Unique Restaurants in Cincinnati: 12 Coolest Places to Eat in Cincinnati, OH

by Jen
Unique Restaurants in Cincinnati
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If you’re looking for the most unique restaurants in Cincinnati, you’re in the right place. Here are 12 of the coolest places to eat in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Ah, Cincinnati! A Midwest gem that dances along the Ohio River, bursting with history, vibrant arts, and a food scene that’s nothing short of spectacular. While many flock here for the iconic Cincinnati chili, there’s a world of culinary adventures waiting just around the corner.

From high-end dining experiences that rival the world’s best to quirky eateries that serve up dishes you won’t find anywhere else, Cincinnati is a food lover’s dream come true. The city’s streets boast many unique places to eat, each offering a story, a flavor, and an ambiance that’s distinctly Cincinnati.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler looking for the next best bite, on the hunt for the best vegan restaurants in Cincinnati, or a local eager to rediscover the city’s gastronomic gems, Cincinnati promises a dining experience that’s as diverse as it is delicious, all within one of the beautiful places in Ohio.

Grab your appetite and let’s embark on a mouthwatering journey through some of the best restaurants in Cincinnati. Prepare to be amazed, delighted, and, above all, satisfied with every bite. Here’s everything you need to know about the most unique restaurants in Cincinnati, OH.

The top restaurants to visit in Cincinnati right now
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Unique Restaurants in Cincinnati, Ohio

Are you ready to discover the most unique restaurants in Cincinnati? As mentioned earlier, there’s no shortage of incredible places to eat in Cincinnati that all travelers will love. Keep reading to find out where to eat in Cincinnati.

Are you looking for a romantic dinner with panoramic city views? Or would you prefer a quirky dining experience aboard a moving train? Whatever you’d like to eat, there are unique places to eat in Cincinnati that can accommodate your needs. Here’s your tried-and-tested guide to the most unique restaurants in Cincinnati, OH.

1. The Overlook Lodge

When it comes to the best places to eat in Cincinnati, The Overlook Lodge is an experience that’s hard to beat. Inspired by the classic film “The Shining,” this rustic watering hole transports diners to a cozy mountain retreat right in the heart of Cincinnati. With its wooden interiors, dim lighting, and eclectic decor, the ambiance is both eerie and inviting.

It’s not just the atmosphere that draws people in, though. The Overlook Lodge boasts a menu that’s a delightful mix of comfort food and innovative dishes. Their truffle fries are a crowd favorite, and their craft cocktails are nothing short of legendary. Whether you’re sipping on a “Redrum Punch” or indulging in their signature “Here’s Johnny” burger, every bite and sip is a nod to the cinematic masterpiece.

What makes this spot truly unique? It’s the perfect blend of themed entertainment and culinary excellence. The staff often hosts movie nights, trivia, and themed events, ensuring that every visit offers something new.

While walk-ins are welcome, it’s a popular spot, especially on themed nights. Consider booking a table in advance to secure your spot. And if you’re a fan of “The Shining,” keep an eye out for subtle nods to the film throughout the restaurant!

The Overlook Lodge is one of the unique restaurants in Cincinnati.
The Overlook Lodge in Cincinnati: A cozy mountain retreat inspired by “The Shining.” | Source: https://www.facebook.com/Overlooklodge/

2. Metropole

Stepping into Metropole is like entering a world where culinary artistry meets historical charm. Housed in the 21st-century 21c Museum Hotel, this restaurant offers a dining experience that’s both contemporary and nostalgic. The centerpiece? A custom-built wood-burning fireplace where chefs showcase their mastery, churning out dishes that are as visually stunning as they are delicious.

Metropole’s menu is a celebration of Cincinnati’s best food, with a focus on ingredients sourced from the region’s sustainable farmers and producers. From the succulent roasted chicken to the mouthwatering seared scallops, each dish tells a story of the city’s rich culinary heritage. It’s no wonder many consider it one of the best restaurants in Cincinnati, Ohio.

