15 Ways to Celebrate Chili’s 100th Anniversary Cincinnati Style | Food and Beverage Features | Cincinnati
Some cities are partly defined by their indigenous cuisines. While sometimes stereotypical, there’s no debating the value of a hot slice of New York-style pizza in the Big Apple, a piece of deep-dish in Chicago, or a greasy cheesesteak topped with Cheez Whiz in Philadelphia. And while these dishes are unique and delicious, one could argue that none quite reach the culinary heights of Cincinnati-style chili.
Love it or hate it, the local delicacy has long been a part of Queen City culture and in fact celebrates its 100th anniversary on October 24, 2022.
To commemorate the centennial, the Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library gathers local chili parlor owners for a photo at the site of the original Empress Chili — now home to the library at downtown Ninth and Vine Streets — city - where Cincinnati-style chili was first served. in 1922.
Named after a nearby burlesque theater (the Empress), Empress Chili was invented by Greek immigrants Tom and John Kiradjieff. The duo used Mediterranean-inspired spices to create a meat sauce originally used to top hot dogs sold from a cart. The beef-based sauce, with hints of cinnamon and chocolate, eventually became the key ingredient for 3-Way – a plate of pasta topped with chili, an unnecessary amount of grated cheddar cheese and a side of oyster crackers. .
Another Greek immigrant, Nicholas Lambrinides, a former employee of the empress, started Skyline Chile in 1949, turning it into a regional channel operating in four states (including Florida, for some reason).
Its main competitor in the local chili chain wars, Gold Star, was founded in 1965 by the four Jordanian Daoud brothers using a secret family recipe.
Whether you’re a Skyline or Gold Star die-hard, there are more chili parlors per capita per square mile here than anywhere else in the world, according to local food historian Dann Woellert in his book. The authentic story of Cincinnati chili.
So if you want to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the city’s sassy, meaty, magical creation, we can’t think of anything better than eating it.
Here are 15 chili parlors to grab a 3-Way or a coney.
Bard’s Burgers & Chili
Calling itself “the dive worth taking,” Bard’s has been featured in local news and on the Food Network for its giant Bardzilla food challenge and fried cheese curds. As the name suggests, the restaurant specializes in burgers and chili. Bard’s makes its Cincinnati-style chili with local wagyu beef. You can get it in 2, 3, 4 or 5 lanes; in a bowl (with or without cheese); and in any iteration of a coney, including a chili cheese sandwich. 3620 Decoursey Avenue, Covington, bardsburgersandchili.com.
Blue Ash Chili
Blue Ash Chili offers a variety of Cincinnati-style chili combinations and double-decker sandwiches at its various locations. The restaurant is known as one of the favorites of Guy Fieri and his Diners, drive-ins and dives To display. The restaurant serves 3, 4, and 5 lanes, plus a 6 lane, which offers fresh or fried jalapeno slices. 9525 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash; 11711 Princeton Pike, Tri-County, blueashchili.com.
Blue Jay Restaurant
Since its opening in 1967, the Blue Jay Restaurant has essentially remained the same, with a nostalgic image and home cooking. As with any good local restaurant, there’s Cincinnati-style chili in bowls, coneys, and 3-Ways, as well as classics like all-day breakfast, double-decker sandwiches, and homemade pies. Try the Northsider omelet, with chilli and cheddar. 4154 Hamilton Avenue, north side, facebook.com.
Camp Washington Pepper
This James Beard American Regional Classic award winner has been around since 1940. Named one of “Cincinnati’s 10 Best Restaurants” by USA today, Greek immigrant Johnny Johnson has worked there since 1951 and is the patriarch of the restaurant’s operating family. The Googie-style restaurant is open 24/6 (closed on Sundays). Order the 513-Way, which incorporates another favorite Cincinnati meat – goetta. 3005 Colerain Ave, Camp Washington, campwashingtonchili.com.
