Photo: Jesse Fox
The Mediterranean-inspired menu of small plates revels in Italian, Spanish, Turkish and Greek influences, with unique twists only Chef Wright could pull off — chorizo-stuffed dates, grilled octopus, batata and more. Wines are available on tap, by the bottle or the glass. Open Tuesday-Saturday. $10-$30. 1214 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-4040, abigailstreet.com.
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: Salt Shrimp — three extra-large shrimp with their shells on, fried and dusted with crunchy salt; cockles with white beans and garlic sauce; and soft-shelled crab with aioli. The salads change seasonally. Open Tuesday-Saturday. $8-$30. 1401 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-8111, facebook.com/theanchorotr.
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, Artichoke 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. Open Monday-Saturday. $5-$16. 1220 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-246-0192, atavolapizza.com.
Part bar, part taco joint, all classy. Bakersfield specializes in gourmet tacos (pollo verde, pastor, huitlacoche, etc.), quality tequilas and whiskeys and hand-crafted margaritas made the old fashioned way — not from a pre-made mix. Open daily. $3-$8. 1213 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-579-0446, bakersfieldotr.com.
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. Open Monday-Saturday. $15-$37. 114 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-542-2022, bocacincinnati.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. Open daily. $4-$30. 2038 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, 513-834-5773, enotecaemilia.com.
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 chardonnay garlic butter. Open Monday-Saturday. $10-$40. 713 Vine St., Downtown, 513-621-4777, jrtable.com.
The old Cincinnati Color building on Vine Street is such a landmark that it would have been dreadful had it been torn down, and Japanese gastropub Kaze saved it. With a distinct bar and dining room, favorites are the pork buns and the short rib sliders, with cucumber pickled kimchi-style and a rich Korean barbecue sauce. Open daily. $5-$25. 1400 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-898-7991, kazeotr.com.
La Poste Eatery
The menu headings read like a deconstructed letter to mom — postage, body and salutation. The seasonal menu items and sommelier wine selections are delivered with a smile. Tasty mushroom ravioli, fried escargot and braised meats are part and parcel here. Open Monday-Saturday. $10-$28. 3410 Telford St., Clifton, 513-281-3663, laposteeatery.com.
The first of the trendy eateries to hit the revitalized Gateway Quarter, Lavomatic still spins some of the most memorable New American lunch, brunch and dinner hits in town. Now with an updated menu and look, you can still wash away the hunger with this OTR pioneer. Open daily. $10-$30. 1211 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-621-1999, lavomaticcafe.com.
The menu is frequently updated in tune with the best ingredients area farmers have to offer. Recent instant classics include the Porkopolis, slow-cooked baby back ribs, tenderloin and sausage served on a bed of white bean ragout and red wine reduction. Choose from an extensive wine list or let Chef Geddes treat you to his custom pairings. Open daily. $14-$36. 413 Vine St., Downtown, 513-721-1345, mylocal127.com.
Maribelle’s Eat Drink
With a homey feeling, diners can see — and actually eat — inside the kitchen. Some favorites from the old menu, such as the turkey and brie sandwich and Brussels sprouts with capers and toasted walnuts, make an appearance. Saturday and Sunday brunch specials include cornmeal pancakes and a sunny side egg sandwich with truffle aioli and Gruyère. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $8-$14. 3235 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-321-9111, maribellestavern.com.
M Wood Fired Oven
M uses its freshly imported European oven as a centerpiece for its casual dining concept, with nearly everything but the desserts spending time basking in blissfully blistering heat. Menu items are divided into five courses: “small plates” of meat, cheese and veggies; “flora,” with a choice of three salads; four bubbly, browned “gratins;” a selection of six wood fired pizzas; and a “primal,” a premier, rotating showcase of quality proteins. Open daily. $6-$19. 3514 Erie Ave. Hyde Park, 513-386-7783, m-woodfiredoven.com.
Moerlein Lager House
At the Lager House, beer is king. A major anchor of the riverfront retail and residential development known as The Banks, 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, and fancier dishes like filet mignon and squash wellington. Open daily. $10-$28. 115 Joe Nuxhall Way, The Banks, Downtown. 513-421-2337, moerleinlagerhouse.com.
Offering 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. Open daily. $5-$22. 600 Walnut St., Downtown. 513-721-6232, eatdrinknada.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. Open Wednesday-Sunday. $17-$26. 1000 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-929-0525, dineatnectar.com.
The Rookwood Bar and Grill
Rookwood tile and pottery is 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 appetizer list, french fries with Grippo’s seasoning and a crazy-good pork belly sandwich. The dessert menu features Jeni’s Ice Creams from Columbus; try the Beer Float. The young staff has a lot of creativity and skill. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $11-$27. 1077 Celestial St., Mount Adams, 513-421-5555, therookwood.com.
Chef Daniel Wright was Food & Wine’s 2012 People’s Choice for the Best New Chef in the Midwest. 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. Open Tuesday-Saturday. $9-$18. 1212 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-2020, senatepub.com.
Located under the new Boca restaurant space, 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. Sotto sources their bread from Blue Oven and also grows their own herbs and vegetables. Open daily. $7-$27. 114 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-977-6886, sottocincinnati.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. Open for dinner Thursday-Saturday. $19-$26. 3250 Central Parkway, Clifton, 513-569-4980, facebook.com/thesummit.mci.
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. Open daily. $5-$25. 1133 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-4607, authenticwaffle.com.
Via Vite showcases Chef Nicola 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. Open daily. $10-$33. 520 Vine St., Downtown, 513-721-8483, viaviterestaurant.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. Open Tuesday-Saturday. $7.75-$16. 1400 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-744-9852, zulabistro.com.
