National Chili Dog Day arrives on July 25 this year. The timing is always perfect: a hearty hot dog, heaping with homemade chili, cheese, and diced onions, is one of the iconic tastes of summer. This year, celebrate great chili dogs in the Buckeye State by making these icons, new and old, a stop on your next Ohio road trip.
Phillip’s Coney Island (Columbus)
Phillip’s Coney Island served Columbus’ Franklinton neighborhood for more than 100 years before their building was razed a couple years back. But not to worry! The family keeps the tradition alive by serving hot dogs and burgers… in food truck form! Keep an eye on their website to find out where they will pop up next in Columbus. When you find them, order a pair of their signature Phillip’s Original Coneys, topped with house-made coney sauce, shredded cheddar, mustard, and onions on a steamed bun.
Tony Packo’s (Toledo)
Tony Packo’s is a Toledo institution since 1932 serving up Hungarian favorites. You can’t mention chili dogs in Ohio without calling them to mind. The restaurant has grown to five locations around northwest Ohio including the original on Front Street. The Hungarian-style hot dog is more sausage than traditional hot dog loaded with mustard, onions, and rich chili sauce. Don’t forget to add the shredded cheese! Add a side of fried pickles and finish with fresh baked strudel.
Skyline Chili (Cincinnati)
Skyline Chili has far outgrown its Cincinnati roots, with locations across Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Florida. But it’s still a Queen City icon, named for Cincinnati’s skyline as seen from Price Hill on the west side. That’s where founder Nicholas Lambrinides opened the first Skyline in 1949. Seventy years in and they’re still using the original recipe for their chili, piled high on hot dogs and mounded with cheese. Because of Skyline, Cincinnati chili has become a defined style, flavored with a complex mix of spices that usually includes chili powder, cumin, allspice, and a touch of cinnamon.
O’Betty’s Red Hot (Athens)
O’Betty’s is a favorite dive of Ohio University students, and it’s a perfect stopping point on any road trip through southeast Ohio. Squeeze into the two-room eatery and enjoy the kitschy décor with plentiful nods to burlesque stars, both past and present. Order a giant plate of fries (hand-cut daily, soaked in water and fried twice) and the Dixie, a hot dog smothered with house-made chili sauce, diced onions, sharp aged cheddar, and stadium mustard.
Happy Dog (Cleveland)
Happy Dog in Cleveland’s Gordon Square Arts District has earned a name for itself through its creative toppings on hot dogs and burgers. They offer more than 50 options of meats, sauces, cheeses, pickled ingredients, and other crazy additions (how about a fried egg or Cheetos?). To create a fun variation on a classic chili dog, start with a hot dog and add their chorizo chili or house-made sloppy joe sauce. Then try nacho cheese or sharp cheddar, fresh or pickled onions, and a dash of sauce, like yellow, stadium, or black truffle honey mustard.
Where’s your favorite chili dog in the Buckeye State?