Camp Washington Chili makes Smithsonian list of iconic American eateries

Maria Papakirk couldn't be more proud of her restaurant, or her city.

"We're just honored," said Papakirk, co-owner of Camp Washington Chili with her parents John and Antigone Johnson. "Our city has a lot of things to offer and chili puts us on the map for sure."

On Friday, The Smithsonian Magazine named Camp Washington Chili one of “The 20 Most Iconic Food Destinations Across America.”

“Chili may as well be its own food group in Cincinnati, where the dish has little in common with its Texan and South Carolinian counterparts,” writes Marina Koren at

She goes on to describe Camp Washington as a place that’s operated 24 hours a day since 1940, embodying so much of what is Cincinnati.

And what is Cincinnati, the restaurant and the chili, has quite a draw.

"We get people from all over the country that come here," Papakirk said. "When I'm at the counter, I’ll look outside and I’ll tell my staff look at all the license plates from across the country."

Papakirk contributes much of the chili parlor's success to it's longevity, being in business for 73 years, and for remaining a mom-and-pop owned place that makes everything fresh.

"I think people appreciate that," she said. "We're just part of the community."

In addition, Camp Washington Chili won a prestigious James Beard culinary award in New York City in 2000. The parlor was also featured on the Travel Channel's Man vs. Food in 2011.

“The residents of major American cities have a lot to brag about: sports teams, notable citizens, famous architecture,”  Koren states. “But few things instill as much civic pride like food does. “

Other eateries from across the nation to make the list include The Varsity from Atlanta,  Superdawg Drive-in in Chicago,  and Corky’s BBQ in Memphis.

For a full list of the Smithsonian's iconic eateries visit: nQAT2

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