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One amazing lunch in Cincinnati

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Die-hard San Francisco/Napa foodie is flying into Cincinnati for a series of meetings and will only have availability for ONE lunch.

I read the online Cincinnati magazine for lunch suggestions and would love your input -- if you could only have one:

Jean-Robert's Table
Fountain Square
Mayberry (just a sandwich and salad place?)
Nada (last on my list - I live in California and get plenty of tacos)

or something entirely different that I am missing?

This might be my one-and-only trip to your fair city and I'd like to make my one meal out worthy!

Thanks so much!

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  1. A few things: "Fountain Square" is a place, not a restaurant. Via Vite is a restaurant on Fountain Square and it's good but nothing you couldn't get elsewhere. Also, are you looking for lunch food or dinner food at lunch?

    Mayberry is very good, kinda homestyle-plus food. Terrific burger, but no more a go-to place than say, Tucker's in Over-the-Rhine, which is an old diner with food you might not be used to finding in diners.

    Nada is also very good; it's upscale Mexican (the pork-belly tacos are really good), but it's better when you can have a few drinks.

    Haven't been to Jean-Robert's but I've not heard a bad thing about it. That might also be your choice.

    You might also consider Senate in Over-the-Rhine. For lunch food, try Tom + Chee, which is grilled cheese and tomato soup, and much better than it sounds.

    Personally, when I visit a town and can only get one meal, I go for the local specialty. I've had many disappointments at supposedly "hot" restaurants. In Cincinnati, I'd go for Cincinnati chili. There are Skyline restaurants everywhere, but then there's Camp Washington Chili, a James Beard award winner.

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    Via Vite
    520 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202

    Camp Washington Chili
    3005 Colerain Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45225

    1 Reply
    1. re: johnbycz

      Thank you, John!

      I did have a friend recommend the idea of the "local specialty" and that I should probably seek out a classic Cincinnati chili so maybe that will be an option.

    2. We lived in Cincinnati for 9 years then moved to the New Haven, CT, area. When we retired we moved back to Cincinnati, so we have been busy since 2006 sampling Cincinnati restaurants. John makes and excellent recommendation in his "eat local" suggestion. The Cincinnati style Chili is unique to this part of the country.
      Another place we often take visitors is The Montgomery Inn (specifically the one located near downtown called the Montgomery Inn at the Boathouse). Their specialty is BBQ, but the food is not what we take people here for, the atmosphere and the experience is why people from out of town like this place. Besides the environment in restaurant itself, its location on the banks of the Ohio River is quite nice, especially if the weather cooperates. As far as great food goes, there are several other good places to eat (some of them a little funky), but like I said, I think John's recommendation to eat local was "spot on!"

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      Montgomery Inn
      11314 Tamarco Dr, Cincinnati, OH 45242

      2 Replies
      1. re: RMC

        I thought the Montgomery Inn was not open for lunch. Don't they open at like 3 or 4?

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        Montgomery Inn
        11314 Tamarco Dr, Cincinnati, OH 45242

        1. re: RMC

          Absolutely not for the food. Montgomery Inn may be the most overrated place in Cincinnati.

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          Montgomery Inn
          11314 Tamarco Dr, Cincinnati, OH 45242

        2. I live in Dayton, but eat often in Cincy--including most of the places mentioned. Jean-Robert's Table would be my choice for lunch; while not unique, Jean-Robert's "local credential" is being a top chef in Cincinnati for 20+ years, and his ongoing adaptation of French style to the Cincinnati palate.