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Cincinnati Restaurants And Markets

Hello All:

I currently live in Los Angeles and I am being transfered to Cincinnati very soon. I absolutely know nothing about the city, particularly restaurants and grocery stores (both big items in my life) and I am a little worried....(maybe for nothing)

I am not sure where I will locate myself just yet but I would love the know a couple of outstanding market options and the names of a few good non chain restaurants that have creative menus that change often. I would also appreciate the name of a couple of very comfortable places that I could use as my "local" place for a relaxed bite afterwork without breaking the bank. Or could they be one in the same?

I've already heard about the chili so we can avoid that for now but it sounds good.

Let me know what you folks think and I really appreciate anything you can offer.

Thom

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    1. re: kura kura

      WOW! I just went to Jungle Jims web site thanks to you (Kura) and it looks too good to be true......it must be THE place to shop and looked like it pretty much blows away Whole Foods. Im still looking for restaurants. Does anyone have suggestions?

      1. re: thomtompkins

        what type of things do you want? if you search you will find that people are pretty consistent on what they think are the best. high end: jean robert at pigalls. boca. jean ro bistro.
        some others i hear mentioned are nectar, nada, daveed's, orchid's at the hilton netherland. maybe hugo. there are lots of steak places owned by jeff ruby. slim's is a classic. if you search this board i'm sure you can find more info.
        i'd say there are divey places based on where you want to live (i like the hyde park/oakley area myself were i to move back) but none SO good that i'd pick where to live around them.
        there's a downtown farmer's market and some local little places. grocery store's as a whole are kind of lousy because of the kroger monopoly.

        1. re: AMFM

          Personally, I think Findlay Market (I assume that's the downtown farmer's market AMFM is referring to) is an overpriced, low-quality, waste of time--except for people who live in the area, for them it's one of few available places to shop for groceries. There are a couple of Fresh Markets in the more upscale neighborhoods (see www.freshmarket.com) if you're into that sort of thing.

          1. re: Emm

            admit i haven't been to findlay market in probably 20 years!

            1. re: AMFM

              I've been trying to go to Findlay Market more often this summer ... the Saturday farmer's market is really nice. I typically only buy fruits, veggies and bread at the market, and I don't find them to be overpriced at all -- especially if buying from the produce folks at the end of the main market building. And, if I do end up paying a few dollars more than I would at a grocery chain, I don't mind at all ... I enjoy chatting with and supporting the people connected with the food I'm eating. I've also enjoyed the Hyde Park farmer's market this year too. I highly suggest both.

    2. Hi Thom
      First of all, welcome to Cincinnati. Many years back I lived in the Monterey Bay area and visited LA this summer for a quick weekend. There may be an adjustment of slowing down your RPM's few notches as you visit Cincinnati.
      I am not sure what type of food you enjoy or atmosphere. Here are a few of my favorites for low-key, healthy, budget, or nice hang out spots.
      Atmosphere: The coffee emporium in Hyde Park is a great place to drink great coffee outside on the patio. They have enormous waffles with fresh fruit on the weekends or breakfast vegie burritos.
      Echo in Hyde Park is a little retro diner complete with homemade pies and fabulous meat loaf. Very inexpensive with good food and good people.
      Arthurs in Hyde Park has a great back patio with wonderful lunch items.
      There is a farmers market in Hyde Park on Sundays on Edwards Road. Has fresh baked breads, eggs, flowers, soaps, and all of the main vegies.
      Covington, Ky area: Cocos downtown for a nice evening. Great jazz band and good atmosphere. Chez Noras in Mainstrauss covington is another good evening place for jazz music with a rooftop patio. Food is not my favorite.
      Mount Adams has a coffee shop Koka, that serves fabulous soups. Great place to hang out and read and a good place for a walk.
      Grocery store favorites of mine are Trader Joes in Montgomery, Ohio and Whole Foods in Rookwood Commons shopping area.
      Hope you enjoy - if you need any more info or have specifics that your interested, email and I will try to help!

