Grade: B+ – definitely worth a visit
Friday, June 17th, I wanted to drive down to Fredericksburg, VA to visit two coworkers who were in the state for work. After a rather long day, food was needed in my belly. After a quick google search, the Hard Times Cafe came up. So, I thought – why not? The slogan on their page says: Chili. Wings. Burgers. Sports. I know I’m a fan of chili!
The name of the restaurant drew me in. On their website, there is a brief history of the place. Here is an excerpt: ”
Ira Goodfellow was born in Grapevine, Texas in 1874. When he was 15 years old his father gave him a horse, double-barreled shot gun and a ten dollar bill and he told him it was time to go out and seek his fortune.
My brother Jim and I know of this story because Ira Goodfellow was our Grandfather. His first job was a trail drive cowboy at the Waggoner ranch near Wichita Falls, Texas. It was there he learned how to prepare chili from a chuck wagon cook.
He learned to cook more than chili because when he homesteaded in Oklahoma territory he taught his new bride how to handle herself in the kitchen. Irma, his oldest daughter eventually took over the kitchen chores and it was grandpa Ira’s chili recipe she used when she opened a small roadhouse in Gracemont, Oklahoma in the late 1940’s.
Irma became famous for her Texas chili and would have customers drive the fifty miles from Oklahoma City just for a taste. Her place finally succumbed to the new interstate highway system, a fate shared by many independent eateries on the secondary roads of the country.” Visit their website for the rest of the story.
So, I couldn’t decide on what chili I wanted, so the waitress brought me out a sampler. The descriptions are from their website. I ended up choosing the Cincinnati Chili.
Texas Chili: Coarse ground beef cooked in its own juice, using an authentic turn of the century family spice blend and recipe.
Cincinnati Chili: Introduced in 1922 by Greek immigrants, it is a fine grind of beef with a tomato base and sweeter spices including cinnamon.
Terlingua Red: A tribute to the Texas ghost town that hosted the first Chili cook-off. A redder color and spicy kick of championship chilies.
Vegetarian Chili: Soy flakes cooked in a tomato base with fresh mushrooms, onions, green peppers & jalapenos
My second choice would have been the Terlingua Red. It was delicious – a little bitey. The Texas chili was a little too… crumbly for me. Is that a word? The description says “coarse,” and I can definitely relate. It had a good flavor, but I didn’t like it by itself. Perhaps it would have tasted delish over a hotdog.
After selecting my chili, the next dilemma came…what did I want with my chili? What did I want chili poured all over? Did I just want to immerse myself in a bucket of that yummy chili and eat my way to the bottom? No, because that’s just weird. I can’t believe you suggested that.
I opted for the Frito Chili Pie. Although this was delicious, I should have listened to my instincts and went with the chili mac. This chili pie was good, but it would have been perfect with lettuce and less Fritos. I should have known better. I’m just not a Fritos fan 0 at least not in a large quantity sense. I like dipping them, one-by-one, in some queso dip or something. Ok, anyway… not bad, but not my favorite.
My friend ordered the special – which was 1 lb of shrimp, corn on the cob, something else and he added the salad bar for $1. I’m not a fan of shrimp, but his corn on the cob looked good, lol. And he ate all the shrimp, so it must have been good. He’s still alive, so it wasn’t poisoned shrimp. 🙂
The waitress was super friendly. She was on top of drink refills and very accommodating. We were seated promptly.
I forgot to check if there was smoking allowed inside the restaurant, because as soon as I walked up to the door I was smacked right in the face with a pungent cigarette smell. Ugh! I don’t know if it was coming from inside, outside or where. But it just hit me like a train and I had an instant headache.
Some images from their website…
Restaurant Information (if you see anything incorrect, let me know and I’ll promptly fix it!)
- Address: Multiple Locations, but I ate at: 314 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Fredericksburg, VA 22401
- Phone: (540) 899-6555
- Sunday 11:30 AM – 2:00 AM
- Monday 11:00 AM – 2:00 AM
- Tuesday 11:00 AM – 2:00 AM
- Wednesday 11:00 AM – 2:00 AM
- Thursday 11:00 AM – 2:00 AM
- Friday 11:00 AM – 2:00 AM
- Saturday 11:00 AM – 2:00 AM
- Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Hard-Times-Cafe-Downtown-Fredericksburg-201495626545116/
- Takes Reservations:
- Take-out: yes. Take out menu: http://www.hardtimes.com/assets/1/7/HT_Fredricksburg_LP.pdf
- Accepts Credit Cards: No
- Good For: Lunch, Dinner
- Parking: Part of a plaza, plenty of spots
- Appropriate for Children: Sure, as long as your kids aren’t assholes.
- Good for Groups: I only saw booths – don’t remember seeing tables that could move. But call, don’t go by my word!
- Attire: Casual, must wear pants
- Noise Level: Quiet when I was there
- Outdoor Seating: they have a patio
- Televisions: Yes
- Waiter Service: Yes
- Catering Available: