I've driven past Chili My Soul on the corner of Balboa and Ventura probably a thousand times, and each time I think, "Wow, some day when I'm craving a bowl of chili..."
Well, last night it was cold and I wanted a big hot bowl of chili, so Mrs. Ubergeek and I hopped in the car and went to Chili My Soul... to find a note on the door saying they were closed temporarily due to a minor malfunction.
We must have looked really crestfallen, because the owner beckoned us in and explained that the electric on the chili kettles had quit but they expected to have it up and running in about 10 minutes if we wanted to wait.
For those who haven't been, Chili My Soul makes 35 different varieties of chili (six are vegetarian; approximately a third of them contain beans). On any given day, 15 or so varieties are available, since it takes three days to make each batch (they spend two of the three days being defatted). Each cup or bowl of chili comes with three toppings of your choice (from the mundane -- onions, cheese, sourcream -- to the interesting -- chocolate chips, pepitas) and a starch of your choice (cornbread, tortilla chips or garlic bread). You can request vegetable sticks with ranch dip at no charge.
Since we're doing the South Beach Diet, we delined the starch and were offered salads instead. The chopped salad comes with the usual vegetables, garbanzos, tortilla strips (which we rejected) and roasted red pepper strips. You can add parmesan cheese and artichokes for no extra charge.
The chilis themselves are ranked in heat from 1 to 10+, with 1 being hardly spiced at all and 10+ being "OMG FIRE WTF". Of the six veggie chilis, at least two are offered each day. You sample the chilis, then you place an order of either one chili or a split bowl.
My wife had a Santa Fe chili (3 on the heat scale, pork) and I had a split bowl of Turkey Santa Cruz (4) and Rojo Grande (6, beef).
The Rojo was very good, but a little greasy even after the defatting. The Turkey Santa Cruz was smoky and unlike any chili I'd ever had. The Santa Fe was tasty but uninteresting (to me -- my wife devoured it).
The salads were absolutely huge and tasted fantastic. So much food that we had it again for lunch today and there's STILL food left... all for $25. The service was wonderful, the food was terrific -- we'll be going back often.
Chili My Soul
Balboa Blvd. at Ventura Blvd.