Helpful ReplyChili John's Cafe (Beaver Dam, WI)

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ScreamingChicken
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2018/09/29 11:42:42 (permalink)

Chili John's Cafe (Beaver Dam, WI)

A few weeks ago I was out and about and found myself hungry and in Beaver Dam, where I made my first visit to Chili John's Cafe.  A local landmark since 1920, it has an interesting history but as far as I can tell is unrelated to the Chili John's in Green Bay.
 
It's not a very big place, with the counter and flattop on one side and tables on the other.  The day I was there it was quite crowded so I grabbed a spot at the counter; maybe next time I'll choose a table so I can get an interior shot as the ambience is definitely RF.

 
I don't consider myself an expert, but this was possibly the best chili/coney (on the menu it's coney) dog I've ever had.  The base was a good bun and a quality all-beef dog, and the chili itself was excellent (and I ordered it with cheese, of course).  I could've easily eaten a second but stopped at one because I had other stops to make.

 
My counter seat was right in front of the flattop and it was enjoyable to watch the grill man (in the Facebook photo he's the mustachioed fellow on the left - possibly Chris Stavropoulos?) work.  Most of the orders were for breakfast items and he was constantly juggling 4 or 5 orders at the same time, yet he had everything under control and even kept an eye on the counter and tables.  It was an impressive 1-man operation and Chili John's is definitely worth a stop for anyone in the area.
post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2018/10/01 22:29:28
#1
leethebard
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Re: Chili John's Cafe (Beaver Dam, WI) 2018/09/29 12:01:49 (permalink)
Looks delicious!
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BuddyRoadhouse
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Re: Chili John's Cafe (Beaver Dam, WI) 2018/09/29 13:01:35 (permalink)
I had to zoom out a fair ways on the Google map before I found a major city for distance clarification of Beaver Dam.  Right smack dab in the middle of the Milwaukee/Madison/Fond du Lac Triangle, eh?
 
Congratulations, looks like you may have found the first decent Chili Dog known to Mankind.
 
Buddy
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MilwFoodlovers
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Re: Chili John's Cafe (Beaver Dam, WI) 2018/09/30 12:45:35 (permalink)
BuddyRoadhouse
………. looks like you may have found the first decent Chili Dog known to Mankind.
 
Buddy


 You know, True Confessions time. I have never in my life tried one. If we go there and Buddy orders one, I'll eat two. It just never struck me as something I'd enjoy together; separately yes. " /> 
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leethebard
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Re: Chili John's Cafe (Beaver Dam, WI) 2018/09/30 13:06:58 (permalink)
Hot dog with "the works" I used to get in Western North Carolina: Hot dog in a bun (usually foot long), mustard, raw chopped onions,Chili sauce,cole slaw on top. Delicious!!!
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BuddyRoadhouse
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Re: Chili John's Cafe (Beaver Dam, WI) 2018/09/30 13:21:53 (permalink)
MFL,
I don't think I'd drive that far for a chili dog.  As a lifelong consumer of ChicagoStyleHotDogs (with a secondary fondness for NYC street dogs-brown mustard and onion sauce, please), I admit to personal bias.  I've tried really, really hard to like chili dogs, but I just can't manage it.  I hold no animosity towards them, I just can't get excited about them.
 
For starters, the hot dog itself seems to be of inferior quality to a Vienna Beef product.  The natural casing snap and the bold assertive flavors of a VB dog are missing from the chili dogs I've had.  The inconsistent cooking method also detracts from my appreciation of the genre.  In my experience, some are boiled (meh), and some are griddled, but rarely long enough to make a significant positive impact on the flavor and texture of the dog.
 
The best version I've had came from a tiny 24 hour diner, walking distance across the parking lot from my cheap motel in north suburban Detroit.  I went in on a whim late at night and was served, what I consider, the Gold Standard Coney Island/Chili Dog.  The dog was cooked on a griddle, long enough that it gave the casing a good snap for texture, and some nice caramelization to enhance the taste.
 
The chili itself was pleasant.  Flavor-wise, it ran along the lines of the Greek meat sauce generally associated with most Detroit and Cincinnati versions.  All meat, no beans, with a slight cinnamon overtone.  The mustard was yellow and the onions were chopped and all was right with the world at 2am.  I have yet to have another, anywhere, that matches up to it.
 
That said, I'd happily join you for a Chili Dog Excursion sometime.  Not sure I want to go all the way to Beaver Dam, but maybe someplace closer to either one of our homes.  Doesn't John's Root Beer Stand in Waukesha serve a chili dog?  Why yes, I believe they do.
 
I think we'll need to pay them a visit one crisp fall day very soon.  Weekdays are best, later in October.  You call it.
 
