December 11, 2018

Eat Chic for Cheap at these 25 Cincinnati Fine Dining Restaurants

Yes, it’s true: You can dine at any one of Cincinnati’s most expensive restaurants and manage to enjoy a meal without totally busting your budget. Relish in the pleasures of fine dining all without sacrificing your entire paycheck.

In this informal survey of menu bargains, we’re revisiting the results of CityBeat’s original “Chic on the Cheap” story, first published 15 years ago. And the city’s restaurant scene has changed a lot since then. Gone are the late and lamented Maisonette and La Normandie, along with other dearly departed eateries such as Jean-Robert at Pigall’s, Barresi’s, The Celestial, Mike Fink, Mt. Adams Fish House, Beluga, Michael G’s, Daveed’s at 934 and Jimmy D’s. 

Newer high-end eateries have all arrived to take their place. Here’s a comparison guide to the city’s top 25 dining spots (as ranked by the most expensive regular nightly dinner meal on their menus) along with tips on an alternative bargain dish that price-conscious consumers can expect to find at each location.

Scroll down to view images

Join the CityBeat Press Club

At a time when local-based reporting is critical, support from our readers is essential to our future. Support our coverage with a one-time or monthly donation.


No. 2: Jag’s Steak & Seafood
5980 West Chester Road, West Chester
The top-priced menu item at this West Chester favorite is the Neptune Raw Bar Platter, with eight colossal shrimp, six oysters on the half shell and a half pound of king crab legs for $145. The bargain-priced dinner option: Chicken marsala with garlic mashed potatoes for $31, caramelized black truffle scallops for $32 or there’s Portabella Napoleon for $29.
Photo via Facebook.com/JagsSteakandSeafood

No. 2: Jag’s Steak & Seafood

5980 West Chester Road, West Chester
The top-priced menu item at this West Chester favorite is the Neptune Raw Bar Platter, with eight colossal shrimp, six oysters on the half shell and a half pound of king crab legs for $145. The bargain-priced dinner option: Chicken marsala with garlic mashed potatoes for $31, caramelized black truffle scallops for $32 or there’s Portabella Napoleon for $29.
Photo via Facebook.com/JagsSteakandSeafood
No. 3: Ruth’s Chris Steak House
100 E. Freedom Way, Downtown
Top-of-the-line menu items at this downtown chain steakhouse on The Banks include their Tomahawk rib-eye (bone-in; 40-ounces) and Chilled Seafood Tower (lobster, lump blue crab, shrimp); these meals can easily set you back a whopping $119 and $118, respectively. The bargain-priced dinner option: Mushrooms stuffed with crabmeat ($15) or the veal osso buco ravioli ($16).
Photo via Facebook.com/RuthsChrisSteakHouseCincinnati

No. 3: Ruth’s Chris Steak House

100 E. Freedom Way, Downtown
Top-of-the-line menu items at this downtown chain steakhouse on The Banks include their Tomahawk rib-eye (bone-in; 40-ounces) and Chilled Seafood Tower (lobster, lump blue crab, shrimp); these meals can easily set you back a whopping $119 and $118, respectively. The bargain-priced dinner option: Mushrooms stuffed with crabmeat ($15) or the veal osso buco ravioli ($16).
Photo via Facebook.com/RuthsChrisSteakHouseCincinnati
No. 4: Carlo & Johnny
9769 Montgomery Road, Montgomery
The most expensive dinner meal at this Montgomery Jeff Ruby joint is The Hatchet, a 30-ounce dry-aged rib-eye, listed at a cool $115. The bargain-priced dinner option: Crispy chicken marsala at $30. If you want something cheaper, the Jeff Ruby Burger includes a special blend of dry-aged beef, Wisconsin cheddar cheese, caramelized shallot jam and Duke’s peppercorn mayo on a brioche bun with fries for $22.
Photo via Facebook.com/JeffRubysCarloAndJohnny

No. 4: Carlo & Johnny

9769 Montgomery Road, Montgomery
The most expensive dinner meal at this Montgomery Jeff Ruby joint is The Hatchet, a 30-ounce dry-aged rib-eye, listed at a cool $115. The bargain-priced dinner option: Crispy chicken marsala at $30. If you want something cheaper, the Jeff Ruby Burger includes a special blend of dry-aged beef, Wisconsin cheddar cheese, caramelized shallot jam and Duke’s peppercorn mayo on a brioche bun with fries for $22.
Photo via Facebook.com/JeffRubysCarloAndJohnny
No. 5: Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse
700 Walnut St., Downtown
The top-priced dish at this downtown location is also The Hatchet rib-eye at $115. The bargain-priced dinner option (not including burgers): Confit rosemary potatoes at $18, with corn polenta, fava beans, carrots and brown butter.
Photo via Facebook.com/JeffRubysSteakhouse

