Skyline Chili


Have you ever gazed upon a small mountain of shredded cheddar cheese, quaking with excitement at the gustatory challenge it presents and trembling with fear that your victory may ultimately be a Pyrrhic one? No? Well I have, and it has changed me forever, and for the better.

My wife, daughter and I are in Cincinnati, OH for a couple weeks, and of course no trip here would be complete without at least one meal at Skyline Chili. For those of you ignorant of Midwestern fast food, Skyline Chili is a Cincinnati phenomenon, famous for their 3, 4 and 5-way chilis and chili-topped coneys (hot dogs). Everything comes topped with a heaping mound of cheddar.

Their signature dish is what they call a 3-way chili, wherein the chili is served atop spaghetti and buried in a hefty portion of shredded cheddar cheese. There are also 4 and 5-way varieties, which add optional red beans and diced onions. Although there was no question I would try it once while I was here, I was definitely not expecting too much from this deceptively simple combination.

But boy were my reservations quashed. On Monday night we at the branch in Clifton, near the University of Cincinnati. The chili had a great flavor (secret recipe!), and the spaghetti provided a nice base both in taste and texture. The coup de grace, however, was the cheddar cheese. It is shredded so finely that it practically melts at room temperature. And the mound that appears so daunting at first is actually largely filled with air, making the portion much more manageable. As you eat, the shards of cheese that touch the hot chili below begin to melt and be subsumed into the whole mess below. With a little bit of added hot sauce (Tabasco-like and served in a squeeze bottle on the table), the whole dish comes together beautifully. And my 11-month old daughter loved it too! Fun for the whole family!

Skyline Chili
290 Ludlow Ave. (and other locations)
Cincinnati, OH
(513) 221-2142