Where to Eat Now

Dining options for every type of craving

click to enlarge Orchids at Palm Court
Orchids at Palm Court

Delicious details on more than 300 local eateries, from bars and grills and ethnic eats to pizza places and fine dining destinations — something for every craving. Turn to a page, close your eyes and put your finger down at random to pick where to have dinner tonight. Restaurant listings are compiled from CityBeat dining reviews and are edited for space. Bullet points indicate winners from CityBeat's 2015 Best of Cincinnati issue.

[Find more food news and trends in CityBeat's Dining Guide here. Read the full digital edition here.]

BAR & GRILLS AND BREWPUBS

  • Arnold’s Bar and Grill

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. $7-$18. 210 E. Eighth St., Downtown, 513-421-6234, arnoldsbarandgrill.com.

  • Arthur’s

Serving only local beers on draft, Arthur’s is a relaxed gathering place on Hyde Park Square. The menu includes salads, soups, sandwiches and — their specialty — burgers with deals on “burger madness” days. Includes a late-night menu. $8-$12. 3516 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, 513-871-5543, arthurscincinnati.com.Boswell’sThe bar has been reopened and renovated, and the new menu contains the same inexpensive items from yesteryear, except now with more vegetarian-friendly dishes. $4-$14. 1686 Blue Rock St., Northside, 513-681-8100, boswellalley.com. BrewRiver GastroPub

Chef Michael Shields, who earned his chops under Emeril Lagasse, opened BrewRiver GastroPub with craft beer and thoughtfully paired New Orleans-leaning cuisine in mind. Try the curried beef short rib poutine or Decatur Street Muffaletta with a rotating list of more than 50 handpicked, locally brewed drafts, bottles and cans. $8-$32. 2062 Riverside Drive, East End, 513-861-2484, brewrivergastropub.com.

City View Tavern Home of the best bloody mary and one of the best views in town, and the burgers are damn tasty, too. Meet Big Ted: six ounces of griddle-cooked, handmade beef patty with American cheese, brown mustard, lettuce, pickles, mayo, onion, ketchup and home-grown tomatoes (when in season). $3-$7. 403 Oregon St., Mount Adams, 513-241-8439, cityviewtavern.com. Habits Café

A classic neighborhood bar and grill. The dinner menu changes a bit with the seasons, but you can always get Potato Rags at Habits. Hash browns on steroids, Potato Rags are smothered in cheese, bacon, onion, tomato and ranch dressing. There’s a french fry version, too. $5-$14. 3036 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-631-8367, habitscafe.com.

Holy Grail Tavern & GrilleWith more than 15 high-definition TVs, a plethora of beers on tap and great pub grub, this is a prime sports spot at The Banks. Munch on classic fare like ball-park pretzels, angus burgers, wings and wraps, with outdoor seating directly across from the Reds stadium. $7-$10. 161 Joe Nuxhall Way, The Banks, 513-621-2222, holygrailcincy.com.

  • Incline Public House

With a 1,400-square-foot deck for soaking in vistas and cocktails, IPH’s name derives from the actual Cincinnati Incline that existed there from the late 1800s to the 1940s. Their upscale twist on pub food features sandwiches, pizza, epicurean appetizers and a slew of craft cocktails and draft beers; they have a monthly beer series called Meet the Brewer during which beer-ophiles can sample suds from local breweries such as Blank Slate and MadTree. $7-$14. 2601 W. Eighth St., Price Hill, 513-251-3000, inclinepublichouse.com.Keystone Bar & GrillThis neighborhood joint offers a variety of tasty comfort food. Huge plates of pasta, a rockin’ quesadilla menu, build-your-own-burgers (including turkey or veggie options) and weekend brunch. When a restaurant dedicates an entire menu to its macaroni and cheese varietals, you know they are serious about grub. $7-$15. Multiple locations including 313 Greenup St., Covington, Ky., 859-261-6777, keystonebar.com. Lachey’sWhen a celebrity opens a restaurant, customers likely fall into two camps: those who go there for the celeb brand, or those who actually enjoy the food, drink and ambiance. For Over-the-Rhine’s sports bar Lachey’s, it works both ways. The real winner here is the extensive drink menu; along with beer, wine and cocktails on tap, there are bottles, cans and a section devoted to both bloody marys and boilermakers. As for food, the menu (designed by celebrity chef Brian Duffy) wavers between fried foods such as tater tots and wings and healthier dishes like a heaping kale salad. Bonus: 90-inch TVs and a running sports ticker flank the bar. $8-$16. 56 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-275-0740, lacheys.com.

  • Moerlein Lager House

Moerlein Lager House celebrates Cincinnati’s brewing tradition in a giant restaurant and brewery with sweeping views of downtown and the riverfront. Offers a large something-for-everyone menu of burgers and pastas, plus fancier dishes like filet mignon and squash wellington. With 24 beers on tap — house brews and other crafts — plus more than 60 in bottles and cans, there’s a drink for every taste. Tours of the in-house brewery available. $10-$28. 115 Joe Nuxhall Way, The Banks, Downtown. 513-421-2337, moerleinlagerhouse.com.MOTR PubMOTR Pub does two things really well: rocks your face off with loud music and sweaty crowds and serves up one hell of a burger. But fret not veg-heads — you can get a veggie burger or veggie BLT. There’s also the spicy St. Francis Monastery mac and cheese. Try the Migas Tacos with egg, crispy potatoes, cheese and chorizo with a bloody mary during Sunday brunch. Now open for lunch. $5-$9. 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-6687, motrpub.com.

The Northside Yacht Club tops its pulled pork sandwich with a tasty fried egg. - Photo: Catie Viox

Northside Yacht Club

The fare might be described as typical bar food with a few creative twists. Most bar food leans toward meat, cheese and fries — your basic high-fat, low-cost, satisfying stuff. The Yacht Club has three sandwiches: short-rib grilled cheese, smoked portabello and smoked pulled pork. All meats are smoked and braised in-house, including smoked chicken wings. For vegetarians, there’s also a large salad and vegan lentil Cincinnati chili over fries. $6-$12. 4227 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, 513-541-0528, facebook.com/northsideyachtclub.

Taft’s Ale House

Housed in a renovated multi-story 1850s-era church, Taft’s is named after William Howard Taft, the 27th president of the United States and native Cincinnatian. The 6,000-barrels-per-year brewery and restaurant features meat platters, salads and sandwiches that focus on tri-tip beef — similar to prime rib. The creative beer selection boasts brews made with local goods — everything from locally roasted coffee to artisan chocolate. $7.50-$20. 1429 Race St., Downtown, 513-334-1393, taftsalehouse.com.Tap House Grill 

A locally owned restaurant and bar featuring 34 beers on tap, focusing on local and regional breweries. They also offer a build-your-own burger menu. $9-$20. 8740 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, 513-891-TAPS, taphousecincy.com.
  • Wurst Bar in the Square

Mount Lookout’s Wurst Bar in the Square has tricked-out sausages showcasing local meats from Wassler’s Meat Market, along with vegetarian dogs from Avril-Bleh, and a carefully selected lineup of craft beer and mixed drinks. The Abe Froman Special, a Chicago-style dog with a twist, is a plump all-beef dog topped with relish, peppers, shaved onion, brown mustard, sauerkraut and fries. $5-$9. 3204 Linwood Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-321-0615, wurstbarinthesquare.com.

BARBECUE AND HOMESTYLE

City BBQ

This regional chain was named one of the best in America by Men’s Journal. They put out some dang tasty barbecue, including mouth-watering beef brisket and a good and sloppy pulled-pork sandwich. Mix and match your sauce and meat. $7-$30. Multiple locations including 10375 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash, 513-257-0362; 7706 Voice of America Centre Drive, West Chester, 513-755-0518; 2760 Alexandria Pike, Highland Heights, Ky., 859-415-4544; citybbq.com.

  • The Eagle OTR

The Eagle is nested inside a retired post office and has a relatively small menu, comprised of fried chicken, sandwiches, some snacks and several side dishes. Booze-wise, they serve 100 kinds of beer and have about 15 different brews on tap. The fried chicken is free-range, antibiotic-free and sourced from Amish farms. You can get a whole chicken for $16, a half chicken for $8 (white and dark meat) or a quarter of a chicken for $5. The kale and artichoke dip is a must. $8-$16. 1342 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-802-5007, facebook.com/theeagleotr, theeagleotr.com.

  • Eli’s BBQ

Eli’s specialty, the pulled-pork sandwich, is a good intro to his amazing barbecue sauce, and you can move on from there to hickory-smoked ribs, smoked turkey or an all-beef hot dog topped with pulled-pork crispins and coleslaw. Try the mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, baked beans or the jalapeno corn bread. The East End location is BYOB, so don’t forget your six-pack. $5-$8; cash only. 3313 Riverside Drive, East End, and on the south side of Findlay Market, 1801 Race St, Over-the Rhine. 513-533-1957, elisbarbeque.com.

Green Derby Most diners who visit the Green Derby know exactly what they want before they walk in the door. The Derby Salad is a favorite, served with hot bacon dressing. Try the halibut sandwich on rye or one of the Derby’s other plentiful fish entrées. You’ll want to save room for dessert, too. The Green Derby has been around since 1947; it’s easy to see why. $9-$19. 846 York St., Newport, Ky., 859-431-8740, thegreenderby.com. Greyhound Tavern Famous for its double-deckers, the Greyhound Tavern has been a Fort Mitchell institution since the 1930s. You won’t want to miss the divine fried chicken, the ginormous onion rings, the Hot Brown or the bread pudding. $10-$29. 2500 Dixie Highway, Fort Mitchell, Ky., 859-331-3767, greyhoundtavern.com. The Hitching Post “World’s Best Fried Chicken” is this diner’s claim to fame, but you should try their outstanding breakfasts — especially Uncle Bubba’s Ultimate Omelet. Burgers and Tall Stacks (overstuffed double-decker sandwiches) compete with traditional classics like meatloaf and BLTs. $4-$13. 2715 Madison Road, Hyde Park, 513-871-9201, hydeparkhitchingpost.com.
  • Huit Craft BBQ

The menu reflects an intriguing mashup of cultures: Flavors from Indonesia, the Americas, China and Southeast Asia are found in Huit’s spicy tribute to the pig, the chicken and the cow. But their barbecue tofu helps keep those pesky vegetarians happy. This energetic dining spot is bringing new life to Court Street, with good hours for residents, including evenings and Saturdays, and their ramen is a big, fat bowl of heaven. $7-$24. 29 E. Court St., Downtown, 513-381-4848, huitfoodbar.com.

  • Montgomery Inn

World-famous for its ribs, Montgomery Inn has been a staple in Cincinnati for more than 60 years. Along with ribs, the Inn offers barbecued spring chicken, silver salmon, pulled-pork sandwiches, burgers, salads and more, including everyone’s favorite: saratoga chips served with their famous barbecue sauce. $8-$35. Multiple locations including 9440 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, 513-791-3482; 925 Riverside Drive, Downtown, 513-721-7427; 400 Buttermilk Pike, Fort Mitchell, Ky., 859-344-5333; montgomeryinn.com.

Ollie’s Trolley

Ollie’s special seasoning spices up everything from grits and eggs at breakfast to a hearty lunch of barbecued turkey tips. Start with the Ollie burger and fries and stay for the ribs with homemade macaroni and cheese and lemon pound cake for dessert. This cooking feeds your soul. $3-$45 (for whole turkeys). 1605 Central Ave., West End, 513-381-6100, facebook.com/olliesburger.

Texas-Style beef brisket and bacon-fat grits from Pontiac - Photo: Khoi Nguyen

  • Pontiac

From chef Daniel Wright, who brought us Senate and Abigail Street. With pimento dip served with Ritz crackers, Cheerwine and Red Neck Frito Pie, barbecue palace Pontiac takes low-class grub to a self-aware, higher level. Along with their pulled pork, their smoked brisket, turkey, kielbasa and veg are a beautiful thing. St. Louis ribs available by the slab. $9-$23. 1403 Vine St. Over-the-Rhine, 513-579-8500, pontiacbbq.com.

Ron’s Roost Family owned and operated since 1960, Ron’s Roost has the best fried chicken around. If the weather is cooperative, sit on the covered patio and enjoy the hot bacon slaw (a West Side staple), German sauerbraten, mock turtle soup and homemade cream pies. $10-$20. 3853 Race Road, Bridgetown, 513-574-0222, ronsroost.net.   Schoolhouse RestaurantWith the menu written on an ancient blackboard, you might expect (and maybe want?) a metal lunchbox to come to your table bursting with bologna sandwiches and Twinkies. What you’ll get, and be thrilled by, is delicious classic American fare served family-style. Among your choices: fried chicken, baked cod, meatloaf and roast beef. The Schoolhouse Restaurant has been in business for more than 50 years. $9-$17. 8031 Glendale-Milford Road, Camp Dennison, 513-831-5753, theschoolhousecincinnati.com.Silver Spring HouseDubbing itself “The Chicken Joint,” Silver Spring House definitely serves up some delicious chicken. Marinated in citrus juices and spices, it’s grilled and succulent. If you’re not in the mood for chicken, you can choose pork ribs, salmon, burgers and a variety of sandwiches. Vegetarians need not fear — there are options for them, too. $11-$25. 8322 E. Kemper Road, Montgomery, 513-489-7044, thesilverspringhouse.com.SmoQThe “Q” is for barbecue, the specialty at SmoQ. It’s all done slow and low in a big ’ol smoker. You’re likely to find your favorite Southern specialty here as well, be it a Kansas City strip, blackened catfish or chicken and waffles: a buttermilk-fried chicken breast served on top of a sweet potato-pecan waffle, with maple butter and syrup. $7.99-$26.99. 275 Pictoria Drive, Springdale, 513-671-7667, smoqbbq.com.Son of a Preacher ManA funky, cool Southern restaurant with a straightforward menu and a cheerful, upbeat vibe. The fried chicken is marvelous; try the lip-smacking spicy version of the chicken biscuit sandwich. Drinks at this establishment consist mostly of bourbon shots, beer in cans and bottles and a few featured cocktails. $6-$16 3009 O’Bryon St., O’Bryonville, 513-813-3052, eatatpreacherman.com. Walt’s BBQ

The menu is made for meat-lovers and includes many slow-smoked specialties like pulled pork, ribs, roasted chicken, brisket and more. $6-$20. 6040 Colerain Ave., White Oak, 513-923-9800; 6095 River Road, Blue Note Yacht Club, Delhi; 746 NW. Washington Blvd., Hamilton, 513-868-9258, waltsbarbeque.com.

Walt’s Hitching Post

Walt’s Hitching Post is a kick-back, casual place where everybody knows your name. Open in some iteration since the 1950s, the new owners have lightly tweaked classic menu items, adding fried green tomatoes to the chicken livers and increasing the steak quality. $12-$30. 3300 Madison Pike, Fort Wright, Ky., 859-360-2222, waltshitchingpost.com.

BISTROS AND CAFÉS

Bacalls Café

An Art Deco dreamland complete with a custom piece of frosted glass depicting Union Terminal and a phone booth tucked in the corner. Classy, but Bacalls still has TVs on which you can watch the game. The menu has something for everyone including soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps, burgers, pasta and other entrées. Serving meals and booze to locals and visitors in College Hill for more than 26 years, they must be doing something right. $9.95-$14.50. 6118 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, 513-541-8804, bacallscafe.com.

