November 17, 2021

25 of Cincinnati's Most Delicious Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurants

Cincinnati is home to hundreds of different restaurants, ranging from upscale steakhouses to mobile food trucks. We have a diverse variety of options for every kind of food mood. But we all know and appreciate the special charm that comes from a small, no-frills establishment. Sometimes family-owned and -operated and sometimes just an inexpensive grab-and-go joint, what they lack in size or ambiance, they make up for in taste. These local restaurants are essentials when you're looking for a local, laid-back dining experience.
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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 over 20 years. 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 over 20 years. 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
Yum Yum Chinese Restaurant
909 Race St., Downtown
This Chinese restaurant has served the community for over 40 years. Cincinnati’s first Sichuan-Hunan style restaurant, the eatery is owned and operated by Tom and Mei Li. Upon entering, you'll be sent back to the 1970s with wood paneling, nostalgic photographs, ephemera and a rather robust television complete with antennas sitting on the dine-in bar. The dining space in the back is more ornate, but remains in a '70s time warp. While the ambiance may seem confusing, there’s no doubt that this restaurant serves up some of the best Chinese food in the city. Note: Yum Yum is only open from 6-9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and the business hours are regarded more as a suggestion than a rule. The restaurant is also cash only.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Yum Yum Chinese Restaurant

909 Race St., Downtown
This Chinese restaurant has served the community for over 40 years. Cincinnati’s first Sichuan-Hunan style restaurant, the eatery is owned and operated by Tom and Mei Li. Upon entering, you'll be sent back to the 1970s with wood paneling, nostalgic photographs, ephemera and a rather robust television complete with antennas sitting on the dine-in bar. The dining space in the back is more ornate, but remains in a '70s time warp. While the ambiance may seem confusing, there’s no doubt that this restaurant serves up some of the best Chinese food in the city. Note: Yum Yum is only open from 6-9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and the business hours are regarded more as a suggestion than a rule. The restaurant is also cash only.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Bard’s Burgers & Chili
3620 Decoursey Ave., Latonia
This eatery is tucked in downtown Latonia, but is certainly worth the drive. Located in a former chili parlor in Latonia, Bard’s specializes in both burgers and Cincinnati-style chili (hence the name). Burgers are made with fresh, never-frozen ground chuck, infused with spices, seared on a flattop and served on a toasted bun. Their Chili Craig is a chili burger topped whatever you want; the Purist strips it down to just beef and the bun; and the The Bard-B-Q Burger comes topped bbq sauce, bacon, caramelized onions and a pickle. 
Photo: Facebook.com/Bardsburgers1

Bard’s Burgers & Chili

3620 Decoursey Ave., Latonia
This eatery is tucked in downtown Latonia, but is certainly worth the drive. Located in a former chili parlor in Latonia, Bard’s specializes in both burgers and Cincinnati-style chili (hence the name). Burgers are made with fresh, never-frozen ground chuck, infused with spices, seared on a flattop and served on a toasted bun. Their Chili Craig is a chili burger topped whatever you want; the Purist strips it down to just beef and the bun; and the The Bard-B-Q Burger comes topped bbq sauce, bacon, caramelized onions and a pickle.
Photo: Facebook.com/Bardsburgers1
Al-Madina Market & Grill
6 W. Corry St., Corryville
Situated across the street from the Corryville Kroger, Al-Madina Market & Grill boasts a humble yet comprehensive selection of Middle Eastern grocery staples alongside its open kitchen. The chicken shawarma is lauded by savvy students from nearby University of Cincinnati’s campus, where the sandwich is a natural takeaway selection for busy academics — although tables are available for those who want to dine in and appreciate the calming effects of an environment that smells like grilled meat.
Photo: Paige Deglow

