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Boston's Chili(ly) Takeover

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, February 25, 2016

I did say in my latest blog post that I would be talking about the 7th Annual Boston Chili Cup - so here I go. You may or may not have realized that part of my job here is to keep up with all things Boston. I need to constantly be aware of what's trending here, what's happening there - but I'm really not complaining. On one of my online expeditions to feed my foodie needs (oh, and also for work), I found out about the Chili Cup. I found it on eventbrite, so I really pictured it to be something small - something hardly anyone knew about. I was wrong (this doesn't happen very often, so listen up).

The Chili Cup was easily one of the coolest things I've ever been to in Boston. First of all, it was at Ned Devine's. If you're like me, you probably have no idea what Ned Devine's even is. Turns out, it's quite the bar. It's in Faneuil, but not just like every other bar there. It's inside Quincy Market, overlooking the food court from above - yeah, it's awesome. So yes, you do have to be 21 to attend the Chili Cup; if you're underage, it's well worth the wait.

So you walk in, show your ticket, your ID, and you immediately receive a spoon, a list of restaurants, and a chip. Not a potato chip - like a chip to place your vote for best chili. That's one of the best parts of this whole event, there isn't some superstar panel voting for the best chili. It's all on us. It's definitely not an easy choice though, with 18 restaurants competing for the title, it's pretty dire to hand it over to the right one.

I'm not going to lie, I didn't love all of them. At one point, all the chili blended together, and between the spices and the super rich pork, I couldn't really tell the difference. Just a quick PSA over here: if you're not a fan of spice, this might not be the event for you. I'm not obsessed with spicy food, but I can roll with it. Eventually, between the simultaneous gulping of fluids (props to the event for being sponsored by Corona) and fanning my mouth to get rid of the chipotle after taste, I found some I really loved.

Tasty Burger

Wow. Not only have these guys completely nailed the classic burger, but they're taking over the chili cheese dog market too. At the Chili Cup, the restaurant booths were all pretty similar, except for theirs. They had a mini hot dog cart, and a chili cheese dog assembly line. Let me repeat that: they had a MINI hot dog cart, and a chili cheese dog ASSEMBLY LINE. Just at first glance, I wanted to hide behind the cart and snatch all the hot dogs for myself, while simultaneously dunking my face into the vat of chili. But to not embarrass the friend I had gone there with (you're welcome Alex), I asked for "the works" dog, and awaited patiently.

When you picture a chili cheese dog, I'm sure you see chili flowing over the bun and cheese running down between your fingers. Well erase that picture, and place this one in its place. This dog had the perfect bun to meat to cheese to chili ratio. And instead of having a pound of cheese on top, swallowing the entire hot dog, they used powdered cheese. That powdered cheese is the same kind that you'll find in a Kraft mac and cheese box. Just let that sink in.

It's truly crazy that out of all the restaurants, I loved the one with the most common interpretation of chili. I didn't vote for the chipotle dusted, chocolate infused chili. I voted for your typical, run of the mill, chili cheese dog. But in my mind, if a restaurant can completely nail the most common kind of chili, and beat out the overly executed ones - they're doing it right.

The Living Room

I know I just threw some shade at the overly fancy chili recipes, but this place did it really well. Like Ned Devine's I had never heard of The Living Room. I remember sitting at the bar, eating away at my sample, and not being able to read what the name of the restaurant was. What a cool name it turned out to be.

Their sample came in a little hammock, with a small piece of cornbread, to pair perfectly with their mole-inspired chili. Mole, for those of you who don't know, is primarily made with Mexican chocolate. The chili wasn't overly chocolatey, and the cornbread wasn't overly sweet - so in the end, it wasn't their take on a dessert chili of some sorts (thank goodness).

Pier 6

Okay, so I didn't actually try this place's chili. First of all, it was labeled as spicy. When something is so spicy, they have to signal you before you try it - I just won't try it.

But, as much as it was spicy, and I didn't get a taste, I'm including it because: 1. it won the championship, 2. this was Alex's favorite. Their chili was different because instead of pork, they used lamb. If you're not a fan of lamb, or you just haven't ever tasted it, I highly recommend doing so. For years, I kept myself from tasting the sweet, gamey goodness that is lamb. If it's done right, which I'm assuming Pier 6 did, it's incredibly buttery and delicious. Although pork is my favorite cut of meat, lamb is quickly climbing onto number 1.

I'd say go to Pier 6, and try out their lamb for yourself. I kind of regret not trying it, so you'll probably spot me there, and at every other chili cup in the coming years. 


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