Bistro GraceThe impressive Bistro Grace offers quality entrées on artsy, square plates. The bar serves local beers on tap, with a couple dozen more by the bottle and a 45-bottle wine list, including 17 available by the glass. Eight “signature cocktails” round out the drinks list. Try the hanger steak or the duck poutine. $12-$20. 4034 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-541-9600, bistrograce.com.Brontë Bistro

Brontë, located inside Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Rookwood, is a cozy, relaxed location to enjoy a book and a great meal. It has a lot to offer, including coffee, a full bar, starters, salads, sandwiches, home-cooked entrées and desserts. $6-$15. 2692 Madison Road, Norwood, 513-396-8970, josephbeth.com/bronte.

Café de ParisFeast on lunch and breakfast selections like salade niçoise and croissant foure aux epinards (toasted croissant with spinach and feta). Fresh-baked European breads make the sandwiches very satisfying. Follow lunch with a Parisian espresso. $5-$10. 17 Garfield Place, Downtown, 513-651-1919.
  • Cheapside Café

Cheapside Café is a breath of fresh air in the Eighth Street Design District. With a menu featuring kale salads, breakfast sandwiches with pimento cheese and modern espresso drinks (like the bubbly chinotto, with housemade tonic, espresso and soda), along with an interior decked out with a white floor, rustic wood seating and live plants, the ambiance feels decidedly West Coast — especially when you glance at the patio. The focal point of Cheapside’s al fresco seating is a large wooden tepee, constructed out of slatted cedar, in which you can sit at a bright red table while enjoying your smoked turkey on salted rye and locally foraged soda. $5-$11. 326 E. Eighth St., Downtown, 513-345-6618, cheapsidecafe.com. Collective CACA partnership with local craft coffee shop Collective Espresso. While you eat or drink, you’re surrounded by both local and international artists and their installations. The current menu features all-day breakfast, with sandwiches, salads and snacks available until 2 p.m. daily. But if you have a hankering for a cortado in the evening, the café offers light bites and coffee service until close — which isn’t until 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. $7-$10. Contemporary Arts Center, 44 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-345-8400, contemporaryartscenter.org/visit/caf.DillyLocated in the heart of historic Mariemont, Dilly bistro and bottle shop serves lunch and dinner daily, with entrées like Ohio-raised strip steak, fresh Atlantic salmon and housemade pasta. Paying tribute to their origins as a deli, you’ll also find satisfying sandwiches, housemade soups and their famous beer cheese. Eat or sip a glass of beer or wine on their giant two-level English-courtyard-style patio. Guests can also choose a bottle of wine from their in-house bottle shop for retail price plus a small $5 corkage fee. $7-$25. 6818 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, 513-561-5233, dillycafe.com.French Crust Café French Crust Café is cozy, seating just 26 people, and serves both breakfast and lunch. Fresh fruit tarts and other pastries are served with coffee throughout the day. The lunch menu includes homemade soups, quiche, casseroles and assorted sandwiches. As is the case with sister restaurant Jean-Robert’s Table, French Crust Café sources ingredients as locally as possible. $5-$14. 915 Vine St., Downtown, 513-621-2013, jrtable.com/french-crust-cafe.Gabby’s CaféA family-owned restaurant serving American cuisine with Italian flair. Signature pizzas include The Capone with cappicola, salami, pepperoni, sausage, olives, banana peppers, mozzarella, provolone and parmesan. Specialties include eggplant parmesan, Greek vegetable pasta and gluten-free zucchini linguine. $8-$17. 515 Wyoming Ave., Wyoming, 513-821-6040, gabbyswyoming.com.Half Day CaféSeasonal menu items with fresh, locally sourced ingredients make this popular Wyoming mainstay a breakfast and lunch standout. Try the thick-sliced mango-butter rum French toast, and for lunch, indulge in the carnitas with slow-roasted pulled pork in a rich mole sauce. $3-$11. 1 Wyoming Ave., Wyoming, 513-821-2323, halfdaycafe.org.Hang Over EasyAside from being a legit brunch spot, Hang Over Easy is also a nighttime spot with bar hours until 2:30 a.m. — so you can get drunk and cure your hangover all in one place. Try the Pollo Loco Chorizo Skillet, with chicken, chorizo, peppers, onions, home fries, melted queso, eggs and toast in a skillet. $3-$8. 13 W. Charlton St., Corryville, 513-221-5400, hangovereasy.com. Iris BookCaféA combination of an art gallery, bookshop, coffee shop and wireless café, Iris BookCafé is a locavore’s dream. The sandwich bread is from Shadeau Bread, which is almost directly across the street, meats are from Avril’s on Court Street and ice cream is from Aglamesis. And there are both meat and veggie options on the sandwich menu. $5-$10. 1331 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-2665, irisbookcafe.com.Kitchen 452Combinations of sweet and savory lead to seasonal dishes such as a pear salad and a hot ham and Swiss sandwich, with crunchy slices of tart green apples. All sandwiches are made with Shadeau breads, and all salads are dressed with homemade vinaigrettes. $4-$8. 2714 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut Hills, 513-559-0452, kitchen452.com.

  • La Soupe

French roadside soup shack La Soupe sells a scrumptious, rotating line of simmering broths, stews, chili and chowders made from fresh produce and local meats. Available for carryout. $7-$16. 4150 Round Bottom Road, Newtown, 513-271-0100, lasoupecincinnati.com. MokkaWhether it’s their corn flake-battered French toast topped with bananas and crème brulee or their eggy arsenal of inventive frittatas, Mokka makes a mean breakfast. Vegetarians will love the California, veggie and Greek frittatas, while carnivores can tear into the three-meat and Green Goat (spinach, chicken and goat cheese) varieties. Lunch and dinner options include burgers and hearty grinder sandwiches. $5-$9. 500 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859-581-3700, mokkasunset.com.Om Eco CaféOm Café features fresh, local and organic coffee, tea, soups, salads and sandwiches. Coffee is shade-grown, the apothecary bar features more than 100 herbs to add to cocktails and tea and they even have homemade biscuits for dogs. Lots of veggie-friendly options here. $5-$11. 329 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-381-3436, aquariusstar.com.Quarter BistroA romantic bistro offering seasonal cuisine and sophisticated ambiance. The 18-hour short ribs are to die for and the Q’s pizzas are nothing short of divine. There’s a lovely wine list at Quarter Bistro, and outdoor dining in the historic Mariemont town square is wonderfully charming. $10-$37. 6904 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, 513-271-5400, quarter-bistro.com. Ruth’s Parkside Café Located in a factory bay at the American Can Building, Ruth’s offers diners a mix of comforting, well-known classics from the owners’ former restaurant Mullane’s, such as the spinach sauté and red beans and rice, as well as new dishes. Everything is from scratch, and there is plenty for vegetarians and carnivores alike. $4-$15. 1550 Blue Rock St., American Can Building, Northside, 513-542-RUTH, ruthscafe.com.Sleepy Bee CaféA family-friendly breakfast and lunch spot. Much of Sleepy Bee’s food is sourced locally from farms with bee-friendly practices, including Holistic Acres eggs; Marksbury Farms’ humane, pasture-raised meats; and potatoes, sprouts and microgreens from nearby growers. Expect a healthy wait on weekends. $6-$12. 3098 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-533-2339; 9514 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash, 513-241-2339, sleepybeecafe.com. York Street CaféBuilt in the 1880s, the building holds a beautifully decorated eclectic café, a lounge with live music and an art gallery, along with a terribly romantic garden patio. Order a Conversation Board, with samplings of different appetizers, and let the words flow. The grilled salmon might just bring you to tears. $12-$25. 738 York St., Newport, Ky., 859-261-9675, yorkstonline.com.

BURGERS AND DOGS

Mr. Gene’s Doghouse

Mr. Gene’s menu — for both the weenies-on-wheels food truck and brick-and-mortar location — features hot dogs, metts and Italian sausages with traditional sides of fries and onion rings. A portion of Mr. Gene’s profits are donated to charities, so pig out! Find Mr. Gene’s on Twitter (@MrGenesDoghouse) for truck location updates. $2-$10. 3703 Beekman St., Northside, 513-541-7636, mrgenesdoghouse.com.

Gordo’s Pub & Grill

What’s not to love about a pub with more than 100 microbrews and incredible gourmet burgers? Their two standbys are the Jean Robert, with grape compote and goat and blue cheeses and the Gordo’s burger, topped with Boursin cheese, poblano peppers, onions and smoked bacon. A Xavier hangout. $10-$12. 4328 Montgomery Road, Norwood, 513-351-1999, gordospub.com.

Mad Mike’s Burgers and FriesChoose from their creative signature offerings like the Rockefeller, with blue cheese, cranberry chutney, beer battered onions, cilantro mayo and lettuce, or the Goliath, which featuers two grilled cheese sandwiches for buns. $3.29-$7.99. Multiple locations including 6420 Dixie Highway, Florence, Ky., 859-647-6444, madmikesburgers.com.Meatball KitchenStart out with a type of meatball — beef, turkey, spicy pork or gluten-free vegetarian — and decide if you want it on a sandwich, pasta or salad. Select a sauce (meat, tomato or béchamel) and add some sides. Sides include onion-and-garlic bread pudding, smoky coleslaw, Sriracha sweet-potato mash, spicy kale, seasonal roasted veggies or a side salad. $3-$7. 2912 Vine St., Corryville, 513-407-7405, meatballkitchenusa.com. Paula’s CaféThe best lunchtime burgers in the city for 21 years. Order your burger with balsamic-laced onions and Swiss on a grilled Shadeau Bread wheat bun. The chicken salad, BLT and carrot cake all deserve their crowd-pleaser statuses. $4-$8. 41 E. Fourth St., Downtown, 513-381-3354, paulascafe.com.Salem GardensOpen since 1926, Salem Gardens is a friendly neighborhood hangout that specializes in fresh, homemade meals, including burgers, like the All American, topped with lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion and American cheese. They also boast a large patio, nice draft selection and weekly specials. $8-$10. 6396 Salem Road, Anderson, 513-231-9666, salemgardens.org.
  • Senate

Senate’s mission is to present upscale street food, and they do a terrific job of it. The menu plays heavily on hot dogs, from gourmet Chicago dogs to more interesting dog-of-the-days and quirkily named dogs like Hello Kitty 2.0, a beef hot dog with wasabi mayo, ponzu-wasabi slaw, bacon, wasabi peas and sesame seeds. The truffle fries are a must-have, as are the cocktails. The Senate Cookbook is available now. $9-$25. 1212 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-2020, senatepub.com.Silver LadleSilver Ladle is a “fast casual” restaurant that serves a variety of hearty sandwiches, a dozen soups, fresh salads, gluten-free options and its own twist on Cincinnati-style chili and coneys. Burger fans will be happy to see a stout lineup of five “stuffed” burgers, and the five sandwich offerings are far from skimpy. $5.99-$8.29. 580 Building, Between Walnut and Main streets, Downtown, 513-834-7650, silverladle.com.

Terry’s Turf Club

There’s no other character on the Cincinnati dining scene quite like Terry, and his little juke-joint is now a legend. The short but sweet menu centers on burgers — big, beautiful hamburgers including a tender-as-butter filet mignon burger with béarnaise. Other sandwiches start with grilled chicken or portabellos and shiitakes. Take the basics and add one of the formidable sauce options for a customized burger experience. $6.50-$26. 4618 Eastern Ave., East End, 513-533-4222.

  • Zip’s Café

Zip’s has been doing burgers right since 1926, and generations of East Side Cincinnatians call Zipburgers their favorite. The meat arrives fresh daily from locals Avril-Bleh & Sons and the lightly toasted honey-egg buns are from Klosterman, also local. For those who need more than just a burger and fries, Zip’s offers the Train Wreck — a burger, split mettwurst and shaved ham. Now offers bacon. $4-$8. 1036 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-871-9876, zipscafe.com.

Zola Pub & Grill

Nine different burgers and nine flavorful wing sauces lend to a variety of options at Zola. A full bar in combination with live music Tuesday-Saturday and a great location make this a happenin’ place to be. $5-$12. 626 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-261-7510, zolapubandgrill.com.

CASUAL AND NEW AMERICAN 

20 Brix Cutting-edge cuisine with more than 100 wines. $10-$36. 101 Main St., Milford, 513-831-BRIX, 20brix.com. Bouquet Restaurant & Wine Bar Working closely with local sources, Bouquet’s farm-to-table approach means a fresh, frequently rotating menu packed with seasonal ingredients. Elegant small plates, entrées and thoughtful wine pairings set the stage for an intimate dining experience. $5-$30. 519 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-491-7777, bouquetrestaurant.com. Buz Features full table service, a bountiful wine selection and an environmentally friendly menu in an elegant, exposed-brick dining room. Pick from a whimsical list of “Bar Doeuvres,” including the addictive cheese donuts: beignets with crab and Gruyère dipped in a side of curried remoulade. $4-$25. 3543 Columbia Parkway, Columbia Tusculum, 513-533-2899, buzatgd.net. Cooper’s Hawk A wide-ranging menu accompanies the winery’s housemade wine. $7-$35. 8080 Montgomery Road, Kenwood, 513-488-1110, coopershawkwinery.com. Grandview Tavern & Grille Great cheeseburgers (a grilled Angus half-pounder) and sweet-potato fries. The braised short rib and the oven-roasted sea bass shouldn’t be missed . $9-$38. 2220 Grandview Drive, Fort Mitchell, Ky., 859-341-8439, grandviewtaverngrille.com.
  • Krueger’s Tavern

The menu is broken up into snacks, sandwiches, sausages, “greens” and sides. The Lincolnshire sausage is bursting with herby flavor, served over colcannon — a tart, creamy take on mashed potatoes. Their sandwich section is equally appealing — it features a Cuban, Krueger’s take on the sloppy joe, an eggplant parm sandwich and an awesome, crunchy housemade veggie burger. Try their beer cocktails — beer with booze! $5-$10. 1211 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-834-8670, facebook.com/kruegerstavern.

  • La Poste

Located in a former post office, the seasonal menu items and sommelier wine selections are delivered with a smile. La Poste’s prosciutto salad includes pistachio relish, Stilton blue cheese, blackberry vinaigrette — and, yes, fresh spinach — and it all comes neatly enveloped in a dainty slice of the sweet and savory Italian ham. Be sure to ask for a wine pairing suggestion. $10-$28. 3410 Telford St., Clifton, 513-281-3663, laposteeatery.com.Main Bite

Main Bite creates delicious, seasonal fare with crafty culinary cocktails to go with each bite. All of the sauces and dressings are made in-house. This isn’t a tapas-style restaurant, but the portion sizes are shaved down, so one dish won’t stuff you. Their cocktails feature fruits and vegetables, muddled or pureed accordingly. $7.95-$13.95. 522 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-261-2483, mainbiterestaurant.com.

Maribelle’s Eat + Drink With a homey feeling, diners can see — and actually eat — inside the kitchen. Some favorites include roasted turkey on a pretzel bun with Brie and Brussels sprouts with capers, a sunny-side up egg and toasted walnuts. Saturday and Sunday brunch specials include cornmeal pancakes and a sunny-side egg sandwich with truffle aioli and Gruyère. $9-$14. 3235 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-321-9111, maribellestavern.com. Marty’s Hops & Vines

This College Hill wine and beer emporium offers weekly wine tastings with six healthy pours accompanied by cubed cheese and crackers. Half the shop is retail, selling bottle craft beers and local and international wines, and the other half is a bar and restaurant. Their newly expanded menu consists of salads, baked subs and an individual build-your-own pizza. $7-$10. 6110 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, 513-681-4222, martys-hopsandvines.com.

