It’s too hot in the summer, too humid in the spring, autumn lasts from 2 a.m. Oct. 29 to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 2 and we’re officially in the throes of winter. 

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It’s too hot in the summer, too humid in the spring, autumn lasts from 2 a.m. Oct. 29 to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 2 and we’re officially in the throes of winter.

You need chili.

And a dire wolf.

But first, chili.

The problem is finding a reliable source of chili. We can’t all be scouring Twitter and Facebook every day to track down restaurants with chili specials. And what if they put something weird in it, like pineapple and cashews? There’s no coming back from that.

Palate kick

For a bowl with a barbecue kick, the Range Chili ($4 for a cup, $5.95 for a bowl) never leaves the menu at Iron Starr Urban Barbeque, 3700 N. Shartel Ave. That’s because it has been a favorite from the beginning, chock-full of tender brisket for a big beef flavor. Crumble cornbread in there and make sure to enjoy the zing of the red chile créme fraiche, which brings a tangy heat to the dish.

Buffalo pals

Nothing says Oklahoma like a range full of bison, so it’s little wonder that the buffalo chili with jalapeño hush puppies ($7 for a cup, $9 for a bowl) at Flint, 15 N. Robinson Ave., is such a hit.

The meat in this chili is ground, so the texture is consistent, but the buffalo — a lean animal with a rich taste — takes the dish to another level.

“We try to keep our menu pretty seasonal, but we’d never take the chili off our menu,” said Flint Assistant Manager Jason Partee. “Too many people ask for it to let it go.”

Vegan chili pie

If meat’s not your thing, then I don’t know. I don’t know, man. But The Red Cup, 3122 N. Classen Blvd., does because it has been slinging a vegetarian Frito chili pie for years, much to the delight of patrons. The mix of beans, vegetables and spices creates a delightfully filling and hearty stew made even more irresistible by the inclusion of crunchy corn chips. Feel free to push this on the meat-lovers in your life — they won’t know the difference.

Family recipe

If you’re feeling a seasonal chill on the southside, pull into Sherri’s Diner, 704 SW 59th St., for a beautiful bargain. At $2.29 for a cup or $5.29 for a bowl, this staple menu item is one of owner Annie Cox’s favorites.

“This chili recipe goes five generations deep,” said Cox. “It’s not too tomato-ey or spicy, but it’s a really good, hearty chili.”

It’s thick enough to stick to your ribs, and Cox also recommends you get it on a burger or a plate of fries (but it’s good with cornbread, too).

Watch your waist

If you want the heat but red meat is too heavy, then Coolgreens’ white chicken chili ($3 for a cup, $5 for a bowl) has plenty of kick to keep your taste buds tingling. Best of all, you can pair it with a salad for a lunch that won’t leave you looking like a lonely, post-holiday Santa. Find a location near you at coolgreens.com.

Chili combos

I’m so grateful for local chili impresario Glen Franklin of G’s Chili Company, who sees no need to take delicious, beefy chili off the menu.

Using a recipe he learned from his mother, Franklin grinds his own spices to create a spicy (but not-too-spicy) beef-and-bean chili that can be served plain or with spaghetti, macaroni or a frankfurter, just like he grew up eating.

“My friends in Oklahoma were always asking me when I was going to make that chili again,” he said.

So, when food truck fever hit OKC, he wisely joined the movement.

Though he likes his hotter, Franklin said G’s Chili is full of flavor, not heat. A serving of his 1962 original recipe chili comes with beans, cheddar and onions for $7, but it’s also available over pasta and on chilidogs.

For winter catering options, call 919-2125. Check out its menu and find the truck’s location during warmer months at gschilicompany.com.

Print headline: Chili outside and in; From all-meat to vegan delights, local eateries offer hearty, distinctive takes on a seasonal favorite.

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