BARS & GRILLS AND BREWPUBS
BrewRiver GastroPub Photo: Mark Byron
The oldest continuously running tavern in town, Arnold’s is a true Cincinnati classic serving up a nice range of lunch and dinner options at bargain prices. Named as one of the best bars in America by Esquire magazine. $4-$17. 210 E. Eighth St., Downtown, 513-421-6234, arnoldsbarandgrill.com.
Serving only local beers on draft, Arthur’s is a relaxed gathering place on Hyde Park Square. The menu includes salads, soups, sandwiches and, their specialty, burgers with deals on “burger madness” days. Includes a late-night menu. $8-$12. 3516 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, 513-871-5543, arthurscincinnati.com.
The bar has been reopened and renovated and the new menu contains the same inexpensive items from yesteryear, except now with more vegetarian-friendly dishes. $7-$14. 1686 Blue Rock St., Northside, 513-681-8100, boswellalley.com.
Chef Michael Shields, who earned his chops under Emeril Lagasse, opened BrewRiver GastroPub with local craft beer and thoughtfully paired cuisine in mind. You will find no Budweiser or Guinness here, only a rotating list of more than 50 hand-picked, locally brewed drafts, bottled and canned beers. The curried beef short rib poutine is a must-have. $8-$32. 2062 Riverside Drive, East End, 513-861-2484, brewrivergastropub.com.
City View Tavern
Home of the best bloody mary in town (some would argue anywhere), and the burgers are damn tasty, too. Meet Big Ted: six ounces of griddle-cooked, handmade beef patty with American cheese, brown mustard, lettuce, pickles, mayo, onion, ketchup and home-grown tomatoes (when in season). City View has possibly the best view of downtown of any restaurant in the ’Nati. $3-$7. 403 Oregon St., Mount Adams, 513-241-8439, cityviewtavern.com.
The dinner menu changes a bit with the seasons, but you can always get Potato Rags at Habits. Hash browns on steroids, Potato Rags are smothered in cheese, bacon, onion, tomato and ranch dressing. There’s a french fry version, too. $5-$16. 3036 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-631-8367, habitscafe.com.
Holy Grail Tavern & Grille
With more than 15 high-definition TVs, a plethora of beers on tap and great pub grub, this is already a prime spot downtown. Munch on classic fare like ball park pretzels, angus burgers, wings and wraps. $7-$10. 161 Joe Nuxhall Way, The Banks, 513-621-2222, holygrailcincy.com.
Incline Public House
With a 1,400-square-foot deck for soaking in vistas and cocktails, IPH’s name derives from the actual Cincinnati Incline that existed there from the late 1800s to the 1940s. Their upscale twist on pub food features sandwiches, pizza, epicurean appetizers and a slew of craft cocktails and draft beers; they have a monthly beer series called Meet the Brewer during which beer-ophiles can sample suds from local breweries such as Blank Slate and MadTree. $7-$14. 2601 W. Eighth St., Price Hill, 513-251-3000, inclinepublichouse.com.
Keystone Bar & Grill
This neighborhood joint offers a variety of tasty comfort food. Huge plates of pasta, a rockin’ quesadilla menu, build-your-own-burgers (including turkey or veggie options) and weekend brunch. When a restaurant dedicates an entire menu to its macaroni and cheese varietals, you know they are serious about grub. $7-$15. Multiple locations including 313 Greenup St., Covington, Ky., 859-261-6777, keystonebar.com.
Moerlein Lager House
Moerlein Lager House celebrates Cincinnati’s brewing tradition and brings the Moerlein brand to life. Touting 15,000-square-feet of space, two bars, three kitchens and sweeping views of downtown and the riverfront, the Lager House is a destination in itself. Offers a large something-for-everyone menu of burgers and pastas, plus fancier dishes like filet mignon and squash wellington. $10-$28. 115 Joe Nuxhall Way, The Banks, Downtown. 513-421-2337, moerleinlagerhouse.com.
MOTR Pub does two things really well: rocks your face off with loud music and sweaty crowds, and serves up one hell of a burger. But fret not veg-heads, you can get a veggie burger or veggie BLT. There’s also the spicy St. Francis Monastery Mac and Cheese. Try the Migas Tacos with egg, crispy potatoes, cheese and chorizo with a bloody mary during Sunday brunch. $5-$9. 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-6687, motrpub.com.
Tap House Grill
A locally owned restaurant and bar featuring 34 beers on tap, focusing on local and regional breweries. They also offer a build-your-own burger menu. $9-$20. 8740 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, 513-891-TAPS, taphousecincy.com.
Wurst Bar in the Square
A hip yet casual watering hole offering a well-rounded menu of inventive starters and soups, gourmet sausages, hamburgers and decadent desserts. The restaurant has 15 tricked-out sausages showcasing local meats from Wassler’s Meat Market, along with vegetarian dogs from Avril-Bleh. And a carefully selected lineup of craft beer and mixed drinks are available. $5-$9. 3204 Linwood Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-321-0615, facebook.com/wurstbarinthesq.
BARBECUE AND HOMESTYLE
Bloody Mary at The Eagle Photo: Jesse Fox
A multiple award-winning barbecue joint offering up full and half slabs of smoked ribs, whole and half chickens, pulled chicken sandwiches, pulled pork sandwiches, beef brisket sandwiches, pork loin and more. Sides include potato salad, mac and cheese, green beans and brownies. Whole prime rib and turkeys available by special order. $4-$19. 4725 Madison Road, Madisonville, 513-871-3500, bbqrevue.com.
This regional chain was named one of the best in America by Men’s Journal. They put out some dang tasty barbecue, including mouth-watering beef brisket and a good and sloppy pulled-pork sandwich. Hand-rubbed St. Louis-style ribs are slow smoked for intense, traditional flavor. Mix and match the sauce and meat — there’s an original tomato-based sauce, a vinegar- and onion-based North Carolina sauce and a South Carolina mustard sauce. $7-$30. Multiple locations including 10375 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash, 513-257-0362; 7706 Voice of America Centre Drive, West Chester, 513-755-0518; 2760 Alexandria Pike, Highland Heights, Ky., 859-415-4544; citybbq.com.
The Eagle OTR
The Eagle is nested inside a retired post office and has a relatively small menu, comprised of fried chicken, sandwiches, some snacks and several side dishes. Booze-wise, they serve 100 kinds of beer and have about 15 different brews on tap. The fried chicken is free range, antibiotic-free and sourced from Amish Ohio farms. You can get a whole chicken for $16, a half chicken for $8 (white and dark meat) or a quarter of a chicken for $5. The kale and artichoke dip is a must. $8-$16. 1342 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-802-5007, facebook.com/theeagleotr, theeagleotr.com.
Eli’s specialty, the pulled pork sandwich, is a good intro to his amazing barbecue sauce, and you can move on from there to hickory smoked ribs, smoked turkey or an all-beef hot dog topped with pulled-pork crispins and coleslaw. Try the mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, baked beans or the jalapeno corn bread. It’s BYOB, so don’t forget your six-pack. $5-$8; cash only. 3313 Riverside Drive, East End. 513-533-1957, elisbarbeque.com.
Most diners who visit the Green Derby know exactly what they want before they walk in the door. The Derby Salad is a favorite, served with hot bacon dressing. Try the halibut sandwich on rye or one of the Derby’s other plentiful fish entrées. You’ll want to save room for dessert, too. The Green Derby has been around since 1947; it’s easy to see why. $9-$19. 846 York St., Newport, Ky., 859-431-8740, thegreenderby.com.
Famous for its double-deckers, the Greyhound Tavern has been a Fort Mitchell institution since the 1930s. You won’t want to miss the divine fried chicken, the ginormous onion rings, the Hot Brown or the bread pudding. $10-$29. 2500 Dixie Highway, Fort Mitchell, Ky., 859-331-3767, greyhoundtavern.com.
The Hitching Post
“World’s Best Fried Chicken” is this diner’s claim to fame, but you should try their outstanding breakfasts — especially Uncle Bubba’s Ultimate Omelet. Burgers and Tall Stacks (overstuffed double-decker sandwiches) compete with traditional classics like meatloaf and BLTs. $4-$13. 2715 Madison Road, Hyde Park, 513-871-9201, hydeparkhitchingpost.com.
World famous for its ribs, Montgomery Inn has been a staple in Cincinnati for more than 60 years. Along with ribs, the Inn offers barbecued spring chicken, silver salmon, pulled-pork sandwiches, burgers, salads and more, including everyone’s favorite: Saratoga chips served with their famous barbecue sauce. $8-$35. Multiple locations including 9440 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, 513-791-3482; 925 Riverside Drive, Downtown, 513-721-7427; 400 Buttermilk Pike, Fort Mitchell, Ky., 859-344-5333; montgomeryinn.com.
Ollie’s special seasoning spices up everything from grits and eggs at breakfast to a hearty lunch of barbecued turkey tips. Start with the Ollie burger and fries and stay for the ribs with homemade macaroni and cheese and lemon pound cake for dessert. This cooking feeds your soul. $3-$45 (for whole turkeys). 1605 Central Ave., West End, 513-381-6100, facebook.com/olliesburger.
Family owned and operated since 1960, Ron’s Roost has the best fried chicken around. If the weather is cooperative, sit on the covered patio and enjoy the hot bacon slaw (a West Side staple), German sauerbraten, mock turtle soup and homemade cream pies. $10-$20. 3853 Race Road, Bridgetown, 513-574-0222, ronsroost.net.
With the menu written on an ancient blackboard, you might expect (and maybe want?) a metal lunchbox to come to your table bursting with bologna sandwiches and Twinkies. What you’ll get, and be thrilled by, is delicious classic American fare served family-style. Among your choices: fried chicken, baked cod, meatloaf and roast beef. The Schoolhouse Restaurant has been in business for more than 50 years. $9-$17. 8031 Glendale-Milford Road, Camp Dennison, 513-831-5753, theschoolhousecincinnati.com.
Silver Spring House
Dubbing itself “The Chicken Joint,” Silver Spring House definitely serves up some delicious chicken. Marinated in citrus juices and spices, it’s grilled and succulent. If you’re not in the mood for chicken, you can choose pork ribs, salmon, burgers and a variety of sandwiches. Vegetarians need not fear — there are options for them, too. $11-$25. 8322 E. Kemper Road, Montgomery, 513-489-7044, thesilverspringhouse.com.
The “Q” is for barbecue, the specialty at SmoQ. It’s all done slow and low in a big ’ol smoker. You’re likely to find your favorite Southern specialty here as well, be it a Kansas City strip, blackened catfish or chicken and waffles: a buttermilk-fried chicken breast served on top of a sweet potato-pecan waffle, with maple butter and syrup. $7.99-$26.99. 275 Pictoria Drive, Springdale, 513-671-7667, smoqbbq.com.
The menu is made for meat lovers and includes many slow-smoked specialties like pulled pork, ribs, roasted chicken, brisket and more. The list of sides is impressive, and make sure you save room for dessert — the homemade berry cobblers are stellar. $6-$20. Multiple locations including 6040 Colerain Ave., White Oak, 513-923-9800; 6095 River Road, Blue Note Yacht Club, Delhi; 746 NW. Washington Blvd., Hamilton, 513-868-9258, waltsbarbeque.com.
Walt’s Hitching Post
Walt’s Hitching Post is a kick-back, casual place where everybody knows your name. Bill Melton took over the eatery from founder Walt Ballanger in 1958 — 16 years after Ballanger opened the rib and steak joint — and ran the place until he passed away in 2008. Bronson Trebbi and Donny Arnsperger took over in 2010, and they’ve lightly tweaked classic menu items, adding fried green tomatoes to the chicken livers and increased the steak quality. $12-$30. 3300 Madison Pike, Fort Wright, Ky., 859-360-2222, waltshitchingpost.com.
BISTROS AND CAFÉS
Sleepy Bee Cafe's Nutty Bee pancakes Photo: Provided
Who could resist buttermilk corn cakes with honeycomb butter? Luckily, you don’t have to resist anything at Annabel’s because breakfast is served all day, so you can get your French toast fix while your companion enjoys a Japanese salmon salad. $5-$11. 1004 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-417-8669.
An Art Deco dreamland complete with a custom piece of frosted glass depicting Union Terminal and a phone booth tucked in the corner. Classy, but Bacalls still has TVs on which you can watch the game. The menu has something for everyone including soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps, burgers, pasta and other entrées. Serving meals and booze to locals and visitors in College Hill for more than 26 years, they must be doing something right. $9.95-$14.50. 6118 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, 513-541-8804, bacallscafe.com.
