Where to Get the Best Bowl of Chili in Milwaukee

A bowl from one of these local restaurants will stamp out the chill.


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For four years in a row, Chris Scallon has made a chili that’s brought meat-loving judges to their knees at WMSE radio’s annual Rockabilly Chili fundraiser.

The production takes three days to prepare, and Scallon, the sous chef at Kettle Range Meat Co., packs it with things like beef chuck, pork shoulder and sausages in a variety of grinds. The award-winning chilis he makes are very different from the ones he puts together at home and to sell by the pint at the butcher shop (5501 W. State St.; 13402 Watertown Plank Rd., Elm Grove), which is a “basic standard chili” with ground beef and three kinds of beans.

He calls the spicy stew his foremost comfort food, and that started with his mom’s chili. “It definitely brings me back home,” he says. While Milwaukee isn’t really a chili town, it doesn’t mean we don’t have some exceptional versions of it here. Real Chili, the bar-crowd staple, is the city’s only chili emporium (419 E. Wells St., 1625 W. Wells St.) – the place where you choose your heat level and additions (beans, meat, spaghetti).

It takes a little digging to find a great chili, but it’s there. Besides Kettle Range, try the often-changing varieties at Stubby’s Gastrogrub (2060 N. Humboldt Ave.) and Smoke Shack (332 N. Milwaukee St.).


 

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s December issue.

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.