinds and different ways of serving them. I had their Cincinnati style over spaghetti with cheddar cheese.




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    Navy_Brat913
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    RE: Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2008/01/22 16:26:49 (permalink)
    I love the chili nachos from Hard Times in Woodbridge, VA. I also love the Terlingua Red in ANYTHING at the same place. Went to Hard Times in Springfield, VA though, and nothing was as good. I will have to do more research....but would recommend the one in Woodbridge.
    #17
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    RE: Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2008/01/28 13:13:12 (permalink)
    Recently, I finally went to the Vienna Inn.
    I don't know how to review this place.
    I went on a Sunday following a concert (and again on a more recent Sunday prior to a rehearsal).

    It's a jean and t-shirt kind of place, with old and abused furniture, some old video arcade games from the 80's (and a newer ones from the 90's) The thin doors leading to the bathrooms are covered in graffiti, some of the bench seat cushins lack springs, or in some cases, the cushin. The wood panelled walls are covered with Vienna town softball and baseball team t-shirts and trophies from said teams - some t-shirt and trophies are old enough that the league and team no longer exists. And the booths are hand carved with the names of the people that have sat in them and the initials of the couples who were in love, at the very least, when they inhabited the booth. It has all the makings of a dive, but since it's in Vienna, where the low-end single family house is around $500,000 - the local clientel do not fit the typical dive crowd. And I suppose that, is largely part of the charm -an older town establishment, kept around for it's reminder of a simpler and much different past...not to mention the inexpensive food, beer and spirits.

    The Sunday menu is actually the late-night menu - hot dogs, hamburgers, some sandwiches, soup (but no soup on Sundays,) brats, and bar appetizers like mozzarella sticks, fries (and optional toppings like chili, cheese, gravy (but no gravy on Sundays)), nachos, onion rings, etc.

    They have a decent beer selection, thanks to a nice bottle selection. On tap is bud, bud lite, miller lite, coors light, an interesting and quite good Pale Ale, The Vienna Inn Ale (which is simply Dominion Ale) and Red Hook. Bottles include some nice german imports and american microbrews.

    The chili-cheese dog all the way (onions) is their specialty hotdog. The hotdog meat itself is unimpressive. Just a regular dog. The bun, is just a regular white bun. The cheese is just the typical nacho cheese topping you can find anywhere. The chili, though, is unique and thankfully, makes the whole chili-cheese dog experience worth the trip - although heartburn does ensue for the weak stomached. They load the chili on the hotdogs too, which is dangerous, because they serve the hotdogs in those little paper hotdog holders (about the same paper support as an auto-drip coffee filter), so the hotdogs love to tip over. I suggest eating these with a fork and knife. One seems like not enough, but two is definately filling.

    The Italian cold cut sandwich, which I had on my return visit, was better than I anticipated. While the hoagie bread was nothing special, the deli meats they chose (pepperoni, spicy capicola, and genoa salami) were pretty good meats. The sandwich also had a mild provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and a side of Italian dressing that you could either pour on the 10" sandwich (cut in 2 halves) or dip the sandwich into the small bowl.

    Although I was not blown away on my first visit, the place is growing on me. Hopefully, I'll get there on a Saturday so that I can experience the full menu options.
    #18
    divefl
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    RE: Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2008/01/28 16:08:12 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Navy_Brat913

    I love the chili nachos from Hard Times in Woodbridge, VA. I also love the Terlingua Red in ANYTHING at the same place. Went to Hard Times in Springfield, VA though, and nothing was as good. I will have to do more research....but would recommend the one in Woodbridge.


    Hardtimes had a station in RFK stadium for one season of baseball. It was a good season. I looked forward to their nachos each game. I don't thin kthey will be in the new stadium. My friends hold out hope for Ben's, but too many things have been screwed up by the owners to do something that right for DC.
    #19
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    RE: Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2008/01/28 16:18:10 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by divefl

    quote:
    Originally posted by Navy_Brat913

    I love the chili nachos from Hard Times in Woodbridge, VA. I also love the Terlingua Red in ANYTHING at the same place. Went to Hard Times in Springfield, VA though, and nothing was as good. I will have to do more research....but would recommend the one in Woodbridge.


