Lynna’s Grill

Bowl of chili, cheese coneys at Lynna's Grill

This weeks chili stop took down to Latonia to visit Lynna’s Grill.  Possibly our final stop in Kentucky, Lynna’s Grill is located on Winston near Decourcy in downtown Latonia.  The small restaurant consists of booths along the outside wall with tables in the center.  The large menu is chock full of breakfast, sandwiches, and chili.  As our waitress noted, “If we can grill it or fry it, we can make it.”  The clientele consisted mainly of retirees, obviously regulars, who bantered back and forth with the friendly wait staff.  Is Lynna’s Grill a worthy contender on the chili tour?  Read on to find out what we thought of the chili.

Overall Rating: ★★★★★½☆☆☆☆


Individual Ratings:

Aaron: ★★★★★½☆☆☆☆

Lynna’s Grill is in Latonia and serves up a full menu of breakfast, grill items, and chili.  I ordered my usual bowl of plain chili.  Our party of five might have stretched the available amount of chili as my serving was so inconsistently hot it had to be microwave chili.  The flavor was good, not great.  The crackers were saltines and not oyster crackers.  The portions were small compared to most parlors and tiny compared to Gourmet Chili for instance.  My Cincinnati chili score is a 5.5.  On my next visit to Lynna’s I think I’ll try the breakfast or a GLT – goetta, lettuce, tomato sandwich or an omelette.

Adam: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

The chili had a flavor of its own; not in a bad way.  The portions were small, a bit small for the final price.  The staff was friendly enough. I don’t think I would seek Lynna’s out for the chili, perhaps more of a diner atmosphere.  At least I was able to get chili this week, unlike last week when they ran out (still very disappointed if you can’t tell).

Andrew: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

I had no idea what to expect out of Lynna’s, but I was immediately pleased with the friendly, familiar service.  I ordered up my usual bowl of chili and cheese coneys and after a bit of a wait was brought two largish coneys and smallish bowl of chili.  The chili at Lynna’s is mild, with virtually no heat and a stronger tomato flavor than most of the chilis we’ve tried so far.  Nevertheless it was well seasoned and not too soupy, with slightly larger chunks of ground beef than is typical.  All in all a perfectly average bowl of Cincinnati style chili.  The coneys were on the larger side and sloppy — had to be eaten with a fork.  The cheese was thicker, shorter shreds than I typically like, but the generous application of mustard and thick-chopped onions made the coneys a bit of a step up from many other places.

Andy: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

Lynna’s is the ultimate greasy spoon.  The locals probably love it as it was doing a decent lunch business.  I’m guessing they probably do a decent breakfast.  Service was friendly but just ok.  4-way was average and fries ended up home fries vs. regular by accident.  Portions were small, especially the home fries.  Flavor wise it was again, pretty average.

Dave: [TBD]

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Main Street Diner

Main Street Diner 4-Way

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:


Overall Rating: ★★★★★½☆☆☆☆


Individual Ratings:

Aaron: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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)

Andrew: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

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.

Ben: ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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.

Dave: ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆

Quality: 3
Quantity: 1
Restrooms: 3
Service:  5
Taste: 4
Facility: 5
Overall: 4

Nathan: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

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.

Stephanie: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

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Eastside Chili

Bowl of chili, two cheese coneys at Eastside Chili

Easily the newest chili purveyor in town, Eastside Chili has been open for about a month in Withamsville on Beechmont Ave. Located in a strip mall just east of 275, Eastside chili looks to help rectify the dearth of independent chili parlors on the east side of town. As you would expect with a brand new restaurant, Eastside Chili’s interior is tidy and freshly painted, including a nice mural along one wall of east side landmarks including the passenger terminal at Lunken, the Mt. Washington water tower, Coney Island, etc. The menu features double-deckers, burgers, assorted sandwiches, a wide array of appetizers, and of course chili. Can the upstart east side entrant hold its own against its well-established west side competition? Read on to find out:

Overall Rating: ★★★★½☆☆☆☆☆

Individual Ratings:

Andrew: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

I really wanted to be blown away by the chili here — it’s not too far from my house and would easily be the closest dedicated chili parlor not named Skyline or Gold Star.  The chili was quite flavorful with more heat than most but something about it just didn’t quite come together.  There were some clashing flavors in there don’t quite live up to the standards we’ve found at other parlors.  The coneys were quite good although the cheese was a little on the dry side and didn’t seem to have been freshly grated — I would suspect it’s shredded cheese out of a bag like you can buy at your local grocery store.  Overall good, but not great.

