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Cincinnatti - Looking for great fresh food

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Visiting Cincinatti for the first time. I am looking for top spots in Cincinnati with chefs who use high quality fresh local ingredients hopefully somewhat creatively. Since we're coming from New York, we also don't want a chain or a branch of a NY restaurant. Does not have to be formal 5 star white tablecloth fine French (some of those are OK, too) - just really great food

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  1. Just had a fantastic dinner at Boka.

    5 Replies
    1. re: HoosierFoodie

      Thanks. The menu at Boka looks good! I definitely will reserve there.

      Others that I'm considering for the 4 days are :
      Metropole
      Sotto
      The Anchor
      Jean Robert's Table
      Orchids at Palm Court

      Which will give me the best "flavor of Cincinnati"?

      1. re: nyperr

        Jean Robert's Table has been widely considered the closest thing to a consensus choice as best restaurant in Cincinnati, ever since Maisonette closed a few years ago (which is too bad, it was such a classic culinary icon and the food was amazing). I absolutely loved my dinner there a year or so ago.

        If your four days include a weekend, you might consider doing the Orchids at Palm Court for Sunday brunch. It's an elaborate all-you-can-eat buffet; that probably sounds unusual for such an upscale restaurant, but it's elegant and excellent. It will also give you the chance to check out the amazing renovated art deco architecture of the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza Hotel in which it is located.

        1. re: nyperr

          The flavor of Cincinnati is more in low-brow eats, not high end stuff. I like high end stuff too, I am not dismissing it as good eats, not at all, but it is not what any Cincinnatian would point to using that phrase

          No chefs, no creative ingredients etc - fairly simple foods

          The flavor of Cincinnati would be any/all of the following
          ----------------
          --Cincinnati style chili - as a "way", a coney, and or in a bowl au naturale, the best (imho) of which you'll find at Camp Washington Chili or Blue Ash Chili (which was on DDD). I recommend trying it in each of the three fashions.

          --double decker sandwiches, the best(imho) of which you'll find at Price Hill Chili or Blue Ash Chili

          --goetta. This is a breakfast food that is a distant cousin of scrapple, albeit with a milder and better (imho) taste. Most chains do not serve it, but many local breakfast/lunch joints do.

          --Graeters or Aglamesis ice Cream. I prefer Aglamesis, but it is Graeters that is starting to earn some national fame. You cant go wrong at either.

          --Friday Fish Fries are held at churches and veterans clubs all through Cincinnati, more so during Lent but at some places all year long.

          --grilled brats and metts - Cincinnati was long known as Porkopolis and the marathon here is called the Flying Pig. These are especially big around Oktoberfest time. Generally not seen in restaurants, more a buy at the grocer or butcher and grillout with family and friends. The best (imho) way to get them at a commercial venture is at any of the many church festivals held all around Cincinnati on the weekends during the Summer and early Fall

          --three places a lot of folks will describe as very Cincinnati but are not that good (imho) but I will include here to be complete. Montgomery Inn is what many locals consider bbq (we've only gotten real smoked bbq places in the last 10 years or so, so it is a slow learning process), but this is boiled then grilled meat slathered with a very sweet ketchup based bbq sauce. Frisches is the local Big Boy franchise, and their signature thing is the tartar sauce on the fish sandwiches and is also used on the local version of the Big Boy sandwich, which is otherwise much like the McDonald's Big Mac. Finally, we have a big local pizza chain called LaRosas that has a very sweet and very distinctive smelling pizza sauce. I actually kinda like the sauce but their crust is horrid and the other toppings are of fairly low quality.

          If you're here around Easter time - Papa's Cream Eggs are a big local hit

          Anyway, those things are the local flavor, but none involves chefs or creative ingredients or any of that. Again, I love meals like that too, but they just aren't the local flavor

          1. re: nyperr

            I think for the flavor of Cincinnati going to Findlay Market is a great way to do that. You'll get a good mix of the high and low brow options in Cincinnati. http://www.findlaymarket.org/

            Personally, I'm also a fan of the Senate (http://senatepub.com/) - but I think that other Cincinnati folks on the boards have mixed opinions.

        2. Two places for really great food in CINCINNATI:

          Jean Robert's Table. www.jrtable.com
          Orchids at Palm Court. www.orchidsatpalmcourt.com

          2 Replies
          1. re: nsxtasy

            I agree with both of these for truly great dining. Jean Robert was chef at the now defunct Masionette when it earned a Michelin star. Boca (correct spelling) is also high on the list, but as I haven't been, I can't really tell you how it stacks up to the others. http://bocacincinnati.com

            For more urban 'street food', Over the Rhine (OTR) has a couple of great places. Check out Bakersfield. http://www.bakersfieldotr.com
            or Senate or Taste of Belgium. All decent options.

            While TJ does have a point that many of Cincinnati's most popular places with the locals are 'low brow' (and his takes are pretty spot on - except LaRosa which I would put down as an abomination which bears the name of pizza only by default), one should remember the food most cities are known for, and eaten by the locals, is typically this way. New York Pizza anyone? Chicago hot dogs or italian beef? That doesn't mean there aren't nicer dining options - thankfully there are more now than ever before (there were truly slim pickings for a bit). Plus there's been an explosion of good, more moderately-priced options recently. Very fun for visitors and natives alike.

            1. re: AHA64

              I'll second Bakersfield OTR and its sister The Eagle. The former is sensational tacos and other similar dishes. The Eagle is known for its fried chicken, which is sensational, but I'm also a fan of the pork / broccoli di rape / provolone / hot pepper sandwich. Both have amazing beer selections, including a very cheap draft American beer -- you can generally eat well and get out for maybe ten bucks.