    Hardtimes had a station in RFK stadium for one season of baseball. It was a good season. I looked forward to their nachos each game. I don't thin kthey will be in the new stadium. My friends hold out hope for Ben's, but too many things have been screwed up by the owners to do something that right for DC.


    Still, even Hard Times is better than Sodexho. Ben's would be great, though.
    I'm looking forward to going to some games in the new stadium, but still bummed they are not playing across the street anymore.

    #20
    Londonmatt
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    Re:Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2009/01/13 13:55:23 (permalink)
    I've been going to Ben's for a very long time, but what type of chili would you call it? I think its a bit like a Cincy chili. t has a real one of a kind taste, probably related to the fact that the Ali family have an indian and west indian bacground. i think the big secret is their veggie chili even taste better than their meat
    #21
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2009/01/13 14:15:47 (permalink)
    Londonmatt

    I've been going to Ben's for a very long time, but what type of chili would you call it? I think its a bit like a Cincy chili.

     
    I've been to Ben's, their chili doesn't taste anything remotely like Cincy Chili.

    #22
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    Re:Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2009/01/13 17:08:12 (permalink)
    funny this thread was bumped.

    I got several  more visits to Vienna Inn this past Fall. Love the place. I have decided that the chili dogs all the way are great, the burgers are good too, despite being more or less well done, they are nice and juicy (not greasy). Chili fries rock too. The Vienna Inn Ale and Vienna Inn Lager (both Dominion brewing products) are always cheap and good. Sandwiches are good, and since the fire that closed the place a while back, the "renovation" meant newer seating. Since the fire was relatively minor, it lost none of it's charm, but was more comfortable - since all the furniture was in good shape.

    I don't know if I'd call it a chili parlor, per se, but the chili is mighty fine and this is a classic roadfood joint. Definately worth it. Sunday football is fun.




    #23
    Londonmatt
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    Re:Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2009/01/14 00:26:23 (permalink)

    Well hopefully you can clarify it for me. I thought a Cincy chili was of a thinner variety kind of like Ben's, I guess I am wrong. Basically, I am a chili novice when it comes to knowing the in's and out's of the subject. My former experiences have only entailed the eating part sadly.  So the question remains, how would you categorize Ben's chili?
    #24
    Davydd
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    Re:Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2009/01/14 08:20:02 (permalink)
    There is nothing thin about Cincinnati chili. It is fairly thick since it is ladled on top of spaghetti like my photo in this thread shows. Cincinnati chili is all about its unique taste and the way it is made with ground beef. A search on Cincinnati chili in Roadfood.com will bring up a lot of do it yourself recipes.

    The Hardtimes Cafe in the DC area does make a pretty good knock off of Cincinnati chili outside Cincinnati.

    Here is Skyline Chili in Cincinnati. It is also all about the presentation and the number of "ways" you can have it. This was a four way.


    #25
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2009/01/14 08:25:53 (permalink)
    Londonmatt

    Well hopefully you can clarify it for me. I thought a Cincy chili was of a thinner variety kind of like Ben's, I guess I am wrong. Basically, I am a chili novice when it comes to knowing the in's and out's of the subject. My former experiences have only entailed the eating part sadly.  So the question remains, how would you categorize Ben's chili?


    As Daydd said,
     
    Cincinnati Chili is somewhat thicker, but also the taste is completely different. Cincy Chili is milder than Ben's more redolent of cinammon and cloves(some say there's chocolate in there too but I don't taste it) Ben's chili has more of a mild cumin taste to it.
    #26
    Londonmatt
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    Re:Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2009/01/15 06:47:26 (permalink)
    Thanks for the knowledge, I definitely need to try me some skyline, new roadfood adventure ahead!
    #27
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    Re:Chili Parlor in Metro DC 2009/01/15 11:28:28 (permalink)
    Hard Times does a nice job with Cincy Chili - and Texas chili, too.
    #28
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