Best Of 2022

Hold onto your gourmet takeaway containers: There’s some thrilling news afoot. You will no longer have to drive to Dayton to visit Dorothy Lane Market — the cult-favorite regional grocer has announced plans to open its first Greater Cincinnati store in Mason (so, yes, you still have to drive to Mason ...). The new store will be located in an 80,000-square-foot mixed-use development on 70 acres at the corner of Mason-Montgomery and Western Row roads. Dorothy Lane Market has three other stores in Oakwood, Washington Township and Springboro, all in the Dayton area. A family business in operation since 1948, the gourmet grocer is like Whole Foods-meets-Jungle-Jim’s-meets-Trader Joe’s (for those who haven’t been). It offers a vast selection of fresh fruits and veggies; excellent cheese; gourmet packaged items; a to-die-for bakery; a deli counter with meats, cheese and a variety of housemade salads; prepared foods; wine; beer; flowers; health items; the list goes on. There’s also a line of Killer Brownies, made by the family that owns the operation. And while fans await new development information about the local market, Dayton’s Warped Wing Brewing (which opened a taproom in Mason in February) recently released a special collaboration with Dorothy Lane called Killer Brownie brown ale. The brew features “aromas of deep, rich chocolate upfront” along with “sips of chocolate, caramel, vanilla and molasses,” mimicking the Killer Brownie’s blend of chocolate, caramel and pecans.


Here are the 2022 Best Of Cincinnati® Reader and Staff Pick winners for Eats.

1. Decibel Korean Fried Chicken

2. PearlStar

3. Saint Francis Apizza

4. Pig Candy BBQ

5. Rosie’s Cocktails & Pies

6. Bee’s Barbecue

7. Proud Hound Coffee

8. Cork N Crust

9. Cafe Mochiko

10. OLLA Taqueria Gutierrez

1. Sotto

2. Jeff Ruby’s The Precinct

3. Pepp & Dolores

4. Ivory House

5. Boca

6. Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse

7. The Eagle

8. Incline Public House

9. Taste of Belgium

10. Agave & Rye

1. Pompilios

2. KungFood Chu’s AmerAsia

3. Bouquet Restaurant

4. Agave & Rye

5. Walt’s Hitching Post

6. Otto’s

7. The Baker’s Table

8. Greyhound Tavern

9. Libby’s Southern Comfort

10. Coppin’s Restaurant & Bar

Norwood got a little sweeter this year with the addition of over-the-top donut maker Starlight Doughnut Lab. In operation since the start of 2019, owner/baker Ben Greiwe has been crafting small-batch baked goods with a unique ingredient. Starlight donuts use mashed potatoes in the dough, which “boosts moisture, sweetness, flavor, and adds a crispy outside layer thanks to the potato’s natural sugars caramelizing in the fryer,” Greiwe explains. He says the flavor combos and that texture set Starlight apart from other local donut purveyors. The Norwood storefront offers both cake donuts and 48-hour brioche donuts with six always-on-the-menu flavors including churro, vanilla-glazed with sprinkles, and a raspberry lemonade. But our favorite is the everything-bagel donut with garlic-herb goat cheese. Greiwe tells CityBeat that this savory 48-hour brioche donut is his favorite flavor he’s ever made.

1. Sleepy Bee Cafe

2. First Watch

3. Sugar n’ Spice

4. HangOverEasy

5. Taste of Belgium

6. Maplewood Kitchen and Bar

7. The Echo

8. The Original Pancake House

9. Boomtown Biscuits & Whiskey

10. Half Day Cafe

China (left) and Nate Kautz outside their Cackleberry food truck
Photo: Provided by Cackleberry
China (left) and Nate Kautz outside their Cackleberry food truck

Squeezed into a bite-sized vintage trailer, husband-and-wife duo Nate and China Kautz serve eggy breakfast sandwiches as Cincinnati-based pop-up Cackleberry (a term for a hen’s egg). The petite menu blends Queen City staples with Filipino-fusion ingredients to offer options like the Lolo, with longanisa sausage and atchara pickled slaw, and a goetta sandwich called the Porter with muenster cheese and mustard aioli. The seasonal food truck parks in various locations on weekends and operates until all sandwiches are sold out.
After closing in October of 2021 for renovations, Alabama Fish Bar reopened at the start of 2022 to once again serve the self-proclaimed “best fried fish in Cincinnati.” 3CDC acquired and revamped the three-decade-old eatery as part of its $50 million Willkommen project, which includes building or rehabbing several buildings across Over-the-Rhine to create residential and commercial units. Out of the deal, Alabama Fish Bar got an updated storefront, new flooring and paint and some new kitchen equipment. Another update? They now take credit cards.
Purrfect Day Cafe
Photo: Danielle Schuster
Purrfect Day Cafe

Get your caffeine and cuteness fix at the Purrfect Day Cafe in Covington. At any given time, there are roughly 20 adoptable cats and kittens ready to cuddle and play. Purrfect Day works with three Tri-State-spanning animal rescues — Kenton County Animal Services in Northern Kentucky, Cincinnati Animal CARE Humane Society in Northside and P.A.W.S. of Dearborn County Humane Center in Lawrenceburg, Indiana — to get their adoptable animals. And all have been spayed or neutered, are dewormed, are up-to-date on their shots and are FeLV and FIV negative. You can reserve a 50-minute session in the kitty lounge for $15 per person or simply stop in for cat-themed coffee, tea or cocktails (their menu includes “purrbons” and “meowmosas”) to watch the friendly felines through the cafe window. If you fall in love with a cat, adoption coordinators are on-site. Visitors can also treat themselves to snacks like “paw-pcorn,” cookies and scones.

1. Sotto

2. Pompilios

3. Pepp & Dolores

4. Nicola’s

5. Primavista

6. Giovanni’s Family Italian Restaurant

7. Scotti’s Italian Restaurant

8. Via Vite

9. Ferrari’s Little Italy & Bakery

10. Forno Osteria + Bar