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Have chili on it

Tacoma restaurant finds a place for chili ... on everything

Spaghetti with chili? It’s a thing in Ohio and now here. Photo credit: Jason de Paul

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Announcer: You got to have a lot of respect for a place that loves what they make ... so much so that there are few boundaries when it comes to the dishes they serve.  Take for example the Chili Parlor on South Tacoma Way.  They love Cincinatti-style chili so much that they not only serve it in a bowl and on a hot dog, but also put it in a burrito and on spaghetti.  That's something to admire.

Jason: I can't remember how many different restaurants have occupied 5640 S. Tacoma Way, but it's been a few to say the least.  The Chili Parlor has their work cut out for them, certainly surviving in a troubled space is not the least of their concerns.  But they have, at least, gone down the route of the unique, celebrating and nurturing a steaming bowl of chili and finding as many ways to serve it that fits on a regular menu.  The results - a decent chili base, slightly on the musty side, the ground beef sandpaper thin but the dominating ingredient with a mild kick and nice balance of tomato and vegetables.  The style is known in the Midwest - Ohio is ground zero, and it is a first for the Tacoma area.

Jake: The flavors of cinnamon, cumin, Chili-powder, cloves and allspice forefront in Cincinnati chili caught my tastebuds by surprise at first.  It took a minute to get used to the texture.  But, served on top of battered, deep fried fries, and then mounded with melted cheddar cheese and onions, I moved past the initial confusion and found an entirely new appreciation for chili cheese fries.

Jason: Cincinatti chili uses a boiled ground beef and is considered more Mediterranean than anything else, mostly because it was derived by Greek immigrants in Ohio.

Jake: My son, with his love of hot dogs, wanted the Coney dog with cheese.  Based on the speed of which he ate it, and the satisfied look when he was done, it's safe to assume that it met his expectations.  A medium-size serving, I would recommend ordering a side to finish off your meal.  The one bite he managed to share with me was smoky and flavorful; and for under $5, it is hard to beat.

Jason: I took my chili in a burrito, which in many respects wasn't a huge leap.  I liked that the Chili Parlor uses a thick tortilla - it held the chili in nicely, but also was a counter-balance to the heavier filling, tamping down some of the stronger flavor.  The mix was perfect.

Jake: I ordered the signature dish and namesake on the logo outside, chili over spaghetti noodles, officially known as Cincinatti Chili.  Though the sign states that "it's a great day for a 3 way," I ordered the four-way which included cheese and onions as additional toppings.  The balance of both textures and flavors, with a noodle more soft than al dente, were spot on, much as you described the burrito.  The combination tasted both exotic and familiar.  I think this could catch on here in the Northwest.  We are used to strong flavors here, especially from the Asian community, so a Greek-based chili is right up our alley.  In addition to a 25-cent cup of coffee, there are a few desserts worth checking out as well.  The strawberry shortcake is more of a cake than a traditional shortcake, as it is a layered white cake with frosting and strawberries, but still sweet and filling. We also gave the Kentucky-barrel whiskey cake a try, which is filling and dense with a strong whiskey flavor.

Jason: The Chili Parlor also serves breakfast plus several sandwiches and specials that do not contain chili.

THE CHILI PARLOR, 5640 South Tacoma Way, 253.472.6979

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