Just down the street from the courthouse sits a small diner on the corner of 9th & Main, appropriately named the Main Street Diner. The large sign out front says “B/G Restaurant,” a relic from the diner’s 80+ year history in that spot. Inside is easily the longest lunch counter we’ve come across on the chili tour with a line of booths along the opposite wall. The menu is diner standard with breakfast, sandwiches, and dinner specials. The Main Street Diner serves up chili by the bowl, coney, or 3 or 4 way. 5 ways are not offered as beans are not available. 7 members of the chili team made the short trip across town, but only 6 members got to sample the chili as the Main Street Diner made the critical mistake of running out of chili. Yep, they actually ran out of chili. So, was the chili good while it lasted? Read on to find out:
I didn’t care for the chili at the Main Street Diner and was embarassed we brought our out of town guest to experience Cincinnati chili there. He agreed that he would hold an IOU for some delicious Cincinnati chili on his next visit in town. The owner was friendly, but the portions were small, flavor was lacking, they ran out of chili, and they serve Saltines as opposed to oyster crackers. The french fries weren’t any better for me either. The breakfast looked reasonable there, but this is a chili tour. My Cincinnati Chili score is a 3 of 10.
Adam: (No rating as a result of chili shortage)
My first bite of my bowl of chili was a little startling. The chili had a very different flavor than what we’ve become accustomed to on our many previous chili stops. It was unmistakably Cincinnati-style chili, but the spice mix was very unique. As I dug further into my bowl I found that I actually rather liked their take on the style. There was just enough heat to keep things interesting and the strong cinnamon aroma was delightful. The coneys were on the small side with shredded cheese likely from a bag. The proportions were good and overall they were decent, if perhaps slightly underwhelming coneys. Main Street Diner slides in somewhere around the middle of the pack for me.
Chili: Lite, lacked any real kick. 4-way: Noodles were too firm. Also, I saw the cook pulling them out of a pot with his bare hands. The chili on top of the plate leaves alot to be desired as well. Very sparse. And the crackers? Stale, square saltines. Not even oyster crackers. Somewhere buried in Cincinnati law is a 2nd degree misdemeanor that states you can’t serve saltines with chili. I should report them to the authorities. Also, crackers are only served with 4 ways. My friends with coneys were spared the stale-ness. Coney: bun not steamed, right out of a Kroger deli bag. Hot dog was small and tasteless. Cheese, not fresh, also out of a bag and not too sharp. Hot Sauce: Texas Pete. They even ran out of chili and one of our chili-tasters had to go with something else. Seriously, if I were them I would take chili off the menu. They don’t even offer beans as an option for a 5 way. The restaurant staff seemed polite and nice, and the diner itself is a classic example of american dive diner (a major favorite genre of restaurant of mine) located in a bustling part of downtown. I very well may be back for breakfast (after they read this I may want to come incognito) but all in all I can’t recommend this place as a chili joint.
Great downtown location with plenty of parking near the courthouse! The place had the smell of freshly served breakfast lingering around the parlor as we entered. Definitely going back for that. The chili was above average, juicy, hot and a perfect amount of cheese. A great find and I will be back for seconds.