Seattle >Bars & Clubs > Mike's Chili Parlor
1447 NW Ballard Ave, Seattle, WA | Directions 9810747.662828 -122.375801
Monday To Thursday From 11:00 AM To 11:00 PM Friday From 11:00 AM To 12:00 AM Saturday From 12:00 PM To 08:00 PM
Neighborhoods: Ballard, West Woodland
Our burgers were small, the chili was mediocre, the waitress forgot we existed, and...cash only? Diners, Drive-ins & Dives has lost credibility with me.
THE best chili EVER! – My experience @ Mike's was great! The service was good, even though it WAS busy and the gal waiting tables was pregnant! The prices are reasonable and the chili IS REAL chili! Chili does NOT require beans. Real chili doesn't even have beans. However, they do serve their chili over beans and everything else on the menu. I discovered this place while my husband was on an extended stay @ the UW Medical Center and have been back several times since! In my opinion, its worth the 30 mile drive I make to get there! If you are a health nut, pass this one by, I'm sure the chloresterol content is high, but, when the recipe was first made, that wasn't a huge concern, I'm sure. The atmosphere is that of an old tavern. Its not a 5 star restaurant, it is a tavern that has been there for decades! It is a long time family run tavern that they have effectively managed to maintain everything the way it was meant to be! Mike's has been in business for over 85 years, they MUST be doing something right!
SOOO disappointed! – This place was on Diner's Drive ins and Dives. I decided to check it out and I couldn't have been more disappointed. If I could rate it lower than 1 I would. I had half of a chili dog with cheese and a hand full of french fries. No flavor on either of the dishes. GREASY!!!! I couldn't believe that this place was still in business, must be due to the bar because the food is terrible.
Uh....NO – As a chef for over 30 years and having won well over 30 chili cook-offs, I went to Mike's with an admittedly snotty standard for what the word "chili" means. I learned mine in Louisiana and later in Texas and make over 2 dozen styles of chili, including my Triple-A cherry-wood-smoked Venison chili, White Bean Chicken, turkey, vegetarian with smoked barley, cabrito, armadillo, and even - on one memorable occasion - won a bet that I couldn't produce a decent chili from just alligator and rattlesnake meat. So, I'm conversant with the Art of the Red Bowl, let's say.
Under no stylistic flag I've ever found does a bowl of ground beef and chili powder, absolutely SWIMMING in grease, constitute "chili". I didn't even have to taste it. I ate the whole bowl, so as not to insult the nice staffers, but I could tell by looking. It had none of the light golden tint that cumin gives it, none of the aroma of any spice other than CHEAP chili powder, and no onions, peppers, or tomatoes. When I say "SWIMMING", I mean drowned. Lost at Sea. Inundated. My bowl came with a moat of red grease around the edges that was fully half an inch deep. I saw their hotel pan of new chili as I left and the entire top was NOTHING but grease.
I've eaten chili that was made on the cheap. There is a famous little hole-in-the-wall in Roanoke. VA called the Texas Tavern. Their chili doesn't even have a real sauce, chili powder, cumin, onions or anything else I identify as chili. It's got a clear, thick broth, uses canned pintos, and has tiny, scant flecks of burger in it. THAT "chili" is addictive. Absolutely compelling. Not gross and slathered with grease. People from AUSTRALIA come in there and take gallons home with them. I've watch it happen. That chili was cheaply made but not Cheap. There's a difference. I suspect all these glowing reviews are from folks whose parents served them Castleberry's Hot Dog Chili out of the can and that's what they grew up calling "chili". I had the same upbringing but tasted my first bowl at 13 and was hooked for life. If you've ever had real Texas or Southern chili, you'd never touch Mike's. I gave it two stars because I LOVE little dive bars and Mike's atmosphere will probably bring me back there someday.
But it won't be for chili.
Chili not out of a can – Mikes has the best chili burger with all the fixins on top. The service is great and the atmosphere iis nostalgic. A place that I frequently visit and continue to take first timers.
Gross'n Greasy – This place is a neighborhood icon with a kitchy name that makes it seem far more appealing that the reality. The chili is flavorless, greasy, disgusting and served lukewarm... uuugh!! The other fare isn't much better, soggy flavorless burger dips, cold limp french fries... slow service, dirty tables, you get the idea that the owners don't really care whether you come back or not, the cutesy name will lure in more unsuspecting customers. Oh, and they only accept cash--no plastic, no checks. This is a one time only dining experience. I recommend you buy one of their t-shirts, skip the food and head to any of the many fabulous dives in Ballard that put this place to shame. Blech.
Poor Service, bad Chili Fries – The service was poor, despite the place not being busy and we were seated at the bar. I ordered chili fries; the chili was almost tasteless and certainly didn't taste anything like homemade chili; but the fries were good. The woman who served the food stood behind the bar and used a hair straightener device on her hair; didn't wash her hands, and served drinks thereafter. The whole experience was poor, to say the least. I would NEVER go back to this place.
Great hang out and, oh yeah, lots of chili – I have to ding Mike's Chili Parlor on one issue during what was otherwise a great visit. The chili was oddly inconsistent with two dishes that were part of the same order. I not sure how that happened. On the chili dog, the chili was excellent with a very rich flavor. I loved it. On the chili burger, the chili had almost no flavor. Beyond that one issue, which may be rare, when the chili is good, it's very good. Good meat. Good beans. Nice flavor with the right amount of spice. The french fries are also decent. My plate had a mix of steak fries and the smaller fries, both with skins on and nicely seasoned and crisp. Very tasty and satisfying. The service was extremely friendly, attentive and quick, plus the prices were inexpensive. Mix in some Husky football on the TVs, some good drinks, some good food (undoubtedly involving chili), some good friends, and you'll surely have a nice time.
Better than Texas Chili – Mike's Chili Parlor is a great joint. The Chili is outstanding and made the traditional way, without beans. They serve it over beans, burgers, dogs, pasta, fries and anything else you can think of. I ordered a Cheesburger with my Chili and it melted in my mouth. It wasn't huge but the flavor was incredible. There is a handwritten sign behind the bar advertising a "Big Ass Bowl" of Chili and I was afraid to ask.
Great place, cool, laidback atmosphere and a huge party deck outside.
I am going to bring my friends.
Great Dive Bar Atmosphere, but Bad Food – The focus of the menu is definitely on the chili, which unfortunately was extremely greasy and lacked flavor. The fries were visually appealing and smelled good but were chewy and still somewhat cold after being re-heated in the microwave. However, the atmosphere of this place definitely meets the dive bar criteria. I'd come back to hang out with my friends and have a beer, but I'm staying away from the food.
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