October 26, 2018

15 Classic Cincinnati Diners for Breakfast, Lunch, Late-Night Bites and, Of Course, Chili

The diner is a place we depend upon for casual breakfasts, quick lunches and late night refuge after the bars close their doors. One of the peculiarities of our region’s diners is the nearly unanimous inclusion of Cincinnati chili on the menus, which is indicative of our cultural pride for the local cuisine. No matter where you go, it’s common practice at most diners across the country for all-day breakfast (as it should be) and mandatory refills on coffee. 
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Blue Jay Restaurant
4154 Hamilton Ave., Northside
Since its opening in 1967, the Blue Jay Restaurant has, for the most part, remained the same, boasting a nostalgic image and homestyle eats. As with any good local diner, there’s Cincinnati-style chili in bowls, on coneys and 3-ways, plus classics like all-day breakfast, double decker sandwiches and homemade pie.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Blue Jay Restaurant

4154 Hamilton Ave., Northside
Since its opening in 1967, the Blue Jay Restaurant has, for the most part, remained the same, boasting a nostalgic image and homestyle eats. As with any good local diner, there’s Cincinnati-style chili in bowls, on coneys and 3-ways, plus classics like all-day breakfast, double decker sandwiches and homemade pie.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Anchor Grill
438 Pike St., Covington
Taking its blazing neon “We May Doze, But Never Close” sign to heart, the Anchor Grill stays open 24/7, offering round-the-clock breakfast fare along with lunch and dinner comfort-food classics. 
Photo: Emerson Swoger

Anchor Grill

438 Pike St., Covington
Taking its blazing neon “We May Doze, But Never Close” sign to heart, the Anchor Grill stays open 24/7, offering round-the-clock breakfast fare along with lunch and dinner comfort-food classics.
Photo: Emerson Swoger
Sugar n’ Spice Restaurant
4381 Reading Road, Avondale
Huge, fluffy omelets and “wispy-thin” pancakes have made Sugar n’ Spice a bona fide breakfast institution for 75 years. One of the city’s most popular places for people of all ages and socio-economic groups to dine and socialize, new owner Steve Frankel has made updates to the menu, digging some old favorites from the basement archives and improving ingredients, moving from canned veggies to fresh. Frankel is also the guy behind the genius marketing plan of giving patrons little rubber ducks from Ace Toys on Reading — and passing out fried macaroni and cheese bites during long waits. It’s a charming quirk that keeps people coming back. 
Photo: Jesse Fox

Sugar n’ Spice Restaurant

4381 Reading Road, Avondale
Huge, fluffy omelets and “wispy-thin” pancakes have made Sugar n’ Spice a bona fide breakfast institution for 75 years. One of the city’s most popular places for people of all ages and socio-economic groups to dine and socialize, new owner Steve Frankel has made updates to the menu, digging some old favorites from the basement archives and improving ingredients, moving from canned veggies to fresh. Frankel is also the guy behind the genius marketing plan of giving patrons little rubber ducks from Ace Toys on Reading — and passing out fried macaroni and cheese bites during long waits. It’s a charming quirk that keeps people coming back.
Photo: Jesse Fox
Camp Washington Chili
3005 Colerain Ave., Camp Washington
A great place for breakfast, lunch or dinner, Camp Washington Chili features greasy-spoon breakfast offerings, double-decker sandwiches, Cincinnati-style chili, coneys and even a few salads. A James Beard Award winner, Camp Washington Chili opened its doors in 1940, and current owner Johnny Johnson has been working at the parlor since 1951. Open 24/6 — they’re closed on Sundays. 
Photo: Catie Viox