Andy: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

Today’s Chili tour took us to Eastside Chili, a new establishment on the East side.  They are only about 30 days old and you could tell, they are still working some kinks out but overall, it’s a clean restaurant on the right track.  Portions were average, price was slightly high.  They were a little stingy on the cheese on the 4-way but that seems like it’s a trend anyway.  Overall I give it a 6.  It didn’t blow my doors off but it wasn’t terrible. Menu was pretty deep with non-chili items.

Ben: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

Nathan: ★★★★★½☆☆☆☆

Eastside chili will need more time to break in the new furniture and grill.  It was a pleasant experience and the restaurant was very clean, but not your typical chili parlor ambiance.  My traditional 3-Way was fair, the chili was not overly exciting and the portion was average.  To my liking the hot sauce was thick and firery, but they serve the tiny oyster crackers in a bag, which doesn’t cut it for my need to soak up the chili juice.   With only 30 days under their belt there is plenty of time for improvements.

Ronnie: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

I ordered a 4-way with onions. The chili flavor was average. Temperature was warm. I would make a second visit to investigate the 3/4lb burger they had on the menu.

Stephanie: ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

I never expected when my order was placed down in front of me that highlight of my meal would be the poorly cooked crinkle cut cheese fries (with the cheese that had been melted in the microwave), but unfortunately they were.  My coneys at Eastside Chili were hardly passable….and that was only after the hot dog was removed from them.  The hot dog had a weird burnt plasticish taste that completely ruined the coneys….even without the dog there was still an odd flavor and oil left from them on the coneys.  The cheese fries were below average as well.  While I really wanted to like Fat Timmy’s , it was a very disappointing experience.

Eastside Chili on Urbanspoon

Price Hill Chili

Bowl of plain, cheese coneys at Price Hill Chili

We’ve deliberately saved some of the more well-known chili parlors around town for visits near the end of our tour.  As we’re winding down with the last dozen or so stops, it was time to start mixing some of those parlors.  So with that in mind, we finally headed out Glenway to stop at the West Side institution Price Hill Chili.  Located near the corner of Glenway and Guerley Price Hill chili has been serving up their brand of chili to West Side residents since 1962.  Inside the restaurant the ramshackle layout is evidence of the gradual expansion over the years that has led to Price Hill chili practically taking over the block, testament to the devotion of its regular patrons.  We opted to sit at the lunch counter in the original part of the restaurant.  Price Hill chili has expanded to the point where it now has two kitchens, and regulars tell us the chili is better from the original front kitchen and we’re not ones to argue with regulars.  So, does Price Hill Chili back up the hype with delicious chili?  Read on to find out:

Overall Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆


Individual Ratings:

Aaron: ★★★★★★★★★☆

Price Hill Chili brought their A game today.  The word is out in Cincinnati.  The Chili Report is out and about and your parlor may be next on the list.  PHC and I have a long history.  The menu offers much to choose from and the place is a west side institution.  Sam’s Price Hill Chili delivers steaming hot chili that is not too greasy, but spicy and meaty enough to be a contender for the Chili Report glory.  My usual bowl of plain with pita bread for dipping was just right on a cold and rainy November day.  Let’s face it — most chili would taste great today.   Price Hill Chili is worth a visit.

Adam: ★★★★★★★★½☆

The chili is definitely tasty here.  Sam has been doing this longer than I’ve been alive and he’s good at his job.  I do need to re-calibrate my taste since my order has changed to a bowl of plain only.  To be fair, I should revisit my top three, however, I do believe they definitely belong in the top echelon.  Highly recommended for repeat visits. 

Andrew: ★★★★★★★★★☆

Price Hill Chili is a semi-regular lunch stop for me, but I almost never have the chili as I am a confirmed “Bengal” or “Landmark” devotee.  As a result I actually didn’t have much in the way of a preconceived notion of Price Hill Chili’s chili offerings.  So I guess you could say that I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the chili I got.  My bowl of chili had great consistency, not too watery, and bold flavors.  My coneys were in soft buns that held together well, topped with long, finely shredded slivers of mild cheddar.  The coneys were a little light on the cheese for my tastes, but those who like a little less cheese than is customary would be well-served with a stop at Price Hill Chili.

