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11 Places Where Wonderful Things Are Happening

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NASA

A casual perusal of the newspaper, or fifteen minutes watching cable news, could cause even the most relaxed person to reach for the Xanax and a bottle of whiskey. But it’s not all bad news out there. Here are 11 places where wonderful things are happening.

1. Space

Two hundred fifty miles up, two astronauts went on a space walk to prepare the International Space Station for a new Russian repair module. That’s a lot of mind-blowing stuff for one sentence. Humanity crawled from the oceans and found a way to space. The U.S. and Russia managed not only to survive the Cold War without using the nuclear launch codes, but also to then team up and build an orbiting space laboratory. That laboratory is so awesome that we can plug in Lego-like compartments and expand its capabilities, and thus expand human knowledge and understanding. One of the astronauts, Luca Parmitano, is now the first Italian to walk in space. They had tiramisu to mark the occasion. Humans are eating tiramisu in space! And, oh yeah, astronauts. That’s a job that people have. 

2. Antarctica

Scientists believe they have discovered “a complex web of organisms, zones and habitats that have developed over the tens of millions of years” in a lake four kilometers below Antarctica. That area has been sealed off from the atmosphere fifty times longer than anatomically modern humans have existed, so there’s a lot to be learned about the Earth of the past. And here’s the crazy thing—we’re learning it! Want to get even crazier? The conditions of Lake Vostok, where ancient fish might be swimming around, are a lot like the conditions on moons orbiting Jupiter and Saturn. Space fish? Coming soon.

3. The Arctic Circle

Meanwhile, engineering students who visited NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center have managed to build an autonomous robot tank with ground penetrating radar that’s able to operate in harshest terrain of the Arctic Circle. This is really great news because humans don’t do so well at 50-below-zero-Celsius. Sending in robots will open vast new areas to constant research. Also, we’re living in an age where I can write “sending in robots” outside of science fiction. (Here’s a blog from NASA Earth Observatory describing life at Summit Camp, Greenland, where the robot is operating.) 

4. Pennsylvania

Thirty years ago, there were only three bald eagle nesting pairs left in Pennsylvania. Today there are 252. Pollution and poaching nearly annihilated the raptors, but conservation efforts have been so successful that after a two-century absence, a nesting pair has even returned to Philadelphia.

5. Mars

After six months of exploring Yellowknife Bay on Mars, the rover Curiosity has set a course for Aeolis Mons in the Gale Crater. The peak, informally called Mount Sharp, developed over a period of two billion years and stands 18,000 over the crater floor. From base to peak, that’s about the height of Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America. (Mount Sharp is nicknamed after geologist Robert Sharp. Geologists do some surprisingly thrilling work.) During the yearlong trek to the peak, Curiosity and NASA will continue analyzing Martian soil for biosignatures, minerals, and surface radiation.

6. Canada

Ann Makosinski of British Columbia, Canada, has created a “hollow flashlight” powered only by the heat of one’s hand. The energy is harvested using something called Peltier tiles. As she explains, the tiles “take the temperature difference between your hand and the ambient air, and they produce power.” Oh yeah, Makosinski is only 15, and the flashlight is her entry in the Google Science Fair. She cobbled together the necessary parts from eBay. Said the young researcher of science fairs, “You learn so much about the topic you are studying—I learned so much from it. It’s a really good experience for people, too. So often we don’t do anything with our hands but text, so here’s a chance to do something.”

7. New Jersey

In New Jersey, another teenager is getting attention for his inventiveness. Justin Beckerman, a high school junior, has built a fully functional, homemade submarine capable of reaching depths of 30 feet. The project isn’t his first submarine, but it’s his most ambitious. It took five months to build and cost $2000. The restless inventor is also working on a jet engine.

8. Sydney

Over a three-year period, the City of Sydney upgraded its lighting, air conditioning, and power management systems, reducing energy consumption by 20 percent. It’s not stopping there. The government is now working on an efficiency plan for the entirety of Sydney, with a 2030 goal of reducing the city’s carbon emissions by 70 percent. By that year, government buildings will be entirely powered by renewable energy. 

9. California and Scotland

Steve Bate of Moray, Scotland has become the first blind person to climb El Capitan in Yosemite. The vertical granite formation is 3000 feet high. He climbed it over a period of six days, while carrying 220 pounds of gear. "I fell twice on the climb,” he said, “and it was so hot out there, I became tired a lot quicker than I had accounted for... It was really tough and when I finished I couldn't really understand where all my strength had come from.” He says of the pretty-much-impossible achievement, "I just hope it helps to inspire people, especially with disabilities, to believe that anything is possible if they set their minds to it. If I can do it, anyone can." He even did it without Spock’s help.

10. New York

Physicists at Cornell University have managed to directly measure the torque of DNA coils. To achieve this, they built something called an angular optical trap. Their measurements are accurate to the piconewton-nanometer. (Pretty accurate, in other words.) According to physicist Michelle Wang, whose lab spent ten years developing the necessary technology, “To measure very, very small twists and torques on biomolecules is very challenging. It’s easier to twist something than to measure how much twist you’re exerting. Our instrument lets us do both.” According to “Transcription Under Torsion,” the paper she coauthored for Nature with physicists Jie Ma and Lu Bai, the research helps us better understand how DNA supercoiling regulates gene transcription.

11. Istanbul

This list of good news could have consisted entirely of ambitious teenagers ready to change the world and working to make it happen. Elif Bilgin, a sixteen-year-old from Istanbul, is just such a person. She recognized an ongoing environmental crisis in plastics, and spent two years working on her own bio-plastic—a kind of plastic derived from a renewable source as opposed to the traditional petroleum base. She chose banana peels as her source, and set a goal of devising a bio-plastic production method so safe and elegant than anyone could manufacture it in his or her own home. (Banana peels were chosen because they are “a material which is thrown away every day,” according to her proposal.)

