Best of

Here you can view a list of all of my current favorite places. There are so many components regarding why I Love Cincinnati, and below are a few more helpful signifiers as to why. (In alphabetical order, of course.) [Note: not all of these places have been reviewed on Tour de Cincinnati. If a place has been reviewed, it has been linked.]

Best of the Best

These are places I like to go or dream of going often:

American Sign Museum (Camp Washington)
The Sign Museum is my favorite place in Cincinnati. If you have any interest at all in art, design, typography, signage, and/or history: this place is a must visit. If you’re buying General Admission tickets, make it a point to buy them at the same time you schedule a guided tour. It’s the same price as GA tickets, and it’s absolutely worth it.

Findlay Market (OTR)
Ohio’s oldest continuously operated public market, featuring everything from meat, fish, cheese, and ethnic foods, to flowers, produce, pet goods, and excellent restaurants such as Eli’s BBQ, French Crust, Harvest Pizzeria, and Pho Lang Thang.

Jungle Jim’s International Market (Eastgate and Fairfield)
More than just a grocery, Jungle’s is a a true culinary experience and people travel near and far to get it. It’s a one stop shop for all things wonderful, including great beer (get a pint while you shop!) and wine, an extensive cheese shop, international food, and natural goods. There are also beer, wine, and cigar tastings; cooking classes, tours, and demonstrations.

Senate Pub (OTR – another review)
My favorite restaurant in Cincinnati serves gourmet street food and I’ve yet to try a menu item I dislike. The Poutine is a must and is topped with local cheese curds, braised shortrib, and gravy (add an egg for $2). For your meal, order a burger or hot dog—recommendations are the Trailer Park and Spuds Mackenzie, but be sure to ask about the Dog of the Day.

Current Favorite Dishes

Garlic Three Cheese Burger – BRU Burger Bar (CBD)
Beef patty cooked medium with Swiss, American, and mozzarella cheeses, plus roasted garlic and truffle aioli. Cheesy, garlicky, condimenty goodness, served with fresh cut fries for an additional $2. Get the house-made ketchup and honey mustard.

Goetta, egg, and cheese sandwich – Eckerlin Meats (OTR/Findlay Market)
Just as it sounds. A simple breakfast sandwich featuring the best goetta in the world, served on an NCH Bakery bun, and for only $3.50.

Loco Moco – E+O Kitchen (Hyde Park)
Sesame steak, fried egg, tare, gravy, and steamed rice. A fancy take on a contemporary staple of Hawaiian street food.

Mike’s Mix chicken wings – Wild Mike’s (multiple westside locations)
Crispy traditional wings smothered in Mike’s Mix sauce, a signature mix of wing sauces; served with delicious ranch dressing. 

Shahi Paneer – Delhi Palace Indian Cuisine (Silverton)
Grated homemade cheese cooked with tomatoes and cream sauce.

Food and restaurant details, plus recommendations for each:

Asian

It’s really difficult to narrow down my favorite Asian restaurants, given the broad genre. But my go-to Thai, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean restaurants would be:

Green Papaya (Oakley)
Cuisine: Thai
Recommended dishes: shrimp shumai to start, teriyaki salmon, mango fried rice, and TaTa roll (another review)

Kyoto Japanese Cuisine (Symmes Twp.)
Cuisine: Japanese
Recommended dish: hibachi chicken lunch box

Quán Hapa (OTR)
Cuisine: Asian streetfood
Recommended dishes: musubi to start, loco moco

Riverside Korean (Covington)
Cuisine: Korean
Recommended dishes: Beef Bul Go Gi and Dol Sot Bi Bim Bab

Sukhothai Thai Cuisine (Montgomery)
Cuisine: Thai
Recommended dishes: Yellow Curry (in coconut milk with pineapple, onion, potatoes, carrots and green peppers)

Suzie Wong’s (East Walnut Hills)
Cuisine: Asian fusion
Recommended dishes: beef bibimbap, crab rangoon, Mongolian chicken, Thai fried rice, and BonBonerie opera cream cake