Since opening in November 2013, Bistro Grace has added half-price burgers on Sundays and half-price wine bottles on Mondays, along with other weekly and nightly specials. Try the hanger steak or the duck poutine. $12-$20. 4034 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-541-9600, bistrograce.com.
Brontë, located inside Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Rookwood Commons/Pavilion, is a cozy, relaxed location to enjoy a book and a great meal. It has a lot to offer, including coffee, a full bar, starters, salads, sandwiches, home-cooked entrées and desserts. $6-$15. 2692 Madison Road, Norwood, 513-396-8970, josephbeth.com/bronte.
Café de Paris
Feast on lunch and breakfast selections like salade niçoise and croissant foure aux epinards (toasted croissant with spinach and feta). Fresh baked European breads make the sandwiches very satisfying. Don’t forget the chocolate croissant for dessert! $5-$10. 17 Garfield Place, Downtown, 513-651-1919.
Sandwiches include smoked salmon, a breakfast sandwich with pimento cheese and a muffuletta with mortadella. They serve oatmeal, a smoked salmon niçoise salad and tomato soup topped with crème fraiche. As for the coffee, espressos and cappuccinos are made with local Deeper Roots Coffee beans and Wooster, Ohio’s Hartzler milk. $5-$11. 326 E. Eighth St., Downtown, 513-345-6618, cheapsidecafe.com.
French Crust Café
French Crust Café is cozy, seating just 26 people, and serves both breakfast and lunch. Fresh fruit tarts and other pastries are served with coffee throughout the day. The lunch menu includes homemade soups, quiche, casseroles and assorted sandwiches. As is the case with sister restaurant Jean-Robert’s Table, French Crust Café sources ingredients as locally as possible. $5-$14. 915 Vine St., Downtown, 513-621-2013, jrtable.com/french-crust-cafe.
A family-owned restaurant serving American cuisine with Italian flair. Signature pizzas include The Capone with cappicola, salami, pepperoni, sausage, olives, banana peppers, mozzarella, provolone and Parmesan. Specialties include eggplant Parmesan, Greek vegetable pasta a gluten-free zucchini linguine. $8-$17. 515 Wyoming Ave., Wyoming, 513-821-6040, gabbyswyoming.com.
Half Day Café
Seasonal menu items with fresh, locally sourced ingredients make this popular Wyoming mainstay a breakfast and lunch standout. Try the thick-sliced mango butter rum French toast, and for lunch, indulge in the carnitas with slow-roasted pulled pork in a rich mole sauce. $3-$11. 1 Wyoming Ave., Wyoming, 513-821-2323, halfdaycafe.org.
Hang Over Easy
Aside from being a legit brunch spot, Hang Over Easy is also a nighttime spot with bar hours until 2:30 a.m. — so you can get drunk and cure your hangover all in one place. Try the Pollo Loco Chorizo Skillet, with chicken, chorizo, peppers, onions, home fries, melted queso, eggs and toast in a skillet. $3-$8. 13 W. Charlton St., Corryville, 513-221-5400, hangovereasy.com.
A combination art gallery, bookshop, coffee shop and wireless café, Iris BookCafé is a locavore’s dream. The sandwich bread is from Shadeau Bread, which is almost directly across the street; meats are from Avril’s on Court Street; ice cream is from Aglamesis; and the soups are from Myra’s Dionysus. And there are both meat and veggie options on the sandwich menu. $5-$10. 1331 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-2665, irisbookcafe.com.
Combinations of sweet and savory lead to seasonal dishes such as a pear salad and a hot ham and Swiss sandwich, with crunchy slices of tart green apples. All sandwiches are made with Shadeau breads and all salads are dressed with homemade vinaigrettes. $4-$8. 2714 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut Hills, 513-559-0452, kitchen452.com.
French roadside soup shack La Soupe sells a scrumptious, rotating line of simmering broths, stews, chili and chowders made from fresh produce and local meats. The restaurant also offers inventive sandwiches; gluten-free, stuffed potato skins; salads; and desserts, with several full entrées available for carryout. $7-$16. 4150 Round Bottom Road, Newtown, 513-271-0100, lasoupecincinnati.com.
Whether it’s their corn flake-battered French toast topped with bananas and crème brulee or their eggy arsenal of inventive frittatas, Mokka makes a mean breakfast. Vegetarians will love the California, veggie and Greek frittatas, while carnivores can tear into the three meat and Green Goat (spinach, chicken and goat cheese) varieties. Lunch and dinner options include burgers and hearty grinder sandwiches. $5-$9. 500 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859-581-3700, mokkasunset.com.
Om Eco Café
Located inside the Clifton Gaslight metaphysical retail store, Om Café features fresh, local and organic coffee, tea, soups, salads and sandwiches. Lots of veggie-friendly options here. $5-$11. 329 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-381-3436, aquariusstar.com.
A romantic bistro offering seasonal cuisine and sophisticated ambiance. The 18-hour short ribs are to die for and the Q’s pizzas are nothing short of divine. There’s a lovely wine list at Quarter Bistro, and outdoor dining here in the historic Mariemont town square is wonderfully charming. $10-$37. 6904 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, 513-271-5400, quarter-bistro.com.
Ruth’s Parkside Café
Located in a factory bay at the American Can Building, Ruth’s offers diners a mix of comforting, well-known classics from the owners’ former restaurant Mullane’s, such as the spinach sauté and red beans and rice, as well as new dishes. Everything is from scratch and there is plenty for vegetarians and carnivores alike. Fresh roasted turkey, homemade soups, pies and daily specials keep the menu exciting. $4-$15. 1550 Blue Rock St., American Can Building, Northside, 513-542-RUTH, ruthscafe.com.
Sleepy Bee Café
A family-friendly breakfast and lunch spot. Much of Sleepy Bee's food is sourced locally from farms with bee-friendly practices, including Holistic Acres eggs; Marksbury Farms humane, pasture-raised meats; and potatoes, sprouts and microgreens from nearby growers. $6-$12. 3098 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-533-2339, sleepybeecafe.com.
York Street Café
This eclectic café is the perfect first-date restaurant. Built in the 1880s, the building holds a beautifully decorated café, lounge with live music and an art gallery, along with a terribly romantic garden patio. The food not only matches the elegance of the décor, it surpasses it. Order a Conversation Board, with samplings of different appetizers, and let the words flow. The grilled salmon might just bring you to tears. $12-$25. 738 York St., Newport, Ky., 859-261-9675, yorkstonline.com.
BURGERS AND DOGS
Senate Hot Dogs Photo: Gina Weathersby
Mr. Gene’s Doghouse
Mr. Gene’s menu — for both the weenies-on-wheels food truck and brick-and-mortar location — features hot dogs, metts and Italian sausages with traditional sides of fries and onion rings. A portion of Mr. Gene’s profits are donated to charities, so pig out! Find Mr. Gene’s on Twitter (@MrGenesDoghouse) for truck location updates. $2-$10. 3703 Beekman St., Northside, 513-541-7636, mrgenesdoghouse.com.
Gordo’s Pub & Grill
What’s not to love about a pub with more than 100 microbrews and incredible gourmet burgers? Their two standbys are the Jean Robert, with grape compote and goat and blue cheeses; and the Gordo’s burger topped with Boursin cheese, poblano peppers, onions and smoked bacon. $10-$12. 4328 Montgomery Road, Norwood, 513-351-1999, gordospub.com.
Mr. Hanton’s Handwiches
Choose from beef franks, chicken-apple sausages, metts, goetta dogs and Italian sausages, and then top with your favorite condiments. Find the truck’s locations on Twitter (@MrHantons) and Facebook. Brick-and-mortar location, too. $3.50-$8. 249 Calhoun St., Clifton Heights, 513-751-5397, mrhantons.com.
Mad Mike’s Burgers and Fries
Choose from their creative signature offerings like the Rockefeller, with blue cheese, cranberry chutney, beer battered onions, cilantro mayo and lettuce, or something more approachable like the American Outlaw, with lettuce, tomato, pickle, grilled onion and mad sauce. $3.29-$7.99. Multiple locations including 6420 Dixie Highway, Florence, Ky., 859-647-6444, madmikesburgers.com.
Start out with a type of meatball — beef, turkey, spicy pork or gluten-free vegetarian — and decide if you want it on a sandwich, pasta or salad. Select a sauce (meat, tomato or béchamel) and add some sides — $2 each or $3 for two. Sides include onion-and-garlic bread pudding, smoky coleslaw, Sriracha sweet-potato mash, spicy kale, seasonal roasted veggies or a side salad. $3-$7. 2912 Vine St., Corryville, 513-407-7405, meatballkitchenusa.com.
The best lunchtime burgers in the city for 21 years. Order your burger with balsamic-laced onions and Swiss on a grilled Shadeau Bread wheat bun. The chicken salad, BLT and carrot cake all deserve their crowd-pleaser status. $4-$8. 41 E. Fourth St., Downtown, 513-381-3354, paulascafe.com.
Senate’s mission is to present upscale street food, and they do a terrific job of it. The menu plays heavily on hot dogs, from gourmet Chicago dogs to more interesting dog-of-the-days and quirkily named dogs like Hello Kitty 2.0, a beef hotdog with wasabi mayo, ponzu-wasabi slaw, bacon, wasabi peas and sesame seeds. The truffle fries are a must-have, as are the cocktails. The Senate Cookbook is available now. $9-$25. 1212 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-2020, senatepub.com.
Silver Ladle is a “fast casual” restaurant that serves a variety of hearty sandwiches, a dozen soups, fresh salads, gluten-free options and its own twist on Cincinnati-style chili and coneys. Burger fans will be happy to see a stout lineup of five “stuffed” burgers, and the five sandwich offerings are far from skimpy. $5.99-$8.29. 580 Building, Between Walnut and Main streets, Downtown, 513-834-7650, silverladle.com.
Terry’s Turf Club
There’s no other character on the Cincinnati dining scene quite like Terry, and his little juke-joint is now a legend. The short but sweet menu centers on burgers — big, beautiful hamburgers including a tender-as-butter filet mignon burger with béarnaise. Other sandwiches start with grilled chicken or portobellos and shiitakes. Take the basics and add one of the formidable sauce options for a customized burger experience. $6.50-$26. 4618 Eastern Ave., East End, 513-533-4222.
What do ground beef, onomatopoeia and a slew of fresh ingredients have in common? WhackBurger. This gourmet, comic book-inspired burger joint serves big, juicy burgers with creative toppings. There are 14 styles of burgers and six different sides. Take, for instance, the Aufiderzein with grilled sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and spicy mustard. Pow! $9.95. 715 Madison Ave., Covington, Ky., 859-360-3361, whackburger.com.
Zip’s has been doing burgers right since 1926, and generations of East Side Cincinnatians call Zipburgers their favorite. The meat arrives fresh daily from locals Avril-Bleh & Sons and the lightly toasted honey-egg buns are from Klosterman, also local. For those who need more than just a burger and fries, Zip’s offers the Train Wreck — a burger, split mettwurst and shaved ham. $4-$8. 1036 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-871-9876, zipscafe.com.
Zola Pub & Grill
Nine different burgers and nine flavorful wing sauces lend to a variety of options at Zola. A full bar in combination with live music Tuesday-Saturday and great location make this a happenin’ place to be. $5-$12. 626 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-261-7510, zolapubandgrill.com.
CASUAL AND NEW AMERICAN
Main Bite Photo: Jesse Fox
Cutting-edge cuisine with more than 100 wines. 101 Main St., Milford, 513-831-BRIX, 20brix.com.
Bouquet Restaurant & Wine
Bar Working closely with local sources, Bouquet’s farm-to-table approach means a fresh, frequently rotating menu packed with seasonal ingredients. Elegant small plates, entrées and thoughtful wine pairings set the stage for an intimate dining experience. $5-$30. 519 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-491-7777, bouquetrestaurant.com.
Features full table service, a bountiful wine selection and an environmentally friendly menu in an elegant, exposed brick dining room. Pick from a whimsical list of “Bar Doeuvres,” including the addictive cheese donuts: beignets with crab and Gruyère dipped in a side of curried remoulade. $4-$25. 3543 Columbia Parkway, Columbia Tusculum, 513-533-2899, buzatgd.net.
