The 21 Hottest New Restaurants in Cincinnati Right Now
Summer is almost here, and Cincinnati's food scene is heating up. Dozens of restaurants have opened in recent months, from Mexican joints to a ramen spot and a new Italian restaurant in Covington. Here's a taste of what folks are buzzing over this season.
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1405 Clay St., Over-the-Rhine
Nolia opened April 19 and is Cincinnati’s newest Southern-style restaurant, serving unique dishes inspired by Chef Jeff Harris’ upbringing in New Orleans while still staying authentic to himself rather than to his hometown’s traditional cuisine. Situated in the space formerly occupied by Please (famous for its selfie-friendly bathroom and James Beard Award-winning chef) the dining environment is upscale yet approachable, offering a menu stacked with dishes like delectable smoked chicken and Alabama white sauce, cider-stewed collard greens, redfish court-bouillon and much more. All of the side dishes are vegan and, while you should not expect them to play ragtime or serve hurricane cocktails in novelty cups, their drink menu will truly laissez les bon temps rouler, non?
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
400-1410 Vine St. in Over-the-Rhine
MadTree Brewing has opened a multi-level Over-the-Rhine bar, restaurant and event space called Alcove. MadTree describes Alcove's main bar and restaurant as containing "a large bar, light-filled lounges, dining areas and an intimate private dining room for small groups." The space also features a "lush outdoor patio space for lounging and dining." The food menu is focused on farm-to-table dishes created by chef Stephen Williams of Bouquet Restaurant and Spoon: Kitchen and Market. The drink menu features housemade cocktails — utilizing herbs grown in that aforementioned greenhouse — and MadTree’s own brews will be on tap at the three bars located throughout. From a design standpoint, Alcove is stuffed with live greenery from Urban Blooms in every corner, creating a secret-garden-like feeling with living feature walls. In the event loft on the third floor, there's even a massive chandelier made of ferns.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
326 E. Eighth St., Downtown
The former Cheapside Cafe space downtown has gotten new life thanks to local Crown Restaurant Group (Crown Republic Gastropub, Losanti, Rosie’s Cocktails & Pies). It is now home to La Cantina, a restaurant offering a self-described mix of “contemporary, authentic Mexican cuisine and cocktails.” La Cantina started as a pop-up at Crown Republic Gastropub in July of last year. The menu there featured dishes including elote, Baja fish tacos and chicken mole, and the full restaurant offers similar inspiration. The cocktail program focuses on mezcal and tequila, featuring more than 50 agave-based spirits. La Cantina also carries Mexican coke, Topo Chico and horchata.
Photo: Catie Viox for Zest Cincy
621 Main St., Covington
Covington’s Main Street — the heart of historically designated MainStrasse Village — boasts one of the best assortments of restaurants in Greater Cincinnati. A lion’s share of credit for that abundance goes to a restaurant group informally known as Otto’s Restaurant Family. MainStrasse residents Emily Wolff and Paul Weckman opened Otto’s in 2003. That was their only restaurant for more than 10 years, but since 2015 Wolff and Weckman have added popular Mexican eatery Frida and two casual spots at opposite ends of the commercial strip of Main Street: The Standard and Larry’s. And now the duo has Mama’s on Main, which opened in March, bringing traditional, pasta-oriented Italian fare to the neighborhood. If the difficulty getting a weekend reservation is any indicator, Mama’s has been a gold-plated hit right off the bat.
1434 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine
Entrepreneur Candice Holloway is bringing a taste of her grandmother's cooking to Over-the-Rhine. Holloway officially opened Soul Secrets, a Southern-style comfort food eatery, on April 30. The fast-casual restaurant focuses on soul food with a menu that includes family-recipe fried chicken, fried fish, cornbread, collard greens, hoppin' John and mac and cheese, plus a selection of meat-free dishes like vegan salisbury steak and vegan pot pie. Brunch will launch this summer with items including shrimp and grits and chicken and waffles.
922 E McMillan St., Walnut Hills
From humble beginnings come great things — especially when we’re talking about Decibel Korean Fried Chicken. Brought to Cincinnati by the crew behind Dope! Asian Street Food, Decibel is the city’s first Korean fried chicken joint. The outfit now has a storefront location in Walnut Hills, adjacent to Esoteric Brewing, but Decibel launched in 2021 as an unnamed fried chicken pop-up in the Kroger On the Rhine food court, where the Dope! stall already was seeing great success. For the uninitiated, Korean fried chicken is an airier, crispier iteration of Southern-style fried chicken. Gone are the browned crunchy bits that stud American fried chicken; instead, Korean fried chicken is sheathed in a lightly golden-brown crust. Biting into Korean fried chicken might be best described as shattering that crust, and the crunch is outrageous.
Photo: provided by Heyday
1527 Madison Road, East Walnut Hills
This new burger joint in East Walnut Hills is sizzling with promise. Hailing from the owners of O Pie O, Heyday opened in the former pie cafe location on April 6. Owner Lou Ginocchio tells CityBeat
in an email that Heyday will serve up a simple menu “using high-quality ingredients with employees who get the respect they deserve.” Guests can dine in or carry out flattop-smashed burgers and a side of Heyday’s unique hand-cut, dry-cured fries. Guests can also indulge in burgers and all of the fixings in the restaurant's dining room, patio space or across the street at The Growler House, where they can order the full Heyday menu and get it delivered to their table.
Provided by Warped Wing Brewing Company
5650 Tylersville Road, Mason
Dayton-based Warped Wing Brewing Company opened its Mason location in February. The 13,000-square-foot location — in the former Brazenhead and Basil's on Market space — features a large taproom with many of Warped Wing's popular beers, like the Trotwood Lager, and collaboration with Mason-based Sonder Brewing, Ryesing Tides. The food menu features smoked wings plus loads of sandwiches, tacos, platters and sharable options that feature house-smoked meats.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
3543 Columbia Parkway, Columbia Tusculum
Bandito Food Park + Cantina, developed by Yolo Restaurant Group, opened in December. Yolo — made up of Ed Biery and local restaurateurs Trang Vo and Tobias Harris (of Lalo) — calls Bandito a “one-of-a-kind restaurant and event venue featuring an atmosphere that expresses an outer parklike celebration complete with fun food and beverages offered to match.” To accomplish that vibe, the interior of Bandito features a bar, a “container-like counter” and vintage trailer where guests can order food, picnic tables, fake turf floors and string lights. The menu includes tacos, burgers, chicken, hot dogs, salads, bowls and homemade salsas and sauces served up by executive chef Antonio Anaya.
Photo: Casey Roberts
6111 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge
Health-focused Mediterranean restaurant Café Alma recently opened its doors in the former space occupied by Molly Malone's Irish Pub in Pleasant Ridge. The cafe creates delicious but healthy dishes by using high-quality ingredients packed with good flavors. Breakfast offers everything from a build-your-own omelet to four different options of the Middle Eastern breakfast favorite shakshuka. Heading into lunch, they have salad and sandwiches all packed with fresh ingredients. Café Alma also offers a full bar that features items like the Eddie Colada and the Molly Malone, an homage to the building's previous occupants made with coffee, Irish whiskey, cane sugar and topped with whipped cream. If you're looking for something non-alcoholic, grab one of the cafe's many imaginative coffees like their creamy Nutella latte.