Sotto is a go-to on Sixth Street. It serves some of the city’s best pasta like the Pennette Vodka or Short Rib Cappellacci. You need to get the ricotta doughnuts for dessert- no exceptions. It’s on the fancier side, so take a date you’re hoping to impress. Rest assured that they will be.
2. 20 Brix
Its claim to fame is that it’s Cincinnati’s first wine bar and with its small plates that bring the flavor and dozens of wine options, 20 Brix makes the city proud. Start off with a cheese plate and a glass of wine before enjoying one of their heartier dishes like the Chicken & Waffle or the Shrimp And Grits. This place goes the extra mile, and so will you once you discover the greatness for yourself.
Since moving downtown, this upscale restaurant became even more popular. It’s straight out of a Restoration Hardware catalog with sweet decor and cuisine to match it. Their seafood plates and appetizers almost look too pretty to eat, but we’re all too willing to mess up the presentation for the payoff. Well, after Instagramming it. Seasonal menu changes mean seafood lovers or those just looking for a good burger will be satisfied.
Known for their tacos and generous pitchers of margaritas, Bakersfield is where you need to be in OTR. You may have to wait an hour or two, but their Pollo Verde Tacos and a Bakersfield Margarita are totally worth it. This place undoubtedly deserves the mega popularity it’s receiving.
21C has it all: a hotel, museum, and Metropole, a restaurant with a rooftop cocktail terrace. All four parts are some of the city’s finest, especially the food and drink Metropole is serving up. Their Burnt Carrot Salad is an appetizer that may sound weird, but the taste is anything but. Their Pan Roasted Cod dinner entree is fantastic as is really everything else they offer. The menu is constantly rotating, so you’re going to find something, or many things, to obsess over.
6. The Precinct
Jeff Ruby’s empire is known around the city, and The Precinct is a Cincinnati must. Inside what was once the Cincinnati Police Patrol House Number 6, this restaurant guarantees to impress your date or in-laws or really whomever enjoys stellar food. Their epic USDA steaks are the perfect indulgent meal for any occasion.
You might look at us like we’re crazy when we say Senate serves virtually only hotdogs, but they put Oscar Mayer to shame. This isn’t your typical ballpark hot dog with mustard and cheese. The Nick Lachey dog is absolutely a must, and you need to try the poutine. It’s a true gift to us all: fries topped with cheese curds, braised short rib, a local free-range egg, and slathered in gravy.
This Mediterranean-style wine bar is another OTR gem. Snag a spot with a glass of pinot and a cheese board. Go for the Scallops or Grilled Octopus to really jazz things up. The menu changes often and wine is on tap because beer shouldn’t be the only beverage allowed to do that. If you’re looking to change things up, this place is where you need to be.
9. Eli’s BBQ
We could go on and on about our love for Eli’s. There really aren’t enough hours in the day to describe the amazingness that is this local BBQ joint. Their Pulled Pork Sandwich is vital to experience, especially with their cheddar and sharp cheese mac & cheese as a side. It’s BYOB, cash-only, and a guaranteed good time.
Whether you want a burger, salad, or pasta, this place has your name written all over it. They’ve also got a sandwich to end all sandwiches. Although their menu changes often, you gotta catch their Little Fried Oyster Sandwich — you’ll probably be disappointed by all future sandwiches. Sorry not sorry.
11. The Eagle
Ah yes, comfort food. It’s a wonder we survived so long without this place. Their Spoon Bread is the ultimate pair with their Fried Chicken. They also have a large, rotating selection of draft and bottle beers and ciders. Get the OTR Iced Tea Cocktail- you won’t regret it.
Terry’s Turf Club, how we love thee. It’s the ultimate place to grab a burger in the city. The neon signs may be a bit bizarre, but nothing makes you feel more at home than their comforting food and fries. Get friendly with the people you’re sitting next to and order a plate of Pepper Paw Poppers. You’re in for a memorable meal.
One of Cinci’s finest, Nicola’s Italian is located on the outskirts of Over-the-Rhine and their cuisine takes your palette to a new level. They’ve got an extensive wine list and pasta choices to satisfy any customer. Their Crispy Potato Gnocchi and Lobster Pea Risotto are phenomenal. Your best bet is to eat a lot of meals here and try everything. That’s just common sense.
14. Trio Bistro
Trio Bistro is a smorgasbord; they’ve got steaks, pizzas, soups, salads, fish, pasta, and more. Basically, this is for all the picky eaters out there or those who just need to try a little bit of everything. Take your date out for something nice and order the Lump Crab Cakes, a plate of Pasta Primavera, and a glass of wine. Not too shabby.
15. A Tavola
Your weekend nights need some wood-fired pizza in them. Upon ordering, you’ll get your pizzas in no time. But their craft cocktails and infamous pizza oven provide the perfect distractions while you wait. Share the Arancini and a House salad for your appetizers cause you’re going to want every slice of your Margherita pizza to yourself.
Have another essential Cincinnati restaurant? Let us know!