Flavor: The sheer number of menu items you’ll find at Allyn’s will surprise you. There are Cajun specialties like Blackened Gator, jambalaya and red beans and rice; slow-cooked ribs; Tex-Mex treats like enchiladas and chimichangas; and standard pub grub like hot wings, fries and sandwiches. There is also a menu for the kids and beverages for adults (try the margaritas).
Flair: Like its menu, the space includes a lot of different elements. Allyn’s specialty shop features an extensive collection of microbrews and wines. The walls feature an extensive collection of antique German beer steins, pictures, mirrors and who knows what else. Back room is available to reserve for large parties.
3538 Columbia Pkwy., Columbia-Tusculum, 513-871-5779. Open 7 days. $6-$25.
Arnie’s on the Levee
Flavor: Classic American fare in a popular Newport hot spot. Munchies include smoked and flash-fried chicken wings, Rueben rolls and Arnie’s-own Hanky Pankys (three different thick, cheese-based dips served with party rye bread). Other choices include soups, salads and signature burgers with Saratoga chips.
Flair: Entertainment complex complete with 13 HD flat screens, jukebox, pool tables, computer games, enclosed outdoor patio and WiFi. This restaurant becomes a thumpin’ nightclub after 9 p.m., so check its Web site for changing events and theme parties.
120 E. Third. St., Newport, 859-431-4340. Open 7 days. $5-$15.
Arnold’s Bar and Grill
Flavor: Arnold’s serves up a nice range of lunch and dinner options at bargain prices, including a lunch menu with weekly specials, sandwiches, burgers, Greek specials, steak, fish, salads, meats and pasta.
Flair: Arnold’s is the oldest continually operated drinking establishment in town — Cincinnatians have been polishing the bar with their elbows here since 1861. There are authentic signs and antiques everywhere that create a real sense of history. Live music throughout the week and a cozy courtyard for outdoor dining. Winner of “Best Restaurant with Live Music” and “Best Outdoor Dining.”
210 E. Eighth St., Downtown, 513-421-6234. Open Monday-Saturday. $4-$17.
Behle Street Café
Flavor: Behle Street’s crowd pleasers include crab cakes, excellent pasta salads, homestyle meatloaf with mashed potatoes and Cappellini Behle Street, flavored with fresh basil and roma tomatoes in an olive oil blend. Save room for a slice of Otis’ Key Lime pie.
Flair: When the weather is nice, the patio is open at Behle Street, and it’s the perfect vantage point from which to view Daniel Libeskind’s Ascent while you enjoy a sirloin burger or a Greek salad.
50 E. Rivercenter Blvd., Covington. 859-291-4100. Open 7 days. $14-$28.
Flavor: Be sure to bring a big appetite to this downtown hotspot. (Of course, it also helps to bring along a love of televised sports and a hankering for martinis.) Try the ever-popular, non-greasy Sliders that come in four “flavors”: Classic Beef, BBQ Bacon, Pulled Pork and Chicken Parmesan. Or opt for the Spinach and Artichoke Dip, a creamy blend of three cheeses, spinach, garlic and artichokes “broiled until browned and bubbling.” Entrées include steaks, Fish & Chips with hand-battered haddock and vegetarian pasta.
Flair: Meat. Sports. Patriotism. Ball caps. If you like these things (that is, if you’re American, damnit), you will love BlackFinn.
19 E. Seventh St., Downtown, 513-721-3466. Open 7 days. $9-$26.
Blue Ash Chili
Flavor: This family-owned chili parlor, established in 1969, offers not only a traditional Cincinnati-style chili with coneys and three, four and five ways but also a menu loaded with sandwiches, burgers, salads and sides. (Traditional breakfast dishes are also served during breakfast hours.) Have a triple-decker with your choice of three meats, a beer and some gravy cheese fries, then probably a nap.
Flair: Watch the cooks prepare your food from one of the red-and-black booths underneath the photograph-covered walls and you’ll probably run into a regular.
9565 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash, 513-984-6107. Open Monday-Saturday. $3.25-$8.