After two years of work and ten failed trials, she finally succeeded. She then went on to find the best applications for her new kind of plastic. Her findings suggested cosmetic prostheses and cable insulation, for starters. Her banana-based bio-plastic won the 2013 Science in Action Award, and has earned her a place as a finalist in the Google Science Fair. Asked about her success and the science fair to come, she replied, “For me, this means that my project actually has a potential to be a solution to the increasing pollution problem caused by petroleum-based plastic. It also means that I have started the process of changing the world, which makes me feel like a winner already.”

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The Best Chili in All 50 States
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Nothing takes the sting out of a cold, dreary day quite like a warm bowl of chili. No matter how you like it—extra spicy, vegetarian, sans beans, or hidden by a topcoat of cheese and sour cream—the perfect bowl of chili is out there waiting to be discovered. These are some of the best options in all 50 states.

1. ALABAMA // CHRIS' HOT DOGS

Chris' Hot Dogs
Jimmy Emerson DVM, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location: Montgomery, Alabama

For over a century, Chris’ Hot Dogs has enticed presidents, movie stars, and regular folk with its famous franks and legendary chili sauce. Founded by Chris Katechis, a Greek immigrant, the restaurant uses a secret family recipe to make 10 gallons of chili every day. Not only can you cover your hot dog or hamburger in it or order it by the bowl, you could also take home a pint ($5), quart ($9.50), or gallon ($35) to satisfy any off-hour cravings.

2. ALASKA // BREAD AND BREW

chili at Bread and Brew
Courtesy of Bread and Brew

Location: Anchorage, Alaska

This hip sandwich shop pours their hearty Alaskan Reindeer Chili into a bread bowl. You'll find reindeer sausage, kidney beans, tomatoes, green peppers, and onions in this savory blend.

3. ARIZONA // CRACKERS AND CO. CAFE

Cup of chili
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Location: Tempe and Mesa, Arizona

Head to Crackers & Co. Cafe for lunch, where everything on the menu is made from scratch. The soup selection is impressive, and the cup of chili is flavorful and a delightful half of a soup-and-sandwich order.

4. ARKANSAS // IZZY'S RESTAURANT

bowl of chili
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Location: Little Rock, Arkansas

This family owned Little Rock restaurant creates all its recipes, grows its own herbs, and even has a honey bee and Monarch butterfly garden. Their fantastic chili is made with fresh certified Angus beef, pinto beans, and tomatoes, and can be ordered on its own or as a topping for Izzy's tamale platters.

5. CALIFORNIA // MARTY'S HAMBURGER STAND

Chili burger
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Location: Los Angeles, California

Near Rancho Park in West Los Angeles, Marty's Hamburger Stand is a tiny, cash-only spot that has served Vienna beef burgers and hot dogs since 1959. The chili at Marty's has a thick, spreadable consistency that works perfectly atop chili cheese fries and burgers.

6. COLORADO // WEST END TAP HOUSE

Bowl of chili
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Location: Denver, Colorado

The West End Tap House makes a fine Wild Boar Sloppy Joe and raved-about "Lambsicle" appetizers, but for a hearty bowl of chili on a chilly day, you can't beat their elk chili, made with ground elk, black beans, and tomatoes and topped with plenty of cheese and onions .

7. CONNECTICUT // VANILLA BEAN CAFE

chili at Vanilla Bean Cafe
Courtesy of Chip Riegel and Vanilla Bean Cafe

Location: Pomfret, Connecticut

Located in a restored barn dating back to the early 1800s, Vanilla Bean Cafe is a cute place with some killer chili. Their award-winning, traditional beef chili contains lean ground beef and chorizo, and it's topped with grated cheddar cheese, scallions, and tortilla chips. And if you can't make it to Connecticut, the full 20-ingredient recipe is available here [PDF] if you want to make your own.

8. DELAWARE // THE DOG HOUSE

Hot dog with chili
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Location: New Castle, Delaware

As you might be able to ascertain from its name, The Dog House isn't fancy. But the old-fashioned hot dog dive has an under-$5 foot-long chili cheese dog that has had generations of fans coming back for more.

9. FLORIDA // THE STONE SOUP COMPANY

Ybor Chili at The Stone Soup Company
Courtesy of The Stone Soup Company

Location: Tampa, Florida

This gourmet soup and sandwich shop in the Ybor City Historic District serves healthy, amazing food. Play some dominoes or checkers as you wait for your Ybor Chili. Available in a cup, bowl, or quart, this meaty chili contains ground beef, Italian sausage, and pulled Cuban mojo pork.

10. GEORGIA // NU-WAY WEINERS

Nu-Way Weiner Stand
Tom Spinker, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location: Multiple locations, Georgia

With locations in Macon, Warner Robins, and Fort Valley, you're never too far from a Nu-Way Weiners. Since it first opened in 1916 (making it the second-oldest hot doggery in the U.S., after Nathan's Famous in New York), Nu-Way has made a comforting bowl of chili, and it now serves a mouthwatering chili-cheese coleslaw hot dog.

11. HAWAII // ZIPPY'S KAPAHULU

Zippy's Kapahulu
Sun Brockie, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location: Multiple locations, Hawaii

This famous diner with two dozen locations throughout Hawaii sells insane amounts of its fantastic signature product, Original Recipe Chili. Get the chili with chicken or a frank, over rice, atop cheese fries, or as a burrito—the choice is yours!

12. IDAHO // DAWG ON GRILL

Hot dogs with chili on a grill
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Location: Idaho Falls, Idaho

Dawg On Grill is a hot dog establishment where you'll find plenty of "dawgs"—corn dogs, brats, sausages, and "puppy dawgs" for the kids. The chili dog with grilled onions, peppers, and nacho cheese will satisfy your cravings, but if a simple chili topping isn't enough, you can get a bowl for just $3.50.

