Remembering the Chili Queens

by Fran Stephenson | May 28, 2012
Chili queens were among San Antonio's earliest street vendors and became famous for their chili con carne.

Chili Queens were among San Antonio’s earliest street vendors.

Chili Queens in early San Antonio

In the mid-1800s, they sold chili con carne, enchiladas, tamales, coffee, and hand-rolled corn husk cigarettes in city plazas. Chili queens were a constant presence in San Antonio, in places such as Military Plaza, from dusk to dawn. All types of people, from wealthy ranchers to laborers, ate breakfast and lunch in city plazas. They are immortalized in photos in the Main Plaza section of the new Robert J. and Helen C. Kleberg South Texas Heritage Center but also in their chili recipe, which we are happy to share with our visitors.  You can download the recipe here for one of the original chili queens’ famous chili con carne.  Try it at home and let us know how you liked it in the comments section.