Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Price Hill Chili


The Denise!

the patty 5
the bun 6.7
the fixin's 6.6
the sides 6.2
total package 5.6

accessibility 8.3
the service 3.8
cleanliness 7.2
the price 7.3
"it" factor 5.1


Located on the city's west side (Map It!), Price Hill Chili has become an iconic fixture in Cincinnati's history. Admittedly, PHC is not well-known for its burgers, which we learned during our visit. Prices are definitely cheap—a burger for under five bucks, but sometimes you get what you pay for. We recommend breakfast or its signature chili, but its burgers are best left in the freezer. As you will read below, we also had a pretty rough service experience, but it all seemed to add to the Westside lore.

Visiting Price Hill Chili was like having sex with a modern-day Bo Derek. The experience was pretty cool, and you want to tell all of your friends about it...but an hour after you leave, your stomach starts to hurt and you realize the hype was better than the actual product. The burger was ok. The fries covered in chili and cheese were ok. Everything was ok, but you're still glad you experienced a Cincinnati tradition.

PHC has long been one of my favorite places to grab lunch in Cincinnati. Most of the things I have tried there have been great (especially the turkey grilled cheese and chili cheese fries), so I was excited for our PHC tour stop. My burger was pretty good for a place that is known for their chili and breakfast, and the chili fries were awesome (as usual). Some of the crew had trouble with service, but mine was fine. I love the atmosphere at PHC, as it is chock full of 'Nati sports memorabilia. While I’m sure I’ll trek over to the Westside to eat at PHC many more times in the future, I’m not sure that I’ll be ordering the burger again.

Price Hill Chili was a stop on the burger tour I wouldn't want to repeat. I didn't even finish it! My burger was overcooked, not cooked the way I ordered it, and our waitress offered a quick "sorry" rather than correcting the kitchen's mistake. While I certainly understand the difficulty of serving 12 people (all ordering burgers no less!), to say I was disappointed in the customer service would be an understatement. I thought maybe the chili cheese fries would redeem the place, but alas, they were soggy and bland. Maybe Price Hill Chili is better suited for eggs, bacon and toast; not bacon, ground beef and a bun.

I guess the name says it all. Price Hill Chili has good chili. They make a mediocre burger at best. Mine actually came with all condiments just as ordered (unlike some). Obviously frozen patty. Cheese wasn't great. Bacon was a little rubbery. If it weren't for the chili cheese fries, I would have been fairly displeased with the whole experience. I would go back to PHC for the chili. But definitely not for a burger, sorry.

PHC is a great maze of rooms and families getting their eat on! This is obviously a place to meet and have time with those you love. The food is good, diner style fare. I don't think the patty was fresh but it was cooked well. The fixings were great! Fresh veggies and crisp bacon...who could ask for more! While PHC isn't known for its burgers, I think it still held its own!

I guess judging the PHC experience based on its burgers would be like judging Michael Jordan's athletic ability based on his baseball career. It's a chili parlor that delivers on tasty chili. I got a cup of it and poured it all over my burger. Yummo. Take a field trip to the Weirdside for a saltier, sweeter version of Skyline.

Price Hill looks incredible for breakfast (although I don't know that) but there specialty is NOT a burger! Keep looking.

Ordering the bacon on my burger extra crispy made for a delightful, but not phenomenal burger. Unlike some of my Cirque friends, my order was correct, my drink and food came in a reasonable amount of time, and the food was good. If I'm ever on the Westside again, I would stop by PHC for some breakfast.

We may have to create a new score for PHC; I don't think that "Sondra" quite covers it. "Cousin Pam's Hairy Upper Lip" may be more appropriate. Poor service happens sometimes, I understand. But this was not just a case of poor service, this was unashamed and unapologetically BAD service. I'm talking 'you'll get your drink when I damn well feel like it if at all' bad. For the sake of brevity, I'll stop there. The food: of what I ordered 50% of the items ever came to the table (yes I asked, twice) but 100% made it to the bill (of course). Of what I received, the food was bad. I ordered a bacon cheese burger with an egg, and the only redeeming quality of the entire meal was the egg. It was cooked to perfection. Kudos to the egg chef; the rest of you are fired. The bacon was fatty and undercooked, and the patty was straight from the McDonald's playbook. I wont be going back to Price Hill Chili and I would recommend that you steer clear whenever possible.

Well, our first trip to the Westside was very memorable, unfortunately it was memorable for all the wrong reasons. I actually had high hopes for the joint when we walked up to the building. The place was packed. Thanks to NM^3 we had reservations. The highlight for me was the wait staff's lack of interest. It was actually amusing. Head to Price Hill Chili for breakfast I guess, cause their burger ain't worth a damn. If I venture back into the maze they call the "Westside" it'll be to catch a panther football game or drive-thru Trotta's for a dynamite pizza, not a PHC burger.

As an Eastsider who has lived most of my 26 years in Cincinnati, this was my first trip to Price Hill Chili. We'll see how many times I make it over to the Westside to visit their establishment in my next 26 years. I'm gonna take a wild guess and say that it won't be much because our experience there was wrought with mistakes. The high point of the burger was the bun, but I was too busy being concerned that everyone had a plate in front of them, let alone their correct order, to really enjoy the burger. I did really love the sunny, glass enclosed patio where we sat and the thought that I was broadening my horizons by visiting the Westside, but that was about it.

I enjoyed my burger, but I don't think PHC is known for it. If I ever go back, I think it will be for breakfast, not burgers. And definitely not the stellar service.


  1. Mediocre burgers and even worse pictures. Really? Who's the guy in the hat with the huge face? And what about that guy next to him licking his teeth?

  2. Bradley is clearly trying to make us look bad.

    Mission accomplished.

  3. compositionally it's a nice photo of you two. and it authentically captures the cooperation of your teeth, jaws and tongue. you're welcome, vanity smurfs.

  4. as the name implies, it's CHILI that defines the forte of this eatery, by the sounds of it.
    i'm convinced by your reviews that either a chili supper or a fabulous breakfast would lure me to PHC. thanks for the critiques.

    Steve and Chris, Brad's right, it's a good picture, depicting your PHC mealtime activity and showing what a good time you were having...

  5. From an actual Westsider here...*looks around to make sure no one hears me*...Price Hill Chili sucks unless you're there for a greasy spoon breakfast. I have no idea why it's so popular. I like it...for breakfast.

    Finding a good burger in this town is a rough gig.

  6. if you want a good westside burger, go to wild mike's and get the western burger. good stuff!i'd also be interested in hearing what you have to say about ollie's trolley's burgers.

  7. Thanks for the ideas. We'll look in to Wild Mike's. I've been there but never had a burger. We are short on ideas for Westside tour stops.

  8. Frozen burgers all around! Not one of their products are done fresh. They pre-cook bacon/Goetta/etc at 6AM so they don't have to for the rest of the day. Rubbery? I'd say so. Working in the industry I'm all for Mise-en-place (Pre-preperation...Just google it), but when the food quality suffers it's a different story.

    PHC does well because people have gone there for decades. And because Sam (Owner) "remembers them". Ever notice he calls you sweetheart and not by your name?