Whet your appetite on Oysters Rockefeller, crispy brie with marinated figs or delectable crab cakes with caper remoulade. Whether you choose the Celestial Oscar, crowned with king crab, or the pan seared sea scallops with baby shrimp risotto, you will not be disappointed. Desserts include a classic crème brulee and a raspberry peach bread pudding with Michele Chiarlo Moscato d’Asti. Open daily. $21-$46. 1071 Celestial St., Mount Adams, 513-241-4455, thecelestial.com.
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, lobster and tomato deviled eggs or the herbed filet mignon brochette. No worries for your vegetarian tablemates: Grand Finale has plenty of veggie fare. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $15-$32. 3 E. Sharon Road, Glendale, 513-771-5925, grandfinale.info.
Meritage offers upscale classic American cuisine, ranging from steamed mussels to surf and turf and a Seafood Trifecta, with lobster tail, scallops and Thai-glazed salmon. Don’t miss the bone-in pork chop served with bourbon cream sauce. Meritage also boasts an extensive wine cellar and signature cocktails. Open daily. $17-$60. 1140 Congress Ave., Glendale. 513-376-8134, meritagecincy.com.
World famous for its ribs, Montgomery Inn has been a staple in Cincinnati for 60 years. Along with ribs, the Inn offers barbecued spring chicken, coho salmon, pulled pork sandwiches, burgers, salad and more, including everyone’s favorite: Saratoga chips served with their famous barbecue sauce. Open daily. $8-$32. 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.
A celeb-spotting treasure, Nicola’s renown is undeniable. One of Cincinnati’s top, Zagat-rated restaurants, its menu of house-made 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 Grasshopper Icebox Cake with mint gelato. Open Monday-Saturday. $12-$42. 1420 Sycamore St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-721-6200, nicolasrestaurant.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 seasonal menus of refined elegance. Chef Todd Kelly was the American Culinary Federation’s USA Chef of the Year in 2011, and his menu features creative cuisine paired with an award-winning wine list and delicious desserts by Pastry Chef Megan Ketover. The seared foie gras with Johnny cakes, rhubarb and port exemplify Chef Kelly’s enticing technique. Open daily. $27-$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. For an affordable, luxurious meal with an international flair, try their Tasting Thursdays deal, offered every third Thursday. It features a prix fixe dinner for two and a bottle of wine for only $70. Open Tuesday-Saturday for dinner; daily days for breakfast. $15-$44. 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. Open daily. $8-$40. 810 Matson Place, Price Hill, 513-251-6467, pvista.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. Open daily. $10-$32. 6904 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, 513-271-5400, quarter-bistro.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 Oscar, the Trio Meatloaf and the Grouper Hemingway are customer favorites. Open daily. $11-$45. 7565 Kenwood Road, Kenwood, 513-984-1905, triobistro.com.
For a magical evening, Vito’s combines original and familiar Italian dishes with great music performed by a pianist and the singing servers. We promise it’s not corny; they skillfully perform classic melodies, show tunes and even opera arias. The sauces and flavors of each dish are rich, complex and satisfying, and the food is truly well prepared — from veal scaloppini with shiitake mushrooms to seafood pomodoro with shrimp, clam and calamari to eggplant parmigiana. Open Wednesday-Sunday. $8-$30. 654 Highland Ave., Fort Thomas, Ky., 859-442-9444, vitoscafe.com.
Located in a quaint 1864 European-looking building complete with an outside terrace. The space is divided into cozy smaller rooms and achieves what chef and co-owner Vitor Abreu calls their goal: a laid-back atmosphere with good food. Abreu, 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. Open Wednesday-Sunday. $8-$45. 3232 Harrison Ave.,Westwood, 513-481-5333, vitorsbistro.net.
BARS & GRILLS AND BREWPUBS
Incline Public House
Photo: Jesse Fox
Arnold’s Bar and Grill
Boasting its history as 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. Open Monday-Saturday. $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 special “burger madness” days. Includes a late-night menu. Open daily. $8.25-$11.50. 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. They also have a few dinner entrees such as salmon and chicken marsala. Open daily. $6.25-$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. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $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). And City View has possibly the best view of downtown of any restaurant in the ’Nati. Open daily. $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. Open daily. $4.25-$16. 3036 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-631-8367, habitscafe.com.
Holy Grail Tavern & Grille
Boasting 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. Open daily. $7-$10. 161 Joe Nuxhall Way, The Banks, 513-621-2222, holygrailcincy.com.
Incline Public House
With a 1,400-square-foot deck rife 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 Mad Tree. Open daily. $7-$14. 2601 W. Eighth St., Price Hill, 513-251-3000, inclinepubclichouse.com.
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. Open 7 days. $8-$15. Multiple locations including Keystone Clifton, 249 Calhoun St., Clifton, 513-221-5397, keystonebar.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. Open daily. $5-$9. 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-6687, motrpub.com.
Tap House Grill
A locally owned restaurant and bar featuring 28 beers on tap, focusing on local and regional breweries. They also offer a build-your-own burger menu. Open daily. $9-$20. 8740 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, 513-891-TAPS, taphousecincy.com.
BARBECUE AND HOMESTYLE
Photo: Cameron Knight
Aunt Flora’s Cobbleria & What’s in the Skillet
The Cobbleria offers comfort foods people can depend on: sweet down-home cobblers, cakes and savory baked goods, lovingly referred to by some patrons as “cobbler pot pies.” What’s in the Skillet is open for brunch, lunch and dinner, serving up comfort food like fried fish and ribs. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $5-$14. 213 W. Fourth St., Downtown, 513-421-3287, facebook.com/auntfloras.
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. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $3.50-$18.50. 4725 Madison Road, Madisonville, 513-871-3500, bbqrevue.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. You can also find Eli’s sandwiches served up on the patio at happenin’ Over-the-Rhine bar Neons Unplugged. Open daily. $5-$8; cash or check only. 3313 Riverside Drive, East End. 513-307-8318, elisbarbeque.com.
