28 of the Hottest New Bars and Restaurants in Cincinnati Right Now

Cincinnati's dining scene has been heating up, and, judging from the number of new restaurants set to debut later this year, it shows no signs of cooling down any time soon. Dozens of restaurants have opened so far this year, from Mexican joints to a ramen spot, a new Findlay Market booth and a new Italian restaurant in Covington. Even some new nightlife locations popping up, including the city’s first gin bar and a new LGBTQ+ nightclub in place of Below Zero Lounge. Here's a taste of what folks are buzzing over this season.
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Nolia
1405 Clay St., Over-the-Rhine
Nolia opened April 19 and is Cincinnati’s newest Southern-style restaurant, serving unique dishes inspired by Chef Jeff Harris’ upbringing in New Orleans while still staying authentic to himself rather than to his hometown’s traditional cuisine. Situated in the space formerly occupied by Please (famous for its selfie-friendly bathroom and James Beard Award-winning chef) the dining environment is upscale yet approachable, offering a menu stacked with dishes like delectable smoked chicken and Alabama white sauce, cider-stewed collard greens, redfish court-bouillon and much more. All of the side dishes are vegan and, while you should not expect them to play ragtime or serve hurricane cocktails in novelty cups, their drink menu will truly laissez les bon temps rouler, non?
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Nolia

1405 Clay St., Over-the-Rhine
Nolia opened April 19 and is Cincinnati’s newest Southern-style restaurant, serving unique dishes inspired by Chef Jeff Harris’ upbringing in New Orleans while still staying authentic to himself rather than to his hometown’s traditional cuisine. Situated in the space formerly occupied by Please (famous for its selfie-friendly bathroom and James Beard Award-winning chef) the dining environment is upscale yet approachable, offering a menu stacked with dishes like delectable smoked chicken and Alabama white sauce, cider-stewed collard greens, redfish court-bouillon and much more. All of the side dishes are vegan and, while you should not expect them to play ragtime or serve hurricane cocktails in novelty cups, their drink menu will truly laissez les bon temps rouler, non?
Alcove
400-1410 Vine St. in Over-the-Rhine
MadTree Brewing has opened a multi-level Over-the-Rhine bar, restaurant and event space called Alcove. MadTree describes Alcove's main bar and restaurant as containing "a large bar, light-filled lounges, dining areas and an intimate private dining room for small groups." The space also features a "lush outdoor patio space for lounging and dining." The food menu is focused on farm-to-table dishes created by chef Stephen Williams of Bouquet Restaurant and Spoon: Kitchen and Market. The drink menu features housemade cocktails — utilizing herbs grown in that aforementioned greenhouse — and MadTree’s own brews will be on tap at the three bars located throughout. From a design standpoint, Alcove is stuffed with live greenery from Urban Blooms in every corner, creating a secret-garden-like feeling with living feature walls. In the event loft on the third floor, there's even a massive chandelier made of ferns.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Alcove

400-1410 Vine St. in Over-the-Rhine
MadTree Brewing has opened a multi-level Over-the-Rhine bar, restaurant and event space called Alcove. MadTree describes Alcove's main bar and restaurant as containing "a large bar, light-filled lounges, dining areas and an intimate private dining room for small groups." The space also features a "lush outdoor patio space for lounging and dining." The food menu is focused on farm-to-table dishes created by chef Stephen Williams of Bouquet Restaurant and Spoon: Kitchen and Market. The drink menu features housemade cocktails — utilizing herbs grown in that aforementioned greenhouse — and MadTree’s own brews will be on tap at the three bars located throughout. From a design standpoint, Alcove is stuffed with live greenery from Urban Blooms in every corner, creating a secret-garden-like feeling with living feature walls. In the event loft on the third floor, there's even a massive chandelier made of ferns.
Symposium
2835 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut
A new wine bar and cafe has entered the East Walnut Hills culinary scene, albeit with a tricky start. Symposium had a soft opening May 6 only to be closed down days later due to a leaky sink. The wine bar and cafe finally hosted its grand opening on May 11, and as co-owner J. Matt Nickels tells CityBeat in an email, the business has been going strong ever since. The space features a main dining room with a lounge known as The Nest, a private dining and event space called the Rumpus Room, an outdoor patio that currently seats 10 (weather permitting) and Symposium’s three bars. Each bar offers something different — one serves coffee, the other has drinks and the last, food. Cocktails known as “Birdtails” are delicious, imaginative and avian-inspired and include the Magpie Gin and Tonic, Macaw Mojito and Bird on a Wire espresso martini. For dinner, chef Aaron Owen offers small plates, canapés, charcuterie and cheese boards, all of which are collected as “American tapas.”
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Symposium

