The Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals is world famous. So are some of Tulsa’s tastiest chili restaurants…
Every winter, Tulsa, Oklahoma hosts one of the absolute wildest weekends of racing in the world, the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals. Originally sponsored by a local chili company, the name has lived on and become synonymous with awesome midget racing. Well, we think if you’re going to the Chili Bowl, you darn well better grab a bowl of chili somewhere. Here are our picks for the best chili spots in Tulsa…
When both Will Rogers and Martha Stewart rave about your chili, chances are you’re doing something right. Ike’s Chili has been doing chili right since 1908 with no hint of slowing down anytime soon. Not only do they serve some of the best chili in town, but they stand as one of the oldest restaurants in the state, located right on historic Route 66. If you like chili with a good helping of hospitality and history, this is the place for you.
Ron’s Hamburgers and Chili
Ron’s started simply enough when founder Ron Baber left his factory job to open the first location in 1975. Since then, his special recipe chili and tasty burgers have led to Ron’s Hamburgers and Chili becoming a household name throughout Oklahoma and the neighboring states. With locations all over the Tulsa area, it’s a breeze to slip in and out for some chili and draft root beer.
Knotty Pig BBQ, Burger, and Chili House
The Knotty Pig has only been open for just shy of 2 years, but it has already made quite a name for itself and has a devoted local following. Their BBQ is definitely show-stopping, but then again, so is their chili. Get a traditional bowl or have a Frito Pie or just put the chili on almost anything on the menu. It’ll be delicious no matter how you eat it.
Cosmo Cafe is unique to our little chili list for several reasons. Unlike most of the places on this list, Cosmo Cafe isn’t quite an old-school chili parlor, but a top-notch cocktail bar with a stellar food menu. Their chili is made with nice, lean ground beef, but if you’re vegan, they even have you covered there as well. A bowl of chili and a good cocktail at Cosmo Cafe is the perfect way to stay warm this winter.
1926… That’s when the Coney I-Lander first started serving up their delicious chili and hot dogs to the folks of Tulsa. With several locations in the region, it’s safe to say their chili has caught on. They even host a coney eating contest! Since we’re Cincinnati-based, we have to recommend you order what we call “Cincinnati-style” chili… A 3-way (think spaghetti with chili and cheese on top) with a cheese coney on the side.
So whether you’re in town for the legendary Chili Bowl or just passing through Tulsa on a Route 66 adventure, stop and grab some good, hearty chili at one of these excellent chili joints.
More about the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals from the event website:
Initially sponsored by the Chili Bowl food company of Bob Berryhill, these Nationals are known simply as The Chili Bowl: racing’s winter answer to football’s Super Bowl.
It accommodates over two hundred race rigs, bleachers for thousands of people and an ever-growing trade show. To stroll the aisles of Tulsa’s QuikTrip Center, the home of The Golden Driller, is to rub shoulders with champions from across America.
The presence of Sprint talent such as five-time Chili Bowl winner Sammy Swindell is what elevates Midget competition to a level unmatched.
The Chili Bowl’s key ingredient is the clay which once covered the adjacent fairgrounds. Without sun or wind to harm it, the indoor garden (roughly a quarter-mile circle) is heavily saturated so that the boldest dirt track artists of our time can truly shine. The benchmark came in 1994 when the Jones brothers, P.J. and Page, went three-abreast for the lead with eventual winner Andy Hillenburg, a hometown hero from Broken Arrow who commands the loudest fan reaction.
It is this action which fills every corner for 55 laps that keeps people coming back. When more than 15,000 spectators walk out the door on the fifth and final night, they are so amazed at what they have seen that they cannot wait to return.