- Davwud Jun 23, 2006 10:56 AM
We'll be in Cincinnati this summer and was wondering where to eat. I've heard of the Montgomery Inn and it looks good but I don't really know. My wife is southern and would be very skeptical of the fact that a Cinci resto claims to have "Worlds greatest ribs". Something close the the park as well would be nice since we're going to a Reds game.
Yes, you should try Cincinnati chili, preferably Skyline, although Goldstar? will do in a pinch. As far as I could determine, the chili and German food are the unique cuisines there. The chili is very unlike anywhere else. The gravy is thin and spiced with cinnamon.
Sure it's junk food, but it's superior junk food. How can you resist chili, spaghetti, onions and cheese (a three-way?) with their very vinegary hot sauce. I've been to Ohio on business three times and the first place I go is always Skyline.
I'm not that partial to German food, so didn't really look. Mind you this was back in 1992, but I did go to an OK German restaurant between a Black neighborhood and the University of Cincinnati. And I had some good sausages at a flea market northeast? of Oxford. I was only in Cincinnati on the weekend during which I just couldn't get enough of Skyline.
Cincy Chili may be the greatest food ever invented (well maybe that's a bit over the top). With that being said, it's sort of an acquired taste. So the first time you have it, you will either a. think it's OK, b. think it's disgusting or c. wonder how anyone would call this mess of sauce and pasta chili. So try it a few more times, eventually the subtlety of the cinnamon and chocolate will start to win you over. If you like greek food - especially dishes like pastisu then you'll love the chili here. Skyline is the best, don't let Goldstar's ads fool you - they are not the taste that is taking over... I think the best things on the menu are the 5 way (nothing like adding beans and onions to really work your gut over), the coney (best at Red's games - you get your hot dog and your chili all in one place) and one of their newer items, the chili cheese fries (something i've been hoping they would add for years and something my arteries will lament for the rest of my years...)
It depends largely on what kind of food you are looking for.
Montgomery Inn is overpriced and just average, IMHO. The sauce is rather ketchupy, and depending on where your wife is from in the South, she might find it a pale imitation of what she is accustomed to. Still, it is a source of great pride from many Cincinnatians.
If Italian is your game, many people swear by Nicola's - which is less pasta focused and more heartier Northern Italian fare.
If you like sushi, Kyoto Japan in Mason is one of my favorites - what it's lacking in atmosphere it makes up for in freshness and creativity.
Two new restaurants in Mt. Lookout are pretty good: Aqua, which is seafood and sushi, and Nectar, which is focused on using regional ingredients. Both are somewhat trendy, however, and are fairly loud.
Boca (mentioned above) is also good, as is the newer Honey in Northside.
Sturkey's in Wyoming, and the Precinct in Columbia-Tusculum (so named because it occupies a historic police station), are two other solid choices.
What we're looking for usually when we're travelling is something that we can't get here at home. We have a Little Italy here so Italian is no big deal elsewhere. That said, a cool little pizza and beer joint is always great. In Toronto you can't swing a live fish without hitting a sushi shop so it's not a big deal for something like that on the road.
One other thing I should point out is my wife doesn't eat meat on Friday's.
We had a request on Roadfood for similar information, with the fellow staying in Sharonville, which is just west of Blue Ash. Check out my reply and others here: http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/topic....
The purely cincinnati regional foods are cincinnati style chili and goetta. I urge you to try both.
One other oddity in that area is a Melting Pot location - fondue isn't something I see too commonly outside the occasional episode of "That 70's Show"
TJ is correct when mentioning goetta and the chili. They are not for everyone but worth trying.
As for the Melting Pot, it has locations all over the US and is not worth going out of your way for.
Sounds like you are looking for local color more than regional flavor, in which case I would point you to Arnold's Bar downtown, which has been open in Cincinnati since the Civil War. If you want something a little newer, I would recommend the Dilly Deli in Mariemont (dillydeli.com). They have excellent food and an even more excellent beer selection. Although they are a little hard to find, sitting on their patio in the summertime is just about right.