2835 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut
A new wine bar and cafe has entered the East Walnut Hills culinary scene, albeit with a tricky start. Symposium had a soft opening May 6 only to be closed down days later due to a leaky sink. The wine bar and cafe finally hosted its grand opening on May 11, and as co-owner J. Matt Nickels tells CityBeat in an email, the business has been going strong ever since. The space features a main dining room with a lounge known as The Nest, a private dining and event space called the Rumpus Room, an outdoor patio that currently seats 10 (weather permitting) and Symposium’s three bars. Each bar offers something different — one serves coffee, the other has drinks and the last, food. Cocktails known as “Birdtails” are delicious, imaginative and avian-inspired and include the Magpie Gin and Tonic, Macaw Mojito and Bird on a Wire espresso martini. For dinner, chef Aaron Owen offers small plates, canapés, charcuterie and cheese boards, all of which are collected as “American tapas.”
La Cantina
326 E. Eighth St., Downtown
The former Cheapside Cafe space downtown has gotten new life thanks to local Crown Restaurant Group (Crown Republic Gastropub, Losanti, Rosie’s Cocktails & Pies). It is now home to La Cantina, a restaurant offering a self-described mix of “contemporary, authentic Mexican cuisine and cocktails.” La Cantina started as a pop-up at Crown Republic Gastropub in July of last year. The menu there featured dishes including elote, Baja fish tacos and chicken mole, and the full restaurant offers similar inspiration. The cocktail program focuses on mezcal and tequila, featuring more than 50 agave-based spirits. La Cantina also carries Mexican coke, Topo Chico and horchata.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

La Cantina

326 E. Eighth St., Downtown
The former Cheapside Cafe space downtown has gotten new life thanks to local Crown Restaurant Group (Crown Republic Gastropub, Losanti, Rosie’s Cocktails & Pies). It is now home to La Cantina, a restaurant offering a self-described mix of “contemporary, authentic Mexican cuisine and cocktails.” La Cantina started as a pop-up at Crown Republic Gastropub in July of last year. The menu there featured dishes including elote, Baja fish tacos and chicken mole, and the full restaurant offers similar inspiration. The cocktail program focuses on mezcal and tequila, featuring more than 50 agave-based spirits. La Cantina also carries Mexican coke, Topo Chico and horchata.
Fifty Fifty Gin Club
39 E. 13th St., Over-the-Rhine
Over-the-Rhine just got a new bar on June 30. From the owners of HomeMakers Bar comes Fifty Fifty Gin Club. The new spot, which is Cincinnati’s first gin bar, per a release from GameDay PR, is inspired by "Barcelona gin bars,” plus long-time Cincinnati daytime television talk show host Ruth Lyons. The name comes from two sources, the martini cocktail, which is typically made with equal parts gin and vermouth — plus a Cincinnati trailblazer. Local institution Ruth Lyons, who hosted the popular talk show The 50-50 Club which ran throughout the '50s and early '60s, inspired the bar's name and some of its drinks. Spain’s classic gin and tonics are what motivated owner Julia Petiprin to bring this new bar to the Queen City. So to keep up quality and authenticity, their drinks are made with fresh ingredients like the house-made brine for martinis and fresh-squeezed juices for gimlets. If you aren't the biggest fan of gin there, will still be options for you, including other craft cocktails, beer and wine, plus locally-sourced snacks.
Photo: instagram.com/fiftyfiftyginclub

