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cincinnati good food

Planning a week in Cincinnati. We will be staying downtown, but with GPS have the ability to find different areas. We want locally owned restaurants. Is goetta a specialty at certain places or it it the same everywhere? Love reading chow, first post!

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  1. Many good threads on Chowhound already on this topic. The Cincinnati Magazine top-10 list is a good starting point. Read it and post back if you have any more specific questions.


    If you're downtown, grab a drink at Tonic on Fourth, and don't miss Nada, Greater's ice cream and Skyline Chili. Foodies should also trek to Jungle Jim's, the Party Source and Findlay Market on a Saturday morning. As for goetta, I really like it at Camp Washington Chili. Never had the goetta at Tucker's, but I imagine it's good. I just can't go there without ordering the biscuits and gravy.

    Findlay Market
    Findlay Market Hse, Cincinnati, OH 45202

    Camp Washington Chili
    3005 Colerain Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45225

    1 Reply
    1. re: johnbycz

      We are definitely foodies and are looking forward to Jungle Jim and Findlays. Now we can add Party Source to that list.

      Jungle Jim's Cafe
      1923 N Peoria Rd, Springfield, IL 62702

    2. I was glad to see Riverside Korean on that top-10 list; it's one of my favorite restaurants in the Cincinnati area.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Boston_Otter

        Add Sichuan Bistro in Mason to the list. Here's a thread with some of my recs: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7005...

        Had a good meal at Local 127 a couple months ago. Terry's Turf Club and Zips are both worth a try for burgers. If you want Armenian/Mediterranean, Mirage is very good (though I'm not sure I would consider it a destination place).

        Definitely get bagels and tuna salad at Marx Hot Bagels in Blue Ash.

        Sichuan Bistro
        7888 S Mason Montgomery Rd, Mason, OH 45040

        Terry's Turf Club
        4618 Eastern Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45226

        Local 127
        127 W. Fourth Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202

      2. I have never made it out of The Party Source with a tab under $250 (do I have a problem?). I would highly recommend Nicholson's Tavern on Walnut with great beers on tap and superior fish 'n chips. You can get goetta at Hathaway's in Carew Tower and, yes it's pretty standard. Go to a Kroger's and get some to go, the best (in MHO) being Gleier's.

        4 Replies
        1. re: JohnE O

          Thanks for the good advice, two weeks til our trip, counting down. We will definitely bring a cooler to bring back some of the good local food. Any more suggestions?

          1. re: noradailey

            Party Source is impressive just for its size and variety. My only caveat: This is bourbon country, and you'll get bourbons here you'll have a hard finding elsewhere. For bourbon, Cork 'n Bottle in Covington is much better than Party Source. They have a "private" selection of single-barrel bourbons from several Kentucky distillers, and many of them are great values.

            And if you're going to Findlay Market, buy your goetta at Eckerlin Meats. It's their own homemade stuff, and it's the best.

          2. re: JohnE O

            Found some photos I took at the Party Source Beer Cave. Not coincidentally, it was the only time that I wasn't drenched in sweat since around April.

            1. re: JohnE O

              Oh, also try Bluegrass Brewing Company Bourbon Barrel Ale. Amazing.

          3. Fabulous northern Italian food. Very authentic; made me feel I was back in Tuscany. Very pricey but worth the splurge,

            Nicola's Ristorante
            1420 Sycamore Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202

            1. For locally owned dining right on Fountain Square, try Via Vite. We attended a party there for friends and just had a wonderful time. The food was fantastic, the service outstanding and friendly, and the view from the deck was so fun (granted, it was the opening day of Taste of Cincinnati, but Fountain Square is just a nice place nonetheless).

              Via Vite
              520 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202

              1. You certainly need to try Cinci chili. Both Mrs. Sippi and I think it's great. We almost always stop to get a fix when travelling through the area.

                Goeta is another great thing but if you can't get some at a restaurant, buy some in the supermarket and take it home with you.


                1. As someone who is used to the northeast dining scene, but moved to Cincinnati for college (started off at CCM), Cincinnati dining was a bit of a challenge for me at first. It took some getting used to - at first I was rather negative towards the entire scene, me being the typical snob from CT!

                  However, now that I'm in my fourth year here I've tried literally every place both in Cincinnati and within 20 miles and I have found some gems.

                  #1 for me is Nicolas. This is owned by the Pietoso family - both the father and sons are graduates of the Culinary Institute of Florence, and it shows. Every attention to detail is taken into account and the food is simply out of this world. I have had the pleasure of meeting the chef, Cristian (the son) on several occasions (extremely nice, he will visit tables sometimes), and he both talented and enthusiastic about his craft. He was even nice enough to respond to an email that I sent him regarding his olive oil - he imports Federici Extra Virgin from Umbria, Italy for use in the kitchen ($50 a bottle)! This place is the real deal, and is my defacto "treat yourself" destination. Note - Cristian is well known for his bread baskets - you will get an overflowing basket stuffed with several different types of bread ranging from standard to extremely creative. You can see pictures of it on the website. If you go here and select the chefs tasting menu (either a 5 or 7 course meal that changes quite often), there is a chance you will get complimentary appetizers (if he knows you are a foodie, the chef loves having people try his new creations).

