Flavor: Cod, perch or whiting battered, deep-fried and handed over in a more-than-generous portion on a bed of fries with a slice of bread. Slap some condiments on it and eat as much as you can stuff in!
Flair: Don’t be put off by the line out the door — that’s a good thing. You can’t dine in, but you can get in, get your food and get out much quicker than you’d imagine. The whole experience is one that’s hard to find anywhere else near Cincinnati.
1601 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-241-2255. Open Monday-Saturday. $7-$8.
Flavor: From your morning java fix to afternoon tea, as well as expanded hours for dessert in the evening on Fridays and Saturdays and brunch on Sundays. The Bonbonerie crew shows off their savory skills as well as their sweets, with sandwiches served on homemade caramelized onion rolls, pretzel bread or other creative options.
Flair: Beloved for their cookies, cakes and pastries, The Bonbonerie has expanded its dine-in option with a new coffee shop at 2030 Madison Road. If that address sounds familiar, it’s because that was always the beloved bakery’s mailing address, although customers entered from the rear of the building. The expansion into the front of the O’Bryonville shop marks an “opportunity to embrace coffee again,” explains Bonbonerie co-owner Sharon Butler, “while the bakery stays as it always was.” Winner of “Best Bakery” and “Best Desserts.”
2030 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, 513-321-3399. Open 7 days. $4-$7.
Bouchard’s on Main
Flavor: Bouchard’s at Findlay Market has opened a new location downtown where they serve breakfast and lunch on weekdays. Actually, they’re serving breakfast all day, which is good if you’re craving pancakes at an untraditional hour, but they also have a full range of soups, salads, paninis and wraps.
Flair: Located next to The Sports Page in the old Carol’s on Main space, Bouchard’s spare, no-frills décor put the emphasis where it should be: fresh, tasty food.
825 Main St., Downtown, 513-421-5838. Open Monday-Friday. $4-$8.
Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar
Flavor: Order several small plates (maybe a Crab Cake with black bean corn chutney and a tomato Gravy or a daily selection of fine cheeses) or go with an inventive entrée like Sea Scallops with mascarpone wild rice and pineapple-jicama relish. Either way, with the help of the knowledgeable staff, you’re sure to find a great pairing on their extensive wine list.
Flair: The small, intimate space contains just a handful of tables bordered on one side by an attractive curving bar — brick-walled, comfortable and pleasant. Vegan-friendly Bouquet is a world away from the nearby party bars of MainStrasse.
519 Main St., Covington, 859-491-7777. Open Wednesday-Saturday. $5-$29.
Fred and Gari’s
Flavor: With a loyal following among Downtown workers who head there for great sandwiches made with fresh-baked meats, Fred and Gari’s roasts its own turkey, ham, pork tenderloin and chicken breast daily. And its accompaniments aren’t afterthoughts — any place that offers a brownie as one of your choices of side dish has reached carryout enlightenment.
Flair: Fred and Gari’s is so small you’ve got to grab and go. While you wait, you can watch the masters at work behind the counter. Service is friendly and animated, and regulars liven up the scene. Open for lunch, carryout and delivery only.
629 Vine St., Downtown, 513-784-9000. Open Monday-Friday. $3-$10.
It’s Just Crepes
Flavor: How can you not love a place that does one thing and does it well? It’s Just Crepes is, well, just crepes. Enjoy crepes on the savory side like the Traditional with Swiss cheese, sliced ham and Dijon mustard, or the Spinach and Artichoke with said ingredients and Gouda cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms and red peppers. Have a sweet tooth? Sink it into a Parisian with butter spread, sugar and lemon, or maybe a Banana Split with Nutella, bananas, nuts and vanilla cream.
Flair: The décor allows you to take a half-hour vacation.
Busy for lunch but with plenty of equipment, they are efficient and friendly. Offers free WiFi at both locations and outdoor seating at the Court Street venue.
39 E. Court St., Downtown and 151 West Fourth St., Downtown, 513-632-CREPE. Open 7 Days. $3-$6.
KT’s Barbeque and Deli
Flavor: In the heart of Reading, where the only other dining choice is whether or not you want French fries with your burger, KT’s offers delicious, smoked-on-site barbeque and great sides.
Flair: The owner of KT’s used to live in Los Angeles and was (among other celebrities) Roseanne Barr’s personal chef. CityBeat isn’t sure whether this is a positive or a negative. KT’s made national news with its sexy, busty mannequin “greeter” out front, which upset some residents and city officials.
8501 Reading Road, Reading, 513-761-0200. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $5-$14.
Lucky John Slow Market
Flavor: Lucky John features regionally grown salad bowl greens and all entrées can be made vegan friendly. Anticipate unique combinations like baby lettuce with radishes, artichoke pesto and a side of country toast, or chickpea and spinach wrapped up with feta, roasted peppers and herbs.
Flair: Part market, part country store and part lunch counter. Stop by for ribs, farm-raised meats, locally produced artwork — even household products compatible with a green lifestyle.
2250 Woodburn Ave, Walnut Hills, 513-979-4829. Open 7 days. $3-$10.
Flavor: This tiny sushi bar and Asian kitchen packs a big punch. Some of the best sushi and nigiri in town, but the noodle dishes and other items are excellent, too. For vegetarians, the meat-free choices don’t compromise on flavor.
Flair: The clean little mom and pop diner crammed into this quaint urban space makes you feel like you’re a world away. It looks like something you’d find in Japan, or at least Chicago or New York City.
