733 Monmouth Street
Newport has seen many changes over the years, but one constant has been the Sarakatsannis family, whose Dixie Chili has been serving Cincinnati-style chili at their Monmouth Street location since 1929.
The spiffy red and white tiled restaurant dishes up over 150 gallons of chili per day on everything from coneys and waffle fries to salad and spaghetti. Anyone familiar with Cincinnati-style chili knows that the quintessential way to enjoy it is over a bed of spaghetti and topped with shredded cheddar cheese (the 3-way), or with the addition of beans or onions (the 4-way), or with both beans and onions (the 5-way). Dixie Chili goes one further with the connoisseur 6-way, which comes loaded with freshly chopped garlic.
Up until now vegetarians have been relegated to a no-way, but after nine months of trial and error brothers Spiros and Panny have created quite possibly the best vegetarian chili I have ever eaten. I couldn't quite believe my eyes when I saw the sign on the window announcing a vegetarian chili option at the restaurant, and wrongly assumed that it was a Lenten special. Not so - the new vegetarian chili is available all the time, and can be substituted into any dish they offer.
I immediately ordered a 6-way, while my husband opted for the chili salad. Both were out of this world tasty. The chili, made from textured vegetable protein and a secret blend of spices, was absolutely delicious. The addition of raw onion and garlic make for a heady mix - it's a vampire's nightmare, and one that's guaranteed to scare away co-workers for the rest of the day. Finish it off with a few shakes of hot sauce over the top and pow! It's the stuff dreams are made of. Well, my dreams anyway.
Not in a chili mood? The restaurant's homemade Mediterranean vegetable soup is a winner, completely vegetarian and (dare I say) as good as my Mom's. Chock full of thick cut veggies and slow-cooked to draw out the flavor, this savory soup will satisfy. The Greek waffle fries, generously topped with feta cheese and a side of housemade dressing, are another tasty option; and while there are several salad choices, I highly recommend the Greek salad, especially if you like kalamata olives, feta and pepperoncinis.
Confident that their vegetarian chili would be a hit, the brothers are offering jars for sale at all three Dixie Chili locations, and they've recently partnered with Kentucky Proud to sell it at Remke Supermarkets. At $4.99 for six servings, it's good value for money.
The Sarakatsannis family are to be commended; tinkering with a classic recipe can often backfire in the restaurant world, but vegetarians can rejoice - this is the chili we've been hankering for. Stop in to Dixie Chili and have a bowl or two. Your tastebuds will thank you.