By Maggie Callaghan, Blake Campbell, Gabby Nti and Alex Mashny
Chili con carne (or chili, as it is commonly known) is probably a staple for a lot of college students. Not only is this classic comfort food simple and easy to make from scratch, but it is served at many restaurants and bars in Oxford, such as on the “ultimate nachos” at Buffalo Wild Wings, or by itself at Mac and Joe’s. Popular variants include chili fries, chili on hot dogs, or Skyline’s well-known Cincinnati-style chili served over spaghetti. Cincinnati-style chili has become famous not only for it unconventional vessel which is spaghetti but also for its unique flavor, which comes from a mixture of spices including chocolate. With Oxford’s close proximity to Cincinnati, a group of Miami University students went on a search to find the best chili that Oxford has to offer. Together, Alex, Maggie, Gabby and Blake share their opinion on chili from a local restaurant as a well as a well-established chain restaurant.
First, we tried a bowl of chili and a chili dog from Skipper’s, a local restaurant in Oxford. Skipper’s is known for their glorified pub and comfort food, from mac n cheese bites to gyros.
The chili, pictured above, was served in a white styrofoam cup with a mountain of cheese and onions poised atop the stew, as well as a packet of oyster crackers. Since none of us wanted to spend a ton of money all on chili, we decided to split the bowl four ways.
“I love a good bowl of chili, but I found the chili to be alright, I guess? It wasn’t anything spectacular, and as a group we all agreed that it had a bland aftertaste. I thought the initial mouthful of chili was flavorful enough, but without any spices mixed in or anything to give the dish a bit of heat, the taste of tomato kind of overpowered everything. I had such high hopes for Skipper’s chili and I was unfortunately let down.” Alex said of the chili.
“There was just so much cheese,” said Maggie. “It doesn’t really taste much like anything. But I keep going back in hopes that it will get better. It’s not getting better.”
We also had a chili dog from Skipper’s. “I really like the hot dogs at Skipper’s, so I was really hoping for something good, but I was less than thrilled with the chili dog. After eating my portion, I thought it just tasted like chili with hot dog mixed in. At least Skipper’s still has a good Chicago dog.” Alex said.
“Not a huge fan of chili, even though I was born in Cincinnati so I should be in love with it right?” Blake said. “But comparing Skippers’ chili to my hometown’s staple, it definitely looks more like homemade chili then I’m used to seeing at Skyline.”
This chili dog was all dog no chili. I mean I couldn’t even taste anything besides hot dog and the seeds on the bun. Needless to say I’m not a fan” said Gabby after one bite of the chili dog.
“The bun is so soggy,” says Maggie as she struggles to even hold a piece of the hot dog together. “Skippers should just stick to their Chicago classics and let Cincinnati do their thing with the chilli.”
With the traditional chili con carne out of the way, our group went down High street to Skyline to compare chili con carne with the meat sauce Skyline claims is chili.
“My roommate loves Skyline chili and used to eat it probably once a week, but I prefer their salads. Skyline’s greek salad is surprisingly good, and it’s almost always what I order.” Alex said.
“I am just here for the crackers,” says Maggie as she digs into the little dish of oyster crackers that Skyline greets you with.
“I feel like I’m always getting dragged here by my friends back home,” Blake said.
Anyways, our group decided we would have what Skyline was known for: coney dogs and a three-way. We divided each up four ways.
“Though I’m not a huge fan of Skyline’s chili dogs (or coneys, as they are known), I can eat them alright. With mustard and onions (and a little habanero cheese), I definitely prefer them to Skipper’s, although Skyline’s version of chili is a bit too watery and messy for me.” Alex said. The chili itself is fine, even though it’s not a real chili. Instead, it’s a meat sauce (think marinara sauce, sort of) with mediterranean spices mixed in for good measure. A similar Greek meat sauce is served in the Coney Island chains of Detroit, Michigan.
“The cheese they use is way better,” says Maggie. “I don’t know what they use and I am sure it isn’t much different but it is way better.”
Next was the three-way(pictured above). As Gabby was dividing the three-way up for us, the mess of noodles kind of jiggled the way jell-o might. It was not quite appetizing.
“Is this actually considered chili? There’s not even beans” says Gabby as she attempts to take another bite.
“I personally think the Skyline has more flavor than Skippers. Skippers looked like chili, smelled like it, but sure didn’t taste like it. It had such a bland aftertaste” she added as she compared the two.
Sean Perme, a junior at Miami University grew up in Cincinnati and grew up with Skyline. He doesn’t quite understand our objection to this food.
“Skyline is the cultural heart and soul to Cincinnati,” says Perme. “Although the city is heavily populated by people of German descent, Skyline is a traditional Greek dish which has been passed down for generations and has added to Cincinnati’s diverse heritage. The unique blend of cinnamon and chocolate served over a hot dog or spaghetti is simply the apex of Tri-state cuisine.”
So the verdict? Skyline wins solely because of flavor. Whether we truly believe Skyline is considered authentic chili is a mystery that is yet to be solved.