A big bowl of steaming chili can warm even the coldest winter day. In Minnesota, we’ve learned how to make the best chili in the world to help get us through the winter, and it is an indispensable piece of making it to spring. But you don’t have to have it the same old way every time. Chili can be served in so many ways, as the following restaurants prove. There’s certainly nothing wrong with sitting down to a big bowl of traditional chili, but winter is long and there will be plenty of time to try something new. These Minnesota restaurants provide us with that soul-hugging goodness in new and interesting ways. Get out and warm up with one of these Minnesota chili dishes.
36 W. 7th St.
St. Paul, MN 55102
Two words: chili omelette. Don’t knock it until you try it. Mickey’s has been the go-to spot for comfort food since the 1930s, and the chili omelette is one of the most savory, satisfying dishes on the menu. The chili alone is fantastic, but something about filling and smothering a fried-to-perfection omelette with it brings the flavor and spice to a whole new level. There’s nothing more cozy than sitting in Mickey’s historic dining car and eating some of the best comfort food in the state.
500 1st Ave. N.
Minneapolis, MN 55403
For a bowl of great chili, head to the Loon in downtown Minneapolis. While the neighborhood won’t evoke the hometown charm you might be looking for, with towering skyscrapers and bustling First Avenue running out front, one bite of this savory goodness will take you to the quiet of the Minnesota north woods; the peace of grandma’s cooking in the kitchen. The Loon has been in Minneapolis longer than most of the places on the avenue, and the chili is likely the reason why.
Capital View Cafe
637 Smith Ave. S.
St. Paul, MN 55107
Like Mickey’s, the Capital View Cafe knows how to make chili an unforgettable part of an amazing breakfast. The red pork chili, with delicious, slow-roasted pork served over two eggs with beans, rice and tortillas, creates a dance of flavors in your mouth and will wake you right up. The pork is the star, but the spices and texture of the chili, the soft eggs and beans all make for one of the most memorable morning meals you’ll find in the state.
French Meadow Bakery and Cafe
2610 Lyndale Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55408
The vegan chili at French Meadow will change even the staunchest carnivore’s mind about flavor and spice. Neither is lacking in this chili, and it still manages to be filling, leaving you full and satisfied. The secret is in the beans. If you like the gooey, delicious cheese on top of your chili, you don’t have to do it vegan. No matter what, the chili at French Meadow will leave you warm and happy on a cold day.
618 2nd Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55402
To some, a chili dog is just a guilty pleasure; a quick bite to grab on the road or when there isn’t enough time for lunch. People who think that way haven’t been to the Walkin’ Dog in Minneapolis. Sure, it’s a cheap, quick option for lunch. But there is no reason to feel guilty about the savory deliciousness that tops hot dogs here. You can also get nachos and fries covered in chili, or just get a cup ($1.95) or bowl ($2.65), when you realize that you simply can’t get enough of it.
Adrian Schramm is a resident Saint Paul writer with a passion for all things local. Through his work with Saint Paul Almanac and Minneapolis Examiner at Examiner.com, as well as in the kitchens of bars and restaurants around town, he has discovered what truly makes the Twin Cities tick.