209 W. McMillan Ave., Clifton Heights. 513-721-6999. Open Monday-Saturday. $6-11.
Flavor: Mayday takes hot dogs to an entirely new level. Its “Signature Dogs” are the way to go, with the Mayday Dog (gourmet hot dog topped with caramelized onion, grilled peppers, spicy mustard, house relish and house ketchup) topping the list. The Build Your Own Dog, which offers intriguing choices like House Curry Apricot Ketchup, is a nice option, too. For finicky, dog-free eaters there’s the Cup of Chili (meat or vegetarian), a PB&J sandwich or Beer Cheese.
Flair: How can you resist eating hot dogs in one of the best, most eclectic bars in the city?
4231 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, 513-541-0999. Open 7 days. $3.50-$5.50.
Flavor: Family-style feasting is on the menu at this chain fondue restaurant tucked in a Montgomery strip mall just off route 275. It’s all here — from the Swiss classic cheese versions served with cubes of bread and fresh vegetables to 20th-century favorites like chocolate, meat or seafood.
Flair: Ever wonder why those 1970s hipsters were groovin’ on their avocado-green fondue pots when they weren’t doing the Hustle at their local Disco? Step into the Melting Pot to find out that just about everything tastes better when dipped in a gooey pool of melted Fontina and Butterkese, not to mention Gruyere and Emmanthaler! Winner of “Best First Date Restaurant.”
11023 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, 513-530-5501. Open 7 days. $15-$25.
Portofino Pizza and Deli
Flavor: In addition to traditional pizzas and hoagies, Portofino offers Mediterranean and Middle Eastern items such as falafel sandwiches, gyros and spanikopita (spinach and feta cheese layered between sheets of gossamer-thin phyllo dough). Or combine flavors with a Greek pizza.
Flair: A true neighborhood joint with friendly staff and another interesting option in the ever-evolving Northside dining scene.
1609 Chase Ave., Northside, 513-542-5858. Open 7 days. $3-$17.
Salt of the Earth
Flavor: Chef Jim Jennings offers mouth-watering “homestyle” fare: vegetarian lasagna, vegetable “pizza” topping polenta, pork roast, salmon or beets with goat cheese, as well as sandwiches. Stop in and take home a dinner to remember — you’ll please vegetarians and meat eaters alike.
Flair: Open for lunch, carryout and catering, Salt of the Earth is easy to miss behind its unassuming storefront. Once inside you’ll love the big, light, airy room with several tables and a patio for warm weather dining dressed up with big pots of fresh herbs that are put to use in the kitchen.
4760 Red Bank Road, Madisonville, 513-272-3650. Open Monday-Saturday. $7-$20.
Flavor: This Downtown deli on Eight Street caters to the breakfast, lunch and early-dinner crowd. You can get biscuits and gravy and an omelet for breakfast, a gourmet deli sandwich or daily hot lunch special and then round it out with nightly specials such as the Meatball Sub Casserole or Roasted Pork loin. We recommend the Cincy Gobbler mounded with Silverglades’ own home-roasted turkey. Be sure to stop by their Findlay Market specialty store.
Flair: Silverglades has been a family business for three generations, starting back when Al Silverglade Sr. opened a stand at Findlay Market in 1922. With its high ceilings, big windows and corner location in the renovated Renaissance Building, Silverglades has a hometown feel with a bit of big-city flair.
236 E. Eighth St., Downtown, 513-361-0600. Open Monday-Saturday. $6-$8.
Flavor: Home cooking from the Greek “gigia” (grandmother) you never had. Features daily homestyle specials and sandwiches that are cheap and cheerful, plus homemade baklava for dessert and what might just be the best tzatziki sauce ever.
Flair: This place is so friendly you’ll feel like a regular after just one visit. Clean Formica tables and green Fiestaware plates, and when the cook makes a special trip over to ask how your food is, it’s because he sincerely cares.
811 Main St., Downtown, 513-723-1055. Open Monday-Friday. $4-$6.
Take the Cake
Flavor: A constantly changing selection of cakes, cookies, pies and just about any pastry you can think of. Check the big chalkboard to see what’s on today’s café menu of sandwiches, soups and salads.
Flair: Take the Cake is part of the popular group of establishments in Northside serving Sunday brunch. They create unique cakes for birthdays and special events, too!
4137 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-241-2772. Open Tuesday-Saturday. Prices vary.
Flavor: A favorite stop for inexpensive, good Thai food and friendly service. Most dishes come with your choice of tofu, chicken, pork or shrimp. All-time favorites are Pad Thai and the Red Curry with chicken, spring rolls or the Waterfall beef salad.
Flair: The tiny, no-frills kitchen puts out some very tasty Thai food. Everything is cooked in one of the two giant iron woks and nothing on the menu is outside a student’s budget.
213 W. McMillan Ave., Clifton Heights, 513-651-9000. Open Monday-Saturday. $6-$9.
What’s for Dinner?
Flavor: The menu changes daily, but you’re likely to find things like chicken pot pie made from scratch, crab cakes, chicken enchiladas — is this getting to you? It’s killing us, and we haven’t even told you about the grilled eggplant sandwich with fresh spinach, sautéed peppers and onions, goat cheese and spicy mayo. Where are the car keys?
Flair: If you decide to stay and savor a cranberry-oatmeal cookie here, well, it’s like eating in grandma’s kitchen. But the carryout is fantastic. Did you know that the biggest night of the week for takeaway dinners is Monday? It’s true.
3009 O’Bryon St., O’Bryonville, 513-321-4404. Open Monday-Saturday. $6-$18.