The Palo Alto Tap Room, a new beer-centric restaurant from the owner of Palo Alto Brewing Company, took home the top prize in Best Overall for this year's Chili Cook Off event.
The City of Palo Alto held the 35th Annual Chili Cook Off & Summer Festival on Monday, July 4, at Mitchell Park.
Brothers Lars and Andrew Smith, who co-own the Tap Room with Palo Alto Brewing Company founder Kasim Syed, are Palo Alto natives and have been going to the chili competition since they were kids, but this was their first time participating, Lars wrote in an email to the Weekly.
The recipe, which Lars came up with, is a "play on a traditional Texas red chili" with the addition of blended tomatoes, Palo Alto Brewing Company's Kolsch beer and Mexican chocolate, Lars said. They used all-natural, hand-chopped chuck roast for the meat.
The winning chili will be available at the Tap Room on University Avenue as a special late this week or early next week, Lars said.
Other winners included longtime competitor Lounge Lizard, who snagged second place in Best Overall, followed by Margarita Meat - a - Chili at third place, according to Palo Alto Director of Community Services Rob de Geus.
A new team, El Viaje Misteriosa, took home the coveted prize for Best Decorated Booth. Witches Chili was awarded with Best Spirit. The Klemens family won the People's Choice award.
Last year, Elmo & the Old Quackers took home first place in Best Overall as well as the No. 1 spot in the open division and Best Decorated Booth.
A panel of judges awarded more than $2,000 in cash to the winners.
The annual festival also featured food trucks, kids' activities and live music by the "upscale corporate dance band," Radio City All-Stars.
de Geus said the city has struggled to get the same level of participation as the chili competition once drew only 10 to 15 teams have registered in recent years compared to more than 20 a few years ago. He encouraged anyone interested individual families, restaurants, nonprofits and local businesses to think about signing up to compete next summer.
"We just want to encourage more participation," he said Tuesday.
The city offers both a corporate and open division for the chili competition. The corporate division is for any business, nonprofit, community or service organizations or other formal organization; the open division is for anyone else. Open division entries receive a $500 stipend for participation, and corporate divisions receive a $300 stipend.
There is no fee to enter the competition. A $50 refundable deposit will be returned provided the team's booth is left in good condition and that all decorations have been removed.