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UCLA Football Opponent Deep Cut: Cincinnati

Time to examine Cincinnati’s greatest/worst export.

SMU v Cincinnati Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

aThe Deep Cut is a companion piece to the Opponent Preview, in which I take a closer look at something related to the opponent, with a humorous slant.

With Cincinnati, the choice was fairly simple. I, being a food connoisseur with a refined taste, would sample some famous Cincinnati Skyline Chili.....or, I would, but I don‘t live in Cincinnati, and something about ordering canned Skyline Chili, or making some from a faux recipe, just did not appeal to me in the slightest.

So, I’m going to do the next best thing, and participate in a favorite internet pastime: critique something I have never actually partaken in.

Let’s start with the basics. Skyline Chili is the unholy combination of chili, placed on top of a bed of spaghetti and topped with shredded cheese. Now, I’m not picky when it comes to my chili, and I can get down with chili and cheese, but throwing spaghetti into the mix is just bizarre. I guess the idea is that it’s similar to a meat sauce? But it’s chili, so is this an admission that their chili is nothing more than a glorified meat sauce? I’m so confused by this.

According to the Skyline Chili website, there are multiple ways to get this strange dish (I’m not even getting into the coney options. Those are just chili cheese dogs. You aren’t exciting just because you have chili cheese dogs, Cincinnati). There is the traditional 3-way, which is the chili/spaghetti/cheese option outlined above. Then you have a 4-way, in which you can choose to add onions or beans to this Frankenstein monster. Or, if you’re really feeling adventurous, you can go with a 5-way, where you get onions AND beans. Truly amazing stuff here.

But, I don’t think it’s fair for me to be the only voice here, especially since I’ve never tried this stuff. So let’s see what people on Yelp think about this stuff.

Dear Ludlow Skyline,

I’ll never forget the first time I met you. It was my first week of college and all my friends were talking about you. They said that we would end up at your place by the end of the night. In addition to being my first week at college, it was also (not coincidentally) the first week I began experimenting with alcohol use. We drunkenly stumbled down what seemed to be the longest hill...and when we arrived, you made it all worth while.

You see, my first night out in college, my first night of alcohol use, and my first trip down this giant hill was also the night of my first 3-way... of the Skyline Chili variety. Describing your chili (thinner Chili with hints of cinnamon + chocolate, greek inspired) doesn’t do you justice. Skyline Chili tastes like warmth. It tastes like happiness. It tastes like home. The chili spaghetti topped with a mountain of cheese (mountain of cheese...what a beautiful phrase!) provided a satisfaction that my drunk teenage self didn’t even know I craved.

You may have been my first 3-way, Skyline... but this wasn’t a one-night stand. I don’t need to be drunk to want to be around you, either. You’ll always be there for me, whether it’s a 3-way at the end of a night out, or dribbling little dots of hot sauce onto oyster crackers over a lunchtime date. Thank you, Skyline.


My first thought here is that if this dude ever encountered a taco truck late at night, it would blow his mind. My second is the shame in learning that this is Greek-inspired chili, because I’m Greek and I have no idea what this even means. We’re not known for our chili in the slightest.

We came here with a group of 4 after a night of clubbing and even though it was after 2am, this place was PACKED. We were able to get a table fairly quick and the food came out fast.

I got a 3 way and shared an order of fries with our group. It was interesting to say the least. By no means was it amazing or the best thing I’ve ever eaten, but it was cheap and filling and covered in cheese so if you /really/ like cheese I’d recommend it. Skyline was one of the things I was told I ‘had’ to do while in Cincinnati and I’m glad I tried it, but still on the fence about if I liked it. Cincinnati chili definitely isn’t like any other chili I’ve had before, more of a really runny meat sauce which I think is why it works so well with the spaghetti. I think the taste could potentially be off-putting to some people (I could really taste the cocoa powder) but don’t knock it until you try it.

Crowd on a Saturday night was way way way too rowdy, and we seriously felt bad for the waitstaff with how some customers were acting. Our waitress was amazing though, super nice and efficient and patient even with how rude some people were getting. I DON’T CARE HOW INTOXICATED AND ENTITLED YOU ARE: BE NICE TO YOUR WAITSTAFF.

First off, what does clubbing in Cincinnati even look like? I’ve done clubbing in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, even went bar-hopping in Houston, but the idea of clubbing in Cincinnati is just impossible for me to comprehend. This guy also gave a 4 star review despite saying he’s not sure if he liked the food at all.

That last line, though, is super important. Those are words to live by.

I don’t understand why this place is popular, but I definitely had to try it while in Cincinnati. I got the chili spaghetti w a buttload if cheese and onion. Honestly, I could barely taste the cheese. The chili’s is strangely sweet... (I was forewarned that some people love it and some don’t like. I’m latter.) Interesting concept, but personally not a fan. Cool to try once while you’re here tho? I appreciated the kind service though!

This was from an LA person, so I instantly trust their opinion.

I didn’t grow up in Cincinnati so my first Cincinnati style chili was in college. Since then I’ve tried around a dozen different Cincinnati style chili restaurants and I have to say, Skyline is somewhere on the top of my list.

For out of towners trying it for the first time, my impression is Cincinnati style chili is meant primarily as a topping.

I am starting to believe Cincinnati people have never had a good chili to compare Skyline to in their lives if their understanding is that chili should be a topping.

Here, have a video as well (which, for the record, says that Skyline Chili is to Cincinnatians what In-n-Out is to Californians, and I’ve never been so insulted in my life):

So, with all of these reviews, I feel confident in my understanding of what Skyline Chili is, which is to say Skyline Chili is bad. And that will be the Cincinnati Bearcats downfall this fall, as they will roll into town, try actual chili for the first time, and be too hungover from the food coma to put up much of a fight, which will allow the Bruins to roll.