Living downtown I get to regularly eat and drink at the restaurants and bars that are defining Cincinnati’s food and social scene. Folks who only come to town occasionally always ask me what my favorite restaurant is.
I don’t really have a favorite restaurant, but I have lots of favorite things to eat and drink. Here are some of my current favorites from Vine Street, roughly in order of moving north to south on from Liberty to Central:
1. The salmon at Kaze from their dinner menu. It’s a nicely cooked piece of salmon with a slightly, sweet glaze. Or, if I’m eating cheap, the appetizer sized ramen bowl and Sapporo beer on special at Happy Hour.
2. The House Pancake, on the menu as Okonomiyaki, at Quan Hapa. How can you go wrong with a large potato pancake topped with bacon, green onions and an egg, but still hitting notes of Asian flavor?
3. The fried chicken sandwich at The Eagle. The sandwich features a breaded chicken breast, slaw, spicy mayo, and house made pickles on a hearty piece of bread. Or, if I just want a nibble with beer, or a snack for the table, the house corn nuts (roasted seasoned hominy), are a must.
4. The meatballs, Wagyu beef or chicken at A Tavola. To die for. Also, their Old-Fashioned cocktail may be the best Old-Fashioned in OTR.
5. Bouillabaisse at Abigail Street. Perfectly balanced and not skimpy on the seafood.
6. The Trailer Park hot dog from the Senate. While I do get caught up in the fun concoctions they come up with daily for Dog of the Day, I always come back to the bacon wrapped dog covered with slaw and crushed Grippo potato chips.
7. Wine flights at 1215 Wine Bar and Coffee Lab. Especially good if you engage with the very knowledgeable staff.
8. The guacamole and the Huitlacoche taco from Bakersfield. The guac is fresh and perfect with their margaritas or tequila on the rocks. Huitlochoche tacos are corn truffle (a fancy name for corn fungus), roasted poblano, corn, onion, cotija cheese, and cilantro. The short rib tacos don’t disappoint either.
9. The vege burger from Krueger. This came as a surprise To me because I think Krueger wants to be known for their sausages. Their very delicious vege burger is made with beets, so it looks like a patty. It can be ordered straight from the menu with greens, pesto mayo, cheese, and house made pickles on a challah bun, or they’ll substitute the vege patty for any meat patty on the menu.
10. No surprise from Taste of Belgium, the chicken and waffle is one of the best meals in town.