Al-Madina Market & Grill

6 W. Corry St., Corryville
Situated across the street from the Corryville Kroger, Al-Madina Market & Grill boasts a humble yet comprehensive selection of Middle Eastern grocery staples alongside its open kitchen. The chicken shawarma is lauded by savvy students from nearby University of Cincinnati’s campus, where the sandwich is a natural takeaway selection for busy academics — although tables are available for those who want to dine in and appreciate the calming effects of an environment that smells like grilled meat.
Photo: Paige Deglow
Boswell’s
1686 Blue Rock St., Northside
A casual Northside townie bar and grill in a historic building that dates back to 1886. The menu features inexpensive items — soups, salads, sandwiches and burgers — with plenty of vegetarian-friendly dishes. A renovated back patio houses an al fresco bar and yard games. 
Photo: Facebook.com/BoswellsCincinnati

Boswell’s

1686 Blue Rock St., Northside
A casual Northside townie bar and grill in a historic building that dates back to 1886. The menu features inexpensive items — soups, salads, sandwiches and burgers — with plenty of vegetarian-friendly dishes. A renovated back patio houses an al fresco bar and yard games.
Photo: Facebook.com/BoswellsCincinnati
City View Tavern
403 Oregon St., Mt. Adams
City View, one of our fair city's more historic drinking establishments, doesn't have an extensive menu. The interior looks similar to many other dive bars — wood paneling and photos lining the walls. And while their menu and interior may seem no-frills, they make one hell of a burger (and bloody Mary) and have one of the best views in the city.
Photo: City View Tavern Facebook

City View Tavern

403 Oregon St., Mt. Adams
City View, one of our fair city's more historic drinking establishments, doesn't have an extensive menu. The interior looks similar to many other dive bars — wood paneling and photos lining the walls. And while their menu and interior may seem no-frills, they make one hell of a burger (and bloody Mary) and have one of the best views in the city.
Photo: City View Tavern Facebook
Wunderbar
1132 Lee St., Covington
This tiny German restaurant features a great beer selection, giant burgers made with pretzel buns, pierogies smothered in gouda sauce and bacon, an enormous pretzel with beer cheese and a humble brunch menu. The space is tight, but if you can snag a spot you will most likely enjoy some live music or karaoke along with your food or drink. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Wunderbar

1132 Lee St., Covington
This tiny German restaurant features a great beer selection, giant burgers made with pretzel buns, pierogies smothered in gouda sauce and bacon, an enormous pretzel with beer cheese and a humble brunch menu. The space is tight, but if you can snag a spot you will most likely enjoy some live music or karaoke along with your food or drink.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Kitchen Factory
1609 Chase Ave., Northside
This petite Northside pizza shop actually has a hole in the wall for people dining on the go. They offer late-night bites, pizza by the slice and cater to vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters. 
Photo: Emerson Swoger

Kitchen Factory

1609 Chase Ave., Northside
This petite Northside pizza shop actually has a hole in the wall for people dining on the go. They offer late-night bites, pizza by the slice and cater to vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters.
Photo: Emerson Swoger
Brew House
1047 E. McMillan St., Walnut Hills
A Walnut Hills institution since 1978 with funky décor, friendly people, good burgers and cheap drinks. 
Photo: Facebook.com/BrewHouseCincinnati

Brew House

1047 E. McMillan St., Walnut Hills
A Walnut Hills institution since 1978 with funky décor, friendly people, good burgers and cheap drinks.
Photo: Facebook.com/BrewHouseCincinnati
Uncle Yip’s
10736 Reading Road, Evendale
Uncle Yip’s serves authentic southern Chinese cuisine with full dim sum service during weekend brunch. Dim sum consists of small portions of food delivered in steamer baskets; dumpling dishes like shrimp dumplings, barbecue pork buns and chicken sui mai are popular (and only $3.95 each).
Photo: Facebook.com/UncleYips

Uncle Yip’s

10736 Reading Road, Evendale
Uncle Yip’s serves authentic southern Chinese cuisine with full dim sum service during weekend brunch. Dim sum consists of small portions of food delivered in steamer baskets; dumpling dishes like shrimp dumplings, barbecue pork buns and chicken sui mai are popular (and only $3.95 each).
Photo: Facebook.com/UncleYips