Fifty Fifty Gin Club

39 E. 13th St., Over-the-Rhine
Over-the-Rhine just got a new bar on June 30. From the owners of HomeMakers Bar comes Fifty Fifty Gin Club. The new spot, which is Cincinnati’s first gin bar, per a release from GameDay PR, is inspired by "Barcelona gin bars,” plus long-time Cincinnati daytime television talk show host Ruth Lyons. The name comes from two sources, the martini cocktail, which is typically made with equal parts gin and vermouth — plus a Cincinnati trailblazer. Local institution Ruth Lyons, who hosted the popular talk show The 50-50 Club which ran throughout the '50s and early '60s, inspired the bar's name and some of its drinks. Spain’s classic gin and tonics are what motivated owner Julia Petiprin to bring this new bar to the Queen City. So to keep up quality and authenticity, their drinks are made with fresh ingredients like the house-made brine for martinis and fresh-squeezed juices for gimlets. If you aren't the biggest fan of gin there, will still be options for you, including other craft cocktails, beer and wine, plus locally-sourced snacks.
Sen by Kiki
1801 Race St., Over-the-Rhine
Findlay Market has a brand new merchant. Sen by Kiki is a fish and seafood butcher shop “focused on sustainably and responsibly caught seafood” that opened June 30. The name Sen translates to “fresh” in Japanese, which harkens to the shop's sashimi-grade seafood (meaning it can be eaten raw) and its oysters — some of which can be enjoyed at the connected oyster bar. Sen was brought to the market by chef Hideki Harada and will act as a branch of the Japanese restaurant Kiki College Hill, which he owns with his wife Yuko.
Photo: Provided by Findlay Market

Sen by Kiki

1801 Race St., Over-the-Rhine
Findlay Market has a brand new merchant. Sen by Kiki is a fish and seafood butcher shop “focused on sustainably and responsibly caught seafood” that opened June 30. The name Sen translates to “fresh” in Japanese, which harkens to the shop's sashimi-grade seafood (meaning it can be eaten raw) and its oysters — some of which can be enjoyed at the connected oyster bar. Sen was brought to the market by chef Hideki Harada and will act as a branch of the Japanese restaurant Kiki College Hill, which he owns with his wife Yuko.
Bloom OTR
1120 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine
The former home of a beloved local LGBTQ+ institution is getting new life with the opening of Bloom OTR. The inclusive nightclub is taking over the space previously occupied by Below Zero Lounge — the nationally recognized bar that closed in April after 15 years. Bloom opened on June 24, in concert with Cincinnati's Pride weekend festivities. Emma Nurre, part owner and director of operations at Bloom, says the goal of the bar is to play off the history of the building, creating a safe space that also offers drinking, dancing and drag performances. The Bloom team has flipped the space. Where Below Zero offered weekend drag shows in the upstairs Cabaret, Bloom has renovated the first floor to open it up and accommodate a slew of weekly performances, as well as the rest of the revelry that comes with a nightclub.
Photo: Provided by Emma Nurre

Bloom OTR

1120 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine
The former home of a beloved local LGBTQ+ institution is getting new life with the opening of Bloom OTR. The inclusive nightclub is taking over the space previously occupied by Below Zero Lounge — the nationally recognized bar that closed in April after 15 years. Bloom opened on June 24, in concert with Cincinnati's Pride weekend festivities. Emma Nurre, part owner and director of operations at Bloom, says the goal of the bar is to play off the history of the building, creating a safe space that also offers drinking, dancing and drag performances. The Bloom team has flipped the space. Where Below Zero offered weekend drag shows in the upstairs Cabaret, Bloom has renovated the first floor to open it up and accommodate a slew of weekly performances, as well as the rest of the revelry that comes with a nightclub.
Mama’s
621 Main St., Covington
Covington’s Main Street — the heart of historically designated MainStrasse Village — boasts one of the best assortments of restaurants in Greater Cincinnati. A lion’s share of credit for that abundance goes to a restaurant group informally known as Otto’s Restaurant Family. MainStrasse residents Emily Wolff and Paul Weckman opened Otto’s in 2003. That was their only restaurant for more than 10 years, but since 2015 Wolff and Weckman have added popular Mexican eatery Frida and two casual spots at opposite ends of the commercial strip of Main Street: The Standard and Larry’s. And now the duo has Mama’s on Main, which opened in March, bringing traditional, pasta-oriented Italian fare to the neighborhood. If the difficulty getting a weekend reservation is any indicator, Mama’s has been a gold-plated hit right off the bat.
Photo: Catie Viox for Zest Cincy

