December 26, 2019

These 27 Restaurants Are Some of the Oldest in Cincinnati

While it's hard to ignore Cincinnati's booming restaurant scene, it's incredibly important to pay homage to the restaurants that have stood the test of time in our city. Most of these eateries have been essential to the community for over 25 years, with a few being in business for over a century. Many hold special places in our hearts, not only because of their cuisines, but also for the memories that keep us coming back.          
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Zip’s Cafe
1036 Delta Ave., Cincinnati
Zip’s Cafe was founded in 1926, meaning that it has been running for a whopping 93 years. Well known for their tasty and tangy burgers, they serve up everything from their famed Zip’s Burger, to more bold patties, like the “The Flying Pig” and the “Train Wreck.” Aside from their burgers, they also offer fish sandwiches, ruebens, barbecue, chili, soups and more. They don’t skimp out on vegetarians, either, offering both a garden and a bean patty option. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Zip’s Cafe

1036 Delta Ave., Cincinnati
Zip’s Cafe was founded in 1926, meaning that it has been running for a whopping 93 years. Well known for their tasty and tangy burgers, they serve up everything from their famed Zip’s Burger, to more bold patties, like the “The Flying Pig” and the “Train Wreck.” Aside from their burgers, they also offer fish sandwiches, ruebens, barbecue, chili, soups and more. They don’t skimp out on vegetarians, either, offering both a garden and a bean patty option.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
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. Scotti’s is named after early 20th-century opera star Antonio Scotti, so the sounds pumping through the speakers isn’t Muzak or clichéd Sinatra tunes, it’s Rossini and Puccini and Pavaratti — just another aspect that sets this landmark apart from the pack. 
Photo: 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. Scotti’s is named after early 20th-century opera star Antonio Scotti, so the sounds pumping through the speakers isn’t Muzak or clichéd Sinatra tunes, it’s Rossini and Puccini and Pavaratti — just another aspect that sets this landmark apart from the pack.
Photo: Paige Deglow
Arnold’s Bar & Grill
210 E. 8th 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. Named as one of the best bars in America by Esquire magazine.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Arnold’s Bar & Grill

210 E. 8th 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. Named as one of the best bars in America by Esquire magazine.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
The Golden Lamb
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, not a name: a golden lamb. Present-day, the spot has served 12 presidents and an array of other famous figures. Their menu serves up items like 
braised lamb shank, chicken sliders and seared salmon. The Golden Lamb also is known for their Sunday brunch, served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Photo via Facebook.com/TheGoldenLamb

The Golden Lamb

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, not a name: a golden lamb. Present-day, the spot has served 12 presidents and an array of other famous figures. Their menu serves up items like braised lamb shank, chicken sliders and seared salmon. The Golden Lamb also is known for their Sunday brunch, served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Photo via Facebook.com/TheGoldenLamb
Frisch’s Mainliner
5760 Wooster Pike, Fairfax
Big Boy sandwiches. All-day breakfast. Warm bowls of chili and soups. 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. 
Photo: Catherine Viox

Frisch’s Mainliner

5760 Wooster Pike, Fairfax
Big Boy sandwiches. All-day breakfast. Warm bowls of chili and soups. 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.
Photo: Catherine Viox
The Precinct
311 Delta Ave., Columbia Tusculum
You can always rely on a Jeff Ruby restaurant for a big, rare steak and platters of seafood. The Precinct, housed in a historical Romanesque-style former police precinct, opened in 1981 and was the first in a long line of Ruby steakhouses. You can’t go wrong with a sirloin or porterhouse, named after current and past Cincinnati sports greats. But there are other options, like blackened diver scallops or something from the tableside service menu like seafood fettuccine alfredo for two. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

The Precinct

311 Delta Ave., Columbia Tusculum
You can always rely on a Jeff Ruby restaurant for a big, rare steak and platters of seafood. The Precinct, housed in a historical Romanesque-style former police precinct, opened in 1981 and was the first in a long line of Ruby steakhouses. You can’t go wrong with a sirloin or porterhouse, named after current and past Cincinnati sports greats. But there are other options, like blackened diver scallops or something from the tableside service menu like seafood fettuccine alfredo for two.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Mecklenburg Gardens
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. Their specialty is wienerschnitzel, a tender, pan-fried veal cutlet topped with lemon; it’s served with mashed potatoes and cabbage. They have about a dozen beers on tap, most of which are German, along with some local microbrews. Nationally ranked as one of the best biergartens in the country, it’s also one of Cincinnati’s oldest restaurants, having been open since 1865. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Mecklenburg Gardens

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. Their specialty is wienerschnitzel, a tender, pan-fried veal cutlet topped with lemon; it’s served with mashed potatoes and cabbage. They have about a dozen beers on tap, most of which are German, along with some local microbrews. Nationally ranked as one of the best biergartens in the country, it’s also one of Cincinnati’s oldest restaurants, having been open since 1865.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Skyline Chili
1001 Vine St., Downtown
Skyline has been pioneers of Cincinnati chili since opening in 1949. First founded by Greek immigrants, the chili parlor pours the Queen City staple over spaghetti or hot dogs and tops it with a mound of cheese, oyster crackers, and — depending on your taste preference — onions and beans. Also available are chili burritos, fries, baked potatoes and vegetarian chili, which is made with black beans and rice. 
Photo: Paige Deglow

Skyline Chili

1001 Vine St., Downtown
Skyline has been pioneers of Cincinnati chili since opening in 1949. First founded by Greek immigrants, the chili parlor pours the Queen City staple over spaghetti or hot dogs and tops it with a mound of cheese, oyster crackers, and — depending on your taste preference — onions and beans. Also available are chili burritos, fries, baked potatoes and vegetarian chili, which is made with black beans and rice.
Photo: Paige Deglow
Pompilio’s
600 Washington Ave., Newport, Ky.
This restaurant, where the toothpick scene in Rain Man was filmed, has been offering classic family Italian food since 1933. You can’t go wrong with any pasta dish. Play a game of bocce ball on the back court or grab a beer-and-burger special in the attached Colonel Pomp’s Tavern. 
Photo: Paige Deglow

Pompilio’s

600 Washington Ave., Newport, Ky.
This restaurant, where the toothpick scene in Rain Man was filmed, has been offering classic family Italian food since 1933. You can’t go wrong with any pasta dish. Play a game of bocce ball on the back court or grab a beer-and-burger special in the attached Colonel Pomp’s Tavern.
Photo: Paige Deglow
Mt. Adams Bar and Grill
938 Hatch St., Mount Adams
Opened during the prohibition era in 1919, Mt. Adams Bar and Grill’s roots are thought to tie back to a speakeasy owned by infamous bootlegger George Remus. It became the first bar and grill in Ohio to receive its liquor license in 1933. Known for their whiskey, it offers a varied menu that serves up hearty burgers, soups and even features a Cincinnati favorite with a twist: white chicken chili. Walk inside and enjoy this Cincinnati blast from the past while tasting some amazing grub. 
Photo: Izzy Viox

Mt. Adams Bar and Grill

938 Hatch St., Mount Adams
Opened during the prohibition era in 1919, Mt. Adams Bar and Grill’s roots are thought to tie back to a speakeasy owned by infamous bootlegger George Remus. It became the first bar and grill in Ohio to receive its liquor license in 1933. Known for their whiskey, it offers a varied menu that serves up hearty burgers, soups and even features a Cincinnati favorite with a twist: white chicken chili. Walk inside and enjoy this Cincinnati blast from the past while tasting some amazing grub.
Photo: Izzy Viox