On our first full day in the city, we dove right in and grabbed lunch at a Skyline Chili. Cincinnati chili is an interesting breed. In Texas, we like our chili spicy; usually I prefer it pretty hot, with a strong chili pepper flavor. Here, chili has a marked sweet, almost cocoa-like taste to it that kind of reminds me of mole. It also reminds me of pumpkin bread because, like pumpkin bread, Cincinnati chili contains the strong flavors of allspice, cinnamon, and cloves. It’s different, for sure. However, we enjoyed our lunch at Skyline. I think we enjoyed it quite a bit more this time in the breezy 30-degree weather we were experiencing than we did when we ate at a Skyline during our April visit, when the temperature was milder. Michael ordered the traditional Cincinnati chili which is served over a heaping dish of spaghetti noodles and loaded with layers of cheddar cheese. He told them to hold the onions, of course. I ordered a house salad and a chilito, a flour tortilla filled with chili and cheese. I learned a lesson about Skyline during this lunch: use caution when ordering anything with cheese. My salad consisted of a few pieces of lettuce and tomato buried beneath a thick blanket of shredded cheddar cheese. It was more of a cheese bowl than a salad bowl. I felt like I was on an Easter egg hunt trying to locate my leafy greens beneath the dome of cheese. Skyline is very generous with cheddar cheese, and this is a good thing when you’re ordering chili. Next time I order a salad, I will request a light sprinkling of cheese on top.
I think many of the locals expect that newbies like us will need to be introduced to Cincinnati Chili with kid gloves. When we met with our realtor team a few days later, they told us to wait to go to Skyline until they could go with us. They were surprised when we told them we had already eaten there, and even more surprised when we told them we enjoyed the chili! It does have a unique flavor, but it’s a tasty dish. After lunch at Skyline that day, our next order of business was to find temporary living quarters.