Everybody you meet in Cincinnati has an opinion on the matter, and many people hold their opinion with such high honor that it is used as a judgement of a person’s character or who they really are as an individual. I’m not talking about the east side versus the west side, or Ohio versus Kentucky. It’s the infamous question we’ve all been asked before. Skyline vs. Gold Star?
While it is important if you live in this city that you pick a side and stick with it, that is not why we’re here right now. In fact, we may have the answer this city has been waiting for all along. Friends that are split between Skyline and Gold Star will be reunited at last to celebrate chili, instead of arguing over it, because isn’t that what food is all about?
If you’ve been born into a Skyline family and have been curious what the Gold Star folks are living like, now is your chance to explore a little without feeling the shame that comes from switching sides. Or perhaps you have friends visiting from out of town, well this is the perfect opportunity for them to see all the different neighborhoods of Cincinnati and expand their taste pallet at the same time.
The Cincinnati Chili trail was designed by local chili connoisseurs at WCPO (or chiliheads as they’ve been called before), and is composed of nine restaurants in Kentucky and Ohio. It’s basically the same concept as the bourbon trail throughout Kentucky, but with chili! Only the true warriors of the weiners will be able to conquer this challenge by eating a cheese coney at each one of the stops. You can find directions that will take you through the entire trail here.
The trail starts in Alexandria, KY at Empress Chili (although you could also start in Ohio and work your way south). If you’re not wanting to eat cheese coneys at every stop, make sure to grab one of their chili cheese pizzas while you are there!
After Empress, the trail leads you into Newport to stop at Gold Star (hang in there Skyline folks, we’ll get to you) and takes you down Monmouth Street where you stop at Gourmet Chili. Only a few blocks down the street is the city’s third place favorite, Dixie Chili. Both of these two stops are late night favorites for when the Newport bars let out.
Now it’s time to cross the river into Ohio to visit Price Hill Chili, a family favorite for generations of west siders. If you’re still going strong and haven’t taken a nap, now would be a good halfway point to let your stomach do it’s thing. If you’re ready to keep indulging in Cincinnati’s favorite food, follow the trail to the corner of Hopple Street and Colerain Avenue to arrive at Camp Washington Chili.
Now guess what time it is. That’s right! It’s Skyline Time! Although you have probably passed a few already during your chili tour, the Skyline in Clifton is the location that made the list. If your taste buds haven’t thanked you yet, this is the time to for it to happen.
Once you leave Skyline, it’s time to take a seventh inning stretch, there’s only two restaurants left! When you’re ready to tackle the final two, your next stop is Pleasant Ridge Chili, a small parlor on Montgomery Road. If you’re starting in Ohio this will probably be one of your first stops, but if you’ve been eating coneys all day already, just hang in there, you only have one more stop!
Last but certainly not least is Blue Ash Chili. After you conquer your final cheese coney, make sure to stop at the bar and reward yourself with a tasty beverage. If you feel like the Cincinnati Chili Trail was too easy for you, make sure to ask about the Blue Ash Chili’s No Freakin’ Way! Challenge, which challenges you to eat eight pounds of their chili in under an hour. But that’s a challenge for another day.
For those of you that are able to complete the challenge, congratulations! For the many of you that might try and fail, do not throw in the towel completely! Make sure to come back another day and finish up the list, because you never know which one might become your new favorite chili in town!