Gold Star Chili's new vegetarian 3-Way is surprisingly good

Gold Star Chili introduced a meat-free vegetarian chili on March 3.

click to enlarge Gold Star Chili's new vegetarian chili is available until April 16. - Photo: facebook.com/goldstarchili
Photo: facebook.com/goldstarchili
Gold Star Chili's new vegetarian chili is available until April 16.

As a Cincinnatian, it is my patriotic duty to the Queen City to eat and report back on anything smothered in chili. So when I heard Gold Star was coming out with a meat-free chili option, I went to the nearest location to give it a try.

I should probably preface this by saying I’m that person. By this I mean I was a vegetarian for a year in college, lecturing my friends on animal cruelty one week and tossing my inhibitions out the window for a basket of chicken wings the next. You’ve met one of me. But in my experience, I came to understand the challenge that cutting meat out of your diet can pose.

Not being able to eat whatever I wanted was the most difficult. Eating the imitation meat products — the flavors of which were sometimes loosely reminiscent of the real thing — when what I really craved was a giant, juicy burger, is ultimately what tripped me up. Imitation bacon or salty discs of something trying to convince my tastebuds it’s deli meat — I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten my hopes up over a meat-free option disguising itself under the flavor profile of the food it’s trying to replicate. Oh the woes of being a vegetarian.

That’s why when my friend and I sat down to compare Gold Star’s vegetarian chili up against the original recipe, I took the process very seriously. This was an eating-an-entire-packet-of-crackers-to-cleanse-my-palate-in-between-bites kind of business.

The chili is available on a 3-, 4- or 5-Way as well as on any chili menu items. We ordered two 3-Ways; one topped with the new vegetarian chili recipe, the other with the original. All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by how comparable they were.

When eaten with the spaghetti noodles, you’ll have a hard time nailing down any differences taste-wise. It’s only when you get the chili alone that you’ll notice a little more kick in the vegetarian option, which I actually preferred. Other than that, you could’ve put me in a sensory deprivation tank with nothing but these two dishes and I would be hard pressed to tell the difference.

Made of vegetable protein, the chili is gluten- and soy-free. Nutritionally, it doesn’t stray far from the original, except for having a slightly lower calorie count. And if we’re on the subject of appearances, the two menu items are virtually identical. Both are the same color and have the same meat-sauce consistency that Cincinnati-style chili is known for. If you could call replicating the appearance of Gold Star chili a feat, then the chain is in store for a round of applause.

The recipe was introduced in restaurant locations March 3, just in time for Lent. So if you’re in need of a vegetarian option on a Friday afternoon or are just a fellow Cincinnati chili connoisseur, you have until April 16 to try it out for yourself.

More info at goldstarchili.com.


Scroll to read more Food News articles
Join the CityBeat Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.

Newsletters

Join CityBeat Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.