Goodies is a family-run restaurant where pulled pork and smoked rib tips are the specialties. The sauce is so good that it’s bottled and sold in stores. Step further into the South with a side of collard greens or some red beans and rice, and treat yourself to peach cobbler or chess pie. Open Monday-Saturday. $3-$20. 5841 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, 513-542-4663, goodiesbbqonline.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 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. Open daily. $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. Open daily. $9.50-$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. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $4-$13. 2715 Madison Road, Hyde Park, 513-871-9201, hydeparkhitchingpost.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. Open Monday-Saturday. $3-$45 (for whole turkeys). 1607 Central Ave., West End, 513-381-6100.
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. Open daily. $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 celebrates more than 50 years in business. Open Thursday-Sunday. $9-$17. 8031 Glendale-Milford Road, Camp Dennison, 513-831-5753, theschoolhousecincinnati.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. Open daily. $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. Walt’s has three locations: the original “Barbeque Barn” on Colerain Avenue in White Oak, one in Harrison (with a drive-thru) and one in Hamilton. Open daily. $6-$20. 6040 Colerain Ave., White Oak, 513-923-9800; 1055 New Haven Road, Harrison, 513-367-9258; 1242 Main St., 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. Open daily. $12-$30. 3300 Madison Pike, Fort Wright, Ky., 859-360-2222, waltshitchingpost.com.
BISTROS AND CAFÉS
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. Open Wednesday-Saturday. $5-$11. 1004 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-417-8669.
Aquarius Star Om 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. Open daily. $5-$11. 329 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-381-3436, aquariusstar.com.
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. Open daily. $9.95-$14.50. 6118 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, 513-541-8804, bacallscafe.com.
Bronte, located inside Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Rookwood Plaza, 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. Try the Panko-Encrusted Cod Sandwich or Spinach Saute over brown rice. Open daily. $6-$15. 2692 Madison Road, Norwood, 513-396-8970, josephbeth.com/bronte.
Café de Paris
Feast on lunch and breakfast selections like Salade Nicoise 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! Open Monday-Saturday. $5-$10. 17 Garfield Place, Downtown, 513-651-1919.
Eat Well Café
Chef/owner Renee Schuler’s newest endeavor is fresh and polished yet simple and comforting. eat well’s Mrs. Miller sandwich — named after Schuler’s grandmother — is delicious, if messy, and the roasted chicken, with sliced hard-boiled egg and smoked paprika aioli, is served on Blue Oven’s rich focaccia. The café is also open for breakfast, serving a goetta and hash brown quiche, along with lighter options like steel cut oats or an egg white scramble. Open Monday-Saturday. $6-$14. 3009 O’Bryon St., O’Bryonville, 513-871-2233, eatwellcafetakeaway.com.
Fresh Table at Findlay Market
Your one-stop shop for local, fresh fare. Meredith Trombly, Louis Snowden and their staff do all the hard parts — finding the best locally sourced ingredients, cooking 40-50 delicious and beautifully presented dishes every day. The salads are amazing and so is the selection, and a handful of vegan-friendly house-made dressings only add to the taste. Baby back ribs and grilled wild-caught salmon highlight the main courses at this constantly evolving eatery. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $5-$12. 1801 Race St., Findlay Market, Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-3774, freshtable.biz.
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 and a gluten-free zucchini linguine. Open daily. $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. Open Monday-Saturday. $3-$11. 1 Wyoming Ave., Wyoming, 513-821-2323, halfdaycafe.org.
Happy Days Café
Picture yourself waiting for breakfast, starving. Your plate arrives. The entire right hemisphere is filled with an enormous ham and cheese omelet and the entire left hemisphere is piled high with crispy home fries. This great little mom and pop diner deserves your love. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $3.95-$9. 3642 Warsaw Ave., Price Hill, 513-921-3297.
A combination art gallery, bookshop, coffee shop and wireless café, Iris BookCafé is a locavore’s dream. The sandwich bread is from Shadeau Bakery, 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. There are meat and veggie options on the sandwich menu. Eating at Iris BookCafé is like spending an evening at a friend’s house. It’s so low-key. Open daily. $4.95-$8.95. 1331 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-2665, irisbookcafe.com.
It’s Just Crepes
Turning Cincinnatians onto the joys of sweet and savory crepes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The traditional savory crepe with Swiss cheese, sliced ham and Dijon mustard works any time of day, or you can start your day with the Good Morning bacon, egg and cheese crepe. Pricing and ordering is straightforward and simple and the lunchtime lines move quickly. Open daily. $3.49-$7. Multiple locations including 151 W. Fourth St., Downtown; 39 E. Court St., Downtown; 2343 Buttermilk Crossing, Crescent Springs, Ky., 513-632-7373, itsjustcrepes.com.
Owners Leah Joos and Jen Lile would like to introduce people to things they may not have thought to cook at home. Combinations of sweet and savory led to dishes such as their pear salad and their hot ham and Swiss sandwich, with crunchy slices of tart green apples. All sandwiches are made with Shadeau Bakery breads and all salads are dressed with homemade vinaigrettes. Open Tuesday-Saturday. $3.50-$7.29. 2714 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut Hills, 513-559-0452, kitchen452.com.
Mammoth lives large, from its cavernous room of cozy furnishings, to its line of fresh-roasted coffees complemented by a vegetarian-friendly menu of delicious wraps, paninis and scones. Open daily. $2-$8. 515 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859-291-8875, mammothcoffeeco.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. Open daily. $5-$9. 500 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859-581-3700, mokkasunset.com.
S & J Bakery and Café
Skirtz & Johnston’s cafe enjoys an extended sandwich menu along with selections of homemade soups and market-fresh salads, a perfect vehicle for highlighting the signature breads and pastries that have made their Findlay Market location such a hit. Open Monday-Friday. $5-$9. 800 Vine St., Main Library, Downtown, 513-665-3339, sandjcafe.com.
