11/19/2013 02:03 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

The 6 Best Places To Get Chili In The U.S.

Chili has so many regional iterations, and each version comes with its own cult following. Is it best with beef or chicken? Green chiles or red? Vegetarian or bean-free Texas-style? F&W looked past the geographic divides to find the most delicious chilies in the land.--Jessica Colley

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  • 1 Institute of Chili Truck; San Antonio
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    Parked near the Alamo, this food truck was inspired by San Antonio’s 19th-century “chili queens”—street food pioneers described in Texas histories and by authors such as Stephen Crane and O. Henry. Today, visual artist and cook Ana Fernandez serves a barely modified version of a chili recipe she found in the Institute of Texan Cultures’ archives. The mixture of ground chuck and beef brisket is spiced with a blend of fresh and dried peppers. The food truck’s menu includes corn bread, tamales and a luxe brisket burger.
    Photo courtesy of the Institute of Chili Truck
  • 2 The Sycamore Kitchen; Los Angeles
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    L.A.’s star chefs Karen and Quinn Hatfield transformed a former 1950s print shop into this vintage-inspired restaurant and bakery. They give their chili a healthy spin, with ground turkey, kidney beans and kale for extra color and texture. They season it with a mix of freshly ground guajillo, ancho and chipotle chiles for heat and depth of flavor.
    Photo courtesy of The Sycamore
  • 3 Red Apron Butchery; Washington, DC; Fairfax, VA
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    Leave it to an artisan butcher to create a chili that doesn’t need beans. Meat savant Nate Anda rubs beef and pork shoulder with a signature blend of smoked paprika, chipotle, brown sugar, coffee and coriander, then marinates it overnight. He renders bacon fat to brown the meat, creating a caramelized, subtly smoky foundation. It takes an additional six hours of stove-top simmering to produce a batch.
    Photo © Red Apron
  • 4 The Original Ben’s Chili Bowl; Washington, DC
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    Since 1958, locals, celebrities and presidents (including Obama) have made the pilgrimage to this landmark for the namesake chili, whether served in a bowl or spooned over one of Ben’s famous half-smokes. The original version comes with ground beef, the vegetarian variety includes shredded cheese and chopped white onions.
    Photo © Joshua Cogan
  • 5 Rocky Mountain Chili Bowl; Denver
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    What started as a food truck flaunting the slogan “Go green or go home” has grown into a dedicated green chili restaurant. RMCB’s pork and vegetarian green chilies are available in mellow, medium or hot—spiked with hot Hatch green chiles, jalapeños and secret seasonings. Thanks to implementing a long list of eco-initiatives, the restaurant is also now certified green.
    Photo © Peter Okrepi
  • 6 Goodfriend Beer Garden & Burger House; Dallas
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    Sure, this East Dallas bar serves 12 American craft beers on draught (plus 60 others in bottles) and more than 10 kinds of excellent burgers. But the unsung hero of the menu may be the Texas-style chili—no beans—made with grass-fed beef and topped with cheddar, sour cream and scallions. Order a bowl on its own, try it on waffle fries or on an all-beef hot dog.
    Photo © Steven Doyle