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Dinner in Cincinnati

My wife and I just moved into the Cincinnati area. We want to go out on the town for dinner, anybody know of great places to eat for around $40-$50 a person

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  1. i had a great bowl of dolsot bibimbap at DANCING WASABI. it's a sushi bar, but entrees typically run between 17 and 20 dollars.

    my other cincinnati favorites:

    THE PRECINCT - awesome old-school steakhouse in a former police precinct. it's a jeff ruby thing. best steak i've ever had to be sure, but pricey. $50 a person would be about right.

    MONTGOMERY INN (boathouse) - the ribs are not the best you'll ever taste, but there are a few things that can make this a great dinner: [1] order the potato chips as an appetizer. they're made in-house and are exquisite. [2] order the barbecued chicken sauce on the side, and dip it in ranch and the sauce. unbelievable. [3] the scenery. if it's nice, sit on the patio and look out at the river. think about how much you love your wife. etc. and so on.

    enjoy cinci. i think it's a great city for someone who loves good food.

    1. What area of town are you in and what types of food do you prefer?

      9 Replies
      1. re: JohnE O

        Eastside of Cincinnati Mt. Washinton, We enjoy pretty much anything and places that have a really good atmosphere. I have been told Nicholson's Tavern & Pub downtown is good.

        1. re: scrook2818

          Ah, you're on my side of town! Welcome to Cincinnati! I'm a former chef and there are some great places to eat here.

          I'll give you a range of places, from inexpensive to a bit over your range, just to give you some ideas.

          Inexpensive: Dewey's (local pizza chain, really good; Oakley is closest), Zip's (best burgers in town, in my opinion; Mt. Lookout square), The Echo (diner; Hyde Park square), First Watch (breakfast/brunch/lunch only; Anderson Township on Beechmont is probably the closest, there's also one in Rookwood).

          Mid-range: Ambar Indian (SO good; Clifton area on Ludlow), Shanghai Mama (Thai/Chinese; downtown).

          Expensive (but not always, and it depends sometimes on what you order): The Summit (the fine-dining restaurant at the Midwest Culinary Institute - really, really good), Boca (ecclectic Italian in Oakley - highly recommend; I'm actually going there - again - for my upcoming birthday), Slim's (hard to pin down; Northside), Jag's (steak and seafood; West Chester).

          I would suggest the former Jean-Robert de Cavel restaurants (Greenup Cafe, Chalk, Bistro Jean-Ro, Jean-Robert at Pigall's) but since Jean-Robert has left I haven't been back to any of them. I can't speak to the quality any more. I'm sure they're fine, I just can't personally vouch for them.

          I know I've left out tons of really great restaurants. This is just off the top of my very tired head!

          1. re: cmj

            Former chef, and you think zips has the best burgers in town??? It's definitely Terry's Turf Club. Zips has a cool old-timey ambiance, but the burgers are pathetic small things (but cheap).

            1. re: JASfood

              I've always found Zip's to be one of the most overrated places in Cincy. My sens is that its undeserved reputation is based on being in Mt. Lookout on the Cusp of Hyde Pahk.

              1. re: JASfood

                Pretty sure I said "in my opinion." So sorry this former chef doesn't live up to your expectations.

                1. re: cmj

                  Sorry you took exception to my comment. I am not casting aspersions on your skills. I am a veteran burger eater and I simply disagree. No offense meant.

                  1. re: jmckee

                    I think cmj was responding to JASfood and not jmckee. We'd all be better off if we'd agree that the food we like is a matter of taste and not make this in any way personal.

                    BTW, in CityBeat's new restaurant guide, a woman from the family that owns Oriental Wok chose Zip's Girthburger as the best thing she's eaten in Cincinnati.

                    1. re: johnbycz

                      Something can be overrated and still be really tasty. I like Zip's but I wouldn't go out of my way to get a burger there (unless I was dropping some $$ at the Boardwalk next door). Personally, my favorite burger in town is Sammy's in Blue Ash. It doesn't hurt that they're just down the street or that they serve 32 oz. draft beers, but they have great burgers.

                      Just don't call Graeter's overrated, or there will be blood. ;-]

            2. re: scrook2818

              Nicholson's is my favorite place to eat, casual with good food and beer. The Tavern at Rookwood Commons is basically the same (same owner). I second cmj's recommendation of Dewey's but if you're that close to the U.C. campus then try Adriatico's. I like both Arthur's and Teller's in Hyde Park Square though the latter is somewhat noisy if it's crowded.

