Best Of 2021

BanaSun Smoothie Bar’s Bana Cocoa smoothie, made with banana, chocolate and peanut butter. Pro tip: Add a shot of cold brew coffee.

Best Of Cincinnati Eats (Reader Picks): Cincinnati's best eats picks as selected by CityBeat readers

Best Of Cincinnati Eats pig

Reader Picks

Best New Restaurant

Best Overall Restaurant

Best Overall Restaurant (Northern Kentucky)

Best Neighborhood Restaurant (Downtown/OTR)

Best Neighborhood Restaurant (Northern Kentucky)

Best Neighborhood Restaurant (Central)

Best Neighborhood Restaurant (East Side)

Best Neighborhood Restaurant (West Side)

Best Neighborhood Restaurant (Burbs)

Best Appetizers

Best Bagels

Best Barbecue

Best Beer Selection (Restaurant)

Best Bourbon Selection (Restaurant)

Best Breakfast

Best Brunch

Best Overall Burgers (Chain)

Best Overall Burgers (Non-Chain)

Best Neighborhood Burger Spot (Downtown/OTR)

Best Neighborhood Burger Spot (Northern Kentucky)

Best Neighborhood Burger Spot (Central)

Best Neighborhood Burger Spot (East Side)

Best Neighborhood Burger Spot (West Side)

Best Neighborhood Burger Spot (Burbs)

Best Burritos

Best Business Lunch

Best Butcher Shop

Best Cajun/Creole

Best Cake Shop

Best Cheap Eats

Best Cheese Shop

Best Cheesesteak

Best Chef (w/Restaurant Affiliation)

Best Chicken

Best Chicken Sandwich

Best Chili (Chain)

Best Chili (Non-Chain)

Best Chinese

Best Chocolates

Best Coffeehouse (Local)

Best Coffeehouse (National)

Best Neighborhood Coffee Shop (Downtown/OTR)

Best Neighborhood Coffee Shop (Northern Kentucky)

Best Neighborhood Coffee Shop (Central)

Best Neighborhood Coffee Shop (East Side)

Best Neighborhood Coffee Shop (West Side)

Best Neighborhood Coffee Shop (Burbs)

Best Cooking Classes

Best Creamy Whip/Soft Serve

Best Cupcakes

Best Delicatessen

Best Desserts (Restaurant)

Best Desserts (Retail)

Best Neighborhood Bakery (Downtown/OTR)

Best Neighborhood Bakery (Central)

Best Neighborhood Bakery (East Side)

Best Neighborhood Bakery  (West Side)

Best Neighborhood Bakery (Burbs)

Best Overall Bakery (Breads)

Best Donuts

Best Farmers Market

Best Farmers Market Food Stall

Best Fish & Chips

Best Food Delivery Service

Best Food Festival or Event

Best Food Truck

Best French Fries

Best Frozen Yogurt

Best Gelato/Sorbetto/Frozen Ice

Best German

Best Gluten-Free Selections

Best Goetta

Best Guacamole

Best Hidden Gem

Best Hot Dog/Sausage

Best Ice Cream

Best Indian

Best Italian

Best Japanese

Best Korean

Best Late-Night Eatery

Best Live Music While You Eat

Best Local Chain

Best Local Farm

Best Local Snack

Best Macaron

Best Macaroni & Cheese

Best Mediterranean/Greek

Best Menu (Most Innovative)

Best Mexican

Best Noodles

Best Outdoor/Patio Dining

Best Overall Pizza (Chain)

Best Overall Pizza (Non-Chain)

Best Neighborhood Pizza Joint (Downtown/OTR)

Best Neighborhood Pizza Joint (Northern Kentucky)

Best Neighborhood Pizza Joint (Central)

Best Neighborhood Pizza Joint (East Side)

Best Neighborhood Pizza Joint (West Side)

Best Neighborhood Pizza Joint (Burbs)

