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Jul 1, 2008 06:44 PM

Cincinnati chowhound ideas?

I will be in Cincinnati in a couple of weeks to catch a couple of games with my sons and I am looking for places to eat, chowhound style. From looking at previous posts, I came up with the following places
for burgers Zips or Quatmans
Skyline Chili
Graeters or Putz's for ice cream
Hofbrau Haus

Please feel free to make any up to date recommendations.

I would also like any recommendations on what to eat/drink at the GABP and the name/location of any stores that have a quality selection of midwest beers.

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  1. Zips is waaaaaaaaay overrated. In my neighborhood is Anderson Township Pub; I like their burgers, but I don't think they're worth a side trip.

    Skyline is good, but Camp Washington Chili is chowhoundier. Another great chowhound destination is Tucker's in Over-the-Rhine, for breakfast. You'll see things here about the neighborhood, but it's fine at breakfast-time.

    Hofbrau Haus has good beer, but the food isn't special.

    The place to buy beer is the Party Source in Bellevue, Ky., which is about a mile from the ballpark, just over the river. You should also use the opportunity to stock up on good Kentucky bourbons. Another place for beer is Jungle Jim's, which is not close to the ballpark, but worth the trip.

    An alternative for ice cream -- not far from the Party Source in Bellevue is Schneider's, for ice-balls-and-ice-cream. It's a sno cone on top of a scoop of ice cream. Sounds weird but it's all homemade and very good, especially on a hot day. I get grape syrup and vanilla ice cream.

    The ballpark food isn't special. You can get Skyline Chili coneys there. The Larosa's pizza is as good as ballpark pizza gets, which means it's all right. I usually get a Big Red Smoky or a bratwurst. There is a Skyline Chili three blocks from the ballpark, at Fourth and Sycamore. The best selection of beers is in the Machine Room, a restaurant in the left field corner. You can buy the beers there and take them into the ballpark.

    2 Replies
    1. re: johnbycz

      I agree on Zip's. I'm on record elsewhere as noting that if it weren't cheek-by-jowl next to Hyde Park, it wouldn't be as well regarded.

      I've not tried Anderson Twp Pub; I'll have to give it a go.

      As for the ballpark: Don't forget the Goetta items, dogs and burgers made from our local bizarre scrapple derivative.

      1. re: jmckee

        Also agree about Zip's. Try Terry's Turf Club.

    2. No contest between Zip's and Quatman's. Go to Quatman's. Zip's serves tiny, thin, mediocre little burgers which are overpriced. Eating there apparently is a status thing for some of the area's more misguided yuppies.

      While you're at Quatman's, pick up some of their chicken salad to go. They'll give you a sample taste. Empress Chili in Hartwell is my favorite of the Cincinnati-style chili chains (although I don't think they have that many locations left). Graeter's is traditional style ice cream; Putz's serves soft-serve. It's all good. Putz's has a decent chili dog, too. Price Hill Chili is also worth a try, for the large double-decker sandwiches and the Greek sausage and feta cheese pasta.

      1. Make sure you try goeta. It's great.

        You could even go into a grocery store and buy a couple tubes and take it home with you


        1. You're definitely working from a good list there. I heartily recommend you try Skyline Chili and Graeter's ice cream for a true Cincinnati experience! Have a great time!

          1 Reply
          1. re: mikjackson77

            i think aglamesis is the best ice cream in cincy.

          2. One place you, and your sons, might enjoy is the Montgomery Inn (Boathouse) which is locaated along the banks of the Ohio River, just on the easten side of downtown. I think it must only be a half a mile east of the ballpark. The Mongomery Inn is an institution in the Cincinnati area (I have travelled throughout the country on business and I have never been to a place quite like it). The food is not bad (Barbecue), but there are lots of decent BBQ places, but the experience, as they say, is priceless. This is a very large restaurant. It is part of a small chain and the original is about 17 miles north of downtown in Montgpomery, OH, but this place is very close to the stadium, and if you are an out of towner, here for a baseball game, you will not be disappointed. I could go on and on abut the details about the place, but let just say it is a "sports place" like no other. The Montgomery Inn is a casual, but nice place. It is not a "sports bar" per se. If I was in town to see a Reds or a Bengals game, this is defintily one place I would not want to miss. Every out of town guest I have ever taken there has raved about the expereince. Enjoy.

            16 Replies
            1. re: RMC

              I respectfully disagree. Anybody who likes barbecue should steer clear of any Montgomery Inn location. Bad ribs, boiled, and served with a sauce so sweet it turns your stomach.

