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The Chili Chemist

The Wizard of Owwws: The Chicken Barley is a mere 3 on the 1-to-10 hotness scale. (Photos by Anne Fishbein)

This is probably the moment where I should evaluate Hoffman’s chilis, to note that the Roasted Garlic Beef has at least three levels of garlickiness; that the Tecate chili, made with beer, is heavily seasoned with cinnamon; that the Durango, enriched with masa, tastes a little like a Mexican posole. I can say that most of the chilis have more or less the same flavor profile — a sharpness of heat, a touch of sweetness, and an almost fugal interplay of bitter overtones — and that the chilis indicated as currylike, fusion-style or truly Mexican do not taste like what you’d imagine they’d taste like, but are mostly pretty good. I have been by half a dozen times in the last few months but have never encountered the Demon. I want to know what a 10-plus chili tastes like too.

Chili My Soul will do many of the expected things to a glob of its chili: spoon it onto a knackwurst or a cheeseburger, sluice it over a behemoth baked potato, fold it into a sheet of flatbread, or construct a massive if minimal Alp of nachos. There are chili fries here, of course: your choice of Mr. Hoffman’s concoctions ladled onto a complicated spiral construction — whittled to order off a fresh Kennebec potato — that resembles the Globe of Death at a motorcycle show. The chopped salad is better than you think it might be; the gummy corn bread is worse than you can imagine.

Chili My Soul, 4928 Balboa Blvd., Encino, (818) 981-7685 or www.chilimysoul.com. Open Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.–8 p.m. No alcohol. Takeout. AE, MC, V. Lot parking. Lunch or dinner for two, food only, $14–$20. Recommended dish: chili.

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