Ben: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Dave: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Facility:  8
Quantity:  8
Quality:  8
Restrooms:  8
Service: 8
Overall: 8

Ronnie: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

I ordered my normal 4-way with onions. The Chili was very tasty and had a good temperature. My only complaint was the noodles could have been strained a little more. The water from the noodles caused the chili to be a little watery (nothing that oyster crackers couldn’t help soak up though). If it wasn’t for the water from the noodles then I probably would have given them an 8.5. Their menu selection for other food looked very impressive. I would definitely pay them another visit.

Stephanie: ★★★★★★★★★☆

Price Hill Chili has taken the top spot on the chili tour for me.  I have been to Price Hill Chili numerous times before, but surprisingly this was the first time I had their chili.  Their chili was extremely flavorful with a bit of heat and a meaty consistence.  The chili, hot dog, cheese and mustard all played very well together on the coney.  All of the ingredients complimented each other and none overtook any of the other flavors.  The cheese / chili ratio was right on point and the bread was fresh and steamed.  The cheese fries were tasty as well….even though they do serve up the crinkle cut variety.  They were cooked nicely and topped with a healthy dose of freshly shredded cheddar that was left to melt on its own….as with most other places they would have been even better if they had been salted after they were pulled from fryer.

Price Hill Chili on Urbanspoon

P&S Restaurant

Bowl of chili, cheese coneys at P&S Restaurant

The P&S Restaurant is located in a small strip mall on Springdale Rd. just off of Colerain Avenue near the Northgate Mall.  In business since 1979, P&S features chili prominently on the front page of their menu.  Notably, they offer six (sour cream) and seven (sour cream and jalapenos) ways though amazingly none of the chili team took them up on either offering.  The interior of the restaurant is done up tastefully in dark colors with a large number of tables and booths and a lunch counter near the back.  The rest of the menu is encyclopedic — P&S offers all manner of breakfast, sandwiches, lunches, and dinners and a wide selection of desserts.  So was the trip up north to Colerain Twp. worth it?  Read on to see what we thought.

Overall Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆


Individual Ratings:

Adam: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

The food was pretty good on taste.  The portions were decent based on pricing.  The prices were fine.  The staff was pleasant and friendly.  A little bit of a geographical challenge for a regular lunch stop, but if you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth a visit.  I’m looking forward to the piece of Oreo cookie pie I brought back with me.

Andrew: ★★★★★★★½☆☆

This was a pleasant surprise for me — it took some doing to even uncover the fact that they serve chili so imagine my surprise when we walk in to discover that their chili offerings are the top feature on their menu.  I ordered up my usual bowl of plain chili with a couple cheese coneys.  The food was delivered quickly and everything was fresh and piping hot.  The chili had a meaty texture to it and an intriguing blend of spices with a bold flavor.  The coneys were on soft buns and weren’t too messy to be picked up and eaten by hand.  My only complaint is that cheese seemed a little dried out though judging by the cheese shredder visible in the kitchen they do shred it fresh in-house.  Overall this ranks among the better chili restaurants we’ve visited.

Dave: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

Facility: 6 Stinky bathrooms
Quantity:  6
Quality: 5  No taste — just spice, cheese stale
Service: 7
Overall: 6

Stephanie: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

P&S’s chili was a bit spicier than most of the places we have been to so far.  Their chili had a nice consistency and a fair amount of heat, but not a ton of flavor.  I went back to my “usual” at P&S, the coneys arrived quickly, with fresh bread and hot chili.  The hot dogs were standard, and the chili/cheese/dog ratio was balanced nicely.  P&S has  “normal” fries that were cooked well, but something was off with the flavor of the cheese…almost like it was stale.  It looked to be freshly shredded cheddar, but it was almost as if it wasn’t sealed properly in the fridge and it had dried out, or they had attempted to freeze it and it got freezer burned.  As the cheese melted on the fries and coneys the off flavor was slightly less noticeable, but still not great.  The staff was extremely friendly and attentive….and I would be tempted to go back and try their Straffle!

