November 05, 2021

24 of the Oldest Restaurants in Greater Cincinnati You Have to Try

While it's hard to ignore Cincinnati's booming restaurant scene, it's incredibly important to pay homage to the restaurants that have stood the test of time in our city. Most of these eateries have been essential to the community for over 25 years, with a few being in business for over a century. Many hold special places in our hearts, not only because of their cuisines, but also for the memories that keep us coming back.
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Zip’s Cafe
1036 Delta Ave., Cincinnati
Zip’s Cafe was founded in 1926, meaning that it has been running for a whopping 95 years. With meat delivered daily from Avril-Bleh and “simple but fresh” toppings, Zip’s classic burgers are grilled on a flat top, which cooks them in their own delicious fat. If you’re looking to expand your palate beyond the classic Zipburger — recently named the best burger in Ohio by Food & Wine magazine — the cafe offers specialties such as the Flying Pig, topped with shaved ham and bacon, or the popular Girthburger (named by former Cincinnati Bengals punter Pat McInally), topped with a butterflied mettwurst. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Zip’s Cafe

1036 Delta Ave., Cincinnati
Zip’s Cafe was founded in 1926, meaning that it has been running for a whopping 95 years. With meat delivered daily from Avril-Bleh and “simple but fresh” toppings, Zip’s classic burgers are grilled on a flat top, which cooks them in their own delicious fat. If you’re looking to expand your palate beyond the classic Zipburger — recently named the best burger in Ohio by Food & Wine magazine — the cafe offers specialties such as the Flying Pig, topped with shaved ham and bacon, or the popular Girthburger (named by former Cincinnati Bengals punter Pat McInally), topped with a butterflied mettwurst.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Scotti’s Italian Eatery
919 Vine St., Downtown
Family-owned since 1912, Scotti’s has solidified itself as a Queen City staple. Their large menu features just about every pasta imaginable and nearly 20 different varieties of veal dishes. Finish off your meal with a bottle of wine and you’ll be full for days. Multi-colored tiles plaster the walls, and candles drip layer upon layer of wax on Chianti bottles at every table, providing a little light to the otherwise dimly lit dining room. Scotti’s is named after early 20th-century opera star Antonio Scotti, so the sound pumping through the speakers isn’t Muzak, it’s Rossini and Puccini and Pavaratti — just another aspect that sets this landmark apart from the pack. 
Photo: Paige Deglow

Scotti’s Italian Eatery

919 Vine St., Downtown
Family-owned since 1912, Scotti’s has solidified itself as a Queen City staple. Their large menu features just about every pasta imaginable and nearly 20 different varieties of veal dishes. Finish off your meal with a bottle of wine and you’ll be full for days. Multi-colored tiles plaster the walls, and candles drip layer upon layer of wax on Chianti bottles at every table, providing a little light to the otherwise dimly lit dining room. Scotti’s is named after early 20th-century opera star Antonio Scotti, so the sound pumping through the speakers isn’t Muzak, it’s Rossini and Puccini and Pavaratti — just another aspect that sets this landmark apart from the pack.
Photo: Paige Deglow
Arnold’s Bar & Grill
210 E. Eighth St., Downtown
Open since 1861, Arnold’s is the oldest continuously running tavern in town, complete with dark wood walls, vintage memorabilia and a big ol’ bathtub in the dining room, rumored to have been used to make gin during Prohibition. A Cincinnati classic, it serves up a nice range of lunch and dinner options — pasta, sandwiches and burgers, plus vegan and gluten-free options — at bargain prices. Enjoy a local draft in the outdoor beer garden and almost daily live music. Named as one of the best bars in America by Esquire magazine.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Arnold’s Bar & Grill

210 E. Eighth St., Downtown
Open since 1861, Arnold’s is the oldest continuously running tavern in town, complete with dark wood walls, vintage memorabilia and a big ol’ bathtub in the dining room, rumored to have been used to make gin during Prohibition. A Cincinnati classic, it serves up a nice range of lunch and dinner options — pasta, sandwiches and burgers, plus vegan and gluten-free options — at bargain prices. Enjoy a local draft in the outdoor beer garden and almost daily live music. Named as one of the best bars in America by Esquire magazine.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
The Golden Lamb
27 S. Broadway St., Lebanon
Jonas Seaman came to Ohio from New Jersey in 1803. In a time when many couldn’t read, the business was marked by a symbol, not a name: a golden lamb. Present-day, the historic hotel and restaurant, in the heart of the Lebanon DORA district, has served 12 presidents and an array of other famous figures. The menu offers items like braised lamb shank, hickory-roasted prime rib and seared salmon. The attached Black Horse Tavern is a more casual dining spot on the backside of the hotel that serves specialty cocktails and the same delicious menu as the main dining area.
Photo via Facebook.com/TheGoldenLamb

