Welcome back to the 2013 VegCharlotte Awards!
Today’s category: Best Chili.
And the winner -by a landslide – Pinky’s Westside Grill.
Yes, apparently Charlotte, NC vegans and vegetarians LOVE Pinky’s Homemade Veggie Chili. They like it by the bowl ($3.95). They like it on the Stray Dog (vegetarian dog topped with chili, mustard, slaw, and onions – $4.50). They like it paired with the One & Only (Charlotte’s first vegetarian corn dog – $4.25). They like it on the Nature Boy Veggie Burger (pinto bean and chickpea based patty, deep fried and topped with roasted red peppers, provolone, lettuce, tomato, red onion and mayo) served White Trash Style (with mustard, chili, slaw, and onion + $1). They like it on their Waffle Fries ($2.40).
There were also several enthusiastic recommendations for the Veggie Chili at The Diamond ($3.50 cup, $4.25 bowl, or a topping for their Black Bean Burger – $6.95 – or Soy Dog – $4.95).
Also some recommendations for the Veggie Chili at The Comet Grill, either by the bowl ($3.25) or as part of the Veggie Nachos appetizer ($9).
And finally, we had some votes for the Vegetarian Chili at Lupie’s Cafe. Wow … I can remember going to Lupie’s eons ago, when they had some of the very few veggie options in town. (A veggie burger – how avant garde for the time! Vegetable plates! Veggie Chili! Which The Charlotte Observer condescendingly describes as “coughing hot chili with vegetarian soy whatever-it-is – Please, can we get a food critic that doesn’t make fun of vegetarians?) Anyhow, I remember the chili being exactly as it should be – very hot and spicy, served with a glass of tea that was sweet and cornbread which wasn’t.
One final note: Chili is often served with toppings or garnishes – usually onions and cheese, sometimes a dollop of sour cream. So vegans might want to clarify that before ordering. And of course, as always, verify the vegan-ness of anything you put chili on or eat with your chili – for example, is the slaw on that hot dog mayo slaw or vinegar slaw? And the cornbread served with your chili or wrapped around your corn dog likely has eggs and dairy milk.