Tim: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

I live less that 5 minutes from P&S Restaurant and this is the first time that I have ever eaten here.  Sorry to judge a book by its cover but the peeling letters on the P and S sign out front has kept me from stopping in.  I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in- A well painted mural on the wall, clean tables, everyone in a uniform and a diner setting with bar stools. I thought to myself, I can see coming back here with the family.  Ok, ok- enough of the visuals… let’s get to the chili. I ordered my usual- The 3-way.  Well piled cheese, and I could tell instantly it was fresh from a block that they shredded from the kitchen. That pushes them over a 4 star just on the cheese factor.  Pasta was perfect, thicker than most, but not too thick.  Chili looked meaty, a little heartier than the local chains. I took my first bite without hot sauce to see if the flavor stood on its own. Not too bad. The taste was a little bland, not the flavor that I hoped to expect. This made me pull out the hot sauce to give it a little zip.  A good portion size for this 3-way.  The best part of today’s experience was the waitresses were well attentive and fast to answer any questions. I think at one point we had all 4 waitresses helping us out (possibly because we sat at the bar, but not certain).  All in all –I would say- a good experience. I think this fine establishment earns an 8 today.

P & S Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Lucy’s Deli

4-way at Lucy's Deli

Lucy’s Deli sits on Reading Rd. in the heart of downtown Reading.  Parking is convenient with a small lot located right next to Lucy’s.  The interior is comprised of two rows of booths with several rows of tables and chairs in the middle, decorated like an arts + crafts store exploded within.  Be sure to check out the heart-shaped aquarium by the cash register.  The menu is mostly sandwiches with a heavy focus on double-deckers, but we were pleased to note that the chili selections were featured first in the menu.  Does the chili deserve its top billing?  Read on to find out…

Overall Rating: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

Individual Ratings:

Adam: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

The food was okay on taste.  I did need to go with a second helping of hot sauce.  The portions were average based on pricing.  The prices were decent.  I don’t think I would go out of my way for chili, but other menu items looked interesting.  Similar to Thelma’s Diner, they may focus on the diner aspect much more than a chili parlor; but that’s okay.

Andrew: ★★★★½☆☆☆☆☆

I ordered up my usual bowl of plain, 2 cheese coneys.  The bowl of chili came out way before the coneys did — long enough that I had actually polished of the bowl of chili before the coneys arrived.  The chili was meaty with a nice texture, but pretty flavorless.  I wound up having to splash some hot sauce on it to liven things up a bit, something I almost never do.  After the disappointing bowl of chili, I hoped the coneys would pick things up a bit.  The coneys were on the large side and sloppy enough that I wound up eating them with a fork.  The onions on the coneys were very coarsely chopped which allowed a lot more of the onion flavor to come through, while giving the coneys an interesting crunchy texture.  The buns were fresh and the cheese was good, though shredded too short for my tastes.  The chili, however, was still a disappointment.  Its lack of flavor meant that the cheese, hotdog, onion, and mustard flavors all shined through nicely, but there was just no chili taste.  I can’t recommend the chili there, but judging by the gorgeous double-deckers I saw being whisked to and fro this is a fine place to get a terrific sandwich.

Ben: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

I enjoyed Lucy’s Deli.  The chili was meaty, not greasy, but had an aftertaste to it that I couldn’t put my finger on.  The cheese appeared to be freshly grated but clumped up a lot making large cheese balls that I didn’t want to eat.
4 way: The noodles were cooked properly and were not stale.  Obviously fresh. The amount of cheese wasn’t overwhelming, but it wasn’t the same texture that I prefer.  The chili portion was OK, not too sloppy and no leftover soup after the noodles were gone.
Coney: Messy, but that’s not a bad thing.  Served in a bowl and not on a small plate, the coney was the star of lunch today.  The bun was fresh and soft, the hot dog had great flavor, not your typical dog that is served up at chili parlours across the area.
Oyster Crackers: Given w/o request.  New England Brand.  Extra crax cost $.20.
Hot Sauce: Frank’s Red Hot, oddly enough w/o the label, but the contents were the same.
Overall Score: 6/10.  A decent contender, but the cheese and the after taste keep me from throwing Lucy’s up there with the top dogs.  (Side Note: Their sandwiches looked phe-nomnom-inal.  May be worth a trip back for their bacon/turkey/egg sandwich.)