Take the Cake
A fantastic array of seasonal desserts are updated daily on a giant chalkboard, along with their eclectic brunch menu. Whether it’s cakes, brownies, cookies or a plate of the owner’s famed shrimp and grits, there’s a little something for discerning foodies and sweet tooths alike. The café offers sandwiches, soups, salads, pastas and savory tarts, eaten at communal tables. Open Tuesday-Sunday. Prices vary. 4035 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-241-2772, takethecakecincinnati.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. Open Tuesday-Saturday. $12-$25. 738 York St., Newport, Ky., 859-261-9675, yorkstonline.com.
BURGERS AND DOGS
Wurst Bar in the Square
Photo: Ronny Salerno
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. Gordo’s burgers are served with steak fries. Standard pub appetizer classics like wings, quesadillas, bruschetta and baked mushrooms are perfect with a microbrew on draft. Open daily. $10-$12. 4328 Montgomery Road, Norwood, 513-351-1999, gordospub.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. Open daily. $3.29-$7.99. Multiple locations including 6420 Dixie Highway, Florence, Ky., 859-647-6444, madmikesburgers.com.
Mr. Hanton’s Handwiches
Choose from beef franks, chicken apple sausages, metts, goetta dogs and Italian sausages, and then top it with your favorite condiments. Find the truck’s locations on Twitter (@MrHantons) and Facebook. Brick-and-mortar location too. Open daily. $3.50-$8. 249 Calhoun St., Clifton Heights, mrhantons.com.
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. Open Monday-Saturday. $2-$10. 3703 Beekman St., Northside, 513-541-7636, mrgenesdoghouse.com.
The best lunchtime burgers in the city for 21 years. Order your burger with balsamic-laced onions and Swiss on a grilled Shadeau Bakery wheat bun. The chicken salad, BLT and carrot cake all deserve their crowd-pleaser status. Open Monday-Friday. $4-$8. 41 E. Fourth St., Downtown, 513-381-3354, paulascafe.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. Open daily. $6.50-$26. 4618 Eastern Ave., East End, 513-533-4222.
Three Meat Burger
A no-frills menu greets you when you walk in, boasting the three-meat burger, sandwiches, salads and sides. Three meats — lamb, chicken and beef — are combined in handmade patties and grilled to order. The burgers have a definite Mediterranean flavor thanks to the lamb, but it is not overpowering. Open daily. $5-$8. 5254 Beechmont Ave., Anderson Township, 513-474-5111.
Tot Dogs is hoping to take hot dogs to the next level with options such as turkey dogs and andouille sausage. Tot Dogs also has a selection of toppings for their dogs, but the burden of choosing and mixing them lies with the customer. Open Monday-Friday. $2-$7. 634 Vine St., Downtown, 513-345-3056, totdogscincinnati.com.
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! Open Tuesday-Saturday. $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’s, 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. Open daily. $4-$8. 1036 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-871-9876, zipscafe.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. Open daily. $5-$9. 3204 Linwood Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-321-0615, facebook.com/wurstbarinthesq.
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. Open daily. $5-$12. 626 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-261-7510, zolapubandgrill.com.
CASUAL AND NEW AMERICAN
Photo: Jesse Fox
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. Open Tuesday-Saturday. $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 doughnuts: beignets with crab and Gruyère dipped in a side of curried remoulade. Open Tuesday-Saturday. $4-$25. 3543 Columbia Parkway, Columbia Tusculum, 513-533-2899, buzatgd.net.
Cumin Eclectic Cuisine
Marvel at exquisite dishes like scallops with candied hibiscus and vermouth butter or the Sweet Cheeks with pork cheeks and sweetbreads. The kale Caesar salad features a smoked egg and entrees include Ohio-raised New York strip and roasted quail with tomato risotto. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $10-$35. 3520 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-871-8714, cuminrestaurant.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. Open Monday-Saturday. $9-$38. 2220 Grandview Drive, Fort Mitchell, Ky., 859-341-8439, grandviewtaverngrille.com.
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. Open Monday-Friday. $6-$9. 700 W. Pete Rose Way, Downtown, facebook.com/grecosfood.
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. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $7.95-$13.95. 522 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-261-2483, mainbiterestaurant.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 of 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. Open Tuesday-Saturday. $7-$10. 6110 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, 513-681-4222, martys-hopsandvines.com.
Olives boasts a brand new menu with some more upscale entrees and features. New to the menu are a bistro steak salad, seared wild salmon and a prime rib sandwich. But they still offer an all-you-can-eat brunch Saturday and Sunday with omelet station and offer a plethora of cocktails at the restaurant and bar. Open daily. $8-$22. 342 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-221-4200, olivesonludlow.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. Open daily. $21-$31. 521 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-491-6678, ottosonmain.com.
Red Roost Tavern
After a $23 million hotel-wide renovation, the Hyatt Regency introduces their new restaurant, the farm-to-table Red Roost Tavern, which 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, including Indiana and Kentucky. Open daily. $12-$34. 151 W. Fifth St., Downtown, 513-579-1234, cincinnati.hyatt.com.
A chain with dozens of locations around the country, Seasons 52 recently sprouted up in Norwood across the street from Rookwood Commons & Pavilion. Portions are reasonable, oils are carefully controlled and the result is nothing short of astounding — you get delicious food from a menu where nothing is more than 475 calories. Open daily. $7.95-$25. 3819 Edwards Road, Norwood, 513-631-5252, seasons52.com.
Silver Ladle is a “fast casual” restaurant that serves a variety of hearty sandwiches, a dozen soups, fresh salads, gluten-free options and, of course, 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. Open Monday-Saturday. $5.99-$8.29. 580 Building, Between Walnut and Main streets, Downtown, 513-834-7650, silverladle.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. Open daily. $11-25. 8322 E. Kemper Road, Symmes Township, 513-489-7044, thesilverspringhouse.com.
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. Open daily. $7-$36. 2710 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-321-4721, tellersofhydepark.com.
