This week we hit up one of the two big Cincinnati chili chains, Gold Star Chili. Gold Star has been the toe-to-toe rival for Skyline Chili for years. Recently Gold Star has taken the lead in innovation by being the first of the two chains to introduce items such as chili dip, french fries, and seasonal novelty items like a chili burger, hot mett coneys, and on and on. We’ve been holding off on the big chains until late in the tour to really give us a chance to evaluate their chili in comparison with the all of the other contenders. I’d like to say that we visited the Gold Star on 4th St. in Covington because it’s the oldest, newest, weirdest…something. But the truth is it was just the most convenient for our lunch today. This particular Gold Star looks much like pretty much every other Gold Star you’ll find — Gold Star seems to have done a better of job of homogenizing its retail location than Skyline although I’ll leave it up to you to decide if that’s a good thing. In this case there was a counter, but no stools so sitting at the counter isn’t an option. Instead we opted to occupy a couple tables in the middle of the restaurant. After all the chili we’ve eaten, can one of the biggest names in Cincinnati chili stand up to the competition?Overall Rating:
Gold Star Chili was good, not great for me yesterday. My bowl of plain was what I expected from a chain and I appreciated the garlic toast option, however I didn’t walk away with Gold Star on the leader board. The Chili tour stop at Gold Star is almost an unfair comparison to owner operator chili parlors. Gold Star appeals to the masses and is tasty on a Coney and has a great presence in Cincinnati and really gives back to the community. At this point in the chili tour I prefer spicier chili and Gold Star is mild by those standards. Pay Gold Star a visit if you are in the mood for milder Cincinnati chili. If you want something spicier try Empress or Gourmet Chili.
The food was just average today. There was a lack of good restaurant service also. The order was accurate without reminders. I followed up Blue Ash Chili’s 6-way with adding jalapenos to my 5-way. With that the food was still just average on flavor; I did need to add a second helping of hot sauce, which, I believe the Hot Sauce is the same as the Very Hot Sauce.
In the eternal battle of Gold Star vs. Skyline, I’ve always fallen on the Skyline side. Growing up we always ate at Skyline, despite there being a Gold Star across the street. Nevertheless I do frequent Gold Star fairly often. I like that they’re always coming up with some new, creative way to serve Cincinnati chili and so I’ll always make it a point to try those out when they’re available. In fact, today I tried out the hot mett cheese coney. The hot mett was the tiniest little mett I’ve ever encountered. Skyline’s tiny wieners would dwarf this thing. It was topped with chili, a hot sauce, spicy cheese and jalapeno slices. It was very spicy indeed, and quite tasty — actually a step up from the regular coney I also injested. My bowl of chili though was a disappointment, reminding me of why I prefer Skyline. Gold Star’s chili always has a gristly texture that’s a turn-off for me. The flavor is on the subdued side with nothing to really grab your interest. I’ll put the chili here at a 5 — perfectly average Cincinnati chili.
Ben: [Rating TBA]