Posted April 3, 2005 by Nick Lindauer in Reviews

Manhattan Chili Co.

Manhattan Chili Company Postcard

Yesterday I convinced the wife to brave to rain and walk down to the Manhattan Chili Company with me, so we could enjoy some chili without me having to take over the kitchen for a day. Normally she wouldn’t think about going out in weather like we’re having, but it’s my birthday weekend, so I’ve got a lot of clout. Don’t worry, come Monday I’ll be back to being cloutless. Good thing she doesn’t read this 🙂

Anyways, I’ve been wanting to get down to the Manhattan Chili Company for some time. It seems it used to be located right next to the David Letterman studio, which is pretty close to our apartment, but they’ve since moved a little futher away. 43rd and Broadway. Not normally much of a walk, but in the torrential down pour we were having, it tooks us about 20 mintues to get there. Mostly becuase we were having to steer umbrellas the whole time and the tourists in the area don’t have a clue how to handle their umbrellas. But that’s another rant.

Manhattan Chili Company
boasts about having the “World’s Best” chili (see postcard above) – but I and every other chili lover in the world would have to argue otherwise. Yes, they do have good chili, heck even great chili – BUT it’s far from being the “World’s Best.” I wonder if they have ever entered any of their chili recipes in any chili cookoffs. I didn’t see any evidence of that around the restaraunt.

Back to the food. We started off our meal with the Chorizo Mozzarella Quesadilla. I didn’t get a picture of this one, but it was pretty tasty. The description reads: “Chorizo, fresh mozzarella and sweet red onion marmalade in a grilled flour tortilla.” I was very curious about it, since I’ve hardly seen Chorizo on the menu of any other restaurant. Overall the taste was very good, but with the exception of the sweet red onion sauce, I could replicate this appetizer fairly easily. Just get yourself some mozerella balls (without seasoning), some Chorizio and a flour tortilla. Cut the chorizo and mozerella into equal sized pieces, cook Chorizo and then throw it all into a grilled flour tortilla. There you go, and you just saved yourself the $8.50.

Now onto the main course. The wife ordered the Abilene Chili Bowl with sour cream and cheese. The Abilene chili is described as: “(mild enough for tenderfeet) Coarse ground beef, beans, tomatoes & red wine.”

Abilene Chili
Abilene Chili

I apologize for the quality of the pictures, but part of the condition of me being able to take them was that I couldn’t use the flash. Wife’s rules 🙂

She loved her chili, but maintained that it could be better. She really liked the flavor of the Numero Uno chili that I ordered on my sampler platter.

Chili Sampler Platter
Chili Sampler Platter

Now, I don’t mess around with my chili and since it was my first trip to the Manhattan Chili Co, I went for the sampler platter, which gives you the choice of any 3 chilis on the menu plus three toppings. I ordered the three most diverse flavors I could find on the menu, because I wanted to test the limits of the so called “World’s Best” chili co. I went for the Numero Uno Chili, the Real McCoy and the Pima City Green. Going clockwise in the picture above, the Pima City Green is described as: “(hot, hot) Green peppers, celery, potatoes, split peas, fresh peas, lime juice & fresh jalapenos. Garnished with guacamole.”
This was indeed the hottest chili on my platter, but still not hot enough. Next time I would ask the waiter to make it extra hot. But regardless, this was probably my favorite of all the chilis we tried.

The Real McCoy Chili is decribed as: “(medium hot) Chili the way they make it in the Lone Star State…Chunks of beef and two kinds of chili powder. No beans, no tomatoes, no bull. “
Now, when I read the phrase “chunks of beef” I think pieces of steak. This chili was filled more with shredded beef chunks. And beyond the flavor the meat, I found it pretty lacking. It boasts two kinds of chili poweder, but I was hard pressed to taste even one of those powders. My least favorite chili sample. They have the right idea with an all meat chili, but they need to add some flavor to it. Try adding in more chili poweder at least.

The Numero Uno is described as: Coarse ground beef, beans, tomato juice, cumin, cocoa, and cinnamon. Intensely spiced (medium hot).
The wife and I agreed that this was indeed a very flavorful chili, which was all due to the cocoa and cinnamon. The ground beef was not coarsly ground, it was more of a finely ground beef. To me, coarsely ground indicates pretty large chunks or at least pieces of ground beef. The chunkiest item in the chili was the kidney beans. But I still really enjoyed the chili. I liked the flavor of the cocoa and cinnamon and when I added the white onions, they offest the sweet flavor just enough.

The only reason I would hesitate to return to the Manhattan Chili Co was that they automatically added in 18% gratuity to our tab. Now we didn’t order drinks and we were only two people, so I don’t really understand why they did that. A gratuity is just that, a gratuity and customers should be allowed to determine how much they tip. And considering our waiter was playing air guitar right beside our table the entire time, I was not going to leave an 18% tip. I would have left at best a 15%. The only reason I could see that they would do that is becuase of their location. They are right off of Times Square, so they probably have to add in additional costs some how. Oh, and we went at 3 in the afternoon, when the restaurant was essentially empty. Oh well. Depending on my mood, I may or may not return. I wonder if they automatically add in that gratuity to delivery orders. I’ll let you know…

Nick Lindauer

The Original Hot Sauce Blog