Your Guide to Authentic Regional Eats
Sign In | Register for Free!
Restaurants Recipes Forums Eating Tours Merchandise FAQ Maps Insider

Real Chili

419 E. Wells St., Milwaukee, WI - (414) 271-4042
Posted By Michael Stern on 8/2/2005 6:46:00 PM
Real Chili serves bowls of chili mild, medium, or hot, with spaghetti or beans, or spaghetti AND beans. The full and complete arrangement is known as the Marquette Special. (The original Real Chili parlor has long been a favorite of Marquette University students.) The degree of heat is determined by the amount of meat; i.e. more meat = more heat. The meat is ground fine, brilliantly spiced, and deliciously oily. It goes atop layers of noodles and beans; and on top of the meat is piled a large fistful of shredded cheese (melting from the heat). You can also get sour cream and raw onions as a garnish. Every bowl comes with a side dish of oyster crackers to crumble on top or to eat as a sort of palate-cleanser between bites of chili.

This true downtown chili parlor (of which the original branch is at 1625 W. Wells St., phone: 414-342-6955) is the sort of beanery once fairly common in big cities throughout the region. With the exception of Cincinnati, where chili has remained a bona fide mania, most of the Midwest has forgotten its chili passions; and old-time chili parlors are a rarity. That is one reason we are so enamored of Real Chili.

Granted, heartland chili gets little respect from gastronomes who prefer the southwestern kinds, but even for the Texas-style chili purist, Real Chili is an inspiring and enjoyable adventure in declasse dining. Sit at a counter or at one of two communal tables with backless stools and accompany your chili with beer or cherry Coke. A super-fast, friendly staff dole out second helpings at half price of the first, and if you need a bumper sticker for your car, there is always a stack of them at the cash register. A while ago, we got one that said, "REAL CHILI: IT'S NOT JUST FOR BREAKFAST ANYMORE." Recently, the bumper stickers have proclaimed Real Chili "A MILWAUKEE LEGEND."

8 out of 8 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

No Yes

Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Rate this place

Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

From the side, you can see how Real Chili chili is layered: spaghetti noodles topped with beans, topped with chili meat, topped with cheese. It is up to the customer to add raw onions and/or sour cream; and in the background, you can see cruets of sweet and hot vinegar, which connoisseurs use to adjust the flavor to taste.
"From the side, you can see how Real Chili chili is layered: spaghetti noodles topped with beans, topped with chili meat, topped with cheese. It is up to the customer to add raw onions and/or sour cream; and in the background, you can see cruets of sweet and hot vinegar, which connoisseurs use to adjust the flavor to taste."
Michael Stern





Surrounding the bowl of extra-hot are oyster crackers, sour cream, and chopped raw onions. This is a lunch that will stay with you all afternoon.
"Surrounding the bowl of extra-hot are oyster crackers, sour cream, and chopped raw onions. This is a lunch that will stay with you all afternoon. "
Michael Stern


Dan Helfer owns Real Chili and knows the secrets of the spice mix.
"Dan Helfer owns Real Chili and knows the secrets of the spice mix."
Michael Stern


A red-hot sign for red-hot chili
"A red-hot sign for red-hot chili"
Michael Stern


Midwestern-style urban chili parlors are now scarce in cities where they once thrived.  In that light, Milwaukee's Real Chili is rare Americana.
"Midwestern-style urban chili parlors are now scarce in cities where they once thrived. In that light, Milwaukee's Real Chili is rare Americana."
Michael Stern



What is Roadfood?  |   Submit Content  |   Privacy Policy  |   Contact Roadfood.com   Copyright - Roadfood.com