Blue Ash Chili is the first mom-and-pop chili place I’ve looked at for My Town Mondays. How much longer will it be mom-and-pop is anyone’s guess. They’re opening a new shop in Mason, north of the city.
But my visit this past Saturday was to the original on Kenwood Road in suburban Blue Ash. In the heart of Blue Ash’s retail district, you can almost miss it if you’re not careful. My apologies to the guy in the Cherokee behind me when I found the place. Sorry, dude. I was the guy in the 2005 Dodge who slowed suddenly. But this is chili. This is important!
Anyway, like the Gold Star chain, Blue Ash chili was founded in the 1960’s and was not a spin-off of Empress like Skyline or Dixie. The store is an aging diner with a larger menu than most of the chains, comparable to Frisch’s (the local and original Big Boy franchise), only without the lame commercials.* Blue Ash Chili even serves breakfast.
However, you’re probably not interested in their onion rings, their big breakfasts, or their deli sandwiches. There’s only one reason anyone reads about chili parlors on My Town Mondays: The chili.
So, what’s it like?
If you use Skyline (watery paste) and Gold Star (meaty sauce) as points of comparison, Blue Ash chili favors the Skyline-style recipe. The meat is finely ground with a strong hint of cinnamon. However, Blue Ash Chili is thicker and just a little spicier than Skyline. It actually reminds me more of Empress (the original chili) than anything else.
Blue Ash Chili has a comfortable, lived-in feeling. As I said, it’s more of a diner atmosphere than the chains give. You can even get a beer there if you’re so inclined. Props go to Michelle, my waitress, who talked me into ordering fries (they were OK) and a piece of German chocolate cake for dessert.
More My Town Monday posts with Travis.
*It’s gotten to where I have to change the radio station whenever a Frisch’s ad comes on. Food’s good; the advertising is nerve-grating.