I’m about to type a sentence that is considered unholy in Cincinnati: Skyline Chili is not good. In fact, I think it is the most bland tasting stuff I’ve ever eaten. And yet, I find myself consuming it quite a bit but that’s only because it’s a local chain and if you stand anywhere in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region, you’re probably minutes from a Skyline Chili location. But my favorite chili parlor is found off the beaten path and is not a chain. If you’re looking for authentic Cincinnati chili and don’t want to dine at a chain like Skyline or Gold Star, drive up Vine Street to St. Bernard and grab a seat at Chili Time.
Chili Time is quite literally a diamond in the rough. It actually reminds me of a Waffle House from the outside. Do not be fooled by its commonplace appearance though. Inside they serve up hearty coneys and ‘ways and they have a killer breakfast menu available all day (hello chili cheese hashbrowns!)
The chili itself is a lot meatier than Skyline and the noodles served with ‘ways appear a bit thicker. The noodles are also not that weird orangey color like at Skyline. When you order your chili, hold the hot sauce. I find myself dousing my Skyline in hot sauce just to get some flavor, but there is no need for that at Chili Time. Their chili is so flavorful and a bit spicy without any hot sauce. Chili Time also beats out Skyline when it comes to fries. Chili Time’s fries are thick, crinkle cut, and golden brown as opposed to Skyline’s thin twiggy fries. Skyline does beat out Chili Time in one department and that’s oyster crackers. I do love receiving a little bowl of crackers right when I’m seated at Skyline. Chili Time’s oyster crackers are pre-packaged in little bags and are tiny compared to the crackers at Skyline.
I didn’t mean for this to turn into a complete bashing of Skyline Chili. It’s a Cincinnati tradition and I enjoy how proud Cincinnatians are of it and how they will always defend it when outsiders question it. I was born in St. Bernard and Chili Time was my first taste of Cincinnati chili, so this makes me incredibly biased. I hope you take a trip to Chili Time to try it for yourself. Please feel free to share your opinion with me!
Look for more posts about non-chain Cincinnati chili parlors in the future. It is my goal to try them all!