The Mercer OTR The Mercer OTR fills the niche for those diners looking for easy parking, a sense of space, delicious flavor and gracious service in OTR. The scallops starter, which, though plural, is indeed just two scallops, is amazing. The menu is wide, but the chef excels in seafood and mushrooms in combination, like in the branzino: two crisp filets perched on fregola sarda and maitake mushrooms. $8-$29. 1324 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-5111, themercerotr.com. Metropole at 21c Museum Hotel With a menu focused on dishes cooked in a custom-built wood-burning fireplace, the restaurant is a showcase for the area’s sustainable farmers and producers, and the menu features an ever-changing list of hearth-roasted meats, fish and vegetables, grains and housemade charcuterie. Offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and bar bites. $8-$32. 609 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-578-6660, metropoleonwalnut.com. Nectar

Cincinnati native chef Julie Francis finely crafts a small menu filled with locally sourced, organic ingredients. Sunday brunch is also available, featuring pastured eggs, local honey and fresh-baked breads. $7-$25. 1000 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-929-0525, dineatnectar.com.

  • Otto’s

The pinotage wine is glorious. Try the balsamic tofu for dinner with caramelized kale and honey-curry cream sauce. For brunch, Benedict Otto’s substitutes fried crispy flatbread and smoked salmon for the English muffin and ham of a traditional eggs Benedict. It’s delicious, a bit rich and a true indulgence. $7-$31. 521 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-491-6678, ottosonmain.com.

  • Packhouse Meats

Waiters and waitresses get paid either $10 per hour or 20 percent of their food sales — whichever is higher — so there’s no tipping at Packouse, which serves up meatballs in a variety of formats. Pick a packed meat (quinoa, turkey, fried chicken, etc.), then a gravy and stick them in a bowl, on a sandwich or in a salad. $7.50-$9.50.  Packhouse Meats, 1004 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859-415-2312, packhousemeats.com.

  • The Presidents Room

The Presidents Room restaurant inside The Phoenix has a traditional feel, but with some whimsical touches that welcome a younger crowd. The snacks section had some good bar nibbles — spiced pistachios, smoked olives, bruschetta-of-the-day and deviled eggs. The black cod is excellent, as is the strip loin steak. $9-$36. 812 Race St., Downtown, 513-721-2260, thepresidentsrm.com.Red Feather KitchenRed Feather serves up from-scratch housemade dishes using the best possible ingredients. Described as New American, chef Brad Bernstein says the partners wanted to create a chef-driven restaurant reflecting the diversity of the global influences they each picked up as they honed their craft. Red Feather is an unpretentious, approachable, neighborhood spot that serves “fun food that people enjoy.” $7-$23. 3200 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-407-3631, redfeatherkitchen.com.Red Roost TavernThe Hyatt Regency’s farm-to-table Red Roost Tavern joins top-notch hotel eateries downtown. Red Roost’s philosophy is: “Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served.” They emphasize harvesting produce within a 100-mile radius of the restaurant. $12-$34. 151 W. Fifth St., Downtown, 513-579-1234, cincinnati.hyatt.com.The Rookwood

Rookwood tile and pottery is a large part of Cincinnati’s heritage, and the restaurant that inhabits the former pottery building is putting its stamp on Cincinnati as well. Great food and well-crafted cocktails are their specialties, served in the main dining room, the loft or inside one of the pottery’s old kilns. The menu has some unique Cincinnati dishes: Hanky Pankys on the small plates list, french fries with Grippo’s seasoning and a crazy-good pork belly sandwich. The young staff has a lot of creativity and skill. $6-$28. 1077 Celestial St., Mount Adams, 513-421-5555, therookwood.com.

  • Salazar

The eponymous restaurant from chef Jose Salazar mixes old and new to create an approachable yet refined farm-inspired menu. Salazar offers creative dishes including cured and potted items, like chicken liver mousse, and housemade rillettes, terrines and charcuterie. There are also comfortable choices like burgers, fish and pasta. The in-house pastry chef makes delectable sweets and the wide-ranging drink menu features thoughtful craft beers, cocktails and wines. $9-$31. 1401 Republic St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-621-7000, salazarcincinnati.com.The SummitClass is in session! Yes, this restaurant is inside a school. Culinary and hospitality students at the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State are handpicked to staff the kitchen and dining room in this teaching restaurant. Top-notch food at reasonable prices paired with an extensive wine list make this a restaurant for the city to be proud of. $10-$28. 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton, 513-569-4980, facebook.com/thesummit.mci.Teller’s of Hyde Park

Located in the historic Hyde Park Savings and Loan building, Teller’s offers unique ambiance, 30 beers on tap, a plethora of wine and a comprehensive menu with pastas, pizzas, salads, steak and more. They also offer a back patio and the option to eat inside of a bank vault. $7-$36. 2710 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-321-4721, tellersofhydepark.com.

Trio Trio offers something-for-everyone American-style menu items with an upscale twist. Choose from many great salads, sandwiches, gourmet pizzas and seafood and pair your meal with a nice glass of wine from the extensive wine list. The filet mignon, the Trio Meatloaf and the soy-glazed seabass are customer favorites. $11-$35. 7565 Kenwood Road, Kenwood, 513-984-1905, triobistro.com. Virgil’s Café

Specializes in from-scratch cooking, utilizing its own garden, with a little Creole flair. Menus change frequently with rotating daily features, but some highlights include starters like fried bologna sandwiches and entrées like burgers, Andouille carbonara with housemade Andouille and Vietnamese smoked pork. $10-$25. 710 Fairfield Ave., Bellevue, Ky., 859-491-3287, virgilscafe.com.

Walhill Farm

By using what is readily available from the 250-acre farm itself and local farms nearby, the restaurant provides guests with higher-quality products at a lower price point. Walhill Farm raises Black Angus cattle, Berkshire pigs, chickens and other animals sustainably, free from antibiotics and fed with crops from the farm’s acres of pasture. They even have a butcher shop on the premises, where they prepare most of their cuts. $7-$25. 857 Six Pine Rach Road, Batesville, Ind., 812-934-2600, walhillfarm.com.

  • Wildflower Café

With local farm-raised, grass-fed beef and an extensive wine list that features products from Cincinnati-area vineyards, Wildflower is dedicated to producing the freshest and best-quality food at an honest price. Foods are local, sustainable and seasonable to offer peak freshness. $9-$24. 207 E. Main St., Mason, 513-492-7514, wildflowergourmetcafe.com. Wise OwlExpect thoughtful and consistently excellent wine recommendations in an inviting atmosphere at this wine bar and tapas restaurant. The menu includes small plates, like a charcuterie board and bruschetta, plus more filling options like a variety of sliders (braised short rib or beef tenderloin) and some light seafood dishes. Wine available by the glass and bottle. $9-$17. 6206 Mulhauser Road, West Chester, 513-860-9463, wiseowlwinebar.com.

  • Zula

You could dine every night for a week and sample a new pot of mussels from a different locale around the world each time. Preparations include classic French, Mediterranean, Thai and New Orleans, among others. But don’t get stuck on the mussels: You’ll miss out on a half-dozen flatbreads and great appetizers like eggplant fries dusted with confectioner’s sugar and a spicy-sour dipping sauce. $6-$17. 1400 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-744-9852, zulabistro.com.

COFFEEHOUSES

Awakenings Coffee and more than 500 bottles of boutique wine, plus food and artwork, in the middle of Hyde Park square. Prices vary. 2734 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-321-2525, awakeningscoffeeandwine.com. Bow Tie Café Coffee house and café with dollar-off drinks during happy hour 5-9 p.m. Monday-Friday and $5 mimosas and bloody marys all weekend long. Prices vary. 1101 Saint Gregory St., Mount Adams, 513-621-CAFÉ, bowtiecafe.com. BLOC Coffee Company BLOC earns its reputation for serving some of the best cups of joe in the city. All dairy comes from Snowville Creamery, giving that frothy latte an extra touch of wholesomeness. $1-$4. 3101 Price Ave., Price Hill, 513-429-4548, bloccoffeecompany.com.
  • Carabello Coffee

Husband-and-wife owners Justin and Emily Carabello roast and sell their coffee on the premises, but they’re also entrenched in local and international philanthropy, giving much of their profits to Third World coffee regions in Nicaragua and Kenya. Also carries frozen ice pops called Bello’s Bike Pops. Prices vary. 107 E. Ninth St., Newport, Ky., 859-415-1587, carabellocoffee.com.

Coffee Please Local coffee roaster in Madeira’s town square, offering pastries, sandwiches, salads and soups. $5-$10. 6930 Miami Ave., Madeira, 513-271-4700.
  • Coffee Emporium

A Queen City staple with multiple locations, Coffee Emporium has been serving up artisanal roasted beans for decades (they’re the city’s oldest coffee house) and offers up some of the best breakfast pastries in Cincinnati. A hip, laid-back atmosphere makes it feel like you’re at a book club meeting with 20 of your friends. Prices vary. Multiple locations including 110 E. Central Parkway, Downtown, coffee-emporium.com.Collective EspressoBig-city-style espresso and coffee bar. Offers cool blends like cortados and espresso lemonade. $3-$7. 207 Woodward St., Over-the-Rhine; 4037 Hamilton Ave., Northside, collectiveespresso.com. College Hill Coffee CompanyFull espresso and coffee bar with a hearty café menu and gift shop. Free music and Wi-Fi. Prices vary. 6128 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, 513-542-2739, collegehillcoffeeco.com.Fuel CoffeeCoffee shop, breakfast, brunch and lunch. $5-$10. 2726 Riverside Drive, East End, facebook.com/fuelcoffeecincy.HD Beans and Brews CaféA coffee shop, bar, café and sports haven in one. Fair-trade coffee, more than 100 local and national microbrews and wines. Prices vary. 6721 Montgomery Road, Silverton, 513-793-6036, hdbeans.com.Highland Coffee HouseNot your traditional coffeehouse — Highland doesn’t open shop ’til 5 p.m., and alongside a bunch of coffee drinks and a full bar, there are delights like boozy milkshakes, iced Thai coffee and fresh cookies. Prices vary. 2839 Highland Ave., Corryville, 513-861-4151, facebook.com/officialhighlandcoffeehouse.Kitty’s CoffeeHot or iced coffee, tea and sandwiches. $2-$8. 119 E. Court St., Downtown, 513-632-9580.Left Bank CoffeehouseServes Deeper Roots coffee as well as snacks and pastries from local purveyors including Savor Catering, Shadeau Bread, Grateful Grahams and more. $2-$7. 701 Greenup St., Covington, Ky., 859-431-4655, leftbankcoffeehouse.com.Lookout JoeSmall but mighty, Lookout Joe in the heart of downtown can roast with the best of them. Serves fair-trade beans from around the world as well as a great selection of pastries, bagels, and smoothies. Also in Mount Lookout. Prices vary. Multiple locations including 15 W. Seventh St., Downtown, 513-241-0281.

  • Newberry Bros. Coffee

What started as a fair-trade organic coffee roaster and coffee shop in the Mansion Hill neighborhood of Newport has become a full-fledged café and wine bar (with an awesome patio). Newberry Bros. Coffee roasts small batches of beans sourced from family farms in Sumatra, Peru and Guatemala. And if that’s not enough to get you in the door, their from-scratch daily pastries, deli sandwiches, more than 60 wines by-the-glass and 500 different bourbons and whiskies should be. Prices vary. 530 Washington Ave., Newport, Ky., 859-261-9463, newberrybroscoffee.com.Reality Tuesday CaféCoffeehouse and bakery. Prices vary. 1518 Dixie Highway, Park Hills, Ky., 859-261-4939, facebook.com/realitytuesdaycafe.Redtree Art Gallery and Coffee ShopFair-trade and organic coffee within a gallery setting. Prices vary. 3210 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-321-8733, redtreegallery.net.

Roebling Point Books & Coffee

Local independent bookstore with interior coffee shop. $2-$5. 306 Greenup St., Covington, Ky., roeblingpointbooks.com.Rohs Street Café

This not-for-profit coffeehouse close to the University of Cincinnati fully embraces ethical sourcing by offering only fair-trade coffees and teas. Choose from a selection of locally roasted La Terza coffees to sip with a fresh pastry. $1.20-$4.45. 245 W. McMillan St., Clifton, 513-381-7647, rohsstreetcafe.com.

Sidewinder Coffee & Tea The café offers locally roasted fair-trade and organic coffees, espresso drinks, spirits, blended and loose-leaf teas. Tasty sweet and savory treats abound, including a veggie sandwich with roasted red peppers, cucumbers, spinach, hummus and provolone. $1.50-$7.25. 4181 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-542-8321, sidewindercoffee.com. Sitwell’s

Maybe you enjoy the smell of coffee, but would rather have a beer or mixed drink in your hand. This Clifton coffee shop offers a fine line of artisan coffee, local and imported beer, a full bar with signature cocktails and even fancy milkshakes. Food choices include salads, breakfast, sandwiches and options for vegetarians and kids. $4-$9. 324 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-281-7487, sitwellscoffeehouse.com.

The team at Trailhead Coffee excels at Japanese-method iced coffee. - Photo: Hailey Bollinger

  • Trailhead Coffee

Newport, Ky.’s Reser Bicycle doesn’t just sell bikes — they also sell really good coffee at their coffee outpost Trailhead. It’s currently the only place in town where you can get a whole bag or a cup of Portland-originated Stumptown Coffee, which is like the gold of coffees. Using rotating roasts and Brown Bear Bakery’s salty caramel syrup, they make a great somewhat-sweet drink called The Grizzly (try it). The best part of the shop? Their baristas are knowledgeable and not intimidating like those at some craft coffee joints.

Prices vary. 648 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859-261-6187, reserbicycle.com/pages/trailheadcoffee.

Velocity Bike & Bean Full-service bike shop that serves coffee. $2-$5. 7560 Burlington Pike, Florence, Ky., 859-371-8356, velocitybb.com.  

DELIS, SANDWICHES AND TAKEAWAY

Avril-Bleh & SonsA historic Cincinnati butcher and meat market with attached deli and takeout. Prices vary. 33 E. Court St., Downtown, 513-241-2433, avril-blehmeats.com.
A cheese plate from Dutch's Larder - Photo: Jesse Fox

Dutch’s Larder

Local legend Dutch’s established itself as a wine and bottling shop and open-air pony keg in 1947 and has expanded into a deli/grocery. Not only do they have an enormous selection of wine and craft beer, they also have an upscale larder with an impressive selection of artisan charcuterie, gourmet cheeses, sandwiches, sausages and pantry staples.

Prices vary. 3378 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-871-1446, dutchscincinnati.com.

Fred & Gari’s Fresh meats roasted daily draw a crowd during downtown lunch breaks — along with the charm and hospitality of the staff. No packaged deli meats here: The chicken breasts are oven-baked and artfully sliced by hand, and the ham is just like mama made. There are also soft chocolate chip cookies and freshly baked pies. $3-$20. 629 Vine St., Downtown, 513-784-9000.
  • Fond Lunch and Deli

An organically inspired lunch stop that does locally sourced deli and ready-made meals. $7-$14. 10764 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, facebook.com/fondorganiclunchanddeli.

