Cincinnati might be best known, culinarily at least, for its chili: a Bolognese-like sauce created by Greek immigrants and seasoned with cinnamon, allspice, and clove. It’s served on hot dogs and spaghetti and doled out in ubiquitous chili parlors that dot the city. But that well-spiced dish — beloved as it may be — barely scratches the surface of what the city has to offer diners.
Since the 2010s, the city has experienced a restaurant renaissance, starting in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, which served as a hotbed of innovation. Many pioneers from restaurants in the area have now become Cincinnati’s old guard, and new upstarts are emerging across the city’s 52 neighborhoods. Today, College Hill is home to some of the city’s best ramen and Michoacán-style Mexican food complete with handmade tortillas. Over in the artsy Northside, you’ll find Nepali momos and award-winning poutine. There’s more great food just across the Ohio River in Covington, a slice of northern Kentucky that features (in addition to Cincinnati’s largest airport) farm-to-table vegan dishes, Asian fusion Cincinnati chili, and Creole pub fare.
For first-time visitors, Cincinnati’s best chili parlors are most definitely worth a try. But so are a variety of other dishes, including the pozole at Mita’s downtown, Bridges Nepali’s aloo jhol (bamboo curry with potatoes and black-eyed peas), Mid City’s love letter to German heritage in a sausage-studded platter, and New Haven-style pies from St. Francis Apizza.
Andy Brownfield is managing editor at the Cincinnati Business Courier, where he’s covered the city’s restaurant scene for a decade. His work can be seen here.Read More