              There are a number of real barbecue places in town, notably BBQ Revue on Madison and Jim Dandy's in Sharonville. The Montgomery Inn treats you like livestock -- head 'em in, herd 'em out.

              1. re: jmckee

                Montgomery Inn ribs are not boiled. I'll agree they're not barbecue because they're not smoked, but that doesn't make them bad. That's like saying Cincinnati chili is bad because it's not really chili. I've taken lots of out-of-towners to Montgomery Inn and they've all enjoyed it.

                1. re: johnbycz

                  I've spoken to the cooks - the ribs are boiled offsite, transported to the restaurant, then finished on the grill.

                  I too would not call them bbq for the same reason - no smoking - and I did like them very much in my youth, but I have not had a good meal there in 3 visits (for business lunches or dinners, always ordering off the menu as any other customer) in the past couple of years

                  I don't know if I'd call boiled ribs "cincinnati style" as I am unsure anyone else locally does ribs that way with any volume - I'd call the style specific to Montgomery Inn. It's their own style, really. That said, I don't care much for that style :-)

                  Walt's in Covington must do some odd thing as well because they seem to use high heat, another "bbq" no-no

                  1. re: johnbycz

                    I'd concur with TJ; my brother in law worked at one of their branches for a while, and that's where my horror at learning of the boiling was created.

                    And the Cincinnati chili comparison doesn't really resonate with me. Cincinnati chili, while oddly spiced, is indeed spiced and includes several elements of other regions' standard chilis and is cooked the same way, essentially. With the Montgomery Inn, we're talking the essential element of good barbecue ribs -- smoke -- being the missing element. Plus really lousy sauce.

                    I know there are differing tastes. And I yield to no one in my love of parochial Cincinnati specialties, including Graeter's, Busken, LaRosa's, Frisch's, goetta, and mock turtle soup. But I have never understood the popularity of the Montgomery Inn and find it to be possibly the most overrated restaurant I've ever patronized.

                    1. re: jmckee

                      All I can say is this -- the subject of boiled ribs came up once before, so I emailed Montgomery Inn. Evan Andrews, who runs the business, wrote back and said they are not boiled. If he misled me, then somebody from the Inn should get on here and set the record straight.

                      But as they say, 50 million Elvis fans can't be wrong. I'll never say they're the best ribs in the world, but they're unique and lots of people like them.

                      1. re: johnbycz

                        I interviewed Evan years ago back when I was a business reporter. Take anything he says with a block of salt. He's (or was) The Late Ted's son-in-law, and will do nothing to kill the gravy train.

                        And as for 50 million Elvis fans, per se, to paraphrase a saying: What's good isn't always popular; what's popular isn't always good.

                        McDonald's is, I think, proof of that point. "Billions and billions served" doesn't equal a good burger.

                        The Inn is a masterpiece of marketing over substance.

                        1. re: jmckee

                          One trip to the Montgomery Inn was enough for me. The food was mediocre and the service was rushed and perfunctory. As for favorably impressed out-of-town visitors, among my extended family and friends a certain level of "courtesy" prevails whereby if I take them out to eat, they'll probably say they enjoy anything short of absolutely sickening food. This is possibly not a Good Thing, but is still a reality of the "don't bite the hand that (literally) feeds you" mentality. MI is one of the last places in the area I'd take guests. And in my experience, if people really love barbecue they don't mind going to a down-home joint like Pit to Plate, Barbecue Revue, or Big Art's. So I wouldn't be embarrassed to take them to any of those places. I just don't even get MI's reason for existence at all.

                          1. re: Emm

                            Whoa! Where / what is Big Art's? If you mention it in the same breath as the others it must be worth mentioning!

                            My favorite Inn story: A friend was there for his company's Christmas luncheon, spaded in shoulder to shoulder like sardines. My friend refused his dessert; he's diabetic. And the waiter argued with him for five minutes that he HAD to take it, that it CAME with the meal, that it was WONDERFUL.

                            1. re: jmckee

                              Big Art's is waaay out in Colerain Township distressingly near Mt. Rumpke <g>. 2796 Struble Rd., to be exact. It's a good idea to phone for their hours before making a trip. (I think they're closed for vacation right now, too.) Also a good idea to get there early for dinner since the place fills up pretty fast. And here's the funniest thing: usually I don't even order the barbecue--which is excellent--because they serve a chicken breast concoction called Chicken Colerain (over rice, smothered in chopped tomato, onion and mushroom) that I'm completely addicted to. Big Art knows his way around a kitchen, that's for sure.

