October 23, 2019

25 Classic Cincinnati Diners, Delis and Cafes You Should Have Tried By Now

Cincinnati is home to dozens of old-school spots serving up mile-high deli sandwiches, all-day breakfast and homemade soups and salads, all at wildly affordable prices.
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Hathaway’s Diner
441 Vine St., Downtown
The old-fashioned flavors of the soda fountain are found at Hathaway’s, including the best darn chocolate shake in town. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped through a time portal to the 1950s (the diner opened in 1956). Don’t miss the French toast and goetta. Hathaway’s does them both exactly right.
Photo via Facebook/HathawaysDiner

Hathaway’s Diner

441 Vine St., Downtown
The old-fashioned flavors of the soda fountain are found at Hathaway’s, including the best darn chocolate shake in town. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped through a time portal to the 1950s (the diner opened in 1956). Don’t miss the French toast and goetta. Hathaway’s does them both exactly right.
Photo via Facebook/HathawaysDiner
Sugar n’ Spice
4381 Reading Road, Paddock Hills
For over 75 years, this family-friendly Paddock Hills diner has been serving up “Wispy Thin” pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, steak and eggs, corned beef hash, breakfast quesadillas and much more to one of the most-diverse clienteles in town. From the after-church crowds to college students to doctors heading off to work at nearby hospitals, folks from all over the economic spectrum continue to start their day at this cozy counter or crammed into the precious few booths. Wait time is often long for this popular spot, but it’s not unlikely that your hanger might be soothed by some complimentary nuggets of fried macaroni and cheese or gooey chocolate brownies. When those coveted seats finally come available, younger diners are rewarded with rubber duckies in addition to their meals. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Sugar n’ Spice

4381 Reading Road, Paddock Hills
For over 75 years, this family-friendly Paddock Hills diner has been serving up “Wispy Thin” pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, steak and eggs, corned beef hash, breakfast quesadillas and much more to one of the most-diverse clienteles in town. From the after-church crowds to college students to doctors heading off to work at nearby hospitals, folks from all over the economic spectrum continue to start their day at this cozy counter or crammed into the precious few booths. Wait time is often long for this popular spot, but it’s not unlikely that your hanger might be soothed by some complimentary nuggets of fried macaroni and cheese or gooey chocolate brownies. When those coveted seats finally come available, younger diners are rewarded with rubber duckies in addition to their meals.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Scherpies Produce & Deli
503 E. Ross Ave., Saint Bernard
The popular neighborhood deli offers fresh produce and goods in addition to its sandwich and side offerings. Devoted patrons love their affordable prices, build-your-own sandwiches,  soups and salad bar. 
Photo via Facebook/Scherpies

Scherpies Produce & Deli

503 E. Ross Ave., Saint Bernard
The popular neighborhood deli offers fresh produce and goods in addition to its sandwich and side offerings. Devoted patrons love their affordable prices, build-your-own sandwiches, soups and salad bar.
Photo via Facebook/Scherpies
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
Fred & Gari’s
629 Vine St., Downtown
This quaint downtown lunch spot is an unassuming gem that’s been in the business of slinging classic diner bites for over 30 years. Offering both hot and cold sandwiches, soups and pizza, the retro-styled take-out eatery packs a whole lot of flavor and charm in a tiny little space. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Fred & Gari’s

629 Vine St., Downtown
This quaint downtown lunch spot is an unassuming gem that’s been in the business of slinging classic diner bites for over 30 years. Offering both hot and cold sandwiches, soups and pizza, the retro-styled take-out eatery packs a whole lot of flavor and charm in a tiny little space.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
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: Hailey Bollinger

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: Hailey Bollinger
Anchor Grill
438 W. Pike St., Covington
While we typically seem to eat brunch after 11 a.m., the Anchor Grill is open 24/7, so you can chow down literally any time at this Covington greasy spoon, which has been serving up diner fare for decades. It’s a throwback dive with wood paneling, retro fixtures and black leather booths. As an added bonus, a tiny animatronic Big Band orchestra — led by a swingin’ Barbie doll — plays and moves along to jukebox selections in a vintage Chicago Coin’s Band-Box by the ceiling. The Anchor doesn't serve booze, so opt for diner-style coffee and a slice of their famous chocolate-covered peanut butter pie. It’s cash only, so come prepared. 
Photo: Emerson Swoger

Anchor Grill

438 W. Pike St., Covington
While we typically seem to eat brunch after 11 a.m., the Anchor Grill is open 24/7, so you can chow down literally any time at this Covington greasy spoon, which has been serving up diner fare for decades. It’s a throwback dive with wood paneling, retro fixtures and black leather booths. As an added bonus, a tiny animatronic Big Band orchestra — led by a swingin’ Barbie doll — plays and moves along to jukebox selections in a vintage Chicago Coin’s Band-Box by the ceiling. The Anchor doesn't serve booze, so opt for diner-style coffee and a slice of their famous chocolate-covered peanut butter pie. It’s cash only, so come prepared.
Photo: Emerson Swoger
Caffe Barista & Deli
231 W. Fourth St., Downtown
Caffe Barista is a cafe-deli hybrid that offers a little bit of everything. Their expansive menu offers gourmet coffee, omelettes, burgers, pizza, soups, sandwiches and more. They offer standard sandwiches like a classic deli club or spice it up with more adventurous options like a jerk turkey and ranch or Cajun roast beef. All of their sandwiches are made-to-order and come with a pickle and a bag of chips. 
Photo: Screen grab from Google Maps

Caffe Barista & Deli

231 W. Fourth St., Downtown
Caffe Barista is a cafe-deli hybrid that offers a little bit of everything. Their expansive menu offers gourmet coffee, omelettes, burgers, pizza, soups, sandwiches and more. They offer standard sandwiches like a classic deli club or spice it up with more adventurous options like a jerk turkey and ranch or Cajun roast beef. All of their sandwiches are made-to-order and come with a pickle and a bag of chips.
Photo: Screen grab from Google Maps
Carl’s Deli
2836 Observatory Ave., Hyde Park
Carl’s Deli is the closest thing you’re going to get to a New York deli, sans the attitude. Open seven days a week since 1938, they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. A hidden neighborhood gem, the striped awning and bistro chairs beckon sandwich seekers in for favorites like hot crab and artichoke salad on a croissant, turkey tetrazzini or a damn good egg salad. There are daily housemade soup offerings, quiche, casseroles and a nice selection of wine and beer.
Photo via Facebook/CarlsDeliCincinnati

Carl’s Deli

2836 Observatory Ave., Hyde Park
Carl’s Deli is the closest thing you’re going to get to a New York deli, sans the attitude. Open seven days a week since 1938, they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. A hidden neighborhood gem, the striped awning and bistro chairs beckon sandwich seekers in for favorites like hot crab and artichoke salad on a croissant, turkey tetrazzini or a damn good egg salad. There are daily housemade soup offerings, quiche, casseroles and a nice selection of wine and beer.
Photo via Facebook/CarlsDeliCincinnati
The Echo
3510 Edwards Road, Hyde Park
Opened as a sandwich shop in 1945 by Louise Schwartz, customer favorites include the Echo Grill (baked ham, Swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato served with tartar sauce), an open-faced turkey sandwich and the “hangover helper” Hot Mess, with layers of home fries, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, gravy and cheese.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

The Echo

3510 Edwards Road, Hyde Park
Opened as a sandwich shop in 1945 by Louise Schwartz, customer favorites include the Echo Grill (baked ham, Swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato served with tartar sauce), an open-faced turkey sandwich and the “hangover helper” Hot Mess, with layers of home fries, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, gravy and cheese.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger