Cincinnati Food 101 - Where to Eat In Cincinnati

Everybody is always asking me where to eat around Cincinnati!! It's either for a special occasion or a certain kind of food they haven't had yet - and I realized - I need to write about this! Recently I had two coworkers that are new to Cincinnati ask me to give them the must-have list of where to eat in Cincinnati - well Kelly & Zakiyah - here you go!!! 

This list covers off the Top 12 Food Groups in Cincinnati and my favorite places to go for every one! And be sure to share YOUR favorites in the comments!!! 

1. Cincinnati Chili - First up obviously is the chili - it's not like any other chili you've had before. Honestly the first time I had it - I hated it. A year later - I went back with friends and loved it! There must be something in the water! 

Where to Get it: Skyline or Gold Star (both are everywhere) - I'm a Gold Star girl myself but I'll take it however I can get it. 

What to Get: A three-way is spaghetti, chili and shredded cheddar - that's the best place to start if you're adventurous! You can also add kidney beans or onions to make it a four- or five-way. When you get this - DO NOT MIX IT! Rookie mistake #17 for sure. You CUT it so you get all the layers. Oye - when I see someone mixing!!! If you're not so adventurous or just love hot dogs - start with a cheese coney with everything. 

2. Beer - OMG the city is full of craft beer places – all over the city and in every neighborhood – if you like beer – you can’t stop exploring the craft beer. Rhinegeist is probably the most popular brewery and craft beer - but you can barely sneeze without hitting a brewery these days. 

Where to Get it: Rhinegeist (OTR), 50 West (Eastside), Mad Tree (Oakley) 

What to Get: Well that depends on your beer taste - my favorite is Rhinegeist Bubbles (girly "beer") 

BONUS: Want to learn more about Cincinnati's Beer history and drink at the same time? Take the Cincinnati Brew Bus! Mike does a great job and I promise you'll have a great time! 

3. Barbecue - Cincinnati might not be on "the map" for BBQ - but there's a lot of it here in Cincinnati. Whether it's ribs or pulled pork, greens or macaroni & cheese, peach cobbler or spoonbread - you will not find a shortage of barbecue places around the city. 

Where to Get It: Montgomery Inn (downtown or Montgomery) is old school Cinci, Eli's (East End) is the hip place and it's BYOB, Midwest Best (Loveland) has some wicked wings and Just Q'in (OTR or Newtown) has everything! 

What to Get: Montgomery Inn - ribs, Eli's - the deep fried BBQ topped hot dog, Midwest Best - the G-Funk wings and Just Q'in - rib tips & cobbler

4. Mexican - Oh my my - I'm happy to say I think I've been to 80% of the taquerias in town! You can get everything from TexMex to the Mexican with the white queso where all the places seemingly have the same menu and round up at the authentic taquerias. I'll say though - authentic is always best in my mind. 

Where to Get It: Mazunte (Oakley), La Mexicana (Newport KY)

What to Get: Mazunte - the Blue Corn Quesadillas and Chips & Salsa (freshly made chips when you walk in the door), La Mexicana - the best Al Pastor tacos in town and guacamole

5. Burgers - I think every city prides itself on their burgers and Cincinnati is no different. You can get them skinny, thick, topped with fancy stuff or American cheese on a paper plate! 

Where to Get It: Zips (Mt Lookout), Nation (Pendleton), Gordo's (Norwood), Quatman's (Norwood or Mason)

What to Get: My favorite burger is the regular old cheeseburger at Quatman's - it's served on a paper plate with chips and a soda for like $5. You just can't get much better than that!

6. Thai Food/Sushi - I don't know what the hell it is about Cincinnati but I swear there's more Thai/Sushi places than Chili parlors! I had never had Thai food until I moved to Cincinnati - it's not really a thing in Iowa - well it wasn't 15 years ago. I remember we had someone vegan coming to town (a Vegan. in Iowa.) and she asked what Thai restaurants there were - I said - Uh you'll just have to get salad - we don't do Thai food. bhahahaha! 

Where to Get It: Green Papaya (Hyde Park) and RuThais' (Mt Lookout) are my favorite! 

What to Get: Load up on half-price sushi (it's always half-price - I don't understand this) and my favorite dish is the Pasta Basil with chicken at Green Papaya or the Spicy Deep Fried Snapper at RuThais

7. Pizza - The one thing I always thought was lacking in Cincinnati was great pizza - until recently. Now I definitely have some favorites - it's mainly thin crust - we don't really have a good deep dish that I know of (anybody?) 

Where to Get It: Deweys (multiple locations) is a Cincinnati staple - it's sort of fancy pizza, LaRosas (everywhere) is the standard "order pizzas for the party" place and my favorite is Goodfellas (OTR and Newport). 

What to Get: I love the Edgar Allen Poe at Dewey's (goat cheese) and the Greek Pizza at Goodfellas

8. Hipster Heaven - If you're looking for the cool part of town - it's OTR (Over-the-Rhine). It has undergone an incredible transformation since I've moved here. You can get every kind of food and drink you can imagine - there's even an arcade bar! The two stadiums are only a 10 minute walk away (or you can ride the streetcar). 

What to Get: Empanadas at Che, mussels at Zulas, queso at Bakersfield, fried chicken at The Eagle 

9. Breakfast/Brunch - There is no shortage of brunch and breakfast places - everything from old school diners to organic and crunchy, avocado-toast-filled restaurants. I consider myself a Biscuits & Gravy expert - so I'll definitely give you my favorite place for that! 

Where to Get It: Sleepy Bee (Oakley, Blue Ash, Downtown), The Echo (Hyde Park), Bluebird (Norwood)

What to Get: Bluebird is my pick for biscuits & gravy 

Photo courtesy of

10. Farmers Market - there's only once place and that's Findlay Market (OTR). It's amazing when the weather is nice - but it's open year round. They have a butcher, spice shop, gelato stand, produce and tons of restaurants. It's awesome! 

11. Steak/Fancy - Who doesn't love some moo'ing cow???? I personally love to make my own steak at home but if you're looking to go out for a big hunk of cow - or just want a FANCY special occasion dinner - there are plenty of fantastic options. 

Where to Get It: Jeff Ruby's (multiple locations) is the steak everyone brags on and I've never had it. It's really expensive and I like how I cook steak (anybody want to take me?). Boca (downtown) is a fancy restaurant downtown - again - never been (haha). Lastly - you can't ignore Jean Robert's Table - if Cincinnati has a "celebrity chef" - it's Jean Robert. How good is it? Well - I've been there and it's amazing!! 

12. A View - With the cut-in-the-hill and the downtown skyline - Cincinnati has a lot of great views. DeVou Park in NKY is one of the best views but if you want to eat and enjoy the view - my favorite place is the Incline Public House (Price Hill) - get their short rib grilled cheese - it's heaven!!

What are YOUR favorite places? Which places do I need to go to this year????


  1. For a really good pizza or flatbread try Fort Thomas Public House.

  2. I've always wanted to have Montgomery Inn! I've only gotten it at the Great American Ball Park!

    1. I like their ribs dry - their sauce isn't my favorite! Their booth at the reds games though is pretty great! If you go to a Reds game - their Waterfront restaurant is within walking distance! You should go sometime!!!!