Cincinnati’s Culinary Traditions Are Bigger and Better Than You Think


Courtesy of Cincy Area

Cincinnati-area cuisine is best known for the Cincinnati chili, an offbeat dish that looks more like pasta than chili — but if that’s all you know about the city, you’re not seeing it. full picture. Cincy combines the culinary traditions of Italian and German immigrants to the greater metropolitan area with the cuisine of the south and the bourbon of northern Kentucky, as well as the Midwestern penchant for rich flavors and full stomachs. In short, it is an underrated culinary gem. To help you get to grips with what the area has to offer, we’ve rounded up some of the must-see places in the Cincinnati area:

Courtesy of Cincy Area


Cincinnati has seen several waves of German immigrants settle in the city and add new features to the local culinary scene. In the 19th century, they brought with them goetta, a ground meat sausage topped with steel cut oats. Originally an expensive method of preserving meat, the goetta has sparked a craze in Cincy, appearing on breakfast platters, egg sandwiches and burgers throughout the region. Stores like Eckerlin Meats serve more than 1,500 pounds of homemade goetta each week, in slices and sandwiches. There’s even a “Glier’s Goettafest” every year at Newport on the Levee, celebrating everyone’s favorite sausage with entertainment, games and goetta creations like a breakfast sandwich served on two donuts.

Kentucky Bourbon

Locals know that the greater Cincinnati area isn’t limited to Ohio, with northern Kentucky just across the river. (In fact, if you’re traveling to Cincinnati by plane, the airport is actually in Kentucky.) Northern Kentucky is home to the “B-Line,” a collection of craft distilleries, bars, and restaurants serving the local gold – bourbon. Kentucky has a long tradition of bourbon distillation, with B-Line stops like Old Pogue Distillery dating back 150 years, but there are also newcomers to the scene, like New Riff Distilling. No matter where you decide to check in, Newport, Covington, Burlington and the surrounding area will delight whiskey lovers. (There are also bourbon-centric bars in Cincinnati itself, like The Littlefield.) Also worth noting: Cincy’s beer scene is bustling, with dozens of brewpubs and taprooms, plus barbecue restaurants. to accompany them.

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All the best pizzerias have a similar story: an Italian-American immigrant family takes a historic recipe, figures out how to entice non-Italians to try, and the food does the rest. In this case, that family is that of Buddy LaRosa, the location is the west side of Cincinnati, and the year is 1954. LaRosa was inspired by the annual summer festival at San Antonio Catholic Church, where he made pizzas using her Aunt Dena’s recipe. These days, LaRosa’s is the largest pizza chain in the Cincy area, with Italian-American classics like calzones and hoagies also on the menu, and serves as an unofficial hangout for post-games of all kinds. .

Alright, so it’s not a article or location, but Taste of Cincinnati should definitely be on your calendar. This is the nation’s oldest culinary arts festival, taking place over Memorial Day weekend in the heart of downtown Cincinnati. That means three days of food trucks, fine dining options and everything in between. Prizes are awarded each year for the best healthy option, the best appetizer, the best desserts, etc., so that the chefs are always at the top of their game. The aforementioned brewers and distillers are always crowd favorites, and customers can take home growlers, craft wines, and bottles of Kentucky bourbon. The best part is that it’s free, so anyone can just show up and enjoy the vibe.

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Graeter’s is another Cincinnati family that has become an institution within the local food scene. For more than 150 years, the company has used the same “French Pot” method of making small-batch ice cream, in which cream and chocolate are hand-poured into a rotating mixer – and the results speak for themselves. themselves. A seasonal flavor calendar keeps things interesting, and if you’re not in Cincy, don’t worry: they ship nationwide, so you can create your own pint pack to enjoy.

Chili a la Cincinatti

No article on Cincy’s culinary scene would be complete without mentioning the Cincinnati Chili, a chili that’s more like pasta sauce than the dish most Americans think of. It is served over spaghetti, usually with grated cheese and optionally onions or beans (called “four-way” or “five-way”, depending on the number of toppings). Despite rumors, he’s famous for a reason, as long as you know what to expect. (Think Midwestern pasta sauce, rather than meat chili.) Skyline Chili is the best-known practitioner of this art form and also serves “cheese coneys” (hot dogs smothered in cheese and chili), but there’s also Empress, the originator of the dish and creator of the “way” ordering system, and Camp Washington, a mainstay of chili for more than 75 years. Decide for yourself who serves the best version of this classic dish. Once you’ve tasted the real thing, you’ll be ready to convince your friends back home to try it for themselves.


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