November 22, 2021

23 Under-the-Radar Restaurants You Must Try in Cincinnati

With so many new restaurants and bars throughout the city, it's easy for a few to fall through the cracks. While OTR's Vine Street may steal the show when it comes to hip and hot dining spots, these lesser-known gems are where some real culinary magic happens. You won't want to miss these.
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Ando Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar
5889 Pfeiffer Road, Blue Ash 
Chef Ken Ando and his wife Keiko have been welcoming guests to Ando Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Blue Ash since 1998, where Ando prepares traditional Japanese cuisine accompanied by the couple’s daughter, Chiaki. The dining room includes an intimate sushi bar, which is the perfect place to watch Ando work his magic on the freshest of fish, sourced directly from Japan and Taiwan.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Ando Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar

5889 Pfeiffer Road, Blue Ash
Chef Ken Ando and his wife Keiko have been welcoming guests to Ando Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Blue Ash since 1998, where Ando prepares traditional Japanese cuisine accompanied by the couple’s daughter, Chiaki. The dining room includes an intimate sushi bar, which is the perfect place to watch Ando work his magic on the freshest of fish, sourced directly from Japan and Taiwan.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Wunderbar!
1132 Lee St., Covington
Wunderbar! is one of those restaurants that’s considered a “hidden gem.” The authentic German-inspired menu features housemade wursts with locally sourced meats, like the restaurant’s super popular currywurst — a peculiar invention of post-World War II Germany. It’s a spiced sausage served with a ketchup-Worcestershire-curry sauce. The rotating sausage menu is written on a blackboard behind the bar, but a must-try is the giant pretzel, a gigantic, plate-sized pretzel that easily complements any of the bar’s refreshing beers. 
Photo: Wunderbar Facebook

Wunderbar!

1132 Lee St., Covington
Wunderbar! is one of those restaurants that’s considered a “hidden gem.” The authentic German-inspired menu features housemade wursts with locally sourced meats, like the restaurant’s super popular currywurst — a peculiar invention of post-World War II Germany. It’s a spiced sausage served with a ketchup-Worcestershire-curry sauce. The rotating sausage menu is written on a blackboard behind the bar, but a must-try is the giant pretzel, a gigantic, plate-sized pretzel that easily complements any of the bar’s refreshing beers.
Photo: Wunderbar Facebook
The Wheel
3805 Brotherton Road, Oakley
The Wheel is an Italian takeaway restaurant housed on a well-hidden residential block in Oakley. The food provides evidence that cooking is an act of love and creativity for Chrissy Antenucci, who named The Wheel after a Grateful Dead song. A former personal chef with stints in restaurants in Manhattan and San Francisco, Antenucci transforms simple ingredients into an artform. The menu includes sandwiches on foccacia, entrees like spinach cannelloni or lasagna and pizza — all homemade. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

The Wheel

3805 Brotherton Road, Oakley
The Wheel is an Italian takeaway restaurant housed on a well-hidden residential block in Oakley. The food provides evidence that cooking is an act of love and creativity for Chrissy Antenucci, who named The Wheel after a Grateful Dead song. A former personal chef with stints in restaurants in Manhattan and San Francisco, Antenucci transforms simple ingredients into an artform. The menu includes sandwiches on foccacia, entrees like spinach cannelloni or lasagna and pizza — all homemade.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Joe’s Pizza Napoli
507 Chamber Drive, Milford
When you walk into Joe’s Pizza Napoli, your eyes are immediately drawn to the massive tiled pizza oven, which owner Joe Nunner chose to have built in the semblance of Mount Vesuvius. The characteristics of Neapolitan pizza include hand-crushed San Marzano tomatoes; mozzarella cheese; a dough comprised of water, fresh yeast, flour (Caputo, a very fine 00 grit in this case); and salt. Along with his masterful pizzas (both red and white varieties), there are green salads, calzones, meatballs and cannelloni. Everything is made fresh every day and Nunner is proud not to have a freezer or a microwave anywhere in the kitchen.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Joe’s Pizza Napoli

507 Chamber Drive, Milford
When you walk into Joe’s Pizza Napoli, your eyes are immediately drawn to the massive tiled pizza oven, which owner Joe Nunner chose to have built in the semblance of Mount Vesuvius. The characteristics of Neapolitan pizza include hand-crushed San Marzano tomatoes; mozzarella cheese; a dough comprised of water, fresh yeast, flour (Caputo, a very fine 00 grit in this case); and salt. Along with his masterful pizzas (both red and white varieties), there are green salads, calzones, meatballs and cannelloni. Everything is made fresh every day and Nunner is proud not to have a freezer or a microwave anywhere in the kitchen.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
BrewRiver Creole Kitchen
4632 Eastern Ave., Linwood
The atmosphere and cuisine at BrewRiver Creole Kitchen brings the spirit of the New Orleans to Cincinnati in a stately 150-year-old building on Eastern Avenue (the former home of Bella Luna). Chef Michael Shields, who earned his chops under Emeril Lagasse, has maintained the favorites from the restaurant’s former iteration as BrewRiver GastroPub and added new items to the menu — broiled oysters, fried green tomatoes with a pecan cornmeal crust and bananas foster bread pudding for dessert. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

