Feb. 27 marks National Chili Day – the perfect day to snag some of that comforting, spicy stew. In San Diego’s North County, there are plenty of places that dish up chili, and Yelp has rounded up some of those hotspots. So, whether it’s slow-cooked in a cauldron con carne or used to top burgers or hot dogs, celebrate Chili Day with a satisfying spoonful from some local businesses.
The Yellow Deli (Valley Center/Vista)
The Yellow Deli certainly lives up to its name. The two locations in the North County – one in Valley Center and the other in Vista – are both housed in cute, little yellow houses snuggled in their respective communities. When you’re on the porch at the Valley Center location, shaded by oak trees, it almost feels like you’re at home. The other location in Vista has been described as a “magical hobbit hole” with its ivy-covered entrance and charming windowpanes. Each spot serves up a “hearty kettle cooked” chili that’s full of tomato chunks and perfectly seasoned, with crusty artisan bread on the side. It’s a home-cooked hit.
Mad Madeline’s Grill (Temecula)
The winner of the Best Burger in the Inland Empire! Make one of their burgers even better when you top it with their no-bean chili. The option is on the menu (with cheese, too!) for just $1.60 additionally. But, if you like award-winning burgers just the way they are, Mad Madeline’s Grill also offers other chili-covered carbs to munch on. For instance, go for the “chili n cheese” hot dog, chili cheese fries or simply savor some chili as a side order. Here, they serve it covered in cheddar, with chopped tomatoes and red onions.
Tin Leaf Fresh Kitchen (Carlsbad)
This location commits to made-from-scratch, locally-sourced dishes and the homemade “Santa Maria Tri-tip Chili” is a must on the menu. You can add a cup to your lunch or dinner for just a couple bucks or commit to a whole bowl for $5.95. If Southwest flavors are not your cup of tea, may we also recommend the French style Cassoulet? It’s a slow-simmered stew of chicken, sausage, pork, fresh herbs, white beans and bread crumbs. It ain’t no chili, but it sure is tasty.
Native Foods Cafe (Encinitas)
Vegetarians, rejoice! With this local, meat-free restaurant, you can get in on this chili-fest too. The entire menu is vegan and the “Native Chili” is delicious. Order it and don’t share the details with your carnivore pals – they’ll be surprised at how good it is. The dish is described as a “custom blend of white beans and Native Chili Meat simmered with tomatoes and special spices.” It has non-dairy cheese on top, with red onions, and is served with a generous slice of their homemade cornbread.
Chili Coast Burgers (Vista)
Yelpers describe this eatery as a must-try hole-in-the-wall. It’s a cheap neighborhood joint tucked into a shopping mall, and the specialty? You got it, chili burgers. If you’re celebrating National Chili Day, this is the place to do it. The addictive concoction is simple: a smooth chili topping slathered on slabs of meat between a fresh buns. Wash down that burger with one of the microbrews offered on tap and you’ve got yourself one heck of a local treat.
Trish Sanderson is the community manager and marketing director for Yelp North County San Diego. She leads the local community of Yelp reviewers both online and off.