FlyerTalk Forums

FlyerTalk Forums (
-   Midwest (
-   -   Best of Cincinnati (

Sweet Willie Oct 12, 03 1:11 pm

Best of Cincinnati
Best Ocean Fusion:
Cheng-3’s menu is a varied mix of fusion cusine and Pacific Rim delights. Order up the whole red snapper cooked in banana leaf or the sauteed rainbow trout with Asian rice in a creamy saffron sauce. Cheng-3 Cafe, Harper’s Station, 11371 Montgomery Road, Symmes Twp., 513-469-8801.

Best Reincarnation:
What’s for Dinner?
It’s been a remarkable transformation from the old Brickyard bar into this eatery worthy of San Francisco. The high quality of the catering company of the same name hasn’t changed, but the menu has expanded to include a much wider array of delectables, offered in a setting that couldn’t be more comfy and inviting. Menu highlights include artichoke dip; halibut served over a scrumptious bed of crabmeat and butter-infused shrimp, mixed squash and couscous; risotto du jour; mashed potatoes; green beans; barbarian chocolate cream pie and a hot bread pudding caramel sauce. Vegetarians can choose any number of menu items, including main courses, lovely salads and sides. There are lots of beers on tap and a reasonable selection of nice wines. They’ve created a perfectly lovely place that’s a happy transmigration of food for the soul. What’s for Dinner?,
3009 O’Bryon St., O’Bryonville, 513-321-4404. (SG)

Best Reason to Skip the Fast-Food Filet o’ Fish:
Try the hefty beer-battered cod sandwich served on a kaiser roll at Shannon’s. The light brown crust is crunchy and the cod is moist but not greasy as with some. Yep, the place is a dive, but a clean dive. And the tab is pretty reasonable: $4.95 with fries, $5.95 with the onion rings (go for it!). Shannon’s Grill and Bar, 4343 Kellogg Ave., California, 513-321-0636.

Best Dressed-Up Seafare:
Bonefish Grill’s wood-grilled Atlantic swordfish with lime tomato garlic sauce. Or maybe their skewer of shrimp with warm mango salsa. Also, the house chopped salad that comes with entrées (pine nuts, Kalamata olives, hearts of palm in a citrus vinaigrette) is quite good, as is the creamy corn chowder with lump crab. Bonefish Grill, 2737 Madison Road, Hyde Park, 513-321-5222.

Best Art on a Plate:
The sea scallops at York Street Café, seared medium-rare and served with butternut squash, wilted spinach, chanterelle mushrooms and porcini truffle butter. A creative assemblage of flavors — sweet, musky, earthy and bitter — that reaffirms the “art” in “culinary art.” York Street Café, 738 York St., Newport, 859-261-9675.

Best Fries Even the French Would Claim:
Cody’s Café, Palomino, Tropicana
Cody’s Café has created a hit with their sweet-potato fries, a hip, sweeter version of the McDonald’s classic: thin, perfectly cooked, tasty as all get-out. The principal difference is, naturally, that luscious smoky-sweet yammy flavor. Palomino’s gorgonzola fries, on the other hand, try a little too hard. For one thing, they’re waffle fries, a needlessly alienating shape; presumably they chose this configuration in order to sop up more of the sauce as well as to maximize “uniqueness.” Still, a little gorgonzola goes a long, rich way. For a third treat, cross the bridge and endure the tacky decor of Jeff Ruby’s Tropicana and order their scrumptious French-Italian fries. I don’t know if it’s the white truffle oil or the pecorino and romano cheeses or both, but they’re fantastic. The waitress actually handed me ketchup to go with them. Ketchup! What was she thinking? Cody’s Café, 113 Calhoun St., Clifton Heights, 513-569-0555; Palomino, 505 Vine St., Downtown, 513-381-1300; Tropicana, Newport on the Levee, Newport, 859-491-8900. (SG)
Best Lobsta Pasta:
At Andiamo! Ristorante. “Andiamo” translates as “Let’s go!,” and you ought to. This Italian eatery features a dreamy lobster ravioli buried in an even dreamier lobster vermouth cream sauce. Andiamo! Ristorante, 3235 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-321-4155.

Best Fishing Expedition:
J’s Seafood has half-price drinks at 9-11 p.m. on Fridays as well as a buffet of free appetizers. And you don’t need a life jacket. J’s Fresh Seafood, 2444 Madison Road, Hyde Park, 513-871-2888.