Dave: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

Facility: 6
Quality: 5
Quantity: 7
Service: 4
Overall: 5
Not much flavor but good portions

Stephanie: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

After consuming more hot dogs in the last few months on the chili tour than I have had total in my entire life, I made the executive decision to go with chili cheese sandwiches instead of coneys at Lucy’s.  I need to preface this next statement by saying, I love cheese.  I would give up pretty much any other food before I give up cheese and I firmly believe you can never have too much cheese.  But on this one occasion there might have been too much cheese, well maybe not too much but the cheese definitely overpowered the chili on the sandwiches….I think if I had gotten coneys that the ratio of cheese to chili to hot dog would have been fine, but without the hot dog it was off.  The bread was fresh, as was the cheese and the chili was hot, there just wasn’t enough of it…I didn’t dislike the taste, but it just lacked an overall flavor.  Lucy’s offers French Fries or for $0.25 more you can get Amazing Fries, which are seasoned waffles fries.  They are not the typical frozen variety, they are a homemade version…which with cheese lived up to their name.  The fries were cooked very well, the seasoning was tasty and normally I hate when they melt the cheese on the fries in the microwave, but the Amazing Fries remained crispy.  I feel as if I owe Lucy’s another try, next time I would get a coney to see if the chili would stand up better with the compliment of the hot dog…..and I would definitely go back for one of their double-deckers, they looked incredible!

Lucy's Deli on Urbanspoon

Cretan’s Grill

Bowl of Chili, Cheese Coneys at Cretan's Grill

Cretan’s Grill, or Cretan’s Chili Restaurant as the sign outside says, is located on Vine St. in the heart of Carthage.  The interior is done up in classic wood paneling, linoleum floors, and a chromed-out lunch counter along the wall.  Wooden booths line the opposite wall with a row of tables and chairs in between.  The menu includes the Cincinnati chili items you’d expect, with the notable exception of chili with beans or 5-ways — no beans at Cretan’s.  Cretan’s also serves up double-deckers, burgers, and a nice selection of plate lunches.  Six members of the chili team ordered up a mess of chili — read on to see what we thought.

Overall Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆


Individual Ratings:

Aaron: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

Cretan’s Grill in Carthage is a simple little old school diner that serves chili, burgers, and double deckers.  It is like walking back in time.  The menu is laminated text and the pricing is great.  For less than $5 I sat down to a bowl of chili and coney.  The chili is tasty and was served hot.  It had a great flavor and was on the mild side of my internal spice scale.  It didn’t wow me, but it wasn’t lousy like some of the other places we’ve endured.  This Cincinnati chili was a 6.5 for me given the great value.

Adam: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

I was pretty disappointed that they have chili in their name but don’t serve a 5-way.  So I did have to substitute my normal order with a 4-way and French fries.  The food was okay on taste, nothing unusual to report.  The portions were average and pricing was very reasonable.  I would have scored higher if a 5-way was on the menu.

Andrew: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

I ordered up my usual bowl of plain with two cheese coneys.  The food arrived promptly and I immediately dug into my bowl of chili.  My first impression was that the chili was on the watery side, so I added some oyster crackers to help solidify things a bit.  Curiously, the oyster crackers weren’t really able to soak up much of the moisture.  Stir though I might, I just couldn’t keep the meaty bits of the chili emulsified with the watery bits.  The chili had a mild flavor with mild heat.  Tasty, but not as delicious as some of the bolder chili’s we’ve encountered.  I was also a bit put off by the slightly gristly nature of the beef in the chili.  This chili required some chewing which was neither expected nor enjoyed.  The cheese coneys came in delightfully soft, steamed buns.  They were a little light on the cheese for my tastes, and the watery nature of the chili rapidly caused the bottom of the buns to disintegrate.  Nevertheless the cheese coneys were delicious, tempering my slight disappointment with the bowl of chili.

Andy: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Cretans Chili was a surprise.  Seems like the more old school a place looks, the better the chili on this tour.  The chili was meaty and had good flavor.  Fries were pretty average.  No fountain drinks, you gets cans but this isn’t a deal breaker.  The surprise was the price, they may have been the best value on the tour.   The service was fast and friendly.  Cretans comes in at a solid 8.0 for me.