What truly sets Metropole apart is its commitment to innovation. The chefs aren’t afraid to experiment, often infusing classic dishes with unexpected flavors and techniques. Pair your meal with one of their handcrafted cocktails, and you’re in for a treat. The “Queen City Breeze,” with its blend of bourbon, honey, and fresh citrus, is a must-try.

After your meal, take a stroll through the attached art museum. It’s a delightful way to digest and immerse yourself in Cincinnati’s vibrant arts scene.

Metropole at 21c Museum Hotel blends culinary artistry with historical charm.
Metropole at 21c Museum Hotel blends culinary artistry with historical charm.

3. The Blind Lemon

Enter a world where every chord resonates with Cincinnati’s vibrant spirit. The Blind Lemon, located in the historic Mount Adams neighborhood, is a beacon for music lovers and food enthusiasts alike. This venue isn’t your typical dining spot. It’s an auditory and gustatory adventure that ranks among the coolest bars in Cincinnati, OH.

Local artists grace the stage, offering a symphony of sounds that range from soulful blues to uplifting acoustic melodies. Their performances paint a vivid picture of Cincinnati’s rich musical heritage, which makes every evening a memorable experience.

Aside from the musical offerings, The Blind Lemon’s cocktail menu is a masterpiece, with mixologists crafting drinks that are both innovative and timeless. The “Lemon’s Lullaby,” a harmonious concoction of gin, elderflower, and fresh lemon, is a testament to their sixty years of expertise.

If music and dining are your passions, The Blind Lemon promises an evening that’s hard to forget. And for those planning a romantic outing, the garden patio sets the mood just right. It’s a top pick for memorable dates in Cincinnati.

The Blind Lemon in historic Mount Adams, Cincinnati, offers an auditory and gustatory adventure.
The Blind Lemon in historic Mount Adams, Cincinnati, offers an auditory and gustatory adventure.

4. Top of the Park

Elevate your dining experience, both literally and figuratively, at Top of the Park. Perched atop the Phelps Building, this rooftop gem offers panoramic views of the Cincinnati skyline and the Ohio River. Hands down, it’s one of the most scenic places in Cincinnati to eat.

As the city lights shimmer below, guests can indulge in a curated selection of tapas-style dishes, each thoughtfully crafted to complement the breathtaking surroundings. From zesty shrimp ceviche to succulent lamb lollipops, the menu is a delightful exploration of flavors that cater to diverse palates.

Moreover, Top of the Park boasts an impressive array of handcrafted cocktails, wines, and local brews. The “Cincy Sunset,” a vibrant mix of tequila, blood orange, and lime, captures the essence of a perfect evening in the city.

For travelers and locals seeking a blend of ambiance, taste, and view, Top of the Park is the place to be. It’s an ideal spot for celebrations, casual meet-ups, or simply unwinding after a day of exploring Cincinnati.

Top of the Park, perched atop the Phelps Building, offers panoramic views of the Cincinnati skyline and the Ohio River.
Top of the Park, perched atop the Phelps Building, offers panoramic views of the Cincinnati skyline and the Ohio River.

5. Salazar

In the bustling heart of Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine district, Salazar stands out as a top choice for those who crave a modern twist on traditional dishes. As one of Cincinnati’s best restaurants, it’s a culinary adventure that beckons the curious and the discerning.

Chef Jose Salazar, a James Beard nominee, has crafted a menu that’s both innovative and comforting. Think duck breast paired with sweet potato and cherries, or the crispy pork belly that’s become the talk of the town. Every dish is a delightful surprise, which makes Salazar a favorite among both adventurous foodies and those who appreciate the classics.

What makes Salazar unique is its commitment to sustainability. The restaurant sources ingredients from local farmers, ensuring freshness and supporting the community. It’s a dining experience that’s not only delicious but also responsible.

The outdoor patio is a hidden gem, especially during the warmer months. It fills up quickly, so consider reserving a spot if you’re planning a visit. And while there’s no strict dress code, guests tend to dress smart-casual, adding to the upscale yet relaxed vibe.

