My friends to the south have long talked about their admiration for Dixie Chili. With a few locations, we stopped by the most well-known of them… Downtown Newport. Much like Skyline, Dixie Chili has an established branding theme that uses bright colors to make the location feel a lot like an old classic chili parlor, but with a new and clean feel. The walls were adorned with pictures of the area, something I find to be a necessity for a good Cincinnati style chili parlor. Overall, the inside was clean, bright, and inviting.
A less than welcoming start at Dixie Chili
Our orders were simple, a three-way, a couple cheese coneys, and an order of chili cheese fries. The problem, however, was we didn’t have any clue about the ordering process at Dixie Chili. The lady at the front desk gave Doug a flag for his meal and that was it. We had no clue we were supposed to pick up a tray. After he figured that out, I realized that my order didn’t come with a flag… I assume that meant I was supposed to stand at the counter until it was ready. No one from the register to the kitchen ever seemed all that happy to see us or help us. When my food was finally ready they just put it on my tray and walked away. I can’t say they seemed too excited to see us. By the time the chili cheese fries came out they seemed to be a little friendlier with us, but I never got the idea that southern hospitality was a priority.
The food at Dixie Chili
Confusion of ordering aside, the food was pretty good. The three-way and coneys had chili that was thick and meaty, probably ranking in at 2nd or 3rd in our overall chili scoring. The real winner, however, was the chili cheese fries. Dixie Chili uses waffle fries, the only one on our tour to do so, and it makes all the difference in the world. You see, a waffle fry acts like a scooper. Each bite has just the right amount of chili and cheese on it. Traditional chili fries leave you with slimy fries and a pile of stuff left over. Not so with waffle fries. Well done Dixie Chili, well done.
Final thoughts on Dixie Chili
So Dixie Chili is pretty different from all the other places we visited being it’s a chain restaurant and all. For that reason, it stacks up most closely with Skyline and Goldstar in terms of style and feel. The inevitable fact is you lose some charm when you’re a chain. With that being said, the food was good and the atmosphere still felt diner-ish. If I’m comparing to Skyline, Skyline still takes the cake, but Dixie Chili reigns supreme in the world of chili cheese fries.
Pros: amazing chili cheese fries, good 3-way
Cons: Not very welcoming to us, chain restaurant vibe