Dinner last night at Hard Times Cafe as our final week of packing continues and D (for Departure) Day approaches.

Hard Times is a local success story. It started as a chili parlor in Alexandria just about the time we came to Washington 23 years ago. A simple restaurant that served two kinds of chili (Texas and Cincinnatti) and onion rings. Now they’re a chain of restaurants and the menu has grown to include not only the two original chilis but veggie, Terlingua Red, hamburgers, salads, deserts and even a dinner menu.

Fortunately, they still serve basic Texas chili — coarse ground beef and seasonings that can be ordered dry, medium or all the way wet (a measurement of the amount of grease). Order it with a side of jalapenos and you have all you need.

In the early 1980s, while working for Congressman Manual Lujan of New Mexico, I worked on a piece of fun legislation to make chili the National Food. The bill never went anywhere but a copy of it hangs in the Hard Times in Arlington as a little piece of our history that we will leave behind when we depart the Washington metro area next week.