Chili Quest Vol. 2 - Gold Star
I know what you're saying....Vol. 2 of the Chili Quest and I'm already hitting up major chain stores. Hold on a minute. Though Gold Star Chili has quite a few stores in the Tri-State area, they are overwhelmingly deigned as the underdog in Cincinnati -- yet their tagline is "The Flavor of Cincinnati." So it's Skyline who are the evil empire? Crushing dreams of chili entrepreneurs on a daily basis. There's a Skyline literally 100 yards from where I sit and type this. Gold Star has no chance. Well, I'm certainly a fan of both, but I can easily see, after my first trip to Gold Star (this particular store was on the river in Covington, KY, much to the dismay of my bro), why it's the taste Cincinnatians prefer. Skyline has the stock flavor, the stock consistency of Cincy chili -- yet it is mass produced, likely comes from cans or bags before it is three-way or splatter upon a cheese coney. You can taste that mass-production, and compared to Gold Star, Skyline is gruel. If you're looking for the authentic experience of Cincinnati chili, but can't exactly make it to one of the originals, this is your option.
Texturally, Gold Star is a tad thicker, meatier, and visibly fresher. The chain prides itself on making their chili from scratch in each store -- not sure if that's the god's honest truth, but it sure tasted as such. As for it's adherence to what I feel is "real" Cincy chili flavor, that was slightly off -- less chocolate, clove, and cinnamon, but more of the kick of chili powder and the juiciness of the beef balance that lack. Overall a superior chili to the big brother smothering their business. I vividly remember a Gold Star somewhere on High Street back in the day and wish my time-machined self would've kept the place afloat. But alas, you're not going to find a Gold Star within 100 miles of downtown Cincinnati. And that I prefer. If we're recapping though, make the hike to Camp Washington -- until of course my quest takes me to the holy grail of this stuff.