Flavor: The Angus burger grill out every Thursday night lures in the meat lovers, but there are options for vegetarians, too. The Chuck Wagon Skillet is a hit for Saturday and Sunday breakfast, with a great Bloody Mary chaser. Try the big Black Forest roast beef sandwich for a hearty lunch.
Flair: Nice, low-key Northside bar and grill that’s not too crowded, offering pub fare and lunch specials. Has a patio with a fire pit for cool evenings outdoors.
1686 Blue Rock, Northside, 513-681-8100. Open 7 days. $5-$21.
Brothers Bar & Grill
Flavor: Part of a small restaurant group with 17 locations throughout the Midwest. Menu features classic American dishes in a sports bar atmosphere. Try the Reuben or Philly Sliders (mini hamburgers on Kaiser buns) and homemade kettle chips, or The Big Dog! (quarter-pound beef frank served on a poppy seed bun). Choose from more than 16 sandwiches and wraps, all under $9, or come for grill specialties like the Diner Burgers, fajitas or grilled chicken or fish.
Flair: Bar & grill with an emphasis on “grill. Twenty-five beers on tap, plus seasonal drink specialties. Beautiful hardwoods and clean lines, with a very open and comfortable dining area.
Newport on the Levee, Newport, 859-291-2767. Open 7 days. $4-$14.
Flavor: While this chain joint is better known for its sports-friendly nightlife, hitting them up for a quick meal is fun, too. Standard American fare includes Ceasar and Wedge salads, chili and adventurous hamburger variations. Chops, steaks and BBQ round out the menu. All kids selections are under five bucks, including a drink and dessert.
Flair: What could possibly go better with that burger than Joan Jett emanating through the PA? TV screens in every direction keep one up to date on the current Reds or Bengals score, and there’s even a mechanical bull for adventurous types. But, seriously, the real story here is on the weekends. Come for dinner at 8 p.m., and then close the place down dancing with friends to a great mix of body-thumping beats.
Sixth & Walnut streets, Downtown, 513-621-6200. Open 7 Days. $7-$25.
Camp Washington Chili
Flavor: Great for breakfast, lunch or dinner, Camp Washington Chili features greasy-spoon breakfast offerings, double-decker sandwiches, chili, coneys and even a few salads. Its true diner aesthetic makes eating a meal fun.
Flair: The retro-style dining room is open 24 hours a day. The servers seem to know all of their customers, which gives it a family feel. Even if it’s your first time, expect to be called “darling” or “baby.” Delightful! Winner of “Best Chili (Non-Chain).”
Hopple and Colerain streets, Camp Washington, 513-541-0061. Open Monday-Saturday. $5-$8.
Flavor: If it’s burritos you crave, look no further. The Comet is sure to have just what you need. Their extensive burrito menu includes favorites like the Black & Tan (pinto and black beans, Monterey jack cheese, rice and salsa) and the Marinated Jerked Tofu. Or try a basket of chips with a trio of their homemade salsas.
Flair: Who else offers the eclectic combination of weekly live music (including the Comet Bluegrass Allstars every Sunday evening), karaoke, more than 100 beer choices, pool tables and one of the best jukeboxes in town with lots of local music selections? Winner of “Best Beer Selection.”
4579 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-541-8900.
Open 7 days. $4-$9.
Flavor: Formerly Boloco, Currito serves up “inspired burritos” that draw on culinary influences from around the world. Offerings range from to Cajun to Mediterranean to Bangkok, as well as salads, chips and salsa and fruit smoothies. Snackers — their own twist on quesadillas — come with cheese and chicken, steak or even tofu.
Flair: Tired of wrestling with burritos as big as your head? Currito is a smaller alternative with a sizeable selection. The restaurant also offers healthier choices like brown rice instead of white for burrito fillings as well as organic tofu.
222 Calhoun St., Clifton Heights, 513-281-1500. Open 7 days. $6-$10.
DeSha’s American Tavern
Flavor: The appetizer selections are mini-meals and clearly portioned for sharing, while the all-American theme means you can expect well-executed takes on things like buttermilk fried chicken, shrimp, grits and pot pies. In fact, it doesn’t get much more exotic than their Smokey Mountain Pasta — fettuccine with grilled chicken, applewood-smoked bacon, tomatoes and spinach in a sage cream sauce.
