26 Tiny Cincinnati Restaurants You Should've Visited By Now

These quaint Queen City eateries range from authentic Thai cuisine to tasty taquerias and burger joints and what they lack in size, they make up for in flavor. They may have limited seating, but it's absolutely worth the shortage of elbow room.
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Cincy Steak and Lemonade
2607 Vine St., Clifton
Cincy Steak and Lemonade offers everything from burgers and gyros to cheesesteaks and chicken sandwiches — not to mention their super colorful lemonades, with flavors ranging from rainbow to blue raspberry, and pina colada. With only a few booths in the restaurant, it’s a cozy spot for fast, casual bites.

Cincy Steak and Lemonade

2607 Vine St., Clifton
Cincy Steak and Lemonade offers everything from burgers and gyros to cheesesteaks and chicken sandwiches — not to mention their super colorful lemonades, with flavors ranging from rainbow to blue raspberry, and pina colada. With only a few booths in the restaurant, it’s a cozy spot for fast, casual bites.
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Adeep India
211 W. McMillan St., Clifton
Adeep India’s simple, cheaper take on takeout is welcome in the Clifton brotherhood of Indian restaurants. Head to the counter to order and then wait for your giant Styrofoam container of saag to come out. You can either eat in at one of their fast-food-style tables or take your Goliath order home and make a few meals out of it.
Paige Deglow

Adeep India

211 W. McMillan St., Clifton
Adeep India’s simple, cheaper take on takeout is welcome in the Clifton brotherhood of Indian restaurants. Head to the counter to order and then wait for your giant Styrofoam container of saag to come out. You can either eat in at one of their fast-food-style tables or take your Goliath order home and make a few meals out of it.
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Herb & Thelma’s
718 W. Pike St., Covington
Opened in 1939 as Heine’s Cafe, the small drop-ceilinged dining room is what some may call a “hole in the wall,” but the simple and delectable burgers are made to order and served by an incredibly friendly staff.
Hailey Bollinger

Herb & Thelma’s

718 W. Pike St., Covington
Opened in 1939 as Heine’s Cafe, the small drop-ceilinged dining room is what some may call a “hole in the wall,” but the simple and delectable burgers are made to order and served by an incredibly friendly staff.
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Krishna Indian Carryout
313 Calhoun St., Clifton
Krishna Indian Restaurant is University of Cincinnati's best kept secret. The tiny restaurant offers both carry-out and dine-in, with about a handful of booths to choose from. It dishes out plates such as saag paneer, a vegetarian spinach dish filled dish with onions, spices and a hint of cream, and chicken tikka masala, tandoori chicken in a creamy tomato sauce. Be careful: The food can get spicy ranging on a 1-7 spice scale.
Paige Deglow

Krishna Indian Carryout

313 Calhoun St., Clifton
Krishna Indian Restaurant is University of Cincinnati's best kept secret. The tiny restaurant offers both carry-out and dine-in, with about a handful of booths to choose from. It dishes out plates such as saag paneer, a vegetarian spinach dish filled dish with onions, spices and a hint of cream, and chicken tikka masala, tandoori chicken in a creamy tomato sauce. Be careful: The food can get spicy ranging on a 1-7 spice scale.
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Eli's BBQ
3313 Riverside Drive, East End
While the inside of this location is definitely considered tiny, there is plenty of outdoor seating and Southern hospitality at Eli's BBQ. The no-frills affair specializes in meats, pulled and smoked and served in a red plastic basket.
Hailey Bollinger

Eli's BBQ

3313 Riverside Drive, East End
While the inside of this location is definitely considered tiny, there is plenty of outdoor seating and Southern hospitality at Eli's BBQ. The no-frills affair specializes in meats, pulled and smoked and served in a red plastic basket.
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Zundo Ramen & Donburi
220 W. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine
Slurp-worthy bowls make Zundo a go-to for ramen in Over-the-Rhine. The restaurant’s traditional 14-hour broth, along with flavor-amping ingredients like pork belly and soft-boiled egg with custardy yolk, underpin the ramen options, like the stellar tonkotsu. Meanwhile, donburi choices range from pork katsu to curry to oyako. The large selection of sake pairs perfectly with anything from the food menu.
Hailey Bollinger

Zundo Ramen & Donburi

220 W. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine
Slurp-worthy bowls make Zundo a go-to for ramen in Over-the-Rhine. The restaurant’s traditional 14-hour broth, along with flavor-amping ingredients like pork belly and soft-boiled egg with custardy yolk, underpin the ramen options, like the stellar tonkotsu. Meanwhile, donburi choices range from pork katsu to curry to oyako. The large selection of sake pairs perfectly with anything from the food menu.
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Sugar n' Spice (Paddock Hills)
4381 Reading Road, Paddock Hills
Open since 1941, Sugar n' Spice is a Cincinnati diner mainstay. Try the Slaughterhouse Five, a breakfast platter with a sausage link, pork patty, smoked sausage, one slice of bacon and half a slice of goetta, plus two eggs any style, home fries and white or wheat toast. The original location generally has a wait for the handful of tables or bar seats.
Hailey Bollinger

