Today, with a nearly full contingent of chili tasters on-hand, we visited the much lauded Camp Washington Chili. Frequently considered the premiere independent chili parlor in Cincinnati, Camp Washington Chili has been featured in countless television shows, newspaper and magazine articles, travel guides, and is a consistent top scorer in “best-of” issues from the local press. Located across the street from the previously visited US Chili, Camp Washington Chili has a small parking lot which makes for convenient access to the 24-hour shrine to Cincinnati chili. Recently rebuilt from the ground up as a result of some road widening, the new Camp Washington Chili is an immaculate parlor evoking the classic lines of a ’50’s diner, complete with a long lunch counter and an assortment of booths and tables running the length of the restaurant. Years of accolades from innumerable publications line the walls while busy line cooks work the steam tables behind the counter. Does Camp Washington Chili live up to the hype? Read on to find out.Overall Rating:
Camp Washington Chili has the best chili parlor ambience in town. While the chili is a contender, it is just a step below my top rated Cincinnati chili parlors such as Gourmet chili or Price Hill Chili. My usual bowl of plain chili was hot, mildly spicy and delicious. The french fries I added were average. The service at CWC is excellent and never disappoints. There is a lot of pride here and Camp Washington Chili is an institution in Cincinnati. My only complaint is that they will not serve breakfast at lunchtime. They are open 24 hours daily so don’t worry about arriving early or late. My Cincinnati Chili score is an 8.
The chili was thick; however, by itself it lacked the flavor I was hoping for. I needed to add plenty of hot sauce. The portions were mediocre for the price. I needed a second bowl of plain to get full. As a repeat customer, I don’t think they had an outstanding day. I’m sure I’ll be back.
I’ve been deliberately avoiding Camp Washington Chili since the start of the chili tour. It is one of probably a half dozen parlors I visit on a regular basis and I wanted to try to avoid letting familiarity color my evaluation. It was with some surprise then that I found myself rather underwhelmed with the chili. There’s no escaping the reputation, and on my many previous visits I like the chili. It was never my favorite, but hey lots of people say it’s the best so it must be good, right? After visiting twentyish other chili parlors in town I’m comfortable in saying that no, it is not the best in town. The chili is mildly spicy, and a little soupy in texture with larger than average chunks of ground beef floating around in the broth. The flavor is on the understated side, flirting with being, well, boring. I struggled slightly to finish my bowl. The coneys were above average. Freshly steamed buns, flavorful wieners, and thankfully, freshly shredded cheddar cheese. Still, I can’t bring myself to rate the chili any better than about middle of the pack.
Camp Washington Chili…what can be said about a place I’ve been a hundred times. Meaty chili, solid portions. I’ll probably be back 100 more times.
Aside from getting a face lift several years ago, it’s still a great location and an atmosphere (despite all the shiny surfaces) worthy of chili parlor fame. Great counter area to spread out and enjoy the sounds of the kitchen…double-deckers and chili were covering tables everywhere we looked. If you’re in town visiting students at UC, this is must stop! My 3-Way was not a top-tier parlor experience…tasted a little like it was from the bottom of the kettle, but worthy of a solid 7.
I ordered the 4-way with onions. The noodles were thicker then what I’m used to and the chili was a good temperature. I would visit again since it was close to work.
Camp Washington as expected provided a very nice chili experience. Their chili had a good flavor with a mild heat, a little more heat than some of the other more recent trips. The chili/cheese/hot dog ratio was in near perfect proportion, but they were rather sloppy and required a knife and fork to eat (which didn’t bother me at all). The cheese fries were extremely impressive when they arrived…..great amount of cheese, fresh cut (frozen) fries which were actually seasoned very well, unfortunately not all of them were cooked enough. The crispy ones were delish but there were a fair amount of undercooked soggy ones that keep them from taking top honors on the tour for cheese fries. Camp Washington definitely warrants a repeat visit.