13. ILLINOIS // BISHOP'S FAMOUS CHILI

Pot of chili.
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Location: Westmont, Illinois

The cooks at Bishop's Famous Chili (currently the fourth generation of Bishops making the recipe "Grandma Bishop" used to open the doors in 1925) spend 24 hours making each batch of chili, and you can taste that time and effort with every flavorful bite. If you're feeling ravenous, get your chili with a tamale and a side of cornbread.

14. INDIANA // LOUGHMILLER'S PUB & EATERY

chili at Loughmiller's Pub & Eatery
Courtesy of Loughmiller's Pub & Eatery

Location: Indianapolis, Indiana

This fun pub hosts live music and celebrates Colts home games with drink specials and tailgates. The chili is full of ground beef and kidney beans, and pairs well with a beer and Pepper Jack Stuffed Pretzels.

15. IOWA // QUINTON'S BAR AND DELI

Bread bowl of chili.
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Location: Multiple locations, Iowa

Residents of Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and Coralville know that Quinton's Bar and Deli makes a mean homemade chili. The bread bowl chili is meaty and topped with diced red onions and shredded cheddar.

16. KANSAS // WOODYARD BAR-B-QUE

Burnt ends chili
Nubby Tongue, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location: Kansas City, Kansas

Three words: burnt end chili. The three-bean chili at this beloved barbecue restaurant is a stew of black, red, and kidney beans, plus a generous amount of paprika and cayenne. It's topped with burnt ends, those gloriously fatty, flavorful pieces of brisket, which really add a punch to the classic dish.

17. KENTUCKY // THE CAFE

Bowl of chili with beer.
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Location: Louisville, Kentucky

Don't let this cafe's simple name fool you: The food is complex, thoughtful, and memorable. Situated in a former warehouse in Paristown Pointe, The Cafe serves a rustic West Yellowstone Montana Chili with diced green onions, shredded cheddar cheese, and banana peppers.

18. LOUISIANA // DOE'S EAT PLACE

chili at Doe’s Eat Place
Courtesy of Doe’s Eat Place

Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Carnivores will love Doe's Eat Place, which has been cooking sensational steaks and tamales since 1941. Go for dinner and get a half-dozen all-beef tamales, which come with a cup of Doe's delightful homemade chili.

19. MAINE // GEAGHAN'S PUB

Nacho salad with chili
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Location: Bangor, Maine

Craft beer, live Celtic music, and hearty chili can all be found at Geaghan's Pub. The bowl of beef chili is served with tortilla chips—perfect for dipping—and they also top their nacho salad with it, in case you'd like some greens as well.

20. MARYLAND // ONE-EYED MIKE'S

Chili in white bowl
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Location: Baltimore, Maryland

Take one step into this gastropub in Fell's Point, and you'll see thousands of Grand Marnier bottles, each belonging to one member of the pub's Grand Marnier club. The fantastic chili here, though, will make you forget all about your boozy surroundings. It's served with tortilla chips, sour cream, and cheddar cheese.

21. MASSACHUSETTS // GRENDEL'S DEN

chili at Grendel's Den
Courtesy of Grendel's Den

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Customers rave about the chili at Grendel's Den, a popular restaurant near Harvard Square. The Five Bean chili is unique and spectacular, thanks to the cilantro pesto and cornbread that accompany it.

22. MICHIGAN // CHELI'S CHILI BAR

Outside of Cheli's Chili Bar.

Location: Detroit, Michigan

This sports bar is owned by Chris Chelios, a former ice hockey player for the Detroit Red Wings. The three-time Stanley Cup champ clearly knows his way around the ice and a bowl of chili. Order the original, chicken, or vegetarian chili, and spice it to your liking with additional jalapeños.

23. MINNESOTA // THE LOON CAFE

Window of The Loon Cafe.
Zara Gonzalez Hoang, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Loon Cafe is seriously crazy about chili. A few of the many options include Pinto's Diablo Chili (ground beef, vegetables, and kidney beans) and Turkey White Bean (lean ground turkey breast and garlic tomato sauce). Various chilis are served with Texas toast, flour tortillas, or jalapeño cornbread.

24. MISSISSIPPI // MUGSHOTS GRILL AND BAR

Chili on nachos.
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Location: Multiple locations, Mississippi

At Mugshots Grill and Bar, the people are friendly, the flavors are sufficiently Southern, and the chili is criminally good. The Walker's Texas Ranger chili is full of beef, bell peppers, onions, and diced tomatoes. For a bit more crunch, try Spencer's Nachos, which are piled high with beef chili and cheese.

25. MISSOURI // BLUEBERRY HILL

Neon sign at Blueberry Hill in St. Louis.
Timothy K. Hamilton, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location: St. Louis, Missouri

This restaurant and music venue in the Delmar Loop has given locals the perfect place to chow down since 1972. Its award-winning spicy chili, garnished simply with cheddar cheese, isn't the restaurant’s only draw. If you recognize the name, it's likely in connection with rock pioneer Chuck Berry, who kept a standing monthly set at the venue for more than 17 years, up until his death at age 90. Don't forget to check out the impressive collection of pop culture memorabilia on display before you leave.

26. MONTANA // CASEY'S WHITEFISH

chili at Casey’s Whitefish
Courtesy of Casey’s Whitefish

Location: Whitefish, Montana

Located just outside Glacier National Park, Casey's Whitefish is a pub and grill that serves an extraordinary elk chili made with pinto and black beans, green onions, and mild cheddar and jack cheese. When the weather’s warm, head upstairs to enjoy the view at the area’s only rooftop bar. After you enjoy your chili, you can try your luck at the casino games on the restaurant’s first floor.

27. NEBRASKA // HI-WAY DINER

The Hi-Way Diner in Nebraska
Zach Inglis, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

This diner on the south side of Nebraska's scenic Highway 2 is open 24 hours a day, keeping customers happy day or night with plenty of comfort food. For the perfect road-trip snack, get the homemade chili on its own, or try the chili omelet, served with onion and cheddar.