No. 5: Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse

700 Walnut St., Downtown
The top-priced dish at this downtown location is also The Hatchet rib-eye at $115. The bargain-priced dinner option (not including burgers): Confit rosemary potatoes at $18, with corn polenta, fava beans, carrots and brown butter.
Photo via Facebook.com/JeffRubysSteakhouse
No. 7: Eddie Merlot’s
10808 Montgomery Road, Montgomery
The top-priced menu meal — marble score 7/8+ wagyu rib-eye — lists at $99.95. The bargain-priced dinner option: Vegetarian bucatini pasta for $19.95. There’s also a vegan grilled vegetable dish for $19.95.
Photo via Facebook.com/Merlots

No. 7: Eddie Merlot’s

10808 Montgomery Road, Montgomery
The top-priced menu meal — marble score 7/8+ wagyu rib-eye — lists at $99.95. The bargain-priced dinner option: Vegetarian bucatini pasta for $19.95. There’s also a vegan grilled vegetable dish for $19.95.
Photo via Facebook.com/Merlots
No. 8: The Capital Grille
3821 Edwards Road, Hyde Park
Top-priced menu item the Grand Plateau (crab, lobster, shrimp, oysters) lists at $99, while the bone-in wagyu strip is $85. The bargain-priced dinner option: Roasted chicken with baby potatoes and Mediterranean olives for $30.
Photo: Provided

No. 8: The Capital Grille

3821 Edwards Road, Hyde Park
Top-priced menu item the Grand Plateau (crab, lobster, shrimp, oysters) lists at $99, while the bone-in wagyu strip is $85. The bargain-priced dinner option: Roasted chicken with baby potatoes and Mediterranean olives for $30.
Photo: Provided
No. 9: Morton’s The Steakhouse
441 Vine St., Downtown
The top-priced menu meal for a single diner at this Carew Tower nightspot is the jumbo cold-water lobster tail for $99. The bargain-priced dinner option: Chicken bianco for $27.
Photo via Facebook.com/Mortons

No. 9: Morton’s The Steakhouse

441 Vine St., Downtown
The top-priced menu meal for a single diner at this Carew Tower nightspot is the jumbo cold-water lobster tail for $99. The bargain-priced dinner option: Chicken bianco for $27.
Photo via Facebook.com/Mortons
Prime Cincinnati
580 Walnut St., Downtown
The top-priced menu meal at this downtown steakhouse is the 12-ounce Ohio wagyu filet mignon, listed at $98. The bargain-priced dinner option: Garlic gerber chicken or shrimp linguini for $24.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Prime Cincinnati

580 Walnut St., Downtown
The top-priced menu meal at this downtown steakhouse is the 12-ounce Ohio wagyu filet mignon, listed at $98. The bargain-priced dinner option: Garlic gerber chicken or shrimp linguini for $24.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
No. 11: Red Feather
3200 Madison Road, Oakley
The top-priced dinner item at this Oakley outlet is the Outlaw Cowboy with smashed loaded potatoes and barbecue butter for $84. The bargain-priced dinner option: Pork belly steamed buns with pickled red onion and cucumber for $9 in the small plates section or the boursin burger entrée for $15 with candied bacon, red onion marmalade and French fries.
Photo via Facebook.com/RedFeatherKitchen

No. 11: Red Feather

3200 Madison Road, Oakley
The top-priced dinner item at this Oakley outlet is the Outlaw Cowboy with smashed loaded potatoes and barbecue butter for $84. The bargain-priced dinner option: Pork belly steamed buns with pickled red onion and cucumber for $9 in the small plates section or the boursin burger entrée for $15 with candied bacon, red onion marmalade and French fries.
Photo via Facebook.com/RedFeatherKitchen
No. 12: Embers
8170 Montgomery Road, Kenwood
The surf-and-turf filet mignon and poached lobster tail is the priciest dish here and lists at $72. The bargain-priced dinner option (not including sushi rolls): Baby-back ribs or roasted Amish chicken, either for $28.
Photo via Facbeook.com/EmbersRestaurant

No. 12: Embers

8170 Montgomery Road, Kenwood
The surf-and-turf filet mignon and poached lobster tail is the priciest dish here and lists at $72. The bargain-priced dinner option (not including sushi rolls): Baby-back ribs or roasted Amish chicken, either for $28.
Photo via Facbeook.com/EmbersRestaurant