Chili is one of those foods that rarely comes to mind while we bask in the harvest of the summer sun. But when the days grow short, and the weather turns gray and cold, a hot soup is often solace to those seeking both warmth and comfort.
Whether you consider it a soup, stew, or in a category of its own, your love for chili despite its uninspiring, simplistic name shows Shakespeare’s words still ring true: ‘A soup by any other name would smell as sweet.’
Here’s a list of some of the best chili options* in Charlotte to warm your toes and heat your soul.
4151 Park Rd A
Vegetarian Chili ($4/cup; $6.95/bowl) – According to general manager, Helen-Marie White, Sir Ed’s vegetarian chili has entered in three chili cook-offs and has taken home first place every time. It’s made with TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein), three varieties of beans, and roasted tomato.
2224 Park Rd
Veggie Chili ($2.50/side) – Do yourself a favor and order a side of their hand-cut french fries to go along with this small cup of chili for a meal built for comfort.
1600 W Morehead St
Homemade Veggie Chili ($3.95) – This vegetarian-friendly version is topped with onion and a pile of cheddar cheese.
10403 Park Rd
Mark’s Chili ($2.95/cup; $4.95/bowl) – Yes, they’re known for wings—and rightly so. But the chili here is also a hit with South Charlotte regulars.
2718 Monroe Rd
Texas Chili (Spicy); Cincinnati Chili (“Skyline Chili”); Vegetarian Chili; Southern Style Chili ($6.75) – This classic Charlotte neighborhood favorite specializes in chili. Options include: in a cup, in a bowl, over spaghetti or mac n’ cheese. Comes with a side of pintos, cheese, onions, and a piece of cornbread.
327 S Tryon St
South End Chili ($8) – The eclectic chili coming out of chef Thomas Marlow’s kitchen with pulled short rib, three beans, Ashe County cheddar, and crispy black-eyed peas is a steal at eight dollars.
4121 Park Rd
Homemade Chili ($3.49) – This ‘50s-style diner serves its chili alongside fantastic milkshakes and maybe the best burger in the parking lot.
8512 Park Rd
Rusty’s “Serious” Chili ($4.99) – Try and ignore the reuben and instead order Rusty’s chili with turkey. It has a reputation.
Multiple area locations
Brisket, Beef & Black Bean Chili ($5/cup; $8/bowl) – Best eaten as a dip with the provided tortilla chips, you can add cheddar, jalapeños, sour cream, and onion for a dollar more.
135 Brevard Court
Traditional Red Chili ($10); White Chicken Chili ($9.50); Vegetarian Chili ($9.50); The Other Queen City ($8.50 – 9.50, based on toppings) – Queen City Bites & Crafts offers chili several ways. Flocks of blue-cheeked, Uptown workers remember this just as the weather cools down.
Multiple area locations
Bowl of Award Winning Chili ($5.95) – Served with a side of cornbread and topped with cheddar, red onion, and crispy matchstick potatoes, this chili is worth switching to in between your regular orders of pizza and baked pasta.
3001 E Independence Blvd
Our Famous Chili ($3.99/cup; $4.99/bowl) – No meat products are used in this all vegan version. Flavor comes from simmered vegetables and spices while the textured vegetable protein provides a meat-like mouthfeel.
201 E 5th St
Chili ($3.99/cup; $4.99/bowl) – This menu option keeps it simple and ungarnished with beef, vegetables, and beans simmered in broth—and a side of crackers for crumbling.
1101 Central Ave
Homemade Chili ($3.95/cup; $5.95/bowl) – This chili is classic with cheese, red onions, sour cream, and a side of cornbread.
2628, 1522 Providence Rd
Beef Chili; Chicken Chili ($4.75/cup; $8.75/bowl) – Ask for “All the Way” for sour cream, cheese, onions, and jalapeños at this Myers Park neighborhood favorite, popular for sports games and holiday get-togethers.
1930 Camden Rd #2001
Beef and Black Bean Chili ($3.50/cup; $4.50/bowl) – This South End retro diner changes it soup selection daily but the chili is always available.
1524 East Blvd
Home-Made Chili ($3.99/cup; $7.49/bowl) – You can order this chili in a cup, bowl, or over Lebowski’s mac & cheese with curly cavatappi pasta.
225 E Woodlawn Rd
Steak House Chili ($2.95/cup; $3.95/bowl) – This spicy, chunky stew-like chili is one of the few Texas-style representatives in town.
1332-B Central Ave; 1521 Montford Dr
Santa Fe Beef Chili with Black Beans ($6.99) – Beef may be third on your list of meats to try, behind the rotisserie chicken and roast pork at this local spot, but that really just speaks to the completeness of the menu here. You can order this Southwestern chili by the bowl, on a salad, over rice with queso, or in tacos.
16637 Lancaster Hwy
Organic Turkey Chili ($6.95) – Big View Diner’s chili is hearty AND heart-healthy.
2121 Shamrock Dr
Homemade Chili ($4.50/cup; $6.50/bowl) – It’s hard to go wrong at Letty’s on Shamrock unless you forgo the optional pinto beans served on top of this chili. It’s a creative condiment that allows for the base to remain rich and meaty.
Are there any other area chilis that I have to try? Let me know in the comments.