Even people who have never set foot in Cincinnati know that the city is crazy for chili. However, locals will tell you that the only insane thing about chili is how good it is at the source. Not to mention instances when people dare to eat it the wrong way.
First, some background. Cincinnati chili is different from the thick dish invented in Texas (also called chili con carne), and is generally applied to the top of a plateful of spaghetti or slathered on top of a hot dog as part of a Coney. Of course, the toppings are just as important, and Cincinnatians usually expect several heaping handfuls of Cheddar cheese to be applied liberally to any dish. The variations in these toppings are specified based on a classification system of simple names known as “ways.” A “two-way” is spaghetti and chili without cheese, the “three-way” includes cheese, “four way” adds onions or beans, and “five-way” features all five ingredients. It is also common to see the pasta cut with a knife and fork as if it were a noodle casserole — as opposed to being swirled on a fork — and consumed with hot sauce and/or oyster crackers. Although chili can obviously be enjoyed alone in a bowl, this is not nearly as common as the other ways.
Although some of the chili restaurants referred to as the best in Cincinnati actually come from just across the border in Kentucky, we didn’t include those (apologies to Gourmet Chili and Dixie Chili), wishing to focus exclusively on the famed Ohio city and birthplace of the dish. With that, here are the eight best places to eat chili in Cincinnati.