Flair: This Symmes Township stalwart offers a homey atmosphere with a deck overlooking ducks paddling in a pond. So bring the whole family for Sunday brunch, or come for a more grown up Happy Hour and enjoy the bar-bites menu and great beer selection.
11320 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, 513-247-9933. Open Monday-Sunday. $9-$27.
Flavor: Northern Kentucky-based Dixie Chili has been offering its version of Cincinnati-style chili for decades now. The alligator is a unique twist on the coney (it includes a dill pickle spear), and the various chili and spaghetti options remain satisfying classics. The menu also includes non-chili, comfort-food options like the Corned Beef sandwich and the Greek Salad with Grilled Chicken.
Flair: The atmosphere is down home, and the prices are just as friendly.
733 Monmouth St., Newport, 859-291-5337; 3716 Dixie Hwy., Erlanger, 859-727-2828; 2421 Madison Ave., Covington, 859-431-7444. Open 7 days. $1.45-$6.99.
Essencha Tea House
Flavor: There is really no substitute for the quality of a cup of tea from Essencha. They precisely brew each cup and offer more than 80 types, including the standard varietals, flavored teas and herbal tisanes. The bubble tea here is a more adult version of the sweet Taiwanese snack-meets-beverage sensation. (That is to say, more grown-up, not sexier.) Light lunch items such as sandwiches, creative crepes, soups, salads and fabulous desserts make for a tasteful experience no matter what you’re in the mood for.
Flair: Stop by during lunch on a Saturday and it’ll be a bustling hangout for all ages. Go during an off time and it’s a quiet place for a refreshing break from everyday life. Décor is minimalist, earthy and calm.
3212 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-533-4832. Open 7 days. $3-$13.
Gordo’s Pub & Grill
Flavor: With over 50 micro-brew beers, a rotating draft selection and the Jean-Robert Burger, you have a winning combination that makes Norwood proud. Excellent appetizers like Smoked Salmon with thinly sliced baguettes and entrées like the Braised Short Ribs take pub food to the next level.
Flair: The dark wood décor, vast drink selection and dining options from sandwiches to full entrées, Gordo’s appeals to all occasions and appetites. Be sure to sit out on the patio.
4328 Montgomery Road, Norwood, 513-351-1999. Open 7 days. $4.50-$14.50.
Grandview Tavern & Grille
Flavor: You’ll have a hard time finding a better cheeseburger (a grilled Angus half-pounder), and the Sweet Potato Fries are definitely the best in town. The Homemade Potato Chips aren’t too shabby either. Or try an excellent Nicoise salad topped with seared ahi tuna, medium rare.
Flair: A welcome addition to the neighborhood dining scene in Fort Mitchell, Grandview has fast become a favorite. The outdoor tables are the first to fill at lunch on nice spring days, but inside by the fire is perfect for winter evenings.
2220 Grandview Drive, Fort Mitchell, 859-341-8439. Open Monday-Saturday. $9-$28.
Flavor: Fried chicken, fried fish, fried onion rings; and they’re damn good, too. Other menu items include salads, steaks and seafood. Also try one of the best Hot Browns around and come on by for Sunday brunch to try the homemade biscuits and gravy.
Flair: A historic 1921 Southern-style house complete with a front porch and down-home country décor on the inside. You’ll find families, drifters and old folks with good taste enjoying meals here.
2500 Dixie Hwy., Fort Mitchell, 859-331-3767. Open 7 days. $15–$25.
Flavor: There’s a new menu at Habits, with some old favorites and some new treats. Look for entrées like grilled pork chops and grilled salmon with a barbecue glaze, alongside more gourmet burgers, including the White Hot, sizzling with pepperjack and parmesan cheeses and jalapeno peppers. Speaking of sizzling, watch out for the chocolate volcano for dessert. And rest assured you can still get your super hash browns here — your favorite Potato Rags are still on the menu.
