The clank of an old wooden door gave us away. A tumbleweed, rolling between the five stunned locals, could not have looked more out of place. Wading tentatively through frozen conversations and stares, we approached the vintage ice cream soda counter.
“Can I help you?”
“We’d like to try the chilli.”
Deep in the cowboy country of Wyoming is a town so small that this one and only restaurant doesn’t even have a name- besides “Restaurant”. Other than gasoline, there’s no reason a person would linger in Chugwater (pop. 212). Unless they’ve seen the billboards, leading their tongues west to the “Best Chilli in the World.”
It’s an international claim the town’s made since 1986, when several ranchers upgraded the Wyoming State Championship Chilli recipe into the flood of beans, beef and spices now gracing every item on the menu. Chilli-smothered hamburgers; chilli-drowned Polish sausages; chilli-buffeted nachos.