29 Iconic Cincinnati Restaurants to Take Out-of-Towners

From classic staples like Skyline and LaRosa's to new favorites such as Pearlstar and Pho Lang Thang, the Queen City has many unique dining options to delight outsiders. If you have guests visiting, you can start off the day with Holtman's donuts, wispy thin pancakes from Sugar n' Spice or a traditional breakfast from Sleepy Bee. Later, either make the obligatory chili run to Camp Washington Chili or grab some tacos at Bakersfield or Gomez. The Cincy-exclusive possibilities are endless.
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Camp Washington Chili
3005 Colerain Ave., Camp Washington
Named one of the “10 Best Restaurants in Cincinnati” by USA Today, there’s no question as to why Camp Washington Chili has been operating since 1940. It is good eats! Despite having ‘chili’ in the name, this establishment offers many chili-free options, including burgers, grilled chicken, hot dogs, fries, coleslaw and salad.
Photo: Jesse Fox

Camp Washington Chili

3005 Colerain Ave., Camp Washington
Named one of the “10 Best Restaurants in Cincinnati” by USA Today, there’s no question as to why Camp Washington Chili has been operating since 1940. It is good eats! Despite having ‘chili’ in the name, this establishment offers many chili-free options, including burgers, grilled chicken, hot dogs, fries, coleslaw and salad.
Photo: Jesse Fox
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Zip’s Cafe
1036 Delta Ave., Mt. Lookout
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., Mt. Lookout
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
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Pho Lang Thang
1828 Race St., Over-the-Rhine
Pho Lang Thang has been serving excellent Vietnamese eats since opening in Findlay Market in 2011. After relocating to a larger storefront right nearby the original, the restaurant now offers a 14-seater bar with Asian-inspired cocktails. The food menu features everything from pho to bahn mi to bun thit nuong (lemongrass grilled pork). For a pick-me-up, try some delicious Vietnamese-style iced coffee made with condensed milk. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Pho Lang Thang

1828 Race St., Over-the-Rhine
Pho Lang Thang has been serving excellent Vietnamese eats since opening in Findlay Market in 2011. After relocating to a larger storefront right nearby the original, the restaurant now offers a 14-seater bar with Asian-inspired cocktails. The food menu features everything from pho to bahn mi to bun thit nuong (lemongrass grilled pork). For a pick-me-up, try some delicious Vietnamese-style iced coffee made with condensed milk.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
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Sotto
118 E. Sixth St., Downtown
Sotto is Cincinnati's hidden basement trattoria — a below-street-level Italian eatery, nestled underneath sister restaurant Boca on Sixth Street downtown. It’s a hot-spot for diners celebrating a special occasion or simply looking for some excellent pasta. With multiple dining rooms, the kitchen is open to view, including the custom-made woodfire grill in front and a fresh-pasta room in the back hallway. Menu items include handmade pasta and big-ticket items like breaded pork loin with daily sides. Sotto sources their bread from Blue Oven, making a bread plate or bruschetta a must-have.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Sotto

118 E. Sixth St., Downtown
Sotto is Cincinnati's hidden basement trattoria — a below-street-level Italian eatery, nestled underneath sister restaurant Boca on Sixth Street downtown. It’s a hot-spot for diners celebrating a special occasion or simply looking for some excellent pasta. With multiple dining rooms, the kitchen is open to view, including the custom-made woodfire grill in front and a fresh-pasta room in the back hallway. Menu items include handmade pasta and big-ticket items like breaded pork loin with daily sides. Sotto sources their bread from Blue Oven, making a bread plate or bruschetta a must-have.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
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Sleepy Bee Cafe
8 E. Fourth St., Downtown; 3098 Madison Road, Oakley; 9514 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash
If you’re trying to schedule a group brunch with your vegan cousin, your neatnik aunt and your meat-and-potatoes husband, casually suggest Sleepy Bee and become the family favorite overnight. With a focus on local non-GMO foods and bee-friendly practices, this bright, cozy space has all the classics, like omelets, pancakes and bacon, and it also has some dressed-up options if you want to step outside the box: a tofu scramble, vegan goetta, and ginger coconut sweet potato soup.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Sleepy Bee Cafe

