Thursday, November 18, 2010

Is that it?...wait, this is DELICIOUS!

Most out-of-towners cannot spend a single day in Cincinnati without being asked at least three times "Have you tried Cincinnati Chili yet?" But as a newbie to the city, I managed to spend an entire year without tasting this Cincinnati staple.

It was not that I was opposed to it. But when I arrived in town five years ago start my music degree at UC, I was immersed into the music conservatory lifestyle where nearly all my freshmen peers were from out of state and were equally as clueless about 5-Ways and Cheese Coneys. Little did we know that in a few years most of us would be stumbling out of Ludlow Avenue bars after last call to wait in the freezing cold to get into Skyline, which on Saturday nights required a bouncer at the door to keep the restaurant under capacity.*

However, it took me and my classmates awhile to get on the bandwagon, and In the beginning we blundered through our first experiences. Twirling our spaghetti instead of cutting it with a fork. Having to look at the menu to remember the difference between a 4-Way and a 5-Way. And even after becoming bold enough to bring home a can of store-bought chili to prepare for ourselves, there would still be someone there to correct us when we tried to pour the chili in the bun before putting the hot dog in.

My personal first experiences with the food were similar to what many others have explained to me as The Three Stages:

First Cincinnati Chili Experience -- "Meh, I don't see what the big deal is. Actually, this stuff is kind of gross."

Second Cincinnati Chili Experience -- "Hm. This isn't so bad."

Third Cincinnati Chili Experience -- "I am prepared to eat this every day for the rest of my life! What do they put in this stuff?!"

Some will claim to have enjoyed it the very first time, but ultimately we all end up as addicts.

The unfortunate side of my love for Cheese Coneys is that I've only ever eaten Skyline. In fact, I was hardly aware of any other legitimate chili parlors besides Goldstar or Skyline until recently, when a peer of mine proclaimed that he much rather preferred Price Hill Chili over Skyline. It made me realize that I need to experience the many chili options this city has to offer even if it means venturing out to Price Hill...just kidding westsiders.

Well, Clint and I are up for the challenge, and what could make us better loyalists to the 513 than a Cincinnati Chili Tour?

*For the record Clint and I have vowed to undergo Coney Quest in a sober state so as to avoid an alcohol induced variable of "OH MY GOD! This is the best cheese coney I've EVER eaten!"


  1. Cincinnati transplant here, too. I still turn my nose a bit (okay, a lot) at Cincinnati chili, but I do have a fondness for Dixie Chili. In all fairness, I really need to try more of the mom & pop places, so I can't wait to hear your takes!

  2. I had it once in my first year and hated it. Then a year later - tried it again - RELUCTANTLY - and LOVED IT! Now I'm a huge fan. I like Skyline or Pleasant Ridge - my husband likes Goldstar.

    I can't wait to follow you on your quest and hopefully try someplace new!

    And when you go to PRC - make sure to get an order of gravy cheese fries - it's the other thing they are famous for. And they have great pie. And no credit cards - cash only.

    Have fun!