Mama’s

621 Main St., Covington
Covington’s Main Street — the heart of historically designated MainStrasse Village — boasts one of the best assortments of restaurants in Greater Cincinnati. A lion’s share of credit for that abundance goes to a restaurant group informally known as Otto’s Restaurant Family. MainStrasse residents Emily Wolff and Paul Weckman opened Otto’s in 2003. That was their only restaurant for more than 10 years, but since 2015 Wolff and Weckman have added popular Mexican eatery Frida and two casual spots at opposite ends of the commercial strip of Main Street: The Standard and Larry’s. And now the duo has Mama’s on Main, which opened in March, bringing traditional, pasta-oriented Italian fare to the neighborhood. If the difficulty getting a weekend reservation is any indicator, Mama’s has been a gold-plated hit right off the bat.
Soul Secrets
1434 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine
Entrepreneur Candice Holloway is bringing a taste of her grandmother's cooking to Over-the-Rhine. Holloway officially opened Soul Secrets, a Southern-style comfort food eatery, on April 30. The fast-casual restaurant focuses on soul food with a menu that includes family-recipe fried chicken, fried fish, cornbread, collard greens, hoppin' John and mac and cheese, plus a selection of meat-free dishes like vegan salisbury steak and vegan pot pie. Brunch will launch this summer with items including shrimp and grits and chicken and waffles.
Photo: Catie Viox

Soul Secrets

1434 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine
Entrepreneur Candice Holloway is bringing a taste of her grandmother's cooking to Over-the-Rhine. Holloway officially opened Soul Secrets, a Southern-style comfort food eatery, on April 30. The fast-casual restaurant focuses on soul food with a menu that includes family-recipe fried chicken, fried fish, cornbread, collard greens, hoppin' John and mac and cheese, plus a selection of meat-free dishes like vegan salisbury steak and vegan pot pie. Brunch will launch this summer with items including shrimp and grits and chicken and waffles.
Mom 'n 'em Coffee & Wine 
4310 Whetsel Ave., Madisonville
Camp Washington coffeeshop Mom 'n 'em Coffee & Wine opened a second location in Madisonville on June 6. Named “Best Coffeeshop in Ohio” by Food & Wine magazine earlier this year, the popular coffee shop and wine bar shared on Facebook that they decided to expand to a new neighborhood about a year ago. In the Facebook post, the shop shared that the owners, brothers Austin and Tony Ferrari (who also run Fausto in the Contemporary Arts Center), learned about a building in Madisonville from a friend. The two went to take a look and immediately knew it would be a perfect second location for Mom 'n 'em.
Photo: facebook.com/momnemcoffee

Mom 'n 'em Coffee & Wine

4310 Whetsel Ave., Madisonville
Camp Washington coffeeshop Mom 'n 'em Coffee & Wine opened a second location in Madisonville on June 6. Named “Best Coffeeshop in Ohio” by Food & Wine magazine earlier this year, the popular coffee shop and wine bar shared on Facebook that they decided to expand to a new neighborhood about a year ago. In the Facebook post, the shop shared that the owners, brothers Austin and Tony Ferrari (who also run Fausto in the Contemporary Arts Center), learned about a building in Madisonville from a friend. The two went to take a look and immediately knew it would be a perfect second location for Mom 'n 'em.