It’s nice to walk into a chili place that doesn’t reek of the trappings of corporate brand designers and interior decorators. Instead, Dixie Chili just smells like chili. Though the interiors have been redone in recent decades, photos of the original 1929 location still have a prominent place on the walls. They remind you that a coney was once a nickel and that these restaurants have a proper name that we’ve forgotten: the chili parlor. Is Dixie Chili the best? Like all the other parlors in town, the Dixie Chili secret recipe is as good as any other. Whether you get a coney or a three-way, you won’t be disappointed. Though it behooves you to try the time-honored specialties: the Alligator (hot dog with a dill spear, mayo, mustard, and cheese—no chili in sight), the six-way (with added garlic) or the new gluten-free vegetarian chili (a little tart, but a bold attempt). The chili is rounded out here by Greek fries (with feta and Greek dressing), deli sandwiches, salads, and Mom’s Mediterranean vegetable soup. What’s interesting is that the service is just as fast as the places that want to free up your table quickly, but it makes you want to hang for a few minutes. Go ahead and let out a deep breath after a daunting helping of chili cheese fries. Pause and marvel at your culinary accomplishment after devouring the small Everest on your plate. You don’t need to shout that you ate it because it was there. Or maybe you do.
3716 Dixie Hwy.
(also in Newport and Covington)
Originally published in the March 2012 issue.