That's Soooo Cincinnati

Three-Way Here to Stay

Some people might get confused about the one-way streets downtown. And those in government are continually lambasted about how public trust is a two-way street. But everyone in Cincinnati knows there's nothing wrong with a three-way. And that's thanks mostly to Skyline Chili and the Lambrinides family.

For all the many contributions to the culinary world that this region has provided — most notably its tasty hometown ice creams and German brew — it's the oft-described "funny way" we like our chili that usually has the rest of the country talking. There isn't an out-of-town visitor who hasn't been asked if they tried Skyline yet. And when told what exactly it is, those same out-of-towners can quickly be divided into two groups: "unadventurous" or "converted."

Admittedly, there are locals who themselves aren't fans of Cincinnati-style chili. Unfathomable, but true. They usually hail from parts southwest who cling to the notion that good chili must be chunky and include so much Tabasco and pepper that you never actually taste the chili. Those people should consider moving elsewhere, because if you're a born-and-bred Cincinnatian, the three-way is here to stay.

Skyline began when in 1949 when Greek immigrant Nicholas Lambrinides and three sons opened a modest chili parlor in Price Hill. The derivation of the name, as the story goes, comes from the view through the kitchen window, which showcased one of the best views of the Cincinnati skyline around. Hence, Skyline Chili was born.

Now, well over 100 such restaurants dot the regional map. A growing number are sprouting throughout the state as well and popping up in Michigan and Florida, among others.

Like any good thing, there are knockoffs. Some are decent in their own right, but nothing can touch the original. In fact, the secret recipe — rumored to include bits of licorice and chocolate — is tightly guarded and hasn't changed since Nicholas opened the original Glenway shop.

The Lambrinides' family has since sold the business, but their contribution to local grub lives on. A Skyline three-way during lunch or a cheese coney after the bars close — that's soooo Cincinnati.

THAT'S SOOOO CINCINNATI highlights the area's quirky assets, hidden gems, unique personalities and criminal secrets — and reprises one of the most popular features in CityBeat's 10-year history.

Scroll to read more News Feature articles


Join CityBeat Newsletters

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