Best Oysters

Best Pub Food

Best Raw Bar

Best Restaurant Design

Best Restaurant for a First Date

Best Restaurant for Fine Dining

Best Restaurant for Large Parties

Best Restaurant to Take a Foodie

Best Restaurant to Take the Kids

Best Restaurant to Take Visitors

Best Ribs

Best Romantic Restaurant

Best Salads

Best Seafood

Best Small Plates

Best Smoothie/Juice Bar

Best Soul Food

Best Soup

Best Specialty Food Market

Best Steakhouse

Best Subs/Sandwiches

Best Sushi

Best Tacos

Best Takeout

Best Tea Selection

Best Thai

Best Vegetarian

Best Veggie Burger

Best Vietnamese

Best View From Your Table

Best Waitstaff/Service

Best Waterfront Dining

Best Wine Selection (Restaurant)

Best Wings

Best Of Cincinnati Eats (Staff Picks): Cincinnati's best eats picks as selected by CityBeat staff

Best Of Cincinnati Eats (Staff Picks)

Staff Picks

Best Sunday Pizza Pop-Up to Open a Brick-and-Mortar

Best Psychedelic Gelatin Creations

Best Way to Increase Outdoor Dining (and Drinking) Options in Cincinnati

Best Taste of Honduras without Leaving Kentucky

Best Reason to Wake Up Before 9 a.m. on a Saturday

Best Hot Chocolate Bombs

Best Peanut Butter Curry Donuts

Best Century-Old Pickle Purveyor

Best Coffee Pop-Up Shop

Best Egg Hoagie

Best Scratch-Made-Tortilla-Slinging Taco Truck That Will Leave You Craving More

Best Tater Tot Waffles

Best Tater Tot Nacho Bowl

Best Roman-Style Artichokes

Best Focaccia Sandwich You Can Only Get On Saturdays

Best Stripmall Sub Shop

Best Farmers Market Pickles with a Kick

Best Vegetarian “Chicken” Nugget

Best Vegan Wings

Best Fake Popeyes Sandwich

Best Chili Melt

Best Green Beans

Best Type of War

Best Expansive Vegetarian Options at an Indian Restaurant (That Isn’t Strictly Vegetarian)

Best Upscale Riff on a Classic 3-Way

Best Fake Fast Food Franchise

Best Almost-Unachievable Deep-Fried Coney Challenge

Best Use of Walnuts

Best Homemade Black Bean Burger

Best Sunday Self-Care Smoothie

Best Curry Dumpling

Best Taco Pop-Up to Find a New Place to Park

Best Trompe-L’Oeil Treats

Best Traditional Japanese Kaiseki Dinner

Best German Spaghetti Ice Cream

Best Way to Make Sotto or Boca at Home

Best Grandma-Inspired Small-Batch Covington Bake Shop

Best Reopening of a Thai Favorite

Best 150-Year-Old Birthday Cake

Best Alternative to Asian Food Fest

Best Food Legends We Said Goodbye To

Best Community-Minded Creamy Whip

Best Adult Happy Meal

Best Farmers Market Tech Innovation

Best Pasta at Pompilio’s That Isn’t Made with Red Sauce

Best Sausage Spot to Replace Kroeger & Sons Meats in Findlay Market

Best Sweet Potato Latte

Best Floral Matcha Latte

Best Wild One-Day-Only Lattes

Best Retro Breakfast Expansion

Best Local Meal Kit Service

Best Kitchen Collective Supporting the Local Food Community

Best Puerto Rican Pop-Up Turned Permanent

Best Free Fridge

Best Toilet Paper with a Side of Fried Chicken

Best Restaurant Worker Relief Center

Best Coffee Subscription

Best Random Acts of Cheese

Best Curry Jalapeño Hot Sauce

Best Eateries Getting National Recognition

Best Fry Sauce

Best Relocation of a Late-Night Staple

Best Frozen Momos

Best Local Bike Courier and Food Delivery Service

Best Syrian Flatbread Wrap

Best Transformation from a Seafood Chain to a Sprawling Foodie Destination

Best Cantonese-Style Wontons

Best Second Sweet Spot

For its 150th anniversary, Graeter’s released a special birthday cake-flavored ice cream. Described as a “blend of cake pieces and sprinkles in cake batter ice cream,” it’s like Funfetti in a cone. Or cup. Or pint.

