November 11, 2022

25 Iconic Cincinnati Restaurants Where Locals Must Bring Their Visiting Guests

When your family and friends visit you in Cincinnati, you want to show the city off! And there may be no better way to get a feel for the Queen City than through its food and drink scene.

Whether you want to take your out-of-towners to try our version of chili at Skyline, experience a restaurant like Arnold's Bar & Grill – which is well over 100 years old or confirm just how amazing Graeter's ice cream is, there's an iconic spot in every corner of this city to enjoy a good meal and drink.

Keep scrolling to see some of the restaurants and eateries that make Cincinnati standout:

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Zip's Cafe
1036 Delta Ave., Mt. Lookout
Zip’s Cafe has been open since 1926 and is known for its Zip Burger, which Food & Wine named the best in Ohio. The small space is separated into a dining area and a bar by a saloon-style door with a model train circling above. Head to the back bar for a local beer on draft while you wait for space at a booth or a seat at one of the shared family-style tables.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Zip's Cafe

1036 Delta Ave., Mt. Lookout
Zip’s Cafe has been open since 1926 and is known for its Zip Burger, which Food & Wine named the best in Ohio. The small space is separated into a dining area and a bar by a saloon-style door with a model train circling above. Head to the back bar for a local beer on draft while you wait for space at a booth or a seat at one of the shared family-style tables.
Maury’s Tiny Cove
3908 Harrison Ave., Cheviot
Maury’s has been packed full of flavor and a West Side tradition since 1949. The dimly lit supper-club vibe will have you feeling like a regular on your first visit. The extensive menu consists of all the classic steakhouse options: tender, juicy steaks, seafood and chicken cooked just right, plus pasta, and a perfect martini. Ask for the Carol booth — the restaurant appears in the locally filmed, Oscar-nominated movie starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara — or take a photo with the Maury’s sign, featuring a kitschy cartoon steer holding a cocktail.

Maury’s Tiny Cove

3908 Harrison Ave., Cheviot
Maury’s has been packed full of flavor and a West Side tradition since 1949. The dimly lit supper-club vibe will have you feeling like a regular on your first visit. The extensive menu consists of all the classic steakhouse options: tender, juicy steaks, seafood and chicken cooked just right, plus pasta, and a perfect martini. Ask for the Carol booth — the restaurant appears in the locally filmed, Oscar-nominated movie starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara — or take a photo with the Maury’s sign, featuring a kitschy cartoon steer holding a cocktail.
Camp Washington Chili
3005 Colerain Ave., Camp Washington
Named one of the “10 Best Restaurants in Cincinnati” by USA Today, there’s no question as to why Camp Washington Chili has been operating since 1940. In addition to the amazing chili, the menu also includes burgers, grilled chicken, hot dogs, fries, coleslaw and salad – something for everyone.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Camp Washington Chili

3005 Colerain Ave., Camp Washington
Named one of the “10 Best Restaurants in Cincinnati” by USA Today, there’s no question as to why Camp Washington Chili has been operating since 1940. In addition to the amazing chili, the menu also includes burgers, grilled chicken, hot dogs, fries, coleslaw and salad – something for everyone.
Sugar n’ Spice Diner
4381 Reading Rd., Paddock Hills; 1203 Sycamore St., Over-the-Rhine
Open since 1941, Sugar n' Spice's original pink Paddock Hills diner is known for its fun atmosphere and being a comfortable and family-friendly place to eat. Favorite menu items include the "wispy thin" pancakes and giant omelets. Lines at the petite original can be long, but there's also a second, larger location in Over-the-Rhine. And at the end of the meal, don’t forget to ask for a rubber duck!
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Sugar n’ Spice Diner

4381 Reading Rd., Paddock Hills; 1203 Sycamore St., Over-the-Rhine
Open since 1941, Sugar n' Spice's original pink Paddock Hills diner is known for its fun atmosphere and being a comfortable and family-friendly place to eat. Favorite menu items include the "wispy thin" pancakes and giant omelets. Lines at the petite original can be long, but there's also a second, larger location in Over-the-Rhine. And at the end of the meal, don’t forget to ask for a rubber duck!
Arnold's Bar & Grill
210 E. Eighth St., Downtown
Arnold's Bar & Grill in Downtown is one of the oldest continuously operating drinking spots in the country and the oldest in Cincinnati, having opened in 1861 in the same room where you enter today. It also boasts the infamous Arnold's bathtub, reportedly used to make bootleg gin during Prohibition. There is even a rumor that this bar is filled with spirits – both the alcoholic and dead-people kind.
Photo: Maggy McDonel

Arnold's Bar & Grill

210 E. Eighth St., Downtown
Arnold's Bar & Grill in Downtown is one of the oldest continuously operating drinking spots in the country and the oldest in Cincinnati, having opened in 1861 in the same room where you enter today. It also boasts the infamous Arnold's bathtub, reportedly used to make bootleg gin during Prohibition. There is even a rumor that this bar is filled with spirits – both the alcoholic and dead-people kind.
Skyline Chili
Multiple Locations
Skyline has been one of the pioneers of Cincinnati chili since opening in 1949. First founded by Greek immigrants, the chili parlor pours the Queen City staple over spaghetti or hot dogs and tops it with a mound of cheese, oyster crackers and — depending on your taste preference — onions and beans. Also available are chili burritos, fries and vegetarian chili, which is made with black beans and rice.