  • Fresh Table at Findlay Market

Meredith Trombly, Louis Snowden and their staff do all the hard parts — finding the best locally sourced ingredients and cooking 40-50 delicious and beautifully presented dishes every day. Baby-back ribs and grilled wild-caught salmon highlight the main courses at this constantly evolving eatery. Try the eggless egg salad. $5-$12. 1801 Race St., Findlay Market, Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-3774, freshtable.biz.

  • Gilpin’s Steamed Grub

If you really need a steamed sandwich — like their My Cousin Vinny, with pepperoni, ham, bacon, banana peppers, jalapeno, cheese and barbecue chips on a pretzel bun — a steamed burger or a really creative vegetarian snack (with a lot of cheese, cream cheese and avocado) at like 11 p.m. on a Sunday, they’ve got you covered. Alternately, if it’s 2 a.m. Thursday-Saturday, you can get the Doritos sandwich off the drunk menu, with turkey, cheese, lettuce, honey mustard, dressing and Doritos — nacho cheese or Cool Ranch. Prices vary. 2504 W. Clifton Ave., Clifton; 37 E. Seventh St., Downtown, eatgilpins.com.

Gramma Debbie’s Kitchen Old-fashioned comfort food, cooked and ready for you to take home. $5-$12. 1801 Race St., Findlay Market, Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-4726, facebook.com/grammadebbiesatfindlay-market. The Gruff

The Gruff is a gourmet market/deli, a bar and a pizzeria/restaurant all working in tandem. The restaurant does brick-oven pizzas and hot sandwiches, with Graeter’s ice cream and Covington’s Piebird pies and milkshakes for dessert. You can even order food and beer through the drive-thru. Prices vary. 129 E. Second St, Covington, Ky. 859-581-0040, atthegruff.com. 

  • Happy Belly on Vine

Healthy clean-eating spot on Vine Street for breakfast and lunch. Offers smoothies and takeaway, like their basil-hummus wrap or a sweet potato burger. $5-$8. 1344 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-873-8619, facebook.com/happybellyonvine.Izzy’sA Cincinnati tradition, Izzy’s serves a reuben we can all be proud of. Other sandwiches such as the Reuben-ator and the Izzy’s Mex showcase their delicious corned beef. $5-$10. Multiple locations including 800 Elm St., Downtown, 513-721-4241; 610 Main St., Downtown, 513-241-6246, izzys.com.

  • New York New York Deli

If you want a taste of the Big Apple, travel no further than to Mount Washington, specifically to the family-owned New York NY Deli on Beechmont Avenue. The menu features delicious 6- or 12-inch subs made with New York-style recipes, and each sub features a Big Apple name, such as the Midtown Club, the Empire State or the Bronx Bomber. Prices vary. 2210 Beechmont Ave., Mount Washington, 513-233-3354, nynydeli.com.

  • Picnic and Pantry

An offshoot of Northside favorite Melt, Picnic and Pantry offers an abundance of locally grown whole foods and gourmet take-home salads and sandwiches. Picnic-perfect. A knowledgeable staff of chefs develops the menu and supplies more than enough produce, dairy and meat to make that special dinner without a trip to the megastore. $5-$12. 1400 Republic St., 513-381-6325, picnicandpantry.com.
Rascal’s NY DeliWhat are the signs of modern civilization? Indoor plumbing, a literate population and a good deli, right? Rascal’s is that deli — the real deal. They serve the best pastrami that’ll ever pass your lips. Rascal’s has soul food for your Yiddish heart: chopped liver, blintzes, knishes and kugel. $3-$15. 9525 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash. 513-429-4567, rascalsdeli.com.Revolution Rotisserie

Revolution specializes in hormone-free, preservative-free roasted Amish chicken on a number of pita sandwiches named after revolutionaries — Marie Curie, Thomas Jefferson, Gandhi, etc. — as well as in chicken-centric house specialties, indulgent appetizers, fresh salads and traditional sides made with a twist. There is also a full drink menu with draft and bottled beer, wine and house punch. $8-$13. 1106 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-0009, revolutionrotisserie.com.

Son & Soil

Stephen Williams, chef and owner of Covington’s Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar, and wife Jessica’s quick, convenient-yet-healthy fast-casual carryout serves coffee, freshly pressed juices, smoothies, sandwiches on Sixteen Bricks bread and salads. Ingredients are sourced from local farmers. $5-$10. 627 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-360-6268, facebook.com/sonandsoil.

  • Sprout

Sprout, a market and eatery, spoils you with local, fresh ingredients. Everything is delicious, especially the housemade pasta: tendrils of fettuccini marinated in tomato confit, fresh basil and melted Parmesan-Reggiano wrapped around forks. The menu also features salads, sandwiches, fresh seasfood and homemade ice cream. $5-$18. 941 Pavilion St., Mount Adams, 513-721-6977, sproutmtadams.com.

  • Tom+Chee

A gourmet grilled cheese and tomato soup shop with a famous grilled-cheese donut. Featured on Shark Tank. Prices vary. 420 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-721-2433; Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., 859-291-2433, tomandchee.com.

  • Total Juice Plus

Total Juice Plus has been serving natural fruit smoothies, wraps and fresh squeezed juices to the weekday downtown population for over a decade. They use all-natural flash-frozen fruit, extol the benefits of fresh juice and make excellent wraps with a Mediterranean lean. $5.95-$9.50. 631 Vine St., Downtown, 513-784-1666, totaljuicecincy.com.

The ‘Wich on Sycamore Quality made-to-order sandwiches with roasted meats. $5-$10. 425 Sycamore St., Downtown, 513-421-9424, thewichonsycamore.com.

DINERS AND CHILI PARLORS

Anchor Grill Taking its blazing neon “We May Doze, But Never Close” sign to heart, the Anchor Grill stays open 24/7, offering round-the-clock breakfast fare along with lunch and dinner comfort-food classics. The diner ambiance is unmatched, from the sassy-yet-personable waitresses to the vintage ’50s animatronic miniature band moving in sync with jukebox selections. $4-$12. 438 Pike St., Covington, Ky., 859-431-9498. Blue Ash Chili This family-owned chili parlor, established in 1969, not only offers traditional Cincinnati-style chili with coneys and three-, four- and five-ways, but also a menu loaded with sandwiches, burgers, salads and sides. Featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives . $3-$8. 9565 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash, 513-984-6107, blueashchili.com.
  • Camp Washington Chili

A great place for breakfast, lunch or dinner, Camp Washington Chili features greasy-spoon breakfast offerings, double-decker sandwiches, Cincinnati-style chili, coneys and even a few salads. $5-$8. 3005 Colerain Ave., Camp Washington, 513-541-0061, campwashingtonchili.com.

Dixie Chili

Founded in 1929 by “Papa Nick,” Dixie Chili has classic, secret-ingredient Cincinnati-style chili with cheese and onions on spaghetti. $1.50-$7. Multiple locations including 733 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859-291-5337; 2421 Madison Ave., Covington, Ky., 859-431-7444, dixiechili.com.

The Echo Customer favorites include the Echo Grill (baked ham, Swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato served with tartar sauce), the open-faced turkey sandwich, the Reuben and the Hot Mess (layers of home fries, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, gravy and cheese). The Echo has weekly specials and always serves up homemade pie. $6-$10. 3510 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, 513-321-2816, echo-hydepark.com. Hathaway’s The old-fashioned flavors of the soda fountain are found at Hathaway’s, including the best darn chocolate shake in town. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped through a time portal to the 1950s. Get a plate lunch or a burger, but if you’re there for breakfast (and when isn’t it time for breakfast food?) don’t miss the French toast and goetta. Hathaway’s does them both exactly right. $4-$9. 441 Vine St., Carew Tower, Downtown, 513-621-1332, facebook.com/hathawaysdiner. J&J Restaurant This old-school diner serves huge double-decker sandwiches, good chili, cheese coneys and all-day breakfast at a great price. Tucked into a strip mall, this is a no-frills neighborhood staple with lots of regulars and quick service. $5-$8. 6159 Glenway Ave., Westwood, 513-661-2260. Pepper Pod Open 24 hours a day so you can get your fried-pickle fix whenever the craving hits — and once you have the Pepper Pod’s fried pickles, the hankering will hit you often. The meatloaf goes very quickly in the evening, so get there early. Greasy spoon dining at its best, the Pepper Pod is a Newport legend. $3-$10. 703 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859-431-7455. Pleasant Ridge Chili A local chili joint that just celebrated 50 years. Offers chili to-go and late-night eats. $3-$9. 6032 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, 513-531-2365, pleasantridgechili.com. Price Hill Chili

Generations of West Side patrons have grown up on this iconic, family-owned restaurant’s diverse, fairly priced menu. Having expanded several times over the years, there are now multiple dining areas and a full-service cocktail lounge called Golden Fleece attached. What sets them apart from other chili joints is the full menu of sandwiches, sides, entrées and even breakfast served all day. $2-$15. 4920 Glenway Ave., Price Hill, 513-471-9507, pricehillchili.com.

Rima’s Diner There are old-school diners that try too hard to resurrect the past, and then there are diners that authentically live in the past to the point where you feel like everything is trapped in amber, including yourself. Covington, Ky.’s Rima’s Diner follows the latter logic — in a great way. Elvis paraphernalia exploded inside the restaurant, from knickknacks of Fat Elvis to ephemera of handsome younger Elvis to his vinyl record sleeves hanging on walls. $5-$10. Rima’s Diner, 635 Madison Ave., Covington, Ky., 859-261-7800, facebook.com/rimasdiner. Skyline Chili A locally based chain of chili parlors founded by Greek immigrants in Cincinnati in 1949. Their Cincinnati-style chili is poured over spaghetti or hot dogs along with chili burritos, fries and baked potatoes. Their vegetarian version is almost as tasty with black beans and rice. $4-$9. Multiple locations including 290 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-221-2142, skylinechili.com. Sugar n’ Spice Huge, fluffy omelets and “wispy thin” pancakes have made Sugar n’ Spice a bona fide breakfast institution for more than 70 years. Lunch highlights include third- and half-pound burgers, double-deckers and signature sandwiches. $3-$11. 4381 Reading Road, Avondale, 513-242-3521, sugar-n-spice-restaurant.com. Tucker’s Truly an Over-the-Rhine institution (same family since 1946!) and an “everyman” restaurant. Solid, Midwestern staples for hungry, working people. Features a full breakfast menu complete with a variety of omelets, pancakes and egg dishes. Try the Big Tucker, a double-decker burger with cheese and special sauce. Other standbys include biscuits and gravy and the fried cod sandwich. $4-$7. 1637 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-721-7123.

AFRICAN

  • Elephant Walk Injera & Curry House

One genius way to set yourself apart in Cincinnati’s sea of Indian restaurants is by serving Ethiopian food. Elephant Walk Injera & Curry House boasts a large, double-sided menu — Northern Indian on one side, traditional Ethiopian on the other. But what’s really awesome (besides the 3-7 p.m. daily half-price bottles of wine, which includes organic Ethiopian wine) is the 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. daily lunch buffet. It has both Ethiopian and Indian dishes, so you can sample all you can eat of both country’s cuisines and gorge yourself on naan and injera. $4-$30. 170 W. McMillan St., Clifton Heights, 513-526-1555, elephantwalkcincinnati.weebly.com.

Emanu

The cuisine comes from eastern Africa, specifically sharing dishes

from Ethiopia and Eritrea, which neighbors Ethiopia to the north. Guests can delight in communal platters of meat and vegetable stews, meant to be scooped up with injera flat bread. There are plenty of options for vegans and vegetarians, like the Ahmelti with collard greens and lightly spiced cabbage cooked with onions and pepper. $10-$22. 6063 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, 513-351-7686, emanuea.com.

Habesha Family-run restaurant with true Ethiopian dishes and Ethiopian-style coffee ceremony. $7-$15. 5070 Crookshank Road, Westwood, 513-429-4890, habeshacincinnati.com.  Teranga They offer dishes like kebabs with fish or shrimp and whole grilled tilapia, with the head on or off, served with sides of couscous or steamed noodles. It’s a great place to try West African dishes such as Mechoui (stuffed lamb leg with onion sauce) and Charwarma (chicken or beef in a mustard sauce served in flatbread). $5-$10. 8438 Vine St., Hartwell, 513-821-1300.

ASIAN

  • AmerAsia

Quaint and comfortable with a huge beer list, AmerAsia might be Covington’s best-kept secret. Offering all the usual Chinese dishes and a list of chef specialties, AmerAsia’s food is anything but the usual. Chef Chu makes it all from scratch. His motto: “Do not take short cuts and do everything with passion and love.” Enjoy it all while taking in the eclectic décor of Kung Fu movie posters and paper lanterns. $7.50-$16. 521 Madison Ave., Covington, Ky., 859-261-6121, facebook.com/kungfoodchu.

China Gourmet

China Gourmet has been serving fine Chinese cuisine since 1977. The menu at China Gourmet is not your typical gigantic Chinese menu with hundreds of items. It is divided into sections of classics, what’s new and traditional favorites, each with just a handful of choices. $8-$22. 3340 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-871-6612, thechinagourmet.com.

Cilantro

“Eat well. Eat fresh. Eat often.” These three sentences serve both as a tagline and as a personal philosophy for local restaurateur Darren Phan, owner of Cilantro Vietnamese Bistro, Clifton’s brothy, herby, vermicelli-filled landmark. A collection of family recipes and flavors brought over from the motherland serve as the heart from which joy and laughter still pump. $5.50-$7.95. 235 W. McMillan St., Clifton Heights, 513-281-1732, eatatcilantro.com.

Fusian Fusian’s fast-casual approach, in which you choose your own custom sushi roll, prompted many to coin the restaurant the “Chipotle of sushi.” They offer a diverse selection of non-traditional sushi proteins, including steak, chicken and roasted tofu, but the classic tuna and salmon rolls remain among the most popular. $6-$9. Multiple locations including 600 Vine St., Downtown, 513-421-7646, fusian.com. House of Sun A great find for Saturday and Sunday mornings, you’ll love the traditional Chinese Dim Sum, with long, sweet fried breadsticks, small sausage-filled steamed dumplings, the scallion pancake with egg and the most delicious Sesame ShaoBing with beef — all bargain-priced. $6-$11. 11959 Lebanon Road, Sharonville, 513-769-0888, houseofsuncincy.com. Ichiban Sushi, sashimi and Robotayaki grill (traditional Japanese charcoal grill) offerings abound in the cozy Ichiban dining room. Tapas-style small plates, dishes to tempt carnivores and a dizzying variety of noodle dishes round out the menu. Belly up to the sushi bar or bring a group and dive into the half-price sushi menu while enjoying a warm sake or Asian-inspired cocktail. $10-$20. 1020 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-321-8686, ichibancinci.com.
  • Kaze

The old Cincinnati Color building on Vine Street is such a landmark that it would have been dreadful had it been torn down. Thankfully, Japanese gastropub Kaze saved it. With a distinct bar and dining room, favorites are the pork belly buns and kobe sliders, with cucumber pickled kimchi-style and a rich Korean barbecue sauce. The huge patio and attached bar do daily happy hours, with food and drink specials and frequent late-night dance parties. $5-$30. 1400 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-898-7991, kazeotr.com.

