Whether you’re just passing through or staying for a few days, Cincinnati has some classic local eateries — and some hidden gems — that are to die for (and totally Instagram-worthy). Here’s 11 local favorites you have to try the next time you’re in town.
An absolute must if you’re looking for a classic, casual Italian eatery in the 513. There’s countless locations in the Cincinnati-area, including one at Kings Island if you’re feeling adventurous. LaRosa’s is best known for their yummy thin-crust pizza and their amazing build-your-own calzones. For an appetizer, their spinach rondos are to die for. Trust me.
Active cultures and healthy probiotics give Yagööt’s frozen yogurt a delicious, tingly-tart taste — and it’s actually good for you. They serve 2 flavors — Original and Strawberry — year round, and serve additional flavors that alternate monthly, like White Peach, Pineapple (my personal favorite), and Pomegranate. There’s a variety of toppings to choose from, and you can even get your gööt as a parfait, a float, a shake, an açaíi bowl, or a push pop. Can you say yum?
For the sushi-lovers with picky eating habits, those who can never decide exactly what roll they want, and the experimental folks — rejoice. This Chipotle-style sushi restaurant (yep, you read that right) has every ingredient under the sun, and features a fun specialty ingredient that switches out every month. Who knew mango could be so bomb in sushi?
Belgian people take their chocolate, their beer, and their waffles very seriously. They have 3 bistro locations and one at Findlay Market, so wherever you go, you know you’re about to get some fancy ass waffles. They have super bomb crêpes, sandwiches, and pizza, too. Got your taste buds watering? Check out their menu.
Piada is yet another Chipotle-style mini-chain, and it is heavenly. To start, you choose the base of angel hair pasta, salad, or — obviously — the piada (which is the fancy-schmancy word for Italian thin-crust dough). There’s a myriad of yummy toppings, sauces, and grill items to choose from, there’s no way to go wrong — even if you choose calamari. Seriously.
6. Holtman’s Donuts
Holtman’s, AKA the best donuts on Earth. It’s an adorable, family-owned shop that opened in 1960 right in Cincinnati. Their made-from-scratch donuts come in every flavor imaginable, like S’mores, Maple Bacon, Fruity Pebbles, and the obvious classics. Their donuts make for a great breakfast (or mid-day pick-me-up), and are bound to put a smile on your face.
Home to the World’s Greatest Ruebens. Izzy’s was also voted Cincinnati’s Best Deli of 2015 and 2016 because it’s, like, amazing. Not only are their sandwiches the bomb, but if you don’t try their potato pancakes, you’ve committed the ultimate sin. That’s all.
8. Busken Bakery
For 87 years, Busken has blessed Cincinnati and all its inhabitants with the best freaking cookies known to man (and other treats, but the cookies are major key). I don’t know what’s in those cookies, but it tastes a little like heaven mixed with buttery goodness. If you don’t try a Busken cookie when you’re in Cincy, you’re doing it wrong.
9. Dewey’s Pizza
One of my favorite restaurants, like, ever. Their pizza will seriously turn you into the heart-eye emoji. My personal favorites are the Southwest BBQ Chicken and the Caprice, but there’s no fail to any pizza you choose. When in doubt, you can always create-your-own, or get a salad and calzone on your own (no need to share).
This isn’t your average ice cream, folks. It’s super creamy, has ginormous chocolate chunks, and is made with the french-pot process. In addition, they have shakes, sorbet, and gelato. Essentially, Graeter’s is delicious and fancy AF, and you have to give it a whirl when you’re in town.
11. Skyline Chili
Don’t think I forgot about the Holy Grail of the 513. It is entirely un-American to visit Cincinnati and not go to Skyline. Seriously. I don’t care if you “don’t understand why anyone would put chili on spaghetti.” I don’t understand what a garbage plate is, or why someone would put something with the word “garbage” in their mouth, but I’m not going to knock it ’til I try it.