28. NEVADA // BEEFY'S

chili at Beefy’s
Courtesy of Beefy’s

Location: Reno, Nevada

All the beef at Beefy's comes from Reno's own Ponderosa Meat & Provision Co., and you can taste the quality with every bite of chili con carne. Made fresh each day, the chili is topped with parsley and cheddar cheese. You can order it on its own or on top of a hot dog, burger, omelet, or fries.

29. NEW HAMPSHIRE // RED ARROW DINER

Two women at the Red Arrow Diner.
Roger C. Goun, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Location: Multiple locations, New Hampshire

When you eat at Red Arrow Diner, you're dining at a place with history. The first location opened in Manchester in 1922, and today, its chili dishes are famous across New England. We recommend the chili hash browns and the Five Alarm chili.

30. NEW JERSEY // OCEAN CAFE

Chicken chili
iStock

Location: Multiple locations, New Jersey

With four locations across Central New Jersey, Ocean Cafe is a casual restaurant chain that focuses on healthy offerings like salads, wraps, and smoothies. The chicken chili is a highlight of the menu thanks to its sweet-and-spicy flavor and generous portions of meat.

31. NEW MEXICO // FRONTIER RESTAURANT

bowl of green chili stew

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Finding the best bowl of chili can be challenging in a state known for its peppers, but in New Mexico, look no farther than Frontier Restaurant, an Albuquerque staple just off the University of New Mexico campus. Its green chile stew is so beloved that many fans try to make it at home, but nothing compares to the real deal. You can order it by the bowl or on top of your burrito or enchilada. The stew is also on the menu at Frontier’s sister restaurant, Golden Pride, which has four locations across Albuquerque.

32. NEW YORK // CHAMPS DINER

Bowl of vegetarian chili.
iStock

Location: Brooklyn, New York

You'll find stellar comfort food like chili cheese fries and milkshakes at this Williamsburg diner, with a twist: Everything on the menu happens to be vegan. Take a break from meaty chilis and get a bowl of the three-bean version at Champs. We recommend washing it down with a cookie dough shake.

33. NORTH CAROLINA // ROSETTA'S KITCHEN

Hearty Chili at Rosetta's Kitchen
Courtesy of Rosetta's Kitchen

Location: Asheville, North Carolina

The best chili in North Carolina also happens to be meatless. This vegetarian soul food restaurant crafts thoughtful, creative dishes using local produce and top-notch ingredients. Their chili is a spicy vegan option that will warm you up in no time. If you don't want it in a bowl, the chili cheese fries are hand-cut and smothered in vegan queso.

34. NORTH DAKOTA // DOGMAHAL DOGHAUS

Chili dog with cheese.
iStock

Location: Grand Forks, North Dakota

DogMahal DogHaus is a hot dog and sausage joint with a spunky vibe. Though it specializes in franks, it also does a mean chili. The Under Dog is a quarter-pound beef frank brimming with hot chili, onions, and cheese. If you're aren't feeling the dog, you can get the chili on its own, too.

35. OHIO // CAMP WASHINGTON CHILI

Chili on spaghetti
iStock

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

This chili parlor in Camp Washington might be the ultimate destination for chili lovers. The restaurant's renown chili is available by itself, over spaghetti (a local delicacy), on a burger or fries, or topped with beans or cheese. With so many options, you'll definitely need to make multiple trips back.

36. OKLAHOMA // IKE'S CHILI

Chili with mac and cheese
iStock

Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma

Ike Johnson and his nephew, Ivan, opened this chili establishment back in 1908. Over a century later, their famous recipe still delights customers (and Martha Stewart). You can order the original beef chili or opt to get it with beans, spaghetti, or mac and cheese.

37. OREGON // BALDY'S BARBEQUE

Plate of barbecue, chili, and fries.
Bill Roehl, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location: Redmond and Bend, Oregon

Central Oregon's Baldy's Barbecue is the place to get some truly magnificent meat. Voted one of the best barbecue joints in the area, this family-owned restaurant serves its spicy smokehouse chili with cheese, diced onions, sour cream, and a side of cornbread.

38. PENNSYLVANIA // DOUBLE WIDE GRILL

Double Wide Grill in Pittsburgh
Brett VA, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Location: Multiple locations, Pennsylvania

The Double Wide Grill knows how to entertain vegans and meat lovers alike. Nosh on the spicy Jailhouse Beef Chili (no beans, for you chili con carne purists) or the equally spicy grilled vegetable chili, which contains beans, tomatoes, and corn. Its three locations in the Pittsburgh area boast bar trivia, karaoke, and live entertainment, and its South Side restaurant has been voted one of the best outdoor dining options in the area—it even has a special dog patio featuring a separate menu just for Fido. (Sorry, that one doesn't feature chili.)

39. RHODE ISLAND // BEN'S CHILI DOGS

Chili dog on bun
iStock

Location: Newport, Rhode Island

The state might be known for its clam chowder, but Ben's Chili Dogs has been serving up the red-meat favorite since 1969 (though yes, they also serve clam rolls and chowder). To get a true Rhode Island version of the classic chili dog, sprinkle some celery salt on top.

40. SOUTH CAROLINA // PAWLEYS FRONT PORCH

Chili on fries.
iStock

Location: Columbia, South Carolina

Relaxing on a porch is a distinctively Southern experience, and Pawleys Front Porch injects that kind of laid-back hospitality into its food. Located in Five Points, this restaurant is known for its patio, food truck, and thick burgers. The chili, which is divine, is available in a cup or bowl, or atop hand-cut fries.

41. SOUTH DAKOTA // PHILLIPS AVENUE DINER

chili from Phillips Avenue Diner
Courtesy of Phillips Avenue Diner

Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Phillips Avenue Diner boasts a jukebox, milkshakes, and some of the best diner chili anywhere. Enjoy the retro vibe as you dig in to a big bowl of homemade ground beef and beans, either as-is or loaded with tasty toppings.