Le’s Pho and Sandwiches The menu is simple yet extensive, offering both traditional Vietnamese dishes as well as those that cater to less adventurous palates. The banh mi, a traditional Vietnamese sandwich, comes complete with your choice of chicken, beef, pork, teriyaki or dac biet (a hearty combination of pork and pâté), topped with pickled carrot, onion, cilantro, jalapeño and just the right amount of mayonnaise. But the dish you will most often find in front of Le’s customers is the pho, with a heaping serving of Vietnamese broth, rice noodles, meat, vegetables and herbs. $4-$6. 3 E. Court St., Downtown, 513-721-9700. Lulu’s Rice & Noodles

It’s not a Chinese restaurant, it’s a noodle shop! Serving up inexpensive steaming bowls of various Asian rice and noodle dishes garnished with vegetables and seafood or meat. Their soups are great, too. Try the spicy and intense Tom Yum soup with shrimp. $5.50-$9.50. 135 W. Kemper Road, Springdale, 513-671-4949, lulusricenoodles.com.

Oriental Wok

Transcending the typical Chinese American menu since 1977, Oriental Wok offers innovative, fresh and delicious chef-prepared cuisine that’s never boring — from five-spice tofu over stir-fried spinach to sea bass with black bean and garlic sauce or a steak with peppercorn sauce. Excellent beer and wine selections. $11-$27. 317 Buttermilk Pike, Fort Mitchell, Ky., 859-331-3000; 2444 Madison Road, Hyde Park, 513-871-6888, orientalwok.com.

  • Pho Lang Thang

Located in the heart of Findlay Market, Pho Lang Thang offers dishes like hot pho soup, spring rolls and the ever-popular banh mi sandwiches, which come sprinkled with assorted pickled vegetables and your choice of meat or tofu. They also serve Vietnamese coffee sweetened with condensed milk and brewed right on the table into your glass. $5-$9. 114 W. Elder St., Findlay Market, Over-the-Rhine, 513-376-9177, facebook.com/dothelangthang.

  • Quan Hapa

“Hapa” is the word for a mixed-race Asian or Pacific Islander — the perfect nomenclature considering the food is an iteration of the best dishes and spirits from Korea, Vietnam, Japan and Hawaii. Their menu is delineated into sections of small plates, steamed bun sliders, noodles, poké (Hawaiian marinated fish salad) and rolls, with all of the dishes shareable. $4-$13. 1331 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-7826, quanhapa.com.

  • Riverside Korean Restaurant

For authentic Korean dishes, Riverside Korean Restaurant is an excellent choice. They offer traditional rice-based dolsot bibimbap with mixed vegetables. Or try something new from the “Adventure Dinner” menu, like the sam gyub sal bo sam, a marinated pork belly dish. All dishes are served with a delightful selection of side dishes called ban chan. Floor tables available. $12-$36. 512 Madison Ave., Covington, Ky., 859-291-1484, riversidekoreanrestaurant.com.Shanghai Mama’s

Shanghai Mama’s menu gives you the option of mixing and matching proteins with starches. The noodles are homemade, thick and rustic and very delicious. And Mama’s is very vegetarian-friendly. There are several seitan dishes, including veggie cashew chicken and the Happy Buddha. $7.95-$24.95. 216 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-241-7777, shanghaimamas.com.

Song Long We’re lucky to have Song Long’s authentic Vietnamese food in town. Family-run, Song Long is often busy enough to have a line out the door on weekday nights. Try the Bahn Xeo crepe stuffed with bean sprouts and shrimp, or the Gui Con with its clear, cool rice paper and blend of fresh cilantro sprigs and vermicelli doused with peanut sauce. Not fancy, just fantastic. $7-$16. 1737 Section Road, Roselawn, 513-351-7631, songlong.net. Straits of Malacca The restaurant offers three different menus: lunch (Tiomon Café), happy hour (Blue Intan) and dinner (Langkawi Spice). All share similar dishes, the happy hour menu being the smallest and featuring just a selection of appetizers. The Corvina entrée on the dinner menu is a chunky fillet of white fish encrusted with a savory cilantro kesom crust, surrounded by seasoned cooked okra, red peppers, eggplant and pineapple rice, then finished off with beet foam. $5-$28. 202 W. Main St., Mason, 513-492-7656, straitsmalacca.com. Sukhothai Thai Cuisine

Exotic dishes like mango prawns stir-fried in a tamarind sauce or the tamarind crispy duck. There are familiar options like stir-fry and noodle dishes such as pad Thai with your choice of meat and house fried rice. All of the dishes can be made vegetarian-friendly with vegetables or tofu. $6-$18. 8102 Market Place Lane, Montgomery, 513-794-0057, sukhothaicincy.com.

Sung Korean Bistro For a break from the ordinary downtown dinner, Sung Korean Bistro hits the spot. Sung serves traditional Korean dishes like hot stone bowl Dolsot Bibimbap, sizzling with your choice of meat and a spicy chili bean paste served on the side. Try the Doeji Galbi pork rib dish, which packs a sweet-and-spicy flavor combo served with rice. For an appetizer, try the Haemul Pajun: wheat flour pancake with egg, shrimp, crabmeat, squid, green onion and pepper. They also serve sushi for dinner. $15-$20. 700 Elm St., Downtown, 513-721-7864, sungkoreanbistro.com. Teak Thai With three floors of dining, a full bar and a large outdoor patio area, Teak Thai has the room to accommodate throngs of Thai and sushi lovers. It also has the food to keep them coming back for more. Thai curries, soups, stir-fries, sushi and sashimi all vie for space alongside noodle dishes and house specialties like seafood claypot and crispy duck. $3.50-$17.95. 1049 Saint Gregory St., Mount Adams, 513-665-9800, teakthaicuisine.com.
  • Thai Express

A favorite stop for inexpensive, good Thai food and friendly service. Most dishes come with your choice of tofu, chicken, pork or shrimp. All-time favorites are Pad Thai and the red curry with chicken, spring rolls or the Waterfall beef salad. The tiny, no-frills kitchen puts out some very tasty Thai food. Everything is cooked in one of the two giant iron woks, and nothing on the menu is outside a student’s budget. $5-$11. 213 W. McMillan St., Clifton, 513-651-9000, facebook.com/thaiexpresscincinnati.Thai NamtipLocated in a strip mall, Thai Namtip has a rather unassuming location, but diners who know good Thai food make regular pilgrimages to this spot. Their specialty is the Orange Chicken, with breaded chicken breast drenched in a tangy orange sauce with vegetables and cashews. Another specialty is the Seafood Clay Pot. $3-$16. 5461 N. Bend Road, Monfort Heights, 513-481-3360, thainamtip.com.Tiger Dumpling Co.

A tiny space adjacent to UC’s campus, Tiger Dumpling Co. serves belly-warming, great tasting and inexpensive food until 3 a.m. every night. Tiger offers two dumpling options — pork and veggie — which are so big, you’ll struggle to pick them up with your chopsticks. The real winner at this place is the sauce, deemed “tiger sauce.” You taste vinegar, a little red pepper and the tiniest hint of sweetness. It is delicious and addicting. $4-$5. 249 Calhoun St, Clifton Heights, 513-475-0000, tigerdumpling.com.

Wild GingerMany Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese dishes complement the creative sushi menu. A recent expansion added a Hibachi grill to the mix. Try the Heema Roll, with shrimp tempura, asparagus and avocado, topped with yellowfin tuna and sprinkled with crabmeat and tempura flakes. $10-$15. 3655 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, 513-533-9500, wildgingercincy.com.

CARIBBEAN

Caribe Carryout A Caribbean carryout with dishes like empanadas, stews, coconut chicken, black beans and more. $3-$7.50. 2605 Vine St., Corryville, 513-221-1786, caribeonvine.com.
  • Island Frydays

This bright-yellow building sitting in the heart of Corryville offers authentic Jamaican delights like jerk chicken, sweet plantains, oxtail and curry goat. Featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. $8-$10. 2826 Vine St., Corryville, 513-498-0680, islandfrydays.com.

JameriSol Chef and owner Nyah Higgins creates Jamaican-American food inspired by her grandmother’s recipes. The twist? Higgins replaces meat with all vegetarian and vegan ingredients, like a jerk tofu instead of jerk chicken. Prices vary. 1801 Race St., Stall 16, Findlay Market, Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/jamerisol.

CAJUN AND CREOLE

Allyn’s Café The sheer number of menu items you’ll find at Allyn’s will surprise you. There are Cajun specialties like blackened gator, jambalaya and red beans and rice; slow-cooked ribs; Tex-Mex treats like enchiladas and chimichangas; and standard pub grub like hot wings, fries and sandwiches. There is also a menu for the kids and beverages for adults (try the margaritas). $9-$20. 3538 Columbia Parkway, Columbia-Tusculum, 513-871-5779, allynscafe.com. Dee Felice Café If you’re looking for more of an experience than just dinner, swing into Dee Felice Café. Along with spicy New Orleans-style dishes, you’ll enjoy great live Jazz performed on a raised stage behind the bar Wednesday through Sunday. The star dish here is the crawfish étouffée, a generous pile of crawfish tails with vegetables and spicy sauce over rice.   $15-$37. 529 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-261-2365, deefelice.com.
  • Knotty Pine on the Bayou

Louisiana cooking featuring alligator, lobster bisque, oysters, fried catfish and frog legs with a mess of sides. Be sure to ask about the nightly special. $11-$30. 6302 Licking Pike, Cold Spring, Ky., 859-781-2200, knottypineonthebayou.com.

  • Mardi Gras on Madison

Latoya Foster and her husband Randy, originally from Algiers Point, Louisiana, were among the first pioneers to establish a foothold in the Cincinnati food-truck movement with their popular New Orleans to Go eatery. Now they’ve parlayed their mobile success into Mardis Gras on Madison, a café featuring classic Cajun and Creole dishes. Foster invents the menu each morning, serving up items like catfish tacos, black beans and rice, fried okra and shrimp po’ boys from opening until they’re gone. Prices vary. 1524 Madison Road, East Walnut Hills, 513-873-9041, facebook.com/mardigrasmad.

Swampwater Grill Southerners will feel right at home. An ample lineup of classic Louisiana favorites like jambalaya, gumbo, po’ boys and red beans and rice are paired with a selection of hardwood-smoked ribs, barbecue chicken and pulled pork. $8-$18. 3742 Kellogg Ave., East End, 513-834-7067, swampwatergrill.com.

BRITISH AND CELTIC

Cock & Bull Public House Cock & Bull serves award-winning fish and chips and better-than-average pub grub, including excellent crab cakes and build-your-own burgers. The atmosphere is convivial, and the beer selection is astounding — 60 beers on tap. $7-$17. Multiple locations including 2645 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-533-4253; 601 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-581-4253; 275 E. Sharon Road, Glendale, 513-771-4253, candbpublichouse.com. Molly Malone’s Northern Kentucky’s own Irish Pub, Molly’s has a great mix of Irish and American fare for lunch, brunch and supper, and serves pizza and appetizers until the wee hours. With 28 draft beers, trivia, karaoke and live music seven nights a week, Molly’s will fill your dance card. $7-$15. 112 E. Fourth St., Covington, Ky., 859-491-6659, covington.mollymalonesirishpub.com. Nicholson’s For some gastropub food with Scottish influence and a cocktail or two, Nicholson’s is a hot spot to hit. They’re known for their fish and chips, but their new menu offers duck-fat fries and shepherd’s pie. If you’re not hungry, check out one of their 90 single-malt scotches, craft cocktails or draft beer. $9-$29. 625 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-564-9111, nicholsonspub.com.

FRENCH AND BELGIAN

Le Bar a Boeuf

Jean-Robert de Cavel’s Le Bar a Boeuf (French slang for ‘beef bar’) is set in The Edgecliff high-rise residences in East Walnut Hills, boasting stunning views over Eden Park and the Ohio river. The city’s most beloved restaurateur opened the bar to specialize in ground meat served with potatoes and veggies, with a selection of sauces, cheese and garnishes to dress. The bison topped with goat cheese and ‘forestiere’ mushroom-based sauce is perfect in every way. $9-$25. 2200 Victory Parkway, E. Walnut Hills. 513-751-2333. jrcincy.com.

  • Jean-Robert’s Table

The casual, upscale menu of French-American cuisine includes foie gras, local chicken with fingerling potatoes and the French Chateau Burger with blue cheese, caramelized onions, tomato and bacon on a fluffy brioche bun. A Duo of Snail & Frog Leg appetizer is also available, served with a crawfish beignet, kale and chablis reduction. $12-$36. 713 Vine St., Downtown, 513-621-4777, jrtable.com.

Taste of Belgium - Photo: Provided
  • Taste of Belgium

Hot, fresh Belgian waffles make delicious breakfast sandwiches, but there are also healthy fruit-and-yogurt parfaits. The crepe station prepares sweet and savory crepes, like the Nati Crepe with goetta, made fresh to order. At dinner, the sophistication goes up a notch with mussels, steak frites and Belgian specialties. Exclusive selection of Belgian beers. $5-$25. Multiple locations including 1133 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-4607; 2845 Vine St., Clifton, 513-394-7105; 3825 Edwards Road, Rookwood, Norwood, 513-3965800, authenticwaffle.com.

GERMAN

Hofbräuhaus The first authentic German Hofbräuhaus in America modeled after the legendary Munich location. Traditionally decorated rooms, beer brewed onsite, a huge biergarten and German dishes make this a fun dining option. $4-$16. 200 E. Third St., Newport, Ky., 859-491-7200, hofbrauhausnewport.com. Iron Skillet

Did you even know that there are eight kinds of schnitzel? The Iron Skillet celebrates traditional Eastern European cuisine with a schnitzel for every day of the week — and then some. $9-$22. 1020 Ohio Pike, Withamsville, 513-561-6776, laszlosironskillet.com. 

Katharina’s Café-Konditorei

Katharina’s is a family-run operation, with the entire staff hailing from Mainz, a small town in Germany. The traditional German menu is bilingual and offers breakfast and lunch — meat, breads, cheeses and, of course, cake — in an authentic kaffee haus environment. $4-$13. 529 Overton St., Newport, Ky., 859-291-2233, katharinascafe.com.

Mecklenburg Gardens 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 Wiener Schnitzel, a tender veal cutlet topped with lemon; it’s served with German fried potatoes and cabbage. They have 16 beers on tap, most of which are German, along with some microbrews. $8-$20. 302 E. University Ave., Corryville, 513-221-5353, mecklenburgs.net.
  • Wunderbar!

Wunderbar! is one of those restaurants that’s considered a “hidden gem.” The authentic German-inspired menu features housemade wursts with locally sourced meats, like the restaurant’s super popular Currywurst — a peculiar invention of post-World War II Germany. It’s a spiced sausage served with a ketchup-Worcestershire-curry sauce. The rotating sausage menu is written on a blackboard behind the bar, but a must-try is the Riesen Brezel, a gigantic, plate-sized pretzel that easily complements any of the bar’s more than 35 beers. $7-$12. 1132 Lee St., Covington, Ky., 859-815-8027, facebook.com/wunderbar.covington.3.

