Camp Washington Chili has been in business since 1940. They are in the Camp Washinton area of Cincinnati and are open 24 hours a day on weekdays and until 4:00pm on Saturday. They have recieved a James Beard Award as an “American Regional Classic” and have been featured on television programs and magazines. The original building was razed for street widening but the original vertical sign stands over the newer, bigger location. Now it is a fairly large place with a drive-through window. There is a counter or you can be waited on at any number of tables. Lots of windows look outside and music is in the background. A large open kitchen is faced by the counter seating. The dining room is striking with a large black/white/gray tile floor accented by red chairs. A couple booths are available. The walls are lined with photos and copies of press articles. Service was friendly and efficient. If you haven’t had Cincinnati chili, this is a good place to try it.
We tried the 5 Way Chili that comes with chili, spaghetti, onions, beans and cheese. When you get it it looks like a plate of grated cheese but underneath are all the tasty other ingredients. The Cincinnati way is to cut the spaghetti, not twirl, and eat it in forkfuls. The server offered a bib to protect shirts from splatter but we declined. They also bring multiple packages of oyster crackers for you to add to the mix as you desire. It was wonderful, a good balance of ingredients and flavors. The crackers give it a crunch that adds a missing textural component, although the onions also add a small amount of crunch. The chili had the slightest zip.
We also tried a chili cheese coney, which is a small hot dog. This one you could pick up and eat or use a knife and fork. The small dog was juicy and the bun nicely soft. If you were hungry you could easily eat several of these coneys. Again a good balance and fun flavors. We actually preferred the coney to the chili plate.