A wide-ranging menu accompanies the winery’s house-made wine. $7-$35. 8080 Montgomery Road, Kenwood, 513-488-1110, coopershawkwinery.com.
Grandview Tavern & Grille
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 braised short rib and the oven-roasted sea bass shouldn’t be missed. $9-$38. 2220 Grandview Drive, Fort Mitchell, Ky., 859-341-8439, grandviewtaverngrille.com.
Located in a former post office, the seasonal menu items and sommelier wine selections are delivered with a smile. Tasty wild mushroom ravioli, escargot gratin and sweetbreads with lavender-roasted spaghetti squash are part and parcel here. $10-$28. 3410 Telford St., Clifton, 513-281-3663, laposteeatery.com.
Main Bite creates delicious, seasonal fare with crafty culinary cocktails to go with each bite. All of the sauces and dressings are made in-house. This isn’t a tapas-style restaurant, but the portion sizes are shaved down so one dish won’t stuff you. Their cocktails feature fruits and vegetables, muddled or pureed accordingly. $7.95-$13.95. 522 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-261-2483, mainbiterestaurant.com.
Maribelle’s Eat + Drink
With a homey feeling, diners can see — and actually eat — inside the kitchen. Some favorites include roasted turkey on a pretzel bun with Brie and Brussels sprouts with capers, a sunny-side up egg and toasted walnuts. Saturday and Sunday brunch specials include cornmeal pancakes and a sunny-side egg sandwich with truffle aioli and Gruyère. $9-$14. 3235 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-321-9111, maribellestavern.com.
Marty’s Hops & Vines
This College Hill wine and beer emporium offers weekly wine tastings with six healthy pours accompanied with cubed cheese and crackers. Half the shop is retail, selling bottle craft beers and local and international wines, and the other half is a bar and restaurant. Their newly expanded menu consists of salads, baked subs and an individual build-your-own pizza. $7-$10. 6110 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, 513-681-4222, martys-hopsandvines.com.
Metropole at 21c
Chef Michael Paley leads the charge with a menu focused on dishes cooked in a custom-built wood-burning fireplace. The restaurant is a showcase for the area's sustainable farmers and producers, and the menu features an ever-changing list of hearth-roasted meats, fish and vegetables, grains and housemade charcuterie. Offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and bar bites. $8-$32. 609 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-578-6660, metropoleonwalnut.com.
Cincinnati native chef Julie Francis finely crafts a small menu filled with locally sourced, organic ingredients. Nectar’s monthly Dinner Club promotes a theme ingredient and its farmed source on a five-course, fixed price menu. Sunday brunch is also available, featuring pastured eggs, local honey and fresh-baked breads. $7-$25. 1000 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-929-0525, dineatnectar.com.
The pinotage wine is glorious. Try the balsamic tofu for dinner with caramelized kale and honey curry cream sauce. For brunch, Benedict Otto’s substitutes fried crispy flatbread and smoked salmon for the English muffin and ham of a traditional Eggs Benedict. It’s delicious, a bit rich and a true indulgence. $7-$31. 521 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-491-6678, ottosonmain.com.
Red Feather Kitchen
Red Feather serves up from-scratch house-made dishes using the best possible ingredients. Described as New American, chef Brad Bernstein says the partners wanted to create a chef-driven restaurant reflecting the diversity of the global influences they each picked up as they honed their craft. Red Feather is an unpretentious, approachable, neighborhood spot that serves “fun food that people enjoy.” $7-$23. 3200 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-407-3631, redfeatherkitchen.com.
Red Roost Tavern
The Hyatt Regency’s farm-to-table Red Roost Tavern joins top-notch hotel eateries downtown. Red Roost’s philosophy is: “Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served.” They emphasize harvesting produce within a 100-mile radius of the restaurant. $12-$34. 151 W. Fifth St., Downtown, 513-579-1234, cincinnati.hyatt.com.
Rookwood tile and pottery is a large part of Cincinnati’s heritage, and the restaurant that inhabits the former pottery building is putting its stamp on Cincinnati as well. Great food and well-crafted cocktails are their specialty, served in the main dining room, the loft or inside one of the pottery’s old kilns. The menu has some unique Cincinnati dishes: Hanky Pankys on the small plates list, french fries with Grippo’s seasoning and a crazy-good pork belly sandwich. The young staff has a lot of creativity and skill. $6-$28. 1077 Celestial St., Mount Adams, 513-421-5555, therookwood.com.
The eponymous New American restaurant from chef Jose Salazar, winner of Food & Wine magazine’s 2011 People’s Best New Chef: Great Lakes Region, mixes old and new to create an approachable yet refined farm-inspired menu. Salazar offers creative dishes including cured and potted items, like chicken liver mousse, and housemade rillettes, terrines and charcuterie. There are also comfortable choices like burgers, fish and pasta. The in-house pastry chef makes delectable sweets and the wide-ranging drink menu features thoughtful craft beers, cocktails and wines. $9-$31. 1401 Republic St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-621-7000, salazarcincinnati.com.
Class is in session! Yes, this restaurant is inside a school. Culinary and hospitality students at the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State are hand-picked to staff the kitchen and dining room in this teaching restaurant. Top-notch food at reasonable prices paired with an extensive wine list make this a restaurant for the city to be proud of. $10-$28. 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton, 513-569-4980, facebook.com/thesummit.mci.
Teller’s of Hyde Park
Located in the historic Hyde Park Savings and Loan building, Teller’s offers unique ambiance, 30 beers on tap, a plethora of wine and a comprehensive menu with pastas, pizzas, salads, steak and more. They also offer a back patio and the option to eat inside of a bank vault. $7-$36. 2710 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-321-4721, tellersofhydepark.com.
Trio offers something-for-everyone American-style menu items with an upscale twist. Choose from many great salads, sandwiches, gourmet pizzas or seafood and pair your meal with a nice glass of wine from the extensive wine list. The filet mignon, the Trio Meatloaf and the soy-glazed seabass are customer favorites. $11-$35. 7565 Kenwood Road, Kenwood, 513-984-1905, triobistro.com.
Specializes in scratch-made cooking, utilizing its own garden. Menus change frequently with rotating daily features, but some highlights include starters like fried bologna sandwiches and entrées like burgers, Andouille carbonara with house-made Andouille and Vietnamese smoked pork. $10-$25. 710 Fairfield Ave., Bellevue, Ky., 859-491-3287, virgilscafe.com.
A restaurant chain purchased last year by Darden Restaurants, the publicly traded corporation that brought us Olive Garden, Red Lobster and Seasons 52, this is their 44th location. It enjoys a vast beer selection — 160 beers on tap — sweeping river views, a thick bible of a menu and an expensive sound system piping out mostly Classic Rock. $9-$35. 95 E. Freedom Way, The Banks, Downtown, 513-381-4071, yardhouse.com.
Serving up creative flatbreads and Mediterranean plates in an uncharacteristically spacious Over-the-Rhine location, chef Tsvika Silberberg’s Zula aims to bring an assortment of dishes inspired by his hometown in Israel — and other places around the Mediterranean Sea — to Cincinnati. Each dish is delivered one at a time, tapas-style, giving people at the table a chance to try more than just their own courses. $6-$17. 1400 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-744-9852, zulabistro.com.
BLOC Coffee Photo: Jesse Fox
Coffee and more than 500 bottles of boutique wine, plus food and artwork, in the middle of Hyde Park square. Prices vary. 2734 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-321-2525, awakeningscoffeeandwine.com.
Coffee house, café and Wi-Fi study haven during the day; bar and music venue by night. Prices vary. 239 W. McMillan St., Clifton Heights, 513-221-1911, facebook.com/baba4java.
Bow Tie Café
Coffee house and café with dollar-off drinks during happy hour 5-9 p.m. Monday-Friday and $5 mimosas and bloody marys all weekend long. Prices vary. 1101 Saint Gregory St., Mount Adams, 513-621-CAFÉ, bowtiecafe.com.
BLOC Coffee Company
BLOC earns its reputation for serving some of the best cups of joe in the city. All dairy comes from Snowville Creamery, giving that frothy latte an extra touch of wholesomeness. $1-$4. 3101 Price Ave., Price Hill, 513-429-4548, bloccoffeecompany.com.
Husband-and-wife owners Justin and Emily Carabello roast and sell their coffee on the premises, but they’re also entrenched in local and international philanthropy, giving much of their profits to Third World coffee regions in Nicaragua and Kenya. Also carries Bello’s Bike Pops, frozen ice pops. Prices vary. 107 E. Ninth St., Newport, Ky., 859-415-1587, carabellocoffee.com.
Local coffee roaster in Madeira’s town square, offering pastries, sandwiches, salads and soups. $5-$10. 6930 Miami Ave., Madeira, 513-271-4700.
Owners Tony Tausch and Eileen Schwab have been treating Cincinnati to their artisan-roasted coffees, premium teas and spicy ciders since 1973. Savor Coffee Emporium’s barista-prepared drinks along with a tasty lineup of grilled panini sandwiches, fresh-baked pastries and hearty quiches. $2-$8. Multiple locations including 110 E. Central Parkway, Downtown, 513-651-5483, coffee-emporium.com.
Big-city-style espresso and coffee bar. Offers cool blends like cortados and espresso lemonade. $3-$7. 207 Woodward St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/collectiveespressootr.
College Hill Coffee Company
Full espresso and coffee bar with a hearty café menu and gift shop. Free music and Wi-Fi. Prices vary. 6128 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, 513-542-2739, collegehillcoffeeco.com.
Coffee shop, breakfast, brunch and lunch. $5-$10. 2726 Riverside Drive, East End, facebook.com/fuelcoffeecincy.
HD Beans and Brews Café
A coffee shop, bar, café and sports haven in one.
Fair-trade coffee, more than 100 local and national microbrews and local and national wines. Open mic Wednesdays. Prices vary. 6721 Montgomery Road, Silverton, 513-793-6036, hdbeans.com.
Highland Coffee House
Not your traditional coffeehouse — Highland doesn’t open shop ’til 5 p.m., and alongside a bunch of coffee drinks and a full bar, there are delights like boozy milkshakes, iced Thai coffee and fresh cookies. Prices vary. 2839 Highland Ave., Corryville, 513-861-4151, facebook.com/officialhighlandcoffeehouse.
Hot or iced coffee, tea and sandwiches. $2-$8. 119 E. Court St., Downtown, 513-632-9580.
Left Bank Coffeehouse
Serves Deeper Roots coffee as well as snacks and pastries from local purveyors including Savor Catering, Shadeau Bread, Grateful Grahams and more. $2-$7. 701 Greenup St., Covington, Ky., 859-431-4655, leftbankcoffeehouse.com.
Local coffee roaster offering food and java. Prices vary. 3181 Linwood Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-871-8626, lookoutjoe.com.
Newberry Bros. Coffee
A café and bistro with outdoor seating featuring organic, fair-trade coffee roasted on-site with handmade artisan breads and pastries. Offers 35 wines by the glass, 50 wines by the bottle, more than 50 craft beers and more than 250 bourbon and whiskeys to choose from. $4 wines by the glass Sundays. Prices vary. 530 Washington Ave., Newport, Ky., 859-261-9463, newberrybroscoffee.com.
Reality Tuesday Café
Coffeehouse and bakery. Prices vary. 1518 Dixie Highway, Park Hills, Ky., 859-261-4939, realitytuescafe.com.
Redtree Art Gallery and Coffee Shop
Fair-trade and organic coffee within a gallery setting. Prices vary. 3210 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-321-8733, redtreegallery.net.
Roebling Point Books & Coffee
Local independent bookstore with interior coffee shop. $2-$5. 306 Greenup St., Covington, Ky., roeblingpointbooks.com.
Rohs Street Café
This not-for-profit coffeehouse close to UC fully embraces ethical sourcing by offering only fair-trade coffees and teas. Choose from a selection of locally roasted La Terza coffees to sip with a fresh pastry. $1.20-$4.45. 245 W. McMillan St., Clifton Heights, 513-381-7647, rohsstreetcafe.com.
Sidewinder Coffee & Tea
The café offers locally roasted fair-trade and organic coffees, espresso drinks, spirits, blended and loose-leaf teas. Tasty sweet and savory treats abound, including a veggie sandwich with roasted red peppers, cucumbers, spinach, hummus and provolone. $1.50-$7.25. 4181 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-542-8321, sidewindercoffee.com.