BrewRiver Creole Kitchen

4632 Eastern Ave., Linwood
The atmosphere and cuisine at BrewRiver Creole Kitchen brings the spirit of the New Orleans to Cincinnati in a stately 150-year-old building on Eastern Avenue (the former home of Bella Luna). Chef Michael Shields, who earned his chops under Emeril Lagasse, has maintained the favorites from the restaurant’s former iteration as BrewRiver GastroPub and added new items to the menu — broiled oysters, fried green tomatoes with a pecan cornmeal crust and bananas foster bread pudding for dessert.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
The Birch in Terrace Park
702 Indian Hill Road, Terrace Park
When you come to The Birch, you’ll be greeted with great food, hip decor, music and bocce ball on their outdoor patio. The menu consists of light and fresh options complemented by a wide selection of wine and local brews (the amount of wines by the glass and bottle possibly outnumber the food options). Most dishes are easily shareable, like the charcuterie & cheese board and bacon-wrapped grilled brie on a baguette — a perfect place to hangout with friends.
Photo: Facebook.com/TheBirchTP

The Birch in Terrace Park

702 Indian Hill Road, Terrace Park
When you come to The Birch, you’ll be greeted with great food, hip decor, music and bocce ball on their outdoor patio. The menu consists of light and fresh options complemented by a wide selection of wine and local brews (the amount of wines by the glass and bottle possibly outnumber the food options). Most dishes are easily shareable, like the charcuterie & cheese board and bacon-wrapped grilled brie on a baguette — a perfect place to hangout with friends.
Photo: Facebook.com/TheBirchTP
Delwood
3204 Linwood Ave., Mount Lookout
Nestled at the intersection of Delta and Linwood avenues in Mount Lookout Square, Delwood is a family and dog-friendly neighborhood eatery. Inspired by Latin American cuisine, the small space turns out dishes with flair like the El Jefe Double Burger with salsa criolla, avocado and Peruvian huancaina sauce. There are also fries, tostones and chicken nuggets with spicy aji amarillo Peruvian pepper sauce. Keep an eye on the drink menu for an equally transportive experience with options running the gamut from a caipirinha and pisco sour to a paloma.
Photo: Brittany Thornton

Delwood

3204 Linwood Ave., Mount Lookout
Nestled at the intersection of Delta and Linwood avenues in Mount Lookout Square, Delwood is a family and dog-friendly neighborhood eatery. Inspired by Latin American cuisine, the small space turns out dishes with flair like the El Jefe Double Burger with salsa criolla, avocado and Peruvian huancaina sauce. There are also fries, tostones and chicken nuggets with spicy aji amarillo Peruvian pepper sauce. Keep an eye on the drink menu for an equally transportive experience with options running the gamut from a caipirinha and pisco sour to a paloma.
Photo: Brittany Thornton
Gordo’s Pub & Grill
4328 Montgomery Road, Norwood
What’s not to love about a pub with more than 100 microbrews and incredible gourmet burgers? Their two standbys are the Jean-Robert, with grape compote and goat and blue cheese, and the Korean, with a fried egg, kimchi, pork belly, Pepper Jack cheese and Sriracha mayo. A Xavier hangout. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Gordo’s Pub & Grill

4328 Montgomery Road, Norwood
What’s not to love about a pub with more than 100 microbrews and incredible gourmet burgers? Their two standbys are the Jean-Robert, with grape compote and goat and blue cheese, and the Korean, with a fried egg, kimchi, pork belly, Pepper Jack cheese and Sriracha mayo. A Xavier hangout.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
La Torta Loca
7101 Dixie Highway, Florence
La Torta Loca is a charming little Mexican eatery tucked in a Florence strip mall that packs in as much flavor as it does passion for its craft. The restaurant melds together the flavors from Cruz's and Presti's native countries, Mexico and Venezuela. The street-food-style menu ranges from tacos to empanadas and quesadillas to patacones, arepas and more. But the real star of the menu is their generous offering of tortas.
Photo: facebook.com/saigonnoodlebarcincinnati

La Torta Loca

7101 Dixie Highway, Florence
La Torta Loca is a charming little Mexican eatery tucked in a Florence strip mall that packs in as much flavor as it does passion for its craft. The restaurant melds together the flavors from Cruz's and Presti's native countries, Mexico and Venezuela. The street-food-style menu ranges from tacos to empanadas and quesadillas to patacones, arepas and more. But the real star of the menu is their generous offering of tortas.
Photo: facebook.com/saigonnoodlebarcincinnati
Saigon Subs & Rolls
151 W. Fourth St., Downtown
The refreshingly minimal Saigon Subs & Rolls is an underrated and often overlooked Vietnamese destination that serves some of the best tofu in town. Their banh mi sandwiches are a true work of art; between slices of baguette smeared in creamy homemade butter sit pickled carrots and daikon and your choice of seasoned grilled beef or chicken.
Photo: Facebook.com/SaigonSubsandRolls

Saigon Subs & Rolls

151 W. Fourth St., Downtown
The refreshingly minimal Saigon Subs & Rolls is an underrated and often overlooked Vietnamese destination that serves some of the best tofu in town. Their banh mi sandwiches are a true work of art; between slices of baguette smeared in creamy homemade butter sit pickled carrots and daikon and your choice of seasoned grilled beef or chicken.
Photo: Facebook.com/SaigonSubsandRolls