Sugar n' Spice (Paddock Hills)

4381 Reading Road, Paddock Hills
Open since 1941, Sugar n' Spice is a Cincinnati diner mainstay. Try the Slaughterhouse Five, a breakfast platter with a sausage link, pork patty, smoked sausage, one slice of bacon and half a slice of goetta, plus two eggs any style, home fries and white or wheat toast. The original location generally has a wait for the handful of tables or bar seats.
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Izen’s Drunken Bento
212 W McMillan St., Clifton
Best known for their daily half-priced specials, Drunken Bento is a favorite of University of Cincinnati students. The name says it all: It is the hub for drunken college kids after a night out, but still perfect for a date night. This restaurant may be tiny, but their portions are generous.

Izen’s Drunken Bento

212 W McMillan St., Clifton
Best known for their daily half-priced specials, Drunken Bento is a favorite of University of Cincinnati students. The name says it all: It is the hub for drunken college kids after a night out, but still perfect for a date night. This restaurant may be tiny, but their portions are generous.
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Scotti’s Italian Eatery
919 Vine St., Downtown
Family-owned since 1912, Scotti’s has solidified itself as a Queen City staple. Their large menu features just about every pasta imaginable and nearly 20 different varieties of veal dishes. Finish off your meal with a bottle of wine and you’ll be full for days. Multi-colored tiles plaster the walls, and candles drip layer upon layer of wax on Chianti bottles at every table, providing a little light to the otherwise dimly lit dining room.
Paige Deglow

Scotti’s Italian Eatery

919 Vine St., Downtown
Family-owned since 1912, Scotti’s has solidified itself as a Queen City staple. Their large menu features just about every pasta imaginable and nearly 20 different varieties of veal dishes. Finish off your meal with a bottle of wine and you’ll be full for days. Multi-colored tiles plaster the walls, and candles drip layer upon layer of wax on Chianti bottles at every table, providing a little light to the otherwise dimly lit dining room.
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Raya's Lebanese Restaurant
801 Elm St., Downtown
This spot’s shawarma is incredibly flavorful, hitting on all the desirable trademarks of the sandwich. It's a little more compact than usual, leaving you with plenty of room to enjoy some lentil soup, a Greek salad or, if you’ve been good, some baklava.
Emerson Swoger

Raya's Lebanese Restaurant

801 Elm St., Downtown
This spot’s shawarma is incredibly flavorful, hitting on all the desirable trademarks of the sandwich. It's a little more compact than usual, leaving you with plenty of room to enjoy some lentil soup, a Greek salad or, if you’ve been good, some baklava.
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Island Frydays
2826 Short Vine St., Corryville
Island Frydays is well known for being a stopping place on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives in 2014. Beside classic Jamaican dishes, Island Frydays offers jerk chicken cheese fries.

Island Frydays

2826 Short Vine St., Corryville
Island Frydays is well known for being a stopping place on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives in 2014. Beside classic Jamaican dishes, Island Frydays offers jerk chicken cheese fries.
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Maki Express Ramen House
209 W McMillan St., Clifton
Formerly a sushi restaurant, Maki Express opened a new chapter serving up Ramen and other Japanese dishes. The restaurant is small and intimate, and the atmosphere is a great mixture of modern and traditional. Sit down and enjoy a steaming bowl of tonkotsu ramen, or dive into an order of takoyaki.
Hailey Bollinger

Maki Express Ramen House

209 W McMillan St., Clifton
Formerly a sushi restaurant, Maki Express opened a new chapter serving up Ramen and other Japanese dishes. The restaurant is small and intimate, and the atmosphere is a great mixture of modern and traditional. Sit down and enjoy a steaming bowl of tonkotsu ramen, or dive into an order of takoyaki.
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The Root Beer Stand
11566 Reading Road, Sharonville
Opened as an A&W Root Beer Stand in 1957, the now family-owned restaurant makes secret-recipe root beer (available by the jug) using water from the property’s 280-foot-deep well and secret-recipe chili for their famous foot-long coney dogs. Open seasonally.
Sami Stewart

The Root Beer Stand

11566 Reading Road, Sharonville
Opened as an A&W Root Beer Stand in 1957, the now family-owned restaurant makes secret-recipe root beer (available by the jug) using water from the property’s 280-foot-deep well and secret-recipe chili for their famous foot-long coney dogs. Open seasonally.
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Chung Ching Restaurant
5842 Hamilton Ave., College Hil
This tiny Chinese restaurant, located on the main drag in College Hill, is one of the best examples of a real mom-and-pop joint. They serve up some of the best Chinese in the city, offering a traditional menu.