Maybe you enjoy only the smell of coffee, but would rather have a beer or mixed drink in your hand. This Clifton coffee shop offers a fine line of artisan coffee, local and imported beer, a full bar with signature cocktails and even fancy milkshakes. Food choices include salads, breakfast, sandwiches, vegetarian and options for kids. $4-$9. 324 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-281-7487, sitwellscoffeehouse.com.
Velocity Bike & Bean
Full service bike shop that serves coffee. $2-$5. 7560 Burlington Pike, Florence, Ky., 859-371-8356, velocitybb.com.
DELIS, SANDWICHES AND TAKEAWAY
Dutch's Larder Photo: Jesse Fox
Avril-Bleh & Sons
A historic Cincinnati butcher and meat market with attached deli and take-out. Prices vary. 33 E. Court St., Downtown, 513-241-2433, avril-blehmeats.com.
Dutch’s established itself as a wine and bottling shop in 1947 and has recently expanded into a deli/grocery. Not only do they have an enormous selection of wine and craft beer, they now have an upscale deli with an impressive selection of charcuterie, gourmet cheeses and pantry staples like quinoa and red rice. Prices vary. 3366 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-871-1446, facebook.com/dutchslarder.
Fred & Gari’s
Fresh meats roasted daily draw a crowd during downtown lunch breaks — along with the charm and hospitality of the staff. No packaged deli meats here: The chicken breasts are oven-baked and artfully sliced by hand, and the ham is just like mama made. There are also soft chocolate chip cookies and freshly baked pies. $3-$20. 629 Vine St., Downtown, 513-784-9000.
Fresh Table at Findlay Market
Meredith Trombly, Louis Snowden and their staff do all the hard parts — finding the best locally sourced ingredients, and cooking 40-50 delicious and beautifully presented dishes every day. Baby back ribs and grilled wild-caught salmon highlight the main courses at this constantly evolving eatery. $5-$12. 1801 Race St., Findlay Market, Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-3774, freshtable.biz.
Gramma Debbie's Kitchen
Old-fashioned comfort food, cooked and ready for you to take home. $5-$12. 1801 Race St., Findlay Market, Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-4726, facebook.com/grammadebbiesatfindlaymarket.
Located inside Longworth Hall, the menu reads like a “greatest hits” of popular food truck-inspired selections, including a variety of street tacos, a kicked-up Cuban sandwich, Chicago-style Italian beef dipped in au jus, Angus beef sliders and grilled-then-roasted pizzas. $6-$9. 700 W. Pete Rose Way, Downtown, 513-721-3663, grecos.biz.
Happy Belly on Vine
Healthy clean-eating spot on Vine Street for breakfast and lunch. Offers smoothies and take-away, like their basil-hummus wrap or a sweet potato burger. $5-$8. 1344 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-873-8619, facebook.com/happybellyonvine.
A Cincinnati tradition, Izzy’s serves a reuben we can all be proud of. Other sandwiches such as the Reuben-ator and the Izzy’s Mex showcase their delicious corned beef. $5-$10. Multiple locations including 800 Elm St., Downtown, 513-721-4241; 610 Main St., Downtown, 513-241-6246, izzys.com.
Picnic and Pantry
An offspring of Northside favorite, Melt, Picnic and Pantry offers an abundance of locally grown whole foods and gourmet take-home salads and sandwiches. A knowledgeable staff of chefs develops the menu and supplies more than enough produce, dairy and meat to make that special dinner without a trip to the megastore. $5-$12. 4163 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-681-8600, picnicandpantry.com.
Rascal’s NY Deli
What are the signs of modern civilization? Indoor plumbing, a literate population and a good deli, right? Rascal’s is that deli — the real deal. They serve the best pastrami that’ll ever pass your lips. Rascal’s has soul food for your Yiddish heart: chopped liver, blintzes, knishes and kugel. $3-$15. 9525 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash. 513-429-4567, rascalsdeli.com.
A gourmet grilled cheese and tomato soup shop with a famous grilled-cheese donut. Featured on Shark Tank. Multiple locations including 420 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-721-2433; Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., 859-291-2433, tomandchee.com.
The 'Wich on Sycamore
Quality made-to-order sandwiches with roasted meats. $5-$10. 425 Sycamore St., Downtown, 513-421-9424, thewichonsycamore.com.
DINERS AND CHILI PARLORS
Taking its blazing neon “We May Doze, But Never Close” sign to heart, the Anchor Grill stays open 24/7, offering round-the-clock breakfast fare along with lunch and dinner comfort-food classics. The diner ambiance is unmatched, from the sassy-yet-personable waitresses to the vintage ’50s animatronic miniature band moving in sync with jukebox selections. $4-$12. 438 Pike St., Covington, Ky., 859-431-9498.
Blue Ash Chili
This family-owned chili parlor, established in 1969, not only offers a traditional Cincinnati-style chili with coneys and three-, four- and five-ways but also a menu loaded with sandwiches, burgers, salads and sides. Featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. $3-$8. Multiple locations including 9565 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash, 513-984-6107; 4200 Aero Drive, Mason, 513-492-9650, blueashchili.com.
Camp Washington Chili
A great place for breakfast, lunch or dinner, Camp Washington Chili features greasy-spoon breakfast offerings, double-decker sandwiches, Cincinnati-style chili, coneys and even a few salads. $5-$8. 3005 Colerain Ave., Camp Washington, 513-541-0061, campwashingtonchili.com.
Founded in 1929 by “Papa Nick,” Dixie Chili has classic, secret-ingredient Cincinnati-style chili with cheese and onions on spaghetti. $1.50-$7. Multiple locations including 733 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859-291-5337; 2421 Madison Ave., Covington, Ky., 859-431-7444, dixiechili.com.
Customer favorites include the Echo Grill (baked ham, Swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato served with tartar sauce), the open-faced turkey sandwich, the Reuben and the Hot Mess (layers of home fries, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, gravy and cheese). The Echo has weekly specials and always serves up homemade pie. $6-$10. 3510 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, 513-321-2816, echo-hydepark.com.
The old-fashioned flavors of the soda fountain are found at Hathaway’s, including the best darn chocolate shake in town. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped through a time portal to the 1950s. Get a plate lunch or a burger, but if you’re there for breakfast (and when isn’t it time for breakfast food?) don’t miss the French toast and goetta. Hathaway’s does them both exactly right. $4-$9. 441 Vine St., Carew Tower, Downtown, 513-621-1332, facebook.com/hathawaysdiner.
This old-school diner serves huge double-decker sandwiches, good chili, cheese coneys and all-day breakfast at a great price. Tucked into a strip mall, this is a no-frills neighborhood staple with lots of regulars and quick service. $5-$8. 6159 Glenway Ave., Westwood, 513-661-2260.
Open 24 hours a day so you can get your fried pickle fix whenever the craving hits — and once you have the Pepper Pod’s fried pickles, the hankering will hit you often. The meatloaf goes very quickly in the evening so get there early. Greasy spoon dining at its best, the Pepper Pod is a Newport legend. $3-$10. 703 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859-431-7455.
Pleasant Ridge Chili
A local chili joint that just celebrated 50 years. Offers chili to go and late-night eats. $3-$9. 6032 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, 513-531-2365, pleasantridgechili.com.
Price Hill Chili
Generations of West Side patrons have grown up on this iconic, family-owned restaurant’s diverse, fairly priced menu. Having expanded several times over the years, there are now multiple dining areas and a full service cocktail lounge called Golden Fleece attached. What sets them apart from other chili joints is the full menu of sandwiches, sides, entrées and even breakfast served all day. $2-$15. 4920 Glenway Ave., Price Hill, 513-471-9507, pricehillchili.com.
A locally based chain of chili parlors founded by Greek immigrants in Cincinnati in 1949. Their Cincinnati-style chili is poured over spaghetti or hot dogs along with chili burritos, fries, baked potatoes and more. $4-$9. Multiple locations including 290 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-221-2142, skylinechili.com.
Sugar n’ Spice
Huge, fluffy omelets and “wispy thin” pancakes have made Sugar n’ Spice a bona fide breakfast institution for more than 70 years. Lunch highlights include third- and half-pound burgers, double-deckers and signature sandwiches. $3-$11. 4381 Reading Road, Avondale, 513-242-3521, sugar-n-spice-restaurant.com.
Truly an Over-the-Rhine institution (same family since 1946!) and an “everyman” restaurant. Solid, Midwestern staples for hungry, working people. Features a full breakfast menu complete with a variety of omelets, pancakes and egg dishes. Try the Big Tucker, a double-decker burger with cheese and special sauce. Other standbys include biscuits and gravy and the fried cod sandwich. $4-$7. 1637 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-721-7123.
Elephant Walk Injera & Curry House
Traditional Ethiopian and Indian fare in the same location. $4-$30. 170 W. McMillan St., Clifton Heights, 513-526-1555, elephantwalkcincinnati.weebly.com.
The cuisine comes from eastern Africa, specifically sharing dishes from Ethiopia and Eritrea, which neighbors Ethiopia to the north. Guests can delight in communal platters of meat and vegetable stews, meant to be scooped up with injera flat bread. There are plenty of options for vegan and vegetarians, like the Ahmelti with collard greens and lightly spiced cabbage cooked with onions and pepper. $10-$22. 6063 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, 513-351-7686, emanuea.com.
Family-run restaurant with true Ethiopian dishes and Ethiopian-style coffee ceremony. $7-$15. 5070 Crookshank Road, Westwood, 513-429-4890, habeshacincinnati.com.
They offer dishes like kebabs with fish or shrimp and whole grilled tilapia, with the head on or off, served with sides of couscous or steamed noodles. It’s a great place to try West African dishes such as Mechoui (stuffed lamb leg with onion sauce) and Charwarma (chicken or beef in a mustard sauce served in flatbread). $5-$10. 8438 Vine St., Hartwell, 513-381-3280.
Kaze Photo: Keith Bowers
Quaint and comfortable with a huge beer list, Amerasia might be Covington’s best-kept secret. Offering all the usual Chinese dishes and a list of chef specialties, Amerasia’s food is anything but the usual. Chef Chu makes it all from scratch. His motto: “Do not take short cuts and do everything with passion and love.” Enjoy it all while taking in the eclectic décor of Kung Fu movie posters and paper lanterns. $7.50-$16. 521 Madison Ave., Covington, Ky., 859-261-6121, facebook.com/kungfoodchu.
China Gourmet has been serving fine Chinese cuisine since 1977. The menu at China Gourmet is not your typical gigantic Chinese menu with hundreds of items. It is divided into sections of classics, what’s new and traditional favorites, each with just a handful of choices. $8-$22. 3340 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-871-6612, thechinagourmet.com.
Eat well. Eat fresh. Eat often. These three sentences serve both as a tagline and as a personal philosophy for local restaurateur Darren Phan, owner of Cilantro Vietnamese Bistro, Clifton’s brothy, herby, vermicelli-filled landmark. A collection of family recipes and flavors brought over from the motherland serve as the heart from which joy and laughter still pump. $5.50-$7.95. 235 W. McMillan St., Clifton Heights, 513-281-1732, eatatcilantro.com.
Fusian’s fast-casual approach, in which you choose your own custom sushi roll, prompted many to coin the restaurant the “Chipotle of sushi.” They offer a diverse selection of non-traditional sushi proteins, including steak, chicken and roasted tofu, but the classic tuna and salmon rolls remain among the most popular. $6-$9. Multiple locations including 600 Vine St., Downtown, 513-421-7646, fusian.com.
House of Sun
A great find for Saturday and Sunday mornings, you’ll love the traditional Chinese Dim Sum, with long, sweet fried breadsticks; small sausage-filled steamed dumplings; the scallion pancake with egg; and the most delicious Sesame ShaoBing with beef — all bargain priced. $6-$11. 11959 Lebanon Road, Sharonville, 513-769-0888, houseofsuncincy.com.
Sushi, sashimi and Robotayaki grill (traditional Japanese charcoal grill) offerings abound in the cozy Ichiban dining room. Tapas-style small plates, dishes to tempt carnivores and a dizzying variety of noodle dishes round out the menu. Belly up to the sushi bar or bring a group and dive into the half-price sushi menu while enjoying a warm sake or Asian-inspired cocktail. $10-$20. 1020 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-321-8686, ichibancinci.com.