Wabi Sabi (Covington)
Cuisine: half-price sushi
Recommended rolls: Bengal, Dancing Shrimp, Dragon, and Volcano

Breweries and Local Beer Pushers

Listermann Brewing Company (Evanston)
The details: brewery and brewing supply store with ample taproom seating (including outside), board games, and TVs
Favorite beers: are Satisfied?, Shamrock Shake, and any and all IPAs 

Food optionRenegade Grille is served onsite

Nine Giant (Pleasant Ridge)
The details: microbrewery in the heart of Pleasant Ridge’s business district
Favorite beers: they always have new stuff on tap and it’s always good

Food option: small but mighty menu onsite with counter service

Streetside (Columbia Tusculum)
The details: brewery with small patio, plus seating for a couple dozen inside
Favorite beers: berliner weisses; Suh, Brah?; I Drink Your Milkshake!

Food option: small menu onsite, bring your own, food trucks on occasion

Taft’s Ale House (OTR) and Taft’s Brewpourium (Spring Grove Village)
The details: Taft’s Ale House is a beautiful renovated church in OTR that features a full menu onsite, while it’s spinoff, the Brewpourium, is a bit more low key and serves pizza with a side of board games
Favorite beers: Maverick chocolate porter, among many others

Urban Artifact (Pleasant Ridge)
The details: brewery known for its wild and sour beer
Favorite beers: any of them, though the Midwest Fruit Tart ales are excellent

Food option: Wildfire Pizza onsite

West Side Brewing (Westwood)
The details: large taproom space with TVs (to watch FC Cincinnati!), cornhole (it is the westside, after all), daily events, and food trucks
Favorite beers: double IPA, hefeweizen, ESB
Note: dog friendly every Wednesday

For a map and complete guide to local brewery taprooms, click here.

The Growler House (East Walnut Hills)
The details: 30 beers on tap, half of which are dedicated to local breweries; retail beer; ability to bring in your own food, including order O Pie O or Suzie Wong’s
Note: dog friendly

Higher Gravity (Northside)
The details: craft beer and wine store where you can choose a beer from 14 rotating taps, or purchase retail beer to drink onsite or to take with you; featuring TVs, board games, and food delivery from neighboring Chameleon Pizza
Note: dog friendly

rhinehaus (OTR)
The details: downtown bar featuring a decent beer selection; fantastic for watching Premier League on weekend mornings; bring your own food
Note: dog friendly

The Root Cellar (Kenwood)
The details: specialty beer, wine, and champagne store; build your own six packs

Breakfast

Cheapside Cafe (CBD)
The place: order at the counter fare with wonderful decor and ambiance
Recommended dishes: challah French toast and breakfast sandwich

Eckerlin Meats (OTR/Findlay Market)
The place: butcher with a permanent brick and mortar store in Findlay Market
Recommended dish: goetta, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich for $3.50

Maplewood (CBD)
The place: beautiful, California-inspired restaurant featuring order at the counter service and an excellent menu of breakfast, lunch, and dinner items.
Recommended dishes: Breakfast Sandwich, goetta, ricotta pancakes

Santorini Restaurant (Cheviot)
The place: no-frills diner with American and Greek food options for very inexpensive
Recommended dish: breakfast special (two eggs, breakfast meat, hash browns, and toast or plain pancake)

Taste of Belgium (multiple locations)
The place: Belgian-inspired bistro serving brunch and dinner, known for their authentic Belgian waffles and featuring an expansive beer selection
Recommended dishes
: ‘Nati Crepe with maple syrup and Belgian frites; Waffle & Chicken

Burgers

Cheeseburger – Quatman Cafe (Norwood, Mason)
Cheeseburger, fries, and drink special for $7.50 every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday

Garlic Three Cheese Burger – BRU Burger Bar (CBD)
Beef patty cooked medium with Swiss, American, and mozzarella cheeses, plus roasted garlic and truffle aioli

The Gordo – Gordo’s Pub & Grill (Norwood)
Roasted poblanos, mushrooms, onions, smoked bacon, Boursin cheese, and mayonnaise

Streetcar Burger – BrewRiver Creole Kitchen (East End) and BrewRiver at Sonder Brewing (Mason)
American cheese, shredded lettuce, red onion, house-made kimchi tartar sauce, and house-made pickles

Zip Burger – Zip’s Cafe (Mt. Lookout)
American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles

For a complete list of the best burgers in Cincinnati, click here.