Buddy
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BayouCityNosh
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Re: Chili John's Cafe (Beaver Dam, WI) 2018/10/01 01:09:59 (permalink)
I'm not so sure about the chili dog but the place looks fantastic.  If I ever got there I'd probably try one but other stuff on the menu (and in pictures) looks better to me.
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Pitaplus
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Re: Chili John's Cafe (Beaver Dam, WI) 2018/10/01 08:57:35 (permalink)
I really got to know a very good place for having Hot Dog with chili beans. I am sure that it will be fun out there in Chili John's Cafe.

 

#8
buffetbuster
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Re: Chili John's Cafe (Beaver Dam, WI) 2018/10/01 09:07:30 (permalink)
I love the looks of this place.  Nice find SC!
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mlm
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Re: Chili John's Cafe (Beaver Dam, WI) 2018/10/01 11:22:06 (permalink)
It does look good. I've always known about the idea of chili dogs and fix them for myself from time to time from grocery store items but I've never had a really GREAT one.
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ALL GOOD
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Re: Chili John's Cafe (Beaver Dam, WI) 2018/10/01 13:23:36 (permalink)
This place is awesome.  I was born in Beaver Dam and lived there most of my childhood.  My Mom worked "downtown" and would have coney dogs at Chili John's all the time.. it's always been a popular place!
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ScreamingChicken
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Re: Chili John's Cafe (Beaver Dam, WI) 2018/10/01 17:30:09 (permalink)
buffetbuster
I love the looks of this place.  Nice find SC!

Thanks, but I have a confession to make.  Every January starting in 1990 I've driven north to Appleton on US-151 and then back home again.  151 goes right by Beaver Dam (the business route goes right *through* BD) yet on none of those 29 trips did I stop at Chili John's.  None.  Not a one.  So while I thank you for saying "Nice find" I think "Nice find, but what took you so long???" might be a bit more appropriate!
post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2018/10/01 18:15:22
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Root-Beer Man
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Re: Chili John's Cafe (Beaver Dam, WI) 2018/10/01 17:42:17 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby JRPfeff 2018/10/01 18:15:47
I guess I'm going to be the dissenter here. There's just no way I can get behind a chili dog that has chili with beans on it. Goes against everything I've ever eaten or made. While the texture and colour look right....ugh....those beans. Is this some kind of Wisconsin thing?
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BuddyRoadhouse
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Re: Chili John's Cafe (Beaver Dam, WI) 2018/10/01 18:01:10 (permalink)
Midwest in general.
 
Buddy
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ScreamingChicken
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Re: Chili John's Cafe (Beaver Dam, WI) 2018/10/01 18:25:08 (permalink)
Root-Beer Man
There's just no way I can get behind a chili dog that has chili with beans on it. Goes against everything I've ever eaten or made. While the texture and colour look right....ugh....those beans.

If you ever make it up this way your first Chili John's coney dog is on me.
 
Yes, my experience has been that beaned chili seems to be more common than unbeaned chili here in the Midwest.  Certainly beans are a great way to extend a pot when feeding a lot of people and the meat's not in great supply, and if chili caught on in this part of the country around the time of the Great Depression I can understand why that style's more prevalent here.
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BuddyRoadhouse
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Re: Chili John's Cafe (Beaver Dam, WI) 2018/10/01 18:39:43 (permalink)
The best (and coincidentally only) no-bean chili I've ever had in the Midwest was at Barbosa's Castillo in St. Joseph, MO.  It's a slightly overpriced (especially in economically challenged St. Jo) Mexican restaurant located in a 19th century mansion.
 
The chili is highly unique by Midwest standards.  First off, it's made with largish, super tender chunks of pork as opposed to the finer ground beef found in most other places.  The only other ingredient, IIRC, is rustic thick pieces of onion in a thin, mild red sauce.  They serve it over Enchiladas or Tamales and it's really good, although I have nothing "authentic" to compare it to.
 
Buddy
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MilwFoodlovers
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Re: Chili John's Cafe (Beaver Dam, WI) 2018/10/01 21:29:15 (permalink)
BuddyRoadhouse
................... it's made with largish, super tender chunks of pork as opposed to the finer ground beef found in most other places.  …....................
Buddy


Now that sold me. I'll eat chili made with just about anything and not complain, but the only chili I've ever loved is made with cubes of pork.
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BuddyRoadhouse
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Re: Chili John's Cafe (Beaver Dam, WI) 2018/10/02 02:16:34 (permalink)
Yeah, but no Hot Dogs to put it on, just plain old Tamales.  Oh wait, that's a good thing.  It's been ages since we've been to Barbosa's.  Might be time for a revisit when we're in town over the Holidays.
 
Buddy
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