Beans do not belong in chili. As far as I’m concerned, beans don’t belong anywhere, I hate them. I hate the taste of them, I don’t like the consistency of them in my mouth and they just make me sick even thinking about them! Back in October I was invited to a chili cook off in West Peoria on Sherman Avenue and I met Cassie Fox Zell who shared my no beans in chili belief. In fact the chili she made was beanless and she won the prestigious MBIP Hormel Beanless Chili Award as you can see from the picture below.
At the chili cook off, Cassie and I got to talking about how few places there are to go and get beanless chili and we decided that we should take a tour and celebrate these restaurants that do the right thing and serve beanless chili. After much thinking and planning, we decided that the Saturday after Thanksgiving would be the perfect night to have such a celebration and we’ve decided to make it an annual beanless holiday here at MBIP. So, without any further adieu and of course without any further beans, here we go on The First Annual MBIP Holiday Beanless Chili Tour!
First Beanless Chili Stop: Blue Duck BBQ Tavern
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know we were just here last week, but I’d come here every week if I could, the food and people that work here are just that great! Last week, my friend Nathalie and I got a sampler platter that they made specially for us, but there wasn’t any chili on it. And I found out last week that the chili here is beanless, so I decided this would be the first stop on our beanless chili tour. And here we are and in quick succession we’ve entered, seen Ali at the host station, Kavan who owns the place is at the bar and there’s bartender Annie serving us up a beer and check out her festive holiday wardrobe, nice!
And here’s the guests of honor and the co-hosts of this beanless chili tour, Cassie and her husband, Tim! Great to see both of them, they’re looking great and now we can officially kick off The First Annual MBIP Holiday Beanless Chili Tour! Could we have some applause, please?
Alright, here’s the first bowl of beanless chili served up by Kavan and Drake, who’s also brought a side of the warm bacon potato salad!
Beanless Bowl Number One
What a great start to this beanless chili tour! The chili is topped off with white onion, cilantro, queso fresco and sour cream. And there’s also some Shiner Bock and tequlia thrown in for good measure. When it’s all mixed together with the rich tomato base it makes for a great flavorful chili. And instead of ground beef, there’s smoked brisket in the chili, really giving it a unique and savory twist on a chili recipe. Cassie, Tim and I agreed that the brisket made it a little bit like a bowl of delicious stew. And the warm bacon potato salad was a great dish to dig in after the chili! A great start on this beanless tour! And now, we travel right down Water Street to the ...
Second Beanless Chili Stop: New Amsterdam
Okay, we walked down here and it’s freezing outside, so let’s go in and warm up!
Always love the dark and inviting atmosphere in New Amsterdam and check it out, there’s MBIP pal, Greg Williams performing! Always love to see and hear him play his wonderful music!
We sat down at a booth and were promptly greeted by Todd who owns New Amsterdam and Rachyl, our pretty waitress who’s bringing us some beers. Who could ask for anything more?
Well, we asked for something more and we got it! Another bowl of beanless chili! And their chili is served with homemade bread and as Cassie is demonstrating, it’s great for dipping into the chili. Tim is kind of ignoring the chili at this point and is more into the massive beer list at New Amsterdam. Hey, that’s okay, the beer is beanless too!
I followed Cassie’s lead and took a dip of the bread into the beanless chili and this is definitely the way to sample it!
Beanless Bowl Number Two
We all agreed that this is some of the best chili in Peoria and beyond! Todd won’t reveal the recipe, but it comes topped off with sour cream and shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Once you dig in there’s big chunks of spicy and savory ground beef and while the chili has a nice spicy kick to it, there’s also a sweet flavor that comes through. This equal parts of heat and sweet really make for a wonderful beanless chili experience!
Third Beanless Chili Stop: Chili’s
Although I usually stay away from chains here on MBIP, we have to make an exception for Chili’s because they are one of the few places here in town that feature beanless chili, plus the name of the place is Chili’s, so how could we not include it? We decided to sit here in the bar area. I just always feel more at home near the bar!
Of course we need some beer to serve as a palate cleanser and here’s our friendly waitress, Kleshia serving them up with a beautiful smile!
Signpost on the wall, chili seems to be in our future!
And here we are sampling our third taste of beanless chili. I really hate the way I look in this picture. I don’t know why I always duck my head down like that and I hate the goofy grin plastered on my face. Sometimes I really hate myself. Hate, hate, HATE myself!
Beanless Bowl Number Three
Cassie, Tim and myself all agreed that this was the most bland of all the chili’s of the tour. It wasn’t bad and it was beanless, so it’s got that going for it, but it could use a little more kick. It’s the only chili of the tour that I added crackers to it and that helped a little bit, but it could use some hot sauce or something. But all in all, it’s not bad chili and it was tough to follow up the first two that were so good and unique!
Fourth Beanless Chili Stop: Steak ‘n Shake
You have to wait to be seated in here, but we didn’t have to wait long and there’s Cassie and Tim at our booth with Sabrina who seated us and is taking our order.
I got up and wandered a little bit and this is Noah, who’s working the grill behind the counter and wondering what I’m doing taking pictures in here at midnight on a Saturday night!
We ordered one of these award-winning milkshakes but there’s just one problem regarding the milkshakes here...
And as I get back to our booth, I’m going to resolve this problem...
The problem with the milkshakes is that there’s no booze in them...
Problem solved! Hey, it’s what I do!
Three on a shake! It was creamy, smooth and oh so vodkalicious!
Here’s Sabrina serving up the last beanless bowl of chili tonight. And while it’s not officially a bowl of chili, it’s a bowl of Steak ‘n Shake Chili Crack and it’s close enough to a bowl of chili for me!
Beanless Bowl Number Four
Chili Crack! Nothing better than this in the world! Thanks to Cassie and Tim for joining me on this fantastic First Annual MBIP Holiday Beanless Chili Tour! It was a blast and I’m already looking forward to next year’s tour! Maybe by then some more restaurants will come to their senses and we can add a few more places to the tour! We’ll see you all tomorrow!
John O’Russa has designed and created a really cool Peoria historical Calendar with great images from Peoria’s past and present including pictures of Jumer’s Castle Lodge, Grandview Drive, The Julia Belle Swain, Springdale Cemetery and many more iconic Peoria photos. You can buy one of these at Urban Artifacts, Haddads and the Airport Gift Shop. And you can also buy one online at Amazon. What a perfect Peoria gift for this holiday season!