Tub's Chili: A Folksy Spot With Great Food

This down-to-earth place caters to the locals with its low-key charm.

The first time I heard about Tub’s Chili was when I went to a local Centaurs football game in Culver City. Tub’s was one of the sponsors, and I got a kick out of the ad they delivered over the PA system. Wow, this sounds like a nice local business, I thought.

The second time was when I was at a food festival in Marina del Rey, and got to sample a small bit of Tub’s Chili. They were one of the few vendors passing out samples, and from my first bite, I was quite impressed.

And then I kept noticing this cute place on Overland called Tub’s. What a catchy name, I thought—and then I remembered my previous encounters. I promised myself that I’d have to visit sometime.  So, tonight was the night.  It had been raining all day, and the only remedy was a hot meal.

Tub’s has been around for about 2 ½ years. Owners Rick and Margie Hodges, who are third-generation Culver City residents, bring small town congeniality to our dining scene, embracing their roster of local patrons like they’re members of the family.  Notable Culver City Chamber luminaries like Steve Rose are common sights at Tub’s. In fact, many local business people frequent this splinter of a place and for good reason: Their chili is great.

We sampled a number of chili recipes, none of which were too hot to handle. They have a TNT sauce for that, for those who want to escalate the temperature to their liking.  It’s also sold on the premises.

Our favorite was their Turkey Drive—corralled with red kidney beans, 22 secret ingredients, and of course, lean ground turkey.  The Campfire Triple-B got second place—choked with bacon, beef and black beans and a host of other ingredients.  There are countless other flavors of chili, which are all notable and delicious.

Some of the sides we enjoyed were their Buffalo Chips, which are golden-fried hand-sliced potatoes, dusted with chipotle salt and served with cool ranch or BBQ dipper. The Hushpuppy Tails were delightful as well as the small cornbread fingers with honey marmalade butter.  I’m a sucker for slaw, so don’t forget to order it.

Rick is a real food dude, and closely guards his ingredients a good sheriff in an old western town. But behind his folksy cowboy charm, he is a smart businessman, reflecting his many years as an entrepreneur in marketing and advertising.

Margie is the bright neon light of the business, glowing with her good looks and effervescent personality, culled from years in the airline industry.  Both she and Rick are the optimum hosts of this small place, and their style and panache shows that they have a winning recipe with Tub’s.

The entire joint sports a Western theme.  Some of the seats are shaped as saddles. Look at that Western garb on the walls, all of which takes you to simpler times when people just wanted to be welcomed when they walk through the door, and encouraged to come back.

I have an suspicion that this won’t be the first Tub’s that will make its home in Southern California. They are clearly building a winning brand. They may be small right now, but I foresee big things down the road.

C’mon down and see what it’s all about.

, 4263 Overland Ave., Culver City, CA 90230; (310) 559-8827

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