Cheap Eats

There are a ton of outstanding restaurants in the greater Cincinnati area, but not all of them are easy on the wallet. Thankfully there are a number of places that don’t break the bank:

Dope! Noodle and Dumpling Shop (CBD)
The place: dumpling, noodle and rice bowl restaurant paying serious homage to the 90s (from the menu items to the music to the decor)
Recommended eats: 3- ($4.25) or 5-piece ($6.50) dumplings; add a noodle bowl for $2

Eli’s BBQ (East End, Findlay Market)
The place: the East End location has counter service, indoor and outdoor seating, and is BYOB; features live music in warmer months
Recommended eats: two all-beef franks with mac and cheese and jalapeño cornbread
Note: dog friendly on the patio

FUSIAN (multiple locations)
The place: build your own sushi rolls featuring an ingredient of the month
Recommended eats (other than a sushi roll): spicy edamame

Gomez Salsa Cantina Walnut Hills (Walnut Hills)
The place: counter service restaurant featuring tacos and turtles, as well as alcohol
Recommended eats and drinks: turtle Gomez style and Fire Margarita

Holtman’s Donut Shop (multiple locations)
The place: unique takes on donuts, an American favorite
Recommended eats: yeast with chocolate icing and maple bacon 

Mazunte Taqueria (Madisonville)
The place: counter service taco joint featuring additional specialties, soups, sides, and Mexican beverages (beer, margaritas, sangria, etc.)
Recommended eats: Tacos Dorados and grilled corn (seasonal)

Pho Lang Thang (OTR/Findlay Market)
The place: restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating in Findlay Market
Recommended eats: Bánh Mì Xá Xíu (Chinese BBQ pork) and Chả Giò (fried spring rolls)

The Root Beer Stand (Sharonville)
The place: seasonal restaurant featuring cheeseburgers, popcorn, coneys, and house-made root beer

Recommended eats: double cheeseburger, popcorn, and root beer float
Note: cash only

Chicken Wings

Bacalls Cafe (College Hill)
Tossed in some of the best wing sauce around, garlic teriyaki, and served with excellent ranch dressing for dipping

Delicio (Norwood)
Coal-fired wings marinated in jalapeño-cilantro-lime vinaigrette, oven-roasted, then topped with a sweet red chili sauce

Mac’s Pizza Pub (multiple locations)
Baked and fried bone-in wings with either spicy garlic or Thai chili sauce

Midway Cafe (Fort Thomas)
Smoked and flash fried; served with your choice of sauce (I like getting wasabi teriyaki and BBQ on the side; if you like spicy, go for the honey sriracha)

Pontiac BBQ (OTR)
Smoked yet crispy

Renegade Grille (Evanston)
Smoked, then chargrilled, and topped with teriyaki (see also: chipotle 562, honey sriracha, and sweet/hot Asian chili sauces)

Taft’s Ale House (OTR)
Beer-brined smoked wings with a crispy finish

Wild Mike’s (multiple westside locations)
Perfectly fried; meaty yet crispy—get the Mike’s Mix sauce, the best wing sauce in town

Dog-friendly Venues

Some of our favorite places to take the dog around town:

Fuzzybutts Dry Goods (Westwood)
Pet toys, goods, and some grooming (self-service baths and nail trims)

The Growler House (East Walnut Hills)
Craft beer bar and bring your own food locale

The Gruff (Covington)
Restaurant serving pizza and sandwiches with outdoor seating

Otto Armleder Park (East End)
Dog park in the Hamilton County Parks system

The Pet Spot (Norwood)
Boarding and doggie daycare

Pet Wants (multiple locations)
Pet food and free delivery

Washington Park (OTR)
Dog park featuring ongoing events

Food Trucks

Ono Grindz
The truck: Hawaiian-Asian fusion street food; “Spreading the Aloha spirit”
Recommended eats: spam musubi and loco moco

Red Sesame
The truck: Korean BBQ and tacos
Recommended eats: combo #1 spicy

SEA Cuisine
The truck: Southeast Asian Cuisine, featuring banh mi, tacos, bulgogi, and more!
Recommended eats: pork banh mi, beef bulgogi, and spring rolls

Check each of them out on social media to see where they’ll be next!

