Chili is an American favorite, especially (but not only in) the cold weather. It is hearty, filling and usually very healthy, especially in its vegetarian form. Although a Southwestern dish, the chefs and cooks at cafes and restaurants throughout the Nutmeg State have worked hard to make it their own and give that Texas staple a distinctly New England flair. Here are just five of the top spots to find vegetarian chili in Connecticut.
Claire’s Corner Copia
1000 Chapel St.
New Haven, CT 06510
Claire Criscuolo began cooking up affordable, healthy and very tasty vegetarian and vegan cuisine at her little corner restaurant near Yale 40 years ago, and is still going strong. The vegetarian chili at Claire’s Corner Copia is a particular favorite of her loyal customers. It is an all-organic stew of red kidney and pinto beans with tomatoes, corn, chilies and brown rice. Made fresh from her own recipe (which can be found in one of the many cookbooks she has written), it is hearty, delicious and healthy and is labeled on the menu as not only“VO,” — for “Vegan No Cholesterol Option” — but also “GF” – for “Gluten Free.” Cheese is optional (at no extra cost) and it is served with a side of organic corn tortilla chips. As a bonus, Claire’s is also Kosher.
The Spicy Green Bean
225 Hebron Ave.
Glastonbury, CT 06033
The Spicy Green Bean is well-known for its “Kooky Koncoctions,” to which a section of the “ever-changing menu” is dedicated. While there is always chili of some sort on the menu, sometimes it’s beef, sometimes its bean, sometimes it’s vegetarian and sometimes it’s not, as the hostess explains. After all, as their website notes, “We’re all a little kooky in this kitchen.” When the mood strikes and the chef does make vegetarian chili, however, it is a bowl of beauty. Thick, sumptuous, and, of course, spicy, it is like all of the soups and chilis “house-made” and available by the bowl, as part of a salad or sandwich combo or by the quart to go.
The Lime Restaurant
168 Main St.
Norwalk, CT 06851
The Black Bean Chili at The Lime is packed with onions and peppers, and although diners can ask to have it served without sour cream and cheese, all but the bravest of palates find those additions not only nicely complement, but also cool the spices that give this vegetarian chili its rich, unique heat. There are a lot of amazing dishes on the menu, but the Black Bean Chili is arguably the signature dish of this award-winning and always highly-rated palace of vegetarian and vegan cuisine, which also serves meat dishes for carnivores in the dining party.
Related: Top Chili Dishes In Connecticut
The Vanilla Bean Café
450 Deerfield Road
Pomfret, CT 06258
The Jessurun Family opened The Vanilla Bean Cafe in 1989 with the desire to create a place where customers would feel comfortable and serve food that they would want to eat. Although it has grown from a tiny place with only 16 chairs to a restaurant that seats 90, The Vanilla Bean Cafe has remained true to its origins, and in perhaps no other dish served there is this more evident than in its meatless Southwestern vegetable chili. “We make our own chili,” note the owners with pride, “using a top secret, slow-cook method. Our spices are fully absorbed into the ingredients and become a part of the chili, rather than an afterthought.” The vegetarian version is not always on the menu, as it is treated as a “special” menu item, and with good reason.
2445 Black Rock Turnpike
Fairfield, CT 06825
Although Chilibomb in Fairfield is renowned for its exceptionally spicy meat dishes, including the aptly named Hellhound and Texas Peacemaker beef chilies, they cook up a mean sweet potato chili which can stand proudly alongside its meat-laden cousins. The menu describes it as “our premium 100 percent vegan chili that will fool any meat eater.” It is chunky and rich with beans, and as a bonus is fat-free. It can be had by the bowl, on its own, or over spaghetti, fries, rice, cornbread, nachos or a baked potato, and there islist of “funfixins” and deluxe toppings that can be added for a small surcharge of 39 or 59 cents each. It can also be ordered to go by the quart, half-gallon or gallon.
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