Chung Ching Restaurant

5842 Hamilton Ave., College Hil
This tiny Chinese restaurant, located on the main drag in College Hill, is one of the best examples of a real mom-and-pop joint. They serve up some of the best Chinese in the city, offering a traditional menu.
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Pickles & Bones Barbecue
877A Business 28, Milford
In 2015, Josh and Nicole House were serving brisket and pulled-pork sandwiches out of a trailer. Fast-forward to 2017, they opened their first brick-and-mortar carry-out restaurant that later moved to a new location. Serving authentic barbecue that's smoked low and slow, the houses use a blend of red and white oak wood to give their meats that natural smoky flavoring. Pickles & Bones Barbecue is passionate about traditional cooking and giving back to their community.

Pickles & Bones Barbecue

877A Business 28, Milford
In 2015, Josh and Nicole House were serving brisket and pulled-pork sandwiches out of a trailer. Fast-forward to 2017, they opened their first brick-and-mortar carry-out restaurant that later moved to a new location. Serving authentic barbecue that's smoked low and slow, the houses use a blend of red and white oak wood to give their meats that natural smoky flavoring. Pickles & Bones Barbecue is passionate about traditional cooking and giving back to their community.
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KungFood Chu's AmerAsia
521 Madison Ave., Covington
Quaint and comfortable with a huge beer list, AmerAsia offers all the usual Chinese dishes and chef specialties, but the food is anything but the usual. Enjoy it all while taking in the eclectic décor of Kung Fu movie posters and paper lanterns. Favorite dishes include the inferno-hot Dragon Breath wontons and General Chu’s orange and sesame street chicken. The space also offers outdoor seating.

KungFood Chu's AmerAsia

521 Madison Ave., Covington
Quaint and comfortable with a huge beer list, AmerAsia offers all the usual Chinese dishes and chef specialties, but the food is anything but the usual. Enjoy it all while taking in the eclectic décor of Kung Fu movie posters and paper lanterns. Favorite dishes include the inferno-hot Dragon Breath wontons and General Chu’s orange and sesame street chicken. The space also offers outdoor seating.
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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 decades. 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.
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 decades. 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.
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Mid-City
40 E. Court St., Downtown
Mid-City moved into its spot downtown off the recently refurbished Court Street Plaza in October 2021. Helmed by the same team as popular Over-the-Rhine bar Longfellow, the self-described “small, relaxed restaurant” serves easy eats, classic cocktails and vintage desserts, like Baked Alaska. On the savory side, there’s a chicken skewer, a fried sandwich featuring yam, grilled leek, egg, black garlic and manchego cheese and the Mid-City Plate with assorted meats including a frankfurter and pork belly and loin, with potatoes and sauerkraut.

Mid-City

40 E. Court St., Downtown
Mid-City moved into its spot downtown off the recently refurbished Court Street Plaza in October 2021. Helmed by the same team as popular Over-the-Rhine bar Longfellow, the self-described “small, relaxed restaurant” serves easy eats, classic cocktails and vintage desserts, like Baked Alaska. On the savory side, there’s a chicken skewer, a fried sandwich featuring yam, grilled leek, egg, black garlic and manchego cheese and the Mid-City Plate with assorted meats including a frankfurter and pork belly and loin, with potatoes and sauerkraut.
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OLLA Taqueria Gutierrez 
302 W. MLK Jr. Blvd., Covington
The folks behind Covington’s Gutierrez Deli opened OLLA Taqueria Gutierrez in town in 2021. The eatery serves up Mexican-style street food, and the menu is stacked with tacos, burritos, nachos and “Guti nachos,” with nine different meat/veggie options (including birria) to choose from. There are also entrees, sides and drinks.
Photo: Mary LeBus

OLLA Taqueria Gutierrez

302 W. MLK Jr. Blvd., Covington
The folks behind Covington’s Gutierrez Deli opened OLLA Taqueria Gutierrez in town in 2021. The eatery serves up Mexican-style street food, and the menu is stacked with tacos, burritos, nachos and “Guti nachos,” with nine different meat/veggie options (including birria) to choose from. There are also entrees, sides and drinks.
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Alabama Fish Bar
1601 Race St., Over-the-Rhine
Get in line at the Alabama Fish Bar and you’ll be rewarded with some of the best fried fish in the city: a choice of whiting, perch or cod served atop a pile of fries resting on a bed of white bread. A side of sautéed peppers, onions and hot sauce make it a spicy, lip-smacking experience. Located on the corner of Liberty and Race Streets, you can often find this corner store packed to the door on a weekend afternoon.

Alabama Fish Bar

1601 Race St., Over-the-Rhine
Get in line at the Alabama Fish Bar and you’ll be rewarded with some of the best fried fish in the city: a choice of whiting, perch or cod served atop a pile of fries resting on a bed of white bread. A side of sautéed peppers, onions and hot sauce make it a spicy, lip-smacking experience. Located on the corner of Liberty and Race Streets, you can often find this corner store packed to the door on a weekend afternoon.
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