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Hard Times Cafe - Local Chili House and Dive Bar Now In Numerous Area Locations

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3 hours ago, dcs said:

What's next?  Applebee's or TGI Fridays?

I don't know, is there an &Pizza withing 40 feet of that corner? That would be my bet. 

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Guess I've been there several times/year mostly for the Cincy chili.  When I'm lazy and struck by the whim.  It's okay and fills the belly with comfort food.  (Mine is better).  It's simply passable.

Its not memorable enough for a nostalgic last day return visit.

Now the location....ooh that is prime and will probably command a crazy high rent.  Another Atown/Don Tito or higher priced place....those are my guesses.  I doubt burgers or chili can pay the rent.

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On 7/2/2016 at 1:03 PM, DaveO said:

Guess I've been there several times/year mostly for the Cincy chili.  When I'm lazy and struck by the whim.  It's okay and fills the belly with comfort food.  (Mine is better).  It's simply passable.

Its not memorable enough for a nostalgic last day return visit.

Now the location....ooh that is prime and will probably command a crazy high rent.  Another Atown/Don Tito or higher priced place....those are my guesses.  I doubt burgers or chili can pay the rent.

Yeah. It's a little sad for me - Fred Parker is a personal friend, and he is as nice a guy as you'll meet. His brother Jim was pretty hands-on at Clarendon, and he passed a few years ago. (Not for nothing, but Jim was just like Fred.)

When we were young, Ol' Ironstomach and his friends had a tradition: they would give a quarter to newbies to HTC, and they would have to pick a song out of the jukebox, which was all country. I wussed out and picked Johnny Cash. Our middle brother picked Hank Williams' "Tear In My Beer." This does not at all contribute to lingering feelings of inadequacy for me.

Just saying. :D

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4 hours ago, rockcreek said:

Yeah. It's a little sad for me - Fred Parker is a personal friend, and he is as nice a guy as you'll meet. His brother Jim was pretty hands-on at Clarendon, and he passed a few years ago. (Not for nothing, but Jim was just like Fred.)

When we were young, Ol' Ironstomach and his friends had a tradition: they would give a quarter to newbies to HTC, and they would have to pick a song out of the jukebox, which was all country. I wussed out and picked Johnny Cash. Our middle brother picked Hank Williams' "Tear In My Beer." This does not at all contribute to lingering feelings of inadequacy for me.

Just saying. :D

I was personal friends with Jim back in the 1980s (through his girlfriend, with whom I worked), and even went sailing with him a few times - hell, we might have even gone to an Orioles game together. He was a super-nice guy, and the fact that he owned Hard Times was completely incidental to our friendship (I wasn't this wild culinary-nut back then, and friendships didn't originate from the food-world). He let me have a taste of a contest chili he made using steak, and it was incredible (and incredibly expensive) - he was a talented man). 

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I was not impressed by the chili here. I did appreciate that you could sample all 4 types first. I found the cincinatti chili to be overly sweet (yes, I know it is supposed to taste a tad like cinnamon) and the Terligua chili to be not spicy at all. I found the chili to be greasy. I heard the Clarendon location has since closed.

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As luck would have it (or not), I found myself at the  Springfield location last week for the first time in about 17 years and asked for "Chicken Alamo", per the discussion upthread many moons ago. Wow. Totally revolting. I should have known, but went against my better judgement. Oh well. Fortunately it will be at least another 17 until I return.

Incidentally, this location is directly off of "Bland Street" - seriously. Too funny, and perhaps the best descriptor for this area ever.

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On 7/8/2016 at 3:56 AM, DonRocks said:

I was personal friends with Jim back in the 1980s (through his girlfriend, with whom I worked)

I am pretty sure we bought our first house from her.

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On 7/7/2016 at 11:01 PM, rockcreek said:

Yeah. It's a little sad for me - Fred Parker is a personal friend, and he is as nice a guy as you'll meet. His brother Jim was pretty hands-on at Clarendon, and he passed a few years ago. (Not for nothing, but Jim was just like Fred.)

Fred Parker, co-founder of Hard Times chili chain, dies at 78, by Louie Estrada, May 12, 2020, on washingtonpost.com.

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Sad to learn this, I remember being taken to Hard Times in Alexandria for the first time sometime in the 80's by my then in-laws. I always got the Cincinnati style. Last year I bought a bottle of the chili vinegar from Fred, and it got left behind when I moved to CT in November. 

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On 11/19/2005 at 2:33 PM, DonRocks said:

'Texas 5-Way Chili Mac with extra onions, pour on the vinegar sitting tableside.' That's what Jim Parker, one of the founders, told me the best thing was at Hard Times. We used to have some friends in common (I even went sailing with him once) - he's still somehow affiliated with the company, but I believe his ownership was sold years ago. His competition/cook-off chilis are great, but I've never been a huge fan of the gut-busting food that comes out of the restaurant.

Cheers,

Rocks.

I thought you all would be interested in re-reading this post from nearly 15-years ago.

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