When people talk about Cincinnati style chili, Camp Washington Chili is often heralded as one of the top spots. As you come down the street, you can’t miss it. With an iconic retro feel, Camp Washington has the look and feel of a diner from the yesteryears. When you walk in, the feeling continues.
Initial impressions of Camp Washington Chili
If you have the time, you can read the numerous framed newspaper and magazine articles that adorn the walls of the place. Literally every spare piece of wall is covered with people praising Camp Washington Chili and its long heritage of chili making. I assume this too will be framed and hung on the wall. No one garners more respect in the journalistic community than Dives without Wives.
The menu is extensive including breakfast and sandwiches, but we were there for only one thing: chili. Our orders were simple: chili cheese fries and cheese coneys with no onions.
Our server was friendly, but it did take a little while to get our food. My guess is the fries need to be made fresh, so we understand the slight delay. It probably wasn’t a long wait, but our excitement and hunger made it feel like an eternity. Finally, our food arrived and our chili tour’s first stop was underway.
The first thing you’ll notice if you’re a Skyline fan is the difference in the chili. Camp Washington chili is slightly meatier, but also less sweet. While I’d feel odd and gross ordering a bowl of chili at Skyline, Camp Washington’s chili is thick enough I could imagine ordering a bowl of it. The coney wasn’t bad, but it was drier than we’d prefer. The fries were good, but at the end of the day, I’d still prefer Skyline’s fries just based on a preference for Skyline chili vs. Camp Washington chili.
Other reviews mention the spiciness of the chili… Maybe we’re accustomed to dumping hot sauce all over things, but I didn’t think it was spicy… I wouldn’t be scared of it if you don’t like spicy foods.
Final thoughts on Camp Washington Chili
Overall, Camp Washington Chili lived up to its name as a must-try spot on anyone’s Cincinnati style chili tour. The staff was friendly, the food was good, and the atmosphere had the retro diner feel we always love at Dives without Wives. To be fair to Camp Washington Chili, I should also point out I ate breakfast here about a year ago, and it too was tasty. If you’re hankering for chili as you drive up I-75, why not stop in and give it a try?
Obviously, our reviews aren’t technical in nature, and we’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave comments below on your experiences at Camp Washington Chili!
The pros: retro diner feel, extensive menu, history of the place, chili thick enough to be its own dish, open 24-hours a day
The cons: coney was too dry, chili was good but not remarkable
Up next: Sam’s Chili