Cincinnati, Ohio is a hidden gem when it comes to gastronomical delights, offering visitors a diverse range of culinary experiences that are unique to the region. With its history rooted in German and Irish heritage, Cincinnati’s food landscape has evolved over the years to incorporate various cultures and influences. This fusion of traditional and modern flavors creates a multitude of must-try dishes that every visitor to Cincinnati should experience.
From time-honored classics to innovative creations, the city offers a platter of gastronomic adventures to please all palates. Tourists will find an array of delectable dishes and unique local specialties that showcase the city’s rich culinary culture. Dive-in as we walk you through the mouthwatering foods in Cincinnati that are guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.
We will highlight specific Cincinnati foods that represent the city’s blending of traditional and contemporary tastes. From the iconic Cincinnati chili to newer creations like gourmet donuts, this article will cover the must-try dishes that showcase the city’s innovative and delicious culinary offerings.
Historic Cincinnati Food Spots
When visiting Cincinnati, Ohio, it’s important to take a culinary trip through its history. The city has a rich food culture, and there are several iconic spots every visitor should try. Below is a list of historic food spots in Cincinnati that have remained popular throughout the years.
1. Arnold’s Bar and Grill
Established in 1861, Arnold’s Bar and Grill is the oldest continuously operating bar in the city. Known for its cozy atmosphere, live music, and mouth-watering dishes, this establishment continues to delight visitors and locals alike. Diners should not miss the famous Greek spaghetti, a unique, Cincy-crafted dish.
Izzy’s first opened its doors in 1901 and has since been serving delicious deli sandwiches and traditional dishes inspired by Jewish cuisine. The classic Izzy’s Reuben is a must-try, combining corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and house-made dressing on rye bread.
3. Camp Washington Chili
Camp Washington Chili is a staple food spot in Cincinnati, known for its award-winning Cincinnati-style chili since 1940. The timeless restaurant offers the famous “three-way,” a dish consisting of spaghetti topped with chili and shredded cheese. Additionally, Camp Washington serves scrumptious coneys and double-deckers.
4. The Original Pancake House
Opened in 1960, The Original Pancake House has earned a devoted following for serving some of Cincinnati’s best breakfasts. From Dutch baby pancakes to savory omelets, this historic spot satisfies every craving. The apple pancake remains a top favorite, known for its delicious, cinnamon-glazed apples.
Famous Cincinnati Local Dishes
Cincinnati, Ohio, is renowned for its unique and scrumptious local dishes. This food haven caters to a variety of taste buds, and visitors are encouraged to try these three iconic dishes during their visit.
Cincinnati Chili is a must-try for any tourist visiting the Queen City. This distinctive dish consists of a mildly spiced meat sauce, often served over spaghetti or as a hot dog topping, locally known as a “coney.” The chili typically includes unusual ingredients such as chocolate or cinnamon, which lend a unique, unexpectedly sweet twist. There are several ways to enjoy Cincinnati Chili:
- Two-way: Spaghetti topped with chili
- Three-way: Spaghetti, chili, and shredded cheddar cheese
- Four-way: Spaghetti, chili, cheese, and onions or beans
- Five-way: Spaghetti, chili, cheese, onions, and beans
Numerous chili parlors can be found throughout Cincinnati, but some of the most celebrated include Skyline Chili, Gold Star Chili, and Camp Washington Chili.
Goetta is a German-American dish that has remained a Cincinnati staple for generations. It is a sausage-like mixture of ground pork, beef, and steel-cut oats, typically served as a breakfast item. The dish is often fried and eaten with eggs or as a sandwich on toast. Goetta loyalists can be found at local establishments like Glier’s Goetta, Eckerlin Meats, and Price Hill Chili.
Graeter’s Ice Cream
Cincinnati’s Graeter’s Ice Cream has been satisfying sweet cravings since 1870. The company is renowned for its French Pot Process, which creates a denser, creamier product than traditional ice cream. With its irresistible taste and large chocolate chips mixed into a variety of flavors, Graeter’s has become a popular household name, not just in Cincinnati, but across the country.
You can find Graeter’s Ice Cream at various scoop shops across Cincinnati or in select grocery stores nationwide. However, the best experience comes from visiting one of their charming, local parlors for a fresh, melty scoop.
You must experience these mouthwatering local dishes when visiting Cincinnati, as they are an integral part of the city’s identity. So sit back and savor the setting, try the chili, indulge in goetta, and cool off with a scoop of Graeter’s Ice Cream – your taste buds won’t regret it.
Unmissable Food Festivals in Cincinnati
Oktoberfest Zinzinnati is the largest Oktoberfest celebration in the United States, drawing over half a million visitors each year. Taking place during a weekend in September, it boasts a vast array of traditional German dishes, such as sauerkraut balls, bratwurst, and the famous goetta. With more than 30 tents and booths, the event also offers an impressive collection of German beer varieties. The World’s Largest Chicken Dance and live German music performances contribute to the festive atmosphere that makes this event unmissable.
Taste of Cincinnati
Attracting over 550,000 food lovers annually, the Taste of Cincinnati is the city’s longest-running culinary arts festival. Held on Memorial Day weekend, visitors can indulge in a wide variety of dishes offered by more than 50 local restaurants and food trucks. From Cincinnati chili to mouthwatering barbecue, there is something for everyone. In addition to the delicious food, guests can enjoy live music and entertainment across multiple stages.
Unique Foodie Experiences in Cincinnati
Cincinnati Food Tours
Cincinnati Food Tours offers an incredible opportunity for visitors to explore the city’s culinary scene. These guided walking tours showcase the rich history of Cincinnati’s food culture, highlighting both local favorites and hidden gems. Itineraries often include stops at family-owned eateries, artisan bakeries, and bustling food markets. For a truly immersive experience, take part in their Signature Over-the-Rhine Tour or the Findlay Market Tour.
Findlay Market is a must-visit destination for food lovers in Cincinnati. Established in 1852, it is Ohio’s oldest continuously operated public market. Visitors can explore the market’s diverse food offerings and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere. From locally-sourced produce, meats, and cheeses, to unique spices, sweets, and international cuisines, Findlay Market truly has something for everyone.
Finding The Best Burger in Downtown Cincinnati
For those seeking the perfect burger experience in downtown Cincinnati, there are numerous establishments to choose from, each with their own unique creations and flavor combinations. A few standout options include:
- Nation Kitchen & Bar: Known for their award-winning Nation Burger, featuring a juicy patty topped with cheddar cheese, crispy fried onions, barbecue sauce, and jalapeños.
- Bru Burger Bar: Offering a wide variety of unique burgers, like the Bourbon Burger with peppercorn-bourbon glaze, horseradish havarti, and bacon
- E+O Kitchen: For a twist on a classic, try their E+O Burger made with wagyu beef, spicy mayo, and pickled red onions. It is one of the best burgers in Cincinnati Ohio.
Through these foodie experiences, visitors can gain a better understanding of Cincinnati’s culinary heritage and enjoy a veritable feast of flavors and dishes that will create lasting memories.
When visiting Cincinnati, Ohio, there are a wide variety of must-try foods that any traveler should experience. These dishes showcase the unique culinary history of the city, while also providing a delightful meal.