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671 Ohio Pike Cincinnati, Ohio 45245 (513) 752-1176
Cincinnati and chili, where does it end? Empress Chili started it all off in 1922. Camp Washington Chili opened in 1940. Skyline joined those two in 1949, Price Hill Chili in 1961, then Gold Star in 1965. Moonlight Chili was in there somewhere as well. Now, Eastside Chili has been added to the options.
While other Cincy restaurants offer Cincinnati Chili on menus, Eastside Chili is designed to be a chili parlor, with extras like double deckers, burgers, specials, sides and salads.
But walking in, it doesn’t seem like a chili parlor. What’s missing?
Classic chili parlors have the obligatory chili aroma that hits you squarely in the face and sets your taste buds on high alert for hot chili. Eastside Chili’s vats are in the back, thus no aroma. A faux pas I believe. It’s obligatory! A big counter, a paper hat cook ladling chili out of a steaming vat, filling the room with chili-essence, lofting out to the parking lot. The shiny chrome bar stools make for a good view of the watch and drool food service, it’s part of the experience. Eastside Chili looks more like a strip mall sandwich shop (which it is) than a chili parlor. But yet it is chili based.
Make no mistake, they specialize in Chili. A house-made mix of beef, tomatoes and spices, top it off with onions, beans or cheese, get it on a dog, get it in a bowl, get it on a bun, you know the deal. They have their own special blend of spices, their own meat to tomato ratio.
The chili comes out thicker than the usual chains. It’s has the heft to sit atop the noodles, rather than slide through them. It features a mild flavor, the quintessential cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg kick is muted more than most. Almost a Texas Cincinnati Chili. Not that that’s a bad thing, just, different. I found with some Texas Pete, it evened out nicely. I like it spicy, always have.
I think the portion weighs in a bit over the norm, although I think the norm has shrunk over the years. So that would make this one normal, if you’re over forty. Kinda like a Super Big Boy is the original version of a normal Big Boy and the now Big Boy is really a Mini Boy. Point is, you get more chili here than at many three way affairs. I like that.
The extensive list of sandwiches has you wondering where their heart is. But the name says CHILI. Fat Timmy’s Chili to be exact. Fat Timmy is the imaginary friend of the owners grandson. The tot has been known to blame Timmy when bad things are abound (so we’re told). That’s a name with a story if I ever heard one. Sorta “The Shining-esque” Huh. What’s in room 237 Timmy? It’s CHILI... and chili is money!
Cincinnati Chili has been a gold mine for those that perfect the right recipe. More money has changed hands for a simple coney than you could ever imagine. Think Indian Hill addresses, 100k casino nights (I’ve seen it) and family dynasties. Eastside Chili is the new kid on the tasty totem pole. So far the Greeks and the Jordanians have ruled the roost, but Fat Timmy is here to seize his share of the spotlight and grab some of that gold. With their big menu and mighty double deckers aside from the Cincy chili, he might have a shot at making a few bucks too.
If you’re an Eastsider, you owe it to the Cincinnatian in you to give it a try. The down-to-earth owner-operated service and dedicated staff are trying to genuinely win you over. The portions are filling, the flavors are Cincy, and the milder spice mix may hit home to customers who like a little Texas twist in their Cincy Coney sauce.