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Inspirations for Home Design


Foodies LOVE Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky

Image:  Cincinnati’s Händlmaier’s Freunde Cincinnati e.V. www.mustardclub.org meets with an informal gathering every second Saturday to enjoy good German sausage, beer, and mustards from Handlmaier at Mecklenberg Garden near the University of Cincinnati.

©Becky Linhardt 2010

(adapted from my contributory article for www.mtwa.org – updated 2/2010)

Cincinnati is my home town and I have always enjoyed the variety of dining options here.  Cooking styles have been influenced by early German settlers, immigrant entrepreneurs from Greece and Italy, as well as our proximity to Southern cooking to provide foods with unique regional flavors.  And, as Ohio’s largest metropolitan area, we support restaurants that offer fine gourmet dining with international flair.

Regional specialties worth a try.

About Cincinnati chili

Almost every local diner has its own version of this unique chili, a meat sauce that is served over spaghetti!  Closely guarded family recipes may include (as rumored) cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or chocolate as their “secret” spice.  Flavorful but not “hot” like Southwestern chilies, you order it “original” over spaghetti or one of the “ways:”  3-Way Chili adds mounds of shredded cheddar cheese, 4-way adds diced onions or red beans to the cheese, and 5-way gives you cheese, onions and beans.  Best known chili parlors are:

Skyline Chili, 254 East 4th Street (513-241-4848 for Downtown at 4th and Sycamore) plus numerous locations on both sides of the Ohio River.  www.skylinechili.com

Gold Star Chili, 28 West Fourth Street, (513-369-0210). Downtown and numerous suburban locations. www.goldstarchili.com

Empress Chili, 7934 Alexandria Pike (859-635-5900) in Northern Kentucky and 2 locations on the Ohio side.  www.empresschilialexandria.com

Then there’s goetta

This primarily breakfast food was created by immigrant Germans in the 1800s by blending pork, beef, and whole grain, steel cut oats.  It is prepared like sausage, sliced thick and fried.  It is so popular here that goetta is celebrated annually each summer with a Goettafest – www.goettafest.com

You can regularly find it on the menus at:

Price Hill Chili, 4920 Glenway Avenue, Cincinnati’s West Side (513-471-9507)

Colonial Cottage, 3140 Dixie Highway, less than a mile from I-71-75 in Northern Kentucky (859-341-4498) Breakfast served all day, every day.  While there you may want to try their Goetta Reuben or indulge in one of their 6” tall cream pies made fresh daily.

Frisch’s Restaurants, Breakfast Bar on the Saturday and Sunday (see listing information below)

Hometown Family Favorites:

Frisch’s Restaurants

Early Frisch’s Restaurants were the place to cruise – drive-in dining, car hops, Big Boy Burgers – times have changed and now we have drive-thrus and dining rooms but the menus still have the burgers and Frisch’s special Fish Sandwiches.  Most of the German immigrants were Catholic, so no meat on Fridays. Now daily, the special twist here is the choice of rye or white buns for the Fish Sandwiches made with 2 thick pieces of cod, placed on a bed of shredded lettuce and topped with Frisch’s special tarter sauce. Rye buns too for the Swiss Miss, a beef burger topped with Swiss cheese.

Big Boy #1 at 3226 Central Parkway is the unit closest to University of Cincinnati and downtown. (513-559-0555)  www.frischs.com

* If you are in Cincinnati during Lent, local churches have fund-raiser Friday Night Fish Fry Dinners.  Fish Sandwiches may be assembled with options including Cincinnati Rye Bread or regular bun and choices of condiments may include cocktail/chili sauce as well as catsup and tarter sauce – your choice.  During Lent, go to www.cincinnati.com and use “fish” as your search word to find listings for church dinner locations.  Yes, it is really that big of a deal – often there is voting for the “best” for bragging rights!


Still providing Cincy favorites and developing new family recipes – for pizza and hoagys, this is the place to go.  You can get thick crust or thin, even a Stuffed Pizza Pie!  Try their Chicken Ranch, Meat Topper (5 meats), the vegetarian Florentine Focaccia, or create your own.

