The best places to buy chili in Cincinnati, Ohio are numerous. What do you expect from the city that consumes the most chili per capita in the United States. There are four way stops in the city that have a different chili restaurant on each corner. Locals argue over who makes the best chili the way Miller Light and Bud Light fans argue over “less filling, tastes great.” Cincinnati style chili is definitely unique and worth a trip to try. A hint of cinnamon seems to be the ingredient that deems a chili Cincinnati style chili. Cincinnati chili tastes great no matter where you get it, but there are a few that have that certain something that separates them from the rest.
Skyline Chili is by far the most popular version of Cincinnati chili. Skyline restaurants dot the local landscape the way McDonalds does in other cities. Television commercials for the specialty dominate late night viewing and even the groceries stores carry it in the frozen section as well as the canned goods section. Basically, you would have to be blind, deaf, and dumb to not notice this chili if you live in Cincinnati. Skyline Chili opened in 1949 and has definitely taken over the taste buds of Cincinnati. The recipe’s origin lies in the Greek ancestry of it creator, Nicholas Lambrinides. Completely unique in the field of chili, it has a sweet taste and thinner, runnier consistency compared to the hearty chili most Americans know. It is more of a topping than a chili. Locals enjoy it on little hotdogs called coneys topped with mustard, onion, and cheese. They are addictive the way Coca-Cola is, and there are many Pepsis out there.
Although many others have tried to copy the recipe, it is a family secret and nothing is as good as the original. The chili is ordered in terminology that can seem a little shocking if you don’t know what people are talking about. When someone says they are craving a three-way, they definitely mean Skyline. The classic three-way is spaghetti noodles, topped with skyline chili and mounds of cheddar cheese. This is their signature dish and by far the most popular. Next come the four-way and five-way, adding onions and red beans.
Another Cincinnati chili giant is Gold Star Chili, Skyline’s main competitor. . Gold Star is also a chain restaurant; four brothers with a dream opened it in 1965. The Daoud brothers claim they have the best Cincinnati style chili, but the chili styles are completely different, so it seems a little unusual that Gold Star is even compared the Skyline. Gold Star Chili is definitely more like the traditional chili that is served across America. Thicker and heartier, lacking the sweet taste, and larger chunks of ground beef differentiate it from Skyline. Their family recipe is also secret, but the spice mix can be found on the seasoning aisle of the grocery store as well as in the freezer and can section. If you are snowed in you house in Cincinnati, you definitely do no have to forgo your chili. Gold Star chili is also served on coneys and spaghetti noodles. The terms three-way, four-way, and five-way also are used here. The one thing that the two chilis have in common is the fact that there are no beans in the actual chili; they are definitely a later addition that most Cincinnatians don’t consider to be a part of chili.
Cincinnati chili can also be found at Dixie Chili, a one-stop location at 10592 Taconic Terrace in Cincinnati, Ohio. Nicholas Sarakatsannis, another native of Greece, began working at his own recipe for Cincinnati chili and many consider it to be the perfect specimen. Dixie Chili uses only the finest ingredients, beginning with 96% fat free beef. The chili is served over 100% semolina wheat spaghetti, and topped with Wisconsin cheddar cheese. He opened Dixie Chili in 1929, now his four sons, Georgise, Sprios, Chris, and Panny run the family business. For seventy-six years Dixie Chili has served up the delightful food to locals and those merely passing through. This is definitely a family affair; some families have been eating here for four generations. The local three-way, four-way, and five-way are offered here as well, but Dixie Chili takes it one step further with the six-way. The six-way offers chili, spaghetti, onions, beans, and cheese topped with freshly chopped garlic. The consistency of the chili here is something of a cross between Gold Star and Skyline. While not completely thick and hardy, it is not runny either. The sweet taste is definitely there and the garlic is a great addition. The chili is made fresh daily and the locals eat it up. You can buy Dixie Land chili by the can at the restaurant as well as in many of the grocery stores in the Cincinnati area.
While in Cincinnati make an effort to stop in and try one of the many chili restaurants. You won’t have trouble finding one and who knows, you may join the friendly arguments over who makes the best Cincinnati style chili.