September 02, 2022

30 Iconic Cincinnati Restaurants to Take Out-of-Towners

From classic staples like Skyline and LaRosa's to newer 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 Diner or a traditional breakfast from Sleepy Bee. Later, either make the obligatory chili run to Camp Washington Chili or grab some tacos at Mazunte or Gomez — the Cincy-exclusive possibilities are endless.
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Arnold's Bar & Grill
210 E. Eighth St., Downtown
Downtown's Arnold's Bar & Grill is renowned for being the oldest continuously operating drinking destination in Cincinnati — one of the oldest in America, in fact, at 160 years. There's the infamous Arnold's bathtub, reportedly used to make bootleg gin during Prohibition. There is even a rumor that this bar filled with spirits (as in alcohol) and other sorts of spirits (as in dead people).
Photo: Maggy McDonel

Arnold's Bar & Grill

210 E. Eighth St., Downtown
Downtown's Arnold's Bar & Grill is renowned for being the oldest continuously operating drinking destination in Cincinnati — one of the oldest in America, in fact, at 160 years. There's the infamous Arnold's bathtub, reportedly used to make bootleg gin during Prohibition. There is even a rumor that this bar filled with spirits (as in alcohol) and other sorts of spirits (as in dead people).
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 also offers many chili-free options, including burgers, grilled chicken, hot dogs, fries, coleslaw and salad.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

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 also offers many chili-free options, including burgers, grilled chicken, hot dogs, fries, coleslaw and salad.
Zip's Cafe
1036 Delta Ave., Mt. Lookout
Zip’s Cafe has been open since 1926 and is known for its Zip Burger, named the best in Ohio by Food & Wine. They also have other menu items, including “famous chili” and a classic grilled cheese. With worn wood flooring and dark wood paneling, the small space is separated into a dining area and a bar by a saloon-style door with a model train circling above. Head to the back bar for a local beer on draft while you wait for space at a booth or a seat at one of the shared family-style tables.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Zip's Cafe

1036 Delta Ave., Mt. Lookout
Zip’s Cafe has been open since 1926 and is known for its Zip Burger, named the best in Ohio by Food & Wine. They also have other menu items, including “famous chili” and a classic grilled cheese. With worn wood flooring and dark wood paneling, the small space is separated into a dining area and a bar by a saloon-style door with a model train circling above. Head to the back bar for a local beer on draft while you wait for space at a booth or a seat at one of the shared family-style tables.
Pho Lang Thang
1828 Race St., Over-the-Rhine
Cincinnati Vietnamese eatery Pho Lang Thang opened their new location across the street from Findlay Market in the fall of 2019. Order from a wide variety of pho options, ranging from brisket and meatballs (nam, bo vien) to vegan mushroom pho or tendon and tripe (gan, sach). Grab a Lang Thang Vietnamese Coffee hot and iced.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Pho Lang Thang

1828 Race St., Over-the-Rhine
Cincinnati Vietnamese eatery Pho Lang Thang opened their new location across the street from Findlay Market in the fall of 2019. Order from a wide variety of pho options, ranging from brisket and meatballs (nam, bo vien) to vegan mushroom pho or tendon and tripe (gan, sach). Grab a Lang Thang Vietnamese Coffee hot and iced.
Sotto
118 E. Sixth St., Downtown
Sotto is the perfect place for a romantic Italian meal or a night out with friends. The basement trattoria is one of hottest places in town to grab homemade pasta and a classic cocktail. Be sure to reserve a table in advance, or snag a seat at their bar. Ask for a table with a view of the kitchen to get a front-row seat to all of the behind-the-scenes action.

Sotto

118 E. Sixth St., Downtown
Sotto is the perfect place for a romantic Italian meal or a night out with friends. The basement trattoria is one of hottest places in town to grab homemade pasta and a classic cocktail. Be sure to reserve a table in advance, or snag a seat at their bar. Ask for a table with a view of the kitchen to get a front-row seat to all of the behind-the-scenes action.
Pearlstar
1220 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine
Oyster bar Pearlstar opened in September of 2021, offering both East and West Coast oysters and other raw delicacies including crudo, coctel and tartare. The kitchen also features a wood-burning grill to create (non-raw) burgers, steak and fries plus seasonal fish. The bar pours martinis, frozen drinks and beer on tap. They also now offer a brunch with many of their raw offerings plus breakfast favorites like steak and eggs and an egg tostada.
Photo: Catie Vox