                              1. re: jmckee

                                Jack - I guessed you missed this RF thread which included visit to Big Art's - photo's included (I had a Insider membership back then and could post photos)


                                1. re: TJ Jackson

                                  I just returned from my Cincinnati trip; thanks to all of you who offered ideas/advice. For Chili, we tried Skyline and Price Hill. Of the two, we liked the Price Hill better as it was meatier. It seemed like both Chilis used the same type of spices (possibly including nutmeg and/or cinimin?) and while it was nowhere near as thick as the 'Texas style' Chili that we are used too, it was enjoyable in its' own way. It was more like a sauce for spagetti with meat sauce so serving it with spagetti makes sense.
                                  We also tried the pasta with the Greek sausage, peppers, onions, and feta and we all though it was might tasty. Also tasty at Price Hill was the Greek fries and the appetizer combo; both of these came out hot and not the least bit greasy.
                                  We did go to the Hofbrau house for lunch. The appetizer combo there also came out hot and not greasy. This is something that should not have to be mentioned but I am finding it less and less (either dirty oil or fried food not coming out hot) on Long Island. We also had different sandwiches which everyone enjoyed and I enjoyed the various beers they had available, with the highest marks going to their Dunkel and the Pilsner (the July seasonal).
                                  FYI..the beer stand john bycz mentioned in his post at GAPB is no longer a beer stand, but a 'Team Store' john was right on with his assessment of 'the party source' It was like the FAO Schwartz for people throwing a party. I limited myself to two mixed cases of beer and two bottles of bourbon and I had to pull myself out of there; it's probably better that there isn't a store like that by me!
                                  As for the things I missed, I did not see goetta at the game as someone mentioned and since we are not morning people, we did not get the chance for some goetta and eggs; there's always next time. As for hamburgers, we decided to skip them because of differing opinions where we heard and read good and bad things about both. The Montgomery inn was not considered because, to put my two cents in, even though I don't come from a hotbed of BBQ, it isn't BBQ unless there is smoke and a pink ring.
                                  The one thing about ice cream in Cinn that caused a problem was that the ice cream places closed before we got to them after the games on Friday and Sat so we ended up getting UDF ice cream which, while not 'premium', was very good in its own right.
                                  Thanks again!

                                  1. re: imhungryletseat

                                    Thanks for the follow-up! Several places around town serve some version of Greek spaghetti and it's easy to duplicate at home. I top mine with a mixture of butter and olive oil, and add some combination of sausage, chopped tomato, onion, kalamata olives, feta and grated Parmesan.

                                    1. re: imhungryletseat

                                      Emm's already said it, but yeah, thanks for the trip report. So many folks ask for recommendations, get them, and you never hear from them again. The travelers payoff from the advice provided is typically some damn good meals, while the advisor's payoff, frankly, is reading the reports (if any) from the traveller. So - thanks for the payoff ! :-) Mucho appreciato :-)

                                      1. re: imhungryletseat

                                        Thanks for the follow-up. Glad you enjoyed yourself. As for GABP, the Machine Room isn't a stand but a full bar and restaurant, and it's still there. You needed to go down a couple of flights of stairs from the Team Store to get there. The ballpark can't seem to get beer right. Most of the stands sell two kinds of light beer, and the selection is up and down, even depending on the night you go. Next time ....

                              2. re: johnbycz

                                Gentlemen, let me confirm that Montgomery Inn ribs are indeed first boiled at their commissary and then transported to the restaurants and grilled off and then smothered (probably submerged) in the disgusting 'sugar ketchup' they call bbq sauce, prior to serving.

                                Hounds, steer clear of Montgomery Inn or risk utter dissapointment. As described above, it is more like a food factory than a restaurant. They give new meaning to the phrase 'turn and burn' as they herd diners through the place like cattle. The place is fine tuned for profit, hence the need to first boil the ribs so that they don't hinder what Evan would tell you is an 11 million dollar a year operation(referring to the boat house). It is the highest grossing restaurant in the state of Ohio but don't be fooled by any of this. The food a step above Frisch's Bigboy. When I hear that first time visitors with an interest in the culinary scene to Cincinnati are going to Montgomery Inn for dinner, I cringe with embarrassment, knowing they will forever associate the queen city with red-neck sports slop.

                        2. re: RMC

                          Can't stand their greasy, sloppy goo.