The old Cincinnati Color building on Vine Street is such a landmark that it would have been dreadful had it been torn down. Thankfully, Japanese gastropub Kaze saved it. With a distinct bar and dining room, favorites are the pork belly buns and kobe sliders, with cucumber pickled kimchi-style and a rich Korean barbecue sauce. $5-$30. 1400 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-898-7991, kazeotr.com.
Lulu’s Rice & Noodles
It’s not a Chinese restaurant, it’s a noodle shop! Serving up inexpensive steaming bowls of various Asian rice and noodle dishes garnished with vegetables and seafood or meat. Their soups are great, too. Try the spicy and intense Tom Yum soup with shrimp. $5.50-$9.50. 135 W. Kemper Road, Springdale, 513-671-4949, lulusricenoodles.com.
Transcending the typical Chinese American menu since 1977, Oriental Wok offers innovative, fresh and delicious chef-prepared cuisine that’s never boring — from five-spice tofu over stir-fried spinach to sea bass with black bean and garlic sauce or a steak with peppercorn sauce. Excellent beer and wine selections. $11-$27. 317 Buttermilk Pike, Fort Mitchell, Ky., 859-331-3000; 2444 Madison Road, Hyde Park, 513-871-6888, orientalwok.com.
♡ Pho Lang Thang
Located in the heart of Findlay Market, Pho Lang Thang offers dishes like hot pho soup, spring rolls and the ever-popular banh mi sandwiches, which come sprinkled with assorted pickled vegetables and your choice of meat or tofu. They also serve Vietnamese coffee sweetened with condensed milk and brewed right on the table into your glass. $5-$9. 114 W. Elder St., Findlay Market, Over-the-Rhine, 513-376-9177, pholangthang.com.
“Hapa” is the word for a mixed race Asian or Pacific Islander, the perfect nomenclature considering the food is an iteration of the best dishes and spirits from Korea, Vietnam, Japan and Hawaii. Their menu is delineated into sections of small plates, steamed bun sliders, noodles, poké (Hawaiian marinated fish salad) and rolls, with all of the dishes shareable. $4-$13. 1331 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-7826, quanhapa.com.
♡ Riverside Korean Restaurant
For authentic Korean dishes, Riverside Korean Restaurant is an excellent choice. They offer traditional rice-based Dolsot Bibimbap with mixed vegetables. Or try something new from the “Adventure Dinner” menu, like the Sam Gyub Sal Bo Sam, a marinated pork belly dish. All dishes are served with a delightful selection of side dishes, called Ban Chan. $12-$36. 512 Madison Ave., Covington, Ky., 859-291-1484, riversidekoreanrestaurant.com.
Shanghai Mama’s menu gives you the option of mixing and matching proteins with starches. The noodles are homemade, thick and rustic and very delicious. And Mama’s is very vegetarian friendly. There are several seitan dishes, including Veggie Cashew Chicken and the Happy Buddha. $7.95-$24.95. 216 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-241-7777, shanghaimamas.com.
We’re lucky to have Song Long’s authentic Vietnamese food in town. Family-run, Song Long is often busy enough to have a line out the door on weekday nights. We love the Bahn Xeo crepe stuffed with bean sprouts and shrimp, or the Gui Con with its clear, cool rice paper and blend of fresh cilantro sprigs and vermicelli doused with peanut sauce. Not fancy, just fantastic. $7-$16. 1737 Section Road, Roselawn, 513-351-7631, songlong.net.
Straits of Malacca
The restaurant offers three different menus: lunch (Tiomon Café), happy hour (Blue Intan) and dinner (Langkawi Spice). All share similar dishes, the happy hour menu being the smallest and featuring just a selection of appetizers. The Corvina entrée on the dinner menu is a chunky fillet of white fish encrusted with a savory cilantro kesom crust, surrounded by seasoned cooked okra, red peppers, eggplant and pineapple rice, then finished off with beet foam. $5-$28. 202 W. Main St., Mason, 513-492-7656, straitsmalacca.com.
Sukhothai Thai Cuisine
Exotic dishes like mango prawns stir-fried in a tamarind sauce or the tamarind crispy duck. There are familiar options like stir fry and noodle dishes such as pad Thai with your choice of meat and house fried rice. All of the dishes can be made vegetarian-friendly with vegetables or tofu. $6-$18. 8102 Market Place Lane, Montgomery, 513-794-0057, sukhothaicincy.com.
Sung Korean Bistro
For a break from the ordinary downtown dinner, Sung Korean Bistro hits the spot. They serve traditional Korean dishes like hot stone bowl Dolsot Bibimbap, sizzling with your choice of meat and a spicy chili bean paste served on the side. Try the Doeji Galbi pork rib dish, which packs a sweet and spicy flavor combo served with rice. For an appetizer, try the Haemul Pajun, wheat flour pancake with egg, shrimp, crabmeat, squid, green onion and pepper. They also serve sushi for dinner. $15-$20. 700 Elm St., Downtown, 513-721-7864, sungkoreanbistro.com.
♡ Teak Thai
With three floors of dining, a full bar and a large outdoor patio area, Teak Thai has the room to accommodate throngs of Thai and sushi lovers. It also has the food to keep them coming back for more. Thai curries, soups, stir-fries, sushi and sashimi all vie for space alongside noodle dishes and house specialties like seafood claypot and crispy duck. $3.50-$17.95. 1049 Saint Gregory St., Mount Adams, 513-665-9800, teakthaicuisine.com.
Located in a strip mall, Thai Namtip has a rather unassuming location, but diners who know good Thai food make regular pilgrimages to this spot. Their specialty is the Orange Chicken, with breaded chicken breast drenched in a tangy orange sauce with vegetables and cashews. Another specialty is the Seafood Clay Pot. $3-$16. 5461 N. Bend Road, Monfort Heights, 513-481-3360, thainamtip.com.
Many Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese dishes complement the creative sushi menu. A recent expansion added a Hibachi grill to the mix. Try the Heema Roll, with shrimp tempura, asparagus and avocado, topped with yellowfin tuna and sprinkled with crabmeat and tempura flakes. $10-$15. 3655 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, 513-533-9500, wildgingercincy.com.
Caribbean food carryout with dishes like empanadas, stews, coconut chicken, black beans and more. $3-$7.50. 2605 Vine St., Corryville, 513-221-1786, caribeonvine.com.
This bright yellow building sitting in the heart of Corryville offers authentic Jamaican delights like jerk chicken, sweet plantains, oxtail and curry goat. $8-$10. 2826 Vine St., Corryville, 513-498-0680, islandfrydays.com.
CAJUN AND CREOLE
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). $9-$20. 3538 Columbia Parkway, Columbia-Tusculum, 513-871-5779, allynscafe.com.
Dee Felice Café
If you’re looking for more of an experience than just dinner, swing into Dee Felice Café. Along with spicy New Orleans-style dishes, you’ll enjoy great live Jazz performed on a raised stage behind the bar Wednesday through Sunday. The star dish here is the crawfish étouffée, a generous pile of crawfish tails with vegetables and spicy sauce over rice. $15-$37. 529 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-261-2365, deefelice.com.
♡ Knotty Pine on the Bayou
Louisiana cooking featuring alligator, lobster bisque, oysters, fried catfish and frog legs with a mess of sides. Be sure to ask about the nightly special. $11-$30. 6302 Licking Pike, Cold Spring, Ky., 859-781-2200, letseat.at/knottypine.
Southerners will feel right at home. An ample lineup of classic Louisiana favorites like jambalaya, gumbo, po’ boys and red beans and rice are paired with a selection of hardwood-smoked ribs, barbecue chicken and pulled pork. $8-$18. 3742 Kellogg Ave., East End, 513-834-7067, swampwatergrill.com.
BRITISH AND CELTIC
Cock & Bull Public House
Cock & Bull serves award-winning fish and chips and better-than-average pub grub, including excellent crab cakes and build-your-own burgers. The atmosphere is convivial, and the beer selection is astounding — 60 beers on tap. $7-$17. Multiple locations including 2645 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-533-4253; 601 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-581-4253; 275 E. Sharon Road, Glendale, 513-771-4253, candbpublichouse.com.
♡ Molly Malone’s
Northern Kentucky’s own Irish Pub, Molly’s has a great mix of Irish and American fare for lunch, brunch and supper, and serves pizza and appetizers until the wee hours. With 28 draft beers, trivia, karaoke and live music seven nights a week, Molly’s will fill your dance card. $7-$15. 112 E. Fourth St., Covington, Ky., 859-491-6659, covington.mollymalonesirishpub.com.
For some gastropub food with Scottish influence and a cocktail or two, Nicholson’s is a hot spot to hit. They’re known for their fish and chips, but their new menu offers duck fat fries and shepherd’s pie. If you’re not hungry, check out one of their 90 single malt scotches, craft cocktails or draft beer. $9-$29. 625 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-564-9111, nicholsonspub.com.
FRENCH AND BELGIAN
The casual, upscale menu of French-American cuisine includes perfect foie gras, local chicken with fingerling potatoes and the French Chateau Burger with blue cheese, caramelized onions, tomato and bacon on a fluffy brioche bun. A Duo of Snail & Frog Leg appetizer is also available, served with a crawfish beignet, kale and chablis reduction. $12-$36. 713 Vine St., Downtown, 513-621-4777, jrtable.com.
♡ Taste of Belgium
Hot, fresh Belgian waffles make delicious breakfast sandwiches, but there are also healthy fruit and yogurt parfaits. The crepe station prepares sweet and savory crepes, like the Nati Crepe with goetta, made fresh to order. At dinner, the sophistication goes up a notch with mussels, steak frites and Belgian specialties. Exclusive selection of Belgian beers. $5-$25. Multiple locations including 1133 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-4607; 2845 Vine St., Clifton, 513-394-7105; authenticwaffle.com.
Katharina's Cafe-Konditorei Photo: Jesse Fox
The first authentic German hofbräuhaus in America modeled after the legendary Munich location. Traditionally decorated rooms, beer brewed on-site, a huge biergarten and German dishes make this a fun dining option. $4-$16. 200 E. Third St., Newport, Ky., 859-491-7200, hofbrauhausnewport.com.
Did you even know that there are eight kinds of schnitzel? The Iron Skillet celebrates traditional Eastern European cuisine with a schnitzel for every day of the week — and then some. $9-$22. 7397 Main St., Newtown, 513-561-6776, laszlosironskillet.com.
Katharina's is a family-run operation, with the entire staff hailing from Mainz, a small town in Germany. The traditional German menu is bilingual and offers breakfast and lunch — meat, breads, cheeses and, of course, cake — in an authentic kaffee haus environment. $4-$13. 529 Overton St., Newport, Ky., 859-291-2233, katharinascafe.com.
For a taste of Zinzinnati’s German heritage, Mecklenburg Gardens showcases some of the best German cuisine the city has to offer. Their specialty is Wiener Schnitzel, a tender veal cutlet topped with lemon; it’s served with German fried potatoes and cabbage. They have 16 beers on tap, most of which are German, along with some microbrews. $8-$20. 302 E. University Ave., Corryville, 513-221-5353, mecklenburgs.net.
Authentic Northern Indian cuisine with a lunch buffet and Indian beer. $8-$15. 24 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-723-1300, akashindia.net.
♡ Ambar India
Perhaps the classiest of the Indian restaurants along Ludlow Avenue in Clifton, Ambar touts a neat and simple dining room with white tablecloths and consistently good service. $8-$20. 350 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-281-7000, ambarindia.com.
Amma’s serves only vegan and vegetarian Indian food, but you won’t miss the meat when the flavors are this complex. Homemade breads include the puffy pillows of cooked dough called batura. They also carry Indo-Chinese dishes. $5-$10. 7633 Reading Road, Roselawn, 513-821-2021, ammaskitchen.com.
Excellent North Indian fare such as saag paneer and chicken korma. Complete the meal with an order of naan — there are 10 varieties to choose from, including garlic and paneer (cheese-filled). Also offers a broad lunch buffet. $8-$15. 354 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-961-3600, amolindiacincinnati.com.
Baba is known for its gentle blending of herbs and spices, featuring authentic cuisine from Northern India. Try the savory tandoori oven dishes, exotic curries, excellent naan and various mango juice beverages. $6-$14. 3120 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-321-1600, babarestaurant.com.
Owners G. and Rip, who own the original Bombay Brazier in Lexington, Ky., bring style and class to a cuisine popularized by buffets, Americanized dishes and rushed, overcrowded dining rooms. What’s their philosophy? Northern Indian recipes done the only way they know: authentically. $12-$28. 7791 Cooper Road, Montgomery, 513-794-0000.