Multiple locations, (downtown delivery only 513-347-1111).  www.larosas.com

Montgomery Inn – Barbeque

Since the 1950s, Ted Gregory, “The Ribs King,” and his family have closely guarded the secret-recipe barbeque sauce that has made their ribs and chicken famous from coast to coast.  The “Boathouse” on the riverfront is a favorite place to meet before sports events.  The river view is great and the menu is not limited to ribs.  All three restaurants offer the same great foods including Crab Cakes, Greek Meatballs, Greek Salads, seafood entrees and even steaks. Home town proud, they include Graeter’s Ice Creams on their dessert menu. (see listing below)

Original Montgomery Inn, 9440 Montgomery Road (513-791-3482)

Montgomery Inn at the Boathouse, 925 Riverside Drive (513-721-7427, downtown with Ohio River view)

Montgomery Inn Fort Mitchell (Kentucky), 400 Buttermilk Pike (859-344-5333)


German Traditions

Two Cincinnati restaurants are known for their German fare. Both are located near the University of Cincinnati, just north of downtown.

Lenhardt’s is housed in an old mansion near the comercial district south of campus.  www.christysandlenhardts.com

Mecklenburg’s Gardens has been located at the corner of E. University and Highland Avenues for more than 150 years. Located in a more residential area it is not the easiest place to find but well worth the effort, especially on a hot summer day when the Bier Garten is cool and shady.  www.mecklenburgs.net  A newer tradition is the Mustard Club meetings each month on the second Saturday (see image above).

Izzy’s: A deli that’s part of Cincinnati’s history

For more than 100 years Izzy’s has been the deli of choice downtown and now has suburban locations also.  The menu includes Matzo Ball or Sweet-N-Sour Cabbage Soups, Potato Pancakes, sauerkraut, salads, wraps, and signature sandwiches including Izzy’s Famous Rueben Sandwich piled high with corned beef.  Save room for Cheesecake!

800 Elm Street (513-721-4241) and 612 Main Street (513-241-6246) Downtown plus suburban locations.


Graeter’s – famous ice cream

Cincinnatians have a sweet challenge.  How do they handle those huge chunks of chocolate in home town favorite Graeters’ Chip Ice Creams?  The ice cream is made using the French Pot method that mixes and freezes their secret recipe of egg custard and fresh cream in small batches, producing an ice cream so dense that a pint can weigh almost a full pound.  Liquid chocolate is added as the ice cream is spun in the French Pot and once it is frozen they use a paddle to break the frozen layer of chocolate into randomly sized pieces – some that are VERY large.  In addition to basic Vanilla Chocolate Chip, Graeter’s regularly offers Double Chocolate, Black Raspberry, Buckeye Blitz, Coconut, Cookie Dough, Mint, Mocha, Peanut Butter, and Toffee flavor “Chip” ice creams and seasonally Cherry and Strawberry. (also see ”Those Chucky Chocolate Chips”)

511 Walnut Street (513-381-4191 on Fountain Square – Downtown) and numerous suburban locations. www.graeters.com

Romantic/Gourmet Dining

Orchids at the Palm Court.

Ah, gourmet dining in what has to be one of the most romantic spots in Cincinnati.  The Orchids is located in the elegant Palm Court of the Netherland Hilton Hotel.  The French Art Deco décor of the early 1930’s has been resorted to lustrous beauty – a bit of Egyptian influence, soaring ceilings, and soft lighting.  One of only two hotel restaurants to be given the American Culinary Federation Award of Excellence in 2007 the menu includes unique entrees such as, Seared “Dry” Maine Scallops with Poached Seckle Pears, Celery Root Puree, Roasted Chanterelles, and Mostarda cq.

35 West Fifth Street (513-421-9100)


The Palace at the Cincinnatian Hotel

Here their specialty dessert is listed first.  The romantic Dessert Soufflé for Two (either Chocolate or Grand Marnier) requires 30 minutes to prepare so it is best to order when you make your entrée selection from an a la carte menu that includes unique entrees such as Lobster Pastilla, Squab, and Colorado Rack of Lamb.

601 Vine Street (513-381-3000)  www.palaceincincinnati.com


For native Cincinnatians far from home, or those just curious about our regional specialties, you can order some foods through www.cincyfavorites.com.

Additional tourist information available at www.cincinnatiusa.com

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        As a travel writer it is my responsibility to select the best places, events, and experiences to present to you. Most travel has been on my own though some has occurred on sponsored press trips. Travel listings here will be more informal than my published articles.


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