Hard Times Cafe

Hard Times CafeIt is finally warming up! It is time to dust off those grills and get ready for some backyard BBQ classic eats. In the spirit of spring time comfort foods, we recently visited Hard Times Cafe in Old Town Alexandria – best known for their delicious chili and burgers.

Hard Times Cafe has a number of locations in the Washington, DC area.  However, the Old Town Alexandria location is the original and has been serving up delicious chili since 1980. The cafe has soft lighting and dark wood features giving it a cozy feel. To begin your meal, Hard Times offers a free sample of the four distinct chilies – including a veggie option. This is a great feature because it gives you a chance to try all the chili because you choose your chili dish. You can order everything from chili macs, chili cheeseburgers, chili dogs, loaded chili fries or nachos, and even chili salads!  You can also just get a plain ‘ol bowl of chili if you don’t want all the frills.

For your non-chili loving friends, Hard Times has a variety of non-chili burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, wings, and salads. They also have a variety of big dinner plates including chicken, ribs, and fish. We were big fans of both the chili and the burgers – there are no bad selections on the meun.  One of friends who joined us for this trip said it was one of the best burgers he ever had!Hard Time Cafe

As the name suggests, Hard Times Cafe is inspired by the Great Depression. “During the Great Depression chili parlors supplied an inexpensive and nourishing meal for million’s of Americans. A newspaper man at the time was quoted as saying that during those hard times chili saved more lives than the Red Cross. Meat rationing during WWII forced the closing of many chili parlors and although many restaurants today offer chili on their menus, few authentic chili parlors remain. The mission of the Hard Times is to maintain this unique American culinary institution,” the website explains.  Today, Hard Times Cafe is still living up to this reputation, serving good food without costing too much.

Good For

Chili, Burgers, Comfort Food, Lunch, Dinner

Price

Cheap Eats

Where

Alexandria
1404 King Street
Alexandria VA 22314

Clarendon
3028 Wilson Blvd
Arlington VA 22201

Fairfax
4069 Chain Bridge Rd
Fairfax VA 22030

Fredericksburg
314 Jefferson Davis Hwy
Fredericksburg VA 22401

Fredericksburg – 4 Mile
5099 Jefferson Davis Hwy
Fredericksburg VA 22408

Manassas
7753 Sudley Rd.
Manassas VA 20109

Springfield
6362 Springfield Plaza
Springfield VA 22150

Woodbridge
14389 Potomac Festival Plaza
Woodbridge VA 22193

Bethesda
4920 Delray Ave
Bethesda MD 20814

College Park
4738 Cherry Hill Rd
College Park MD 20740

Frederick
1003 W Patrick St.
Frederick MD 21702

Germantown
13032 Middlebrook Rd
Germantown MD 20874

Hagerstown
1705 Massey Blvd.
Hagerstown MD 21740

Rockville
1117 Nelson St
Rockvile MD 20850

Waldorf
1120 Smallwood Drive West
Waldorf MD 20603

National Park – Inside the Stadium
Left Field Concourse
1500 South Capital Street, SE
Washington DC 20003

Verizon Center – Inside Venue
Section 112 & 119
601 F Street, NW
Washington, DC 20004

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About Kelley Smith 61 Articles
I'm Kelley Smith and I love sharing tips on how to best explore Washington, DC. I love pretty much anything I can eat plus really good beer and whiskey served by story telling bartenders. I also like sassy museum guides, photogenic architecture, and colorful urban gardens.

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