Salazar in Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine district offers a modern twist on traditional dishes, making it a top choice for a culinary adventure.
Salazar in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine district offers a modern twist on traditional dishes, making it a top choice for a culinary adventure.

6. Gomez Salsa

When you think of Cincinnati, tacos might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Gomez Salsa is on a mission to change that. Located in a snug alleyway in Walnut Hills, this vibrant eatery is redefining the city’s food scene, one taco at a time. Without a doubt, Gomez Salsa stands out as one of the most unique restaurants in Cincinnati, far beyond a typical taco joint.

Their standout creation, the “Turtle Shell,” is a delightful fusion of a burrito wrapped snugly inside a quesadilla. Each bite is an explosion of fresh ingredients complemented by Gomez’s signature salsa. It’s a dish that resonates with both locals and visitors.

The ambiance at Gomez Salsa is as lively as its menu. Upbeat tunes, a laid-back setting, and a team that radiates warmth and friendliness ensure every guest feels right at home. It’s the perfect spot for college students craving a flavorful bite, families in search of a memorable meal, or anyone eager to dive into Cincinnati’s most unique restaurants.

While the Turtle Shell often steals the limelight, their diverse range of salsas, spanning from tangy delights to bold, fiery concoctions, is worth exploring. And a heads up for weekend adventurers: the place can get bustling, so an early visit might save you some wait time.

Gomez Salsa in Walnut Hills redefines the city's food scene with its unique take on tacos.
Gomez Salsa in Walnut Hills redefines the city’s food scene with its unique take on tacos.

7. The Eagle

Ever dreamt of biting into the crispiest, juiciest fried chicken that’s seasoned to perfection? The Eagle turns that dream into reality. Located in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine district, this eatery has quickly soared to fame, earning its reputation as one of the best places to eat in Cincinnati.

Their secret? A commitment to quality. Every chicken piece is brined, dredged, and fried to golden excellence, ensuring a flavor-packed experience with every bite. Pair it with their homemade spicy honey, and you’re in for a treat that’s both sweet and fiery.

The Eagle OTR boasts a menu that’s diverse and delectable. From the melt-in-your-mouth spoonbread to the refreshing kale and apple salad, there’s something to satisfy every craving. Foodies on the hunt for the ultimate fried chicken experience, families looking for a hearty meal that won’t break the bank, and travelers eager to discover what makes Cincinnati’s culinary scene tick often find themselves here.

Their honey butter cornbread is a crowd-pleaser, so consider ordering a portion (or two) for the table. If you’re visiting during peak hours, be prepared for a bit of a wait – but trust us, visiting here is one of the best things to do in Cincinnati!

The Eagle in Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine district is famous for its crispy, perfectly seasoned fried chicken.
The Eagle in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine district is famous for its crispy, perfectly seasoned fried chicken.

8. Sotto

If you’re looking for the best Italian food in the heart of Ohio, Sotto is your spot. Located in the bustling downtown area, Sotto stands out as one of the unique restaurants in Cincinnati for dinner. Its allure extends beyond the ambiance to the genuine flavors that captivate with every bite.

The menu at Sotto offers a delightful exploration of Italy’s rich food heritage. Hand-crafted pasta dishes like the Ricotta Doughnuts and savory Bone Marrow Cappelletti showcase traditional recipes with a modern touch. The dedication to authenticity shines through in every dish. Ingredients are meticulously sourced, ensuring a celebration of flavors in every bite. The wood-fired pizzas, with their crispy crusts and delicious toppings, highlight the chefs’ passion for perfection.

If you’re seeking an upscale dining experience that doesn’t empty your wallet, Sotto provides a balance of sophistication and value. With a mid-range pricing structure, guests can indulge in exquisite Italian dishes without any reservations.

A tip for first-time visitors: their Tiramisu is a must-try, offering a sweet conclusion to a memorable meal.

Sotto is one of the unique restaurants in Cincinnati.
Sotto in downtown Cincinnati offers the best Italian food, captivating diners with genuine flavors.