8 E. Fourth St., Downtown; 3098 Madison Road, Oakley; 9514 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash
If you’re trying to schedule a group brunch with your vegan cousin, your neatnik aunt and your meat-and-potatoes husband, casually suggest Sleepy Bee and become the family favorite overnight. With a focus on local non-GMO foods and bee-friendly practices, this bright, cozy space has all the classics, like omelets, pancakes and bacon, and it also has some dressed-up options if you want to step outside the box: a tofu scramble, vegan goetta, and ginger coconut sweet potato soup.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
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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
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Brown Bear Bakery
116 E. 13th St., Over-the-Rhine
Cincinnati pastry artist Blair Fornshell uses all-natural ingredients to create so-beautiful-you-almost-feel-bad-about-eating-them desserts, such as salty chocolate chip cookies, gooey cinnamon rolls and a variety of rotating seasonal baked goods like their Matchadoodle cookie. The OTR bakery and café space is the perfect blend of old and new and has a very Lower Manhattan vibe. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Brown Bear Bakery

116 E. 13th St., Over-the-Rhine
Cincinnati pastry artist Blair Fornshell uses all-natural ingredients to create so-beautiful-you-almost-feel-bad-about-eating-them desserts, such as salty chocolate chip cookies, gooey cinnamon rolls and a variety of rotating seasonal baked goods like their Matchadoodle cookie. The OTR bakery and café space is the perfect blend of old and new and has a very Lower Manhattan vibe.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
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The Rhined
1737 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine
The Rhined is a little cheese shop located across from Findlay Market. It’s great for grab-and-go goodies, but also features indoor seats and a seasonal outdoor patio. Guests can choose from assorted cheese board options or from a variety of snacks, including a sandwich menu. And the lovely staff can not only recommend a particular cheese based on your preferences, but a perfect wine pairing, too. Check their social media for specials, like Raclette nights. You won’t be disappointed.
Photo via Facebook.com/TheRhined

The Rhined

1737 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine
The Rhined is a little cheese shop located across from Findlay Market. It’s great for grab-and-go goodies, but also features indoor seats and a seasonal outdoor patio. Guests can choose from assorted cheese board options or from a variety of snacks, including a sandwich menu. And the lovely staff can not only recommend a particular cheese based on your preferences, but a perfect wine pairing, too. Check their social media for specials, like Raclette nights. You won’t be disappointed.
Photo via Facebook.com/TheRhined
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Goodfellas Pizzeria
603 Main St., Covington; 1211 Main St., Over-the-Rhine; 6099 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge
Goodfellas makes their dough fresh every morning and their sauce in-house. If you’re headed there for a late-night slice or for lunch, be prepared for quite a line, but you’ll be glad you put in the time. While you wait, watch as the pizzaiolos spin dough saucers high into the air. The slices are New York-style and as big as your face. They also offer subs, calzones and a multitude of dipping sauces. Wiseguy Lounge, a bourbon bar with over 400 bourbons, specialty cocktails and draft beer awaits each location. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Goodfellas Pizzeria

603 Main St., Covington; 1211 Main St., Over-the-Rhine; 6099 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge
Goodfellas makes their dough fresh every morning and their sauce in-house. If you’re headed there for a late-night slice or for lunch, be prepared for quite a line, but you’ll be glad you put in the time. While you wait, watch as the pizzaiolos spin dough saucers high into the air. The slices are New York-style and as big as your face. They also offer subs, calzones and a multitude of dipping sauces. Wiseguy Lounge, a bourbon bar with over 400 bourbons, specialty cocktails and draft beer awaits each location.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
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Sugar n’ Spice
4381 Reading Road, Paddock Hills; 1203 Sycamore St., Over-the-Rhine
Huge, fluffy omelets and “wispy-thin” pancakes have made Sugar n’ Spice a bona fide breakfast institution for over 75 years. One of the city’s most popular places for people of all ages and backgrounds to dine and socialize, the original Paddock Hills location got a sister spot in Over-the-Rhine when the owners renovated an old diner with their signature colorful and vintage flair. They are famous for giving patrons little rubber ducks as a souvenir. It’s a charming quirk that keeps people coming back. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Sugar n’ Spice

