This series maps out our editors’ picks for Vancouver’s best and most legendary comfort foods. We encourage readers to steer us towards their favourites in the comments or by using the hashtag #ScoutYVR on social media.
The chili that gets loaded into a chili dog, chili burger or on top of chili fries is very different than the stuff that is typically served on its own as a main event meal. It is not ‘competition chili’ with regional nuance and secret ingredients. There are no big chunks of peppers or onion, and if there are any beans to be seen they’re just doing it wrong. Really, what we’re talking about here is a chili-flavoured meat sauce, and cooks that stray from that ideal have lost the plot. The aforementioned dogs, burgers and fries – when done right – are all about making certain synapses snap to satisfy nostalgic cravings for old ballparks, carnivals, and other places that probably shouldn’t be serving food. Restaurants have never been that great at duplicating the taste and texture of this delicious brown devilry, which is why your fork might drop when you try the chili fries at East Van’s Bells and Whistles. I can take or leave the fancy garnish of aged cheddar and green onion, but they nail the flavour of the chili so convincingly that you can almost smell the bleacher beer and hear the rickety rollercoasters.