Coney Quest stop #2 took us to Northern Kentucky's legendary chili parlor Dixie Chili. As indicated in the history post, Dixie was founded by a former Empress Chili employee. Did this offshoot surpass Empress or does father know best?
Dixie has three locations, we visited the location in Newport on historic Monmouth Street. Monmouth is one of the more interesting streets in the Greater Cincinnati area. Back in its heyday Monmouth was known as this regions version of Vegas, with its illegal gambling operations and mafia influence.While it doesn't have the gambling joints that made Newport infamous, it certainly has some interesting and shady character. If you took an out-of-towner down Monmouth they would assume you took them to a really bad section of town as it is home to pawn shops, liquor stores, loan brokers, gun stores and two strip clubs. I never feel unsafe while I'm in Newport, but I could see why others might. My favorite part about Monmouth is that it leads into Newport on the Levee which is a popular destination for many tri-state families. Parents, don't let your children stray away from the levee. Anyway, amongst the many fine establishments along Monmouth there are some good eats to be found, such as Newport Pizza Company, Pepper Pod Restaurant and of course Dixie Chili.
Dixie Chili's menu has the standard Cincinnati Chili options, such as coneys and ways, but it also features some unique items that makes them stand out from other parlors. Along with the traditional 3/4/5 way, Dixie has a 6-way, which is chili, spaghetti, bean, onion, chopped garlic and cheese. While I didn't see veggie chili on the menu, they had jars of it at the front counter for purchase. The one item that truly sticks out is The Alligator. The Alligator is a cheese coney that also features a pickle spear and mayo. Neither of us are big fans of pickles so we were not daring enough to try it, but I've had many friends tell me it's great and their favorite. So if this sounds good to you, I say go for it!
This cheese coney proves a very apparent attention to detail in the Dixie Chili family recipe.
As the plate sits in front of you, the seasonings in the chili are noticeable by scent. It was obviously so spiced, I wondered if the chili would have a heat level to it.
The cheese tasted about the same as any mild cheddar. However, it smelled as if it might have been fresh grated. This definitely added to the overall flavor of the product.
The onions were fresh and crunchy, but not strong, complimenting the chili. The mustard was imperceptible, probably masked by the flavorful sauce. Personally, I would have liked to taste the mustard at least a little bit if it could be added without dampening the rich flavor of the chili.
The buns were nothing noteworthy, but the hot dogs had a nice grilled flavor. I could even see grill marks on them.
I was really impressed with the Dixie Chili coney. Added bonuses were the easy street parking (we think they may have even had a little lot of the side), and a comfortable dining room. I give Dixie 4 out of 5 stars.
I came into Dixie with a lot of hope for their coneys since they were the most recommended parlor since I started the blog. I am happy to report that yes, Dixie lived up to the claims of the loyal fans.
My big complaint about Empress was not enough chili, I did not have this problem at Dixie. There was a perfect amount of chili on each coney. There could have been a little more cheese, but thats just because I love cheese, there was probably enough on there for the average coney eater. The bun was soft and not very firm, but it tasted fine and held everything together, so it did its job.
I really enjoyed the taste of the chili. It has more spices and not overly sweet like Cincy chili is known for. As Alison said, it wasn't a heat level spice, but a nice flavorful spice. Also everything was at a nice hot temperature. The cheese melts pretty quickly due to this so I would recommend eating in if you can.
Another category that Dixie did well that I would have liked to see Empress improve on is their restaurant decor. Dixie embraces their history by having old photographs of the parlor throughout the diner. As soon as you walk in you know Dixie has a rich history.
I was also impressed by Dixie and its brand of chili, I give them a 4 out of 5.