Nathan: ★★★★★★★½☆☆

What a great find!  I thoroughly enjoyed Cretan’s.  For me it’s a solid stop on our tour and return visits are forthcoming.  The service was great, its a small quaint diner that serves beverages fresh from a can!  The chili was one of the best I’ve had and is deserving of high marks. The food came out hot with a fresh spattering of melted cheddar, my 3-way looked perfect and tasted even better! Even the funny looking oyster crackers were fresh.

Stephanie: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

The cheese coneys were light on chili and cheese in my opinion…the hot dog definitely overtook the taste of the chili, which when tried without the dog had a nice flavor and consistency.  Cretan’s does not officially offer cheese fries on their menu, but I ordered cheese fries anyways.  I was given a side of cheese, and then my fries arrived shortly after.  Cretan has the kind of fries I like, they were cooked well but unfortunately not seasoned, I did like the ability to add the cheese myself, so that it would melt on its own…but I didn’t love the $1.40 price for a small side of cheese.  Overall, Cretan’s was decent….I would definitely consider going back to try one of their double-deckers.

Cretan Grill on Urbanspoon

Patrick’s Sports Bar & Grill

Bowl of chili, cheese coneys @ Patrick's

Today we made another trek down Glenway to another Westside chili parlor, Crookshank Chili.  We weren’t certain it was still open, so we called ahead.  “Crookshank,” answered the voice at the other end of the phone call.  We verified they were open for lunch and headed out.  After a couple of passes down Crookshank, we couldn’t find it.  So we called back for directions.  “Patricks!” answered the same voice.  Huh?  Turns out Crookshank Chili is closed…ish.  But in its place is Patrick’s Sports Bar & Grill which keeps the chili tradition alive.  Inside an old bank, the decor is traditional sports bar with televisions on every available surface.  The menu is also standard sports bar fare, but with the welcome addition Cincinnati-style chili.

Overall Rating: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

Individual Ratings:

Aaron: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

More bar than chili parlor, we ventured out to the former Crookshank chili.  Patrick’s “Crookshank” chili has a bar menu with Cincinnati style and Texas style chili.  I ordered the Texas chili to sample for the table and a 2 way.  The Texas chili was below average for me.  The 2 way chili was meaty but not very flavorful compared to Gourmet Chili or Empress.  The spaghetti was undercooked for my liking and I stopped eating with half a plate left.  I believe Patrick’s is better known for other items on the menu and I would suggest you stick to the double deckers or hoagies.  My Cincinnati chili score is a 3 of 10.  For a future visit to Patrick’s I will personally look elsewhere on the menu.

Adam: ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆

We were in route to Crookshank Chili, which apparently doesn’t exist and was replaced by Patrick’s.  They do serve chili, but I’m not sure they should have been a stop on the chili tour.  The food was a little below average on taste for me.  The staff was courteous.  The portions were average based on price.  Perhaps a good stop for a double-decker tour; they looked ridiculously huge.

Andrew: ★★★★★½☆☆☆☆

We keep finding chili in the strangest places.  Patrick’s serves Texas-style chili along with Cincinnati chili — if you’re there to try it, they refer to the Cincinnati-style chili as “coney chili.”  I had a bowl of “coney chili” and a couple of cheese coneys.  The chili was on the thin side and my first few bites had a bit of a gritty texture that wasn’t pleasant.  I did however enjoy the flavor of the chili and was pleased to note that this chili ratcheted up the spice level more than most.  My coneys were topped with a terrific fluffy cloud of orange cheddar, sitting atop a massive serving of chili in between the buns.  If you like your coneys wet, this is the place for you.  I wound up having to eat them with a fork as the sloppy serving of chili completely overwhelmed the buns.  Overall…pretty average.

Ben: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

Dave: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Quantity: 7
Quality: 6
Facility: 6
Service: 5
Cheese: 7
Flavor: 7
Overall rating: 7

Patrick's Sports Bar and Grille on Urbanspoon

Blue Jay Restaurant

Chili team at the Blue Jay Restaurant

Just a few doors down from Park Chili on Hamilton Ave. in Northside sits an unassuming diner tucked right next door to Cincinnati’s favorite record store, Shake-It Records.  7 members of the chili team found their way into the Blue Jay Restaurant for a chili tasting extravaganza.  The interior of the Blue Jay is straight out of the 60’s — wood paneling, formica tables and counters, and dim fluorescent lights set in a slightly dingy drop ceiling.  After seating ourselves at the long lunch counter in the rear of the restaurant, we surveyed the menu which is bursting full with options from breakfast, to double-deckers, gyros, plate lunches, and of course chili.  How did the Blue Jay stack up against the competition?  Read on to find out!