Brij Mohan Indian Sweets & Restaurant
Brij Mohan features authentic northern Indian cuisine specializing in desserts and street-food style dishes. Try the malai kofta, a creamy onion and tomato sauce with mixed vegetable balls, or homemade cheese dishes like spicy chili paneer or saag paneer with spinach. All dishes are vegetarian and made from scratch, including their pastries. Be sure to check out their list of dessert specials. $7-$10. 11259 Reading Road, Sharonville, 513-769-4549, brijmohansweets.com.
Deep India's simple, cheaper take on take-out is welcome in the Clifton brotherhood of Indian restaurants. Head to the counter to order, and then wait for your giant Styrofoam container of saag to come out. You can either eat in at one of their fast-food-style tables or take your Goliath order home and make a few meals out of it. Efficient, flavorful, accurately spicy and they deliver to the Mount Auburn area. $7-$10. 211 W. McMillan Ave., Clifton Heights, 513-421-6453, deepindiarestaurant.com.
Sitting at the bottom of Ludlow Avenue right across from Cincinnati State, Dusmesh is a foodie favorite, offering Northern Indian food made fresh with organic produce. Vegans can substitute coconut milk in any of their dishes. If you want to sample a little bit of everything, check out the lunch buffet. $8-$15. 944 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-221-8900, dusmesh.com.
With only a few seats in house and every dish served in a Styrofoam container, it’s no wonder why the emphasis is on the food. Krishna offers budget-friendly Indian fare without compromising the quality. Go in for the lamb biryani or the saag paneer, and add some vegetable samosas to your order. Their food is friendly whether you’re carnivore or vegetarian. $7-$10. 313 Calhoun St., Clifton Heights, 513-961-2878.
Mantra on the Hill
Led by Chef Yajan Upadhyaya, originally chef/owner of Cumin in Hyde Park, Mantra’s kitchen staff boasts terrific knife skills and offers a menu of updated Indian. Find traditional dishes like palak paneer alongside options like Saloni Machchi, salmon filet with mango salsa, paprika and a ajwain ginger-lime marinade. $11-$20. 934 Hatch St., Mount Adams, 513-621-1100, mantraonthehill.com.
Specializes in a wide variety of North Indian foods. Includes a lunch and dinner buffet. $8.50-$15.99. 11974 Lebanon Road, Sharonville, 513-769-6266, newkrishnaindiancuisine.com.
Shaan Indian Cuisine
Located in Hyde Park, Shaan Indian Cuisine provides Northern Indian cuisine specializing in saag dishes, like the chicken saag and the saag paneer. The Chane Ki Chat is a blend of fruit and vegetables mixed with chickpeas served cold as an appetizer that you don’t normally see, but don’t miss the spicy lamb vindaloo or the ginger lamb. $9-$12. 3880 Paxton Ave., Hyde Park, 513-533-3100, shaanindian.com.
The former owners of Dushmesh opened this spot that’s friendly to all: gluten-free eaters, vegans, bring-your-own-beer types and those who just love excellent garlic naan. $9-$15. 1806 W. Galbraith Road, North College Hill, 513-522-5900, facebook.com/swadfineindianfoodcincinnati.
ITALIAN AND PIZZA
Strong Brick Oven Pizza Photo: Jesse Fox
Adriatico’s has a huge draft beer selection and 64-ounce growlers to go, plus spicy, garlicky sauce, oversized pepperonis and the super-thick crust that their pizzas are known for. Good luck finding calzones like theirs, too. It’s “madness” every Monday and Tuesday with specials that the college kids can’t turn down. $6-$18. 113 W. McMillan St., Clifton Heights, 513-281-4344, facebook.com/adriaticos.
♡ A Tavola
Armed with a pizza oven from Naples, Italy, A Tavola strikes a resounding chord of authenticity while redefining the perfect pie. Their playful selection of signature pizzas — such as the Fig + Prosciutto, Sweet Pea + Bacon or Sausage + Sage — are a blend of the familiar coupled with the exotic. Whet your appetite with their stuffed dates, filled with house sausage, wrapped in smoky bacon and topped with tomato sauce. $5-$16. 1220 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-246-0192; 7022 Miami Ave., Madeira, 513-272-0192, atavolapizza.com.
♡ Bella Luna
One of the most romantic Italian restaurants in the city is also ideal for a lively night out with friends. Features authentic recipes from Italy’s Sicily and Calabria regions — must-haves include the mushroom ravioli stuffed with portobello and topped with sweet pepper sauce and gorgonzola as well as eggplant Parmesan. They also offer a gluten-free menu. $8.99-$25.99. 4632 Eastern Ave., East End, 513-871-5862, bellalunacincy.com.
Betta’s Italian Oven
Plenty o’ choices here to give any local Italian chain a serious run for its money. Familiar favorites include antipasto, soups, salads and Italian and NYC-style sandwiches, but pizza is the real word. The wood-fired oven produces tasty, thin-crust pies like the Quattro Stagioni with kalamata olives, prosciutto, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella; and breadsticks, including the spicy pepperoni sticks. There are plenty of regulars filling the tables every night — always a sign of a consistently good meal. $8-$14. 3764 Montgomery Road, Norwood, 513-631-6836, bettasitalianoven.com.
Buona Vita Pizzeria
Lots of Italian restaurants claim to cook “just like Grandma made it,” but few actually use authentic recipes passed down from the motherland. At Buona Vita Pizzeria, the Frommeyers use their family name (Buonavita, “the good life”) and family recipes. Truly a family affair, Joseph Frommeyer runs the front of house while his brother/chef Matthew runs the kitchen using recipes handed down from their Nonna. Mamma helps out in the dining room, serving her homemade cookies and other Italian treats to guests; plus cousin Ralph drops off his Dolce Vita Gelato. $5-$17. Buona Vita Pizzeria, 441 Sixth St., Dayton, Ky., 859-261-6792, buonavitapizzeria.com.
Cincy by the Slice
Try the Pickleroni Pie with pickles and pepperoni; supreme pie with pepperoni, mushrooms, green pepper, onion and Italian sausage; the Italian sausage hoagie with peppers; or the veggie stromboli. $6-$18. 1207 Main St., Downtown, 513-621-3800, cincybytheslice.com.
♡ Dewey’s Pizza
A hip neighborhood pizza chain with craft beers, seasonal salads, specialty toppings and a window where kids (and adults) can watch the pizzas being hand-tossed. $9-$22. Multiple locations including 3014 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-731-7755; 7767 Kenwood Road, Kenwood, 513-791-1616; Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., 859-431-9700, deweyspizza.com.
Italian small plates and wood-fired pizzas dominate this popular Italian wine bar headed up by chef Adam Cobb. An impressive collection of cured meat, artisan cheese and pasta plates perfectly complement their wide selection of reds and whites. $5-$27. 2038 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, 513-834-5773, enotecaemilia.com.
New York-style pizzeria with subs and calzones. $5.95-$32. 603 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-916-5209, goodfellaspizzeria.com.
A chain of local pizzerias that’s been dishing up pies for 60 years, as well as pasta, salads, sandwiches and more. $5-$25. Multiple locations, 513-347-1111, larosas.com.
Mac’s Pizza Pub
It’s kind of a collegiate Chuck E. Cheese. There are games, live music, sports and food — good food with vegan options. Mac’s pizza has won numerous awards and the rest of its menu ain’t too shabby, either. $3.50-$10. 205 W. McMillan St., Clifton Heights, 513-241-MACS; 6309 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, 513-271-MACS; 2920 W. US-22, Maineville, 513-677-MACS, macspizzapub.com.
Choices are endless at this groovy pizza joint. Choose from an extensive list of specialty pizzas including the Holy Shiitake Pie or opt to craft your own creation. $3.95-$24.99. Multiple locations including 9238 Floer Drive, West Chester, 513-860-0888; 3804 Paxton Ave., Hyde Park, 513-321-2555, mellowmushroom.com.
Newport Pizza Company
The pizzas are excellent, of course, and the vegetarian options are much better than average since Newport Pizza roasts most of their veggies to give them excellent flavor. Best thing on the menu, though, is the Antipasti Basket with salami, pepperoni, capicola ham, asiago and fresh mozzarella, manzanella olives, banana peppers, Roma tomato, fresh basil and a big fat head of roasted garlic. $5-$17. 601 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859-261-4900, newportpizzacompany.com.
Wood-fired pizzas take a little longer to bake, but they are well worth it. Honey-tasting, flakey crust and scrumptious sandwiches along with pastas and salads make this more than a typical sit-down pizza joint. $6-$17. 121 W. McMillan St., Clifton, 513-861-0080; 7880 Remington Road, Montgomery, 513-794-0080, pomodoris.com.
This restaurant, where the toothpick scene in Rain Man was filmed, has been offering classic family Italian since 1933. $6.95-$13.95. 600 Washington Ave., Newport, Ky., 859-581-3065, pompiliosrestaurant.com.
Try the pizza challenge — two people, 10 minutes, one 24-inch pizza. Winners get their photo on the wall. $3-$36. 3166 Linwood Ave., 513-321-0978, ramundospizzeria.com.
Avocados are usually associated with Mexican food, but if you crave the green stuff on unconventional dishes, Red Rose Pizza offers a fresh guacamole appetizer, broccoli avocado soup, the Goats & Guacamole salad, May’s Funky Chicken grinder and as a pizza topping. $6-$65 (for a 28-inch pizza). Red Rose Pizza, 5915 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, 513-620-7673, redroseonhamilton.com.
Family-owned for a century, Scotti’s must be doing something right. Their large menu features just about every pasta imaginable and nearly 20 different varieties of veal dishes. Finish off your meal with a bottle of wine and you’ll be full for days. Multi-colored tiles plaster the walls and candles drip layer upon layer of wax on Chianti bottles at every table, providing a little light to the otherwise dimly lit dining room. $18-$30. 919 Vine St., Downtown, 513-721-9484, scottiscincinnati.com.
Located under Boca restaurant, the Tuscan-inspired Sotto offers a more approachable atmosphere and price point than its upstairs neighbor. With multiple dining rooms, the kitchen is open to view, including the custom-made wood-fire grill in front and a fresh-pasta room in the back hallway. Menu items include handmade pasta, house-cured salami and big-ticket items like Bistecca Fiorentina, a grilled creekstone porterhouse steak with daily sides. Sotto sources their bread from Blue Oven and also grows their own herbs and vegetables. $7-$75. 118 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-977-6886, sottocincinnati.com.
Strong’s Brick Oven Pizzeria
Strong’s Brick Oven Pizzeria is not just another pizza joint. The dough is thin, with beautiful crisp air pockets that bulge out of the pizza. It is golden, charred and chewy. The toppings are tossed on top deliberately but asymmetrically, rustic in every sense. $9-$18. 336 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859-291-6836, strongsbrickovenpizza.com.
A beverage drive-thru with above-average pizza, including the Lotta Trotta big-ass pizza. $6-$35. 3501 Werk Road, Westwood, 513-451-5555, trottaspizza.com.
Via Vite showcases chef Cristian Pietoso’s casual take on Northern Italian cuisine. Crispy, wood-fired pizzas and hearty pastas hearken to the motherland, while entrées of braised lamb shank and bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin smothered in grandma’s peperonata lead the diner on a classic Italian journey. $10-$38. 520 Vine St., Fountain Square, Downtown, 513-721-8483, viaviterestaurant.com.
♡ Abigail Street
The Mediterranean-inspired menu of small plates revels in Italian, Spanish, Turkish and Greek influences, with unique twists only chef Daniel Wright (winner of Food & Wine’s 2012 People’s Best New Chef: Great Lakes Region) could pull off — chorizo-stuffed dates, grilled octopus, batata and more. Wines are available on tap, by the bottle or the glass. $5-$15. 1214 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-4040, abigailstreet.com.
Ali Baba Mediterranean Grill on Red Bank Road is a tiny hole-in-the-wall serving up gargantuan falafel and gyro platters that won’t break the bank. Stock your plate with a variety of fresh toppings doled out by a friendly server, then sit down to watch Persian singer Mansour and others belt out hits in music videos hearkening back to MTV’s glory days. $5-$10. 4793 Red Bank Road, Madisonville, 513-271-0706, alibabagrille.com.
