Thursday, September 1, 2022

Autumn & Chili

Hard Times Cafe - Old Town Alexandria

It's September 1st, so my thoughts are turning to my favorite things about fall - pumpkins, Halloween, football, and chili. (My least favorite thing about autumn is pumpkin spice - LOL)

In DC, I was addicted to chili from Hard Times Cafe for decades, and am so delighted I can make it here in sunny Florida. Their spice mixes are available online, so making a pot of chili could not be easier. I always have it Five Ways which is spaghetti, chili, cheese, onions, and beans and I love it topped with fresh chopped jalapeños, sour cream, and their chili vinegar. And leftover chili freezes so well. 

Click on the captions to order. Here is the website with all their offerings. My favorite is the Cincinnati.

Hard Times Chili Cincinnati Spice Mix

Here is the recipe. One box is enough for 5 pounds of ground beef which is a lot of chili. I use half a box which is what the recipe is for.

And don't miss their chili vinegar.

Chili Vinegar

Chili vinegar was a traditional condiment found in many Southwest chili parlors during the 1930s and ‘40s. Our blend of #3 cracked red peppers and distilled white vinegar has a 75 year history and is served exclusively at the Hard Times Café. Two or three good shakes gives a great tang to Texas chili, burgers, French fries and salads.

I was looking for some bowls and plates that would be fun for serving chili. I use plates when serving it over spaghetti, bowls when not. These would be perfect. Since they are enamel, they would be great for tailgating too.

Golden Rabbit Swirl Enamel Serving Bowls in Red

Golden Rabbit Swirl Enamel Serving Bowls in Cobalt

Golden Rabbit Swirl Enamel Dinner Plates in Red

Golden Rabbit Swirl Enamel Dinner Plates in Cobalt

And serve it with a Jalapeño Margarita if you like with the rim of the glass rolled in Maldon Smoked Sea Salt. If you don't have smoked sea salt, read my post on it here. Here are different sizes of it.

Maldon Smoked Sea Salt - 1.1 pound tub

Maldon Smoked Sea Salt - 4.4 ounce 2 pack

I am starting my fall decorating today and will be making a pot of chili this weekend. For you fellow Le Creuset and Staub folks, one of their cocottes is perfect for making chili.


  1. It is 95 degrees here in Northwest Florida, and now I'm craving chili!

    1. LOL - I'm in South Florida and it's in the eighties and gorgeous.

  2. I do love a nice bowl of chili on a cool fall day! Growing up in the Panama Canal Zone, chili con carne was always served over rice, which is delicious-add some avocado and a little sprinkle of cheese and yum! I’ve never had Cincinnati style, will have to try it. Over Fritos is delicious too; so many options!

    1. I agree - I love chili over rice and love it with avocado. There are so many fabulous choices!

  3. Ooh...thanks for the secret chili source, Beth. My late mother made the most amazing chili. She was an amazing cook, period. Unfortunately for me, many of her recipes have gone, along with her, as she never wrote any of them down! I will definitely try the Hard Times chili.

    I've never had a pumpkin spice latte, so I can't weigh in.

  4. I do remember Hard Times Cafe when I lived in Old Town in the 80s - love the memories, and the chili! Also, frequented the Taverna Cretekou which you'd mentioned in another post! I lived on S. Columbus near a small wooden corner house that was painted pink with Charleston green shutters - so cute. I think the current owners lacked courage, re-painted and it now just blends in...Now I need to go order that Cincinnati mix!

    1. I love Old Town. I think the prices have gone so crazy on homes there that people have gotten more conservative with color choices. Those funky wooden Victorians are now million dollar houses.

  5. I miss Hard Times! I used to love to go there. Even though I am a native Texan, the Cincinnati was my favorite. Now I'm hungry for chili.