I've lived in Cincinnati for more than 10 years now and really consider myself a Cincinnatian. My blog has expanded my knowledge of the city, and it's introduced me to some hidden gems that so many people don't even know exist! So I want to share some of my favorites with you.
Things to do
Cincy Brew Bus
1. There are quite a few historical brewery tours in town, but Cincy Brew Bus is different – they give you history AND BEER! That's right, you meet at Fountain Square and jump on a school bus then you learn and drink and drink and learn. CBB gives you a giant Servatii pretzel to wear around your neck and then they give you some beer tickets and you're on your way. On my trip, we visited Rock Bottom (the FIRST craft brewery in Cincinnati), 50 West, Christian Moerlein and Rhinegeist. In between stops the owner, Mike Stokes, gives you historical bits about each place as well as the history of brewing in Cincinnati.
Segway of Cincinnati
2. I'm not athletic. At. All. That said, I tried out the Segway of Cincinnati tours and have to say – THEY WERE AWESOME! You might see these nerdy folks riding around on these weird motorized things wearing oh-so-attractive helmets and orange vests and think, "Oh no, I'm not doing that." But you totally should. This is the most fun thing I've done in Cincinnati. You learn a bit about the city (downtown, Eden Park, Riverfront) and you have a great time whizzing around the sidewalks! It's so much fun. Like I said, I'm not athletic, but I got the hang of it in about 10 minutes and then I was off and segwaying!
Glendalia Culinary Studio & Boutique Hotel
3. As a food blogger, I enjoy cooking, but I'm no expert – I know I have a lot to learn. That's where The Glendalia Culinary Studio & Boutique Hotel comes in. It's a really cute little hotel in the heart of Glendale, Ohio. In the summer of 2013 they opened the Culinary Studio. The owner came up with the idea after a trip to Italy. Everyone in the class breaks up into teams and cooks part of the meal then they sit together and the staff serves the final dinner to the attendees. I loved it so much, I had a private party there! It was great: we came up with a menu and a budget that worked for everybody and went to town. And I learned how to make empanadas!!
4. Cincinnati introduced me to so many unique ethnic foods and one of my favorite is Ethiopian! Emanu in Pleasant Ridge is THE BEST! Sammy, the owner, is so sweet and his whole family is involved which is adorable. But the food – oh man, the food! They serve family style so you order a couple of meats and a few vegetables and it comes on a huge plate. Then you have this bread called injara (looks like a hot towel) that you use to eat the food. You tear off a little piece and pick the food up with it. The Chicken Doro Watt and the Veggie Combo are my absolute favorite. And when you go, be sure to order a piece of cheesecake when you order your meal – it goes quickly!
5. I love love love Indian food. Seriously, I can't say it enough. Dusmesh is THE hidden Indian gem in Cincinnati. It's in Clifton across from Cincinnati State in a house (yes – a house). It is amazing! I have taken so many people that love other Indian places there, and they say, "I didn't think it could get better than (Insert Indian here) but this is AMAZING!" My favorite dish is the Chicken Tikki Masala or the Mushroom Mater.
6. I discovered this sandwich – it should be called Golden Bun because it's so amazing – but instead it's called a Torta. You can get this magical combination of light, flaky bread and shredded pork at Taqueria Mercado (downtown or Fairfield). The Fairfield location is my favorite because it's small and there's a Mexican bakery next door. But really, it's all about the sandwich. The bun is so light and soft it melts in your mouth. The carnitas are my favorite, but you can also get the sandwich with steak or ham. Then they're topped with avocado, beans, sour cream, lettuce and jalapeños. You will NOT be sorry!
Mt. Washington Creamy Whip
7. Everybody needs some soft serve and the best soft serve – hands down – is at the Mt. Washington Creamy Whip. I'm not really sure what it is about theirs, but it's just better. They have all the toppings: You can choose between rectangle sprinkles or round sprinkles or even PINK SUGAR! It's just amazing. It's so much creamier than anyplace else I've had in town. Plus, it's adorable with a 50s diner feel, and they have a variety of other baked goods that you can take home too. So head over to Mt. Washington and get a cone then watch the world go by at the outdoor seating.
8. Let's be honest – I have a wide variety of kryptonite. But one for sure is the bread pudding at Italian restaurant, Bella Luna. It's just to die for. It's like thick French toast smothered in butter and a caramel sauce. What's even better than the plain bread pudding: the chocolate chip bread pudding. They only offer it at certain times of the year, but if you're lucky enough for that to be on the menu, then get it! (The seafood canneloni is also very delicious!)
9. I like barbecue but it's not my favorite food – until I tried the ribs at Just Q'in. I follow a lot of restaurants on Twitter and the like and the owner of Just Q'in and I started chatting back and forth about random things. One of his barbecue shop is in Newtown, OH, near Wags Park, but as it turns out, he lives near me! So during our chats I was saying how much I wanted to try his ribs. Well lucky for me, that weekend he had a big order to do and he threw an extra slab in for me. Oh my Lord! These ribs were life-changing. He dropped them off around dinner time and my husband came upstairs when I opened the piping hot foil package. The ribs were dry-rubbed, and we didn't even bother with sauce or plates – or even napkins. We dug in and I think they were gone in about 2.8 seconds.
Frank's Old Town Cafe
10. My favorite kind of restaurant is a diner! I love them, I seek them out, I beg my husband to stop. My go-to favorite diner is actually on the Kentucky side: Frank's Old Town Cafe on Pike Street in Covington. First of all, it's family-owned and run, and I adore Frank. I worked across the street when I moved here and 10 years later we're still pals. The food there is just great home cooking diner food. My favorite is the Frying Pig. It's a breaded pork tenderloin with grilled onions and bbq sauce on a bun. They have the big thick crinkle fries too – yum yum YUM!
There're so many more hidden gems in Cincinnati USA...but I can't give away all my secrets!