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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Return to George The Chili King

Having frequented the iconic George The Chili King on Hickman in the past, I wanted to revisit the place and compare eats with the two Coney Island joints I've visited recently, Jim's on S.W. Ninth [see blog post], and Ted's on Ingersoll [see blog post].

Whereas both Jim's and Ted's serve up tricked-out baskets of onion rings, fries, and slaw with their sandwiches, George's only offers a choice between fries and rings, with a medium drink.

Having tried the greasy, near caramelized onion rings on my last visit a year ago [see blog post], today I opted for the thin crinkle cut fries. A nice middle ground between shoestring and traditional crinkle cut, the fries came straight from the fryer unseasoned. A dash or two of salt is recommended.

The Coney is built like the other two chili houses, with chopped onion, mustard, and pickle sliver. The chili sauce – with a nice hint of allspice, or even clove, perhaps – is more similar in flavor and texture to Ted's than Jim's.

The chili bowl didn't seem to have the same zest as the hot dog sauce. The lone employee working both the grill and counter pointed out that these were two separate batches. How this came to be is that – unlike either Jim's or Ted's – beans are added to the chili bound for bowls. Also in addition to ubiquitous Oyster crackers, George's also offers cheese and onions as extras. The salty crackers overpowered the flavor of the chili, and on this occasion were rather stale.

I inquired about the beefburger served here, and got to try a sample of the meat. Like Ted's it's seasoned, but with a far heavier hand. Overseasoned and salty on the tongue, the meat is served in a hot dog bun like Ted's, but with a veneer of chili along with the usual condiments.

The one serious issue I had on this visit was the heat inside. Apparently the place has been operating with little or no AC for years, and on this scorching summer day the staff took a beating. I winced as they worked the fryer and grill with no relief but for two box fans hung up at opposite ends of the diner, and even that amounted to little.

George the Chili King on Urbanspoon Photos from the Picasa Web Album: Des Moines area chili joints

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