INDIAN

Akash India Authentic Northern Indian cuisine with a lunch buffet and Indian beer. $8-$15. 24 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-723-1300, akashindia.net.
  • Ambar India

Perhaps the classiest of the Indian restaurants along Ludlow Avenue in Clifton, Ambar touts a neat and simple dining room with white tablecloths and consistently good service. $8-$20. 350 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-281-7000, ambarindia.com.

Amma’s Kitchen

Amma’s serves only vegan and vegetarian Indian food, but you won’t miss the meat when the flavors are this complex. Homemade breads include the puffy pillows of cooked dough called batura. They also carry Indo-Chinese dishes. $5-$10. 7633 Reading Road, Roselawn, 513-821-2021, ammaskitchen.com.Amol IndiaExcellent North Indian fare such as saag paneer and chicken korma. Complete the meal with an order of naan — there are 10 varieties to choose from, including garlic and paneer (cheese-filled). Also offers a broad lunch buffet. $8-$15. 354 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-961-3600, amolindiacincinnati.com.Baba India

Baba is known for its gentle blending of herbs and spices, featuring authentic cuisine from Northern India. Try the savory tandoori oven dishes, exotic curries, excellent naan and various mango juice beverages. $6-$14. 3120 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-321-1600, babarestaurant.com.

Bombay Brazier Owners G. and Rip, who own the original Bombay Brazier in Lexington, Ky., bring style and class to a cuisine popularized by buffets, Americanized dishes and rushed, overcrowded dining rooms. What’s their philosophy? Northern Indian recipes done the only way they know: authentically. $12-$28. 7791 Cooper Road, Montgomery, 513-794-0000.

Brij Mohan Indian Sweets & Restaurant

Brij Mohan features authentic northern Indian cuisine specializing in desserts and street-food-style dishes. Try the malai kofta, a creamy onion and tomato sauce with mixed vegetable balls, or homemade cheese dishes like spicy chili paneer or saag paneer with spinach. All dishes are vegetarian and made from scratch, including their pastries. $7-$10. 11259 Reading Road, Sharonville, 513-769-4549, brijmohansweets.com.Deep India

Deep India’s simple, cheaper take on takeout is welcome in the Clifton brotherhood of Indian restaurants. Head to the counter to order, and then wait for your giant Styrofoam container of saag to come out. You can either eat in at one of their fast-food-style tables or take your Goliath order home and make a few meals out of it. $7-$10. 211 W. McMillan Ave., Clifton Heights, 513-421-6453, deepindiarestaurant.com.

Dusmesh Sitting at the bottom of Ludlow Avenue right across from Cincinnati State, Dusmesh is a foodie favorite, offering Northern Indian food made fresh with organic produce. Vegans can substitute coconut milk in any of their dishes. If you want to sample a little bit of everything, check out the lunch buffet. $8-$15. 944 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-221-8900, dusmesh.com. Krishna With only a few seats in house and every dish served in a Styrofoam container, it’s no wonder why the emphasis is on the food. Krishna offers budget-friendly Indian fare without compromising the quality. Go in for the lamb biryani or the saag paneer, and add some vegetable samosas to your order. Their food is friendly whether you’re carnivore or herbivore. $7-$10. 313 Calhoun St., Clifton Heights, 513-961-2878. New Krishna Specializes in a wide variety of North Indian foods. Includes a lunch and dinner buffet. $8.50-$15.99. 11974 Lebanon Road, Sharonville, 513-769-6266, newkrishnaindiancuisine.com. Shaan Indian Cuisine Located in Hyde Park, Shaan Indian Cuisine provides Northern Indian specializing in saag dishes, like the chicken saag and the saag paneer. The Chane Ki Chat is a blend of fruit and vegetables mixed with chickpeas served cold as an appetizer that you don’t normally see, but don’t miss the spicy lamb vindaloo or the ginger lamb. $9-$12. 3880 Paxton Ave., Hyde Park, 513-533-3100, shaanindian.com.
  • Swad

The former owners of Dusmesh opened this spot that’s friendly to all: gluten-free eaters, vegans, bring-your-own-beer types and those who just love excellent garlic naan. $9-$15. 1806 W. Galbraith Road, North College Hill, 513-522-5900, facebook.com/swadfineindianfoodcincinnati.

ITALIAN AND PIZZA

15 North

Wood-fired pizzas are the centerpiece of this restaurant. The Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizzas are smallish — about six slices per pizza — and come with toppings like a Black & Blue (tomato sauce, olive tapenade, blue cheese, pepperoni, roasted onion, Kalamata olives) and Harvest (onion and garlic purée, mozzarella, squash, cherry tomatoes, red pepper, basil). The small plates consist of bruschetta, caprese salad and roasted olives, and even three sandwiches: a veggie, an Italian and a prosciutto. $9-$14. 15 N. Fort Thomas Ave., Fort Thomas, Ky., 859-441-0967, 15northpizza.com.

  • Adriatico’s

Adriatico’s has a huge draft beer selection and 64-ounce growlers to go, plus spicy, garlicky sauce, oversized pepperonis and the super-thick crust that their pizzas are known for. Good luck finding calzones like theirs, too. It’s “madness” every Monday and Tuesday with specials that the college kids can’t turn down. The Bearcat pizza will feed your entire party. $6-$18. 113 W. McMillan St., Clifton Heights, 513-281-4344, adriaticosuc.com.

  • A Tavola

Armed with a pizza oven from Naples, Italy, A Tavola strikes a resounding chord of authenticity while redefining the perfect pie. Their playful selection of signature pizzas — such as the Fig + Prosciutto, Sweet Pea + Bacon or Sausage + Sage — are a blend of the familiar coupled with the exotic. Whet your appetite with their stuffed dates, filled with house sausage, wrapped in smoky bacon and topped with tomato sauce. $5-$16. 1220 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-246-0192; 7022 Miami Ave., Madeira, 513-272-0192, atavolapizza.com.Bella LunaIdeal for a lively night out with friends. Features authentic recipes from Italy’s Sicily and Calabria regions — must-haves include the mushroom ravioli stuffed with portabello and topped with sweet pepper sauce and gorgonzola as well as eggplant Parmesan. They also offer a gluten-free menu. $8.99-$25.99. 4632 Eastern Ave., East End, 513-871-5862, bellalunacincy.com.Betta’s Italian OvenPlenty o’ choices here to give any local Italian chain a serious run for its money. Familiar favorites include antipasto, soups, salads and Italian and NYC-style sandwiches, but pizza is the real word. The wood-fired oven produces tasty, thin-crust pies like the Quattro Stagioni with kalamata olives, prosciutto, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, and breadsticks including the spicy pepperoni sticks. There are plenty of regulars filling the tables every night — always a sign of a consistently good meal. $8-$14. 3764 Montgomery Road, Norwood, 513-631-6836, bettasitalianoven.com. 

Buona Vita Pizzeria Lots of Italian restaurants claim to cook “just like Grandma made it,” but few actually use authentic recipes passed down from the motherland. At Buona Vita Pizzeria, the Frommeyers use their family name (Buonavita, “the good life”) and family recipes. Truly a family affair, Joseph Frommeyer runs the front of the house while his brother/chef Matthew runs the kitchen using recipes handed down from their Nonna. Mamma helps out in the dining room, serving her homemade cookies and other Italian treats to guests; plus cousin Ralph drops off his Dolce Vita Gelato. $5-$17. Buona Vita Pizzeria, 441 Sixth St., Dayton, Ky., 859-261-6792, buonavitapizzeria.com. Cincy by the Slice Try the Pickleroni Pie with pickles and pepperoni; supreme pie with pepperoni, mushrooms, green pepper, onion and Italian sausage; the Italian sausage hoagie with peppers; or the veggie stromboli. $6-$18. 1207 Main St., Downtown, 513-621-3800, cincybytheslice.com.
  • Dewey’s Pizza

A hip neighborhood pizza chain with craft beers, seasonal salads, specialty toppings and a window where kids (and adults) can watch the pizzas being hand-tossed.  $9-$22. Multiple locations including 3014 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-731-7755; 7767 Kenwood Road, Kenwood, 513-791-1616; Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., 859-431-9700, deweyspizza.com. Enoteca EmiliaItalian small plates and wood-fired pizzas dominate this popular Italian wine bar. An impressive collection of cured meat, artisan cheese and pasta plates perfectly complement their wide selection of reds and whites. $5-$27. 2038 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, 513-834-5773, enotecaemilia.com.

  • Fireside Pizza

Since opening a brick-and-mortar version of their popular wood-fired pizza cart last year, Fireside Pizza has been able to attract a crowd to the up-and-coming East Walnut Hills neighborhood. With the family-friendly vibe, old school Ms. Pac-Man game and the fact that it’s located inside an actual historic firehouse, Fireside’s appeal transcends its nicely singed wood-fired pizzas. $4-$20. 773 E. McMillan St., Walnut Hills, 513-751-FIRE, firesidepizzawagon.com.Forno Osteria + BarUpscale-casual Italian from one of the city’s first families of food, the Pietosos of Nicola’s and Via Vite. The Forno menu offers the most authentic dishes possible, with wood-fired pizzas, pasta and classics like Pork Loin Milanese. $11-$27. 3514 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-818-8720, fornoosertiabar.com.Goodfella’s Pizzeria

The place to be when you stumble out of the bar at 2 a.m. (or for lunch), Goodfella’s makes their dough fresh every morning and their sauce in-house. They also offer subs, calzones and a multitude of delectable dipping sauces. A bourbon bar is upstairs. $5.95-$32. 1211 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-3625; 603 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-916-5209, goodfellaspizzeria.com.

LaRosa’s

A chain of local pizzerias that’s been dishing up pies for 60 years, as well as pasta, salads, sandwiches and more. The sauce and crust are both a tiny bit sweet. $5-$25. Multiple locations, 513-347-1111, larosas.com.

Mac’s Pizza Pub It’s kind of a collegiate Chuck E. Cheese. There are games, live music, sports and food — good food with vegan options. Mac’s pizza has won numerous awards, and the rest of its menu ain’t too shabby, either. $3.50-$10. 205 W. McMillan St., Clifton Heights, 513-241-MACS; 6309 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, 513-271-MACS; 2920 W. US-22, Maineville, 513-677-MACS, macspizzapub.com. Mellow Mushroom

Choices are endless at this groovy pizza joint. Choose from an extensive list of specialty pizzas including the Holy Shiitake Pie or opt to craft your own creation. $3.95-$24.99. Multiple locations including 9238 Floer Drive, West Chester, 513-860-0888; 3804 Paxton Ave., Hyde Park, 513-321-2555, mellowmushroom.com.

Newport Pizza Company

The pizzas are excellent, of course, and the vegetarian options are much better than average since Newport Pizza roasts most of their veggies themselves. Best thing on the menu, though, is the Antipasti Basket with salami, pepperoni, capicola ham, asiago and fresh mozzarella, manzanella olives, banana peppers, Roma tomato, fresh basil and a big fat head of roasted garlic. $5-$17. 601 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859-261-4900, newportpizzacompany.com.

Pompilios This restaurant, where the toothpick scene in Rain Man was filmed, has been offering classic family Italian since 1933. 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. $6.95-$13.95. 600 Washington Ave., Newport, Ky., 859-581-3065, pompiliosrestaurant.com. Ramundo’s Pizzeria Try the pizza challenge — two people, 10 minutes, one 24-inch pizza. Winners get their photo on the wall. $3-$36. 3166 Linwood Ave., 513-321-0978, ramundospizzeria.com . Red Rose

Avocados are usually associated with Mexican food, but if you crave the green stuff on unconventional dishes, Red Rose Pizza offers it in the form of a fresh guacamole appetizer, broccoli avocado soup, the Goats & Guacamole salad, May’s Funky Chicken grinder and as a pizza topping. $6-$65 (for a 28-inch pizza). Red Rose Pizza, 5915 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, 513-620-7673, redroseonhamilton.com.Santo Graal

Santo Graal fills a niche at The Banks for an affordably priced restaurant that gives sports fans and concertgoers a respite from the crowds. The food is familiar, mainstream Cincinnati Italian, and you can get a decent bottle of wine. The salads, like the smoky grilled romaine wedge with gorgonzola cream, are a hit. Other menu items come under the headings Sandwiches & Slices, Pasta and (whole) Pizzas. $10-$15. 180 E. Freedom Way, The Banks, Downtown, 513-721-7222, facebook.com/santograalbanks.

Scotti’s Family-owned for a century, Scotti’s must be doing something right. 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. $18-$30. 919 Vine St., Downtown, 513-721-9484, scottiscincinnati.com.
Sotto's Cacio e Pepe - Photo: Jesse Fox

  • Sotto

Located under Boca restaurant, the Tuscan-inspired Sotto offers a more approachable atmosphere and price point than its upstairs neighbor. With multiple dining rooms, the kitchen is open to view, including the custom-made wood-fire grill in front and a fresh-pasta room in the back hallway. Menu items include handmade pasta, house-cured salami and big-ticket items like Bistecca Fiorentina, a grilled creekstone porterhouse steak with daily sides. Sotto sources their bread from Blue Oven and also grows their own herbs and vegetables. $7-$75. 118 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-977-6886, sottocincinnati.com. 

Strong’s Brick Oven Pizzeria Strong’s Brick Oven Pizzeria is not just another pizza joint. The dough is thin, with beautiful crisp air pockets that bulge out of the pizza. It is golden, charred and chewy. The toppings are tossed on top deliberately but asymmetrically — rustic in every sense. $9-$18. 336 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859-291-6836, strongsbrickovenpizza.com. Trotta’s A beverage drive-thru with above-average pizza, including the Lotta Trotta big-ass pizza. $ 6-$35. 3501 Werk Road, Westwood, 513-451-5555, trottaspizza.com. Via Vite Via Vite showcases chef Cristian Pietoso’s casual take on Northern Italian cuisine. Crispy, wood-fired pizzas and hearty pastas hearken to the motherland, while entrées of braised lamb shank and bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin smothered in grandma’s peperonata lead the diner on a classic Italian journey. $10-$38. 520 Vine St., Fountain Square, Downtown, 513-721-8483, viaviterestaurant.com.

MEDITERRANEAN

  • Abigail Street

The Mediterranean-inspired menu of small plates revels in Italian, Spanish, Turkish and Greek influences, with unique twists only chef Daniel Wright (winner of Food & Wine’s 2012 People’s Best New Chef: Great Lakes Region) could pull off — chorizo-stuffed dates, grilled octopus, batata and more. Wines are available on tap, by the bottle or the glass. $5-$15. 1214 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-4040, abigailstreet.com.Ali BabaAli Baba Mediterranean Grill is a tiny hole-in-the-wall serving up gargantuan falafel and gyro platters that won’t break the bank. Stock your plate with a variety of fresh toppings doled out by a friendly server, then sit down to watch Persian singer Mansour and others belt out hits in music videos hearkening back to MTV’s glory days. $5-$10. 4793 Red Bank Road, Madisonville, 513-271-0706, alibabagrille.com.Andy’s Mediterranean GrilleExpect maximum Mediterranean flavor at Andy’s, from the signature Shish Tawook, a marinated chicken kabob, to authentic stuffed grape leaves and many varieties of baklava and Turkish coffee. $6-$24. 906 Nassau St., Walnut Hills, 513-281-9791, andyskabob.com.Kinneret CaféThis veg-friendly spot combines cultures and dishes from around the Mediterranean, specializing in Israeli food. Everything is made in-house and the only meat on the menu is fish. $5.50-$17. 8316 Plainfield Road, Deer Park, 513-791-1777, kinneretcafe.com.