Flair: Right in the heart of Oakley Square, this is a classic neighborhood hangout with a diverse clientele and some hoppin’ live music. The bar room is full of brewery advertising and inexpensive (but matching) furniture. There’s a separate room with upholstered booths for a less pub-ish dining experience.
3036 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-631-8367. Open 7 days. $7-$17.
Keystone Bar & Grill
Flavor: This neighborhood joint offers a variety of tasty comfort food. Huge plates of pasta, a rockin’ Quesadilla menu and build-your-own-burgers (including turkey or veggie options) served on ciabatta buns and a side of Keystone Homemade Chips. When a restaurant dedicates an entire menu to its macaroni and cheese varietals, you know they are serious about hitting your personal “G” (gouda) spot.
Flair: At Keystone, you can listen to your Pink Floyd and eat it, too. This bar is known for half-price mac ’n cheese nights and a jukebox that will bring back memories of senior prom for 1970s and ’80s grads. Online ordering is available for both takeout and delivery. Munch on brunch with Bloody Marys from 10:30 a.m.–3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
313 Greenup St., Covington, 859-261-6777. Open 7 Days. $3-$15.
Flavor: The delicious burgers are what we love: succulent with boursin cheese and caramelized onions. Of course, there are a plethora of topping options and many other great offerings. Don’t like burgers, try the BLT or fish tacos. The flatbread pizzas are pretty tasty, too.
Flair: Longworth’s is like that old friend that, every time you meet up, feels like you never left — comfortable, relaxed and friendly. Sit outside and feel like you are on vacation.
1108 St. Gregory St., Mount Adams, 513-651-2253. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $9-$18.
Flavor: Superb, fresh-roasted coffee, of course, but there are lots of reasons that Mammoth is bigger than just that. Like a smoothie or frappe, a freshly baked cheddar cheese and roasted jalapeno scone, a big bowl of white chicken chili and homemade fudge so rich that you can eat it with a spoon. Vegetarian selections, breakfast burritos, classic quiches, grilled Panini sandwiches — that’s mammoth.
Flair: The owners take a hands-on approach to this hip, friendly shop. Great open gallery walls feature an artist of the month. There’s a good mix of patrons enjoying their cappuccinos and choosing from a great selection of reading material.
515 Monmouth St., Newport, 859-291-8875. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $6-$8.
Flavor: A favorite of locals, Maribelle’s is the ideal East End spot for comfort food in friendly, upscale environs. An airy, renovated house with colorful outdoor dining, Maribelle’s delivers on every comfort combination you can imagine, including burgers, grilled cheese, mashed potatoes, veggies, mac ’n cheese, roasted sweet potatoes and, oddly, mandarin oranges. Best thing: Tuesday night Burger Jackpot with three toppings for $6, one of the best burger deals around.
Flair: Restoration Hardware decor and a friendly staff in the heart of the East End. Some tables have river views, and the dining room is warm and inviting.
2062 Riverside Drive, East End, 513-861-2484. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $4-$14.
Mount Adams Bar & Grill
Flavor: Its simple pub fare is good and cheap, and its cozy, historic space makes a good second home. Comfortable booths and a friendly neighborhood vibe draw a lot of regulars. Our favorites are the steamed vegetables with wild rice, Spinach Salad and Turkey Burger with fries.
Flair: The history. The Grill came out of a prohibition-era speakeasy and the rowdy outlaw vibe still hangs in the air.
938 Hatch St., Mount Adams, 513-621-3666. Open 7 days. $4-$15.
Mount Adams Pavilion
Flavor: The two levels of decks offer a panoramic view of the city, by far the best place to grab a beer and burger in the summertime. You’re going for the view and party vibe, not necessarily the food. But the Pavilion offers a mean Black Bean Burger. Also try the Buffalo Chicken Wrap and Turkey Burger. The menu includes the basics: onion rings, spinach and artichoke dip and quesadillas.
Flair: You’ll feel beautiful here. The bright colors, oversize murals of abstract art and the dance floor right inside are all larger than life and craft a never-ending party.
