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by Kym Byrnes
As the cold winter weather sets in, many will turn to local restaurants to warm them up on the inside and out. A menu favorite, chili offers as much variety as it does flavor. Feb. 26 is National Chili Day – a day to celebrate the spicy, hearty stew. According to nationalchiliday.com, the first recognizable written description of chili comes from a man in Texas in the 1820s: “When they [poor families of San Antonio] have to lay for their meat in the market, a very little is made to suffice for the family; it is generally cut into a kind of hash with nearly as many peppers as there are pieces of meat – this is all stewed together.”

By the 1880s, chili stands were set up on the streets in towns like San Antonio and “bowls o’ red” were sold by “chili queens.” President Lyndon B. Johnson was reportedly a chili fanatic, preferring the dish as it was made in his home state of Texas. Johnson is quoted as saying, “Chili concocted outside of Texas is usually a weak, apologetic imitation of the real thing. One of the first things I do when I get home to Texas is to have a bowl of red. There is simply nothing better.”

But chili certainly found its way to Maryland, and there is no shortage of delicious chili offered in Carroll County eateries. Following are five great bowls of chili to be had locally. Have a favorite chili in Carroll County or know a great recipe? Share with us by emailing readerswrite@carrollmagazine.com.

Oscar’s Ale House, 1438 Liberty Road in Eldersburg, offers a chili with peppers, onions, celery, tomato, kidney beans, brown ale and sautéed beef. The dish is topped off with crumbled bleu cheese and sour cream. $7 a bowl.

Mount Airy Tavern, 1001 Twin Arch in Mount Airy, uses a blend of spices, beans, beef and vegetables with melted cheddar cheese and sour cream to make its chipotle and black bean chili. $4.95 a cup, $5.95 a bowl.

Country Kitchen, 112 E Baltimore St. in Taneytown, dishes out a hearty family favorite recipe that includes ground beef, kidney beans, fresh tomatoes, onions and peppers that simmer together for hours with a secret mix of spices. $3.49 a cup, $3.99 a bowl.

Legends Café, 400 N. Center St (TownMall of Westminster), offers chili with ground top round, onions, peppers and beans slowly cooked for full flavor, topped with cheddar cheese. $5 a bowl.

Harry’s Main Street Grille, 65 West Main St in Westminster, boasts “Harry’s Famous Chili” made from a secret family recipe. What we can tell you is that the dish is topped with melted cheddar cheese, fresh chopped onions, jalapenos and tortilla chips. $4.75 for a crock, $6.95 for a bowl.

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