          2. When you are ready for brunch head for the Grand Finally in Tri-county. We have been out of Cincinati for 10 years but just stoped in for brunch a couple of months ago good as every. About the only Buffet we will do. Great deserts in those little glass bowls so you can a will take several then head back for seconds!! Eggs benidic over arichokes my favorite and its only $14 a person. Only negative is no real maple syrup so bring your own. Also their sister property across the street the Friendy Stop great place for burger and a beer and sometimes cheese steak make with the filet trimming from the Finally.



            1. When you are ready for brunch head for the Grand Finally in Tri-county. We have been out of Cincinati for 10 years but just stoped in for brunch a couple of months ago good as every. About the only Buffet we will do. Great deserts in those little glass bowls so you can a will take several then head back for seconds!! Eggs benidic over arichokes my favorite and its only $14 a person. Only negative is no real maple syrup so bring your own. Also their sister property across the street the Friendy Stop great place for burger and a beer and sometimes cheese steak make with the filet trimming from the Finally.



              1. Since you're in Mount Washington, I'll stick to that side of town. These are all in your budget.

                The single best place might be Nectar in Mount Lookout. Good chef, innovative food. That would be at the high end of your budget, 'specially with a bottle of wine.

                Others, in no particular order.

                -- Foreign Exchange on Beechmont Avenue for Thai and sushi.

                -- Pelican's Reef, also on Beechmont. A bar that features seafood. Love their calamari, and the linguini with mussels is a bargain at $9. But all the best dishes I've had there have been specials.

                -- The Iron Skillet in Newtown. Stick to the Hungarian page of their large menu (schnitzels and paprikash) and you'll do fine.

                -- El Coyote in Anderson Township, on State off Five Mile. Not the most authentic Tex-Mex you'll ever have, but I love the fajitas carnitas, the empanadas and the mac-and-cheese. And I'll take the $24 ribeye over the $40 steaks at the Precinct anytime, especially since El Coyote will cook their steaks Pittsburgh and the Precinct can't. El Coyote also has the best margaritas in town.

                -- Allyn's Cafe, on Columbia Parkway not far from the Precinct. Great selection of wine and beer, and also good margaritas. Weird menu with lots of Mexican and cajun and Italian. I love the catfish, and the Mardi Gras pasta.

                Cincinnati doesn't have great Italian, but nearby I like Bella Luna in Linwood, which is kind of the foot of Mount Lookout. I've had many good meals there. The owner, Harry, is a pistol.

                Near Bella Luna is Terry's Turf Club, which is getting a reputation for the best hamburgers in the area, and was even mentioned in some article somewhere as one of the best in the country. Not a big place, though, so it can be hard to get into. The burgers at Anderson Township Pub on Clough Pike are also very good. The bugers at Zip's in Mount Lookout are not as good as their reputation but are not bad.

                Further away, I'd make a special trip for the Knotty Pine on the Bayou, in Wilder, Ky., maybe 20 minutes from Mount Washington. Cajun/Creole and the best oysters in town.

                1 Reply
                1. re: johnbycz

                  I failed to mention Cafe Mediterranean (I can never spell that) tucked into the Anderson Towne Centre (or that). Really really good kabobs, great appetizer plate, and a few Turkish wines. Everything is prepared with great care.

                2. Welcome to Cincinnati, scrook -

                  I second the upthread mention of Nectar and also recommend its “Dinner Clubs.” Each month, chef Julie Francis offers a 5-course dinner on two Thurs. nights incorporating a featured ingredient in each course. Everyone is served at the same time and it’s a convivial time among everyone attending, with both Julie and the purveyor of the featured ingredient talking to the group, and diners at adjacent tables happy to talk with each other. Very interesting to taste the diverse ways the chef uses the ingredient in both savory and sweet courses. Plus she always sends you home with a “party favor”! September’s Dinner Club features chiles 9/10 and 9/17. Price for the 5-course dinner last time I went was $55, which with wine and tip will run more.


                  Honey, in Northside, is also a good bet. Like you, I’m from Mt. Washington, but Northside is not that far (just north of downtown off I-75 near the Hopple St. exit) and the food is definitely worth the trip. A wide-ranging, constantly evolving menu with emphasis on locally grown products and clean flavors. Plus fabulous house-made ice creams, desserts and specialty drinks. The menu posted on the website will give you a sense of what they do and the moderate prices you can find there. Note: The list of specials the night I went recently was at least as long (and even more intriguing) than the “standard menu”; the lamb special I ordered (without asking about its price) was considerably more expensive, but so phenomenal I didn’t mind.