Build your own grilled cheese or try one of their specialties. The BBQ & Bacon features Grippo’s barbecue chips, bacon and American cheese, but we dare anyone to be able to resist the grilled cheese donut where you can add egg, bacon, turkey or goetta. Definitely go ahead and get it dipped in French toast batter and deep-fried. Featured winners on an episode of Shark Tank. Open daily. $3-$5. Multiple locations including 1 Levee Way, Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., 859-291-2433; 133 E. Court St., Downtown, 513-721-2433; 420 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-381-2433, tomandchee.com.
Formerly called “View,” View Cucina is a classy space inside the Edgecliff building. With the new name came the addition of some authentic Italian dishes like chicken cacciatore, but longtime patrons will still find old favorites like the slow roasted short ribs and the candied bacon jam scallops. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $17-$36. 2200 Victory Parkway, Walnut Hills, 513-751-8439, viewcucina.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. Open daily. $9-$35. 95 E. Freedom Way, The Banks, Downtown, 513-381-4071, yardhouse.com.
College Hill Coffee Company
Photo: Jesse Fox
Owners Tony Tausch and Eileen Schwab have been treating Cincinnati to their artisan-roasted coffees, premium teas and spicy ciders since 1973. Now, it’s easier than ever to savor Coffee Emporium’s barista-prepared drinks along with a tasty lineup of grilled panini sandwiches, fresh-baked pastries and hearty quiches. Open daily. $2-$8. Multiple locations including 110 E. Central Parkway, Downtown, 513-651-5483, coffee-emporium.com.
College Hill Coffee Company
Cozy spot with dozens of coffees, a large selection of international teas and an extensive menu. The atmosphere is warm and inviting with a vintage piano for impromptu performances and free Wi-Fi. 6128 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, 513-542-2739, collegehillcoffeeco.com.
Corner BLOC Coffee
Corner 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. Open Monday-Saturday. $1-$4. 3101 Price Ave., Price Hill, 513-429-4548, cornerbloccoffee.com.
There is really no substitute for the quality of a cup of tea from Essencha. They precisely brew each cup and offer more than 80 types, including the standard varietals, flavored teas and herbal tisanes. The bubble tea here is a more grown-up version of the sweet Taiwanese snack-meets-beverage sensation. Light lunch items such as sandwiches, creative crepes, soups, salads and fabulous desserts make for a tasteful experience no matter what you’re in the mood for. Open 7 days. $6.50-$9. 3212 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-533-4832, essencha.com.
Reality Tuesday Café
Coffeehouse and bakery. Open daily. Prices vary. 1518 Dixie Highway, Park Hills, Ky., 859-261-4939, realitytuescafe.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. Open Monday-Saturday. $1.20-$4.45. 245 W. McMillan Ave., 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. Open daily. $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 diminutive 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. Open daily. $4-$9. 324 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-281-7487, sitwellscoffeehouse.com.
DELI AND TAKEAWAY
Photo: Sarah Angel
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. Open Tuesday-Sunday. 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. Open Monday-Friday. $3-$20. 629 Vine St., Downtown, 513-784-9000.
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. Open Monday-Saturday. $5-$10. Multiple locations including 800 Elm St., Downtown, 513-721-4241; 610 Main St., Downtown, 513-241-6246, izzys.com.
Picnic & Pantry
An offspring of Northside favorite, Melt, Picnic & 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. Open daily. $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. Open daily. $3-$15. 9525 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash. 513-429-4567, rascalsdeli.com.
DINERS AND CHILI PARLORS
Price Hill Chili
Photo: Cameron Knight
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. Open 24/7. $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. Open Monday-Saturday. $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. Open Monday-Saturday. $5-$8. 3005 Colerain Ave., Camp Washington, 513-541-0061, campwashingtonchili.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. Open daily. $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. Open Monday-Saturday. $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. Open Monday-Saturday. $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. Open 24/7. $3-$10. 703 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859-431-7455.
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, entrees and even breakfast served all day. Open daily. $2-$15. 4920 Glenway Ave., Price Hill, 513-471-9507, pricehillchili.com.
A locally based franchise 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. Open daily. $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. Open daily. $3-$11. 4381 Reading Road, Bond Hill, 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. Open Monday-Saturday. $4-$7. 1637 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-721-7123.
Photo: Cameron Knight
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. Open Tuesday-Saturday. $10-$22. 6063 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, 513-351-7686, emanuea.com.
Family-run restaurant with true Ethiopian dishes and Ethiopian-style coffee ceremony. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $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). Open daily. $5-$10. 8438 Vine St., Hartwell, 513-381-3280, terangaenterprise.com.
Alfio's Buon Cibo
Photo: Jesse Fox
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. Open Monday-Saturday. $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. Open Monday-Saturday. $7-$30. 2875 Town Center Blvd., Crestview Hills, Ky., 859-426-1042, argentinebistro.com.
Photo: Jesse Fox
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. Open Monday-Saturday. $7.50-$16. 521 Madison Ave., Covington, Ky., 859-261-6121.
China Gourmet has been serving fine Chinese cuisine since 1977. In an era when restaurants close within months of opening, the fact that it is still going strong in its fifth decade is an amazing testimony to its ownership. The menu at China Gourmet is not your typical gigantic Chinese menu with hundreds of items. The menu is divided into sections of classics, what’s new and traditional favorites, each with just a handful of choices. Open Monday-Sunday. $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 9-year-old 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. Open daily. $5.50-$7.95. 235 W. McMillan St., Clifton Heights, 513-281-1732, eatatcilantro.com.
The space is just off Hyde Park Square in what used to be Beluga and has something for everyone. As you enter the restaurant the curves of the bar on your left and sushi bar on your right draw you along to a large back room with a lot of feng shui appeal. The menu offers a smattering of appetizers, tempura and teriyaki dishes, seafood and sushi — which is always half-price. Open daily. $13-$35; sushi starts at $4. 3530 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, 513-533-4444, dancingwasabihydepark.com.
