Adding quick-serve walk-up windows to his already existing establishments is clearly chef Tim Love's thing. His second such endeavor, Chili Parlor at The White Elephant, got up and running Friday just in time for a massive DFW cold front that pushed temperatures into the teens and left everyone wondering, "Where can I get a really good bowl of chili?"
Well, for Fort Worthers, problem solved. Even when temps rise again, Love's simple chili window concept will provide permanent warmth to his most historic of holdings. This is not a seasonal, cold-weather money grab.
The Chili Parlor is the eighth entity (counting the all-important walk-up windows) in Love's growing DFW food empire and borrows its one permanent menu item from his Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, which sits just a block down Main Street. The Texas Red Chili at the parlor is the same for $6 at the walk-up window that you get for $10 in the fancier digs at Lonesome Dove.
The price point is just one of the draws, though probably the primary one. Even with a Lone Star, you're out of there under $10.
But where else can you eat a bowl of chili otherwise served at the neighborhood's haute Western bistro, underneath an old hat of Ray Wylie Hubbard's, proudly displayed alongside other Cowboy headwear kitsch? And be serenaded by live country-western while doing so?
With just two choices when you walk up to the counter opposite the weathered bar, the toppings give visitors the autonomy to make a nondescript bowl of chili their own. Start with the always tough decision between smoked or white cheddar, and you're off and running. Go for the smoked atop a steaming bowl of Texas Red, and white cheddar aboard a boat of the pork green chile, uh, chili, currently the second menu offering that will rotate monthly with a new variation.
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For the moment, the Texas Red is clearly the better offering.
Then decide between sour cream or crème fraîche and select add-ons like cilantro, onions, minced jalapeño and pico de gallo to get just the right level of heat. Fritos, as any Texan knows, are a welcome addition to any bowl of chili as well.
The Chili Parlor fits right into the boot-scootin', whiskey-sippin' vibe at White Elephant and is open for lunch (12 to 3 p.m.), dinner (6 to 9 p.m.) and for your after-bar pleasure on weekends (midnight to 1:30 a.m.). Though the fare isn't quite as visually jaw-dropping as at Love's late-night doughnut effort in Denton, the chili will rest just as nicely atop that layer of booze in your stomach as any pastry could.
And when it gets cold outside, who wants a doughnut, anyway?
Chili Parlor at The White Elephant, 106 E. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth