Have a three-way at Hard Times (chili)

Hard Times Cafe


There is something about chili. Cincinnati has their chili, seasoned with cinnamon, cloves, allspice or chocolate. Texas eschews the bean, sticking with the meat, only. The Texan subset, Terlingua is redder in color and has a spicy kick. And even the vegetarians have their own version with soy,veggies and peanuts.

All can be found at Hard Times.

This is the grand daddy of the locally-owned chain of chili parlor/sports bars. Owners Fred and Jim Parker opened in 1980, and didn’t really know what they were getting in to except they knew how to cook award-winning chili. The rest is history.

Their grandfather was a trail drive cowboy in Grapevine, Texas, and there he learned to make chili from the chuck wagon cook. He and his bride homesteaded in Oklahoma, and opened a small roadhouse featuring the chili.

In 2005, USA Today named them as one of the 10 best places in the country for a bowl of chili. Newcomers can sample each of their four types of chili before ordering.

  1. Bowl: chili in a bowl
  2. Two-way: chili and spaghetti
  3. Three-way: chili, spaghetti, and cheese
  4. Four-way: chili, spaghetti, cheese, and onions
  5. Five-way: chili, spaghetti, cheese, onions, and beans

Hard Times Cafe

1404 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 837-0050