26 of Cincinnati's Greatest Hidden Gem Restaurants You've Got to Try

While there are tons of hip new restaurants CityBeat covers, some of the best restaurants in Cincinnati are unsung heroes. They may not get tons of media attention, but these local neighborhood favorites really show what the Queen City has to offer. You won't want to miss these.
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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.

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.
Al-Madina Market and Grill
6 W. Corry St., Clifton
This grocery-plus-restaurant boasts a humble yet comprehensive selection of Middle Eastern staples alongside its open kitchen. The chicken shawarma is lauded by savvy students from nearby University of Cincinnati's campus. Paired with the spicy garlic potato side dish, this chicken shawarma is a formidably flavorful meal.
Photo: Paige Deglow

Al-Madina Market and Grill

6 W. Corry St., Clifton
This grocery-plus-restaurant boasts a humble yet comprehensive selection of Middle Eastern staples alongside its open kitchen. The chicken shawarma is lauded by savvy students from nearby University of Cincinnati's campus. Paired with the spicy garlic potato side dish, this chicken shawarma is a formidably flavorful meal.
The Pony OTR
1346 Main St., Over-the Rhine
By the looks of it, you'd think The Pony has been around for decades with its honeycomb tile floors, low-hanging green bar lamps and a glowing neon sign luring you in for an old-fashioned. Turns out the excellently comfortable dive-bar decor is the machination of hipsters, and we're not at all mad about it. Cocktails include the Pony Express, grape vodka, blue curacao, lemonade and grenadine, or the Old Work House with bourbon, strawberry-rhubarb syrup and black walnut bitters. For food, they serve up what you'd typically find at a bar but turned up a notch. From burgers to roast beef sandwiches to chicken wing dip, everything is delicious. Great place to watch the game and escape the summer heat.

The Pony OTR

1346 Main St., Over-the Rhine
By the looks of it, you'd think The Pony has been around for decades with its honeycomb tile floors, low-hanging green bar lamps and a glowing neon sign luring you in for an old-fashioned. Turns out the excellently comfortable dive-bar decor is the machination of hipsters, and we're not at all mad about it. Cocktails include the Pony Express, grape vodka, blue curacao, lemonade and grenadine, or the Old Work House with bourbon, strawberry-rhubarb syrup and black walnut bitters. For food, they serve up what you'd typically find at a bar but turned up a notch. From burgers to roast beef sandwiches to chicken wing dip, everything is delicious. Great place to watch the game and escape the summer heat.
Bridges Nepali Cuisine
4165 Hamilton Ave., Northside;  6304 Vine St., Elmwood (opening soon)
The restaurant name "Bridges" encourages diners to use food as a means of connecting to new cultures. owner Ashak Chipalu creates Nepalese food using his mother's recipes. The dishes are rich with spices — ginger, garlic, cumin, chili pepper and cilantro — that elevate the simple ingredients like chicken, potato, lentils and cauliflower. In addition to its bowls and curries, it's known for its unique and wide-ranging samosa selection, as well as momos aka Nepalese dumplings. In April, Bridges Nepali announced it would be opening a new location in Elmwood. No opening date has been set.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Bridges Nepali Cuisine

4165 Hamilton Ave., Northside; 6304 Vine St., Elmwood (opening soon)
The restaurant name "Bridges" encourages diners to use food as a means of connecting to new cultures. owner Ashak Chipalu creates Nepalese food using his mother's recipes. The dishes are rich with spices — ginger, garlic, cumin, chili pepper and cilantro — that elevate the simple ingredients like chicken, potato, lentils and cauliflower. In addition to its bowls and curries, it's known for its unique and wide-ranging samosa selection, as well as momos aka Nepalese dumplings. In April, Bridges Nepali announced it would be opening a new location in Elmwood. No opening date has been set.
Teranga Restaurant
8438 Vine St., Hartwell
This African-American fusion restaurant offers a diverse and affordable menu. Find inexpensive meals like the Senegalese Senburger or full dinners like grilled tilapia and Jamaican oxtail with rice and peas. It’s a great place to try West African dishes such as Michoui Gigot (stuffed lamb leg with onion sauce). Sides range from couscous and French fries to fufu and attiéké.