The Golden Lamb

27 S. Broadway St., Lebanon
Jonas Seaman came to Ohio from New Jersey in 1803. In a time when many couldn’t read, the business was marked by a symbol, not a name: a golden lamb. Present-day, the historic hotel and restaurant, in the heart of the Lebanon DORA district, has served 12 presidents and an array of other famous figures. The menu offers items like braised lamb shank, hickory-roasted prime rib and seared salmon. The attached Black Horse Tavern is a more casual dining spot on the backside of the hotel that serves specialty cocktails and the same delicious menu as the main dining area.
Photo via Facebook.com/TheGoldenLamb
Frisch’s Mainliner
5760 Wooster Pike, Fairfax
Big Boy sandwiches. All-day breakfast. Warm bowls of chili and soup. Frisch's Big Boy Mainliner opened in 1939, when founder David Frisch opened Cincinnati’s first year-round drive-in, which could hold up to 60 cars. Now the regional diner chain is an iconic stop for Queen City residents. The famous menu still carries on today — with additions — and offers up both nostalgic memories and classic grub. 
Photo: Catie Viox

Frisch’s Mainliner

5760 Wooster Pike, Fairfax
Big Boy sandwiches. All-day breakfast. Warm bowls of chili and soup. Frisch's Big Boy Mainliner opened in 1939, when founder David Frisch opened Cincinnati’s first year-round drive-in, which could hold up to 60 cars. Now the regional diner chain is an iconic stop for Queen City residents. The famous menu still carries on today — with additions — and offers up both nostalgic memories and classic grub.
Photo: Catie Viox
The Precinct
311 Delta Ave., Columbia Tusculum
You can always rely on a Jeff Ruby restaurant for a big, rare steak and platters of seafood. The Precinct, housed in a historical Romanesque-style former police precinct, opened in 1981 and was the first in a long line of Ruby steakhouses. You can’t go wrong with a sirloin or porterhouse, named after current and past Cincinnati sports greats. But there are other options, like lamb shank or chicken Milanese. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

The Precinct

311 Delta Ave., Columbia Tusculum
You can always rely on a Jeff Ruby restaurant for a big, rare steak and platters of seafood. The Precinct, housed in a historical Romanesque-style former police precinct, opened in 1981 and was the first in a long line of Ruby steakhouses. You can’t go wrong with a sirloin or porterhouse, named after current and past Cincinnati sports greats. But there are other options, like lamb shank or chicken Milanese.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Mecklenburg Gardens
302 E. University Ave., Corryville
For a taste of Zinzinnati’s German heritage, Mecklenburg Gardens showcases some of the best German cuisine the city has to offer. Their specialty is wienerschnitzel, a tender, pan-fried veal cutlet topped with lemon; it’s served with red cabbage. They have about 15 beers on tap, most of which are German, along with some local microbrews. Nationally ranked as one of the best biergartens in the country, it’s also one of Cincinnati’s oldest restaurants, having been open since 1865. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Mecklenburg Gardens

302 E. University Ave., Corryville
For a taste of Zinzinnati’s German heritage, Mecklenburg Gardens showcases some of the best German cuisine the city has to offer. Their specialty is wienerschnitzel, a tender, pan-fried veal cutlet topped with lemon; it’s served with red cabbage. They have about 15 beers on tap, most of which are German, along with some local microbrews. Nationally ranked as one of the best biergartens in the country, it’s also one of Cincinnati’s oldest restaurants, having been open since 1865.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
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, baked potatoes and vegetarian chili, which is made with black beans and rice. 
Photo: Paige Deglow

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, baked potatoes and vegetarian chili, which is made with black beans and rice.
Photo: Paige Deglow
Pompilio’s
600 Washington Ave., Newport
This restaurant, where the toothpick scene in Rain Man was filmed, has been offering classic family Italian food since 1933. You can’t go wrong with any pasta dish or the homemade lasagna. Play a game of bocce ball on the back court or grab a beer-and-burger in the attached bar, Colonel Pomp’s Tavern. 
Photo: Paige Deglow

Pompilio’s

600 Washington Ave., Newport
This restaurant, where the toothpick scene in Rain Man was filmed, has been offering classic family Italian food since 1933. You can’t go wrong with any pasta dish or the homemade lasagna. Play a game of bocce ball on the back court or grab a beer-and-burger in the attached bar, Colonel Pomp’s Tavern.
Photo: Paige Deglow
Mt. Adams Bar and Grill
938 Hatch St., Mount Adams
Opened during the prohibition era in 1919, Mt. Adams Bar and Grill’s roots are thought to tie back to a speakeasy owned by infamous Cincinnati bootlegger George Remus. It became the first bar and grill in Ohio to receive its liquor license in 1933. Known for their whiskey, it offers a varied menu that serves up hearty burgers, soups and appetizers like the fried jalapeno ravioli. Walk inside and enjoy this Cincinnati blast from the past while tasting some amazing grub. 
Photo: Izzy Viox

Mt. Adams Bar and Grill

938 Hatch St., Mount Adams
Opened during the prohibition era in 1919, Mt. Adams Bar and Grill’s roots are thought to tie back to a speakeasy owned by infamous Cincinnati bootlegger George Remus. It became the first bar and grill in Ohio to receive its liquor license in 1933. Known for their whiskey, it offers a varied menu that serves up hearty burgers, soups and appetizers like the fried jalapeno ravioli. Walk inside and enjoy this Cincinnati blast from the past while tasting some amazing grub.
Photo: Izzy Viox