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“Excellent Chili” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Hard Times Cafe

Hard Times Cafe
4069 Chain Bridge Rd, Fairfax, VA 22030
703-267-9590
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Ranked #106 of 346 Restaurants in Fairfax
Price range: $5 - $12
Cuisines: American
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Restaurant details
Good for: Families with children, Bar scene, Outdoor seating, Dining on a budget
Dining options: Lunch
Description: Chili. Wings. Burgers. Sports
Centreville
Top Contributor
60 reviews 60 reviews
44 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“Excellent Chili”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 10, 2012

This place is great! They specialize in chili mac which is chili on spaghetti. Of course they have bowls of chili and a frito pie which is chili with fritos. They have 4 types of chili: Cincinatti, Texas, Terlingua, and Veggie (in order of spiciness). A couple of chili tips - you can ask for half of one chili and half of another (I like the Texas and Terlingua), you can ask for extra grease on the Texas and it comes out more soupy, you can get a tenderfoot size (may not be on the menu) for a little cheaper as the portions of the chili mac are huge, and you can ask for a chili sampler which is free to taste all the chilis before you order. If you get full size chili mac, you can ask for a large bowl with it so that it will fit on the plate or it is tough to eat without the spaghetti falling off the plate. I also love the wings here. They are grilled, buffalo style with chili powder sprinkled on them. They are so good that I have been to Hard Times before and just ordered wings - but the chili is so good that it is tough to pass up. They also have good sweet tea which is a big plus in my book.

  • Visited December 2011
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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23 reviews from our community

60% Recommend
    8
    6
    7
    2
    0
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Puget Sound
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
18 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Chili, chili, chili”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 27, 2012

If you love chili this is the place. Texas or Cincinnati, the chili is superb. It is inexpensive yet a really good meal. Five way is the best, but get only a half order od the spaghetti.
We did not scratch and claw our way to the top of the food chain to eat vegetables - and the only vegetables are the fabulous onion rings!

  • Visited April 2011
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Top Contributor
122 reviews 122 reviews
41 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 60 cities Reviews in 60 cities
65 helpful votes 65 helpful votes
“Chili at its best”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 24, 2012

Hard Times never disappoints. Good chili at reasonable prices. I like 3 way chili, but others may prefer it differently. The chili is Cinncinati style so if you are a big fan of Texas chili you might be disappointed. Draws a youngish crowd.

Visited July 2011
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC
Top Contributor
279 reviews 279 reviews
162 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 60 cities Reviews in 60 cities
165 helpful votes 165 helpful votes
“Not bad, not great”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 7, 2012

If you stick to the basic items you will get an average, not terrible, but not memorable meal. I tried the chili here once and, for me, once was enough. The oversalty, grainy chili was pretty inedible. The waitress noticed and asked if she could bring me something else, but by then my tastebuds after three bites were pretty shot along with my appetite! I went there on another occassion with friends and had the friend chicken salad. That was ok. This seems like a nice spot for appetizers, beer, and friends.

Visited July 2011
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Fairfax, Virginia
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
14 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Good Bar Food”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 30, 2011

Really good bar food.

Good place to go to watch sporting events or play darts or pool.

The staff is only so-so though.

Also, they allow smoking in parts of the bar/restaurant and it smells nasty!

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