4381 Reading Road, Paddock Hills; 1203 Sycamore St., Over-the-Rhine
Huge, fluffy omelets and “wispy-thin” pancakes have made Sugar n’ Spice a bona fide breakfast institution for over 75 years. One of the city’s most popular places for people of all ages and backgrounds to dine and socialize, the original Paddock Hills location got a sister spot in Over-the-Rhine when the owners renovated an old diner with their signature colorful and vintage flair. They are famous for giving patrons little rubber ducks as a souvenir. It’s a charming quirk that keeps people coming back.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
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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
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Gomez
107 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine; 2437 Gilbert Ave., Walnut Hills
Gomez’s walk-up taco window in OTR and main restaurant in Walnut Hills have it all: fish tacos with Baja sauce, chips with pineapple salsa, taco salad bowls and owner Andrew Gomez’s greatest invention, the Turtle Shell. Take a tortilla, stuff it with rice, beans, sour cream, lettuce, salsa, meat, veggies and cheese, layer in a tostado for crunch, put some cheese on the top and then brown it. It’s a fat little crunchy burrito envelope, a true walking taco.
Photo: Lindsay McCarty

Gomez

107 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine; 2437 Gilbert Ave., Walnut Hills
Gomez’s walk-up taco window in OTR and main restaurant in Walnut Hills have it all: fish tacos with Baja sauce, chips with pineapple salsa, taco salad bowls and owner Andrew Gomez’s greatest invention, the Turtle Shell. Take a tortilla, stuff it with rice, beans, sour cream, lettuce, salsa, meat, veggies and cheese, layer in a tostado for crunch, put some cheese on the top and then brown it. It’s a fat little crunchy burrito envelope, a true walking taco.
Photo: Lindsay McCarty
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Taste of Belgium
Multiple locations including 16 West Freedom Way, Downtown; 1135 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine
Taste of Belgium has been expanding its operations since its first waffle was pulled from a cast-iron waffle-press at Findlay Market in 2007, opening multiple brick-and-mortar bistros since. Along with its locally famous sweet, sturdy and caramelized Belgian waffles, the brunch offerings have piloted the restaurant’s rapid ascent. In addition to staples like a strawberries-and-cream-topped waffle or a savory buckwheat galette, they also offer dishes like the Brunch Burger (burger, egg, bacon, havarti, Ohio maple syrup, served on a waffle) and the McWaffle (like the Brunch Burger minus the burger part).
Photo: Brittany Thornton

Taste of Belgium

Multiple locations including 16 West Freedom Way, Downtown; 1135 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine
Taste of Belgium has been expanding its operations since its first waffle was pulled from a cast-iron waffle-press at Findlay Market in 2007, opening multiple brick-and-mortar bistros since. Along with its locally famous sweet, sturdy and caramelized Belgian waffles, the brunch offerings have piloted the restaurant’s rapid ascent. In addition to staples like a strawberries-and-cream-topped waffle or a savory buckwheat galette, they also offer dishes like the Brunch Burger (burger, egg, bacon, havarti, Ohio maple syrup, served on a waffle) and the McWaffle (like the Brunch Burger minus the burger part).
Photo: Brittany Thornton
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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: Hailey Bollinger

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: Hailey Bollinger
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Incline Public House
2601 W. Eighth St., Price Hill
With a 1,400-square-foot deck for soaking in vistas and cocktails, IPH’s name is derived from the actual Cincinnati Incline that existed there from the late 1800s to the 1940s. Their upscale twist on pub food features sandwiches, salads, epicurean appetizers and a slew of craft cocktails and draft beers. Build your own pizza with toppings ranging from pepperoni and prosciutto to fried egg and sun-dried tomatoes.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Incline Public House

2601 W. Eighth St., Price Hill
With a 1,400-square-foot deck for soaking in vistas and cocktails, IPH’s name is derived from the actual Cincinnati Incline that existed there from the late 1800s to the 1940s. Their upscale twist on pub food features sandwiches, salads, epicurean appetizers and a slew of craft cocktails and draft beers. Build your own pizza with toppings ranging from pepperoni and prosciutto to fried egg and sun-dried tomatoes.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
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Eli’s BBQ
133 W Elder St., Findlay Market; 3313 Riverside Drive, East End
With multiple locations (including two brick-and-mortars and hubs inside of Kroger), Eli’s BBQ can be found across Greater Cincinnati. While Eli's is well known for hickory-smoked barbecue and signature barbecue sauce, the restaurant offers an allergy and dietary chart for those who are gluten-free, vegetarian or have common food allergies. Anyone is able to find something they can eat at Eli’s, making their experience one-of-a-kind. 
Photo: Facebook.com/Eli’sBBQ