♡ Andy’s Mediterranean Grille
Expect maximum Mediterranean flavor at Andy’s, from the signature Shish Tawook, a marinated chicken kabob, to authentic stuffed grape leaves and many varieties of baklava and Turkish coffee. $6-$24. 906 Nassau St., Walnut Hills, 513-281-9791, andyskabob.com.
This veg-friendly spot combines cultures and dishes from around the Mediterranean, specializing in Israeli food. Everything is made in-house and the only meat on the menu is fish. $5.50-$17. 8316 Plainfield Road, Deer Park, 513-791-1777, kinneretcafe.com.
Chow down on authentic Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. Check out Mediterranean King’s Facebook for daily specials. $4-$29.99. 3307 Clifton Ave., Clifton Heights, 513-221-7222, facebook.com/mediterraneanking.
Serving as a West Side staple for more than 38 years, Sebastian’s family-owned restaurant is a hidden Greek treasure. With mouth-watering baklava, flaky spanakopita and the hands-down best gyro in town, it’s no wonder why customers keep coming back for more. $4-$10. 5209 Glenway Ave., West Price Hill, 513-471-2100, sebastiansgyros.com.
♡ Bakersfield OTR
Part bar, part taco joint, all classy. Bakersfield specializes in gourmet tacos (pollo rojo, pastor, huitlacoche, etc.), quality tequilas and whiskeys and hand-crafted margaritas made the old fashioned way — not from a pre-made mix. $3-$9. 1213 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-579-0446, bakersfieldotr.com.
Mexican restaurant attached to Western Bowl bowling alley; an area favorite. Prices vary. Multiple locations including 6385 Glenway Ave., Western Hills, 513-574-1639, cancunmexicanrestaurantes.com.
Cazadores is one of the city’s most underrated restaurants. It’s locally owned, boasting four decent-sized, clean and rarely crowded restaurants in the Greater Cincinnati area. There are TVs going so you can watch the Bengals/Reds games while you eat with your family. They even recently started sending a guy around to the tables with a cart to make fresh guacamole … and it’s good. $6.50-$15. Multiple locations including 750 Ohio 28, Milford, 513-831-3300, cazadores-restaurants.com.
♡ The Comet
A neighborhood bar with tons of bottled beer options and a limited Mexican-inspired menu available from 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Choose chicken, beef or jerked tofu for your burrito or have the same in a quesadilla, nachos or tacos. $4-$8. 4579 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-541-8900, cometbar.com.
Django Western Taco
The al pastor pork pairs with tequila-soaked, grilled pineapple and fragrant, chopped mint. Vegetarians can enjoy a delicious veggie taco. The Sheriff’s Stone Bowl features beans, rice, vegetables, beef and egg in a big stone bowl. $3-$18. 4046 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-542-3664, djangonorthside.com.
This Anderson landmark opened in the old Cadillac Ranch location with a large outdoor seating area and an interior with TVs, a large bar and plentiful seating. The menu is Tex-Mex with comfortable choices and homemade mashed potatoes, which have always been an El Coyote specialty. $8-$35. 7404 State Road, Anderson, 513-232-5757, elcoyotecincy.com.
El Rancho Grande
One of the largest local Mexican chains. $2-$10. Multiple locations including 7860 Montgomery Road, Kenwood, elranchogrande.info.
Cincinnati’s original foil-wrapped Latin fare. Habañero opened in 1999, before most of us had even heard of that national burrito chain. Known for their more creative burrito options like the Mad Max (with fried tilapia) and the Calypso Chicken (with adobo-glazed chicken breast and pineapple salsa), along with various quesadillas and signature salsas. $6.79-$7.99. 358 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-961-6800, habanerolatin.com.
Home of some of the city’s best tacos: Tacos al Pastor with delicious marinated pork shoulder. They also serve all the usual stuff as far as tasty authentic Mexican tacos are concerned: barbacoa, carne asada, lengua (tongue) and sesos (brains; they wash down perfectly with a cerveza). This inexpensive and authentic menu has been known to incite cravings after as little as one visit. $3-$10. 642 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859-261-6112.
Mazunte is the taqueria you always wanted in your neighborhood. Simple, delicious, a great value and hip. Get the mixed taco taster — three for $9 — and sample their beer-battered fish, shredded roast pork and sangria marinated steak. With an order of guacamole, you are in paradíso, amigo. $7.25-$9.25. 5207 Madison Road, Madisonville, 513-785-0000, mazuntetacos.com.
Friendly service and fresh, affordable food have kept Montoya’s a neighborhood staple for more than 20 years. Patrons rave about their authentic Mexican dishes like chilaquiles, their signature spicy Pirata Plate and anything with mole. Great margaritas are the cherry on top. $4.50-$8.50. 2507 Chelsea Drive, Fort Mitchell, Ky., 859-341-0707.
Modern Mexican. Outstanding guacamole tops beer batter-fried hake on crisp, Baja-style tacos. The ceviche zings with notes of orange and chipotle. Churros, classic fried dough with cinnamon and sugar, are a sweet way to wrap it up. Great location next to the Aronoff Center downtown, and the patio is a big attraction when nice weather beckons. $6-$22. 600 Walnut St., Downtown. 513-721-6232, eatdrinknada.com.
Serves up good strip-mall Mexican, with the giant portions and plentiful margaritas you'd expect. $2-$10. 34 Carothers Road, Newport, Ky., 859-292-8750.
Fajitas come with your choice of grilled steak, chicken or shrimp. Go in Sunday morning for a not-so-typical American brunch and get their spicy chilaquiles with chorizo and pair it with their Michelada — it’s like a bloody mary but with your choice of light or dark beer mixed with tomato juice, lime juice and hot sauce. $3-$15. 100 E. Eighth St., Downtown, 513-381-0678; 6507 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, 513-942-4943, tmercadocincy.com.
Taqueria Yolandita is a tiny taco trailer. The menu is brief, but you’ve still got a tough choice — you’ll want to try everything. Overstuffed tacos, priced at three for $6; burritos, quesadillas and tortas, all $7 each. An order of three is a sit-down, eat-with-a-fork feast, heaped high with braised meat, fresh avocado, chopped onions and cilantro, quartered lemons — not limes — and slices of crisp radish. $5-$7. 1881 Westwood Ave., Fairmount, 513-551-0828.
Puffins Bistro and Desserts
Bea Terekhov and her family make their “puffins,” aka puff pastries, from scratch using family recipes. Their signature pastry is what’s called a piroshky, a smaller, Russian version of the Italian calzone or a thicker version of the Polish pierogi. After they’re stuffed with vegetables or meats like Bavarian sausages, the pastries inflate in the oven. $5-$7. 11033 Reed Hartman Highway, Blue Ash, 513-600-6081, getyourpuff.com.
Alfio’s Buon Cibo
Italian for “good food,” the restaurant aims to wed Italian and Argentine cuisine. The menu is dotted with Italian (baked ravioli, bruschetta) and Argentine (empanadas, grilled lamb) dishes, but steers more toward the former. And, as both countries are located on coasts, there’s always fresh seafood. $7-$29. 2724 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-321-0555, alfios-cincy.com.
For more than seven years, Argentine Bistro has quietly showcased an assortment of authentic dishes of this exotic South American locale. The appetizers are largely made up of focaccia bread, meat and cheese plates. The dinner menu includes a surprising number of Italian dishes. Entrées also highlight the innate meatiness of the region. $7-$30. 2875 Town Center Blvd., Crestview Hills, Ky., 859-426-1042, argentinebistro.com.
Boi Na Braza
Brazilian Steakhouse with a lot of fancy meat on sticks delivered tableside by gauchos, plus a salad bar. $48.95. 441 Vine St., Downtown, 513-421-7111, boinabraza.com.
Some of the popular items from their stout menu include the Seafood Soup with fish, calamari and shrimp. Try Bistec a la Pobre, steak with rice, fries, fried banana and egg; or the Ceviche served cold and topped with citrus-studded fish. The Tallarines Saltado de Vegetales is a veggie spin on spaghetti. $4-$13. 7105 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, 513-860-0349.
A trip to chef David Falk’s Italian/French gemstone is an experience to be savored as much as the food itself. Take your time, invest a few hours and allow him and his attentive, knowledgeable staff to unfold an epic tale of two or three courses, plus dessert. $15-$37. 114 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-542-2022, bocacincinnati.com.
Whet your appetite on P.E.I. mussels with togarashi, saffron and white wine broth or delectable crab cakes with chipotle aioli. Whether you choose the Celestial Oscar, crowned with king crab, or the braised beef short ribs, you will not be disappointed. Desserts include a classic crème brulee and a raspberry peach bread pudding with Michele Chiarlo Moscato d’Asti. $8-$46. 1071 Celestial St., Mount Adams, 513-241-4455, thecelestial.com.
♡ Grande Finale
Operating at the same historic building since 1975, Grand Finale serves up everything from steak and lobster to crepes and outrageous desserts. Try the bacon, shrimp and sun-dried tomato deviled eggs or the herbed filet mignon brochette. No worries for your vegetarian tablemates: Grand Finale has plenty of veggie fare. $12-$38. 3 E. Sharon Road, Glendale, 513-771-5925, grandfinale.info.
Meritage offers upscale classic American cuisine, ranging from pan-seared scallops and Thai-glazed salmon to a Cajun goat cheese-crusted filet. Don’t miss the bone-in pork chop served with bourbon cream sauce. Meritage also boasts an extensive wine cellar and signature cocktails. $10-$40. 1140 Congress Ave., Glendale, 513-376-8134, meritagecincy.com.
A celeb-spotting treasure, Nicola’s renown is undeniable. One of Cincinnati’s top, Zagat-rated restaurants, its menu of housemade pastas, gnocchi and creamy risotto are among some of the thoughtfully conceived dishes transporting patrons to the heart of Italy. Indulge in wine-paired tasting menus or cap off your meal with a dessert of devil’s food cake with strawberries and dark chocolate. $12-$40. 1420 Sycamore St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-721-6200, nicolasotr.com.
Chef Mark Bodenstein finally has a venue where he can let his creativity flourish, and his new dining adventure is unlike any other in the area. At NuVo at Greenup there’s no menu, you just eat what the kitchen sends out, usually in seven to 10 small courses. Pay one price, plus drinks, and see how Bodenstein takes mostly familiar ingredients and combines them in ways you never thought of. $65 prix-fixe; $35 three-course. 308 Greenup St., Covington, Ky., 859-415-1308, nuvoatgreenup.com.
♡ Orchids at Palm Court
Nestled inside Carew Tower’s historic Art Deco Hilton hotel, Orchids hosts a breathtaking feast for the eyes, a perfect backdrop for weekly seasonal menus of refined elegance made with local ingredients, including some from the hotel’s rooftop beehive and herb garden. Chef Todd Kelly was the American Culinary Federation’s USA Chef of the Year in 2011 and the restaurant was listed as the No. 7 best restaurant in the USA by OpenTable in 2014. Chef Kelly’s menu features creative, fresh cuisine paired with an award-winning wine list and delicious desserts by pastry chef Megan Ketover. $9-$60 (for the chef’s tasting prix fixe platters). 35 W. Fifth St., Hilton Netherland Plaza Hotel, Downtown, 513-421-9100, orchidsatpalmcourt.com.
The Palace Restaurant
Seasonal menus of fine, upscale fare at a four-diamond restaurant — including a menu just for vegetarians and vegans. For an affordable, luxurious meal with an international flair, try their Tasting Thursday’s deal, offered every third Thursday. $65 for three courses; $95 for nine, with pricing in between. 601 Vine St., The Cincinnatian Hotel, Downtown, 513-381-3000, palacecincinnati.com.
With a breathtaking city view, Primavista wins frequent reader’s choice and magazine awards such as “most romantic,” “best date spot” and “best dining with a view.” They offer fine Italian dishes from all regions, specializing in veal and fish, with sauces made in-house. The gnocchi sautéed in sage butter with pancetta melts in your mouth, and the bread pudding is the best. Also offers comprehensive vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menus. $7-$35. 810 Matson Place, Price Hill, 513-251-6467, pvista.com.
Located in a quaint 1864 European-looking building complete with an outside terrace, the space offers a laid-back atmosphere with good food. The chef, who is of Portuguese descent, tries to offer a mix of things on the menu with an honorable goal of giving the West Side something it’s been missing — a fine dining establishment. $9-$75 (for the chef’s five-course tasting menu). 3232 Harrison Ave., Westwood, 513-481-5333, vitorsbistro.net.