Seafood pizzas from Outer Banks Seafood
The Outer Banks Seafood Market in Mariemont offers two versions of frozen pizzas that can be brought home and quickly heated for a delicious meal. (The pies are also sold at their new kiosk at Ridge Market in Pleasant Ridge.) The BBQ Shrimp Pizza is buried in carmelized onions, basil, provolone, mozzarella and asiago cheeses. The Red, White & Green Pizza includes white sauce, pesto, roasted red peppers, crab, bay scallops and provolone, mozzarella and asiago cheeses. They’re not cheap at $13.99, but they’re worth it. Call ahead and reserve your box, though, since they don’t make them every day and it’s a popular item that sells out fast. Outer Banks Seafood Market, 7227 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, 513-272-2061; Ridge Market, 6142 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, 513-366-4764. (FW)

Best Chinese Dumplings:
At Jade Garden in Mount Washington. The savory steamed dumplings are filled with pork, then served with dipping sauces. It’s $4.50 for eight. Good bargain. Jade Garden, 2042 Beechmont Ave., Mount Washington, 513-233-0888.

Best Sukiyaki:
Ko-Sho does it tableside with the finest ingredients, and it’s enough to feed an army. Ko-Sho Japanese Restaurant, 215 E. Ninth St., Downtown, 513-665-4950.

Best Place to Be Served by Men on Their Knees:
If you choose to sit at Riverside Korean’s traditional low tables with floor cushions, the servers — in order not to have to remove their shoes every time — wait on you hand and knees. Riverside Korean Restaurant, 512 Madison Ave., Covington, 859-291-1484.

Best Bargain for Eastsiders:
The ever growing choice of bargain night buffets. Recent openings include Dragon City Buffet and Royal Buffet, where all-you-can-eat feasts can be had for under $9 on weeknights (half that for kids). We’re talking an unlimited supply of snow crab, steak, shrimp, sushi, the works. Dragon City Buffet, 8315 Beechmont Ave., Anderson Twp., 513-388-9913; Royal Buffet, 491 Ohio Pike, Cherry Grove, 513-528-4808.

Best Lamb on a Skewer:
The delicious lamb kabob at Myra’s Kabob Cafe. This Pakistani cafe is a delight for both meat lovers and vegetarians alike. Sample, for instance, the Salad Shirazi, a tangy melange of marinated parsley, green onions and cucumbers. Myra’s Kabob Cafe, 12082 Montgomery Road, Symmes Twp., 513-683-4499.

Best Ostrich:
The two medallions served up seasoned and charbroiled at Deaf Goat Restaurant. The goat might have been deaf, but at least he had the smarts to avoid the butcher’s knife. The ostrich, well, he must have just stuck his head in the sand. Deaf Goat Restaurant, 830 Eastgate Drive, Eastgate, 513-752-3700.

Best Change of Pace Mexican:
Family-owned El Ranchito is a nice departure from the Mexican chain restaurants that seem to dominate around here. Taquitos, chalupas, huevos rancheros, rellenos — the entire menu is delectable. Cool decor, too. El Ranchito, 7725 Five Mile Road, Anderson Twp., 513-233-9200.

Best Crazy Calzones:
At Pizza Tower, where the oversized pockets of fresh dough come loaded with ricotta, shrimp, bacon and other daring stuffings. Pizza Tower, 8495 Governor’s Way, Symmes Twp., 513-683-8400.

Best Eggs-cellent Adventure:
The tomato broccoli quiche at Gusto. For $6.50, you get a hefty slice of the tasty quiche, garnished with fruit, and they throw in a sizable house salad as well. A bargain by Mount Adams standards. Gusto, 950 Pavilion St., Mount Adams, 513-333-0170.

Best B.E.L.T. Sandwich:
They don’t necessarily want you to know about this at Mullane’s, but for a little extra money they’ll put a fried egg on your bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich — and it’s killer good. Get it on whole wheat toasted bread. Mullane’s Parkside Café, 723 Race St., Downtown, 513-381-1331.

Best Corned Beef:
We’d normally tip our culinary hats to Izzy’s, but it’s hard to beat (if you’re willing to pay the price) the corned beef at Jeff Ruby’s Tropicana, flown in directly from the Carnegie Deli in Manhattan. At better than $10 a sandwich, though, we presume these suckers flew into town first-class, sipping their martinis while watching the in-flight movie. (Be forewarned: The corned beef is served at lunch only.) Tropicana, Newport on the Levee, Newport, 859-491-8900.

