Senate in Over-the-Rhine
Senate in Over-the-Rhine

Senate and Abigail Street

Both restaurants are under the direction of Daniel Wright, winner of Food & Wine’s 2012 People’s Choice Best New Chef in the Great Lakes Region. Senate is famous for loaded gourmet hot dogs you can barely fit in your mouth, with unexpected toppings like poached egg, kimchi and wasabi peas. It made the Forbes Travel Guide Top 10 Best Hot Dogs list in 2012, and is on Food & Wine’s America’s Best Hot Dogs list. Abigail Street has a Mediterranean flair, with an emphasis on seasonal foods that are meant to be shared. Local food writer Donna Covrett says it serves the best baklava in town.
 
Orchids at Palm Court
Orchids at Palm Court

Orchids at Palm Court

The honors for this downtown fine dining restaurant are almost too numerous to mention. To name just a few: The American Culinary Federation bestowed it with an Award of Excellence in 2007 and 2013, as well as named Chef Todd Kelly the 2011-2012 USA Chef of the Year. You may recognize Pastry Chef Megan Ketover from her appearances on Bravo’s Top Chef Just Desserts and Food Network’s Challenge. And, Zagat has called it Cincinnati’s Best Restaurant and Open Table diners selected it as one of the Top 100 Restaurants in the USA. 
 
Dining critics praise Orchids, located in the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, for the masterful way Chef Kelly handles such delicacies as oxtails, foie gras and caviar cream. His elegant menu is perfectly complemented by a top-notch wine list and impeccable service. And, as Zagat notes, the exquisite art deco room itself is worth the price of dinner.
 
Arnold's patio Opening Day
Arnold's patio Opening Day

Arnold's

Fun fact: Established in 1861, Arnold’s Bar and Grill didn’t serve food until Prohibition, when it was officially converted to a café. That was reported recently by BuzzFeed.com when it named Arnold’s one of the oldest and coolest bars in the world. Today, you can still enter through the same room that once housed Simon Arnold’s original saloon, although the cost of beer has increased slightly. In addition to a full menu, Arnold’s also features a full calendar of live music.
 
Metropole
Metropole

Metropole

Chef Michael Paley’s mastery of the trendy open-hearth cooking technique landed Metropole at 21c Museum Hotel on Bon Appetit’s 2013 list of the Top 50 Best New Restaurants. Everything from foie gras to kale salad is fair game for wood firing, offering a dining experience you just can’t get at home.
 
Boca
Boca

Boca

Open Table bestows its Diners’ Choice Awards for the Top 100 Fit for Foodies Restaurants to those that “put the wow factor in everything they serve,” and Boca certainly earns that distinction. From the signature caramelized Brussels sprouts with watercress and brown butter truffle vinaigrette to rich meats served with complex sauces that marinate up to three days before being served, the menu offers an unmatched dining experience. In fact, Travel + Leisure also honored Boca as one of the Best French Restaurants in the U.S. Chef/Owner David Falk moved the restaurant to the downtown space that formerly housed The Maisonette, which held the record for being the longest-running five-star restaurant
in the world.
 
Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar
Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar

Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar

Bouquet joins Boca and Orchids on Open Table’s 2013 list of Top 100 restaurants serving the Best American Cuisine. Chef Stephen Williams’ farm-to-table approach infuses his menu with the freshest local produce and seasonal flavors – some from a neighborhood garden he tends with other local chefs. His goal is to offer diners a creative twist on classic foods.
 
 
Pulled Pork Sandwhich at Eli's BBQ
Pulled Pork Sandwhich at Eli's BBQ

Eli's BBQ

Travel + Leisure was so impressed with this joint’s hickory-smoked pulled pork and crunchy, creamy slaw that it put Eli’s BBQ on the 2013 America’s Best New BBQ list. Eli’s guarantees that its pulled pork is a full “20 hours in the making” and that its macaroni “swims leisurely in just the right amount of cheddar and sharp cheeses.” In addition to the restaurant on Eastern Avenue, Eli's serves pulled pork sandwiches around town at various events like Bluegrass Bandstand in Washington Park and at its Findlay Market location.
 
Camp Washington Chili 3-way
Camp Washington Chili 3-way

Camp Washington Chili

It would be easier to tell you who hasn’t recognized this classic Cincinnati diner with an honor or award. For starters, it has won a James Beard Award for being an American Regional Classic; it was featured on Travel Channel’s Man v. Food Nation; Smithsonian’s website called it one of the 20 Most Iconic Food Destinations; and Bon Appétit picked it as a Best Chili Spot. 
 
You certainly can’t come to Cincinnati without trying our signature dish: sweet and savory chili, served on a bed of noodles and topped with a fluffy mound of shredded cheddar. Camp Washington Chili has been dishing up the secret recipe since 1940, and owner Johnny Johnson has worked there since he arrived here from Greece in 1951. This is the real deal.
 
Tom + Chee
Tom + Chee

Tom + Chee

Millions of viewers met Tom + Chee owners Trew Quackenbush and Corey Ward when they made a 2013 appearance on ABC’s Shark Tanka show where small-business owners appeal to venture capitalists to help them take their start-ups to the next level. Enchanted by the grilled cheese donut—and let’s face it, who isn’t?—the duo locked up $600,000 from two sharks. 
 
Actually, this gourmet grilled cheese restaurant had already attracted plenty of attention. The Daily Meal and Endless Simmer named the grilled cheese donut one of the 10 Best New Sandwiches of 2012. And the restaurant was featured in 2012 on Travel Channel’s Man v. Food Nation and Amazing EatsNow people stop in from all over the country to sample this cleverly reinvented comfort food.
 
Written by Polly Campbell, Food & Dining writer at Cincinnati Enquirer.