                  I should mention Boca as a competitor to Nicola's - it is very, very good, but I simply prefer Nicolas. I feel Boca is overpriced for what it is (though still excellent), and I enjoy the menu at Nicola's more. Some feel differently than me though and prefer Boca to Nicola.

                  If you're looking for a slightly less expensive (still pricey though) and slightly more "hip" atmosphere, the Pietoso family also owns Via Vite which is smack dab in the middle of downtown Fountain Square. Cristian works here as well as some nights, so you're getting the same quality food as Nicolas usually, but it's more eclectic than Nicola's northern Italian fare. If you go here, get the braised lamb shank. It's fantastic.

                  For the opposite side of things, if you're looking for a casual diamond in the rough, go to Terry's Turf Club for burgers. It will be packed, tight quarters inside, and can get loud, but it's quite worth it. It's very much a "fun" place, and dress is casual as can be. It's basically a burger bar that features great burgers with stuff like foie gras and buffalo mozzarella, and creative sauces that you traditionally wouldn't associate with burgers either. Rough cut fresh fries are good as well.

                  I would also be remiss if I didn't mention my personal favorite place for burgers - Zola pub in Kentucky (2 minutes from Downtown Cincinnati). Zola is a strange place in that it's essentially just a run of the mill pub, but it has the most out of this world burgers (I prefer them to Terrys, although Terrys kills Zola in atmosphere) potato chips (hot and still dripping with oil), and Asian Slaw. Their wings are excellent as well, and their fries are good, not excellent. I always feel out of place recommending Zola to out of towners though as it's not fancy, not well decorated, and you may be disappointed if you go there expecting something "special". If you go there for top quality beef, hand formed burgers, cooked over an open flame, than you'll be happy. Terry's is still great though and is probably better if you're visiting and have to choose just one.

                  For ice cream and gourmet treats, Aglamesis blows away Graeters (which gets most of its hype thanks to Oprah). Aglamesis is just the place you'll like if you enjoy small locally owned places - they have incredible home made ice cream, chocolates, and other sweets in an authentic old fashioned ice cream parlor setting. Definitely worth a stop if you have a sweet tooth craving!

                  If you like Indian, Cumin may be worth a shot. It's more eclectic and trendy but has great food, and live music sometimes. Deserts are really small though; I was irritated when I got the creme brulee sampler and it was less than a third of an inch deep per dish. Once again though their lamb shank is awesome. If you're looking for more authentic Indian, the hole in the wall style place, the clifton area near the University of Cincinnati is where it's at. Krishna, Amol, and Ambar are all similar and are great.

                  If you want good pizza (which is incredibly hard to find in Cincinnati), don't bother with anywhere else besides Ramundo's pizza (hole in the wall, not really dine in). It's pretty much the ONLY "real" pizza place in Ohio, as far as I'm concerned. I've let go of most of my northeast snobberies, but I will not compromise on pizza. I've tried all of the "cincinnati" chains like Dewey's and LaRosas and they are are awful. Ramundos has a sauce on the spicier side though, so beware of that. I really love it though.

                  I'm sure I'm missing tons of places (if you want a great more upscale happy hour, Palominos downtown is great for example). I will add more later if I think of it. Hope I helped!

                  Via Vite
                  520 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202

                  Terry's Turf Club
                  4618 Eastern Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45226

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: computerpro3

                    I am originally from NY but have lived in Cincinnati area for 30 years. Never heard of Ramundo's, but I can't wait to see if it can stand up to Sally's in New Haven, Ct. If you don't mind the drive to West Chster, you should check out Fratellis on the corner of Tylersville and Cincinnati Dayton Rd. It's authentic NY style pizza. If you are a meat freak, get "the craiger", you won't be disappointed.

                    1. re: jsmith10000

                      It can't stand up to Sallys. It's not really the same kind of pizza. Don't go expecting the charred wood fired crust; you'll be disappointed. t's still quite good for the area though.

                      At Ramundos, they only serve NY style pizza during lunch. Don't ask me why, it's quite annoying. And I will definetely check out Fratellis!

                    2. re: computerpro3

                      Good suggestions! And a couple places I haven't tried (too $$) but will try to put on my list.

                      I have to disagree with you about pizza though. I really enjoy Dewey's. They have good crust and are light on the cheese and you can pile on all kinds of veggies (a goat cheese--my weakness). And every now and then I get a craving for Adriatico's. Mostly thick crust--which I don't care for--but man, do they have good sausage (and I never usually get sausage on pizza). Give it a try--get the HUGE Bearcat size pizza to share at a party.

                      1. re: ELcinci

                        I actually do really enjoy Adriatico's thick crust pizza with sausage. It's a "once every few month" thing, but when you want it, you can't beat it. You'll pay for it the next morning though!

                      2. re: computerpro3

                        Very good recommendatons. You might like the pizza at The Works in downtown Loveland. Not Wooster Street in New Haven quality, but where is? We moved back to Cincinnati after spending 14 years in Madison, CT (3 daughters graduated from Daniel Hand - one lives here - "Kate the Great"). Other decent places:
                        Virgil's - Belvue, KY
                        Grand Finale - Glendale

                        Grand Finale
                        3 E Sharon Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45246