42. TENNESSEE // ELWOOD'S SHACK

Outside of Elwood's Shack in Memphis.
Memphis CVB, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Location: Memphis, Tennessee

Elwood's Shack is a down-home establishment that serves barbecue, fish tacos, and burgers. Their outstanding chili is made with Texas beef brisket, Guinness Stout, and curry powder.

43. TEXAS // THE SHADY GROVE

The Shady Grove's Roasted Vegetable Chili
Courtesy of The Shady Grove

Location: Austin, Texas

Located near Barton Creek and the Colorado River, The Shady Grove is a casual restaurant with a huge patio and plenty of shade from a nearby grove of pecan trees. The roasted vegetable chili contains diced onions, jalapeños, and jack and cheddar cheese.

44. UTAH // THE MOAB BREWERY

chili at The Moab Brewery
Courtesy of The Moab Brewery

Location: Moab, Utah

As Moab’s only microbrewery, The Moab Brewery has a natural advantage when it comes to blowing people's minds and tastebuds. Sip on their popular Dead Horse Ale as you wait for a cup of the chunky vegetarian chili, which is chock-full of healthy vegetables.

45. VERMONT // LANGDON STREET TAVERN

bowl of chili on a blue table
iStock

Location: Montpelier, Vermont

This Irish watering hole has a pool table, Vermont-brewed beers on tap, and some of the best homemade chili in the state. The southwest-style chili is topped with cheddar-jack cheese and served with a hunk of garlic bread.

46. VIRGINIA // STATION 2

Station 2's Firehouse Chili
Courtesy of Station 2

Location: Richmond, Virginia

Located in a former fire house called Engine Company 2, Station 2 cooks gourmet burgers made from natural, Virginia-grown beef. Get a side of firehouse chili with your burger, or go all in with the chili cheeseburger or "American nachos" (a.k.a. potato chips under a blanket of chili and cheese).

47. WASHINGTON // HOLE IN THE WALL BARBECUE

Chuck’s Railroad Chili at Hole in the Wall Barbecue
Courtesy of Hole in the Wall Barbecue

Location: Seattle, Washington

Barbecue and chili often go hand in hand, but this barbecue spot has perfected the art of tangy sauce, smoky meats, and spectacular chili. Chuck's Railroad Chili is a thick, spicy red stew bursting with black beans and ground beef.

48. WEST VIRGINIA // CUSTARD STAND

chili at Custard Stand
Courtesy of Custard Stand

Location: Multiple locations

Custard Stand started out in 1991 as a take-out dairy bar, but customers loved their chili so much that the company shifted focus. The founders appeared on Shark Tank in 2016, and today, you can enjoy their beefy hot dog chili or chili soup with beef and beans.

49. WISCONSIN // RED ROCK SALOON

chili with Fritos
iStock

Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Mouthwatering barbecue, live rock and country music, and a mechanical bull make Red Rock Saloon a wild place to hang out. Try their famous Red Rock Chili, or get the brisket chili atop the Frito Pie Burger.

50. WYOMING // CHUGWATER SODA FOUNTAIN

Outside of Chugwater Diner

Location: Chugwater, Wyoming

This cute soda fountain is Wyoming's oldest operating soda fountain, and you can feel the history oozing from the walls. Choose between their famous Chugwater Chili or green chili, both of which pair well with a hand-dipped ice cream shake.

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The Best Pie in All 50 States
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Pi Day isn't until March 14, but there's another pie-centric holiday on the calendar. Pie Day falls on January 23, and we're sharing our picks for the best pie in every state. Whether you prefer a classic apple or go for more unusual flavors (raspberry rhubarb jalapeño, anyone?), celebrate Pie Day with one of these delectable options.

1. ALABAMA // PIE LAB

Location: Greensboro, Alabama

This trendy community space serves fried chicken salads and various wraps and paninis, but the highlight are their pies, made with exceptionally buttery crusts. Have a slice of coconut cream or chocolate chess pie while you enjoy good conversation and a friendly vibe. And if you have a hankering for a real taste of home, chef Seaborn Whatley says they'll even try to duplicate an old family favorite if you happen to have your grandmother's recipe book on hand.

2. ALASKA // BEAR TOOTH THEATREPUB

Slice of caramel turtle fudge ice cream pie.
iStock

Location: Anchorage, Alaska

The Bear Tooth Theatrepub is more than a dine-in movie theater—it's also a restaurant, draft brewery, and concert venue all in one. But after you've finished off some fresh Alaskan fish tacos, save room for the caramel turtle fudge ice cream pie. Made with an Oreo cookie crust, the pie manages to perfectly balance chocolate fudge, vanilla ice cream, and smooth caramel.

3. ARIZONA // PIEFECTION

Slice of lemon meringue pie.
iStock

Location: Mesa, Arizona

This pie-only bakery focuses on top-notch ingredients such as fresh whipped cream, wild blueberries, and bars of authentic Belgian chocolate. The country apple pie, made with cinnamon and freshly ground nutmeg (and can be made gluten-free with a day's notice), is a real standout. Or, cool off from the Arizona heat with a slice of lemon meringue, topped with beautifully toasted, swirled meringue.

4. ARKANSAS // FRANKE'S

The sign for Franke's Cafeteria in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Harold Wright, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location: Little Rock, Arkansas

Opened nearly a century ago in 1919, Franke's boasts three locations in Little Rock today. The cafeteria is popular for its burgers and candied sweet potatoes, and for its selection of outstanding pies, such as egg custard, chocolate cream, and sweet potato coconut.

5. CALIFORNIA // THE MADONNA INN BAKERY

pie from The Madonna Inn Bakery
Courtesy of The Madonna Inn Bakery

Location: San Luis Obispo, California

The whimsical Madonna Inn has provided rooms to travelers on California's Central Coast since 1958, and the hotel's bakery, situated inside the Copper Cafe, is an essential sweet stop along Highway 101. The magnificent pies come in flavors such as caramel Dutch apple, apricot, cherry, and cream cheese.

