When the weather outside is frightful, piquant, flavorful chili dishes are delightful. And when temperatures near triple-digits, spicy foods actually help your body cool down. There are many chili peppers used in cooking in many sizes, colors and levels of spiciness. As for the dish commonly referred to as chili, people around the world disagree about the proper ingredients. Some have meat while others do not, some use tomatoes while others use meat broth. There are arguments about using beans in chili, and if so, should they be kidney beans, black-eyed peas, white, pink or navy beans. Try the chili dishes offered at these Sacramento restaurants and choose which kind is your favorite.

Photo Credit: Vallejo's Restaurant via Facebook

Photo Credit: Vallejo’s Restaurant via Facebook

Vallejo’s
1900 4th St.
Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 443-8488
www.vallejosrestaurant.com

The freshly made food at Vallejo’s is excellent and reasonably priced, and this spot makes the best tortillas in town. Try the pozole, a soup traditionally made with ancho chilies, green chilies, cayenne pepper and chili powder with pork and hominy. Anchos are a medium-heat pepper, about 10 times as hot as the pepperoncini put on deli sandwiches. The mole con pollo is a savory delight. It is chicken served with a rich mole sauce typically made with seven kinds of chilies, chocolate and spices.

Uptown Cafe
1121 Del Paso Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 649-2233
www.facebook.com/uptowncafesacramento

Retired cordon bleu chef George Karyszyn owns Uptown Café, where he prepares excellent breakfast and lunch foods in a quirky, hole-in-the-wall restaurant. Uptown’s chili has beans and beef, with the latter made fresh on site. If the chili tickles your tongue or you add too much tabasco, remember that water will not put out the fire. Milk or other dairy products will, so try an Uptown Café milkshake. They are thick, soul soothing and made the old-fashioned way; you even get the “dividend” of extra milkshake in a tall metal cup. All of the shakes are great, but the chocolate peanut butter banana milkshake is heavenly.Related: Best Wine Stores In Sacramento
(credit: Ernesto's Mexican Food)

(credit: Ernesto’s Mexican Food)

Ernesto’s
1901 16th St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 441-5850
www.ernestosmexicanfood.com

Ernesto’s is a Sacramento icon, filled with people seeking fresh, satisfying food and tasty margaritas. Chili verde is a popular dish, with chili peppers, lean chunks of pork, onions, cilantro and tomatillos. Another local favorite is Ernesto’s chile colorado, made with mild- to medium-heat pasilla and ancho chilies simmered with marinated sirloin steak.

Cielito Lindo
3672 J St.
Sacramento, CA 95816
(916) 736-2506
www.cielitolindomexicangastronomy.com

Cielito Lindo is a relatively new restaurant that features a more gourmet level of Mexican cuisine; this is no Taco Bell or place serving cans of gooey Hormel chili. Crema de rajas poblanas is a cream soup with roasted poblano chilies, corn, vanilla bean and epazote herb. Or try a baguette spread with refried beans, butter, chipotle peppers, flank steak, salsa and avocados. Peppers even make it into an amazing dessert – a flan made with ancho chilies and orange.

The Wienery
715 56th St.
Sacramento, CA 95819
(916) 455-0497
www.thewienerysacramento.com

An old-fashioned hot dog in a bun, slathered in tasty chili, is an American classic. The Wienery serves chili with onions and cheese, and diners can choose chili made either with or without meat and with varying degrees of spiciness. One favorite is the “Sloppy Frank” made with sliced hot dogs, chili, cheese and bacon. If you like things spicy, check out the chili dishes that are made with horseradish or extra-hot mustard.
Muntean’s Sandwiches & Soups
1225 J St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 498-9340
www.munteansoups.com

Soups are the stars at Muntean’s, alongside salads and sandwiches. Muntean’s offers 10 homemade soups daily, including flavorful beef chili, vegetarian chili and chili made with turkey or chicken. Call or check the website to find out which soups are being served that day, as they rotate the 10 daily choices from a sizable list of soups, stews and chilies. A few of the options include barley artichoke or pumpkin and leek soups, ceviche, lobster bisque and seafood gumbo.Related: Best Bars For A Blind Date In SacramentoValerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
Her work can be found at Examiner.com.