There’s nothing quite like Cincinnati-style chili… For those who’ve tried it, you’re either addicted or repulsed. If you’re looking to try it for the first time or you’ve got the addiction like we do, here’s a quick list of our picks for the Cincinnati’s best chili parlors…
(Featured image from Blue Ash Chili)
First, what is Cincinnati-style chili?
Good question. Cincinnati folks may describe it differently, but here are the basics… The “chili” itself comes to us via Greek immigrants who settled in Cincinnati during the early 20th century. The chili itself has been described as more of a “meat sauce,” and typically has a sweeter taste than traditional American chilis. This chili is then coupled with a hefty helping of cheese and placed over hot dogs (your classic cheese coney) or spaghetti. The spaghetti dishes are known as “ways,” depending on how many toppings you add. (3-way = chili & cheese, 4-way = chili, cheese, beans or onions, 5-way = chili, cheese, beans, and onions)
While most out-of-towners have only heard of Goldstar and Skyline (which is a whole separate debate we won’t get into), there are actually dozens of local Cincinnati-style chili parlors dying to be explored on a trip to Cincinnati. (Just don’t do it all in the same day. Trust us. It’s a bad decision)
Try these local and regional parlors and be the judge on who serves the best Cincinnati-style chili…
Camp Washington Chili
In an article we wrote for Casamatic, we called Camp Washington Chili the “Godfather” of Cincinnati-style chili, and for good reason. For the past 75 years, Camp Washington Chili has served up the chili fare for 24 hours a day, 6 days a week. Originally built to serve the local meat-packing industry, today it’s a rite of passage for any true Cincinnatian.
3005 Colerain Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio 45225
Pleasant Ridge Chili
Oh, those gravy fries. Sure, their 3-ways and coneys are good, but Pleasant Ridge Chili carved out a special little niche for themselves with their delicious gravy and cheese covered french fries. The inside of PRC is decorated like your uncle’s basement- full of older Cincinnati photos and posters. It’s an all-around wonderful experience. By the way, the place is cash only, so bring some dollar bills.
6032 Montgomery Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45213
Price Hill Chili
The west-side of Cincinnati is old-school Cincinnati through-and-through. This side of town bleeds red and white in the summer and orange and black through the fall and winter. It should be expected they’d have a fantastic Cincinnati-style chili parlor- and they do. Price Hill Chili has been serving up tasty chili and cheese creations since the 1960s, and with the crowd they draw each day, we’re guessing that isn’t going to change anytime soon.
4920 Glenway Ave, Cincinnati, Ohio 45238
Blue Ash Chili
Not to be outdone, the suburbs have their own chili parlors too! Chief among them is the as-seen-on-tv Blue Ash Chili. They may have 3 locations and even a chili truck these days, but for us, their Blue Ash location on Kenwood Rd. is the classic we love. You may remember BAC from their feature on Diners, Drive-ins, & Dives, but they’ve been serving up Cincinnati-style chili for decades before making it on the Food Channel.
Oh, and if you think you’re a big eater, try their “No Freakin’ Way Challenge”:
You love our famous 3-ways–maybe you’ve even tried our 6-way. What’s next? Step up to the Blue Ash Chili No Freakin’ Way Challenge! We start with 2.5 lbs. of our steaming spaghetti, add 2.5 lbs. of our award-winning premium chili, then crown the whole dish with 2 lbs. of shredded Cheddar cheese and 1 lb. of jalepeno caps. That’s 8 lbs. of classic Cincinnati-style goodness. One look and you’ll say–well, you know.
Clean your plate in 60 minutes and your meal is FREE*. You’ll receive a free t-shirt and we’ll add your picture to our Facebook Hall of Fame. Fail to finish within 60 minutes, you’ll be added to our Wall of Shame and owe us 39.99!
9565 Kenwood Rd, Blue Ash, OH 45242
Cincinnati-style chili isn’t just limited to people on the Ohio side of the river… Northern Kentucky folks have their very own beloved Cincinnati-style chili parlor chain, Dixie Chili. Started way back in 1929 by “Papa Nick” Sarakatsannis, Dixie Chili may have 3 locations now, but they’re still a family-run little chain of chili parlors with his sons, George, Chris, Panny, and Spiros. (In our expert eating, we may even say Kentucky beats Cincinnati in the chili fries department. Just saying…) Click here to find the Dixie Chili near you.
Of course, we can’t leave Skyline off the list. We’ve tried nearly all the parlors in town, and each has its own great attributes, but sometimes… It’s just Skyline Time. Maybe because it’s the first Cincinnati-style chili most of us try or maybe its the fact they’re on almost every corner of the city, but Skyline holds a special place in our hearts. Want to visit our favorite one? Swing by the Clifton Skyline after dark to see their awesome vintage sign.
290 Ludlow Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45220
Love it or hate it, there’s nothing more “Cincinnati” than a 3-way and some cheese coneys. If you’re headed to town for the 2015 All-Star Game, it’s the perfect chance to go on a real chili bender…