Teranga Restaurant

8438 Vine St., Hartwell
This African-American fusion restaurant offers a diverse and affordable menu. Find inexpensive meals like the Senegalese Senburger or full dinners like grilled tilapia and Jamaican oxtail with rice and peas. It’s a great place to try West African dishes such as Michoui Gigot (stuffed lamb leg with onion sauce). Sides range from couscous and French fries to fufu and attiéké.
Thai Express
213 W McMillan St., Clifton
This little gem brings authentic Thai cooking and culture to Cincinnati. Located in Clifton, Thai Express has been fueling students and professionals for decades. Their signature Pad Thai dish is a favorite among many, but do not be fooled; the number of delicious traditional dishes span way beyond that.
Photo: Paige Deglow

Thai Express

213 W McMillan St., Clifton
This little gem brings authentic Thai cooking and culture to Cincinnati. Located in Clifton, Thai Express has been fueling students and professionals for decades. Their signature Pad Thai dish is a favorite among many, but do not be fooled; the number of delicious traditional dishes span way beyond that.
Wunderbar
1132 Lee St., Covington
Wunderbar is truly 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.

Wunderbar

1132 Lee St., Covington
Wunderbar is truly 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.
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, a veggie burger and chicken tenders 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. The dining room is small so you may have to wait for a table, but it is absolutely worth it.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

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, a veggie burger and chicken tenders 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. The dining room is small so you may have to wait for a table, but it is absolutely worth it.
La Mexicana
642 Monmouth St., Newport  
No-frills in décor or any websites, but all serious with the cuisine, La Mexicana is deemed to be one of the most authentic Mexican restaurants in the area. From asada to bistec to milanesa, they've got the meats, but they also serve up a host of veggie options.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

La Mexicana

642 Monmouth St., Newport
No-frills in décor or any websites, but all serious with the cuisine, La Mexicana is deemed to be one of the most authentic Mexican restaurants in the area. From asada to bistec to milanesa, they've got the meats, but they also serve up a host of veggie options.
The Hi-Mark
3229 Riverside Dr., East End
Located in a renovated 1866 building in the East End, The Hi-Mark is truly a great neighborhood bar that serves up some delicious food. From the owners of Eli’s BBQ and Pho Lang Thang, this spot is just about a block and a half from Eli’s famed barbecue haven. The drinks menu focuses on craft and local beers — both on rotating taps and in bottles and cans. But the food is where it's really at. With seven different wing sauces (including Eli's barbecue sauce), pulled pork bánh mì, nacho fries, a veggie Philly and grilled cheese, there's something for everyone.
Photo: Mike Dew

The Hi-Mark

3229 Riverside Dr., East End
Located in a renovated 1866 building in the East End, The Hi-Mark is truly a great neighborhood bar that serves up some delicious food. From the owners of Eli’s BBQ and Pho Lang Thang, this spot is just about a block and a half from Eli’s famed barbecue haven. The drinks menu focuses on craft and local beers — both on rotating taps and in bottles and cans. But the food is where it's really at. With seven different wing sauces (including Eli's barbecue sauce), pulled pork bánh mì, nacho fries, a veggie Philly and grilled cheese, there's something for everyone.
Northside Yacht Club 
4231 Spring Grove Ave., Northside
While the residents of Northside may not think of this as hidden, many across the city are unaware of the delicious drink and foods that await at Northside Yacht Club. Their menu offers food for everyone with tons of gluten-free and vegan options like the cauliflower wings and vegan white bean and spinach burger. But meat-eaters don't worry, they've got tons of options for you including their double smash burger that features local favorites like patties from Avril-Bleh meat market downtown and buns from local bakery 16-Bricks. They also offer bagged cocktails and a delicious Sunday morning brunch.
Photo: Catie Viox

Northside Yacht Club

4231 Spring Grove Ave., Northside
While the residents of Northside may not think of this as hidden, many across the city are unaware of the delicious drink and foods that await at Northside Yacht Club. Their menu offers food for everyone with tons of gluten-free and vegan options like the cauliflower wings and vegan white bean and spinach burger. But meat-eaters don't worry, they've got tons of options for you including their double smash burger that features local favorites like patties from Avril-Bleh meat market downtown and buns from local bakery 16-Bricks. They also offer bagged cocktails and a delicious Sunday morning brunch.