Figure this one out: It’s a chili parlor that serves beer. Good—you can sober up with the chili after the beer. But they’re only open until 8:30 p.m., long before you would ever have one too many or need to sober up. A paradox? Yes. But so is Blue Ash Chili, a little ol’ non-chain chili parlor in the middle of one of Cincinnati’s most buttoned-down neighborhoods. And here’s another one: The chili is respectable enough to stand up against the connoisseur’s choices—they even sell it by the gallon—but the big thing here is the double-deckers. Big both in popularity and size—as big as your head and twice as tall. OK, here’s one more conundrum: The hearty breakfast is available for an hour between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., not at lunchtime, and then again from 2 p.m. until closing. No rhyme. No reason. And seemingly no regrets about all the paradoxes. Blue Ash Chili has been around since 1969, long before the neighborhood became a mecca for various corporate giants. Somehow, within its nostalgic interior, it has kept its humble staff and clientele humming along in the midst of all those neckties. Is it the goetta? Or maybe the hash browns with onions, cheese, and gravy? Or just that people have been coming back for 40 years to try and figure it all out? Hmmm.
Blue Ash Chili
9565 Kenwood Rd., Blue Ash
Prices: Nothing on the menu tops $7.99, except the gallon of chili.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner Mon–Sat
New Mason location: 4200 Aero Dr., Mason, (513) 492-9650, www.blueashchili.com
Originally published in the April 2009 issue.