Some of the best independent chili parlors in the region can be found along the Cincinnati Chili Trail.
Cincinnati is known for many things: The Reds, Porkopolis, the home of President William H. Taft, and our favorite- Cincinnati-style Chili. This style of chili originated in 1922, when brothers John and Tom Kiradjieff began using it in their restaurant on their hot dogs and spaghetti. Empress Chili was born and it would become the start of a longtime Cincinnati delicacy. Empress was the most famous until 1949, when a former employee tweaked the recipe and created his restaurant called Skyline Chili and the rest is history.
Skyline is the king of Cincinnati-style chili, but we want to expose you to some of the independent chili parlors. Similar to Kentucky’s famous Bourbon trail, we would like to take you on a journey along the Cincinnati Chili Trail. Hop in your car, bring the Rolaids, and enjoy some of the best chili offered in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky! Some things to remember when ordering: A 3-way combines the favorites, chili, pasta and cheese. You cut it and eat it with a fork--no twirling! Add beans or onions and you've got a 4-Way, add both and you'll have yourself a 5-Way.
Although the original Vine Street location is long gone, you can still enjoy the classic recipe in this Northern Kentucky location. This is a no frills chili parlor that offers the usual staples: coney dogs, chili spaghetti, and double decker sandwiches. They also offer a unique item called Chili Pizza. It involves a pizza crust, Empress Chili, and a mound of that bright orange cheese. We wish you lots of luck tackling this! Empress Chili is located at 7934 Alexandria Pike Alexandria, KY (859) 35-5900
Pleasant Ridge Chili Parlor has been a favorite among Cincinnatians since 1964. Step inside a grab a seat at the counter and enjoy the comfort of this small neighborhood restaurant. The friendly staff acts as if they’ve known you for years as they offer some great chili as well as breakfasts featuring a Cincy favorite.....Goetta. We highly recommend the Gravy Cheese Fries! You will be thanking us for this recommendation. Pleasant Ridge Chili is located at 6032 Montgomery Rd. Cincinnati, OH (513) 531-2365
This Cincy Chili Parlor was featured on the popular show Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives as Guy Fieri was munching on a simple plate of chili spaghetti. It has been a Cincinnati favorite since 1969 and just keeps getting better as time goes on. They even have a food truck now! We highly recommend you try the 6 Way: It is a 5 way with the addition of Fried Jalapeno Caps and it is delicious! The original location is at 9565 Kenwood Rd. Cincinnati, OH (513) 984-6107
Head on over to the Western side of Cincinnati and check out Price Hill Chili. They have been in business since 1962 and it is a little different compared to the other chili parlors. The restaurant is large and even has a lounge in which you can enjoy your favorite cocktail or beer. The menu also offers rib-eye steaks, fried clams, and a variety of specialty sandwiches. We come for the chili though and their wonderful double decker sandwiches! Definitely worth the drive! Price Hill Chili is located at 4920 Glenway Ave. Cincinnati, OH (513) 471-9507
Although it is not known as one of the famous chili parlors, this place is dear in our heart as it is one of our favorite eateries in the Northside area. We often go to Shake-It Records for vinyl shopping and always stop in for a 3 way Chili Spaghetti. The little diner has a lot of character and charm and is great for people watching! The Blue Jay Restaurant is located at 4629 Montgomery Rd. Cincinnati, Oh (513) 351-2427
Camp Washington Chili Parlor has been around since 1940 and is open 24 hours which is great for the night owls. Step inside the restaurant and the interior will transport you back to a 1950’s style diner complete with countertop service. Their chili is a little spicier here which makes it one of our favorites on the chili tour! We fell in love with place so much, we ended up walking out with a Camp Washington t-shirt! Camp Washington is located at 3005 Colerain Ave. Cincinnati, OH (513) 541-0061
Directly across the street from Camp Washington sits U.S. Chili which is housed in an old bank building. The chili is tasty and the breakfast is large and cheap. The men’s restroom is actually inside the old bank vault which is a little different! If you want to try U.S. Chili, get here early because they don’t stay open too late! U.S. Chili is located at 2965 Colerain Ave. Cincinnati, OH (513) 541-4665
Wait. Before we move on, we would be remiss if we didn't mention this phenomenal dessert. Yes, we love the chili, but the best thing at U.S. Chili has got to be the cheesecake. It is homemade and you get a very large piece. You will have dreams about this cheesecake!
Head across the Ohio River into the town of Newport and experience the local neighborhood favorite, Gourmet Chili. The small intimate diner offers a great Cincy style chili, delicious breakfasts, and one of the best Gyro sandwiches around. Did we also mention they are very reasonably priced? Gourmet Chili is located at 843 Monmouth St. Newport, KY (859) 491-9022
Our last stop on the chili trail takes us to Dixie Chili which is across the street from Gourmet Chili in Newport, KY. Dixie Chili was founded in 1929 and has been going strong ever since. Their chili is a bit meatier than the other restaurants which makes this one of our favorites on the trail. We also enjoy the atmosphere of the restaurant as it has a retro vibe from the 1950’s. Dixie Chili has a couple of locations, but we recommend dining at the one at 733 Monmouth St. Newport, KY (859) 291-5337
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