      9 Replies
      1. re: unwritten

        Thanks for all the great information Unwritten. It looks like you like the Hyde Park area for lots of things so I will need to check that out. And I appreciate the recommendations. From what I've read, there does seem to be some similarities in what people consider to be good restaurants so they must be winners and thats good for me. Im so spolied now living in Pasadena because I have just about any sort of restaurant you could imagine within a mile of my place plus two Trader Joes within four blocks (one of them is the original) and a HUGE two story Whole Foods opened just two blocks from me about a year ago. Its just fantastic and I seem to go there about three or four times a week. Its the only grocery store that you could take a date to and be happy about it. They have a really nice wine bar, a sushi bar, a place where you can set down and eat oysters and drink a beer and a load of ready to make stands that will whip you up just about anything and you set down in reserved seating and chow down. Jungle Jims sounds like that in a way so I feel confortable about that. A question: is Jungle Jims a place you could shop every day or it considered to be a specialty shop reserved for more expensive things you might use once in a while? It looks sort of warehousy but with really high quality and great variety.....Since moving to Pasadena seven years ago I have adopted a shop fresh as I need it style so I end up going to the market every couple of days to get something. If my markets arent close then that will just mean more driving or I'll have to go back to the old way of shopping. I'm probably one of the only guys who like grocery stores so I dont want to do that if I dont have to. Regardless: I will figure it out. I am landing there in a few weeks time to check things out so I'll know more soon and I will keep everything you said in mind. Thanks so much!

        1. re: thomtompkins

          Jungle Jim's is a full-service grocery, and people certainly do shop there for the most mundane staples and personal care items, etc.--assuming its location in a neighboring community north of Cincinnati makes the travel time and distance practical. It's not so much a high-end, gourmet type place as it is just a store with a GINORMOUS selection of food items from all over the world. Otherwise, I'm not sure the "Kroger monopoly" makes the grocery situation here any more difficult than any other community of Cincinnati's type and size.

          I second the recommendation of Cafe Mediterranean. And for some reason, this area is working alive with Italian restaurants. Barresi's is excellent, and you should also visit Primavista sometime early on, because the food is good and the view is simply amazing. (I'd think an adjustment to Cincinnati from LA would be difficult in many respects; but one thing you're likely to appreciate is the beauty of the hilly, riverbank terrain and the city and county park systems.)

          1. re: Emm

            Thanks for the clairification Emm. I have no idea where I am going to land yet and really am clueless. So this is at least a start. I just want it to be somewhere quick and convenient to places like this. Thanks for the heads up on Cafe Med, Barresi's and Primavista. What I am finding out is that for a town this size there seems to be lots of good restaurants to check out and the food culture is strong. That should keep me busy while i settle it. I am actually from Illinois and spent most of my life there so this wont be too much of a shock really. I'm actually ready to get out of LA and my transfer makes it easy to leave. Thanks very much for all the good info Emm.

            1. re: thomtompkins

              i love cincy and i think you'll like it fine. it's gotten better with fresh market and whole foods and trader joes (jungle jims is great) but i live in richmond va now which is MUCH smaller but has much better grocery stores. sorry but true. even cleveland where i lived before had a few local choices. just not a lot of options.
              anyway one of my childhood friends owns barresi's so i love to see it mentioned here. there are lots of great little places i like.
              check out marx bagel's - they're fabulous. and great bakeries across the board. good butcher shops. nice people.

              1. re: thomtompkins

                If you make it to Barresi's, their small bite-size melt-in-your-mouth yeast rolls(?) are so addicting that you will be tempted to make a meal out of them. And save room for their signature dessert--can't recall the name of it, but it is divine...
                And I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Cincinnati chili yet (at the cheap end of the food scale) which is somewhat unique to this area--there's a chili parlor on every other corner it seems. Spaghetti topped with chili, then cheese and either beans and onions or both. Plus cheese coneys (hot dogs with chili, cheese and onions.) Oh well, you'll discover it soon enough.
                Welcome to Cincinnati, one of the great foodie meccas of the Midwest.

                1. re: KyMikey

                  That is probably because of this sentence in the original post:

                  I've already heard about the chili so we can avoid that for now but it sounds good.

                  1. re: KyMikey

                    Ahhh...the zeppoli. They told me once that if you're in the area and call a few minutes ahead, they'll make you a sackful to go <g>.

              2. re: thomtompkins

                Hi Thom -
                I have to add my take on Jungle Jims, since it is mentioned often. Personally I think it is extremely large and overwhelming unless your planning a theme dinner or live close.
                It's funny that you mention the possibility of taking a date to Whole Foods. At the Hyde Park location they have a wine tasting every Friday night and I have popped in to enjoy it before and thought what a great place to start an evening out with someone.
                Like Emm mentioned, Prima Vista is a wonderful spot. It has fabulous views of the city and should be added to your list to take someone for a special evening.
                Where you go will depend on where you hang your hat. Have you already decided on an area?
                This summer I visited Traders Joes in Culver City near LA. I was excited to be able to shop for the weekend with comfort. The restaurants around that area were fabulous. But I have to say I love KY and Ohio due to the fact that you can be hiking in the woods one day or downtown the next!
                Our parks are wonderful if you enjoy the outdoors. I can offer some information on those too if it is something you enjoy.