Best Non-Irish Pub Grub:
The chips and dips at Bar Louie. For a pass-around plate, try the hummus, tabbouleh and tsaziki platter with warm pita bread (order the spicy olive mix on the side for an additional $1.95). The guacamole and chips are good, too, but we’ll leave the fried twinkies to confirmed Hostess hop heads. Bar Louie, Newport on the Levee, Newport, 859-291-4222.

Best Hearty Lunch:
Washington Platform keeps ’em coming back for homemade specials like the batter-fried perch filets with macaroni and cheese — the crunchy batter is flavorful, and the mac & cheese has a stick-to-your-ribs quality that distinguishes it from fast-food choices. Other solid choices include the seafood gumbo and pecan chicken salad. Washington Platform, 1000 Elm St., Downtown, 513-421-0110.

Best Tuck for Your Buck:
The Big Tuck double-decker cheeseburger at Tucker’s is notable especially for the toppings — the fresh onion, pickle and tomato are from the produce stands at nearby Findlay Market. And it’s only $2.75. Tucker’s Restaurant, 1637 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-721-7123.

Best Warm Seat in the Winter:
If you’re lucky enough to snag one of the four counter seats at Brio Tuscan Grille, you get treated to an up close and personal view of the frenzy that is a busy restaurant kitchen. You literally stare into the wood fired oven, and if you make nice with the pizza guy he might very well slide one of the his crispy creations in front of you, compliments of the house. Shhhh! Brio Tuscan Grille, Newport on the Levee, Newport, 859-431-0900.

Best Cool Seat in the Summer:
Nothing beats an outdoor table at the Vineyard Café at the intersection of Erie and Edwards in the heart of Hyde Park Square. It’s a great spot to see and be seen. Vineyard Café & Wine Room, 2653 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-871-6167.

Best Goetta from a Market:
Finke’s, tucked away on the corner of a residential intersection in Fort Wright, takes great pride in its homemade goetta. Even better, you can purchase frozen packages separated into individual servings for easy cooking at home. Finke’s & Sons Meats, 1502 Amsterdam Road, Fort Wright, 859-261-8899.

Best Goetta from a Chili Parlor:
Price Hill Chili’s version is a West side breakfast staple served at a legendary West side eatery. It goes down amazingly well with a Hudy draft. Price Hill Chili, 4920 Glenway Ave., Price Hill, 513-471-9507.

Best Mac & Cheese:
Nick & Tony’s, the new chop house downtown Whether you’re 5 or 50, this iron skillet macaroni and cheese will make you smile. Truly the best comfort food. Nick & Tony’s, 19 E. Seventh St., Downtown, 513-723-1940.

Best Reason to Drive to Seaman, Ohio:
Perhaps it’s the only reason to drive to Seamon (right off State Route 32 near West Union), but the peanut butter pretzels sold at Keim’s Amish Market are worth it. These little nuggets are very addictive. The market’s apple butter and homemade baked goods are equally delicious. Keim’s Amish Market, 2621 Burnt Cabin Road, Seamon, 937-386-9995.

Best Reason Not to Share Dessert:
The butter rum pecan pudding bundt cake at York Street Cafe. More modest looking than some of pastry chef Annabell Stolley’s other delicious creations, this cake is easy to overlook at first as you glide by the desserts displayed prominently in York Street’s main dining room. But one melt-in-your-mouth bite is a direct flight to bundt heaven. Try it on the outdoor patio on a warm spring evening — a slice of heaven. York Street Café, 738 York St., Newport, 859-261-9675.

Best Reason to Quit Buying Grocery Store Spaghetti Sauce:
You can taste the Naples sun in the marinara from Betta’s Italian Cuisine. Besides the many menu dishes it enhances, Betta deLuca’s fragrant and delizioso daily-made sauce sells in quarts to go. Bellissimo! Betta’s Italian Cuisine, 1026 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-871-2233.

Best Way to Stretch Saturday Night’s Date Into Sunday Afternoon:
Brunch at Sugar ‘N’ Spice. Sit at the counter or squish into a tiny booth with The New York Times for a classic, diner-style breakfast of eggs, hash browns and blueberry pancakes or creamed chipped beef on toast. Oh, and the omelettes are some of the best around. Sugar ‘N’ Spice Restaurant, 4381 Reading Road, Paddock Hills, 513-242-3521.

