Saturday, August 23, 2014

Quick Bites: Elkhart's Oktoberfest has sizzling chili

Who won the chili contest at the Elkhart Oktoberfest?
Posted on Oct. 8, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

What's Marshall King up to this week? Find out in today's Dining A La King.

Ten restaurants and the Elkhart Fire Department brought batches of chili to the Elkhart Oktoberfest Chili Cook-off Saturday in downtown Elkhart. Once again, there were some stellar chilis.

I judged with Paul Weaver, formerly of WTRC, and Michele Scherpenberg of South Bend Foodies. We had a hard time picking winners from the entries. This year there were some really good chilis.

We were given cups with descriptions, but without the restaurants being identified. We picked Mod Mex as our favorite, with Sports Time Family Pub & Grill finishing second and Iechyd Da Brewing Co. third.

The people's choice award went to McCarthy's, who also won the award for the best booth. The fire department was second in the people's choice voting and Mod Mex was third. Congrats to all the winners.

Others entering this year's contest were 523 Tap & Grill, Miles Lab, Around the Corner Cafe, Charlie's Butcher Block, Lucchese's and Massimo's Pizzeria.

Ÿ The first Elkhart Dining Days ended this past weekend. I'll look forward to hearing the final tally on diners. I got to a few more places last week to try the special menus, including Antonio's, Chubby Trout, The Vine and McCarthy's. Highlights included the bison meatloaf at Chubby Trout, cheesecake at The Vine and duck napoleon at McCarthy's. There were other bright spots in the meal and in general, the food I had from Dining Days menus was stellar. Restaurant owners said they were busier than usual the past two weeks and the people seeking out the Dining Days menus were part of that.

Ÿ Antojitos Mexicanos, 102 Middlebury St., Elkhart, may be open intermittently due to a family situation, according to owner Brett Coppins. Tentative hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. weekdays.

Ÿ Friends of the Bristol Public Library is having a cupcake contest and sale on Monday, Oct. 15. Anyone can enter between 10 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. at the library, 701 Goode St., Bristol. Cupcakes will be judged in a taste category and one based on decoration. I'll be helping judge the contest. Cupcakes will also be sold that day.

Ÿ Last week's column referenced a fish fry at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, but a reader pointed out I didn't say where the church is. It's at 24831 U.S. 12 East, Edwardsburg. The meal includes local pan fish, french fries, cole slaw, beverage and dessert for $8 for adults, $5 for children age 5 to 12 and free for children age 4 and under.

Ÿ Golden Monkey Cafe, 1301 Lincolnway East, Goshen, is having a Pho Challenge at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13. For $25, you get a huge bowl of the Vietnamese soup. The winner of the soup-eating race will be get a shirt, a free meal on his or her next visit and $25. The winner will be the one who finishes first or eats the most in 45 minutes. You can sign up at the restaurant through Friday.

Ÿ Stirred is having a beer tasting of fall and holiday brews from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Oct. 24, according to owner Tanya Bleiler. A maximum of 30 perople will be able to sample brews and new menu items. Matt Johnson from Indiana Beer will be the host for the event. To reserve a spot, call 574-522-4914.

Ÿ Reader Suzanne Stuban asked where to get smoked spices now that Hickory Meats & More is gone. She said she misses their smoked spices. They were mighty good and I still have a stash. I suggested the smoked salt from S.A.L.T. Sisters, a local business that is focused on salt, but has other spices as well. Mattern's in Goshen has S.A.L.T. Sisters spices and you can also find them online and at other retailers.

Ÿ I got to talk Elkhart County restaurants with Gordy Young on WNIT's “Experience Michiana” last week. If you missed it and want to watch it online, you can do so at

Marshall V. King is news/multimedia editor and food columnist for The Elkhart Truth/ You can reach him at, 574-296-5805, on Twitter @hungrymarshall or via Facebook.

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