34 Restaurants in Greater Cincinnati That Have Been Open for More Than 50 Years
It takes a lot to keep a restaurant running, especially for 50-plus years, but these Cincinnati establishments can proudly claim they've been doing just that. In fact, there are many restaurants on this list that most lifelong Cincinnatians can't remember or weren't alive for a time before they existed. Even as tastes, menus and decor have changed over the decades, Cincinnati's oldest restaurants have changed with the times — or leaned into the era they opened, serving guests a side of nostalgia with their meal.
From old taverns opened in the age of Western expansion to greasy spoon diners with a host of regulars who have been patronizing them for years, plus the Queen City's OG chili parlor that inspired the rest, here are some Cincinnati restaurants that have kept their kitchens frying, baking and grilling for more than 50 years.
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Photo: Hailey Bollinger and Paige Deglow
4381 Reading Road, Paddock Hills (temporarily closed); 1203 Sycamore St., Pendleton; 10275 Summit Parkway, Blue Ash
Huge, fluffy omelets and “wispy-thin” pancakes have made Sugar n’ Spice a bona fide breakfast institution since 1941. 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. The breakfast diner also opened its first suburban location in Blue Ash this past January at the Approach at Summit Park. They are famous for giving patrons little rubber ducks as a souvenir – a charming tradition that keeps people coming back.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
302 E. University Ave., Corryville
For a taste of Zinzinnati’s German heritage, Mecklenburg Gardens showcases some of the best German cuisine the city has to offer. For a taste of authentic German fare, try the classic pork schnitzel – a pork cutlet pounded and pan-fried with a Jaeger sauce or Dunkelweizen topping and served with spätzle and red cabbage. They also have an array of German biers, along with some local craft brews. Nationally ranked as one of the best biergartens in the country, it’s also Cincinnati’s oldest restaurant, having been open since 1865.
27 S. Broadway St., Lebanon
Jonas Seaman came to Ohio from New Jersey in 1803. In a time when many couldn’t read, the business was marked by a symbol: a golden lamb. Present-day, the historic hotel and restaurant in the heart of Lebanon’s DORA district has served 12 presidents and an array of other famous figures. The menu offers items like braised lamb shank, hickory-roasted prime rib and seared salmon. The attached Black Horse Tavern is a more casual dining spot on the backside of the hotel that serves specialty cocktails and the same delicious menu as the main dining area.
Photo: Maggy McDonel
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. It was also named as one of the best bars in America by Esquire
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 for dinner. Multi-colored tiles plaster the walls, and candles drip layer upon layer of wax on Chianti bottles at every table, making you feel like you’re in an old-world Italian bistro. Scotti’s is named after early 20th-century opera star Antonio Scotti, so the sound pumping through the speakers isn’t Muzak, it’s Rossini, Puccini and Pavarotti — just another aspect that sets this landmark apart from the pack.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
1036 Delta Ave., Mt. Lookout
Zip’s Cafe was founded in 1926, meaning it’s nearing its 100th birthday. 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 Zip Burger — once 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 grilled mettwurst.
Photo: Catie Viox
5760 Wooster Pike, Fairfax
Big Boy sandwiches. All-day breakfast. Warm bowls of chili and soup. Frisch's Big Boy Mainliner opened in 1939, when founder David Frisch opened Cincinnati’s first year-round drive-in, which could hold up to 60 cars. Now, the regional diner chain is an iconic stop for Queen City residents. The famous menu still carries on today — with additions — and offers up both nostalgic memories and classic grub.
25 W. Fifth St., Downtown
This luncheonette opened in the Carew Tower in 1956. They’ve since moved from their original spot but can still be found on the first floor of the Carew Tower, the neon waitress in the window beckoning diners to come in and have a seat and a delicious meal. Hathaway’s menu features all the breakfast and lunch classics: eggs, waffles, homemade chilis and soups, burgers and sandwiches, with some more modern offerings like breakfast burritos and a Thai salad mixed in. You’ll also want to stay and try their desserts, like the shakes and malts that not only come in chocolate and vanilla, but also flavors like Pink Cloud, Creamsicle and Banana Whisk.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
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. The diner is the quintessential chili parlor of days gone by with its classic mid-century sign out front, dining counter inside and photos and newspaper clippings along the wall. In addition to the amazing chili – which won an “American Regional Classic” James Beard Foundation Award in 2000 – the menu also includes burgers, grilled chicken, hot dogs, fries, coleslaw and salad – something for everyone.
2500 Dixie Highway, Fort Mitchell
The Greyhound Tavern has offered down-home comfort food to Northern Kentuckians since the 1920s. The atmosphere is pleasantly country-fied, with wood paneling, vinyl tablecloths and multiple fireplaces, and the menu reflects that, too. The tavern is known for its herbed secret-recipe fried chicken and Kentucky classics like the Hot Brown. In 2021, Microsoft News
named Greyhound Tavern as Kentucky's most legendary restaurant.