Growing up in Cincinnati, I ate a lot of Skyline Chili. But my very favorite visits took place after Cincinnati Reds games, when we'd join the stream of fans who made a beeline for the Skyline a few blocks from the stadium and feast on post-game Coneys. Since we do have access to Skyline here in Columbus (there are 13 locations in Central Ohio), I never feel the need to track it down during trips back home, and so I hadn't been in quite a while.

For my return visit, I stopped into the Pickerington location. Not quite as cosmopolitan as that downtown-Cincy chili parlor, but no matter. The straightforward comfort food was just exactly as I remembered.

Skyline specializes in Cincinnati-style chili, a cinnamon-spiked, bean-less version with Greek roots. I usually go for a three-way, which is just chili over spaghetti noodles and under a heap of shredded cheese. The menu seemed much bigger than I remembered, with a bunch of salads and veggie-filled burritos, but I don't see any reason to move beyond the traditional favorites.

Cincinnati chili is definitely more of a love-it or hate-it type of thing, especially for people who didn't grow up on it. I can't even really put into words why I like it so much, but there's just something perfect about the thin layer of chili/melted cheesy goodness that forms where the cheddar comes in contact with the hot chili. And the chili itself has enough going on flavorwise that I don't even notice the lack of beans, etc. (If you do miss them, though, you can order a four-way topped with grated onions or a five-way topped with onions and beans.

Another Skyline classic is the Cheese Coney, a hot dog topped with mustard, chili, onions and a whole bunch of cheddar. One of them makes a good appetizer/snack.

Chili juice! Looks gross, but goes great with the little bowl of oyster crackers served with every meal here.

Skyline Chili

Multiple locations