Cincy, The Queen City, The Tri-State—call it what you will. Cincinnati is Ohio’s third largest city, but its culinary scene is one of the fastest growing.
Among its many nicknames, Cincinnati was dubbed Porkopolis during the 1800s for its abundance of hog-packing centers, and chefs continue to honor that title. Barbecue joints run rampant, and our love of meat opened the door for a craft beer renaissance, with diners raising steins at breweries like Christian Moerlein Brewing Company and Rhinegeist Brewery.
Historic district Over-the-Rhine is currently on the culinary front burner after a major renovation. For a taste of the old country, Nicola’s Restaurant has some of the best Italian food. Or for trendy pub grub, Senate serves up eight gourmet hot dogs with plenty of beer on draft.
Love it or hate it, there’s no denying Cincinnati chili. A mess of chili, cheese, onions and beans slopped over spaghetti, it’s definitely an acquired taste. And it isn’t a visit to Cincy without a trip to Jungle Jim’s, a 200,000-square-foot grocery store with virtually every specialty foodstuff imaginable. Food is everywhere in Cincinnati—just dig in.
Taste of Belgium
You can’t have an Old World neighborhood without an authentic Belgian restaurant complete with beer and waffles.
Camp Washington Chili
The Smithsonian institution honored this 70-year-old Cincinnati chili joint as an iconic national food destination.
Owner Ted Gregory didn’t earn the moniker “The Ribs King” for nothing, serving up barbecue-slathered ribs since 1951.
Chef-owner David Falk’s new downtown hot spot features rustic Italian-French cuisine, which means the pastas are absolutely insane.
The Cincinnatian Hotel
This award-winning restaurant in the heart of the Queen City offers seasonally driven contemporary American cuisine from Executive Chef Joe West.
French Master Chef-owner Jean-Robert de Cavel is a local legend, serving contemporary French cuisine to locals for the past 30 years. Be sure to sit at the bar and order the four-course lunch tray, which is a steal at $15.50.
Orchids at Palm Court
Wrapped in vintage deco, this fine dining restaurant feels like a throwback to classic supper clubs with the modern American cuisine of award-winning Chef Todd Kelly.
Paul Sturkey is a Food Fanatics chef for US Foods who loves and lives in Cincinnati.
Follow the Food Fanatic on Twitter @ChefPaulSturkey