9. Taft’s Ale House

Located in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine district, Taft’s Ale House stands tall, echoing the city’s rich brewing legacy. Housed in a meticulously renovated 19th-century church, this three-level brewery and restaurant offers a unique blend of history and flavor. As you step inside, you’re immediately greeted by the aroma of freshly brewed ales. It’s evident why this establishment is coined one of the coolest places to eat in Cincinnati, OH.

Each beer at Taft’s is a masterful creation, crafted with precision and passion. From the refreshing Nellie’s Keylime Caribbean Ale to the velvety Maverick Chocolate Porter, there’s a brew that speaks to every palate. Aside from the drinks, the food menu shines with alehouse-inspired dishes. Think tri-tip steak and the renowned “Chicken Log,” ensuring every visit is a delightful culinary adventure.

Visitors to Taft’s range from history enthusiasts intrigued by the venue’s past to craft beer lovers eager to sample unique flavors. Families, too, find the relaxed atmosphere perfect for a memorable meal.

If you’re planning a visit, consider booking in advance or arriving early in the evening. As one of the best restaurants in Cincinnati, the weekends can see a bustling crowd.

Taft's Ale House in Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine district, housed in a renovated 19th-century church, blends history and flavor.
Taft’s Ale House in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine district, housed in a renovated 19th-century church, blends history and flavor.

10. Jungle Jim’s International Market

Imagine stepping into a world where food transcends borders, and where aisles are filled with the aromas of spices from distant lands. Welcome to Jungle Jim’s International Market, a place that’s so much more than a grocery store—it’s one of the most unique restaurants in Cincinnati that you’ll ever encounter.

Spanning a massive 6 acres, Jungle Jim’s is a food lover’s paradise. From a vast selection of international cheeses to an entire section dedicated to hot sauces from around the world, the variety is staggering. The market houses several eateries, each offering dishes from different parts of the globe. One moment you could be savoring sushi, and the next, you’re diving into a plate of authentic tacos.

The quirky decor adds to the charm. With a singing animatronic lion, a replica of the Monastery of La Seu in Spain, and even a fire truck, the ambiance is nothing short of whimsical. It’s a place that appeals to families with kids, adventurous foodies, and travelers seeking a taste of the world without leaving Cincinnati.

Make sure to set aside plenty of time for your visit. With so much to explore and taste, you’ll want to savor every moment at Jungle Jim’s!

Jungle Jim's International Market in Cincinnati transcends borders with its diverse offerings.
Jungle Jim’s International Market in Cincinnati transcends borders with its diverse offerings.

11. Incline Public House

High atop Price Hill, Incline Public House offers an unparalleled dining experience with breathtaking views of the Cincinnati skyline and the Ohio River. This establishment has quickly become one of the best places to eat in Cincinnati, and it’s easy to see why.

Large windows frame the city’s panorama, ensuring every diner gets a visual treat. As the city lights shimmer below, the menu beckons with a promise of flavors that are both familiar and innovative. Gourmet burgers, artisanal pizzas, and other American pub fare delights are crafted with precision, which makes every bite memorable.

Complementing the dining experience is a drink menu that boasts a diverse range of craft beers, wines, and signature cocktails. Each drink, like the dishes, is a celebration of quality and taste. Imagine sipping on a finely crafted cocktail with Cincinnati’s cityscape as your backdrop—it’s an experience that lingers long after the meal is over.

Incline Public House is perfect for those moments when you want to elevate your dining experience, literally and figuratively. A tip for potential visitors: the outdoor patio is especially popular during sunsets. To ensure the best seats, consider making an early reservation.

Incline Public House atop Price Hill offers unparalleled dining with breathtaking views of the Cincinnati skyline and the Ohio River.
Incline Public House atop Price Hill offers unparalleled dining with breathtaking views of the Cincinnati skyline and the Ohio River.

