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Review: Dixie Chili

Dixie Chili– Coneys
Originally uploaded by winemedineme

I always forget my camera when we’re just going out during the week. During the week, we tend to go out to old favorites that I’ve already written about, or something like The Cheesecake Factory, which I don’t care to write about. This time, after seeing Hamlet 2 at the Levee, Terry said, “I want to go to Dixie Chili!” and I said “OK!” and then “Thank goodness I have a Blackberry, which takes surprisingly good photographs!”

Well, not quite like that. But you get the idea.

I’m trying to maintain this whole Cincinnati Losers thing, so I chickened out and got salad with chicken, but Terry took one for the team and got a salad and two cheese coneys. Terry’s one of the very few non-native Cincinnatians who actually likes Cincinnati chili. I don’t know a whole lot of out-of-towners who eat it and fall in love. Most of you hear “chili” and think “Texas”, but you end up finding sort of watery sauce on top of spaghetti (horrors!) topped with cheese (strangely orange) and only occasionally involving beans.

Out of towners, simply change your perspective! Think of Cincinnati chili as a meat sauce; more complex in flavor and less tomato-based than something you would traditionally put on spaghetti. It’s derived from patitso, a Greek meat sauce (the various creators of Cincinnati chili were all Greek) and simply Americanized.

Does that help any?

Okay. That doesn’t help. You still think it tastes (as I read one commenter on another blog put it) like canned dog food? Skip Skyline. Skip Gold Star. Either head over to the west side and get some Camp Washington chili (open all night in a charmingly retro building; I shall review it soon, I assure you) or cross the river into Newport and head to Dixie Chili.

Terry and I started going to Dixie Chili before we were even dating. We did a show together and, being a) hungry and b) friends we would go there after rehearsal and eat an unhealthy dinner on our way home. Maybe I should credit their chili cheese fries for our romance? I’m not sure “chili cheese fries” and “romance” have ever been used in the same sentence. Anyway, It’s a place that holds pretty fond memories for me because of that. Oh yeah– and their chili is, by far, the best in town.

Dixie Chili-- coneys

Dixie Chili has a pretty expansive menu aside from chili, including sandwiches, deli selections and salads. Their chili is rich, meaty, spicy (not in a hot way, but well-spiced and with a depth of flavor that Skyline and Goldstar just can’t match) and not greasy like Gold Star in particular can be, as it’s made with lean cuts of beef. It’s not as sweet as Skyline is, either– it’s very well balanced. I know that chili in Cincinnati is about as personal as barbecue is in the South, but I will say this unequivocally: independent chili parlors are far superior to the chains. Far, far superior. This is not to say I don’t like Skyline, but given the choice? Dixie Chili.

I’m also a huge fan of their Greek salad, which is small, and has a light sprinkling of feta, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers and homemade croutons, and homemade Greek dressing on the side. We’ve gone from Terry politely asking me if he can have my olives (I tend not to eat them) to me putting them on his plate without asking.

Funny how food fosters a relationship, isn’t it?

Dixie Chili has three locations: Newport, Erlanger and Covington. Good news for Ohioans? They’re smoke free, too!

Dixie Chili on Urbanspoon

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