Best Of 2019

Best Cheese Coney You Can Only Get Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.: Cretan’s Chili Restaurant

Well-hidden in Carthage, Cretan’s Chili Restaurant is an Edward-Hopper-esque landscape of red vinyl, faded linoleum and wood-paneling, serving Coke in Styrofoam cups and sandwich platters from a menu that’s essentially Arial font on laminated printer paper. George Kyrios and his sister Lilly have worked at Cretan’s since they were kids — their parents, Katina and John, founded the business in 1948. It was originally a candy store that happened to sell sandwiches and evolved into a chili parlor in the 1960s. George makes the chili daily from scratch — cut, ground and blended with spices according to his father’s top-secret recipe. No word on what those spices are, but there’s definitely a liberal dose of clove mixed into each batch, giving Cretan’s a kick. It’s thicker than some other local chilis, which makes their cheese coneys slightly more stable than those at name-brand chains. You get the standard dog, chili and cheese in a steamed white bun, with the option to order an extra side of cheese if you deem it necessary. The limited hours and cash-only economy make Cretan’s less accessible than some other 24-hour-style stops, but 70 years of history can’t be wrong. Cretan’s Chili Restaurant, 7039 Vine St., Carthage, 513-821-1203.