Bowl of chili (Photo: Shutterstock) Chili
Bowl of chili (Photo: Shutterstock)

The ingredients and styles of chili may vary region to region throughout Pennsylvania. But the general consensus of those in the know is that these establishments all make great chili.

Listing the best places to get chili may start a verbal sparring match. Chili can be a very divisive dish. Does it contain meat or no meat? How hot should it be? What spices go into good chili? What are the best beans? Fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes? Chili lovers tend to dig their heels in about the only way chili should be made.

Ask a few people in Northeast Pennsylvania what goes in chili and their answers may not be exact, but they may be similar. Ask a few people in Southwest Pennsylvania and the results will be similar. But, compare the answers between the two regions, and they are likely to be vastly different. Region by region, chili styles vary.

With this in mind, it would be futile to list the best chili in Pennsylvania. But, listing where great chili is, that’s fairly safe. Even if the following places to dive into a bowl of hearty chili in Pennsylvania don’t serve your favorite style of chili, the general consensus of those who live near the restaurants is that they make great chili.

Quentin Tavern, Lebanon

The 3 Bean ‘N Beef Chili at Quentin Tavern is a favorite with locals. Full of kidney, black, and great northern beans, onions, and peppers in a spicy tomato chili sauce, those who have dined at the tavern say the chili “was awesome,” and the restaurant serves “huge portions.” Tripadvisor names the restaurant the best place for chili in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, the region around Lancaster. And, good news, if you love to dip French fries into your chili, reviewers rave about Quentin Tavern’s fries, too. 

Open Range Grille, Mount Pleasant

Pennsylvanians enjoy their venison, and at Open Range Grill the chili is thick and hearty, made from ground and cubed venison, 3 types of beans, and simmered for 24 hours using their signature recipe. One online reviewer says “Chili was an A+. The fries are probably the best french fries I’ve ever had. Plus the service was super attentive.” Their burgers are excellent, too, and you can choose from beef, bison, or elk.

Wert’s Cafe, Allentown

The homemade chili at Wert’s Cafe, an Allentown staple for over 40 years, is “always good,” according to a regular. And, if you order cheese on top, they’ll stick it under the broiler and brown it up. The cafe also offers potato skins topped with their chili. Diners say that the restaurant has reasonable prices and service is fast and friendly. Wert’s is a favorite with locals, but it’s also a great place to stop on a road trip and pass through Allentown.

Timmy’s D’s Deli & Catering, Cheltenham 

Timmy D’s Deli’s award-winning filet mignon chili is generally considered one of the best chilis in the Philadelphia region. CBS News says that newbies can get a sample from Timmy himself, and once tasted you “won’t be able to resist.” There are a few seats inside, but most of the deli’s business is take out. Timmy D’s sells the chili by the bowl, pint, quart, 3 quarts (the Tailgate Special), or by the Party Bucket (4 quarts). It’s also available on their catering menu. 

SouthSide Arts District Chilifest, Bethlehem

Looking for lots of chili in many different styles. Head to Chilifest in Bethlehem on Saturday, Oct. 22. Held throughout 3rd and 4th Streets in SouthSide Bethlehem, the event is a cook-off challenge where local restaurants and businesses battle for “People’s Choice Best Chili” and “Celebrity Judge’s Top Choice.” Ticket holders get to sample all competing chili and vote for their favorite, all while listening to live music. Tickets are $20.

SouthSide Arts District Chilifest
Bethlehem’s SouthSide Arts District Chilifest (Photo: SouthSide Chilifest)

Lucky Louie’s Beer and Wieners, Erie

Lucky Louie’s takes the chili out of the bowl and puts it on top of locally-made Smith’s Natural Casing Wieners. Their “crazy combos” include: the Chili Dog with chili, cheese, jalapeños and sour cream; the Dixie Normous with chili, shredded cheddar, slaw and mustard; and the Neener Wiener with chili, cheese sauce, onion, mustard, and crushed potato chips. The extensive beer menu has dozens of beers and always includes 6 constantly rotating local and regional drafts.

Appetite Satisfaction, Frackville

Based out of Frackville, Appetite Satisfaction is a food truck that goes to various events and locations around Schuylkill County. Their chili is served in a pumpernickel bowl from Spring Street Bakery in Frackville and made from a blend of beans, smoked ground beef from Bow Creek Farm in Hershey, peppers, onion, tomatoes, and spices. It’s a little sweet and a little spicy. Reviewers say the chili is “delicious,” “piping hot,” and comes in “massive proportions.”

Appetite for Satisfaction
Appetite for Satisfaction food truck. (Photo: Appetite for Satisfaction)

Webster’s Bookstore Café, State College

If you want a comforting bowl of vegetarian chili and a good book to read, Webster’s Bookstore Café in State College is the place to get it. Online reviewers recommend “get the chili!” because it’s “outstanding.’ There are plenty of vegetarian options at this unique café plus new and used books, new and used vinyl records, and tons of vintage treasures.