Family (including me) from out of town & we need Cincinnati dinner recs!
I will be traveling to Cincinnati in January for a wedding. The reception will be over by 7 pm and my family (10-15 people) is looking for a place to get together after the reception for dinner. We're pretty open to all cuisines and none of us are from Cincinnati, so we need a great recommendation. We will be in the Central Business District, so anything near there would be preferable, but I'm open to any place we can get to relatively easily. This will be our only night to dine out together in the city, so we are looking for someplace nice (though as we're all spending a lot of money to travel there, so I'd like to rule out the super-high-priced places). Like I said, we're all new to Cincinnati, so please make this the one MUST HAVE recommendation! Thanks in advance!!!
I like Shanghai Mama's (shanghaimamas.com, 216 E. 6th St.). I'd recommend Bistro Jean-Ro but I think the quality has gone down drastically. Local 127 is a new restaurant that took over a formerly fantastic restaurant and I can't recommend it personally as I've never eaten there, but they never returned a friend's call for a reservation and there's the whole local-politics of restauranteurs that makes me uncomfortable, which I won't go into here.
I'm so sorry, I'm just drawing a complete blank right now! Shanghai Mama's is great, but depending on the night it might be difficult to find room for 10-15 people, but they might take reservations.
I wouldn't recommend Shanghai Mama for this occasion, only because it's too casual. How big a meal are you looking for? I'm going to assume you're not concerned with a budget. For a full-blown big meal, Orchids at the Netherland Hotel is beautiful and the food is very good. It was named best restaurant by the local city mag.
Overall that's a decent guide to what's worthwhile here. Downtown, there's also Jeff Ruby's steakhouse and Bootsy's, which is somewhat more of a nightclub, but still an event sort of restaurant. I don't know anything about Local 127, except that the attached bar, Tonic, has incredible drinks. I also like Nada -- upscale Mexican with good drinks -- but I wouldn't consider it a can't-miss kind of place.
Near downtown is Nicola's, which is a little sedate but the food is incredible. What many consider the one don't-miss restaurant in Cincinnati is Boca, about 15 minutes from downtown.
On Vine, near Court, there's a little Italian place called Scotti's. It's been around forever, has spectacular food, and doesn't take credit cards. For a party of that size, reserve now. I promise the food won't disappoint.
Shanghai Mama's is also a good choicer. Boca's very expensive.
And whether you take the whole crowd or not, you'll want to try Cincinnati chili - Gold Star, Skyline, Empress, or N. Ky's Dixie are fine - and a chocolate chip-based ice cream cone (vanilla choc chip, mocha choc chip or choc choc chip) from Graeters. There's a Graeters on fountain Square. Quick lunch - Paula's on Fourth St. Try the chicken and rice soup.
I realize I've missed the deadline for your Cincy trip, but just for the benefit of anyone else reading this review, Scott's has seen better days. I loved this restaurant 20+ years ago...great atmosphere, great food. But my husband and I tried it again this past fall, and we were verrry disappointed. I'm not sure how they are staying in business.
Scotti's Italian Restaurant
919 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Next to Tonic on West 4thStreet. My husband and I really enjoyed it. An interesting menu, nice atmosphere though some tables are not well located. Excellent wine list and service.
For a couple from the SF Bay area, the pork belly entree was quite an interesting and delicious experience.
127 W. Fourth Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202