This week we made our fifth (!!) stop on Glenway Avenue, this time venturing out to J&J Restaurant. Located in a small strip mall near Kroger’s, J&J’s Restaurant is a tidy little diner sporting four rows of booths and a small 4-stool lunch counter at the back with an ancient mechanical cash register looming large in the center of the counter. (Need I specify this is a cash-only facility?) The menu is typical chili parlor — a collection of breakfast, sandwiches, and chili. 8 of us made the trip out to J&J’s, so we had to pile into two booths. Take note if you’re going with a big group as there is no group seating available. We all ordered up our usuals, so read on to see how this Glenway establishment stacks up against the rest.Overall Rating:
J&J’s on Glenway has friendly service, is clean and very reasonably priced. My sub $4 bowl of plain was good, not great though. The chili almost seemed like the ground beef was put through a blender that day. It wasn’t too greasy but generally lacked the flavor you get from Empress, Price Hill Chili, or Gourmet Chili. I prefer J&J’s for breakfast over the chili. My Cincinnati Chili score is a 6.5 of 10.
The chili was thick but missing a little zing. I would suggest Franks Red Hot sauce in lieu of tobasco sauce to mix with the flavor of the chili. If they were to spice it up a bit, they could approach the leaderboard. The portion was quite impressive and the prices were reasonable. Props to the Biddy, yes she’s back.
Portions were huge. The chili had a little Jeckyll & Hyde thing going for me. On the one hand, it was very thick and meaty, yet it also managed to be awfully watery. I was hesitant to add oyster crackers as it was already quite thick, yet the amount of water at the bottom of my bowl was increasing with every spoonful. I broke down and added some oyster crackers, which utterly failed to soak up any significant portion of the water. Flavorwise the chili was a little nondescript — I prefer a bolder flavor than what I found at J&J. So I enjoyed the texture, but the odd wateriness and lack of flavor made the chili just ok for me. My coneys had hands-down the most chili slopped into them that I’ve found anywhere. Unfortunately that also meant that chili flavor and texutre overwhelmed everything else in the coney. The cheese was freshly shredded and plentiful though, which I always appreciate.
Good portions, fair prices, friendly staff, clean place. Cash only.
4 Way: I saw the server take Adam his 5 way, and it was HUGE. Then when they brought out my 4 way, it was typical. So, maybe Adam winked at the waitress, maybe they liked the cut of his jib, or maybe they are inconsistent. Either way, they didn’t really cheap me on the portions so I should quit my complaining. The noodles were perfectly cooked, the chili was nice and meaty, leaving very little soupiness at the bottom of the plate. Flavorful chili, but not overbearing. The hot sauce was needed to bring it up. The cheese was decent in portion, and obviously freshly shredded.
Coney: Sloppy. Pouring over the edge of the steamed bun, this coney was solid. The mustard and onion weren’t jumping out at you (I like it when they do), but this was a solid coney. Make sure you eat this one fast as it’ll fall apart due to the abundance of chili on the bun.
Oyster Crackers: Shur-Good, and lots of them. Not my favorite oyster crackers, but not bad. They certainly didn’t skimp on the amount of bags they threw on our table either.
Hot Sauce: Tabasco. It is what it is.
Service: Prompt, and courteous. Our waitress was very nice to us, and the rest of the staff would was too. The lady who took our money (Cash Only) was talking about the back of the restaurant like someone who worked at Oz. “Out back, behind the curtain, they make everything in house. They make their own meat out back I tell you what. They make their own chili too back there, secret recipe, nobody knows it.” Made “out back” sound intriguing and mystical.
Diner: Clean, almost too clean to be a chili parlor. Only 4 seats at the counter, and they were in groups of 2, placed far from each other. As where I’m sure the health inspector loves this place, the ambiance is that of any-diner-USA.
Overall, I’m going to give J & J a solid 7. The only thing keeping it from 8 or higher is the facility and the portion inaccuracy. This is Cincinnati Chili done right.
Overall score: 6
J&J’s was a solid stop on the tour for me. My regular 3-way was a generous portion with a mountain of cheese, which for me is easy to remove what I don’t want. The chili lacked “zip” so I did add some hot sauce. It was plenty juicy and fresh, I made good use of my TWO (2) packs of crackers. Clean friendly service and I will definitely make a return visit to try a mountain sized double decker!… We saw plenty of them floating around the dining room…they looked fantastic!