                1. re: unwritten

                  unwritten: I know what you mean about Culver City. It used to be completely empty. Now it has several well known and popular places like: Fords Filling Station, Fraishe' and Tender Greens. It also houses what some beleive to be the most authentic Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles: Gualegetza. Hard core Xuahacan cooking with not one thing catering to the American palat. And the hiking and dinner .club thing is just up my alley so I will definately be looking into that. I'll be bringing all my " stuff" with me so getting out will be on the agenda. I really appreciate the additional recommendations and I'm glad to hear that Whole Foods has something going on there too. Good to hear.

            2. I second the recommendation for Jungle Jim's. It's a must-see for any foodie. The Whole Foods around here are okay, although I suspect they won't be anything close to what you're used to in L.A.

              In the upscale restaurant category, I can't say enough good things about Boca...Italian -- great food and wonderful service. Boca's sister restaurant, Nada, has a menu somewhat similar to L.A.'s Ciudad. I haven't been to Nada yet, but it's on my list.

              Slightly less upscale, but also excellent is Cafe Mediterranean. It's a fairly new place, but I was very impressed during my first visit. The lamb kabobs were excellent, as was the stuffed cabage roll.

              For sweets, you should check out Graeter's Ice Cream. We recently sent an L.A. relative of ours a Graeter's care package...it's one of the things he misses most about Cincinnati. Aglamesis is also another local ice cream place. The debate always rages in Cincinnati on which is better. For my money its Graeter's, but Aglamesis is good too. Local bakeries Busken and Servatii are good options for donuts/pasteries/cakes.

              Once you figure out the neighborhood you'll call home, it might be easier to recommend casual places for after work.

              2 Replies
              1. re: ries27

                Thanks for the great recommendations ries27. I appreciate it very much. I will save this for future ref. And I like the comparison to Ciudad in LA. I go there pretty regularly on the train from Pasadena and I love the food. So if Nada is similar that should be good a good thing. Thanks.

                1. re: thomtompkins

                  I'm a big fan of Ciudad and the other "Tamales" restaurant, Border Grill. Ciudad has a more extensive menu than Nada -- Nada seems to have more small plates. But it's the only restaurant in Cincinnati I know of that serves "upscale" Latin/Mexican/Spanish dishes. I'll report back about how the quality compares to Ciudad once I have a chance to try Nada.

              2. Hi Thom! I live in Cincinnati and it is great! You will quickly adjust. It is a very easy city to navigate. About the food, Cincinnati chili is tops! It is so good that there is a website dedicated to the consumption and celebration of the chili! www.cheeseconey.com. It will give you all the locations so you can choose between an independent place or a big guy. You can also check out all of the pictures and videos. That will start you off in the right direction! If you have any questions, please feel free, jessica@cheeseconey.com

                1 Reply
                1. re: Jess42

                  HI Jess: thanks for the link to cheeseconey. I already knew about the chilli connection and actualy had it once a few years ago when I BRIEFLY visited Cincinnati on business. BUT.....from what I see its a really large part of the culture here. Its certainly been brought up on this string many times, but what I didnt know was that there seem to be many different places to turn to. I thought there was only the one large chain....who knew.

                2. also, don't forget about Dewey's pizza. They are local and have a cool website where you can see what music is playing in their stores and you can check out their menu. BBQ chicken pizza, Socrate's Revenge, Edgar Allen Poe, Bronx Bomber....those are just a few of their excellent pies! Have fun! P.S. You better grab a gym membership too! This city is known to plump people up!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Jess42

                    Jess: Ahhhh pizza....I am looking forward to getting a great pizza because LA doesnt do pizza. Its just NOT a pizza town. Aside from all the swank places that LA is known for, the enire area is really just a burger town. They love themselves some burgers.....
                    Cincinnati does really does seem to be a food town. I have to say I am really surprised, I just didnt know what to expect and I am REALLY happy to see so many passionate people adding to this string. I am arriving in Cincinnati on October 1st to start shopping for a place to live (I think downtown or Hyde Park) and I will definately try a few of the places mentioned throughout this string for lunch and dinner. Im getting excited.....

                    1. re: thomtompkins

                      I totally forgot to mention Adriatico's Pizza in Clifton (by Univ. of Cincinnati). It's been years since I've been there, but gets my vote for best pizza anywhere (and I grew up in Philly). They specialize in Sicilian.

                      1. re: thomtompkins

                        no comment on LA here since i've only visited a few times - but frankly who doesn't love burgers! LOL

                        1. re: thomtompkins

                          It depends on what you like in a pizza. I'm from the northeast, and I am used to NY style pizza. I haven't found anything like that here. LaRosa's is not good pizza in my opinion - the sauce is way too sweet.