12. Cincinnati Dinner Train

All aboard the Cincinnati Dinner Train for an unforgettable dining experience that transports you back to the golden age of rail travel. As the train chugs along historic tracks, you’re treated to a feast that’s as captivating as the passing landscapes. Without a doubt, it’s one of the unique restaurants in Cincinnati that will blow your mind!

Every dish served on this moving restaurant is a nod to classic American fare, with a touch of modern flair. From succulent prime rib to fresh seafood, the menu promises a delightful culinary journey that complements the physical voyage. As you savor each bite, the rhythmic sound of the train on the tracks adds a layer of nostalgia to the experience.

But the Cincinnati Dinner Train is not merely a meal on wheels. It’s an opportunity to relive an era where dining was an event, and every journey held the promise of new adventures. Throughout the ride, historical tidbits and tales are shared, adding depth to the experience.

Perfect for history enthusiasts, couples seeking a unique date night, or anyone looking to elevate their dining experience, the Cincinnati Dinner Train promises memories that last a lifetime. Make sure to book in advance, as this popular attraction often sells out.

The Cincinnati Dinner Train offers a unique dining experience reminiscent of the golden age of rail travel.
The Cincinnati Dinner Train offers a unique dining experience reminiscent of the golden age of rail travel.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Unique Restaurants in Cincinnati

Searching for more information to help you decide where to eat in Cincinnati? Here are some common questions (and answers) I get asked a lot about Cincinnati’s best restaurants.

What is Cincinnati’s famous food?

Cincinnati is renowned for its unique chili – a delightful concoction of meat, spices, and sometimes chocolate, served over spaghetti. Often topped with a mountain of shredded cheese, it’s a must-try for anyone visiting the city. This dish can be found in numerous chili parlors throughout the city.

What three restaurants are the most romantic in Cincinnati?

Cincinnati boasts a plethora of dining spots perfect for romantic evenings. If you’re looking to impress that special someone, consider these top picks:

  1. Orchids at Palm Court: Housed in the historic Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, this restaurant offers an elegant setting and an ever-changing menu. Whilst prices are on the higher side, it’s one of the best fine-dining restaurants in Cincinnati.
  2. Sotto: Located in the heart of downtown, Sotto is renowned for its intimate setting and delectable Italian dishes.
  3. The Celestial Steakhouse: Offering panoramic views of the city and the Ohio River, this spot is not only one of Cincinnati’s best restaurants but also a favorite for couples seeking a memorable dining experience.

Which restaurants offer the best views of Cincinnati?

If a picturesque backdrop to your meal is what you’re after, Cincinnati has got you covered. Incline Public House is a gem where diners are treated to expansive views of the city skyline and the Ohio River. Every bite feels special with the city lights twinkling below. Similarly, The Celestial Steakhouse offers a dining experience elevated by its panoramic vistas. It’s no wonder these spots are often hailed as the most scenic restaurants in Cincinnati. Remember to grab a window seat!

Incline Public House with a scenic view of the Ohio River - A restaurant overlooking the Ohio River
Incline Public House with a scenic view of the Ohio River – A restaurant overlooking the Ohio River

Are there any vegan restaurants in Cincinnati, OH?

Absolutely! Cincinnati embraces diverse dietary preferences with open arms. Melt Eclectic Cafe is a favorite among locals and visitors alike, offering a menu bursting with creativity and plant-based goodness. From hearty sandwiches to refreshing salads, there’s something for every vegan palate. On the sweeter side, Happy Chicks Bakery stands out. Their range of vegan pastries and cakes are a dream come true for those with a sweet tooth. Both establishments proudly represent the best vegan restaurants in Cincinnati.

Where can I find affordable yet unique dining experiences?

Cincinnati offers a delightful mix of dining options that won’t break the bank. Eli’s BBQ, with its mouth-watering smoked meats and homestyle sides, is a testament to quality food at friendly prices. Then there’s Gomez Salsa, where every taco and burrito is a flavor-packed adventure. These spots prove that finding cheap eats in Cincinnati doesn’t mean skimping on taste or experience.

What’s a quirky restaurant in Cincinnati that I shouldn’t miss?