6. COLORADO // 3.14 SWEET & SAVORY PI BAR

Close-up of a pie.
Courtesy of 3.14 Sweet & Savory Pi Bar

Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado

3.14 Sweet & Savory Pi Bar is a fun bakery that pays homage to everyone's favorite mathematical constant. Pies here are creatively named; a few standouts are the Nutty Professor (peanut butter chocolate pie), I've Got A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts (coconut cream), and Wicked Southern Dutchman (Dutch apple pie with Kentucky bourbon).

7. CONNECTICUT // SIXPENCE PIE COMPANY

Slice of pie topped with bananas.
iStock

Location: Southington and New Haven, Connecticut

Two friends who loved baking started Sixpence Pie Company at a local farmer's market, and have since opened two brick-and-mortar stores. Besides savory shepherd's pie and chicken pot pies, you'll find seasonal sweet pies and a mouthwatering sugar and spice pie, made with banana and Nutella.

8. DELAWARE // CANNON'S CUSTOM CAKES & BAKERY

Close-up of pecan pie.
iStock

Location: Newark, Delaware

Since 1985, Cannon's Bakery has provided elaborate custom cakes for parties and special occasions, the result of mother-of-five Leah Cannon's well-known prowess at making cakes for friends and family. But you don't need a wedding or graduation as an excuse to take home one of the shop's delicious pies; pick up a pecan or apple pie, or a seasonal sugar-lattice fruit pie.

9. FLORIDA // JOE'S STONE CRAB

A slice of key lime pie.
iStock

Location: Miami Beach, Florida

Back in 1913, Joe Weiss moved from New York to Miami to try to improve his asthma. The lunch counter he opened has morphed into a Miami Beach landmark that serves stellar seafood and perfect pies. Although key lime pie is the classic choice here, the chocolate pecan and apple pies are also marvelous.

10. GEORGIA // SUGAR SHACK

Slice of large chocolate pecan pie.
Courtesy of Sugar Shack

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

At this cozy coffee shop in a shopping center, you'll find dessert cases filled with tantalizing full and mini pies. The apple crumb and peach crumb pies are light and energizing, and the chocolate pecan pie has a richness that will make you feel sublime.

11. HAWAII // LEODA'S KITCHEN AND PIE SHOP

Rows of small chocolate macadamia nut pies.
Jennifer Cachola, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location: Lahaina, Hawaii

Located on the west side of Maui, Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop serves what it calls "glorified grandma comfort food." The macadamia nut chocolate praline and coconut cream pies are certainly comforting, in the way that only sugar and grandmas can be.

12. IDAHO // BIG CITY COFFEE AND CAFE

Cherry pie scone from Big City Coffee and Cafe
Courtesy of Big City Coffee and Cafe

Location: Boise, Idaho

Big City Coffee in the Linen District blurs the line between pies and scones with its spectacular cherry pie scone. The enormous creation is loaded with fruit and has a uniquely flaky, granular crust.

13. ILLINOIS // BANG BANG PIE & BISCUITS

Large crumb pie on a blue checkered background.
Courtesy of Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Stop at Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits in Logan Square or Ravenswood for a tart apple cherry crumble pie or the best lemon pistachio pie of your life. Made with a shortbread crust, the pie contains lemon curd, buttermilk custard, and candied pistachios. The store also offers baking classes so you can learn to make your own pie creations at home.

14. INDIANA // MOM'S HOMEMADE PIES

Slice of gooseberry pie.
iStock

Location: Kokomo, Indiana

Mom's Homemade Pies takes its name seriously. You won't find any mixers, which means that all the pie crust here is tender and silky. The gooseberry pie is loaded with fruit and the butterscotch cream pie will make you nostalgic for a simpler, sweeter time.

15. IOWA // DELUXE

Pies from Deluxe
Courtesy of Deluxe

Location: Iowa City, Iowa

Deluxe is an adorable French bakery located just one mile from the Iowa River. The bakers here use fresh, organic local apples to make an excellent double butter crust apple pie, and the strawberry rhubarb pie is also noteworthy for its subtle balance of sweet and tart.

16. KANSAS // THE UPPER CRUST PIE BAKERY

Pie from The Upper Crust Pie Bakery
Courtesy of The Upper Crust Pie Bakery

Location: Overland Park, Kansas

Opened by two sisters and their mom, this neighborhood bakery delights visitors with its authentically Midwestern approach to pies. Although most people love the peach raspberry and coconut custard pies, don't overlook the yummy brown sugar buttermilk pie.

17. KENTUCKY // ANNIE MAY'S SWEET CAFE

Pie from Annie May's Sweet Cafe
Courtesy of Annie May's Sweet Cafe

Location: Louisville, Kentucky

All of the treats at this allergy-friendly bakery are free of soy, gluten, peanuts, and tree nuts. But what the pies lack in allergens, they make up for in bold flavor. The store's glorious fruit pies are simple, pure, and absolutely delicious.

18. LOUISIANA // COWBELL

Slice of apple pie with caramel drizzle.
iStock

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

This restaurant's name might make you think of the old Saturday Night Live skit, but once you dine at this dog-friendly eatery, you'll definitely say that you need more Cowbell. To chase the skirt steak or carne asada tacos, order the apple pie. It's served with crème anglaise and caramel, making for a tantalizing gustatory experience.

19. MAINE // TWO FAT CATS BAKERY

Close-up of a blueberry rhubarb pie.
iStock

Location: Portland, Maine

Two Fat Cats Bakery is a truly special place devoted to baking pies (and other desserts) from scratch. Bakers hand roll every pie, use authentic New England ingredients, and advertise fruit pies based on the harvest months. For wild Maine blueberries, order the divine blueberry rhubarb pie in May or June. For this time of year? The Lemon Shaker or Bourbon Pecan pies will do the trick.