Camp Washington Chili

3005 Colerain Ave., Camp Washington
A great place for breakfast, lunch or dinner, Camp Washington Chili features greasy-spoon breakfast offerings, double-decker sandwiches, Cincinnati-style chili, coneys and even a few salads. A James Beard Award winner, Camp Washington Chili opened its doors in 1940, and current owner Johnny Johnson has been working at the parlor since 1951. Open 24/6 — they’re closed on Sundays.
Photo: Catie Viox
Cretan Chili Restaurant
7039 Vine St., Carthage
Well-hidden in Carthage, Cretan’s Chili Restaurant is a vintage oasis that doesn’t just sling classic diner food: if you’re able to find time to visit the grill between its elusive hours (10 a.m.-2 p.m.), you’ll slip into a realm of cozy Americana. Cretan’s is a Hopper-esque landscape of linoleum and wood-paneling, serving Cokes in Styrofoam cups and sandwich platters listed on a menu that’s essentially Arial font on laminated printer paper.
Photo: Jude Noel

Cretan Chili Restaurant

7039 Vine St., Carthage
Well-hidden in Carthage, Cretan’s Chili Restaurant is a vintage oasis that doesn’t just sling classic diner food: if you’re able to find time to visit the grill between its elusive hours (10 a.m.-2 p.m.), you’ll slip into a realm of cozy Americana. Cretan’s is a Hopper-esque landscape of linoleum and wood-paneling, serving Cokes in Styrofoam cups and sandwich platters listed on a menu that’s essentially Arial font on laminated printer paper.
Photo: Jude Noel
Chili Time
4727 Vine St., Saint Bernard
Along Saint Bernard’s main drag, one sign stands out — a cartoon clock suspended in half a cup of chili. The message is clear: it’s chili time. The orange awning is vibrant among unassuming small-town storefronts and the interior is just what you’d expect from a no-frills establishment. There are weekly specials, like meatloaf, coneys, 3-ways, double deckers and breakfast served all day. Try the goetta and cheese omelet. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Chili Time

4727 Vine St., Saint Bernard
Along Saint Bernard’s main drag, one sign stands out — a cartoon clock suspended in half a cup of chili. The message is clear: it’s chili time. The orange awning is vibrant among unassuming small-town storefronts and the interior is just what you’d expect from a no-frills establishment. There are weekly specials, like meatloaf, coneys, 3-ways, double deckers and breakfast served all day. Try the goetta and cheese omelet.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Sacred Beast
1437 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine
“Simple food. Taken seriously” is the motto for Sacred Beast, the new modern diner at 15th and Vine streets in Over-the-Rhine, helmed by chef Jeremy Lieb, most recently of the Boca Group, and his wife Bridget. The menu is a collection of Lieb’s favorite things, which run the gamut from literally the best French-style omelet in town — fluffy, soft and full of goat cheese and piquillo peppers — to a “Diner Breakfast” with scrambled eggs, maple-glazed pork belly and ricotta pancakes and a double or triple burger with Dijonnaise, onions, pickles and American cheese on a freshly made Blue Oven bun.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Sacred Beast

1437 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine
“Simple food. Taken seriously” is the motto for Sacred Beast, the new modern diner at 15th and Vine streets in Over-the-Rhine, helmed by chef Jeremy Lieb, most recently of the Boca Group, and his wife Bridget. The menu is a collection of Lieb’s favorite things, which run the gamut from literally the best French-style omelet in town — fluffy, soft and full of goat cheese and piquillo peppers — to a “Diner Breakfast” with scrambled eggs, maple-glazed pork belly and ricotta pancakes and a double or triple burger with Dijonnaise, onions, pickles and American cheese on a freshly made Blue Oven bun.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
J & J Restaurant
6159 Glenway Ave., Westwood
This old-school diner serves huge double-decker sandwiches, good chili, cheese coneys and all-day breakfast at a great price. Tucked into a strip mall, this is a no-frills neighborhood staple with lots of regulars and quick service. 
Photo via Google Maps

J & J Restaurant

6159 Glenway Ave., Westwood
This old-school diner serves huge double-decker sandwiches, good chili, cheese coneys and all-day breakfast at a great price. Tucked into a strip mall, this is a no-frills neighborhood staple with lots of regulars and quick service.
Photo via Google Maps