Best Place For Inexpensive, Late Night Good Food With a View:
The two-for-one appetizers at Palomino. Offered from 10 p.m. to midnight, this is one of the best deals going after you just dropped $150 for Broadway musical tickets and that size 4 dress isn’t going to allow dinner. All of the appetizers are interesting and delicious, and the view overlooking Fountain Square is so big city. Palomino Restaurant, 505 Vine St., Downtown, 513-381-1300.

Best Service/Cuisine Match:
The Brown Dog’s mutating menu features a wide variety of seafood and salads, many of which have a Moroccan-ish cast, with ingredients like squash and chilies and grapes. But the warmth and skill of the service is as impressive — from the chatty hostess taking reservations to the down-to-earth amiability of the waitstaff. It’s an unusual combination of fantastic chefs, excellent staff and an attractive dining room — which easily makes you forget that Office Max is right next door. Brown Dog, 5893 Pfeiffer Road, Blue Ash, 513-794-1610.

Best Graduate of the Obi Wan Kenobi School of Waiting Tables:
Nicole, a server at J. Alexander’s in Rookwood Commons. In a dimly lit dining room that winks of clandestine meetings, we sat transfixed by her seductive gaze and hypnotic, velvety voice and ordered everything she suggested, including food we never eat. We would’ve done anything she asked — or demanded. J. Alexander’s, 2629 Edmondson Road, Norwood, 513-531-7495.

Best Rat-Pack Retro Eatery:
Nick’s Chops and Chasers.The Naugahyde, the hard-bitten but well-dressed regulars in the bar, the unbeatable combination of liquor and meat, the dim lighting and bonhomie all recommend Nick’s to diners who want a taste of the good old days, when a chop was a chop and side orders were for sissies. Nick’s Chops and Chasers, 3355 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-871-5858.

Best Place to Dine If You Love the Smell of Seared Flesh:
Vinoklet Winery. This grill-it-yourself restaurants’s behemoth outdoor grill is frequently crowded with an esprit d’corp of weekend grillmeisters. The resulting din from the sizzle and pop of ol’Bessie’s flanks make this also the Worst Place to Dine If You’re Vegetarian. Vinoklet Winery, 11069 Colerain Ave., Bevis, 513-385-9309.

Best Place to Dine for a Cross-Dressing Night Out:
Hamburger Mary’s. The upscale hamburger chain not only caters to a largely gay clientele, but some of the servers are pure Kabuki theater. Hamburger Mary’s, 911 Vine St., Downtown, 513-381-6279.

Best Place to Feed Your Inner Child:
Jax Grill at Gameworks at Newport on the Levve, where you can enjoy dinner while you draw on the table and then play video games like you’re a kid again. Jax Grill, Newport on the Levee, Newport, 859-581-7529.

Best Bet for Baked Goods:
Shadeau Bread can hardly keep its multi-grain German bread on the shelves. Plan ahead, since it’s just baked on Saturdays. Shadeau Bread, 1336 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-665-9270.

Best Hole in the Wall:
ZZ’s Pizza could easily be mistaken for a hole in the wall. Well, actually it is a hole in the wall, but one filled with a cozy warmth. The owners have created a welcoming environment with a lush décor of reds and blacks and their own personal demeanor. By engaging their customers in small conversation, they’ve found a way to bring people not into their restaurant but into their home. ZZ’s Pizza, 2401 Gilbert Ave., Walnut Hills, 513-559-0926.

Best Recreation of Thanksgiving:
The Apple on Elm offers its Turkey Special every Thursday — it’s a traditional Thanksgiving-like plate with all the trimmings. Apple on Elm, 801 Elm St., Downtown, 513-621-6512.

Best Martini and Pizza:
It’s hard to beat Trio’s martinis, which surprisingly go well with one of their gourmet pizzas. Of course, everything goes well with a great martini. Trio, 7565 Kenwood Road, Kenwood, 513-984-1905.

Best Place to Eat, Drink and Watch Airplanes:
Nothing complements a meal like watching business executives and wealthy people fly their private planes in and out of Lunken Airport. With the hills in the background, it’s actually a very serene setting. Sky Galley, 262 Wilmer Ave., Columbia-Tusculum, 513-871-7400.

