A downtown street cart turned chili joint, Dixon’s Chili Parlor was a favorite of Harry S. Truman’s before, during and after his presidency – in fact, after LIFE Magazine published a photo of him eating at the restaurant surrounded by Secret Service agents, it was renamed Dixon’s “Famous” Chili.
Founder Vergne Dixon opened the first brick-and-mortar location in 1919. Today, the second and only remaining location is a charming red and white diner in Independence, Missouri, which still serves chili just the way you like it: juicy, soupy or dry, with whatever fixin’s you want. Plus, a tamale spread – one tamale covered with chili beans and meat – and spaghetti chili. Just don’t ask for ketchup: Dixon swore his chili was excellent without it, and though the “no ketchup” policy is less strict now, the restaurant does charge a 10-cent fine for the stuff (to not completely break from tradition).
After more than 100 years of service, Dixon’s “Famous” Chili has stayed in the family; Dixon’s great-niece Terri Totta-Smith proudly runs it with her son, Stephen Steffes.
Dixon's "Famous" Chili, 9105 E. US Highway 40, Independence, Missouri, 816.861.7308, dixonschili.com