                  I’ve also had two great meals recently at Via Vite, downtown on Fountain Square, one for Downtown Restaurant Week, and one at lunch, both featuring especially memorable soups and salads. Love their outdoor seating overlooking the Square – a good place for drinks and apps even if you don’t want to spring for a full-blown dinner. (Via Vite is run by the same folks as Nicola’s.



                  Speaking of Restaurant Weeks, another one is coming up Sept. 14-20: “33 locally owned restaurants from around the city will offer a three-course prix-fixe dinner menu for only $26.09. In addition, some of our casual themed restaurants are offering dinner for 2 for $26.09.” This RW is sponsored by a different group than the Downtown Restaurant Week I mentioned above, but is another affordable way to try out, and support, some great local restaurants. FYI, Nicholson’s is part of this group – stay tuned as the participating restaurants post their RW menus.


                  3 Replies
                  1. re: intuitive eggplant

                    Thanks I can't wait to make my rounds at all the great places here in Cincinnati

                    1. re: scrook2818

                      Hi scrook, welcome to Cincinnati from me, too! I hope you like it here~~we're sort of new to the area too (five years) and have had some fun exploring and finding new dinner places and I hope you will have some fun, too,

                      Two that haven't been mentioned and might be fun to try are The Summit, that's the Cincinnati State Restaurant School's Dining Room which is under the direction of Jean Robert Cavel, one of the best chef's in the area; and, Virgil's Cafe, across the river in Bellevue Kentucky, which features a bistro menu with lots of local fresh ingredients.

                      I just wrote a review of Virgils here on Chowhound that you might want to look at for details. Maybe this link wiill take you to my post about it:: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/650171

                      And I confess, I haven't been to The Summit, but I think it would be a fun dining adventure, and I'm sure some others here can comment about it for you!

                      Good luck. And let us know how your dining experiences here in Cincy are going!

                      p.s. I'm looking forward to Restaurant Week coming up, too!

                      1. re: dumas

                        dumas, I did actually mention The Summit up-thread, and it's an amazing restaurant. It is not, however, under the direction of Jean-Robert de Cavel, nor is it the "Cincinnati State Restaurant School's Dining Room." The Executive Chef is Matt Winterrowd and Jean-Robert is a chef-in-residence at the Midwest Culinary Institute, which is part of Cincinnati State Technical and Community College; but it's the Midwest Culinary Institute. Jean-Robert did not take over operation over the restaurant, nor is it under his direction. Just wanted to make that clear. He does, however, often collaborate with Chef Winterrowd and other chefs for special events in the restaurant.

                  2. I eat out almost every night. Steer very, very clear of Dancing Wasabi,the owner called me "an old lady" when asking if I had ordered a dish!! I'm in my early 50's.
                    My favorites are Bouquet in Covington, great to help young owners, too, good food, good wine list. Also, Slims in Northside is great, bring your own wine, tho.
                    I steer clear of most chains but some aren't too bad. Bonefish on Madison near Rookwood is good. Oh, Ferrari's in Madeira is not a chain, but the patio in summer is heaven, food and wine great. Wednesday night is half price wine night at Bella Luna on Eastern Avenue, a must!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: pcarlyn

                      I steer clear of Bonefish. I've had too many dry, tough pieces of fish there, and the shrimp are small. I already miss Oceanaire.

                    2. oh, and best Mexican is Fiesta Brava on Field's Ertel Rd, they actually have Mole, you won't find it anyplace else, I've tried. Tho El Coyote is great, too.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: pcarlyn

                        if you're looking for good mexican and mole then you would be better advised to head to Acapulco in Fairfield! the best mexican i have found in this area. amazing food, amazing prices, and amazing service. i have never ever had a bad experience and can't count the amount of times i have been here. extremely authentic establishment and very well run.

                        don't really know if this is what you're looking for scrook, but you may like it pcarlyn!

                      2. Boca...Madison Rd in Oakley. The best food in town

                        2nd choice: Nectar on Mt. Lookout Square...Julie Francis is brilliant chef

                        1. Cincinnati chili is great in a dip, must be ok on spaghetti. Don't make my mistake and order it plain, as in a bowl of chili! Not good that way.
                          Pizza, Adriatico's is my favorite, Dewey's is great, too.
                          Saw someone ask about a place to hang after work and agree, Arthurs is great. Great patio in the summer, good gazpacho, Bar is friendly and fun in winter. Bella Luna bar is actually a good place to hang out.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: pcarlyn

                            Where is Adriatico's these days used to live in Cincinnati last trip Mount Adams was closed..


                            1. re: don515

                              As of 9/2/09 it was still open. It's been on Jefferson for over a decade but maybe you were thinking of their old location off short Vine.