Battle of the Chilis: Nashville's oldest restaurant also serves three-way chili

Varallo's serves spaghetti, chili and tamale
Nashville three-way chili
Posted at 9:34 PM, Jan 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-21 21:34:55-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Chili is Cincinnati's thing, right? Well, the oldest restaurant in the state of Tennessee just so happens to be a chili restaurant in downtown Nashville.

At Varallo's Restaurant, customers will find a three-way on the menu, but it might not be what someone from the Tri-State expects.

Frank Varallo's three-way includes spaghetti, chili and tamale — no cheese.

Owner Bob Peabody said while the tamales might be new to Cincinnati residents, they do serve their chili the same way.

"Now we do serve it over noodles like the Cincinnati style — either long noodles or chopped noodles," Peabody said.

The restaurant has had a few Bengals fans stop by this week to sample the chili, and though the styles are different, Peabody said people seem to love the Nashville version too.

"That's what's kind of fun about chili," Peabody said. "You do have the Skyline version, you have the Varallo's version. There's almost a limitless number of ways to make chili."

Peabody said he has tasted Skyline's famous three-way, conceding Cincinnati's chili scene is bigger.

"I was traveling through the area a couple of years ago and made it a point to stop at Skyline and try the chili, because of course Cincinnati is known as the chili capital of the world," Peabody said.

Still, he believes his chili tops them all.

"I tried the Cincinnati chili — I do think I like the Varallo's chili a little bit better," Peabody said. "I'm biased."

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