Wednesday, February 2, 2011

2011 MKE Chili Bowl

Last Sunday, Nate and I and our friends Amanda and John headed to the 2011 Milwaukee Chili Bowl, an annual event held the Sunday before the Super Bowl. This was our third chili bowl, and I blogged about it last year. It's a fun event, and gives you the opportunity to try new and unique chilis from restaurants you might not otherwise try or have been wanting to try for a while.

This year's event was again held at the Harley-Davidson Museum. About 25 local restaurants participated in the event. There were four chili-type categories: traditional, vegetarian, unique and spicy. The event was fun and filling as usual, but no one chili really stands out as something I'd like to have again and again.

Some thoughts about the event ...
I'd like to go through and rate each chili like I did last year, but for one, I lost the sheet that held all my notes and two, it could very well be information overload! So here's the lowdown on our favorites and least favorites:
Least favorites:
-Traditional chili from Madam Belle's Saloon: Unfortunately, this chili had no flavor--it really just tasted like ground meat with a bit of tomato flavor.
-Unique chili from Iron Horse Hotel: This chili included chocolate, venison and blueberries. It was unique all right, but the flavor just didn't work for us. I think it was too much.
Good but not quite our favorites:
-The Fast Foodie's Indian curry chili (with and without chicken) was fantastic, but really didn't taste anything like chili. It was more just a curry soup. (I would definitely have it again!)
-Chili Lili's Cuban was pretty tasty and definitely different. It was the last chili we tasted, however, and by then, I had had way too much. We should have had this one closer to the beginning!
-Irene's Catering's vegetarian was good--it was your typical chunky vegetable chili with lots of good flavor.
-Il Mito's turkey, lamb and pork smoked chili. This unique version was really tasty, and there was a long line for it, so we knew it had to be good.
The two that really stuck out:
-Bunker's vegetarian chili was really quite good--it had tofu and lots of veggies with a great sauce/broth served over a little bun.
-Mulligan's vegetarian chili was the one I voted for as my favorite. It was a roasted poblano pepper and corn chili with lots of vegetables. It's the one I could definitely eat over and over and over ...

Overall, it was a fun event, as usual. The one complaint I have is that the event is growing so much, that it seems to be growing out of the space it's been in the last two year. The room at the Harley Museum is nice, but it's too small and the crowds just don't flow. It'd be nice for the event to be in a bigger space next year, if possible.


  1. The blueberry venison chili looks really gross! Props to you for trying it.

    Every year, we go to Sticky Fingers (where you vote on best, chili, ribs and wings). It's in Oct. every year and you would love it.

  2. Hopefully you drank lots of beer with the chili. ;)