I kind of hate that I’m lumped in with the “Cincinnati food” crowd who allegedly eats hoards and hoards of Graeter’s, LaRosa’s pizza, Montgomery Inn, and Skyline. I guess this is the downfall of generalizations and stereotypes, huh? (Message!)
I’m going to get candid, and I’m going to make comparisons. Additionally, I’ll be giving alternative meal ideas. I also realize I’m going to be judged.
Graeter’s has good, quality ice cream. Do I eat it often? Nope. I eat it maybe two times per year. I much prefer UDF ice cream because it’s far less rich in my opinion. Also, UDF has really, really great Cookies ‘N Cream (read: they also don’t put entire cookies in the recipe; instead, they use pieces of cookies like normal human beings). The best, in my opinion. And the milkshakes! I digress. I’ll take soft serve ice cream (Greenhill’s Creamy Whip, Mt. Healthy Dairy Bar, Putz’s, and Zip Dip, anyone?) or UDF over Graeter’s any day.
My opinion here may be considered to be a moot one to some because I don’t like barbecue sauce across the board, but even without the sauce I think Montgomery Inn‘s ribs are often way overdone and always overpriced. The Saratoga chips are also entirely overcooked. (I see a theme here.) I do, however, appreciate their lunch menu. Especially when I’m not paying because that’s overpriced, too. There are plenty of alternatives to this place, and I highly suggest trying any of them. If you must try Montgomery Inn for good measure, I highly recommend the boathouse. The views really are very serene and spectacular. Good date place, too, if you like spending a ton of money to stare into your significant other’s eyes (or into your iPhone) and for mediocre food.
Contrary to popular Cincinnati belief, I don’t think that LaRosa’s pizza is the fifth best ‘za in the city. In fact, it’s hardly the fifth best item on the menu. In Cincinnati (chains included), I will say that—in alphabetical order and just off the top of my head—A Tavola, Dewey’s, Lucy Blue’s, Noce’s, and NYPD all serve much better pies than Buddy LaRosa does. Does that mean I think the pizza’s gross? Nope. I just don’t prefer it. It is a rarity that I order this “Cincinnati favorite” and I think that many of the hoagies (steak and Philly chicken specifically), the breadsticks, calzones, and salads usurp this pizza’s “greatness”. Hell, the ranch dressing is even better than the pizza. Unless you go to Kings Island. Because there the pizza is the slam. Do they lace it with crack, or what? I digress. Again. Here: Cincinnati isn’t known for its great pizza scene and we residents catch a bad rap for eating LaRosa’s (and I gladly will if it’s in front of me, don’t get it twisted), but there are a number of other options so many of us would choose before we even consider LaRosa’s pizza.
Call me a contrarian, but I have always preferred Gold Star Chili over Skyline. While I don’t really prefer either of them (see my thoughts on chili here), I remain brand loyal to the former. My opinion on this goes into more detail on another post.
Don’t get me wrong. I am okay with the aforementioned restaurants. But I’m also okay with Papa John’s pizza and Justin Bieber, so there’s that. As you can see, and as I’ve pointed out, there are always better alternatives to these restaurants. I do eat at these places sometimes and there are absolutely better places to go, but I hate being categorized as a fan of them simply because I’m from this city. I will always love Cincinnati and everything it has to offer (especially its unique and varying fare, as I dote on in my entire blog). Just because I don’t prefer the “Cincinnati Core Four” doesn’t mean I’m not a fan of all of the fantastic food options that are available in this great city (just in case this blog is not already indicative of my opinion of that).
I get it. We are a proud city and it’s tough to swallow the criticism regarding the place we love most. Even I am quick to shoot down the naysayers. But I feel this post needed to be written. There are so many wonderful places to eat that Cincinnati has to offer. Seriously. Set the Core Four aside and try them.