Skyline Chili

Multiple Locations
Skyline has been one of the pioneers of Cincinnati chili since opening in 1949. First founded by Greek immigrants, the chili parlor pours the Queen City staple over spaghetti or hot dogs and tops it with a mound of cheese, oyster crackers and — depending on your taste preference — onions and beans. Also available are chili burritos, fries and vegetarian chili, which is made with black beans and rice.
Graeter’s Ice Cream
Multiple Cincinnati locations including 332 Ludlow Ave., Clifton; 511 Walnut St., Downtown and 2704 Erie Ave., Hyde Park 
Graeter’s is famous for its French pot ice cream, especially the kinds that come with giant chocolate chunks. To make these, ice cream artisans pour gourmet chocolate over churning cream. It forms a shell that is then broken apart. The most iconic Graeter's flavor is the Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip, a bestseller that is made with black raspberries from Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
Photo: Jesse Fox

Graeter’s Ice Cream

Multiple Cincinnati locations including 332 Ludlow Ave., Clifton; 511 Walnut St., Downtown and 2704 Erie Ave., Hyde Park
Graeter’s is famous for its French pot ice cream, especially the kinds that come with giant chocolate chunks. To make these, ice cream artisans pour gourmet chocolate over churning cream. It forms a shell that is then broken apart. The most iconic Graeter's flavor is the Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip, a bestseller that is made with black raspberries from Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
Walt’s Hitching Post
3300 Madison Pike, Fort Wright
Named partly for the restaurant’s original owner Walt Ballanger and partly for the metal posts outside where restaurantgoers once hitched up their horses, Walt’s has been serving up its legendary ribs smothered in their secret sauce since 1942. The restaurant maintains its building’s rich history as an early 20th Century hunting lodge, with the exposed log wall in the main dining area that’s original to the building. In addition to their ribs, Walt’s also pride itself on its line of mouth-watering steaks and extensive list of bourbon, scotch, beer and craft cocktails.
Photo: Paige Deglow

Walt’s Hitching Post

3300 Madison Pike, Fort Wright
Named partly for the restaurant’s original owner Walt Ballanger and partly for the metal posts outside where restaurantgoers once hitched up their horses, Walt’s has been serving up its legendary ribs smothered in their secret sauce since 1942. The restaurant maintains its building’s rich history as an early 20th Century hunting lodge, with the exposed log wall in the main dining area that’s original to the building. In addition to their ribs, Walt’s also pride itself on its line of mouth-watering steaks and extensive list of bourbon, scotch, beer and craft cocktails.
 Montgomery Inn
9440 Montgomery Rd., Montgomery; Montgomery Inn Boathouse, 925 Riverside Drive, Downtown
Montgomery Inn and its ribs have been a staple in Cincinnati since 1951. Secret-recipe sweet and tangy all-natural barbecue sauce from founder Ted Gregory’s wife Matula dresses the hand-spiced, slow-roasted and custom-broiled ribs and is featured on everything from barbecue spring chicken and pork chops to Saratoga chips.

Montgomery Inn

9440 Montgomery Rd., Montgomery; Montgomery Inn Boathouse, 925 Riverside Drive, Downtown
Montgomery Inn and its ribs have been a staple in Cincinnati since 1951. Secret-recipe sweet and tangy all-natural barbecue sauce from founder Ted Gregory’s wife Matula dresses the hand-spiced, slow-roasted and custom-broiled ribs and is featured on everything from barbecue spring chicken and pork chops to Saratoga chips.
Scotti's Italian Eatery
919 Vine St., Downtown
Family-owned since 1912, Scotti's is a Queen City staple. The large menu features just about every pasta imaginable along with nearly 20 different varieties of veal dishes. And don’t skip the wine: there's an expansive list of reds and whites. The interior offers a cozy, warm ambiance with multi-colored tiles on the walls, Chianti bottle candles and romantic lighting characteristic of the best Italian restaurants.
Photo: Paige Deglow

Scotti's Italian Eatery

919 Vine St., Downtown
Family-owned since 1912, Scotti's is a Queen City staple. The large menu features just about every pasta imaginable along with nearly 20 different varieties of veal dishes. And don’t skip the wine: there's an expansive list of reds and whites. The interior offers a cozy, warm ambiance with multi-colored tiles on the walls, Chianti bottle candles and romantic lighting characteristic of the best Italian restaurants.