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Mar 17, 2013 07:36 AM

Eats in Cincy

I'm going to a conference in Cincinnati next week (staying near fountain square) and wondered if anyone has restaurant tips. I saw the posts naming places like JeanRo bistro, Slim's, Otto, Honey, Green papaya etc. but since they're years old are they still valid? Or are there other places to explore....? Mostly I need them for dinner but am happy to get lunch ideas as well.

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  1. Bistro and Slim's are gone. Check more recent posts; there's lots going on downtown -- Orchid's, Nada, the Metropole, Local 127, Jean Robert's Table, Via Vite, explore the Banks, Findlay Market, Gateway Quarter and near Washington Park, Japp's for drinks, and don't pass up Skyline and Graeter's.

    1. During my trip this past fall, I loved my dinner at Jean-Robert's Table and at the Orchids at Palm Court, also Sunday brunch at the Orchids (it's in the Cincinnati Hilton Netherland Plaza, which is a gorgeous restoration). Both are within a few blocks of Fountain Square. See my posts starting at

      1. For an inexpensive lunch, I recommend you definitely try out the number one Cincinnati specialty, Cincinnati style Chili. Skyline is albeit not imho the best certainly the most popular, and there is a Skyline at the corner of 7th and Vine, just a couple blocks away from Fountain Square

        Couple of alternatives for an inexpensive lunch
        1) Hathaways in an age-old coffee house in the Carew Tower, less than half a block from Fountain Square. They serve goetta - Cincinnati's second biggest claim to fame as far as I am concerned - all day long. Get it as part of a breakfast plate of some kind

        2) One of the longest running establishments locally is Arnolds on 8th just a half a block west of Main Street. This is a longer walk, but they put together a pretty nice lunch which changes most every day, I believe they have been open since the 1860's

        Honorable mention: there are several food trucks, most of which are quite good, scattered around the area. They dont have a guarenteed location/day, so i wont direct you, but If you see one with a line, its probably a good sign. One caveat: while food trucks in other cities tend to offer fairly inexpensive food, the food trucks in Cincinnati tend to be a bit higher priced - like a hamburger for 6-8 bucks, fries for 4 dollars.

        Most of the dinner places within walking distance are on the pricey to very pricey side. Of those, I recommend you check out
        --Jeff Ruby's at the corner of Walnut and 7th for their dry aged steaks
        --Jean Robert's table for classic french cooking
        --Orchids at the Palm Court, which is arguably the best restaurant in Cincinnati

        You didn't mention any transportation options so I assumed for all of the above that you'd be walking, and I have therefore kept you close to the Square with these choices. Green Papaya, Otto, and Honey are all still open but a not remotely within walking distance

        1. Thank you so much for the suggestions. I'm new to this and didn't realize that there were more recent posts. I'll definitely check out some of the suggestions given and report back.

          1. It's obvious that downtown is in transition and has all the challenges that entails. So.... Hathaway's was great for breakfast. A real throwback to the 50's right down to the waitresses. Which considering it's nestled in a building from the 30's (Carew tower) it's not so hokey.The food was good, quick and at a fair price. Jean Robert's Table did not disappoint. I had the fish special (walleye) and a white chocolate mouse desert which were wonderful. Local 127 was equally good though I sometimes felt they were trying too hard. As my last meal in Cincy I plan to have brunch at Orchids at the Palm Court.
            Having little time for lunch I stumbled upon Cafe Barista & Deli. It's nothing in the looks department but they make great traditional sandwiches at a fair price.

            4 Replies
            1. re: psalvioni

              I am happy to hear you had some good meals, but honestly, given the hurry at lunch, few things are faster served than cincinnati-style chili.....and it is the number 1 food unique to Cincinnati. I am really sorry you have missed out on this.

              Hathaways has goetta, the number 2 food unique to Cincinnati. Did you have goetta?

              1. re: TJ Jackson

                Unfortunately my stomach was not 100% so I opted to not get goetta or have chili. It was a pity but wasn't willing to take the risk. Though I did have a bite of goetta because my friend got it.

                1. re: psalvioni

                  ah, sad, but understood under the circumstances

                  thanks for the trip report - so many of the folks who ask for recommendations get them but then never report back - the reporting back is the "payment" back to those who provided the suggestions, at least as far as I am concerned

                  1. re: TJ Jackson

                    I completely agree. So to conclude my "payment" I can say that brunch at Orchid's was delicious. Everything I tasted was excellent. (Having finished the conference I threw caution to the wind). It's not cheap but I knew that going in and between the great food, attentive staff and beautiful art deco space, it was well worth it. I only wish I had a bigger stomach to sample more of what they offered :-)