Skip to main content
Special Request: Vegan chili at Three Monkeys is full of flavor, deepened with coffee

Special Request: Vegan chili at Three Monkeys is full of flavor, deepened with coffee

  • 0

Three Monkeys first served this full-flavored vegan chili at a neighborhood tasting event. The positive response was so overwhelming new owners Mary and Zach Rice added it to the menu.

Q • I had a fantastic vegan chili at Three Monkeys, off of Morganford, and need the recipe. Help our community and get us the recipe. — Christopher Lee, St. Louis

A • When new owners Zach and Mary Rice celebrated their first anniversary at Three Monkeys in October, they threw a fall festival. They wanted a vegan option on the menu, something that would sell outside on a crisp fall day. The two met with lead cook Kelly McLaughlin to brainstorm ideas. The resulting dish, a vegan chili, was such a hit they put it on the regular the fall/winter menu.

The hearty chili, replete with kidney and pinto beans, corn, peppers, tomatoes and onion gets its zing from a classic mix of cumin, chili powder, cayenne and black pepper. McLaughlin added a dose of strong coffee, which deepened the flavors. A cornstarch slurry added to the finished chili gave more body and a nice mouth feel to the dish.

The process of how these new owners developed the dish demonstrates Three Monkeys’ new approach to crafting fresh foods from scratch and using the talents of their staff to best advantage.

“This place had been here for a long time,” Zach Rice says. “We knew when we took over in October 2018 we needed to put our stamp on it.”

“The new Three Monkeys reflects our personal style. We’ve been together almost 13 years. This place is a reflection of who we are and what we like to eat,” Mary Rice says.

“When we put out the new menu we wanted to embrace some aspects of the previous menu at Three Monkeys,” Zach Rice says.

“Our wings, our pizza, our burgers — they’re great, and they’re never going anywhere. The pizzas are all made in house. I love our wings. First of all, they’re huge. They’re breaded, then fried, then tossed in our house sweet and spicy sauce,” Mary Rice says.

Some menu items changed dramatically, however. “We’ve shut down two freezers the previous management kept here. We’re doing everything fresh, like our house-made veal and beef meatloaf, which is a top seller,” Zach Rice says. “We top it with gravy made with Civil Life Brown Ale. Civil Life Brewery is less than a mile from here. The owner, Jake Hafner, lives in the neighborhood. We top it with fried onions.

“Our wine and cocktail program has improved by leaps and bounds. Mary’s behind the bar. She even makes her own cherries for our barrel-aged Manhattans.”

The Rices both have strong restaurant backgrounds. Their experiences led them to a more cooperative management style and a looser structure with their staff. “We’ve embraced the strengths in our staff. We’ve got great people with talents. We don’t have a chef; we have cooks. We all contribute. We’ve asked these creative people to help us out,” Zach Rice says.

How has the neighborhood reacted to the new ownership at Three Monkeys? “The neighborhood has really responded — a lot of people told us the food, and the service, has all improved. It’s been really good to be embraced by the neighborhood.”

Three Monkeys

3153 Morganford Road



Would you like to request a recipe from a restaurant that is still open in the St. Louis area? Send your request along with your full name and the city you live in to

Recipes from the top 100 restaurants in the area

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.



Blues News

Breaking News

Cardinals News

Daily 6

National Breaking News