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“Nostalgic Place, So-So Chili”
Review of Chili John's

Chili John's
Ranked #71 of 427 Restaurants in Burbank
Price range: US$0 - US$20
Cuisines: American, Mexican
Restaurant details
Porterville, California
Level 5 Contributor
79 reviews
37 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
“Nostalgic Place, So-So Chili”
Reviewed 14 May 2013

A friend of mine, who knows what a fanatic I am about chili, told me about this place after seeing in on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. I happened to be visiting Burbank on business so I made sure I checked it out. I stopped by on Monday evening around 5:30 and was 1 of only 3 customers there. However, by the time I left there wasn't an empty seat in the place (I'd estimate they could accommodate about 25 people at a time). Like me, most of the people appeared to be here for the first time. The restaurant is set up with a large horseshoe bar in the middle of the dining room and provides the only seating. All the ingredients are in a steam table at the center of the horseshoe. The nice lady that helped me explained a little about the chili itself and eventually offered my a small sample (a spoonful each) of the 4 varieties of chili they serve. They included Beef Hot, Beef Mild, Chicken, and Vegetarian. These varieties can be served over pasta, tamale, hot dog, or a few other options including with beans or just a bowl of chili. I went with the purest form - a bowl of "medium" chili without anything extra. They don't actually have a so-called "medium" chili so what they do is serve a scoop of hot and a scoop of mild that I then stirred together myself. They offered me fresh onions, crackers and cheese, but I declined all. Back to the samples though... The four spoonfuls of chili where served to me on a flat plate. The hot was a dark redish brown, the other three were all a similar shade of medium brown. All four samples had a pool of oil/grease/fat under them after she spooned them on to the plate. I tried all of them and the flavors were all similar except for the hot version that had a substantial bite to it. The blended hot & mild together (that makes their medium chili) produced just enough heat to be enjoyable as a meal. Unfortunately, the chili didn't live up to the reputation they have somehow established, at least to my palette. I found it to be too greasy and lacking in the rich, Texas-style red chili flavor that I prefer. Perhaps this is a style of chili that the folks in Southern California prefer and so Chili John's has survived as long as they have. I'm not saying it was bad, just not the style of chili I favor. I did enjoy the company of the servers and the other customers in the place seemed to be enjoying themselves so my trip was at least a pleasant one. I wish them all the best and hope they continue to thrive. I even bought one of their t-shirts just because I enjoyed the experience.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank DGriz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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39 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    15
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Simi Valley California
Level 3 Contributor
18 reviews
8 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Great Chili and Classic Atmosphere”
Reviewed 13 May 2013 via mobile

I tried Chili Johns for the first time today. I've driven by a few times and it looked interesting. I got the hot chili with meat and beans and it was great! They have a horse shoe counter and the service was fast and friendly. They have a basic menu centered around their chili. I'm looking forward to trying everything on the menu! I like good food, service and atmosphere and they had it all.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Arleighk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Los Angeles, California
Level 6 Contributor
58 reviews
23 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 89 helpful votes
“The best chili in L.A....”
Reviewed 10 May 2013

ive been going here with my family for about 4 years off and on. the place itself is a throwback but in a good way--the counter, the wall mural, the seats, the kettles. the owners are real chatty and like to get to know their customers. i love the spaghetti with chili (spicy). the lemon pie is a sweet way to brighten your mood after having a spicy chili. they have little crackers and jalopenos if you are so inclined. it is a bit pricey but still ok. they do close early on week evenings something like 7 pm. the place has been around for decades..can be traced to be over 100 years old, i think.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank miglovin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Santa Monica, California
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
8 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“A little taste of history”
Reviewed 21 April 2013

This place is completely charming. They have a variety of chili (beef, chicken and vegetarian) with different levels of heat (mild, medium and spicy). You can get it with beans, spaghetti and maybe rice. They also have homemade tamales, sloppy joes and hot dogs.

On our first visit, we arrived about 15 minutes before closing on a Saturday (3:45pm) - this is typically a lunch joint. The kids who were working were friendly and welcoming. They didn't try to deter us, even though they were in the process of cleaning up at the end of their day. They were completely enthusiastic about what they were serving, which made it significantly more gratifying.

For those who like historic/ time-machine restaurants, the old-fashioned u-shaped counter is awesome. And, the signage out front is classic and picture-worthy.

Enjoy!

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Aidan C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
So Cal
Level 6 Contributor
126 reviews
88 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“The best chili I NEVER tasted”
Reviewed 23 January 2013

This place has been around Burbank for years, but for me, their haphazard hours of operation cancel out anything positive that may be warranted. I have heard others talk about how good it is many times, but each and every time I attempted to eat there, they were closed. I'm talking about normal business hours most other restaurants would be open. They seem to open only when the mood strikes them, and very often have a "Gone Fishing" sign on their door. I finally gave up trying because of their poor customer service attitude, after all it's only chili.

Visited March 2012
Helpful?
Thank Michael E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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