November 11, 2021

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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