Fusian’s fast, casual approach, in which you build 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. Open Monday-Saturday. $6-$9. 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. Open daily. $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. Open daily. $10-$20. 1020 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-321-8686, ichibancinci.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. Open Monday-Saturday. $5.50-$9.50. 135 W. Kemper Road, Springdale, 513-671-4949, lulusricenoodles.com.
There are sections for bento boxes, sushi sets and suggestions for the undecided and vegetarian. Try a volcano-hot stone bowl filled with rice, assorted vegetables, beef and an egg and then brought to the table for the diner to mix together. Impressive! Open daily. $4-$15. 1 Levee Way, Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., 859-261-7600, tchopstix.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. Open daily except Hyde Park, which is closed Monday. $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. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $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. Open Tuesday-Saturday. $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. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $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. Open Monday-Saturday. $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. Open Monday-Saturday. $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. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $5-$28. 202 W. Main St., Mason, 513-318-8868, straitsmalacca.com.
Sukhothai Thai Cuisine
They offer 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. Open Monday-Saturday. $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. Open Monday-Saturday. $15-$20. 700 Elm St., Downtown, 513-721-SUNG, sungkoreanbistro.com.
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 along side noodle dishes and house specialties like seafood claypot and crispy duck. Open daily. $3.50-$17.95. 1049-51 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. Open daily. $3-$16. 5461 North 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. Open daily. $10-$15. 3655 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, 513-533-9500, wildgingercincy.com.
This bright yellow building sitting in the heart of Corryville offers authentic Jamaican delights like jerk chicken, sweet plantains, oxtail and curry goat. Open daily. $8-$10. 2826 Vine St., Corryville, 513-498-0680, islandfrydays.com.
CAJUN AND CREOLE
SwampWater Grill's gumbo
Photo: Jillian Tellep
Rooftop Jazz club and terrace bar offering daily specials and a menu with Cajun-influences including Cajun Fried Oysters with remoulade, chicken and sausage jambalaya and crab cakes. Open daily. $7-$29. 530 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-491-8027, cheznora.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 etouffee, a generous pile of crawfish tails with vegetables and spicy sauce over rice. Open daily. $15-$37. 529 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-261-2365, deefelice.com.
SwampWater Grill is located inside the same sprawling, shanty-like building that houses Riverside Centre Antique Mall. The restaurant is the brainchild of property owner Chris Ornella and partner Kirk Prest, who hails from Plaquemines Parish, La., just south of New Orleans. Prest, whose occupational history includes businessman, outdoorsman, shrimper and oyster farmer, brings with him a menu Southerners would find 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. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $12.99-$15.99. 3742 Kellogg Ave., East End, 513-834-7067, swampwatergrill.com.
Freshly baked bread and scratch-made, pressure-smoked andouille sausage are highlighted in several dishes and sides. New Orleans-inspired fare is well within Virgil’s wheelhouse, and the andouille po’ boy, chicken etouffee and shrimp Creole with creamy cheddar cheese grits prove it. Open Wednesday-Monday. $10-$25. 710 Fairfield Ave., Bellevue, Ky., 859-491-3287, virgilscafe.com.
BRITISH AND CELTIC
Cock & Bull
Photo: Jesse Fox
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. Open daily. $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, theenglishpub.com.
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. Open daily. $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. Open daily. $9-$29. 625 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-564-9111, nicholsonspub.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. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $9-$22. 6900 Valley Lane, Newtown, 513-561-6776, laszlosironskillet.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 Weiner Schnitzel, a tender veal cutlet topped with lemon; it’s served with German fried potatoes and cabbage. Other specialties include Bier Battered Pickles, Potato Pancakes and a choice of one to three sausages with bratwurst, mettwurst, hot mettwurst and goettawurst — all made locally. They have 16 beers on tap, most of which are German, along with some microbrews. Open Monday-Saturday. $8-$20. 302 E. University Ave., Corryville, 513-221-5353, mecklenburgs.net.
Mantra on the Hill
Photo: Jesse Fox
Authentic Northern Indian cuisine with a lunch buffet and Indian beer. Open daily. $8-$15. 24 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-723-1300, akashindia.net.
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. Open daily. $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. Open daily. $5-$10. 7633 Reading Road, Roselawn, 513-821-2021, ammaskitchen.com.
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). The tantalizing smell of aromatic spices will have you salivating as you slide into one of the many booths in the large dining room. Also offers a broad lunch buffet. Open daily. $8-$15. 354 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-961-3600.
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. Open daily. $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, over-crowded dining rooms. What’s their philosophy? Northern Indian recipes done the only way they know: authentically. Open daily. $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. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $7-$10. 11259 Reading Road, Sharonville, 513-655-2175, brijmohansweets.com.
Deep India is the newest spot to join the Clifton brotherhood of Indian restaurants, and its simple, cheaper take on take-out is welcome. 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. Open daily. $7-$10. 211 W. McMillan Ave., Clifton Heights, 513-421-6453.
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. Open Monday-Sunday. $8-$15. 944 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-221-8900.
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. Open daily. $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. The dish that really grabs from the menu is the moist, tandoor-cooked Kashmiri Duck with roasted apple. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $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. Open daily. $8.50-$15.99. 11974 Lebanon Road, Suite 100, 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. Open daily. $9-$12. 3880 Paxton Ave., Hyde Park, 513-533-3100, shaanindian.com.
Nestled into a storefront of a strip mall, Taj doesn’t offer much in the way of décor, but it’s bright and comfortable. The menu is a familiar mix of curries, biryani, naan, chicken tandoori and all the other usual suspects. What Taj India lacks in décor it easily makes up for in both food and service. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $8.99-$12.99. 7426 Beechmont Ave., Anderson Township, 513-233-9777, tajindiatogo.com.
