Best Chili - 2004
Man, it?s hard to find a good bowl of red in this town. Despite its Wild West lineage and satisfying and delectable attributes, sizzling-hot Southwestern chili is as rarely encountered around here as Tunisian torshi and Bulgarian banitsa. Filling the culinary vacuum somewhat is a chain of shopping-mall chili parlors that ladle out a nice Northern California version of the incendiary classic. Chili Up!?s renditions (there are seven of them) are warm and healthy and occasionally include plantains and apricots, but the Lean Mean No Bean is wonderfully primal ? just a big ol? bowl of beef, onions, peppers, and tomatoes. Other varieties include the Ballpark (dark beer, beef, and three kinds of beans), the Hoofless (mushrooms, peppers, corn, and green beans), and the Ancho (turkey, pinto beans, posole, and peppers). They all come with plenty of grated cheddar, cilantro, chopped onion, and fresh lime, and if you can ignore the squeaky-clean ambience, the nutritional information on the back of the menu, and the company motto (?gourmet chilis?), you?ll be one happy (San Francisco) hombre.