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Oct 14, 2006 01:31 AM

Downtown Cincinnati

I'll be staying in downtown Cincinnati at the Millenium for one night next week and am seeking a dinner recommendation. Anything worth seeking out within a reasonable distance (say a mile or two)?

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  1. If you have not had it before, your must try for a single night in Cincinnati is Cincinnati style chili

    That said, the top three regional specialties in Cincinnati (the aforementioned chili, goetta, and double decker sandwiches) can all be had at Camp Washington Chili, just a 2-3 mile run up I-75 from downtown, Open very nearly 24 hours a day.

    The most popular restaurant in Cincinnati is (arguably) Montgomery Inn, where the specialty is ribs. Ribs with bbq sauce, not bbq in the true sense as the meat is not smoked, but good eats nonetheless, imho. Get the house vinegrette dressing for your salad and the saratoga chips as your potato choice. Located on the river on the southeast tip of downtown

    For 5 star dining, you want Jean Paul's at Pigalls. The chef there is a local celebrity, well liked, and there have been nothing but raves about his food. On 4th street within a fgew blocks walk of your hotel.

    I see you have an interest in beer from the threads you have participated may then have an interest in the microbrews at the Rock Bottom Brewery right on fountain square, a very short walk from your hotel. Also, across the river in Newport Ky is a outpost of Munich's own Hoffbrau House ( Mediocre food, but pretty good beer.

    I say all that without any foreknowlege of your available transportation, budget, and culinary preferences. I'd offer more suggestions if I had a better idea of what you're looking for.

    1. TJ -

      Thanks for your ideas. I found your thread on Roadfood and you are truly an incredible resource.

      I've been to Cincinnati a few times before (though not in about 5 years) and have been to Camp Washington several times. If I had free time at lunch I'd go there but I want something a little more leisurely for dinner.

      Here's my initial intinerary:

      I'm planning on breakfast at Hathaway's to try the goetta (which I have not previously tasted) as that is within walking distance of my hotel.

      I'm definitely planning to sneak out of my conference to get some ice cream at Graeter's, which is among my favorites. Oddly, I couldn't find the downtown location listed on their website. Is it still open and does it truly close at 6:00?

      But dinner is my main concern and while Pigalls sounds great, I'm seeking something less upscale but still unique. The boiled ribs at Montgomery Inn were a turn-off, frankly, and Rock Bottom is a chain.

      One place that I would be interested in hearing more about is Mejana. A good German place would be interesting, too (as that cuisine seems to be on the wane in this country). Something central European, an unusual Asian, or something very creative or funky would also be up my alley.

      Thanks for your help!

      1. The Graeter's downtown close at the end of last year and will not likely be returning. In the meantime, Cafe Martin on Vine between 8th and 9th (across from the Public Library) has licensed a ice cream counter from Graeter's, and is serving some of their ice creams there. I think you're pretty much stuck with cones and cups - none of the fancy stuff - but that's your best bet.

        There are no German restaurants downtown, and this cuisine is on the wane in this very German City. Your best bet for German is Wertheims in Covington and Lendhardt's in Clifton. Both are about 2-3 miles from your location. Both are a little bit hit and miss on the eating experience.

        Montgomery Inn is a place people either love or hate. I like it pretty well, as does most of my family. A good meal can be had there no matter what you get from an extensive menu that has much more than just ribs. But if you've already bbeen there, and didn't like it, I agree you should pass this time.

        Less expensive and less formal than deCavel's 5 star place is his Bistro, JeanRo's, which is on Vine just north of 4th, also within easy walking distance of your hotel.

        Unique and less expensive - Arnold's. This is one of the oldest operating eating establishment in Cincinnati, dating back to 1861.

        I've not been into Mejana, and asian/indian cuisine is also not an area I am strong in, but other Cincinnati contributors can (and most probably will) help here.

        1. I've not been eating downtown recently, a trend I'm hoping to reverse soon, but not in time to report before your visit. So, my suggestions are based on others' recommendations:

          *JeanRo's -- I've heard great things about it from many people, and if the food and service are anything like Pigall's, it will be a lovely meal for you. (See TJ's post for website)

          *Vinyl -- a newly opened restaurant in an old space (it was "The Diner" for many years). Friends who ate there last week said the food was good, the music was cool and the clientele was eclectic -- they really enjoyed it. A review from CityBeat ( if you're clicking this week; is the permanent link) indicates that the food is hit or miss depending on who's cooking, so maybe go for a drink and an appetizer to test the water, and split if it's not good? The website isn't opening on my mac, but hopefully you can access it:

          Enjoy your visit, and please let us know where you end up!

          3 Replies
          1. re: tapas

            Fair warning - I've not been to Vinyl, so I can't speak to the eating establishment itself, but the location is a fairly long walk from where you will be staying and is in a somewhat rough neighborhood called Over the Rhine. Not as big a deal as a lunch destination, but you said this as for dinnerm and it gets dark by 6 at the moment, so.....if you decide on this place, take a cab both ways.

            1. re: TJ Jackson

              Good point, TJ -- thanks for adding that.

            2. re: tapas

              A few things:

              1.) Montgomery Inn ribs are NOT boiled. I don't know where that comes from. When I saw that yesterday I emailed the owner, and he said emphatically NO, the ribs are not boiled.

              2.) Ruby's at Seventh and Walnut puts up a good meal, and the crowd is likely to be livelier than Jean Robert's. Specialty is really big steaks, and good drinks; the place is a bit over the top, and expensive, but the meals are good.

              3.) Two Italian restaurants downtown are worth mentioning. Scotti's on Vine has been there for decades. It's a bit old-style (thick red sauce) but the meals are always good. Also, Roma Trattoria on Walnut across from the Aronoff Center -- I had a plate of gnocchi there a while back and I've been dying to return.

              4.) For a relatively cheap lunch -- Mejana has a buffet that's good. But I also like Penn Station, a local cheesesteak chain with fresh-cut fries. Also also, there's a hamburger joint on Vine between Ninth and Court, used to be called Hamburger Mary's and I can't think of the new name. Really good hamburgers. Business crowd during the day, gay bar at night. And, of course, there are three Skylines downtown; my favorite is at Seventh and Vine.

            3. I used to live in Cincy. My two favorite restaurants are...

              Teak Thai in Mt. Adams. Great curries and pad thai.

              The National Exemplar.( located in Mariemont inside the Mariemont Inn. I have had everything on the menu and have never had a bad meal. Best prime rib I have every had!