Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Texas Chili Parlor

Having either "Texas" or "Chili Parlor" in a restaurant's name would normally be about enough for me (and probably other vegetarians) to just filter the place out forever. I'm not exactly sure what happened, but I somehow got dragged into Texas Chili Parlor for dinner. Given my expectations going in, I was pleasantly surprised just looking at the menu. Soon after, I was filled with food. And I've been there twice now.

Before I viewed the menu the first time, the whole wooden "Texas sportsbar" interior had me lowering my expectations even more.. Don't take me the wrong way; I've been a regular of the Texas sportsbar known as Posse East for years. For vegetarian food, though, that sort of decor seems ... worrisome. Anyway, look what I found:

- 5 bean vegetable chili
- Cheese enchiladas
- Sauteed vegetable tacos

All of these are vegetarian. Three options is more than LOTS of other places. Cool! I believe there was also a breakfast menu, with migas, etc.

Since this was a chili parlor, I felt it might be wise to choose the chili. Next time I'll try the enchiladas probably. Anyway, what was in this chili, you ask? Well:

- Chickpeas, pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, and black-eyed peas
- Bits of yellow squash, also maybe zucchini?
- Other unidentifiables in the bowl
- No cheese (maybe you have to ask?)
- Optional garnish: chopped jalapeƱos (pickled), onions

My take on yellow squash and zucchini is that.. I generally like them when grilled, say, kind of by themselves. In chili, they probably don't add so much, but for some reason, I support their existence in it. I began the meal by of course sticking in the jalapeƱos and mixing them around. Crackers (in packets) were provided for scooping up the chili (crackerware?), so I used them. They did the job, though I was thinking "I am in Texas" the whole time. "I should buy a cow and move to Amarillo." "Etc.."

The chili itself was pretty good... everything was well-cooked and flavorful. Slightly not spicy-hot enough for my taste, but no big deal. One thing that interested me was that, of all the chilis on the menu, this is the only one which doesn't offer a hotness-level option. Hmmm... Perhaps that means it's packaged chili? Or else they figure the average vegetarian will NOT walk in... I'm guessing the latter, because the beans tasted fresh. Incidentally, it was better than the veggie chili (containing kidney beans and tempeh) available at Spiderhouse, at least as of the last one I had. Also better than the one at Kerby Lane Cafe.

By the way, in case you were imagining this place as having a large longhorn skull mounted on the wall... I, surprisingly, couldn't find it. Maybe it's in the restroom??

I almost forgot: the chili comes with a side salad.. (+1 points). The salad was great! (+1 more points). Stuff in the salad: freshly chopped non-iceberg lettuce, small amount of julienned carrots, black olive slices... some other objects.. It was all uber-good. FYI: I usually despise raw carrots, but these were sliced thin enough so it was ok. Also, the waitress messed up and put my dressing on the salad instead of on the side which I requested... but.. she was *really* cool and is 100% absolved, for life, many times over.

They also have desserts, like key lime pie, which was pretty decent... not to mention tasting entirely unlike the chili (I had been a bit worried about that).

All around, better than I expected, for sure. No doubt the food was tasty. And of course I'm happy that they're local. Definitely give it a try if you're in the mood for chili. Challenge for you: find the longhorn skull! (They're open late, too.)

I'll never eat at the Texas Chili Parlor again after they vehemently opposed the 2000 light rail plan.
I've had their veggie chili once, and it was OK. However, my favorite vegetarian chili in town is at Dog Almighty on Burnet. I did a review on Veg Out! Austin back in the spring:
Interesting... I should check them out. I did feel like there was definitely room for improvement in TCP's chili, thought I still liked it. Dog Almighty is a much cooler name, anyway.
Mike, in 2002 the restaurant was seized by the IRS and re-opened with new owners. Regardless of the merits of your point, it seems foolish to hold it against people who weren't even there at the time.

I remember trying and liking the veggie chili. My favorite remains Shady Grove.
I think Chip has a valid point, the decisions of previous owners should not be held against current/new owners. But if you're gonna do it anyway, then perhaps the discussion should really turn to the light rail plan and whether it's fair to dividing everyone into for/against camps, or if there might really be gray area in between. Sometimes people support an idea, but don't support the implementation or specific details.
I didn't know about the new owners - that's good news.

As for the merits of the boycott, we'll have to agree to disagree. Not passing the 2000 light rail plan is going to go down in history as the worst decision Austin ever made (see my blog for why the '04 commuter rail plan is potentially damaging to rail transit, not just "nearly as good").
You have a great blog here! I will be sure to book mark you. I have a wendys restaurant site. It pretty much covers wendys restaurant related stuff. Check it out if you get time :-)
where can I find the recipe for Texas Chili Parlor Chili?
I have gone to the Texas Chili parlor during both the previous owner and new owner. Latest time being at the end of May 2007. We had quite a large party in our gruop (15 guests) We pretty much shared everyones order and I can honestly say there was not one item I did not enjoy. Though when it comes to their spicy chili I'm am a wimp, so the only chili I could handle was the single X, Black bean and sausage and the five bean chili (their veggie chili) They were all excellent. The XX, XXX and Habenero (only other chili with beans) were the favorites of the others in our party thart enjoyed more on the spicy side. Everyone in our party has since been back and will continue to go there.
Just ate at the T.C.P for my first time this weekend. I'm not a vegetarian, so I tried the black-bean chili with Elgin sausage.
The heat was perfect - not painful, but left a burn.
Flavor was rich, and the meat and beans were generous.
All the waitstaff were extremely cool - good humored and very patient with our large group.

I'd go back happily (even though I don't ordinarily order chili at restaurants).
Long ago, back in the summer of 1978, when I was a Ph.D. student from Canada, I did some work at the Humanities Research Center, UofTexas, Austin. In my search for authentic Texas food (I have been an amateur chef and food addict since my teens) I wound up at the Texas Chili Parlor one scorching afternoon. While perusing the menu I downed a Dos XX ($0.85), then ordered a bowl of XXX Chili (described on the menu as "For True Chili Heads"). I was the only customer in the place, and when I dug into my chili, I looked up and saw the personnel peeking out of the kitchen to see if I survived the "ordeal" and just in case, I needed an ambulance. No such help was necessary. The chili was hot but not excessively so by any means. It was not my first chili, but the decor and atmosphere of the place, the fact of being in Texas, made my taste buds thrill to the great rich taste. I am no vegetarian so I wouldn't know what the previous chiliheads talk or complain about. Anyway, I wish I were back in Texas... Dr. L. Gefin
Oh, just one more thing. Back then, a large bowl of XXX chili cost $ 2.85. I wonder how much it is now. Dr. L. Gefin
I simply love the veggie food, so i guess this would be great place for me.
Gold prices
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