949 Pavilion St., Mount Adams, 513-744-9200. Open 7 days. $6-$12.
Flavor: While the vast martini selection is its calling card, Mynt also offers a variety of tasty food options, including tapas (the smoked salmon crostini is stellar), sandwiches, salads and desserts (try the Carew Chocolate Cake, which we’re assuming was inspired by the big tower to the south).
Flair: Fountain Square’s latest newcomer is a swanky joint accented by “mynt” green neon lighting and a prime, couch-enhanced patio that is perfect for sipping a Sex in Cinci martini while watching Square-dwellers do their thing.
28 Fountain Square, Downtown, 513-621-6968. Open Monday-Saturday. $6-$12.
O’Bryon’s Irish Pub
Flavor: The menu consists of typical but tasty bar food. Appetizers include just about anything that’ll fit in a fryer. The signature drink, the Shark Tank, comes with a little rubber shark filled with Grenadine to pour into a vodka concoction.
Flair: Located in the heart of the O’Bryonville business district, the pub is spacious and comfortable and there’s a rooftop patio. Watch the game on one of many screens.
1998 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, 513-321-5525. Open 7 days. $8-$12.
Flavor: Olives’ chicken pot pie is the perfect comfort food, and the orichette pasta with creamy alfredo has it’s own set of devotees. The traditional brunch menu on Saturday and Sunday makes Olives a great place to take visiting University of Cincinnati parents on football weekends.
Flair: A fun, nice, relaxing place to eat, locally owned, with a menu that offers something for everybody at a very reasonable price. Great for dinner before a movie at The Esquire or just a stroll along The Avenue.
342 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-221-4200. Open 7 days. $8–$21.
Price Hill Chili
Flavor: Generations of West Side patrons have grown up on this iconic, family-owned restaurant’s diverse, fairly priced menu. Where else can you get breakfast served any time, a great three-way huge double-decker sandwiches or a hand-cut rib eye with all the sides for under $13?
Flair: Far more than just a chili parlor, this neighborhood staple displays a fine collection of vintage sports keepsakes (from Elder to the Big Red Machine). The attentive staff and relaxed atmosphere bring to mind a huge, jovial family gathering.
4920 Glenway Ave., Price Hill, 513-471-9507. Open 7 days. $2-$15.
The Pub at Crestview Hills
Flavor: Once upon a time, the sun never set on the British empire — so the pub calls all the world’s food British, including cheeseburgers, chicken wings and ahi tuna satay. Hmm. The Fish & Chips are a highlight, featuring a filet as big as your forearm. Want something that walked on land? Try the Shepherd’s Pie, English Pot Roast or the London Broil. Feeling shagadelic? Then go for The Full Monty, featuring a sage banger, of course.
Flair: Fun, casual atmosphere in the popular Crestview Hills mall, the Pub gets a good young professional crowd. Great selection of beers and ales imported from Scotland, England, Belgium and Ireland. Afternoon and late-night happy hours on weekdays.
2853 Dixie Hwy., Crestview Hills, 859-426-7827. Open 7 days. $8-$26.
The Rookwood Bar and Grill
Flavor: A place where you can get anything from Deviled Eggs (we know!) to a Pork Belly Sandwich to Fish and Chips and Angus Strip Steak. Rookwood also features family-style food events and beer dinners — keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates.
Flair: A real Cincinnati gem, as it is housed in the renowned Rookwood Pottery Company. Casual dining that feels fancy. Guests can sit in a kiln, in a semi-private room or in the loft.
1077 Celestial St., Mount Adams, 513-421-5555. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $11-$27.
Flavor: While it’s not the peanut butter sandwiches and Twinkies mom packed in your Ninja Turtle lunchbox, it is comfort food only a mother could make. Fried chicken, meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn fritters, roast beef, cobblers, ice cream sundaes, cakes and pies — all written in perfect cursive on the chalkboard and served by clones of our elementary school lunch lady.
Flair: A Civil War-era schoolhouse (and the first two-story school building in the Midwest), it fills with area families.
8031 Glendale-Milford Road, Camp Dennison, 513-831-5753. Open Thursday-Sunday. $11-$17.