The chili shack
Launched in 2013, this brick-and-mortar-turned-food-truck offers cheese cones, 2, 3, 4, or 5 ways, and sandwich options for non-chili lovers. Unique coney options include the Slaw Dog, a cheesy coney topped with coleslaw, and the Eden Pork, a cheesy coney with a spicy side dish instead of a hot dog. 390 Loveland-Madeira Road, Loveland, thechilihut.com.
Founded in 1929 by “Papa Nick”, Dixie Chili offers classic Cincinnati-style chili with secret ingredients, cheese and onions on spaghetti. Traditionally, Dixie’s offerings have been dominated by Wisconsin cheddar, and the garlic is a great counterweight to dairy, making it one of the region’s favorite chilies. Order a 6-Way – chili and spaghetti topped with pinto beans, chopped sweet onion, freshly chopped garlic and cheddar cheese. 733 Monmouth Street, Newport; 3716 Dixie Highway, Erlanger; 2421 Madison Ave, Covington dixiechili.com.
Continuing the tradition of the original, Empress offers the usual crop of sandwiches and double-decker dishes, as well as individual chili pizzas with chili, cheese, mustard and onion on a pizza crust. 7934 Alexandria Pike, Alexandria, empresschilialexandria.com.
This unassuming chili restaurant tucked away on Newport’s Monmouth Street serves up all-day breakfast, burgers, gyros, and, of course, Cincinnati-style chili. They even offer a small dessert menu, including baklava. 843 Monmouth Street, Newport, facebook.com.
OTR Lucky Dog
Lucky Dog calls itself “the culmination of over 20 years of restaurant experience by founders Ryan Reynolds and Ray Gammouh”. Using hot dogs from Queen City Sausage, chili lovers can opt for coneys, chili metts, chili cheese sandwiches, regular dogs, or even a crate of coneys (10 for $25). They also serve their signature chili 2, 3, 4 and 5 ways and even in a salad. 1210 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/LuckyDogOTR.
Greasy spoon eating at its finest, the Pepper Pod is a Newport legend. Grab a 3-, 4- or 5-Way or something from their all day breakfast menu. The Northern Kentucky restaurant was even featured in the movie Extremely Wicked, Incredibly Evil and Vile with Zac Efron – it was filmed in the Greater Cincinnati area. 703 Monmouth Street, Newport, facebook.com.
Pleasant Ridge Chilli Lounge
This local, multi-generational restaurant has been serving Cincinnati-style chili and American classics for over 50 years. They also offer take-out chili and late-night fare, like fries topped with everything from chili to cheese to gravy. 6032 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, facebook.com/pleasantridge.chile.
Price Hill Chile
A West Side Cincinnati family legend (founded by Greeks!) in business since 1962. Order a Coney Island: a grilled sausage on a bun, topped with mustard, homemade chili and freshly chopped onions. 4920 Glenway Ave, Price Hill, pricehillchili.com.
This multiple Taste of Cincinnati award winner is the perfect downtown lunch spot. You can create your own chili concoction with traditional spaghetti as a base or opt for a salad, fries, burrito or tortilla chips. Chili includes the classic Cincinnati style with beef or chicken as protein, or a black bean chili. Make it a 3-Way with onions and cheese or add sour cream, jalapenos, or black bean soup (yes, that’s a premium option). 580 Walnut St., downtown, silverladle.com.
Impossible to turn a corner without finding one. It’s also the official chili of the Reds, so you can also get Skyline in the stadium. Choose how you want: dry (less sauce), wet (more sauce) or vegetarian – bean and rice chili over spaghetti, topped with a ton of shredded cheddar cheese. skylinechili.com.
Star of gold
The other Cincinnati-chili chain and the official chili of the Bengals. In addition to burgers, salads, and chili iterations, Gold Star offers a variety of unique chili choices. The Gorito is a flour tortilla filled with chili, shredded cheese, ranch dressing and Fritos fries. Multiple locations, goldstarchili.com.
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