  • Marrakech Moroccan Café & Grill

The chefs, who hail from Marrakech, serve up Mediterranean staples, plus a variety of tajines, flavorful stews slow-cooked in a conical earthenware pot, and bastilla, a sweet-and-savory chicken pie layered with scrambled eggs, shredded chicken, caramelized onions, ground almonds, confectioners sugar and cinnamon. Don’t miss out on the Moroccan mint tea. $5-$12. 341 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-442-2233, facebook.com/cliftonmoroccancafe.Mediterranean KingChow down on authentic Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. Check out Mediterranean King’s Facebook for daily specials. $4-$29.99. 3307 Clifton Ave., Clifton Heights, 513-221-7222, facebook.com/mediterraneanking.Mirage Mediterranean

Owned by two Armenian-American brothers, Mirage features authentic family recipes that have been passed from generation to generation. Most dishes hail from around the Black Sea, including kebabs, Russian borscht, khinkali dumplings and Mikado cake. 11381 Montgomery Road, Mongtomery, 513-469-0089, miragecincinnati.com.

Phoenician Taverna A hidden gem in a Mason stripmall, Phoenician Taverna specializes in Lebanese and Mediterranean cuisine, all made in-house — from the pita bread to the sausage stuffed in natural casings. For entrees, find Shawarma, Mouzat (braised lamb shank in tomato sauce), Mashawi and Ouzi (braised met over rice). Plenty of hot and cold vegetarian mezza (appetizers) abound. $10-$21. 7994 S. Mason Montgomery Road, Mason, 513-770-0027, phoeniciantaverna.com. Sebastian’s Serving as a West Side staple for more than 38 years, Sebastian’s family-owned restaurant is a Greek treasure. With mouth-watering baklava, flaky spanakopita and the hands-down best gyro in town, it’s no wonder why customers keep coming back for more. $4-$10. 5209 Glenway Ave., West Price Hill, 513-471-2100, sebastiansgyros.com. Sultan’s Authentic Mediterranean cuisine. Owner and executive chef Mustafa Koylu prepares a wide selection of excellent kebabs, and the menu also reflects Ottoman specialties and traditional appetizers (grape leaves, hummus, cacik), along with plenty of vegetarian entrees. $7-$35. 7305 Tyler’s Corner Drive, West Chester, 513-847-1535, sultanscincinnati.com.

MEXICAN/TEX-MEX/LATIN AMERICAN

  • Bakersfield OTR

Part bar, part taco joint, all classy. Bakersfield specializes in gourmet tacos (pollo rojo, pastor, huitlacoche, etc.), quality tequilas and whiskeys and hand-crafted margaritas made the old fashioned way — not from a pre-made mix. $3-$9. 1213 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-579-0446, bakersfieldotr.com.BarrioBarrio’s most delicious taco filling is the house-smoked beef brisket. Beyond chips and dips, appetizers or snacks include Loaded Papas Fritas (fried potatoes topped with queso, house bacon and jalapeno), grilled Mexican corn and smoked or fried chicken wings with a selection of sauces. Otherwise, the menu features burritos, quesadillas, salads, tacos and sandwiches. $4-$8. 3937 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, 513-541-6400, barrio513.com. Calle CantinaCalle means “street” and cantina means “bar,” and that’s exactly what you’re getting: a no-frills watering hole/street-food restaurant that feels like a worldly destination you’d come across on your travels. For now, they have a sparse menu: only chips and sopes — fried, handmade masa tortillas with various toppings. On a given day, Calle offers about five kinds of margs, some of which are made with shrubs (fresh fruit fermented with sugar and vinegar). $3-$10. 950 Pavilion St., Mount Adams, 513-721-6977, facebook.com/callemtadams.CancunMexican restaurant attached to Western Bowl bowling alley; an area favorite. Prices vary. Multiple locations including 6385 Glenway Ave., Western Hills, 513-574-1639, cancunmexicanrestaurantes.com.CazadoresCazadores is one of the city’s most underrated restaurants. It’s locally owned, boasting four decent-sized, clean and rarely crowded restaurants in the Greater Cincinnati area. They even recently started sending a guy around to the tables with a cart to make fresh guacamole. $6.50-$15. Multiple locations including 750 Ohio 28, Milford, 513-831-3300, cazadores-restaurants.com.The CometA neighborhood bar with tons of bottled beer options and a limited Mexican-inspired menu available from 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Choose chicken, beef or jerked tofu for your burrito or have the same in a quesadilla, nachos or tacos. $4-$8. 4579 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-541-8900, cometbar.com.Django Western Taco

The al pastor pork pairs with tequila-soaked, grilled pineapple and fragrant chopped mint. Vegetarians can enjoy a delicious veggie taco. The Sheriff’s Stone Bowl features beans, rice, vegetables, beef and egg in a big steaming stone bowl. $3-$18. 4046 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-542-3664, djangonorthside.com.

El Rancho Grande One of the largest local Mexican chains. $2-$10. Multiple locations including 7860 Montgomery Road, Kenwood, elranchogrande.info. Frida 602 From the purveyors of MainStrasse’s popular Otto’s bistro, Frida — named for Frida Kahlo — has the largest selection of mezcal in the region. The menu features tacos, guac, chips, queso and other Mexican street-food dishes. 602 Main St., Covington, Ky., facebook.com/frida602.
  • Gomez Salsa

Open until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, Gomez’s walk-up taco window has it all: mahi-mahi tacos with slaw and Baja sauce, chips with pineapple salsa, taco salad bowls and owner Andrew Gomez’s greatest invention, the Turtle Shell. Take a tortilla, stuff it with rice, beans, sour cream, lettuce, salsa, meat, veggies and cheese, layer in a tostado for crunch, put some cheese on the top and then brown it. It’s a fat little crunchy burrito envelope, a walking taco. And the Turtle tastes even better if you stumble over after imbibing at the adjacent HalfCut, a craft beer café of sorts. Now open for lunch and brunch. $3-$9. 107 E.12th St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-1596, gomezsalsa.com.HabañeroCincinnati’s original foil-wrapped Latin fare. Habañero opened in 1999, before most of us had even heard of that national burrito chain. Known for their more creative burrito options like the Mad Max (with fried tilapia) and the Calypso Chicken (with adobo-glazed chicken breast and pineapple salsa), along with various quesadillas and signature salsas. $6.79-$7.99. 358 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-961-6800, habanerolatin.com.

  • Mazunte 

Mazunte is the taqueria you always wanted in your neighborhood. Simple, delicious, a great value and hip. Get the mixed taco taster — three for $9 — and sample their beer-battered fish, shredded roast pork and sangria-marinated steak. With an order of guacamole, you are in paradíso, amigo. And their sangria is second to none. $7.25-$9.25. 5207 Madison Road, Madisonville, 513-785-0000, mazuntetacos.com.

La Mexicana Home of some of the city’s best tacos: Tacos al Pastor with delicious marinated pork shoulder. They also serve all the usual stuff as far as tasty authentic Mexican tacos are concerned: barbacoa, carne asada, lengua (tongue) and sesos (brains; they wash down perfectly with a cerveza). This inexpensive and authentic menu has been known to incite cravings after as little as one visit. $3-$10. 642 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859-261-6112. Mita’s Chef Jose Salazar is a continent away from his mamita and the hand-cranked mill she still uses to grind corn for arepas and empanadas, but his new restaurant, Mita’s, is a tribute to her spirit and to Spanish and Latin American food. Some of the more intriguing dishes at Mita’s use familiar ingredients in new ways. The fresh emerald-green sauce for the short-rib empanadas is unexpectedly minty, and the beef is tucked into cornmeal crusts so light and crisp that it lifts the dish to the sublime. The bar at Mita’s is a great place to get familiar with mezcal, the underexplored spirit-of-the-moment, and the Mezcal Manhattan is getting lots of buzz . $7-$39. 501 Race St., Downtown, 513-421-6482, mitas.co. Montoya’s Friendly service and fresh, affordable food have kept Montoya’s a neighborhood staple for more than 20 years. Patrons rave about their authentic Mexican dishes like chilaquiles, their signature spicy Pirata Plate and anything with mole. Great margaritas are the cherry on top. $4.50-$8.50. 2507 Chelsea Drive, Fort Mitchell, Ky., 859-341-0707. Nada Modern Mexican. Outstanding guacamole tops beer-batter-fried hake on crisp, Baja-style tacos. The ceviche zings with notes of orange and chipotle. Churros, classic fried dough with cinnamon and sugar, are a sweet way to wrap it up. Great location next to the Aronoff Center downtown, and the patio is a big attraction when nice weather beckons. $6-$22. 600 Walnut St., Downtown. 513-721-6232, eatdrinknada.com. Rio Grande Serves up good strip-mall Mexican, with the giant portions and plentiful margaritas you’d expect. $2-$10. 34 Carothers Road, Newport, Ky., 859-292-8750. Taqueria Mercado Fajitas come with your choice of grilled steak, chicken or shrimp. Go in Sunday morning for a not-so-typical American brunch, and get their spicy chilaquiles with chorizo and pair it with their Michelada — it’s like a bloody mary, but with your choice of light or dark beer mixed with tomato juice, lime juice and hot sauce. $3-$15. 100 E. Eighth St., Downtown, 513-381-0678; 6507 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, 513-942-4943, tmercadocincy.com. Taqueria Yolandita Taqueria Yolandita is a tiny taco trailer. The menu is brief, but you’ve still got a tough choice — you’ll want to try everything. Overstuffed tacos, priced at three for $6; burritos, quesadillas and tortas, all $7 each. An order of three is a sit-down, eat-with-a-fork feast, heaped high with braised meat, fresh avocado, chopped onions and cilantro, quartered lemons — not limes — and slices of crisp radish. $5-$7. 1881 Westwood Ave., Fairmount, 513-551-0828.

RUSSIAN

Oasis Russian Fusion A Russian restaurant that holds back a little on the traditional fattening ingredients Russian meals are known for. Find beef stroganoff, Georgian chicken tabaka, goulash, dumplings and pastry appetizers. $8-$18. 8697 Fields Ertel Road, Symmes, 513-247-9755, oasisrussianfusion.com. Puffins Bistro and Desserts Bea Terekhov and her family make their “puffins,” aka puff pastries, from scratch using family recipes. Their signature pastry is what’s called a piroshky, a smaller, Russian version of the Italian calzone or a thicker version of the Polish pierogi. After they’re stuffed with vegetables or meats like Bavarian sausages, the pastries inflate in the oven . $5-$7. 11033 Reed Hartman Highway, Blue Ash, 513-600-6081, getyourpuff.com.

SCANDINAVIAN

Fika Hus Owners Daniel and Angie Connor opened Fika Hus (pronounced fee-ka), their “coffee break room,” on the west side of Covington, generating a rotating chalkboard menu of homemade Swedish pastries, breakfast items, lunch foods and, of course, coffee. The Swedish flag billows outside the quaint café, which looks like it’s straight out of a Scandinavian fishing village. They make several types of pastries every day; for $10, you can get a sampler of six . $2-$10. 508 W. 12th St., Covington, Ky., 859-816-9125, fikahus.com.

SOUTH AMERICAN

Alfio’s Buon Cibo

Italian for “good food,” the restaurant aims to wed Italian and Argentinian cuisine. The menu is dotted with Italian (baked ravioli, bruschetta) and Argentinian (empanadas, grilled lamb) dishes, but steers more toward the former. And, as both countries are located on coasts, there’s always fresh seafood. $7-$29. 2724 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-321-0555, alfios-cincy.com.

Argentine Bistro For more than seven years, Argentine Bistro has quietly showcased an assortment of authentic dishes of this exotic South American locale. The appetizers are largely made up of focaccia bread, meat and cheese plates. The dinner menu includes a surprising number of Italian dishes. Entrées also highlight the innate meatiness of the region. $7-$30. 2875 Town Center Blvd., Crestview Hills, Ky., 859-426-1042, argentinebistro.com. Boi Na Braza Brazilian Steakhouse with a lot of fancy meat on sticks delivered tableside by gauchos, plus a salad bar. $48.95. 441 Vine St., Downtown, 513-421-7111, boinabraza.com.

FINE DINING

  • Boca

A trip to chef David Falk’s Italian/French gemstone is an experience to be savored as much as the food itself. Take your time, invest a few hours and allow him and his attentive, knowledgeable staff to unfold an epic tale of two or three courses, plus dessert. $15-$37. 114 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-542-2022, bocacincinnati.com. 

The Celestial Whet your appetite on P.E.I. mussels with togarashi, saffron and white-wine broth or delectable crab cakes with chipotle aioli. Whether you choose the Celestial Oscar, crowned with king crab, or the braised beef short ribs, you will not be disappointed. Desserts include a classic crème brulee and a raspberry peach bread pudding with Michele Chiarlo Moscato d’Asti. $8-$46. 1071 Celestial St., Mount Adams, 513-241-4455, thecelestial.com . Grande Finale Operating at the same historic building since 1975, Grand Finale serves up everything from steak and lobster to crepes and outrageous desserts. Try the bacon, shrimp and sun-dried tomato deviled eggs or the herbed filet mignon brochette. No worries for your vegetarian tablemates: Grand Finale has plenty of veggie fare. $12-$38. 3 E. Sharon Road, Glendale, 513-771-5925, grandfinale.info. Meritage Meritage offers upscale classic American cuisine, ranging from pan-seared scallops and Thai-glazed salmon to a Cajun goat cheese-crusted filet. Don’t miss the bone-in pork chop served with bourbon cream sauce. Meritage also boasts an extensive wine cellar and signature cocktails. $10-$40. 1140 Congress Ave., Glendale, 513-376-8134, meritagecincy.com. Nicola’s Restaurant A celeb-spotting treasure, Nicola’s renown is undeniable. One of Cincinnati’s top, Zagat -rated restaurants, its menu of housemade pastas, gnocchi and creamy risotto are among some of the thoughtfully conceived dishes transporting patrons to the heart of Italy. Indulge in wine-paired tasting menus, or cap off your meal with a dessert of devil’s food cake with strawberries and dark chocolate. $12-$40. 1420 Sycamore St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-721-6200, nicolasotr.com.
  • NuVo

Chef Mark Bodenstein finally has a venue where he can let his creativity flourish, and his new dining adventure is unlike any other in the area. At NuVo at Greenup, you eat what the kitchen sends out, usually in seven to 10 small courses. Pay one price, plus drinks, and see how Bodenstein takes mostly familiar ingredients and combines them in ways you never thought of. $65 prix-fixe; $35 three-course. 308 Greenup St., Covington, Ky., 859-415-1308, nuvoatgreenup.com.Orchids at Palm CourtNestled inside Carew Tower’s historic Art Deco Hilton hotel, Orchids hosts a breathtaking feast for the eyes — a perfect backdrop for weekly seasonal menus of refined elegance made with local ingredients, including some from the hotel’s rooftop beehive and herb garden. Chef Todd Kelly’s five-diamond menu features creative, fresh cuisine paired with an award-winning wine list and delicious desserts by pastry chef Megan Ketover. $9-$60 (for the chef’s tasting prix fixe platters). 35 W. Fifth St., Hilton Netherland Plaza Hotel, Downtown, 513-421-9100, orchidsatpalmcourt.com.The Palace RestaurantSeasonal menus of fine, upscale fare at a four-diamond restaurant — including a menu just for vegetarians and vegans. $65 for three courses; $95 for nine, with pricing in between. 601 Vine St., The Cincinnatian Hotel, Downtown, 513-381-3000, palacecincinnati.com. PrimavistaWith a breathtaking city view, Primavista wins frequent reader’s choice and magazine awards such as “most romantic,” “best date spot” and “best dining with a view.” They offer fine Italian dishes from all regions, specializing in veal and fish, with sauces made in-house. The gnocchi sautéed in sage butter with pancetta melts in your mouth, and the bread pudding is the best. $7-$35. 810 Matson Place, Price Hill, 513-251-6467, pvista.com.