Overall Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆


Individual Ratings:

Aaron: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

The Blue Jay in Northside is an old school chili parlor.  The decor is dated a bit but adequate.  When we sat down, they brought everyone at the counter a cold ice water and were ready to take our order.  The Blue Jay offers a fairly full menu and the prices are very reasonable.  The best part of the visit for me was the service.  Our server was attentive and friendly..  The chili was hot and meaty without a lot of grease.  Seemingly this is a great recipe for my taste buds, however I felt the chili lacked flavor and was just there.  I would go back for other items if I was in the area.

Adam: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

The food was good.  I enjoyed a slightly more sharpness to the cheese; it gave it a unique flavor that wasn’t over-bearing.  The portions were better than average based on the pricing.  I could repeat visit without too much objection.

Andrew: ★★★★★★★★★☆

After a run of average stops on the chili tour, I didn’t have high expectations for another place not traditionally known as a great chili parlor.  Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the chili served up at the Blue Jay Restaurant.  I ordered up my usual bowl of plain with 2 cheese coneys and was in love from my first spoonful.  The chili was thick and hearty with bold Cincinnati flavoring that left just a hint of heat at the back of the throat.  They coneys were loaded with chili and cheese — it made them a little messy to eat, but they too were delicious.  Service was fast and friendly and the prices were among the best so far.  Definitely slated for repeat visits for me.

Andy: ★★★★★★★★★☆

Today’s tour took us to the Blue Jay in Northside.  It is the perfect diner with a huge counter which we took advantage of.  They have a full menu including breakfast and lunch specials but we were there for only one thing:  The Chili.  The whole group was impressed myself included.  It had a great flavor and texture.  The fries were above average, the portions were perfect and the pricing was very reasonable.  Service was good, fast and friendly.  Blue Jay takes the lead for me with a 9.0 rating.

Ben: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Dave: ★★★★★★★★★☆

Blue Jay Restaurant is one of the best tasting chili restaurants in town.

Quality: 9
Quantity: 9.9
Facility: 8
Service: 9
Overall: 9

Stephanie: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Blue Jay on Urbanspoon

Sam’s Chili

Bowl of chili, cheese coneys at Sam's Chili

Today we made yet another trip out Glenway to sample some chili.  Sam’s Chili is a tiny parlor located along Glenway in Price Hill.  The interior consists of a small counter with four booths on the opposite wall.  The menu includes items such as pizza, burgers, fried chicken, fish…you could eat there daily and never have the same thing twice.  As tempting as the other items were, we all ordered up chili our usual ways.  Read on to see what we thought.

Overall Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆


Individual Ratings:

Aaron: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

My expectations were low as we pulled up to Sam’s Chili on Glenway across from Seton High School.  The menu and venue seemed more akin to greasy festival food than a Cincinnati chili parlor.  Alas, they serve Cincinnati style chili there and had a full featured dessert menu as well.  The portion size of my chili spaghetti was weak by Cincinnati standards and the chili had a texture that reminded me of Chefboyardee which could be good or bad depending upon your pallete.  In general the chili wasn’t super greasy or watery and reminded me more of a meaty chili sauce.  It actually was pretty good.  It wasn’t overly spicy but it had a tasty flavor that was tempting enough for me to consider ordering more.  Sam’s has potential.  It is definitely atypical. 

Andrew: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

The chili was slightly above average.  Meaty with good flavor, but certainly not up to the standards of some of the higher-rated establishments.  The coneys were interesting — Sam’s uses what appear to be tiny beef dogs instead of the traditional porkWhile they were on the small side, they added a distinctive flavor to the coneys that I liked quite a bit.

Andy: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Sam’s chili is definitely a greasy spoon but very good.  The Chili had a great flavor and a thicker texture.  The portion of the 4-way was below average.  Fries were typical but the seasoning moved them into the plus column.  If you are looking for more than chili, they have a pretty big menu.

Stephanie: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Sam's Chili on Urbanspoon