Here in Cincinnati, we know how to eat and we know good food. Thankfully, our city delivers when it comes to innovative dishes, as well as classic menus, served up in spaces that are filled with character. This list is a round up of the classics – most of which have withstood the test of time and continue to provide an ultimate dining experience for Cincinnatians.
1. Boca - 114 E 6th St. Cincinnati, OH 45202
Boca is one of those rare experiences where the food is as lovely as the ambiance. Your taste buds won't believe the artful creations of this seasoned chef and your eyes will be treated to a beautifully outfitted space.
2. The Echo - 3510 Edwards Rd. Cincinnati, OH 45208
The Echo in Hyde Park is the quintessential diner experience. Even if you have to wait a few minutes for a table, it's well worth it to enjoy a large portion of goetta, eggs and pancakes.
3. Nicola's - 1420 Sycamore St. Cincinnati, OH 45202
Located just north of OTR, Nicola's has been impressing visitors since its opening in 1996. Their take on classic Italian dishes, as well as the impeccable service and dining experience, has kept it at the top of many lists for years.
4. Orchids at Palm Court - 35 West Fifth Street/Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza Cincinnati, OH 45202
Orchids has long been the top choice for a special evening or celebratory meal. It provides the ultimate fine dining experience and whether you choose to make a reservation for dinner, brunch or stop in for drinks and a dessert, it is sure to be a memorable Cincinnati experience.
5. The Precinct - 311 Delta Ave. Cincinnati, OH 45226
We had to include a Jeff Ruby's restaurant on this list and The Precinct was an obvious choice. Of course, order one of the Cincinnati-themed steaks, but don't miss out on the Freddie Salad or the carrot cake.
6. The Hitching Post - 4535 Kellogg Ave. Cincinnati, OH 45226
Sitting unassumingly along Kellogg Avenue, with a sign that says, "World's Best Fried Chicken," you might think they're just full of themselves. Well, not exactly, as their fried chicken is definitely some of the best around and it has also stood the test of time.
7. Primavista -
810 Matson Pl. Cincinnati, OH 45204
It's hard not to fall in love with Cincinnati when you dine at Primavista. Their name perfectly describes their location, but the food stands on its own with mouthwatering Italian dishes and beautiful presentation.
8. Sebastian's - 5209 Glenway Ave. Cincinnati, OH 45238
This westside favorite is a bit of a hidden gem, but definitely cannot be missed. This Greek diner serves the best gyros around and you'll be charmed by the authentic ambiance and friendly staff.
9. Zip's Cafe - 1036 Delta Ave. Cincinnati, OH 45208
There are many good burger joints in our city, but Zip's longstanding deliciousness earns it a spot on this list. The burgers, the chili, the onion rings, the bustling feel of an old school cafe - it's a true Cincinnati classic.
10. Habanero - 358 Ludlow Ave. Cincinnati, OH 45220
In the heart of Clifton, Habanero is locally owned and has been serving up tasty tacos since 1999. Their chips and margaritas are worth a try, too.
11. Eli's BBQ - 3313 Riverside Dr. Cincinnati, OH 45226
Eli's is one of the newer spots to make this list, but for good reason. Their now-famous barbecue is perfection, and dining while sitting on a picnic table surrounded by the rest of Cincinnati is a can't-miss experience.
12. Pho Lang Thang - 114 W. Elder St. Cincinnati, OH 45202
There are endless reasons to visit Findlay Market, and Pho Lang Thang is one of them. The authentic Vietnamese menu is delicious and the restaurant itself has a great vibe and sense of humor.
13. Mecklenburg Gardens - 302 E. University Ave. Cincinnati, OH 45219
Cincinnati is a German town and Mecklenburg Gardens is the iconic proof. Around since 1865 (yep, over 150 years!), you have to enjoy a German beer and a bratwurst on their epic patio, preferably more than once!
14. Ruth's Parkside Cafe - 1550 Blue Rock St. Cincinnati, OH 45223
A Northside staple, Ruth's serves an innovative menu in a space with plenty of artistic flare. Enjoy your meal at the bar with a drink and then walk around and explore all Northside offers.
15. Larosa's - multiple locations
Now, on to the Cincinnati classics. Unless you are brand new to our city or live under a very large rock, you've heard of and enjoyed these next choices. But just in case you haven't, we've included them. Larosa's, in our opinion, is best enjoyed at the location on Boudinot, or while watching the Reds play at Great American Ballpark. Wherever you decide to have it, just do it at least once.
16. Skyline Chili - multiple locations
Yes, Cincinnati has several top notch chili parlors, but if you have to pick just one, well, Skyline it is. Have a 3-way and, for goodness' sake, learn the right way to eat it.
17. Montgomery Inn - multiple locations
It doesn't get much more "Cincinnati" than a meal of Montgomery Inn ribs and saratoga chips, while looking out the windows of the Boathouse location. It's a Queen City experience you have to have at least once.
It was tough to narrow it down, but we think this list is a pretty good start if you don’t want to miss out on the best of the best in Cincinnati. Which of your classic favorites did we miss? Where do you think is the best place for a meal in our city? Share with us in the comments!