The Queen City might be better known for its coneys, but if you're looking for the best hot dog in town, you'd best head to Senate. This OTR hotspot serves up a host of gourmet hot dogs like the bacon-wrapped, BBQ chip-topped Trailer Park, the kimchi and short rib-enhanced Korean, and the Amanda Bynes (formerly known as the Lindsey Lohan), an all-beef dog with goat cheese, crispy onions, bacon, arugula, and balsamic. Also on offer are solid sides like duck fat fries, killer poutine, and lobster mac and cheese, and a strong selection of craft beers to help wash it all down. Just be warned: the space is a little on the small side, so if you're arriving during a busy period, expect do to a little waiting. The good news? It's totally worth it.
La Rosa's might be the most well-known pie in town, but if you're looking for the best, you must make a trip to A Tavola. Located in the up-and-coming Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, this smallish spot specializes in hand-made, wood-fired Neapolitan pizza that's about as far removed from chain offerings as you can get. Their signature pie is topped with fig jam, prosciutto, fontina, and arugula, and is worth the trip all by itself; it's joined on the menu by several other tasty pizza options, as well as meatball sliders, a bacon tapenade bruschetta, and a delicious salted caramel gelato. Looking for something to quench your thirst? A solid list of craft cocktails, wines, and beers — both bottled and on tap — should be more than enough to help leave you satisfied.
There are plenty of places that aren't afraid to be labeled as dive bars, and most of those even take pride in the distinction, but few take the title as seriously as Dive Bar. Located in the Corryville neighborhood, this dark, smallish bar hits all the dive bar high notes with varied seating, including barrels upstairs, a surprisingly robust beer menu that runs from watery domestics to complex crafts, strong, cheap drinks, and a food window serving up booze-friendly food like hot dogs, sandwiches, and chili. Ideal for a low-key night out, or for drinks before or after catching a show at nearby Bogart's.
The Queen City is known for its pasta, but it's not Italian — normally it comes topped with chili and shredded cheese. Nicola's, on the other hand, is one of the best Italian spots in the region, offering house-made pasta in dishes like buckwheat maltagliati with rabbit ragout, Tagliolini with shrimp and artichokes, and risotto with braised lamb. The menu also includes several more seafood selections, two tasting menu options, and some fantastic desserts. As you'd expect, the wine menu is both extensive and impressive, and tastes even better when enjoyed on the outdoor patio.
Its neighborhood has seen its share of hard times, but that hasn't stopped people from flocking to Findlay Market. Opened in 1855, this historic market's main building sports a cast and wrought iron frame that was one of the first in the U.S., and it's surrounded by other older buildings and a revitalized area. But the architecture's not the draw here. As it should be, it's the food, with a plethora of meat counters inside the main building, produce stands outside, and small shops surrounding the two-block area selling all manner of specialized food stuffs.
It takes a lot of guts to name your hotel after the city in which it resides, but in the case of The Cincinnatian, it's fitting. Built in 1882 and originally known as the Palace Hotel, this eight-story hotel was once the tallest building in the city, and was designed by the same architect as the city's Music Hall and City Hall. Inside, you'll find over 140 guest rooms, several suites, a grand marble and walnut staircase, the highly-regarded Palace Restaurant, Cricket's Lounge, and an impeccable service staff. With a convenient downtown location, it's an ideal base camp for your next visit.
Whether it's wine or beer you're searching for, you should find something to suite your tastes at the Dilly Cafe. Located inside the I-275 corridor, this cafe/wine store/drinker's haven offers a great selection of wines by the glass and beers on tap. Should you be looking for more, not to worry — the shop offers over 1,000 different bottles of wine and over 500 different bottled beers, all of which are available to drink at the bar or on the patio — weather permitting, of course.
The building dates back to 1901 and the business dates back over 30 years, but the food couldn't be more fresh. A staple of the Queen City's fine dining scene, Jeff Ruby's Precinct has been serving up fantastic steaks, salads, and seafood since 1981. Housed in an old police patrol house, the restaurant's Romanesque architecture is as much of a draw as the food, and is complimented by carefully curated relics like an antique Brunswick bar, antique barber chairs, and saloon doors from the early 1900s. Not feeling dinner? Take advantage of their happy hour specials, which includes half-price items from the bar menu.
It's not that the Queen City was hurting for bars — it's that it was hurting for bars like this. Igby's is the town's newest watering hole, and also quite possibly its grandest. Scaling a full three floors — with each offering a view of the main bar below — the spot features exposed brick and steel, reclaimed wood on the walls, a heated patio and balcony, multiple fireplaces, plenty of cozy spots to get away from the madness at the bar, and, of course, a great drink menu.
Nestled in between the homes of the Reds and Bengals is a hidden gem of a museum. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is located there thanks to the spot's proximity to the Ohio River, which served as the border between freedom in Ohio — which was a hotbed of safe houses for those seeking it — and slavery in Kentucky. While the Smithsonian Institution affiliate does spend a great deal of its space dealing with American slavery and the Underground Railroad — it even features a slave pen moved to the center from a Kentucky farm — it doesn't ignore ongoing slavery and human rights issues abroad, including sex trafficking and forced labor.
Like burgers? Like neon? Then you'll love Terry's Turf Club. Both the interior and the exterior of this East End establishment are covered in various shades of glowing gas, creating a casual vibe that belies the high-end ingredients on offer. Their hearty burgers are available with a wide variety of toppings, including halloumi cheese, burgundy wine reduction with wild mushrooms and truffles, and lump crab cakes, and are joined on the menu by surprisingly upscale items like foie gras and ibérico pork. All that, and there's still peanut shells on the floor.
Most record stores become successful and then start their own label — Shake It Records did the opposite. Originally started as a label to issue records from local bands, this Queen City gem offers over 30,000 titles on CD, around 8,000 on vinyl, and tons of used selections, as well as a wide variety of books, magazines, movies, and toys. Oh, and don't forget to check out the interesting artwork in the restroom.