Take a handful of Cincinnati-style chili, tuck it into a fat wad of homemade cornbread dough, deep-fry the cornbread-chili ball and serve it with cheese sauce. That’s how you make a Chili Bomb.
Offered on the “secret menu” at Wiener and Still Champion in Evanston, the Chili Bombs are just one example of owner and chef Gus Paschalis’ unusual and gut-busting inventions. He’s also known for making deep-fried gravy, country-fried bacon and a hamburger that’s stuffed with chili and cheese before being dunked in the deep-fryer.
Is there anything Paschalis wouldn’t put in boiling oil?
“There’s not a lot that doesn’t turn out good in a deep fryer,” he admits.
Paschalis says he got the idea for the Chili Bombs while watching an employee use a soufflé cup to sample some of the Cincinnati-style meat chili he serves on hot dogs.
“I just looked at it and it was like one of those lightbulbs going off in your head—it kind of looked like cornbread, the brown soufflé cup,” says Paschalis.
His homemade cornbread batter is famous among regulars, most of whom eat it on “Dippin’ Dogs,” which are hot dogs dipped in cornbread batter, then deep-fried corndog style.
“Gus is supreme, for his innovativeness and creativeness,” says customer Penny Goldman, who raves about the Dippin’ Dogs as well as the hand-cut French fries.
An order of four Chili Bombs costs $7.50 and is served with a generous helping of those famous hand-cut French fries, plus a side of Merkt’s cheddar cheese sauce.