(Photo credit: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

Texans take their chili so seriously that the Texas State Legislature even designated it the official state dish back in 1977. But what constitutes a perfect bowl of red can be a source of contention among chili connoisseurs. Whether you like it with meat and beans or not, these DFW spots serve the best bowls of red for those who crave something comforting and hot.

Stampede 66
1717 McKinney Ave, Suite 100
Dallas, TX 75202
(214) 550-6966

Everything about Stampede 66 epitomizes the Lone Star State, from the cowboy chic decor to Stephan Pyles’ creative twists on quintessential Texan chow. Along with favorite comfort food hits like honey fried chicken and barbecued brisket, you’ll find good old fashioned Texas chili that’s been elevated to a height of greatness. Stampede 66’s bowl of red may be served at the table from a can, but rest assured, this is no ordinary can of chili. It’s a rich, complex concoction of chunky beef that’s been slowly stewed with ancho and chipotle chilies and it marries perfectly with a plump goat cheese fritter. There is also a freeto-chili pie that comes in a faux chips bag like the classic version, except this version incorporates homemade corn chips, cayenne pepper cheddar foam and candied jalapenos for a flavor explosion that’s off the charts.

St. Pete’s Dancing Marlin
2730 Commerce St.
Dallas, TX 75226
(214) 698-1511

This popular hangout offers an amazing selection of brews and some of the best food in town, including a dynamite seared tuna and an array of tasty pastas, but it’s the lucky dog with chili that has won this neighborhood spot accolades over all of the rest. This super-thick, bean-free chili with grilled onions and cheddar cheese is certainly good enough on its own, but it’s even better when slathered over the grilled smoky links that come from Rudolph’s Market and Sausage Factory.

Related: Best Mexican Food In DFW

Holy Grail Pub
8240 Preston Road, Suite 150
Plano, TX 75024
(972) 377-6633

When it comes to a truly tasty bowl of red, the Holy Grail’s ghost pepper chili will set your mouth ablaze with utter delight. It gets its amazing flavor from a combination of ground beef, sausage and Stone Smoked Porter beer, but it’s the sweat-inducing ghost pepper chilies that make this chili tip the scale. Sure, your mouth will feel like an inferno, but the pub’s huge assortment of craft beers are perfect for dousing out the flames.

Fred’s Texas Cafe
915 Currie St.
Fort Worth, TX 76107
(817) 332-0083

With three Fort Worth locations, you don’t need to travel far to find some of Fred’s famous burgers and chicken fried steak. But if you’re hankering to get heated up with some of Fred’s tasty chili, you can only find it on the menu when the temperatures start falling. Fred’s secret recipe chili con carne is loaded with meaty chunks of sirloin and topped with crisp onions, jalapenos and cheddar cheese. The best part is that you can enjoy it several ways— straight up in a bowl, with cheesy fries or on top of Fred’s famous burgers.

Good Karma Kitchen Food Truck
(817) 995-9801

Good Karma Kitchen has been converting die-hard carnivores with its array of gourmet vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free goodies ever since hitting the streets in 2011. Homemade breads and sauces amp up an ever-changing menu of tasty items ranging from flatbread Asian pizzas to wine-braised mushrooms over polenta. But one of GKK’s most popular dishes is the intensely flavorful three bean organic chili, made with a blend of secret spices and served with a delicious slice of gluten-free cheddar cornbread. It’s so meaty tasting that some people don’t realize it’s vegetarian. You can find the Good Karma Kitchen hanging out Thursday through Sunday at the Clear Forks Food Park along the Trinity River and rolling around DFW during special events.

Related: Best Hot Drinks In DFW

Ilene Jacobs is a freelance writer living in Dallas, Texas. Ilene enjoys writing about a variety of topics, ranging from food, fitness and travel, to kids, pets and senior care. You can find some of her work at Examiner.com.