STEAKHOUSES AND SEAFOOD

Alabama Fish Bar Cod, perch or whiting battered, deep-fried and handed over in a more-than-generous portion on a bed of fries with a slice of bread. Slap some condiments on it and eat as much as you can stuff in! $7-$8. 1601 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-241-2255, alabamafishbar.com.
  • Anchor OTR

Located in a historic building at the corner of Washington Park, Anchor OTR offers impressive-quality seafood. The raw bar selections are tempting, and they also offer interesting starters: crawfish beignets, fried calamari and deviled eggs with smoked salmon. The salads change seasonally. $6-$32. 1401 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-8111, theanchor-otr.com.Eddie Merlot’s

An upscale chain of prime-aged steak and seafood. House recommendations include a romaine Waldorf salad with maple apple cider vinaigrette, sesame calamari, chateaubriand for two and a bone-in filet. $8-$95. 10808 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, 513-489-1212, eddiemerlots.com.

Embers There is a seemingly endless variety of Thai/sushi/Asian restaurants in our city. How about a steakhouse/sushi joint? That’s what you’ll find in Embers. Steaks are aged 28 days and are served with housemade compound butter or a variety of “extras” like truffle sauce or caramelized onions. Try the Tiger’s Eye sushi or Vietnamese-style baby-back ribs. $17-$63. 8170 Montgomery Road, Kenwood, 513-984-8090, embersrestaurant.com. Jack Binion’s at the Horseshoe Casino A Chicago-style steakhouse inside the Horseshoe Casino, with tableside preparation of side dishes. $10-$70. 1000 Broadway, Downtown, 513-250-3294, horseshoecincinnati.com. Jag’s Steak and Seafood This upscale steakhouse and piano bar does everything from innovative meals to craft cocktails and extensive wine choices to live music. For dinner, opt for sushi or the raw bar to start, followed by a little surf and turf or signature entrees, like the black truffle filet, chateaubriand for two or vegetarian portabellos with goat cheese and tomato. $9-$70. 5980 West Chester Blvd., West Chester, 513-860-5353, jags.com. Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse Modeled after a 1940s New York Art Deco steakhouse. If you love steak you have about a zero-percent chance of being let down with one of Ruby’s — they dry-age their own. There are several non-steak options on the menu, including good seafood dishes, but the cow is king (queen?) at Ruby’s. $7-$62. 700 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-784-1200, jeffruby.com. Jimmy G’s The ’50s retro nightclub vibe of the place is the first thing you’ll notice as you meander down the staircase to the red-hued, subterranean dining room. From there, chef Jimmy Gibson ensures his steakhouse is like no other in Cincinnati, from his smoky, tender, wood-grilled octopus soaked in a sherry reduction to his arsenal of grilled, dry-aged steaks and classy martinis. $8-$38. 435 Elm St., Downtown, jimmy-gs.com. Maury’s Tiny Cove Maury’s has been packed full of flavor and West Side tradition since 1949. The dimly lit 1940s supper-club vibe will have you feeling like a regular on your first visit. The extensive menu consists of all the classic steakhouse options: tender, juicy steaks, seafood and chicken cooked just right, plus pasta, sandwiches, soups and salads. $8-$31. 3908 Harrison Ave., Cheviot, 513-662-2683, maurys-steakhouse.com.
  • Pelican’s Reef

For 20 years, the laid-back island oasis Pelican’s Reef has been serving up super-fresh seafood in Anderson. While much of the expansive menu features breaded and fried items with plenty of tartar sauce — choices like fried oyster po’boys or broiled grouper stuffed with crab meat, wild rice and cornbread stuffing — none of the restaurant’s diehard fans are complaining. $6-$24. 7261 Beechmont Ave., Anderson, 513-232-2526, thepelicansreef.com.

  • The Precinct

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, 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 baseball greats. But there are other options, like blackened diver scallops or something from the tableside service menu like seafood fettuccine alfredo for two. $14-$62. 311 Delta Ave., Columbia Tusculum, 513-321-5454, jeffruby.com.Tony’s of Cincinnati A luxury steakhouse operated by Tony Ricci, former GM of Jeff Ruby’s Precinct, serving USDA prime meats with all the toppings you could want — Oscar, au poivre, sauce béarnaise. Also features a raw bar, indulgent pastas, non-steak entrées and classic steakhouse sides. $10-$65. 12110 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, 513-677-1993, tonysofcincinnati.com.

Vitor's Bistro - Photo: Provided

  • Vitor’s Bistro

Located in a quaint 1864 European-looking building complete with an outside terrace, Vitor’s Bistro serves up a chef’s course menu — a multi-course surprise party for your mouth. Just give your food preferences/dietary constrictions (the fewer the better) and chef Vitor Abreu will whip up a memorable meal in an unsuspecting space tucked away in Cheviot. Each dish leaves you eager to see what Vitor will create next. Odds are you’ll find a new favorite dish you never would have ordered in the first place. $9-$75 (for the chef’s five-course tasting menu). 3232 Harrison Ave., Cheviot, 513-481-5333, vitorsbistro.net.

Washington Platform

Established in 1875 (and reestablished in 1986), the saloon is home to an annual oyster festival and crab carnival. $4-$27.95. 1000 Elm St., Downtown, 513-421-0110, washingtonplatform.com.

VEGETARIAN AND VEGAN

The Elusive Cow The owner of The Elusive Cow, Jim Fisher, wanted to create a space where eaters of every kind can sit down and enjoy something off the menu. Focused on sustainable and organic farms, the food supports the omnivore in us all, including dishes with bison, tofu, fish and, of course, hamburgers. $6.95-$10.25. 519 Fairfield Ave., Bellevue, Ky., 859-291-0269, theelusivecow.com. Green Dog Café There are always vegan options, and the lemon hummus served with roasted red peppers, feta, marinated olives and grilled bread offers an amazing start to any meal. $5-$15. 3543 Columbia Parkway, Columbia Tusculum, 513-321-8777, greendogcafe.net.
  • Happy Chicks Bakery

Happy Chicks Bakery owners Jessica Bechtel and Jana Douglass began baking vegan goods together as a way to produce food that they enjoyed — foods focused on sustainability and free from preservatives and animal products — and weren’t able to find in stores. The Northside café and bakery offers cakes, cookies, cup-cakes, pies and more, all with fresh, seasonal flavors and light lunch options, including sandwiches, salads and soups that are all freshly prepared from non-processed foods. $4-$7. 4035 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-386-7990, happychicksbakery.com.

Loving Hut

The mission behind Loving Hut is to offer affordable, healthy, vegan cuisine. The restaurant’s environment was created using many found, reclaimed and reused materials. For disposable goods like containers, cups and utensils, they choose biodegradable and/or recyclable products. Tons of paninis, wraps, sandwiches and burgers to choose from. $5.50-$8.
6227 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, 513-731-2233, lovinghut.us.

  • Melt Eclectic Café

Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free diners aren’t an afterthought at Melt. But no worries, the carnivorous can feast, too. A plethora of sandwiches, wraps, soups and salads tempt every palate. Sandwiches include items like the veggie cheesesteak made with seitan and The Rachel, a smoked turkey sandwich with red cabbage, apple sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. $4-$10. 4165 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-681-6358, meltcincy.com.

  • Off The Vine Juice Bar

We’re not talking smoothies — we’re talking nutrient-dense, cold-pressed juice funneled into a pint-sized glass container. Juice heads can stop by and purchase an 8-ounce juice or 16-ounce juice in a reusable glass bottle that can be returned and recycled. Customers also will be able to purchase a set of juices and homemade nut milks for a one, three or five-day juice cleanse. $6-$10. 1218 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-305-6020, facebook.com/otvcincy.Park + VineVegan lunch counter with items like smoky potato salad, fresh kale and barbecue sliders, alongside local favorites Blue Oven Bakery and Shadeau Breads. All items are available gluten-free. $5-$8. 1202 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-721-7275, parkandvine.com.

  • The Weekly Juicery

The juicery boasts an almost entirely gluten-free and vegan menu, and the staff is sensitive to just about every allergy imaginable. Their weekly juicing programs offer three, four and five-day juicing regimens in the $27 to $54 price range. 2727 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-321-0680, theweeklyjuicery.com.

DESSERTS

  • Abby Girl Sweets

A from-scratch cupcakery with two locations and special, seasonal flavors. Prices vary. 4773 Glendale Milford Road, Blue Ash, 513-335-0898; 41 W. Fifth St., Downtown, 513-335-0898, abbygirlsweets.com.Aglamesis BrothersA classic, 1900s ice cream parlor at its best, wooing foodie visitors from all around the country with its unblemished reputation for quality. The Raspberry Hot Fudge and the Banana Classique shakes are chart-toppers. Prices vary. Multiple locations, including 3046 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-531-5196; 9899 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, 513-791-7082, aglamesis.com.

  • Bluebird Bakery

Twin Peaks’ Agent Dale Cooper was onto something with his interest in pairing a cup of coffee with a slice of pie. And at Bluebird Bakery in historic Glendale’s quaint village square, their from-scratch seasonal pies, made with farm-fresh eggs, sweet butter and real garden-fresh fruit, are as authentic as it gets. Prices vary. 29 Village Square, Glendale, 513-772-5633, 

bluebirdbakery.com .
  • The BonBonerie

Have your cake and eat it too as the BonBonerie crew shows off their savory skills. Scones, coffee and quiche adorn the breakfast menu, but the real treat is for those with a sweet tooth. The dessert menu features tortes, cakes, pastries and old-fashioned cookies to please everyone. $5.50-$15. 2030 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, 513-321-3399, bonbonerie.com.

  • Brown Bear Bakery

Cincinnati pastry artist Blair Fornshell does not have her own storefront yet. Unlike a lot of commercial bakeries in the city, Blair uses all-natural ingredients to create so-beautiful-you-almost-feel-bad-about-eating-them desserts, such as vanilla bean scones, oat flour salty chocolate chip cookies, cacao nib rochers and brown butter cranberry almond streusel muffins. Prices vary. brownbearbakes.com.

Buona Terra European-style street food and gelato. $3-$8. 1028 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-386-9356, facebook.com/buonaterragelato. Busken Bakery Busken Bakery opened in 1928 and quickly became a Cincinnati staple with bakery counters in grocery stores, 24-hour drive-in bakeries and delicious donuts, bread and apple pies. Their award-winning baked goods can be found in Remke-Bigg’s stores, UDF locations and 10 bakeries around the city. Hyde Park location open 24/7 . $2-$6. Multiple locations including 2675 Madison Road, Hyde Park, 513-871-2114, busken.com.
  • Dojo Gelato

Authentic Italian-style gelato. Dojo Gelato loves to create unexpected flavor profiles — guacamole, bellini, honey lavender, Vietnamese coffee, etc. And they use fresh, seasonal ingredients in their creations. $2-$8. Findlay Market, 137 Elder St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-328-9000, dojogelato.com.

Gadabout Doughnuts

Gadabout is different because it’s basically a traveling donut shop, going from event to event; the donuts are exclusive and obscure right now, and that makes them even more craveable (they’re also just really good). She uses all-natural ingredients and no preservatives — “eat better donuts” is her motto. Prices vary. gadaboutdoughnuts.com.

Graeter’s Since its founding in 1870, Graeter’s French Pot Ice Cream, handmade chocolate confections and fresh-baked goods have become traditions in the Queen City. Today, the Graeter family still faithfully uses century-old recipes and methods of production. $ 2.75-$5.75. Multiple locations including 511 Walnut St., Fountain Square, Downtown, 513-381-4191, graeters.com.
  • Hello Honey

Everything is homemade and handcrafted from scratch at this hidden-gem ice cream parlor downtown, from the ice cream to the waffle cones to the marshmallows on top, torched by hand. Rotating creative and decadent flavors — like chocolate cayenne, honey lavender, pistachio, espresso brittle and salted caramel — are also free from artificial ingredients. That means they’re healthy, right? 633 Vine St., Downtown, 513-977-0300.

  • Holtman’s Donuts

In September 2013, the Loveland-based Holtman’s Donuts finally opened an OTR location, replete with a window you can peer through and watch them make donuts, like the sensational maple bacon. Homer Simpson would be so proud... and hungry. Prices vary. 1332 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-0903, holtmansdonutshop.com.

  • Macaron Bar

In the past, the closest thing Cincinnati had to Paris was the Eiffel Tower replica at Kings Island. Now we have Macaron Bar, the only local bakery and coffee shop specializing in the brightly colored French pastry, which offers traditional and seasonal macarons, with flavors like salted caramel, Earl Grey tea and pistachio. Prices vary. 1206 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, macaron-bar.com.

  • Maverick Chocolate

A bean-to-bar chocolatier in Findlay Market, made with ethically sourced cocoa beans. $8. 129 W. Elder St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/maverickchocolate.

  • O Pie O

O Pie O’s handmade pies come in super seasonal flavors with a ridiculously flaky crust (apple with rosemary caramel, honey vinegar, bourbon pecan), just like their medium-sized pie, which is meant to serve four… although people have been known to down whole pies by themselves. Prices vary. 1527 Madison Road, E. Walnut Hills, 513-274-3238, opieo.com.OTR Candy Bar

The shop feels a bit like the candy store from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, chock full of sticky sweets, an entire table devoted to out-of-the-box candies. Then there’s an actual bar upon which a sharply dressed candy barista will make you a float using the vintage soda of your choice, dressed with a piece of old-fashioned stick candy. $2-$10. 1735 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-2765, otrcandybar.com.

The Root Beer Stand

The restaurant makes secret-recipe root beer (available by the jug) using water from the property’s 280-foot-deep well and family-recipe chili for their famous foot-long coney dogs. Prices vary. Memorial Day-Labor Day. 11566 Reading Road, Sharonville, therootbeerstand.com.

Schneider’s Sweet Shop

An old-time corner candy and ice cream store serving the area since 1939. Prices vary. 420 Fairfield Ave., Bellevue, Ky., 859-431-3545, schneiderscandies.com.

Servatii Fourth-generation family bakery, started by great-grandfather George in Muenster, Germany. Known for their pastries, desserts and especially for their soft pretzels, which you can get in all sizes from six ounces to three pounds. $2-$8. Multiple locations including 511 Walnut St., Fountain Square, Downtown, 513-421-2253, servatiipastryshop.com.

streetpops

Grown-up ice pops made from unique combinations of fresh ingredients and unexpected flavors, like papaya rosemary, Thai basil lime, peach Sriracha and many more. $3. 1437 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-446-7505, streetpops.com.

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