Best Indian Comfort Food:
The palak paneer at Cumin, the new restaurant opened by Yajan Upadhyaya and his wife, April, after moving here from Manhattan. The bittersweet aromatics of fenugreek wafting up from the swamp-green mound of cooked spinach and paneer (soft, homemade cheese with a consistency like firm tofu) is affirmation of the fine line between earthy and heavenly food. Cumin, 3514 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-871-8714.

Best Exotic Rice:
The dreamy coconut rice at Udipi Cafe, the vegetarian South Indian cuisine eatery. For dessert, try the Mango Milk Shake. Udipi Cafe, 7633 Reading Road, Roselawn, 513-821-2021.

Best Song for Your Supper:
Longtime favorite LaNormandie recently added live music on weeknights from such venerable local acts as The Goshorn Brothers, Danny Frazier, The Bottomfeeders and Kenny Cowden. Pair the acoustic rock with Roasted Atlantic Salmon or Surf and Turf (4-oz. filet mignon and Maine lobster tail), and you have the makings of a memorable night out. LaNormandie, 118 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-721-2761.


cawhite Oct 31, 03 8:03 pm

I can't vouch for the Bonefish in Cinti, but have eaten at the one on the southside of Indy. For a fish/seafood restaurant not located near a coast, I'd definitely recommend it.

Have been to Palomino in several cities and the one in Cinti has great food (as have the others) but the service is known for being inconsistent at this location.

I may have missed it, but completely shocked not to see Grand Finale listed as it's been in Best of Cinti for as long as I can remember (been going there 12+ years). Awesome dinners and desserts, and just had dinner and dessert there a couple nights ago

[This message has been edited by cawhite60156 (edited 10-31-2003).]

Pietro Nov 11, 03 7:59 am

I'm surprised Jean-Robert at Pigall's is not on this list. (Although who knows whether these lists are really the "best" of any city.)

Jean-Robert has been featured in recent editions of the Wine Spectator and also Esquire, which recognized it in its Best New Restaurants section this month (or last month - I can't recall).

Edited to add: Has anyone been to Jean-Robert? I'd be interested in any reviews.

[This message has been edited by Pietro (edited Jan 16, 2004).]

Sweet Willie Oct 31, 07 7:01 pm

man, forgot about this post, there are quite a few items I still want to try!

As far as ice cream goes, Cincinnati has two excellent choices:
Aglamesis Brothers

both make terrific ice cream but neither in my opinion has the best of all flavors, each does a few flavors better than the other.

Mikey likes it Nov 1, 07 9:39 am

That's quite a list.

Agree on Graeter's (any of the chocolate chunk varieties, particularly raspberry chocolate chunk).

And I could do with a big plate of Skyline chili right about now. Regular four way onion, juicy, extra cheese. Two Skyliners, no mustard on the side.

Chillabri Nov 1, 07 12:47 pm

I'll vouch for Betta's. Betta's son and his wife now run the restaurant, but from what I understand, Betta still makes the sauce herself. By the way, they are my neighbors, and very nice people. I suggest trying the wood-fired pizzas.

There is also a Betta's location in Norwood, very close to Xavier University. This location cannot sell alcoholic beverages, but if you bring your own wine or beer, they can hold it and serve it to you.

Betta's Norwood - 3764 Montgomery Rd, Cincinnati - (513) 631-6836

Sweet Willie Aug 3, 08 1:04 pm


GadgetFreak Aug 3, 08 1:21 pm

I was born and grew up in Cincinnati. And to be perfectly candid I dont have a lot great things to say about the city itself. But Skyline Chili might as well be crack cocaine as far as Im concerned. I LOVE that stuff. And the ice cream too. When I was a kid we used to go to Graeters but as I got older an Aglamesis Brothers opened near us. I preferred the Aglamesis but my mom had a preference for Graeters since she went there when she was young. Both were great though.

Sweet Willie Oct 12, 09 9:34 pm

Originally Posted by Sweet Willie (Post 2702376)
Best Place to Eat, Drink and Watch Airplanes:
Nothing complements a meal like watching business executives and wealthy people fly their private planes in and out of Lunken Airport. With the hills in the background, itís actually a very serene setting. Sky Galley, 262 Wilmer Ave., Columbia-Tusculum, 513-871-7400.

FT dinner here on Friday Oct 23, everyone is welcome.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 5:05 pm.

This site is owned, operated, and maintained by MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Designated trademarks are the property of their respective owners.