20. MARYLAND // RENATA'S TASTY BITES

Close-up of a decorative pie crust.
iStock

Location: Columbia, Maryland

After moving from Croatia to the States, Renata Alanovic opened this delightful store in Columbia. Customers love her handmade sweet and savory pies and pastries, especially the wonderful cherry and pecan pies, all with extra embellishments on the crust.

21. MASSACHUSETTS // MIKE'S PASTRY

Takeout box at Mike's Pastry.
Kimberly Vardeman, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Location: Multiple locations, Massachusetts

With locations in Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville, Mike's Pastry has a strong presence in the greater Bean Town area. Grab a few Nutella cannoli and chow down on a slice of authentic Boston cream pie while you admire the ricotta pie's flawlessly golden top.

22. MICHIGAN // SISTER PIE

Three decorative pies on a tray.
Courtesy of Sister Pie

Location: Detroit, Michigan

Sister Pie treats pie with the utmost respect. Bakers make the crust by hand with unbleached flour and French butter, and they source local ingredients at peak ripeness for pie fillings. The salted maple and honey lemon meringue pies will blow your mind.

23. MINNESOTA // THE BUTTERED TIN

The Buttered Tin pie
Courtesy of The Buttered Tin

Location: St. Paul, Minnesota

This cafe and bakery in Lowertown serves coffee and pie that hit the spot when you need an extra boost to get through the day. You'll find different crusts made of butter, graham cracker, or sugar dough, and flavors range from a tart green apple to pumpkin chiffon.

24. MISSISSIPPI // WALKER'S DRIVE-IN

Two fried fruit pies.
iStock

Location: Jackson, Mississippi

If you're in the Fondren arts district, you must head to Walker's Drive-In for a slice of the fried pie of the day. Depending on the day, you might enjoy an upside down blueberry pie or a chocolate pecan pie, served with bourbon vanilla ice cream.

25. MISSOURI // IT'S EASY AS PIE

Four pretty, mini pies.
iStock

Location: Fenton, Missouri

If you find it hard to pick just one flavor of pie to eat, It's Easy As Pie has you covered. Order their Cutie Pies for a dozen assorted mini pies that will make your tastebuds ecstatic. Or get a whole bananas foster pie, which contains creme brûlée infused with dark rum.

26. MONTANA // BLACK CAT BAKE SHOP

Half of a huckleberry lattice pie.
iStock

Location: Missoula, Montana

This charming family-owned bakery is popular for its stollen (a German fruit and nut loaf) and stupendous pies. The huckleberry pie earns raves for its effortless balance of sweet and tart flavors.

27. NEBRASKA // MODERN LOVE

Modern Love pie
Courtesy of Modern Love

Location: Omaha, Nebraska

Three words: vegan comfort food. After you chow down on latkes, seitan gyros, or wild mushroom schnitzel, get ready for some of the best pie of your life. The apple ginger pie is served with a coconut whip, and the blood orange coconut cream pie is made with a snickerdoodle crust.

28. NEVADA // WET HEN CAFE

Large apple pie with a slice missing.
iStock

Location: Reno, Nevada

Wet Hen Cafe is located in a nondescript strip mall, but don't overlook this homespun spot. Generously stuffed with apple slices, the apple pie is huge, heavenly, and served with cinnamon sauce.

29. NEW HAMPSHIRE // CHEZ VACHON

Cranberry pie with a bowl of cranberries beside it.
iStock

Location: Manchester, New Hampshire

This superb restaurant serves heaping plates of poutine as well as a huge selection of fruit and cream pies. Highlights include the pistachio cream and cranberry walnut cheesecake pies.

30. NEW JERSEY // THE PIE STORE

The Pie Store pie
Courtesy of The Pie Store

Location: Upper Montclair, New Jersey

Anglophiles love The Pie Store for its impressive selection of British groceries. You'll find plenty of savory pies (shepherd's pie, chicken and mushroom) as well as spectacular sweet pies, like their key lime. They make their fruit pies, like the cran-apple or raspberry-blackberry-apple, with a double crust, or stop in Saturday or Sunday to get the weekend-only coconut custard and chocolate mousse pies.

31. NEW MEXICO // TUNE-UP CAFE

A strawberry rhubarb pie.
iStock

Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico

The husband-wife team at Tune-Up Cafe serves an eclectic mix of tamales, pupusas, and homemade, gluten-free pies. Order the pie of the day a la mode for a taste of blueberry, maple pecan, or strawberry rhubarb pie with vanilla bean ice cream.

32. NEW YORK // PIED PIPER PIES

pies from Pied Piper Pies
Courtesy of Pied Piper Pies

Location: Highland Falls, New York

At Pied Piper Pies, the crust is flaky and the filling is satisfying. Whether you sample a quiche, pot pie, or sweet pie, you'll be able to taste the care and love that goes into each creation. Pro tip? Get the Samoa or Snickers pies for a sweet blast of nostalgia.

33. NORTH CAROLINA // THE PIE HOLE

A slice of s'mores pie.
Courtesy of The Pie Hole

Location: Durham, North Carolina

With locations in southern California, Tokyo, and Durham, The Pie Hole has perfected the art of making pie. Toasted marshmallow creme, dark chocolate mousse, and a graham cracker crust comprise the stellar s'mores pie.

34. NORTH DAKOTA // MEZZALUNA

A piece of caramel apple pie.
iStock

Location: Fargo, North Dakota

This upscale restaurant behind the Fargo Theatre is known for its filet mignon and insanely decadent desserts. The caramel apple pie is served with vanilla bean ice cream, but it's small, so you'll want to savor every bite (or order two).

35. OHIO // MAMA JO HOMESTYLE PIES

Slice of chocolate mousse pie.
iStock

Location: Amherst and Medina, Ohio

If you don't appreciate lard's essential role in making the perfect pie crust, stay away from Mama Jo Homestyle Pies. For everyone else, enjoy a slice of Buckeye cream pie, which contains silky layers of chocolate and peanut butter mousse.