Eli’s BBQ

133 W Elder St., Findlay Market; 3313 Riverside Drive, East End
With multiple locations (including two brick-and-mortars and hubs inside of Kroger), Eli’s BBQ can be found across Greater Cincinnati. While Eli's is well known for hickory-smoked barbecue and signature barbecue sauce, the restaurant offers an allergy and dietary chart for those who are gluten-free, vegetarian or have common food allergies. Anyone is able to find something they can eat at Eli’s, making their experience one-of-a-kind.
Photo: Facebook.com/Eli’sBBQ
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Pearlstar
1220 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine
Brand new oyster bar Pearlstar opened in September, offering both East and West Coast oysters and other raw delicacies including crudo, ceviche and tartare. The kitchen — overseen by former Senate executive Chef Leroy Ansley — also features a wood-burning grill to create (non-raw) burgers and steak sandwiches. The bar pours “old-school martinis, frozen drinks and Lone Star Beer on tap." This is a great place to show out-of-towners that Cincinnati does have some class 
Photo: Catie Vox

Pearlstar

1220 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine
Brand new oyster bar Pearlstar opened in September, offering both East and West Coast oysters and other raw delicacies including crudo, ceviche and tartare. The kitchen — overseen by former Senate executive Chef Leroy Ansley — also features a wood-burning grill to create (non-raw) burgers and steak sandwiches. The bar pours “old-school martinis, frozen drinks and Lone Star Beer on tap." This is a great place to show out-of-towners that Cincinnati does have some class
Photo: Catie Vox
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The Eagle OTR
1342 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine
The Eagle is nested inside a retired post office and has a relatively small menu, comprised of fried chicken, sandwiches, snacks and several side dishes. Booze-wise, they serve tons of beer and cocktails made from scratch. The fried chicken is free-range, all natural and sourced from Ohio farms. Opt for a whole, half chicken (white and dark meat) or a quarter of a chicken (select white or dark). The brown sugar bacon is a must.
Photo: Facebook.com/TheEagleOTR

The Eagle OTR

1342 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine
The Eagle is nested inside a retired post office and has a relatively small menu, comprised of fried chicken, sandwiches, snacks and several side dishes. Booze-wise, they serve tons of beer and cocktails made from scratch. The fried chicken is free-range, all natural and sourced from Ohio farms. Opt for a whole, half chicken (white and dark meat) or a quarter of a chicken (select white or dark). The brown sugar bacon is a must.
Photo: Facebook.com/TheEagleOTR
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LaRosa’s
Multiple locations
Buddy LaRosa started in 1954 with only $400 dollars and his Aunt Dena’s pizza recipe. Now, in 2021, LaRosa’s is arguably the best-known pizza joint in Cincinnati. Serving pizzas, calzones, hoagies, fries, garlic bread, fried cheese sticks, salads, ravioli, spaghetti lasagna, and now hydroponically grown lettuce there is no question as to why the business has thrived for so long.  
Photo: Provided by LaRosa’s

LaRosa’s

Multiple locations
Buddy LaRosa started in 1954 with only $400 dollars and his Aunt Dena’s pizza recipe. Now, in 2021, LaRosa’s is arguably the best-known pizza joint in Cincinnati. Serving pizzas, calzones, hoagies, fries, garlic bread, fried cheese sticks, salads, ravioli, spaghetti lasagna, and now hydroponically grown lettuce there is no question as to why the business has thrived for so long.
Photo: Provided by LaRosa’s
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Libby’s Southern Comfort
35 W. Eighth St., Covington
The menu at Libby's Southern Comfort pays tribute to Southern classics with a touch of Charleston and features dishes like goetta hush puppies, oysters on the half shell and fried chicken. For brunch, try the Kentucky Breakfast Brown, made with goetta. In addition to food, Libby's serves a wide drink menu that features vintage bourbons, Cheerwine bourbon slushes and Braxton Beers, among other options.
Photo: facebook.com/libbyssoutherncomfort

Libby’s Southern Comfort

35 W. Eighth St., Covington
The menu at Libby's Southern Comfort pays tribute to Southern classics with a touch of Charleston and features dishes like goetta hush puppies, oysters on the half shell and fried chicken. For brunch, try the Kentucky Breakfast Brown, made with goetta. In addition to food, Libby's serves a wide drink menu that features vintage bourbons, Cheerwine bourbon slushes and Braxton Beers, among other options.
Photo: facebook.com/libbyssoutherncomfort
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