April was chock full of restaurant openings in Cincinnati, from authentic New Orleans dining to a brand new burger spot. While we did say goodbye to a couple of beloved Queen City eateries, Cincinnati's culinary scene also experienced some wins throughout April.
Nolia Kitchen Brings New Orleans-Style Dining to Cincinnati
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? 1405 Clay St., Over-the-Rhine.
A brand 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. 1527 Madison Road, East Walnut Hills, heyday.menu.
Get ready to slurp away! Genki Ramen now has a third location. The popular Japanese-style ramen restaurant now boasts a third location at 3200 Vandercar Way in Oakley. The small chain's newest location opened April 18. Genki is expanding quickly, having opened its first location in Mason in June 2020 and the second in West Chester in November 2021. Stop by any of the spots and choose from over ten different types of ramen —like their shio paitan, which consists of an enticing blend of chicken broth, kikurage mushrooms, bamboo shoots, fish cakes, a soft boiled egg and barbecue pork. 3200 Vandercar Way, Oakley, genkiramencincinnati.com.
People of Elmwood Place, rejoice: Bridges Nepali Cuisine announced it's going to open a third location in the neighborhood. "Bridges is excited to open its third location to serve the beautiful elmwood neighborhood!!! We will be open soon! Thank you for your love and support," the restaurant wrote in an April 17 Instagram post. The Nepali restaurant began as a food cart at Findlay Market in 2015. There, they gained a loyal following of locals, all hungry for the Chipalus’ authentic style of Newari tribe cooking that’s particular to their native windy valleys of Kathmandu. No opening date has been set, but CityBeat staff hungrily await Bridges' newest location at 6304 Vine St., Elmwood, bridgesnepalicuisine.com.
April 13 was the last day of operation for a popular Over-the-Rhine Cincinnati chili spot. OTR Chili announced on Instagram that they where officially closing their doors. Owner Jim Cornwell wrote in the post that when they set out to start OTR Chili, they wanted to create “the best Cincinnati chili possible” by using locally-sourced ingredients and working directly with Cincinnati-area farmers. He says they also focused on creating the smallest environmental footprint as possible with their food. But fans of OTR Chili shouldn’t give up hope. "We do not believe that this is the end of the dream though," Cornwall wrote in the Instagram post, stating that his restaurant may pop up somewhere else in the city, maybe with a new name and some new faces. “We hope to see all of you again in the near future.”
Roll On In Closed its Original Location
Cincinnati sushi burrito chain Roll On In closed the doors of its first-ever location on April 4. The restaurant announced its sudden closure in a post on Facebook, sharing that they weren't closing voluntarily but were legally forced to leave the location due to issues with the building's landlords. The post read, “it was a blessing to end the harassment and intimidation.” You can still find Roll On In at its multiple locations around Cincinnati, including in Clifton, Hamilton and Mainville, plus their brand new location inside the Lebanon YMCA. rollonin.com.
Other Food News
Cincinnati's impressive restaurant scene has received recognition from the culinary and entertainment outlet Food & Wine as one of the seven "Most Exciting Up-and-Coming Big Cities for Food Lovers." Cincinnati boasts a diverse range of international flavors that were featured in Food & Wine editor David Landsel's write-up of the city's food scene. He mentioned restaurants like Looqma, a Lebanese pop-up kitchen, and Kiki College Hill, which offers authentic and delicious Japanese dishes. On the drinks front, Landsel mentioned East Walnut Hills cocktail bar, Anjou, calling it a lush place to find "cocktails in a salon-like environment." It seems that Cincinnati continues to be growing its culinary influence with a constantly-adapting restaurant scene that isn't slowing down anytime soon.
Great American Ball Park will debut a slate of new snacks for the 2022 season, with some elevated fare especially for vegetarians. During an April 5 media preview event, Gary Davis, executive chef for Great American Ball Park's hospitality provider Delaware North, told CityBeat that though he’s been exploring new creations during his five years with the company, he wanted to make a point to include more items for plant-eaters during the Cincinnati Reds' 2022 season, including some that came from fan input. The new menu includes two veg-friendly hot dogs: the Lookout Dog and the Dragon Dog. The Lookout is a plant-based frank smothered in white bean buffalo dip, shredded cheddar cheese, pickled jalapeños and hot sauce, while the Dragon Dog is topped with kimchi, garlic soy sauce and sesame aioli. Vegetarians also can enjoy the cauliflower “wings,” which are hunks of fried, parmesan-encrusted cauliflower in a sweet hot sauce with celery and blue cheese dip on the side. There also are pretzel bites — toasty portions of dough accompanied by queso, pico de gallo and jalapeños. Some items are available only at specific locations within the ballpark. Consult reds.com for more information.
Ohio dominated the awards section of the 2022 U.S. Open Whiskey and Spirits Championship. Cincinnati Distilling and Dayton Barrel Works were both named in the top five whiskey distilleries, with Cincinnati coming in second and Dayton coming in fourth. Northern Row Brewery came in second in the top five spirit distilleries; Hall Brothers Distillery in Dayton and Columbus’s Endeavor Brewing and Spirits tied for third place. Cincinnati Distilling took home bronze for straight bourbon and single-barrel whiskey, silver for small batch bourbon (one to three years under 100 proof) and gold for beer distilled whiskey and whiskey aged in beer barrels. They even snagged silver for their peanut butter and blueberry donut whiskeys. Northern Row Brewery also represented Cincinnati, winning gold for small batch bourbon (one to three years under 100 proof), silver for single-barrel whiskey, both gold and silver for their gin and gold in the flavored vodka category for their pepper vodka. Northern Row Brewery's white rum also earned them a bronze.