STEAKHOUSES AND SEAFOOD
Alabama Fish Bar
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! $7-$8. 1601 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-241-2255, alabamafishbar.com.
♡ Anchor OTR
Located in a historic building at the corner of Washington Park, Anchor OTR offers impressive-quality seafood. The raw bar selections are tempting, and they also offer interesting starters: crawfish beignets, fried calamari and deviled eggs with smoked salmon. The salads change seasonally. $6-$32. 1401 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-8111, theanchor-otr.com.
An upscale chain restaurant, Chart House serves steak and seafood with New England, Caribbean and Southern influences. Start with a pile of oysters on the half shell, lobster and shrimp spring rolls or beautifully seared spiced yellowfin ahi tuna. Signature entrées include grilled citrus salmon and a succulent New York strip. $8-$52. 405 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., 859-261-0300, chart-house.com.
An upscale chain of prime-aged steak and seafood. House recommendations include a romaine Waldorf salad with maple apple cider vinaigrette, sesame calamari, chateaubriand for two and a bone-in filet. $8-$95. 10808 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, 513-489-1212, eddiemerlots.com.
There are a seemingly endless variety of Thai/sushi/Asian restaurants in our city. How about a steakhouse/sushi joint? That’s what you’ll find in Embers. Steaks are aged 28 days and are served with house-made compound butter or a variety of “extras” like truffle sauce or caramelized onions. Try the Tiger’s Eye sushi or Vietnamese-style baby back ribs. $17-$63. 8170 Montgomery Road, Kenwood, 513-984-8090, embersrestaurant.com.
♡ Jack Binion’s at the Horseshoe Casino
A Chicago-style steakhouse inside the Horseshoe Casino, with tableside preparation of side dishes. $10-$70. 1000 Broadway, Downtown, 513-250-3294, horseshoecincinnati.com.
♡ Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse
Modeled after a 1940s New York Art Deco steakhouse. If you love steak you have about a zero percent chance of being let down with one of Ruby’s — they dry-age their own. There are several non-steak options on the menu, including good seafood dishes, but the cow is king (queen?) at Ruby’s. $7-$62. 700 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-784-1200, jeffruby.com.
The ’50s retro nightclub vibe of the place is the first thing you’ll notice as you meander down the staircase to the red-hued, subterranean dining room. From there, it’s all about the food. Chef Jimmy Gibson ensures his steakhouse is like no other in Cincinnati, from his smoky, tender, wood-grilled octopus soaked in a sherry reduction to his arsenal of grilled, dry-aged steaks and classy martinis. $8-$38. 435 Elm St., Downtown, 513-621-8555, jimmy-gs.com.
Maury’s Tiny Cove
Maury’s has been packed full of flavor and West Side tradition since 1949. The dimly lit 1940s supper club vibe will have you feeling like a regular on your first visit. The extensive menu consists of all the classic steakhouse options: tender, juicy steaks, seafood and chicken cooked just right, plus pasta, sandwiches, soups and salads. $8-$31. 3908 Harrison Ave., Cheviot, 513-662-2683, maurys-steakhouse.com.
♡ The Precinct
You can always rely on a Jeff Ruby restaurant for a big, rare steak and platters of seafood. The Precinct, housed in a historical Romanesque-style former police precinct, was the first in a long line of Ruby steakhouses. You can’t go wrong with a sirloin or porterhouse, named after current and past Cincinnati baseball greats. But there are other options, like blackened diver scallops or something from the tableside service menu like seafood fettuccine alfredo for two. $14-$62. 311 Delta Ave., Columbia Tusculum, 513-321-5454, jeffruby.com.
Established in 1875 (and reestablished in 1986), the saloon is home of an annual oyster festival and crab carnival. $4-$27.95. 1000 Elm St., Downtown, 513-421-0110, washingtonplatform.com.
VEGETARIAN AND VEGAN
The Elusive Cow
The owner of The Elusive Cow, Jim Fisher, wanted to create a space where eaters of every kind can sit down and enjoy something off the menu. Focused on sustainable and organic farms, the food supports the omnivore in us all, including dishes with bison, tofu, fish and, of course, hamburgers. $6.95-$10.25. 519 Fairfield Ave., Bellevue, Ky., 859-291-0269, theelusivecow.com.
Green Dog Café
There are always vegan options, and the lemon hummus served with roasted red peppers, feta, marinated olives and grilled bread offers an amazing start to any meal. $5-$15. 3543 Columbia Parkway, Columbia Tusculum, 513-321-8777, greendogcafe.net.
The mission behind Loving Hut is to offer affordable, healthy, vegan cuisine. The restaurant’s environment was created using many found, reclaimed and reused materials. For disposable goods like containers, cups and utensils, they choose biodegradable and/or recyclable products. Tons of paninis, wraps, sandwiches and burgers to choose from. $5.50-$8. 6227 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, 513-731-2233, lovinghut.us.
♡ Melt Eclectic Café
Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free diners aren’t an afterthought at Northside’s eclectic deli, Melt. But no worries, the carnivorous can feast, too. A plethora of sandwiches, wraps, soups and salads tempt every palate. Sandwiches include veggie items like the veggie cheesesteak made with seitan and The Rachel, a smoked turkey sandwich with red cabbage, apple sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. $4-$10. 4165 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-681-6358, meltcincy.com.
Park + Vine
Vegan lunch counter with items like smoky potato salad, fresh kale and barbecue sliders, alongside local favorites Blue Oven Bakery and Shadeau Breads. All items are available gluten-free. $5-$8. 1202 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-721-7275, parkandvine.com.
With local farm-raised, grass-fed beef and an extensive wine list that features products from Cincinnati-area vineyards, Wildflower is dedicated to producing the freshest and best quality food at an honest price. Foods are local, sustainable and seasonable to offer peak freshness. $9-$24. 207 E. Main St., Mason, 513-492-7514, wildflowergourmetcafe.com.
Buona Terra Photo: Catherine Viox
Abby Girl Sweets
A from-scratch cupcakery with two locations and special, seasonal flavors. Prices vary. 4773 Glendale Milford Road, Blue Ash, 513-335-0898; 41 W. Fifth St., Downtown, 513-335-0898, abbygirlsweets.com.
A classic, 1900s ice cream parlor at its best, wooing foodie visitors from all around the country with its unblemished reputation for quality. The Raspberry Hot Fudge and the Banana Classique shakes are chart toppers. Prices vary. Multiple locations, including 3046 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-531-5196; 9899 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, 513-791-7082, aglamesis.com.
♡ The BonBonerie
Have your cake and eat it too as the BonBonerie crew shows off their savory skills. Scones, coffee and quiche adorn the breakfast menu, but the real treat is for those with a sweet tooth. The dessert menu features tortes, cakes, pastries and old-fashioned cookies to please everyone. $5.50-$15. 2030 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, 513-321-3399, bonbonerie.com.
European-style street food and gelato. $3-$8. 1028 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-386-9356, facebook.com/buonaterragelato.
Busken Bakery opened in 1928 and quickly became a Cincinnati staple with bakery counters in grocery stores, 24-hour drive-in bakeries and delicious donuts, bread and apple pies. Their award-winning baked goods can be found in Remke-Bigg’s stores, UDF locations and 10 bakeries around the city. Hyde Park location open 24/7. $2-$6. Multiple locations including 2675 Madison Road, Hyde Park, 513-871-2114, busken.com.
Get your sugar fix at Cupcake Crazy, which specializes in cupcakes (from mini to giant!), cake pops, cookies, cupcake cakes and specialty cakes. Prices vary. 7458 Montgomery Road, Kenwood, 513-984-1100, cupcakecrazyincincinnati.com.
♡ Dojo Gelato
Authentic Italian-style gelato. Dojo Gelato loves to create unexpected flavor profiles — guacamole, bellini, honey lavender, Vietnamese coffee, etc. And they use fresh, seasonal ingredients in their creations. $2-$8. Findlay Market, 137 Elder St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-328-9000, dojogelato.com.
Since its founding in 1870, Graeter’s French Pot Ice Cream, handmade chocolate confections and fresh baked goods have become traditions in the Queen City. Today the Graeter family still faithfully uses century-old recipes and methods of production. $2.75-$5.75. Multiple locations including 511 Walnut St., Fountain Square, Downtown, 513-381-4191, graeters.com.
♡ Holtman’s Donuts
In September 2013, the Loveland-based Holtman’s Donuts finally opened an OTR location, replete with a window where you can peer through and watch them make donuts, like the sensational maple bacon. Every time you come within a block radius of this shop, you will begin to salivate — even if at first you don’t know why. Homer Simpson would be so proud ... and hungry. Prices vary. 1332 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-0903, holtmansdonutshop.com.
A bean-to-bar chocolatier in Findlay Market, made with ethically sourced cocoa beans. $8. 129 W. Elder St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/maverickchocolate.
The Root Beer Stand
The restaurant makes secret-recipe root beer (available by the jug) using water from the property’s 280-foot deep well and family-recipe chili for their famous foot-long coney dogs. Prices vary. Memorial Day-Labor Day. 11566 Reading Road, Sharonville, therootbeerstand.com.
Schneider’s Sweet Shop
An old-time corner candy and ice cream store serving the area since 1939. Prices vary. 420 Fairfield Ave., Bellevue, Ky., 859-431-3545, schneiderscandies.com.
Fourth generation family bakery, started by great grandfather George in Muenster, Germany. Known for their pastries, desserts and especially for their soft pretzels, which you can get in all sizes from six ounces to three pounds. $2-$8. Multiple locations including 511 Walnut St., Fountain Square, Downtown, 513-421-2253, servatiipastryshop.com.
Grown-up ice pops made from unique combinations of fresh ingredients and unexpected flavors, like papaya rosemary, Thai basil lime, peach Sriracha and many more. $3. 1437 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-446-7505, streetpops.com.
Cincinnati Food Truck Association
Find a list of CFTA trucks here. cincinnatifoodtruckassociation.org.
Grass-fed beef, wild-caught salmon or garden veggie burgers with a side of sweet-potato fries. $2.50-$10.50. bones-burgers.com.
Traveling wood-fired pizza, with handmade crust and old-world-style meats. $7-$10. catchafirepizza.com.
♡ C’est Cheese Cincy
Gourmet grilled cheese. $3-$7. cestcheesecincy.com; @CestCheeseCincy.
The Chili Hut
Cincinnati-style chili on spaghetti and hot dogs. Also offers a slaw dog. Prices vary. cincychilihut.com; @TheChiliHut.
Cuban Pete Sandwiches
Cuban and Caribbean-style sandwiches. $7. cubanpetesandwiches.com; @Qbn_Pete.
EAT! Mobile Dining
Try the Day After Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwich, with roasted turkey breast and mayo, or the Grilled Paneer Sandwich with spicy onion chutney. $4.50-$8. eatmobiledining.com; @EatMobileDining.
Fireside Pizza Wagon
Traditional Italian cuisine made from local ingredients. $7-$9. 859-982-9759, firesidepizzawagon.com; @FiresideWagon.
Mr. Hanton’s Handwiches
Choose from beef franks, chicken-apple sausages, metts, goetta dogs and Italian sausages. $3.50-$8. mrhantons.com; @MrHantons.
New Orleans To Go
Fan favorites are Glazed Shrimp Po’ Boys and the Louisiana Gumbo. $8-$13. neworleanstogopoboys.com; @NewOrleansToGo.
Oleg’s International Cuisine
Eastern European staples like a Berliner Doner Kebab, homemade bratwurst and cabbage rolls with bread and sauerkraut. Prices vary. 513-659-3220; @olegsfood.
Charcuterie-based sandwiches, like duck-and-fig. $8-$9. findpanino.com; @ findpanino.
Red Sesame Korean Barbecue
Korean Barbecue with a Mexican slant. Prices vary. facebook.com/redsesamekoreanbbq; @redssm2012.
Sweet Treats Local artisanal sweets. Prices vary. sugarsnaptruck.com; @SugarSnapTruck.
Texas Joe’s grub employs family recipes and authentic Mexican techniques, handed down for generations. $4-$10. texasjoethelegalmexican.com; @texasjoetexmex.
The only truck with a full commercial kitchen and on-board wood-chip smoker. Serves up handcrafted sandwiches and skewers. Prices vary. urbangrillfoodtruck.com; @UrbanGrillCincy.
A waffle truck. Prices vary. facebook.com/waffotruck; @waffotruck.