Pearlstar

1220 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine
Oyster bar Pearlstar opened in September of 2021, offering both East and West Coast oysters and other raw delicacies including crudo, coctel and tartare. The kitchen also features a wood-burning grill to create (non-raw) burgers, steak and fries plus seasonal fish. The bar pours martinis, frozen drinks and beer on tap. They also now offer a brunch with many of their raw offerings plus breakfast favorites like steak and eggs and an egg tostada.
Sleepy Bee Cafe
3098 Madison Road, Oakley; 9514 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash; 8 E. Fourth St., Downtown; 5920 Hamilton Ave., College Hill
Serving locally sourced food for breakfast, brunch and lunch, Sleepy Bee Cafe offers both dine-in and carry-out options.  Popular items include the Queen City Bee, which is a breakfast sandwich with goetta, apple, arugula, broken yolk egg and “nectar” sauce on a milk bun, and The Worker Bee, which is two eggs of any style, your choice of bacon, sausage and goetta or vegan goetta.  Other items include different salads, sandwiches and soups plus delicious fluffy pancakes.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Sleepy Bee Cafe

3098 Madison Road, Oakley; 9514 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash; 8 E. Fourth St., Downtown; 5920 Hamilton Ave., College Hill
Serving locally sourced food for breakfast, brunch and lunch, Sleepy Bee Cafe offers both dine-in and carry-out options. Popular items include the Queen City Bee, which is a breakfast sandwich with goetta, apple, arugula, broken yolk egg and “nectar” sauce on a milk bun, and The Worker Bee, which is two eggs of any style, your choice of bacon, sausage and goetta or vegan goetta. Other items include different salads, sandwiches and soups plus delicious fluffy pancakes.
Brown Bear Bakery
116 E. 13th St., Over-the-Rhine
Brown Bear Bakery first started in 2012 and has become increasingly popular every year. It grew from just a table with some pastries to a full retail bakery, featuring a variety of desserts. Lines can be long, sometimes out the door, but getting to try popular items like the Everything Bagel croissant is worth any wait. Their doors open at 9 a.m., and it's best to get there early.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Brown Bear Bakery

116 E. 13th St., Over-the-Rhine
Brown Bear Bakery first started in 2012 and has become increasingly popular every year. It grew from just a table with some pastries to a full retail bakery, featuring a variety of desserts. Lines can be long, sometimes out the door, but getting to try popular items like the Everything Bagel croissant is worth any wait. Their doors open at 9 a.m., and it's best to get there early.
Eli’s BBQ
3313 Riverside Drive, East End; 133 W Elder St., Findlay Market
Eli's BBQ is well known for hickory-smoked barbecue and signature barbecue sauce. While the inside of the original East End location is definitely considered tiny, there is plenty of outdoor seating and Southern hospitality. The no-frills affair specializes in meats, pulled and smoked and served in a red plastic basket.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Eli’s BBQ

3313 Riverside Drive, East End; 133 W Elder St., Findlay Market
Eli's BBQ is well known for hickory-smoked barbecue and signature barbecue sauce. While the inside of the original East End location is definitely considered tiny, there is plenty of outdoor seating and Southern hospitality. The no-frills affair specializes in meats, pulled and smoked and served in a red plastic basket.
Libby's Southern Comfort
35 W. Eighth St., Covington
This Covington eatery pays tribute to Southern classics like fried chicken and half-shell oysters served alongside a variety of bourbon drinks and other local favorites. The atmosphere is hip, with plenty of opportunities to share a dish with your sweetheart. Brunch is served on Sundays and offers up Southern breakfast favorites like chicken and waffles and their take on a Kentucky Brown. Order anything with a side of home fries and a mimosa.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Libby's Southern Comfort

35 W. Eighth St., Covington
This Covington eatery pays tribute to Southern classics like fried chicken and half-shell oysters served alongside a variety of bourbon drinks and other local favorites. The atmosphere is hip, with plenty of opportunities to share a dish with your sweetheart. Brunch is served on Sundays and offers up Southern breakfast favorites like chicken and waffles and their take on a Kentucky Brown. Order anything with a side of home fries and a mimosa.