Don't be discouraged from going to Montgomery Inn. No, it's not real barbecue, and yes, the sauce has a ketchup base, but it's good eatin' and it's unique to Cincinnati. Get a slab, sauce on the side, with Saratoga chips and onion straws. They'd been knocked in recent years because service and food were slipping, but they appear to have listened and my last few visits have been just fine. The Montgomery Inn Boathouse location is walking distance from Great American Ball Park, right on the river. The walls are plastered with local sports memorabilia and the restaurant is always full. If you're staying in Blue Ash, the orginial (though expanded and remodeled) restaurant is in nearby Montgomery.
Other recommendations here are good -- Arnold's, goetta, chili. Also check out Graeter's ice cream (multiple locations), or Schnieder's in Dayton, Ky., (across the river and a mile or two east from the ballpark) for ice balls and ice cream. This is a local thing, a scoop of hand-shaved ice with your choice of syrup on top of your choice of ice cream. It's absolutely the coldest thing I've ever eaten, and Schneider's ice cream is excellent. I go for grape syrup and vanilla ice cream. And while you're across the river, check out the Party Source, the biggest liquor store/party supply store I've ever seen. HUGE selection of beer, wine, vodka and bourbon (if you're in Kentucky, you can't leave without a good bottle of bourbon), and their people know their stuff.
And, I'd be curious to hear what you think of the ball park and the food there.
I worked at Montogomery Inn (the original location in Montgomery) during the summer when I was in college. The ribs are good but they would not be considered true bbq by an afficionado. Worth trying if you go in knowing that and don't expect something else.
I'm not sure where you live but a lot of "Little Italy" parts of town I've been to in various cities are mostly traditional italian cuisine. BOCA (which I would also HIGHLY recommend) is much more contemporary.
The best known chef here in Cincinnati is Jean-Robert and he has several restaurants - Pigalls being his first and flagship. He also has a restaurant just across the street from Boca called Pho Paris that its a French - Vietnamese fusion (not something you find every day).
DEFINITELY try Cincinnati Chili - 5 way at Skyline and Graeters Ice Cream - anything w/chips (mocha chip being my favorite).
The big steakhouses in Cincinnati (if this interests you) are owned by Jeff Ruby. There is one called Jeff Ruby's downtown (very hip, art deco) and one closter to where you will staying in Montgomery called Carlo & Johnny's - more traditional decor.
I haven't been to Honey but have plans to in the next few weeks and am looking foward to it. My parents at at Nectar over the weekend and were not impressed.
Wow, you guys are great.
Right now it's looking like we'll do Blue Ash chili for a 5 way, then the game then drinks at Arnolds afterwards. We're only staying overnight so we don't have time to do everything. We pass through town several times a year so I'll print this whole page off for future reference.
As for bourbon, we're visiting Woodford (For lunch) and Makers on Saturday. I think we'll enjoy that.
The Echo Restaurant in Hyde Park Square, about 20 minutes from Blue Ash, is terrific. My sister lived in Cincinnati until last year and we still pine for the breakfasts and the turkey dinner. It's a diner/family restaurant and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
As an aside, the family that started Skyline is Greek, which explains the cinnamon in the chili.
Don't miss Slims in Northside -- 4 or 5 miles north of the ball park. AMAZING food -- eclectic menu -- charming staff. If you can't get in there, the old Boca -- now called Honey is just down the street from Slim's and it is better than Boca. (Not Italian really, more eclectic as well.) Better still if you want to stay near the ball park check out Jean-ro's - the owner was formerly the chef at the Maisonette (the country's longest running 5 star rating) Mouth watering French cuisine without the 5 star prices. Great bar in Mt. Adams - no food - is the Blind Lemon - 5 minute drive from ball park.