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Mar 18, 2008 04:00 AM

Downtown Cinci Sat Night

We're going to see Bruce Springsteen on Saturday night and would like recommendations for somewhere to have an early-ish dinner. We'd like to be able to walk (we're staying at the Garfield House), and like all kinds of food. It's been years since we've been to Scotties; how is that old place hanging in? I thought I'd read about a good tapas place, too - Nonas? Only real requirement for us is that we're able to get decent wine or a drink to accompany dinner - it's a birthday celebration for our friend, and she's gonna wanna party! I'd appreciate your reccos.

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  1. Hi Niki,

    There aren't a lot of places that are very good for walking to US Bank Arena (or at least Ohioan's version of walking, which is 2-3 blocks!). I've tried eating in Newport and walking over the Purple People Bridge to the Arena and that wasn't too bad. I recommend Bar Louie for martinis and appetizers, or Brio if you want a nicer dinner with wine. See for a list of restaurants and menus there.

    You're also not too far from fountain square, which would be a few blocks from the hotel and then another few blocks to the arena after dinner. There have been quite a few new restaurants cropping up down there lately, including McCormick and Schmick's, Via Vite (, and I think the Oceanaire is opening this weekend. And then there are the old standby's of Palomino and Rock Bottom Brewery. Cadillac Ranch, the new bar that sits behind Rock Bottom, is a great new place downtown if you are looking to go out after the concert.

    I'm not familiar with Nonna's. There is a great new Tapas place called Seny ( but it is in East Walnut Hills - not walking distance! There is also a new restaurant, Nada ( which is sort of upscale Mexican and opened by the same person who owns Boca (Cincinnati magazine's #1 restaurant of the year). I haven't been there but have heard good things, and it's definitely swankier than your typical Mexican.

    1 Reply
    1. re: dixontc

      Thanks, dixontc. As for the walking thing, I've walked the distance between the Garfield House and the arena many times; my idea of walking distance is generally a mile or so each way for an evening out ;-).

      We're not fond of chains (we have Bar Louie, McCormick and Schmidts, Brio all in Dayton, too), but I'll check the link on Via Vite.

      I appreciate the lead on the new bar; we'll probaly check that out on our way back.

    2. The Newport on the Levee suggestion is a good one. You can catch the Southbank Shuttle in downtown Cincinnati to take you across the river, then walk across the bridge to the concert. One other suggestion in Newport is the Hofbrauhaus, a German beer hall -- very good beer, but the food is just okay.

      A few other suggestions for downtown Cincinnati: Rock Bottom, a microbrew. Again, good beer, and the food is better than average. Boi Na Braza, one of those Brazilian meat-on-a-sword food orgies; I was told by an Argentinian that it's very good. $50 a head, but it sounds festive. Haven't been to Scotti's in a while, but I like Trattoria Roma for Italian.

      3 Replies
      1. re: johnbycz

        Thanks, johnbycz. I've been to Newport on the Levy fairly often, but haven't been overwhelmed by anything there in the past - where do you recommend? I've been to the Hofbrauhaus as well, and as I don't drink beer and didn't think the food was very good, I won't be suggesting that one to my friends ;-)

        1. re: Niki in Dayton

          My first choice at Newport on the Levee is Cafe Istanbul. Brio is okay; some people love it. I also think the sushi at Aoi is very good, if Japanese is your thing. I hear Pacific Moon is good, but have never been.

          The weather forecast for Saturday is 40-ish, maybe rain, so a walk across the bridge might be a little cold. One bit of advice -- walk the west side of the bridge, facing downtown. There's a stairway on that side which will put you right on the plaza level of the arena.

        2. re: johnbycz

          I was in Cincinnati last weekend for a conference, and we had dinner at Boi Na Braza. It was very enjoyable. The "salad bar" alone was worth the trip. What a fabulous choice of salads, hot entrees, cheese, etc. The appetizers they brought to the table were nothing to write home about (save your appetite for the salad bar and meat), but the restaurant is a good choice - especially if you are on a low carb diet. The waiters walk around with various meats, and you indicate if you want some with a green/red flip card.

        3. My advice is give up the walking idea, and just go to Slim's.

          1. There are a number of decent non-chain restaurants downtown. No need to go to Newport. Jean Ro Bistro is on Vine between 4th & 5th.

            Small plates are available next door to Jean-Robert's at Pigall's, at the Twist Lounge

            As mentioned earlier, Nada is new. Maybe that's what you thought was Nonna's.

            Trattoria Roma


            New place called Black Finn's

            Arnold's ~ lots of history

            I think Oceanaire put off their opening date to "Late Spring".

            I've heard Boi Na Braza is not good. Same with Scotty's, although I have not been to either.

            If you are going to KY, I would head over the blue Suspension Bridge to Covington, where you have Chalk Food+Wine and Greenup Cafe , as well as Keystone Bar & Grill and Molly Malone's

            But there is PLENTY in downtown CIncy.

            Let us know where you end up and have fun!!

            8 Replies
            1. re: soozycue520

              Thanks, soozycue! I think we'll probably stay on the north side of the river and check out some of the recommendations in this thread. We may end up doing a late lunch and then stopping by Via Vite or Twist, both of which offer late night noshes. I'll let y'all know how things work out.

              1. re: Niki in Dayton

                FYI Blackfinn's is a chain (at least I'd guess since we have one in Richmond) and while I've only had catered apps for a party there it's nothing special. Just irish pub meets sports bar meets meat market vibe. at least here.

                1. re: AMFM

                  it won't let me edit but hope that bruce is great too! i'm going to see him in charlottesville in april!

                  1. re: AMFM

                    Blackfinn, here, has just opened in the space formerly occupied by McFadden's. I think they are both owned by the same parent company. McFadden's was basically as you described the Blackfinn in Richmond. Blackfinn's food menu {in Cincinnati} has more entrees as opposed to "bar food".

                    I haven't been there. It just opened March 14th. The restaurants in this particular location have never lasted long, leading to some people saying the location is "cursed". We'll see!!

                    1. re: soozycue520

                      same chain though. they may own the franchise. it's not that they don't have entrees on their menu here either, but the feel is very bar. i never had an entree but being in the place during dinner hours wouldn't go there specifically to eat unless you really wanted that vibe.
                      the apps i had weren't bad at this party fyi. so i wouldn't knock the place permanently. but they said they didn't want chains so i just thought i'd post since i'd been to one.

                      1. re: AMFM

                        Thanks. I realized Blackfinn's was a chain when I surfed their site; I hadn't known that Nicholson's was part of The Pub chain till I surfed their site either. There's a Pub here in Dayton (and it's not bad, although more of a bar than a restaurant). I also hadn't realized that Pacific Moon at Newport is doing Dim Sum again; we liked them best of all the Cinci dim sum places when they were off Montgomery Road, but when they moved, they didn't do dim sum at first. So now it looks like we may do dim sum there on Sunday for brunch. Whatever we end up doing (and that will be driven in large part by the birthday girl's desires), I'll report back! And I'll let you know how Bruce is, too!

                        1. re: Niki in Dayton

                          used to like pacific moon in montgomery. haven't been since it moved. my parents like the place that's in there now.

                          1. re: Niki in Dayton

                            I know it's too late, but I went to Pacific Moon on the Levee and didn't like it. They are trying to make it more of a bar atmosphere and I thought the food quality was not as good as it was in Montgomery.

                            This may not affect Dim Sum, though.

                            Hope you had good food, and a good time!!

                2. Twist is great - you'll love it!