36. OKLAHOMA // THE MERCANTILE

The Mercantile pie
Courtesy of The Mercantile

Location: Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Hands down, the best pie in the Sooner State can be found at The Mercantile. This store and cafe owned by Food Network superstar Ree Drummond (a.k.a. the Pioneer Woman) serves exceptional pecan pie made with toasted Oklahoma pecans, brown sugar custard, and bourbon vanilla whipped cream.

37. OREGON // PETUNIA'S PIES AND PASTRIES

A sour cherry pie.
iStock

Location: Portland, Oregon

This charmingly alliterative bakery makes small batches of vegan, gluten-free pastries using a blend of millet flour, almond meal, and flaxseeds. It's hard to pick favorites, but some of the best pies here are the lattice top sour cherry and double crust blackberry peach.

38. PENNSYLVANIA // OAKMONT BAKERY

Oakmont Bakery pie
Courtesy of Oakmont Bakery

Location: Oakmont, Pennsylvania

For 30 years, Oakmont Bakery has been famous for its Paczki (Polish stuffed doughnuts), but the homemade pies are in a league all their own. The Dutch apple seems like a must-order in Pennsylvania, but the spiky tufts on the coconut meringue are impossible to pass up.

39. RHODE ISLAND // THE WAYLAND BAKERY

The sign at Providence's Wayland Bakery.

Location: Providence, Rhode Island

Pies at The Wayland Bakery come in eight-, nine-, or 10-inch pans, but when it comes to this 90-year-old bakery's pies, bigger is better. Standout flavors include sugar-free apple, coconut custard, and lemon meringue.

40. SOUTH CAROLINA // HAROLD'S CABIN

A slice of buttermilk pie.
iStock

Location: Charleston, South Carolina

Located in a quiet residential neighborhood, Harold's Cabin is a restaurant and corner store with a small rooftop garden. Head there on a Saturday or Sunday for breakfast and enjoy sitting with other people who won't judge you for partaking in buttermilk or cranberry apple pie first thing in the morning.

41. SOUTH DAKOTA // THE PURPLE PIE PLACE

The Purple Pie Place pie
Courtesy of The Purple Pie Place

Location: Custer, South Dakota

The Black Hills region is famous for two attractions: Mount Rushmore National Memorial and The Purple Pie Place. Customers rave about the freshness of the blueberry pie and the creative mix of flavors in the raspberry rhubarb jalapeño pie.

42. TENNESSEE // PAULETTE'S RESTAURANT

A slice of chocolate whip pie.
iStock

Location: Memphis, Tennessee

For four decades, Paulette's Restaurant has been a destination for fine dining and celebratory meals along the Mississippi River. Although the key lime pie is killer, get the Kahlua-mocha parfait pie. Nicknamed the K-pie, this extravagant dessert's crust is made with pecans and coconut.

43. TEXAS // PIE IN THE SKY PIE CO.

Pie In The Sky Pie Co. pie
Courtesy of Pie In The Sky Pie Co.

Location: Conroe, Texas

Drive 40 miles north of Houston, and you'll find Pie In The Sky Pie Co., a cafe and bakery that churns out a large selection of carefully curated pies. If you can handle the heat, get a slice of red hot apple pie, made with Red Hots cinnamon candies.

44. UTAH // THE DODO

A slice of Toll House pie at The Dodo.
Sam Klein, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Named after the extinct Mauritian bird, The Dodo serves humongous, heavenly slices of pie. Flavor options for the towering slices of pie include Toll House, banana cream cheese, and chocolate almond mousse.

45. VERMONT // THE HARTLAND DINER

A slice of cream pie.
iStock

Location: Hartland, Vermont

Located on Route 5, this neighborhood diner is the perfect spot for a cup of joe and a slice of maple cream or chocolate cream pie. The servings are generous, including the giant dollop of whipped cream that practically hides the delicious pie underneath.

46. VIRGINIA // THE HORSESHOE

The Horseshoe pie
Courtesy of The Horseshoe

Location: South Hill, Virginia

If you're seeking the simple elegance of Depression Era pies—full recipes made with limited ingredients such as milk, sugar, eggs, and butter— head to this diner that has been open since the '30s. The former blacksmith shop now serves timelessly delicious buttermilk, brown sugar, and lemon chess pies.

47. WASHINGTON // SIMPLY SOULFUL

A slice of sweet potato pie.
iStock

Location: Seattle, Washington

A family recipe for sweet potato pie inspired a mother and daughter to open Simply Soulful, a soul food and pie joint in Madison Valley. Sip espresso as you dig in to a sweet potato, apple, or mixed berry pie.

48. WEST VIRGINIA // OLIVER'S PIES

Oliver’s Pies pie
Courtesy of Oliver’s Pies

Location: Wheeling, West Virginia

Run by the Oliver family, Oliver's Pies makes handmade pies with the utmost care. The Dutch apple and peach pies are stuffed with fruit, and the chocolate peanut butter cream pie is rich and velvety.

49. WISCONSIN // STOCKHOLM PIE AND GENERAL STORE

Stockholm Pie and General Store pie
Courtesy of Stockholm Pie and General Store

Location: Stockholm, Wisconsin

Head to Stockholm Pie and General Store for an espresso bar, Wisconsin cheese, and pies galore. After chowing down on chicken pot pie, try the caramel apple crunch pie, which contains hand peeled and sliced apples, pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg, and caramel sauce.

50. WYOMING // THE PIE TIN

A slice of sour cream raisin pie.
iStock

Location: Wheatland, Wyoming

You'll find cakes, cookies, and quick breads at this bakery and catering company, but the pies are truly special. The pumpkin and pecan pies are stellar, as are the more unusual butterscotch and sour cream raisin pies.

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