Best Chili Dishes In The Bay Area

January 8, 2014 5:00 AM

Spicy Slow Cooker Beef Chili (credit:

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Americans love their chili, and lucky Californians have lots of chili options throughout this chili-hungry state. The Bay Area boasts some great spots for a tasty chili fix. Here are five places to try in the Bay Area.

The Counter
3055 Olin Ave., Suite 1035
San Jose, CA 95128
(408) 423-9200

Designed as a new concept 21st century burger joint, The Counter greets you with a clipboard and an extensive list of ingredient options to build a better burger, your way. In essence, this is the counter-culture to the way things were and now it’s time to move forward, with burger regulars kicked up a notch or two. The Counter includes an environment of industrial décor, “now” music, distinctive wines, cocktails, cold beer and more than you could ever imagine. Also included on the menu are chili choices, including chili with cheddar, red onion and sour cream or turkey chili with cranberries and scallions. Or indulge in chili cheese fries. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are available too.

Las Camelias
912 Lincoln Ave.
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 453-5850

Las Camelias is a family-owned restaurant, with chef-owner Gabriel Fregoso at the helm proudly sharing the tradition of his family’s original recipes. Chef Fregoso, a native of Jalisco, Mexico, adds his creative touches to his heartfelt recipes, and along with wife Carol, brings the best in Mexican cuisine to Las Camelias’ many customers. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner, with specialties chiles rellenos, made with fresh green chili, and chiles encuerados, made with roasted poblano pepper, offered on both lunch and dinner menus. Visit the website to view the extensive menu offerings; banquet and custom catering is also available.

Max’s World
1250 Old Bayshore Highway
Burlingame, CA 94010
(650) 342-6297

Max’s simply won’t let its customers leave hungry. Max’s wants them to leave full and satisfied, although “stuffed” would be a better word to describe the Max’s philosophy. Max’s features what is often called American comfort food, yet there is a lot more here that goes beyond that simple label. Max’s simply has something for everyone and you can eat healthy too with extensive menu selections at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Where else but Max’s can you find chicken matzo ball soup, Russian cabbage soup and a bowl of beefy chili all on the same menu – and all made well? The beefy chili is made with white and kidney beans, cheddar cheese and onions. Check the website for additional Bay Area locations.

la corneta Best Chili Dishes In The Bay Area

La_Corneta (credit: Melanie Graysmith)

La Corneta
2731 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 643-7001

It seems that folks just can’t get enough of La Corneta, the little taqueria that opened in a sweet residential neighborhood in 1995. The restaurant quickly outgrew its location and expanded by adding the commercial space next door in 2000. Within a few years, La Corneta grew to total four in the Bay Area, and is known for its wonderfully fresh Mexican food. When only a chili dish will do, try the vegetarian chile relleno burrito or the chile relleno plate with rice, beans, salad and tortillas. With lots of meat choices, including puerco (pork) con chile, and many vegetarian options free of animal products, this spot can definitely satisfy.

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Pinecrest Diner (credit: Melanie Graysmith)

Pinecrest Diner
401 Geary St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 885-6407

This 24-hour diner in the heart of the city’s Tenderloin district is popular with a big fan following, especially at 2:30 or 3 a.m when a new wave of hunger hits its regulars and the tourists who get directed here. Why opt for breakfast fare when the Pinecrest offers a chiliburger with homemade chili con carne and cheese ($9.75), a bowl of homemade chili con carne with cheese or onions ($4.95/$5.95) or a platter of chili cheese fries ($6.95). Live it up and come away nice and full.

Melanie Graysmith is a writer, artist and educator based in San Francisco. She writes on adult education, art and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. She is also a member of an independent filmmaking group. Her work can be found at

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