July 29, 2009

Iconic Cincinnati Restaurants

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After posting about the great Cincinnati area restaurants you were missing I received several inquiries from my friends out of town on which restaurants they should try when in town.  There are so many to try, so this list is limited to those places that scream Cincinnati, and unless noted, have been around a while.

Note that in Ohio there is no smoking in any public place, but Kentucky has no anti-smoking laws (it is up to each restaurant).

In no particular order…


Various locations (the original is downtown)

Izzy Kadetz himself would be proud of the local sandwich chain, now in it’s third generation.  Go for lunch and try a Reuben accompanied by a potato pancake – under no circumstance are you to opt out of the thousand island or sour kraut on the sandwich or are you to leave off the pancake.

Montgomery Inn

Various locations (the original is in Montgomery, but the downtown location has spectacular views of the river).

Best ribs, ever.  The barbecue sauce is a little on the sweet side, but the cuts are delicious, enormous and melt right off the bone into your mouth.  The restaurants are covered with memorabilia from the various celebrities that have visited over the decades. Go for dinner and try the ribs (of course) with a side of saratoga chips.

White Castle

Various locations (the original vanished through a space rupture)

If you are from elsewhere in the mid-west you know of White Castles already, so move on.  If you don’t, you are in for a unique hamburger treat.  Known for their sliders – a small burger fried over onions – simple and effective.  You must try a hamburger or cheeseburger  (or four) – and if you are following Cincinnati tradition it should be very, very late at night.

Camp Washington Chili/Blue Ash Chili/Skyline/Gold Star, etc…

Camp Washington is in Camp Washington (just north of downtown)
Blue Ash Chili is in Blue Ash and Mason
Skyline and Gold Star are everywhere

One cannot come to Cincinnati and not try our cities official dish.  Cincinnati chili is a bit different – first you will notice a hint of cinnamon and chocolate.  Second, we serve it over spaghetti noodles with cheese – a three way!  Or preferable go all the way and get a five way by adding beans and onions.  You may also want to try the local version of a chili dog.


Various locations (the original is in Western Hills)

A long time staple in the Cincinnati area and the local favorite for pizza.  Try the spaghetti, lasagna or if in the mood for pizza, a deep dish meat topper.  I personally love the bread sticks with cheese and a garlic butter for dipping.  Warning: if you are looking for gourmet pizza, or true Chicago or New York style pizza – this is not the place for you.

Graeters Ice Cream or Aglemesis Bros. Ice Cream

Graeters has various locations
Aglemesis Bros. is in Montgomery

Rich, creamy, hand made, fresh ingredients – do I need to say more?  There are very few that still use the french-pot method (the small batches are very time consuming). The best ice cream anywhere.  Try every ice cream flavor.  Then do it again.

Dewey’s Pizza

Various locations (the original is on Madison)

This is now a national chain, but it started right here in Cincinnati less than a decade ago, so I’m calling it our newest icon.  Known for their exquisite hand made gourmet pizzas.  Start by splitting any salad among your group.  Then try a half x-peperoni, half Edger Allen Poe.

Root Beer Stand

Sharonville only

A coney in Cincinnati will be topped by a unique Cincinnati recipe, but not here.  Here you will get a authentic, delicious chili dog.  So go get a foot long chili dog with everything and a mug or two of root beer.  Did I mention they make their own root beer here fresh each day?  The place and location are not much to look at (industrial area), but the great food and cheap prices make up for it.

Hofbrouhouse Newport

Newport only

Until recently this was the only Hofbrouhouse outside of Germany.  Authentic German recipes and some with a local flavor (which has long been heavily German influenced anyway).  Be warned, the food is almost all fried. They brew their own beers here, keeping strictly to the German purity laws.  So go for dinner and order a pint of your favorite beer (as long as it’s not the light) and a appetizer sampler – then on to whatever else looks good on the menu.

What do you think?

When you come in town, let me know what you think.  Those of you in Cincinnati, did I miss any icons?

Category : Miscellanea

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