Looking for a Hot 3-Way: Chili, Cincinnati-style at Chili John's

Dear Mr. Gold:

I’m originally from Cincinnati, where a bevy of chili parlors (Skyline, Gold Star, Camp Washington) serves chili with spaghetti (referred to as a 3-way). Of course, the coney (a hot dog with chili and cheese) is also a staple, and you can add onions and beans to the chili to make it a 4- or 5-way. The chili is spicy and often referred to as Texas-style, with a hint of cinnamon and other spices. Is there anyplace in Los Angeles that serves chili even remotely similar to this nectar of the gods?

Please don’t mention Pink’s, the Velveeta of chili parlors.


Dear Dave:

There’s no need to be cruel to Pink’s — if you had just moved from Hollywood to Cincinnati, you would probably be writing CityBeat to find out where you might get a chili-kraut dog at 3 in the morning.

I happen to like Cincinnati chili — I have been known to route flights to Europe through the Cincinnati airport just so I could have a crack at the Gold Star stand in the Delta terminal — but Cincinnati chili has plenty of its own detractors, who object to the Greek-American product’s slurrylike consistency, mildness and sweet pie-spice seasoning. Cincinnati chili has never caught much of a toehold in Los Angeles, although parlors have popped up over the years — a place called Red Rock Chili Co. in the Westfield Mall by the Santa Anita racetrack in Arcadia often has Cincinnati-style chili on the menu, and even coneys, although I’d reserve them for a quick appetizer on the way to a lunch of soup dumplings at Din Tai Fung.

But there is always Chili John’s, a ’40s-era spinoff of a century-old chili parlor in Green Bay, and the chili is pretty outstanding. What Chili John’s serves isn’t Cincinnati chili but a spicy, all-but-extinct Wisconsin style (and I, for one, am thankful for that), but they do serve it more or less as a 4-way, with available spaghetti, beans, onions and shredded cheese. There are hot dogs. And you can even get it as a 3-way or a 5-way if that is your inclination. I tend to go for the extraspicy with beans. 2018 W. Burbank Blvd., Burbank, (818) 846-3611.

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Chili John's

2018 W. Burbank Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91506



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