Over-the-Rhine’s Dunlap Cafe started making their own grown-up “happy meals” for carry-out during the pandemic. The perfect lil’ combo pack included an entree with a side of fries, Twizzlers, a Dunlap Koozie as a prize and an adult beverage — a beer, hard seltzer or a cocktail. Entree options included cheeseburgers, chicken tenders or a fried chicken sandwich. And the meals came wrapped and organized in a cute branded box, ready to devour in the car, or at home — if you could wait that long.

The Northside Yacht Club really wasn’t fucking around this year and in February 2021, they brought back their deep-fried cheese coney, also known as the “Cincinnati chimichanga.” The now-annual infamous Midwestern monstrosity features a chili cheese coney topped with more chili and cheese, wrapped in a flour tortilla and then deep-fried (they also make vegetarian and vegan versions). But to really kick things up a notch, and give people a goal to strive for as the pandemic approached the one-year anniversary mark, NSYC invented a coney-eating challenge. The “5 Coney Food Challenge” asked intrepid idiots to scarf down five deep-fried coneys and a basket of fries in 69 minutes. If you triumphed, you got a free T-shirt and your name on the wall of fame. If you failed, you had to pay $69 for your meal and your photo was added to the wall of shame. Only one person — Randy “Rando” Sullivan from Hamilton — was able to do it.

While Cincinnati’s super popular Asian Food Fest was canceled in 2020, fans were still able to enjoy a ton of local Asian eats in the fall. Asian Food Week ran from Nov. 2-8 and more than 20 eateries from across Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky offered either a special $20 prix fixe, three-course meal or a secret menu item. As Asia encompasses an extensive collection of cuisines, so too did Asian Food Week with offerings from Vietnamese, Hawaiian, Indian, Chinese restaurants and more. Both Asian Food Fest and Asian Food Week were started by the Asian American Cultural Association of Cincinnati.

1. Sotto

2. Incline Public House

3. Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse

1. Marx Hot Bagels

2. Bruegger’s Bagels

3. The Bagelry

1. Eli’s BBQ

2. Lucius Q

3. City Barbeque

4. Montgomery Inn

5. Pickles & Bones Barbecue

6. Just Q’in

7. Sweets & Meats BBQ

8. Midwest Best BBQ

9. Pontiac

10. Harmon’s Barbecue

1. Yard House

2. Taft’s Ale House

3. KungFood Chu’s AmerAsia

1. Boomtown Biscuits & Whiskey

2. Goodfellas Pizzeria/Wiseguy Lounge

3. Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse

1. Sleepy Bee Cafe

2. First Watch

3. Sugar n’ Spice

4. Boomtown Biscuits & Whiskey

5. Taste of Belgium

6. The Echo

7. The Original Pancake House

8. Hang Over Easy

9. Maplewood Kitchen and Bar

10. Half Day Cafe

1. Taste of Belgium

2. Sleepy Bee Cafe

3. Boomtown Biscuits & Whiskey

4. First Watch

5. Maplewood Kitchen and Bar

6. The National Exemplar

7. Nation Kitchen & Bar

8. Hang Over Easy

9. Orchids at Palm Court

10. Grand Finale

1. Gomez Salsa

2. Mazunte

3. The Comet

1. Skyline Chili

2. Maplewood Kitchen and Bar

3. Court Street Lobster Bar

1. Avril-Bleh Meat Market

2. Lehr’s Prime Market

3. Eckerlin Meats

1. Swampwater Grill

2. Knotty Pine on the Bayou

3. Allyn’s Cafe

1. The BonBonerie

2. Nothing Bundt Cakes

3. 3 Sweet Girls Cakery

Findlay Kitchen’s Yee Mama offers wonton kits that include a dozen Hong Kong-style wontons, your choice of sauce, herbs for garnish and instructions for how to cook them.

Launched in 1920 by Harry T. Kaiser Sr., the West End’s Kaiser Pickles celebrated 100 years of fine brining in 2020. Using farm-fresh produce, the company produces 90 million pounds of pickles (and peppers) per year and is still a family-owned operation. You may have even tried their pickles without knowing it: They produce them for local deli chain Izzy’s.