For a truly one-of-a-kind experience, hop aboard the Cincinnati Dinner Train. Imagine dining in style while the world outside your window changes with every turn of the tracks. From historic neighborhoods to scenic landscapes, the journey is as captivating as the menu. It’s an adventure on rails, and easily one of the most unique Cincinnati restaurants you’ll come across.

Is Cincinnati a good food town?

Absolutely! Cincinnati has a rich culinary heritage and is a great food town. Here are some reasons why Cincinnati stands out in the culinary scene:

  1. Chili: Cincinnati-style chili, served over spaghetti and often topped with a mountain of shredded cheese, is a staple in the city. There are numerous chili parlors, with Skyline Chili and Gold Star Chili being the most iconic.
  2. Goetta: A German-inspired breakfast sausage made from ground meat and steel-cut oats, goetta is a Cincinnati specialty.
  3. Graeter’s Ice Cream: Founded in Cincinnati in 1870, Graeter’s is famous for its French Pot process and its massive chocolate chips.
  4. Findlay Market: Ohio’s oldest continuously operated public market, Findlay Market is a hub of culinary delights, from fresh produce to artisanal products.
  5. Craft Breweries: Cincinnati has a burgeoning craft beer scene, with Rhinegeist Brewery being one of the most notable.
  6. Diverse Dining Scene: From upscale dining establishments to ethnic eateries, Cincinnati offers a wide range of dining options. The Over-the-Rhine district, in particular, has seen a surge in innovative and trendy restaurants.
  7. Taste of Cincinnati: The nation’s longest-running free culinary arts festival occurs annually in Cincinnati, showcasing the city’s rich culinary scene.
  8. Historic Restaurants: The city is home to several historic dining establishments, like Arnold’s Bar and Grill, which has been serving patrons since 1861.
  9. Innovative Chefs: Cincinnati’s culinary scene is driven by innovative chefs who are constantly pushing the boundaries and introducing new and exciting dishes to the city’s food landscape.

What sandwich is Cincinnati known for?

Cincinnati is best known for its unique chili and other German-inspired dishes, but when it comes to sandwiches, the “Skyline Chili Cheese Coney” stands out. It’s not a traditional sandwich, but rather a hot dog bun filled with a hot dog, topped with Cincinnati-style chili, diced onions, mustard, and a generous heap of shredded cheddar cheese. While it’s more of a chili dog than a sandwich, it’s a beloved staple in Cincinnati’s culinary scene and is served at Skyline Chili restaurants throughout the city and beyond.

What is Cincinnati’s oldest bar?

Cincinnati’s oldest bar is “Arnold’s Bar and Grill.” Established in 1861, Arnold’s has been serving patrons for over a century and a half. It’s a historic and iconic establishment in Cincinnati, known for its classic ambiance, live music, and a courtyard that often features live bands. Over the years, Arnold’s has maintained its old-world charm and continues to be a favorite spot for both locals and visitors.

Concluding Thoughts on Unique Restaurants in Cincinnati, OH

Cincinnati is a paradise for food enthusiasts. From the historic charm of the Cincinnati Dinner Train to the tropical allure of Tiki Tiki Bang Bang, the city offers a dining experience for every mood and moment. This makes it one of the top things to do in Ohio. And let’s not forget the panoramic delights of Incline Public House or the vegan wonders at Melt Eclectic Cafe. Each restaurant we’ve explored brings its own unique flavor to the table.

The beauty of Cincinnati’s dining scene lies in its diversity. There’s a spot for the romantic souls, places that transport you to different parts of the world, and eateries that cater to specific dietary needs without compromising on taste. And the best part? There’s something for every budget. High-end dining experiences coexist harmoniously with affordable gems that don’t skimp on quality.

Cincinnati invites you to embark on a gastronomic journey like no other. With such a vast array of unique restaurants, every visit promises a new discovery. So, the next time you find yourself in this vibrant city, remember to bring your appetite and a sense of adventure.

The top restaurants in Cincinnati for all types of travelers
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