Sunday, November 21, 2010

History of Empress Chili

Stop #1 of the Cincinnati Coney Quest brought us to Empress Chili. We chose to go to Empress first because Empress Chili is the originator of Cincinnati Style chili. In 1922, brothers Tom and John Kiradjieff created their iconic chili by experimenting with a Greek style stew over hot dogs and spaghetti at their hot dog stand which was located next to the Empress Burlesque Theater on Vine, between 8th and 9th street. The original location is no more, but there are three parlors remaining: Alexandria, Delhi and Hartwell. You can also find Empress Chili in the frozen food isle of various tri-state grocery stores.

Without Empress Chili, two of Cincinnati's beloved chili parlors would not exist. Dixie Chili and Skyline Chili were both created by former Empress employees who tweaked the Empress recipe to create their own brand.  Even though Empress is the first Cincinnati chili parlor, it does not have the market share of chili kings Skyline and Gold Star, however, owner Jim Papakirk would like to change that. In an interview with Cincy Magazine, Papakirk indicated that he would like to expand Empress beyond its current locations and put Empress back on the Cincinnati chili map.

Tomorrow we will share our reviews of Empress Chili (Alexandria) and if we felt the original Cincinnati chili stands up today.


  1. I think the current owners live behind me here in Liberty Township, Ohio. I will have to figure it out. Never been to an Empress Chili parlor.

  2. Best Chili in Cincinnati !!! Take a test over Skyline or Gold Star. Hartwell on Vine is now open. Hummmm

  3. Empress Chili in Hartwell is now open. Our hours are Sun - Thur 8 AM until 8 PM. Fri & Sat 8 AM until 9 PM. We still have our famous chili which started the Cincinnati tradition back in 1922. In addition to the chili we have double deckers, charbroiled burgers, a variety of sausages and a whole lot more. Breakfast is served all day.

  4. You guys gotta try the dry seasoning blend from Chili Revolution. Also sold on eBay. It is outta sight! Based on the original Empress chili recipe so goes the story. Absolutely delicious!

  5. My father used to drive us to Cincinnati for Empress Chili dogs and White Castle Hamburgers every Sunday. Life can't get better than that.