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A Bowl of Red

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A Bowl of Red

Alexandria, Virginia


K.O. and I traveled to the East Coast on business in March 2008.  The business RoadTrip took us from JFK in New York, to Rockville Centre, Long Island, then south to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington, D.C.  We finished the two-week expedition in Alexandria, Virgina for a couple of days off before flying home.

For two native Californians, the East Coast is rich with American stories and historical sites.  All along our journey, we stopped for a quick taste of the local offerings.  The pages of our school history books came alive with the sites.

Located along the Western bank of the Potomac River, Alexandria is approximately six miles south of downtown Washington, D.C.  We arrived in Alexandria in the late morning and headed to the Market Square in Old Town.  It is believed to be one of the oldest continuously operating marketplaces in the United States.




The streets are lined with charming architecture, brick sidewalks and flowering trees.  Westrolled to the Potomac River, into unique shops and through many historical sites.   An uncoventional restaurant name lured us inside of an old brick building.  Hard Times Cafe ( is a small chain, but the Alexandria location is the first restaurant started by two brothers in the early 1980’s.  It has its roots in Texas chili that their grandfather learned from a chuck wagon cook in the late 1880’s.




We sat at the only table left in the small restaurant during the busy lunch time.  Our waiter expected us to know what to order.  He was short with us when we asked questions.  He clearly serves mostly locals or visitors who already know the restaurant lore.

We found our way to a unique offering of Chili served over Fritos.  The bowl of red was rich with beef, no beans of course, and flavorful gravy.  Not to be repeated every time, but the Fritos added crunch and saltiness that is absolutely wonderful.

The restaurant prides itself on preparing authentic styles of chili: Texas, Cincinnati, chili competition-style called Terlingua Red and Vegetarian.   We opted for Terlingua Red and make our own based on the  competition style at home.








  1. I just made this AGAIN for a group of family and friends and it was a hit! Made it once with ground turkey and this time with lean ground beef – go with the beef.

    Double the recipe for leftovers!

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