Well, this is exciting—how often does an already-popular food truck open a permanent location? While the truck isn’t going anywhere (so to speak), The Chili Hut’s owner, Fadi Khalilieh, opened his first non-mobile location near downtown Loveland earlier this year.
Operating out of its distinct red-and-white truck for the last nine years, The Chili Hut has been spreading happiness and building an enthusiastic fan base (just read the reviews!) across the city with its authentic Cincinnati-style chili items, walking tacos and slaw.
I took one look at the menu and recruited a friend to head over to check it out. We enjoyed everything we ordered (ahem, more than was reasonable) off the made-from-scratch, locally-sourced, family-recipe menu. With no leftovers in sight, I think I might have a new favorite go-to.
Introducing a new Cincy chili recipe to Chili-Town seems bold, but the immediately likable Fadi was happy to share how his chili, truck and new brick-and-mortar store came to be.
“I’m passionate about my hometown,” explains the Madeira High grad. “I grew up with that signature chili. My dad, Jiries (whom everyone calls Jerry), moved here from Palestine in the 70s. We had a restaurant when I was little—that’s where the family recipe came from … but my dad improved it.” Jerry tinkered with ingredients until he came up with a version he was happy with—thicker, less sweet, with a kick. It’s the recipe Fadi still uses today (with Jerry’s blessing).
Surprisingly, Fadi never considered working in the restaurant biz. His food truck started in 2013 as a weekend side-hustle, when this business and education major found himself in a challenging job market following college and grad school.
Fadi, who planned to teach, began refurbishing the truck he fondly remembers as “a death-trap on wheels.” He then hit the road and has been converting customers and skeptics to lifelong fans ever since. “I love changing the perception of Cincinnati chili for out-of-towners or people who don’t normally like it—I love it when they say this is their new favorite.”
The extra space at the Loveland store gave Fadi the opportunity to expand the menu. You’ll still find your truck faves, but there’s also grilled cheese, salads and paninis, too. I have my eye on the Gouda Grilled Cheese for my next visit—plus a side of chili, which I might just pour over the top.
Don’t be deceived by the short menu—off-menu ordering is definitely a thing here. You could go classic (jalapeños optional), a slaw dog, or a spicy mett-style coney (called the Eden Pork), but some regulars get creative. “What I call the yin-and-yang bowl is popular—half chili, half slaw,” Fadi recommends. “Adding hot dog slices to ‘ways’ is a common request, too.”
True to its tagline, “It’s ALWAYS Chili in Cincinnati.” Come browse the menu, get hungry, stop in—the store is just around the corner from Loveland Dairy Whip (spot the truck? You’re close!). Or find out where the truck will be—it’s all online. Fadi also recommends CincinnatiFoodTruckAssociation.com to find great food truck fare across the city.
TheChiliHut.com | 390 Loveland Madeira Rd