French Fried Potatoes

Belgian Frites – Taste of Belgium (multiple locations)
Served with spicy mayo

Potato Rags – Friendly Stop (Glendale)
Deep fried potato peels covered in melted shredded cheddar with a buttermilk ranch dressing drizzle

Poutine – Senate Pub (OTR, Blue Ash)
Truffle fries topped with local cheese curds, braised shortrib, and gravy

Ranch Fries – Bacalls Cafe (College Hill)
Waffle fries with melted cheese, bacon, and ranch

Roadhouse Skins – Silver Spring House (Symmes Twp.)
Large cut potato wedges topped with ranch, Monterey Jack cheese, cheddar cheese, and bacon

Indian

Cincinnati, in my opinion, does [British] Indian right. There are a number of really good places in the area, but my favorites include:

Brij Mohan Indian Sweets and Restaurant (Sharonville)
The place: North Indian restaurant known for its vegetarian dishes and desserts
Recommended dish: paneer makhani
Note: lunch menu available

Delhi Palace Indian Cuisine (Silverton)
The place: traditional Indian restaurant in a contemporary setting
Recommended dish: shahi paneer
Note: $7.99 lunch buffet 11:30a–2:30p, Monday through Saturday and 12–3pm, Sunday; catering available

Maya Indian Restaurant (Price Hill)
The place: modern interpretation of classic dishes using fresh, high quality ingredients
Recommended dish: paneer makhani and excellent garlic naan

Shaan Indian Cuisine (Hyde Park)
The place: wide selection of Indian haute cuisine made from the finest and freshest ingredients
Recommended dish: chicken tikka masala, paneer makhani
Note: $8.99 lunch buffet every day

Swad Indian Restaurant (North College Hill)
The place: North Indian cuisine, “ranging from the delicate to the hearty, the piquant to the fiery”
Recommended dish: chicken makhani and excellent garlic naan
Note: lunch buffet and catering available

Pizza

Cincinnati gets a lot of crap for not having good pizza. Here’s my rebuttal:

Fireside Pizza (East Walnut Hills)
Formerly a “pizza wagon,” this wood-fired pizzeria is located inside of the city’s oldest fire station, serving up 9- and 14-inch pies, salads, beer, and wine. Gluten free available.

Fratelli’s Pizzeria (West Chester)
New York-style pizza joint featuring medium, large, and extra large specialty pies, as well as calzones, apps, sandwiches, entrees, and beer and wine.

Goodfellas Pizzeria (Covington, OTR)
Hand-tossed, thin crust, baked on the stone, New York-style pizza (with a passion for bourbon). Their lunch deal is excellent: $6 for an extra large slice, side, and drink, from 11a–3p, seven days a week.

Krimmer’s Italianette Pizzeria (North College Hill, Silverton)
Dough baked daily, homemade sauces, and fresh veggies, offering an assortment of comfort foods and classic favorites.

Newport Pizza Company (Newport)
Specialty or traditional pizzas (with lots of topping options), salads, hoagies, and appetizers, plus a large selection of craft and import beer and select wines.

Strong’s Brick Oven Pizza (Newport, Hebron, Lawrenceburg)
Known for serving up fresh and high quality pies to the tri-state area since 2012. Try the cream vodka sauce!

Two Cities Pizza Co. (Mason)
A restaurant created to build a bridge between New York- and Chicago-style pizzas. Other menu items include street food, salads, desserts, cocktails, and craft beer. 

For more Favorite Five lists, click here.

[Updated 11/20/18]

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