Skyline Chili (Cincinnati)

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On the Saturday during the week I was in Dayton, I took a one-hour ride to Cincinnati because I originally wanted to catch a Cyclones ECHL hockey game that evening (ticket not yet purchased) and then a Bengals-Steelers NFL game the following afternoon (ticket already purchased).

I’d heard that if I went to Cincinnati, I ought to check out Skyline Chili, which has several locations in the downtown area. I was dropped off at around Vine and 14th in downtown Cincinnati, and I got off and walked around.* I knew there was one Skyline Chili location on 4th and Sycamore, which was within walking distance. However, when I got to 7th and Vine, I saw one of their locations right there. Yay!

*Long story short, I’d originally planned to take the Greyhound bus from Dayton to Cincinnati, and then back to Dayton. I had already bought a return ticket online that cost just US$19. Unfortunately, even though I called the cab driver whom I knew, two hours ahead of time, it still took them a long, long time to get back to me, and then it was too late. The ride from the motel to the Dayton Greyhound station would take only 14 minutes, but by the time the driver actually arrived, it was so late that he and I negotiated so that he would drive me to Cincinnati instead. The normal price for that kind of a trip by taxi was US$150 – but we negotiated it to make it more reasonable since it was sort of his fault. The other alternative would have been to just re-purchase another Greyhound ticket (which would have been way cheaper), except that the next bus that went to Cincinnati was some eight hours later, at 7:20 p.m. So, the entire day would have been wasted. The Greyhound bus I was supposed to take, was the 11:35 a.m. bus. Besides, Greyhound advises that you show up at least an hour early at the station – which I would find out later was completely unnecessary. Anyway, going back to the cab incident, I called the driver at 9:39 and left a message about picking me up and dropping me off at the Greyhound station. In my message, I mentioned needing to be at the station early enough for an 11:35 departure. When I did not hear back by 9:54, I called the actual cab company, and the operator said a driver” would be there in about half an hour (and call me when he arrived), which still gave me plenty of time. Alas, when the call came in 28 minutes later at 10:22, it was a driver telling me someone would stop by and pick me up in half an hour. Then at 10:53, another call came in, and it was the original driver whom I had left the message for, telling me his boss sent him but he would not be at my place until another 40 minutes!! That would be around 11:33, and since my bus was leaving at 11:35 and it took 14 minutes to get to the station, obviously it was not going to work! Anyway, that is the story…

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I’d never been to Skyline Chili before, so I didn’t know what to expect. I was asked to sit anywhere I wanted, and then a server/waiter would come and take my order. There’s a menu at the table, so I looked through it. Soon enough, one male server guy came over and I asked for his suggestions. He asked me to look at the top right corner of the menu, going over the Chili Ways, which was their signature dish with chili and shredded cheddar cheese served on top of spaghetti. He was very helpful, even showing me the different sizes of the plates when I asked.

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I finally went with a Large 5-Way Chili, which included diced onions and beans, as well as a regular soda. The guy brought over my drink and also a complimentary dish of small biscuits, and suggested I squirt some chili sauce onto them and enjoy as a little snack. Very friendly and nice.

After my chili was prepared, a waitress came over and brought it to me. She was very helpful as well, and offered a bib, which I declined. Sitting there and just observing the staff, they were all helpful and took the time to make sure the diners/guests were satisfied. This was way better service than any restaurant I’d experienced in Vancouver. All servers and waiters/waitresses in Vancouver, you should all seriously be ashamed of yourselves and your sense of entitlement…but I’ll digress.

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The waitress later came back to see how my food was, and chatted me up. She asked me if I was from out of town, so I casually said I was from “Dayton.” (haha) She suggested I check out RedsFest, a fan fest held by the Cincinnati Reds! Alright! Since I was trying to be responsible with my budgeting, I decided that checking out RedsFest was better than the ECHL hockey game, and when food is factored into the equation, I would only be able to pick baseball or hockey. (Yeah, I have a credit card with a huge limit, but still…) The waitress also told me how to get to the RedsFest, which was being held at the convention center.

Going back to Skyline Chili, it’s essentially a fast food place but someone takes your order after you’re seated. They bring the food to you, and you pay at the end. Obviously, if you’re eating the chili, it’s best to wear a bib as it could get messy. I know that customer service people in food places don’t make much money, so I gave them a 20% tip at the end when I went up to pay. They gave better service than any place up in Vancouver, and quite frankly, I wonder why those folks (in Vancouver) even deserve tips to begin with. But that would be a topic for another post.

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Anyway, after Skyline Chili, it was off to RedsFest! I just walked in the direction that the waitress gave me, and then once I saw a couple of men walking with a bunch of kids who were wearing Reds caps, I knew I was on the right track. I asked the men if they knew where RedsFest was being held, and they said to just follow them, as that was where they were going too!

When: Saturday, December 6, 2014
What: Large 5-Way Chili; regular soft drink
Where: Skyline Chili Seventh & Vine, 643 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202
How Much: US$8.19 for the chili
Final Thoughts: Wonderful chili and awesome service. I think they went above and beyond. Simply wonderful!

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