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. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $8.99-$25.99. 4632 Eastern Ave., East End, 513-871-5862, bellalunacincy.com.
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, proscuitto, 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. Open Monday-Saturday. $8-$14. 3764 Montgomery Road, Norwood, 513-631-6836, bettasitalianoven.com.
This restaurant, where the toothpick scene in Rain Man was filmed, has been offering classic family Italian since 1933. Open daily. $6.95-$13.95. 600 Washington Ave., Newport, Ky., 859-581-3065, pompiliosrestaurant.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. The music is the real deal, too. Open Tuesday-Saturday. $18-$30. 919 Vine St., Downtown, 513-721-9484, scottiscincinnati.com.
Photo: Ronny Salerno
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. Open daily. $6-$24. 906 Nassau Ave., Eden Park, 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. Open Sunday-Friday. $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. Open daily. $4-$29.99. 3307 Clifton Ave., Clifton Heights, 513-221-7222, facebook.com/mediterraneanking.
The Iranian Mostofi family’s Persian Nights in West Chester is the only restaurant of its kind from here to Columbus. The long menu centers on their kabobs: koobideh (ground meat), beef chenjeh (chunks of beef tenderloin), lamb, shish kabob and barg kabob (filet mignon), and for $45 you can get the The Night’s Feast consisting of all of their chicken, lamb and beef varieties. Open daily. $10-$45. 7967 Cincinnati-Dayton Road, West Chester, 513-777-4111.
Yes, Uncle Mo’s is a gyros place, ostensibly, and there are other gyros places downtown, but Mo’s tzatziki sauce? Thick Greek-style yogurt. Mo’s hummus? As smooth as butter and as luxurious as velvet. He even drizzles olive oil on top. Mo’s chicken shawarma is as tender as a pita full of babies’ kisses. And the baklava? Nutty goodness. A great big piece for just $2.50. Open Monday-Friday. $4-$9. 203 E. Seventh St., Downtown, 513-721-8111.
Photo: Jesse Fox
The starter selections (called “antojitos” at Barrio: “little cravings”) include great guacamole and elote mexicano — grilled corn dusted with chile. Choose from burritos and tacos in various incarnations. Fillings range from carne asada, marinated grilled skirt steak, to de hongos, Barrio’s vegetarian burrito. The bar offers more than 70 tequilas. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $2.75-$8. 3937 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, 513-541-6400, facebook.com/barriotequileria.
The Comet is 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. Open daily. $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 soy chorizo and cotija cheese. The Sheriff’s Stone Bowl features beans, rice, vegetables, beef and egg in a big stone bowl. Open Monday-Saturday. $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. Open daily. $8-$35. 41 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-421-5757, elcoyotecincy.com.
Cincinnati’s original foil-wrapped Latin fare. Habanero 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. Open daily. $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. Open daily. $3-$10. 642 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859-261-6112.
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. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $4.50-$8.50. 2507 Chelsea Drive, Fort Mitchell, Ky., 859-341-0707.
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. Open daily. $3-$15. 100 E. Eighth St., Downtown, 513-381-0678; 6507 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, 513-942-4943, tmercadocincy.com.
Another hidden gem for the adventurous eater, Taqueria Yolandita is the 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. Open Monday-Saturday. $5-$7. 1881 Westwood Ave., Fairmount, 513-551-0828.
Photo: Jillian Tellep
Adriatico’s moved from a hole-in-the-wall carryout and delivery location to new digs — their renovated sports bar on McMillan Street. They now have a huge draft beer selection and 64-ounce growlers to go, but they still deliver the spicy, garlicky sauce, oversized pepperonis and super-thick crust that they’re 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. Open daily. $6-$18. 113 W. McMillan St., Clifton Heights, 513-281-4344, facebook.com/adriaticos.
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. Downtown open Monday-Saturday; Deer Park Open daily. $6-$18. 1207 Main St., Downtown, 513-621-3800; 7031 Plainfield Road, Deer Park, 513-791-6000, cincybytheslice.com.
New York-style pizzeria with subs and calzones. Open daily. $5.95-$32. 603 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-916-5209, goodfellaspizzeria.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. Open daily. $3.95-$24.99. 9238 Floer Drive, West Chester, 513-860-0888, mellowmushroom.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. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $9-$18. 336 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859-291-6836, strongsbrickovenpizza.com.
Photo: Jesse Fox
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. Open Monday-Saturday. $5-$7. 11033 Reed Hartman Highway, Blue Ash, 513-600-6081, getyourpuff.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. Open daily. $4-$13. 7105 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, 513-860-0349.
STEAKHOUSES AND SEAFOOD
Alabama Fish Bar
Photo: Cameron Knight
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! Open Monday-Saturday. $7-$8. 1601 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-241-2255, alabamafishbar.com.
With the Waterfront’s closing, Chart House claims the best riverside view. 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. Open daily. $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. Open daily. $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. Open daily. $17-$63. 8170 Montgomery Road, Kenwood, 513-984-8090, embersrestaurant.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. Open Monday-Saturday. $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. Open Tuesday-Saturday. $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 steak house options: tender, juicy steaks, seafood and chicken cooked just right, plus pasta, sandwiches, soups and salads. Open daily. $8-$31. 3908 Harrison Ave., Cheviot, 513-662-2683, maurys-steakhouse.com.
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 or bananas foster. Open daily. $14-$62. 311 Delta Ave., Columbia Tusculum, 513-321-5454, jeffruby.com.
Home of an annual oyster festival and crab carnival. Open daily. $4-$27.95. 1000 Elm St., Downtown, 513-421-0110, washingtonplatform.com.
VEGETARIAN AND VEGAN
Photo: Jesse Fox
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. Open daily. $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. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $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. Open Tuesday-Saturday. $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. Open daily. $4-$10. 4165 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-681-6358, meltcincy.com.
