Trying My First Cincinnati Chili — and the Verdict Is…

I thought I would provide readers of The Gate a nice respite from the world of “Coronageddon” and review a restaurant that is currently only open for takeout since Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that all restaurants and bars in Ohio will suspend dine in options for customers to limit the spread of COVID-19.

I found myself in Cincinnati a few months ago, and since I had heard the city is known for its chili, I decided to try it for myself. Out of the several chains in the area that serve chili, I decided to eat at Skyline Chili after seeing slightly better reviews than my other consideration, Gold Star Chili.

Trying My First Cincinnati Chili — and the Verdict Is…

Skyline Chili

Photograph ©2019 by Matthew Cohen.

I opened the door to the restaurant and experienced extreme difficulty trying to find an empty table at which to sit.

Skyline Chili

Photograph ©2019 by Matthew Cohen.

After searching some more, I finally managed to find an empty table. I picked up the menu and noticed that the chili is served in “ways”. A way with a higher number will generally include more toppings than that of a lower number. A 3-Way consists of spaghetti covered in chili and topped with shredded cheese. A 4-Way also includes onions or beans, and a 5-Way includes both onions and beans. However, I decided to start small and order a 2-Way consisting of only spaghetti and chili.

Skyline Chili

Photograph ©2019 by Matthew Cohen.

Shortly after I ordered, the server brought my chili to the table. Watch my first taste of it in this video.

The chili did not have as much flavor as I expected, however I still thought it was still decently seasoned and that the respective amounts of spaghetti and chili were well balanced.

Skyline Chili

Photograph ©2019 by Matthew Cohen.

After I finished the spaghetti, I used the oyster crackers included in the meal to finish off the remaining chili on the plate.


Overall, I thought the chili was tasty. However it did not have the same “wanting more” effect on me as New York Kosher deli or po-boy restaurants in southern Mississippi or Louisiana. Skyline Chili has locations in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and Florida; but I would not travel great distances to eat at one. If I happen to be in the general area, however, I would still consider eating there.

The total cost of the meal was $4.38 — which includes tax — and so I found the price reasonable for what I received.

Skyline Chili
643 Vine Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
Open weekdays from 10:30 in the morning until 5:00 in the evening

All photographs ©2019 by Matthew Cohen. 

9 thoughts on “Trying My First Cincinnati Chili — and the Verdict Is…”

  1. RKToledo says:

    Eating Cincinnati chili with out the Cheese is like eating a Philly Cheesesteak without the cheese. You technically tried the chili but you really didn’t.

    1. Matthew Cohen says:

      I suppose that an opinion of whether or not I actually tried the chili can be viewed in several different “ways”…

      …and no matter which way you view it, I respect your opinion and may try the cheese on my next visit.

  2. NB_ga says:

    Fun review, Matthew! You were especially charming in the video of your first bite. Having never been to Skyline, I cannot speak to that experience… but chili, in general, needs fresh diced onion. Maybe your next bowl can be amped up by onions and, possibly, the cheese noted in the comment above?

    On a side note, you are a band kid? Cool!

    1. Matthew Cohen says:

      I actually dislike onions, but I will definitely consider adding cheese on my next visit to Skyline Chili…
      …and yes, I am currently in a college marching band. I appreciate your thoughtful comment.

  3. Barry Graham says:

    Kosher is always best 🙂

    1. Matthew Cohen says:

      I really enjoyed eating at Ben’s Best Kosher Deli in Rego Park and have been wanting to go back ever since I first ate there. Unfortunately, they closed down before I managed to do so…

  4. Erik says:

    Huge #FAIl, you should have asked a local (I am one). The minimum Cincinnati “way” is a 3-way with chili, spaghetti, and cheese. RK is correct in that what you ordered is like a Philly cheesesteak without cheese or maybe a reuben without sauerkraut. You should also try a cheese coney with mustard and onions (I like mine with the habanero cheese instead of the regular cheddar.

    Of the big two chains, Skyline is the right one. Goldstar is nasty. If you come back to the ‘nati, check out two local small stalwarts: Camp Washington Chili and Dixie Chile,

  5. djcalligraphy says:

    I almost cried when I saw that you ordered a 2way. I didn’t even know that existed. Yeah I would not enjoy that very much at all.

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