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. There are even cooking classes at Findlay Kitchen and food tours!
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. (Yes, I’ve even had the Roasted Marrow Bones.) 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, one of my favorite dishes in the past few years.
Mike’s Mix chicken wings – Wild Mike’s (multiple westside locations)
Crispy traditional wings smothered in Mike’s Mix sauce, a signature mix of Wild Mike’s wing sauces; served with delicious ranch dressing.
Shahi Paneer – Delhi Palace Indian Cuisine (Silverton)
Grated homemade cheese cooked with tomatoes and cream sauce.
Additional “Best of” lists below, including:
- Asian Food
- Breweries (and Local Beer Pushers)
- Cheap Eats
- Chicken Wings
- Dog-friendly Venues
- Food Trucks
- French Fried Potatoes
- Indian Food
- Media (local reads and podcasts)
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:
Kyoto Japanese Cuisine (Symmes Twp.)
Recommended dish: hibachi chicken lunch box
Quán Hapa (OTR)
Cuisine: Asian streetfood
Recommended dishes: musubi to start, loco moco
Riverside Korean (Covington)
Recommended dishes: Beef Bul Go Gi and Dol Sot Bi Bim Bab
Sukhothai Thai Cuisine (Montgomery)
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)
Cincinnati is a fantastic beer city steeped in brewing heritage. Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself. Here are some ideas of where to start:
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 option: Renegade Grille is served onsite
Nine Giant Brewing (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 Brewery (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) – craft beer bar
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) – craft beer bar and retail store
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) – sports bar
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) – beer and wine shop
The details: specialty beer, wine, and champagne store; build your own six packs
“Hybrid meals are for people too lazy to wake up for a proper breakfast.” –Schmidt, New Girl. I absolutely love traditional breakfast, so none of this past-noon brunch stuff (unless it’s for Second Breakfast, of course).
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
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
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.
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
Bacalls Cafe (College Hill)
Tossed in some of the best wing sauce around, garlic teriyaki, and served with excellent ranch dressing for dipping
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
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
The truck: Hawaiian-Asian fusion street food; “Spreading the Aloha spirit”
Recommended eats: spam musubi and loco moco
The truck: Korean BBQ and tacos
Recommended eats: combo #1 spicy
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
I absolutely love Indian food. At least the “Indian” food I’ve come to know here in landlocked Cincinnati. 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 serving 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 12–3p, 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
No matter what you’re reading or listening to, Cincinnatians are putting out some great content right now. From books to podcasts, here’s what I recommend:
The Cincinnati Anthology (edited by Zan McQuade)
A compilation of essays written by “some of Cincinnati’s most notable residents, native sons and daughters, creatives, and contemplators to tell tales of a city’s triumphs and tribulations.”
Curtis Sittenfeld (author)
New York Times Bestselling Author and Cincinnatian, Curtis Sittenfeld, has more than a handful of written works in her repertoire: five novels and a collection of short stories titled You Think It, I’ll Say It, which I really enjoyed.
FC Cincinnati-related podcasts, Cincinnati Soccer Talk and Old Man Ultras
For legitimate analysis, check out CST; for illegitimate takes, Fake Listener Questions, and hilarity, Old Man Ultras is probably for you.
Podopolis (co-hosted by Linsey Kraeling and Justin Williams)
A uniquely Cincinnati podcast covering all things Porkopolis, from our love of UDF, high school reunions, the word “ope,” sports and current events, plus even some local politics. Powered by Cincinnati Magazine.
Walking Cincinnati (by Danny Korman and Katie Meyer)
An insider’s guide to urban hikes in many (32!) of Cincinnati’s historic neighborhoods, including stunning riverfront quarters and collections of beautiful architecture.
Head to Joseph-Beth Booksellers, an independent bookseller with locations in Hyde Park and Crestview Hills, to buy your books!
Cincinnati gets a lot of crap for not having good pizza. Here’s my rebuttal:
Fireside Pizza (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. Get the ranch dressing. (You’re welcome.)
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. Their ranch dressing is spectacular.
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. Bonus? They have excellent ranch.
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.