With eight soups available each day, loads of vegetarian options, international flavors and home-baked desserts, you can’t go wrong, and you can’t beat the prices. Try the Gado Gado, the Pulao or the Red Bean Mole. Open daily. $4-$8.50. 121 Calhoun St., Clifton Heights. 513-961-1578, myrasrestaurant.com.
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. Open daily. $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. Open Tuesday-Saturday. $9-$24. 207 E. Main St., Mason, 513-492-7514, wildflowercafeandcoffeehouse.com.
Photo: Catherine Viox
Abby Girl Sweets
A from-scratch cupcakery with two locations and special, seasonal flavors. Open Tuesday-Saturday. Prices vary. 4773 Glendale Milford Road, Blue Ash, 513-335-0898; 41 W. Fifth St., Downtown, 513-335-0898, abbygirlsweets.com.
This is a classic 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. Open daily. Prices vary. Multiple locations, including 3046 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-531-5196; 9899 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, 513-791-7082, aglamesis.com.
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. Open Monday-Saturday. $5.50-$15. 2030 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, 513-321-3399, bonbonerie.com.
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 Hyde Park, 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. In addition to a wide variety of sweets offered daily, customers can place special orders for special occasions. Open Monday-Saturday. Various prices. 7458 Montgomery Road, Kenwood, 513-984-1100, cupcakecrazyincincinnati.com.
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. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $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. Open daily. $2.75-$5.75. Multiple locations including 511 Walnut St., Fountain Square, Downtown, 513-381-4191, graeters.com.
Queen City Cookies
Queen City Cookies creates pieces of edible art. Their artisanal shortbread cookies are made from scratch using natural ingredients including European butter, farm fresh eggs, cane sugar and unbleached flour. Their bacon schnecken was featured by Oprah. 1662 Blue Rock St., Northside, 513-591-0022, queencitycookies.com.
Schneider’s Sweet Shop
An old-time corner candy and ice cream store serving the area since 1939. Open daily. 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. Open Monday-Friday. $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. Flavor combos include papaya rosemary, Thai basil lime, peach Sriracha, lychee coconut and many more. Open seasonally. $3. 1437 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-446-7505, streetpops.com.
Cafe de Wheels
Forget the post-meal guilt and head here for a burger made from grass-fed beef, wild-caught salmon or garden veggies with a side of sweet potato fries. Find the truck’s schedule on Facebook. Regular spots include Animations on Madison Road in Oakley and various spots in the northern suburbs. $2.50-$10.50. bones-burgers.com.
Café de Wheels
Cincinnati’s first food truck serves burgers and sandwiches made from local ingredients whenever possible. Find Café de Wheels on Twitter (@TheBurgerTruck) and Facebook for locations, or spot the truck at Findlay Market and Fountain Square on the weekends. $2-$9. cafedewheels.com.
C’est Cheese Cincy
C’est Cheese features gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, like the Bad Girl Sandwich, with brie, honey and raspberry sauce on French bread, and homemade pickles on the side. Find C’est Cheese on Facebook and Twitter (@CestCheeseCincy). $3-$7. cestcheesecincy.com.
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. Follow EAT! on Twitter (@EatMobileDining) and Facebook. $4.50-$8. eatmobiledining.com.
Fireside Pizza Wagon
Fireside offers traditional Italian cuisine made from local ingredients. Popular menu items include by-the-slice pizza, stuffed mushrooms and garlic knots. Find Fireside on Twitter
(@FiresideWagon) and Facebook. $7-$9. 859-982-9759, firesidepizzawagon.com.
Mr. Gene’s Doghouse
Mr. Gene’s menu features hot dogs, metts and Italian sausages with traditional sides of fries and onion rings. Find Mr. Gene’s on Twitter (@MrGenesDoghouse) for truck location updates. $2-$10. mrgenesdoghouse.com.
Mr. Hanton’s Handwiches
Choose from beef franks, chicken apple sausages, metts, goetta dogs and Italian sausages, and then top it with your favorite condiments. Find the truck’s locations on Twitter (@MrHantons) and Facebook. $3.50-$8. mrhantons.com.
New Orleans To Go
Fan favorites are Glazed Shrimp Po’ Boys and the Louisiana Gumbo. Follow New Orleans To Go on Twitter (@NewOrleansToGo) and Facebook to see where the truck is headed. $8-$13. neworleanstogopoboys.com.
Oleg’s International Cuisine
Owner Oleg Makhayev has closed Oleg’s Tavern and opened a food truck. Makhayev hails from the Ukraine and offers homemade Eastern European staples like a Berliner Doner Kebab, homemade bratwurst and cabbage rolls with bread and sauerkraut. Follow on Twitter
(@olegsfood). $5. 513-659-3220, olegsfood.com.
Pizza Bomba features whole pizza pies, by-the-slice pizza and sandwiches. Look for Pizza Bomba on Twitter (@PizzaBomba) and Facebook for updates on the truck’s whereabouts. $3-$13. pizzabomba.com.
Get a taste of the West Coast and stop by Taco Azul for tacos, burritos and quesadillas made from local ingredients. Taco Azul posts the truck’s daily locations to Facebook and Twitter (@elTacoAzul). $5-$7. tacoazul.com.
This food truck serves up mobile Mexican cuisine. Texas Joe opened the truck because he missed Mexican Restaurants in Houston; his grub employs family recipes and authentic Mexican techniques handed down for generations. $4-$10. texasjoethelegalmexican.com.
Turophilia serves a selection of quesadillas made from organic wheat tortillas and local ingredients whenever possible. Follow on Twitter (@Turophilia1) and Facebook. $3-$7.
This tricked-out food truck is the only truck in the area to boast a full commercial kitchen and an on-board wood-chip smoker. Serving up fresh, handcrafted sandwiches and skewers, Urban Grill takes scrumptiousness to Cincinnati streets. Follow on Twitter (@UrbanGrillCincy). $2-$10. urbangrillfoodtruck.com.