So, here’s the good news: You’re a badass chef in Cincinnati and you’ve just served dinner to a few hundred people. Your crew was on top of its game and the night flew by sans flaws.
Now for the bad news: Your back hurts. Your feet hurt. Everything hurts. Worst of all, nary a bite of that stellar cuisine found its way into your pie hole and you’re famished. Oh, and just to add insult to injury, you get to do it all over again tomorrow. And the next day.
Chefs love food. Most of them are obsessed with the stuff. But after hovering over a blazing 12-burner for a 16-hour shift cooking your dinner, the thought of heading home and putting together something for themselves is the last thing on their minds. Simple, satisfying fare is what’s called for, and if it’s easy on the wallet, even better.
So we gathered up some of our favorite local chefs, threw them together in a virtual chat room and asked them for their favorite places to grab some grub, post shift. Because if our local chefs like it, it’s got to be good, right?
- “On my days off I love to go to Wunderbar in Covington; the food is fresh, people are friendly and it is popularly priced.” — Matthew Buschle, owner/executive chef of Virgil’s Café
- “Mayday in Northside. Lots of good, casual food that is priced well, close to home — oh, and there is beer and bourbon … the staff rocks!” — Cameron Serrins, new executive chef of Lavomatic
- “Plum Street (Café) for bottled beer and bagged snacks. We ain’t fancy.
Or Knockback (Nat’s) because of their amazing wings! And Sawasdee Thai in Fairfield. Amazingly nuanced Thai food; mouth-meltingly spicy if you ask!” — Andrew Vogel, cook at Jean-Robert’s Table and adjunct culinary instructor at the Midwest Culinary Institute
Now, hit the town to eat like a chef; you just might run into Queen City newcomer, Joe West, executive chef of The Palace at The Cincinnatian Hotel, who was taking notes on where all of his new comrades like to hang out.
- “Right now my food obsession is Danny Korman’s Vegan Rubinator at Park + Vine. The sauce is perfect and the cabbage is so nice and pickled. I spend a lot of time eating on my feet and on the go, so when I sit down and eat a Rubinator it seems like I am doing my body a favor!” — Derek dos Anjos, chef and owner of The Anchor OTR
- “Arthur’s. Beers and burgers. The Oak Tavern has killer smoked wings. Good shit.” — Mike Florea, owner and executive chef of Maribelle’s eat+drink
- “AmerAsia: good beer, good food to stay or take-out and I can walk there. Also, Sunday brunch; nothing beats Otto’s bloody mary and crab hash. I agree on Wunderbar. Noticing a pattern here? That’s right, I don’t like to drive on my day off.” — Renee Schuler, owner and executive chef of eat well celebrations and feasts
- “La Mexicana in Newport: the best taco de lengua y tripa.” — Salomon Rabinovich of Quan Hapa and Gaijin Catering
- “Madonna’s for the BLT; it’s eight bucks and it gives me a tongue boner. I mean that thing is so good, I want to play with it. Another place is Original House of Pancakes; omelets are huge and the German pancakes are glorious.” — Josh Campbell, former executive chef of Lavomatic
- “The charcuterie board at Dutch’s Larder.” — Stephen Williams, owner and executive chef of Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar
- “Gary’s wings at Westy’s (Pub) in Madeira. Cheap drinks and I know I won’t run in to any of you industry jokers out there. Just don’t ever ask Gary about Vietnam...” — David Bach, “Kitchen Guy” (aka sous chef) at Metropole
- “Toss-up between Riverside Korean and La Mexicana. For a fancier place? Sotto for sure. Simplicity.” — Kyle Johnson, executive chef of Local 127
- “Anything, anywhere, cooked by someone that does not cook for a living. ... True, home-cooked food.” — Jimmy Gibson, owner and executive chef at Jimmy G’s
- “I love Mayday, where, if you’re lucky, you can watch Tom McKenna (Dutch’s baker) take a nap.” — Jim Cornwell, operating partner and butcher at Dutch’s Larder
- “Coaches Corner in Newport: great burger, sweet people. Kremer’s Market off Buttermilk Pike. Great sammies.” — Elias Leisring, owner and executive chef of Eli’s BBQ
- “Jenn and I love La Mexicana in Newport.” — Sean Kagy, executive chef of The Summit Restaurant at the Midwest Culinary Institute
- “For myself, it is Walt’s Barbeque. Amazing brisket and great soup beans. Brings me back to being a kid, and my wife loves the pulled pork.” — Dana Scott Adkins, chef and kitchen manager of Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant