Palo Alto Tap Room wins 2016 Chili Cook Off

El Viaje Misteriosa, Witches Chili, Klemens family among other winners

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.


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3 people like this
Posted by Gus L.
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 5, 2016 at 5:56 pm

This is a great event, I love the participation, the Music is good too.

Like this comment
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 6, 2016 at 7:00 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Yes, it's always a fun event, but the drop off of participants, along with as many or more attendees, now makes for longer lines and 15+ minute waits. That's a little drag, but keep it going. It's nice to see fire and police presence there just for emergencies, not needed for security or crowd control. It's a family affair. No gangs hanging around! Yes, alcohol is allowed, at least I think it is, but I didn't see it abused, just beer and wine with friends. I doubt if there have been any citations or arrests made in the many years I've attended. Where else can you have as much fun within walking distance of your home?

Like this comment
Posted by Visitor
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 6, 2016 at 8:15 pm

Where was the PAFD this year? Can any group get together and make chili? I haven't seen anything about how to participate?

I agree, more teams would make this a better event as the lines were long.

More veggie chili teams are needed.

Thanks to all the teams for taking part.

Like this comment
Posted by Tim
a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2016 at 9:54 pm

No Firefighters from the Palo Alto Fire Department wanted to participate this year. That's what a a Firefighter told me.

Like this comment
Posted by Seriously?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 8, 2016 at 8:48 pm

I really don't understand these results. The Klemens Family's was the best by far, as "The People's Choice" shows. Sorry, but the tap Room chili was boring and had the shortest lines.

Must be politics.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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Short story writers wanted!

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