There’s no doubt the Cincinnati USA region is foodie-friendly. Whether you’re craving a popular local dish, like Taste of Belgium’s chicken and waffles, or you have a hankering for something unique, like spaghetti squash pancakes found seasonally at Metropole, there’s a spot here for you to grab some seriously delicious eats. The restaurants below have some of the best cuisine around, and they also all support area farmers and businesses by using locally-sourced ingredients.
Located downtown in the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, Orchids has won many accolades for its fine dining. It is now an AAA Five Diamond restaurant. Executive Chef Todd Kelly was named USA Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation. In 2014 the restaurant earned a spot on OpenTable’s top 10 list of the best restaurants in the U.S., as well as four stars in Forbes’ Travel Guide. Known for its devotion to using locally-sourced ingredients, it even makes its own honey on the roof of the hotel. The menu changes seasonally, but includes anything from stuffed quail to chateaubriand, along with an award-winning complementary wine selection. And don’t skip dessert: Pastry Chef Megan Ketover, a former contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef: Just Desserts, knows how to dazzle with pastries like milk chocolate fig tarts and pumpkin crémeux.
Farm-to-table is the main focus at Bouquet, where head chef Stephen Williams culls the freshest ingredients from more than 17 local vendors. Set in Covington’s historic MainStrasse district, the restaurant serves dinner only and has a range of soups, salads and entrees—including items such as crab cakes with pastrami and chive parsley root puree—and a wine list with more than 80 selections. Many of the dishes can be made vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free upon request.
Metropole at 21c Museum Hotel
The bulk of the dishes on Metropole’s rotating menu are cooked in a custom-built wood-burning fireplace, a nod to old-world cooking techniques. This is especially fitting because the restaurant, bar and lounge are set in Cincinnati’s 21c Museum Hotel, which still showcases many of the original architectural details of its historic building, like arched windows and mosaic tile fl oors. After sampling the charred beets and braised pork shank—as a “farm-to-fireplace-to-table” establishment, all of the ingredients are sourced from local farms, bakeries and coffee and spice shops—pop by the adjoining art museum to check out eclectic displays of contemporary works.
Perhaps best known for its melted sandwiches—like the Joan of Arc, which is braised beef with roasted garlic and red peppers, caramelized onions and bleu and provolone cheeses melted on foccaccia—this popular spot also serves a tasty variety of soups, wraps, salads and sides. Still in Northside, the restaurant moved to a new location 2017 that now offers a full bar and ampleseating. Also new in 2017, enjoy Melt's fare now in the lobby of the Contemporary Arts Center.
Taste of Belgium
Equally popular for dinner as it is for brunch, Taste of Belgium has some of the best waffles for miles around. The waffles themselves are authentic Belgian-style (read: thick and hearty) and the varieties range from the savory Southwestern (turkey, pepper jack and chipotle mayo) to the sweet S’mores waffle. And in typical Cincinnati fashion, there’s also a specialty crepe called the ’Nati, made with eggs, roasted peppers and onions, Havarti cheese and local-favorite goetta: a breakfast sausage made with oats and spices that dates back to the city’s German heritage. Some menu items vary at their multiple locations.
Written by Baihley Grandison, updated by Julie Brock