If you’re visiting “the Queen City,” expect rich history around every corner. Cincinnati is known for major league sports teams, such as the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals, a vibrant arts scene, and historic architecture. From one of the oldest baseball teams in the country and distinctive architecture, which showcases its 19th-century German heritage, Cincinnati has a distinctive character to share!
With all this history, Cincinnati also has a notable culinary scene. Food in Cincinnati, Ohio ranges from regional classics like fried chicken and chili to a thriving craft beer and ethnic food scene. While you’re getting to know the city, make sure you get to know the food as well!
What’s Special About Foods In Cincinnati?
Cincinnati food holds a special place due to its fusion of flavors and cultural influences. At the heart of its culinary identity is Cincinnati chili, served in various ways, from over spaghetti to on a chili cheese coney.
The city’s German heritage has left a lasting impact, seen in dishes such as goetta, a flavorful sausage made from meat and oats, reflecting a blending of old-world and local ingredients. If you’re interested in giving these ethnic flavors a try, hop on an Ethnic Food and Culture Tour in Over-the-Rhine, one of Cincinnati’s most notable neighborhoods!
Cincinnati also has an emphasis on comfort foods and hearty sandwiches, reminiscent of Southern comfort food and home-cooked classics. The rich culinary heritage is further enriched by a penchant for harmonizing sweet and savory flavors, making Cincinnati food a delightful and intriguing exploration for food enthusiasts.
Best Cincinnati Food
What food is Cincinnati known for if not Cincinnati chili? Cincinnati chill is a distinctive and beloved regional dish known for its unique blend of flavors and preparation. The spiced meat sauce, usually made from ground beef, is flavored with a mixture of warm spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, and cocoa powder, giving it a slightly sweet and complex taste.
Unlike traditional chili, you’ll find it served on top of spaghetti, creating the base for the dish. Cincinnati chili normally comes with different combinations of ingredients added on top of the spaghetti and chili such as cheese, onions, and beans. This versatile dish has become an integral part of Cincinnati’s culinary identity, with various chili parlors with their own twists on the classic recipe.
If you want the most classic experience, try some chili at Skyline Chili or Gold Star Chili. In fact, Cincinnati chili is so famous in Ohio you can pick up cans of Cincinnati chili at the airport! Don’t miss out on trying this famous Cincinnati food — trust us, you can find Cincinnati chili around every corner.
Popular Breakfast Foods In Cincinnati
There are so many famous foods in Cincinnati that it can be hard to decide what to go for! If you want to try a variety of dishes, take the popular Streetcar Food Tour with Findlay Market, which is guaranteed to serve up several Cincinnati food favorites!
Corned Beef Hash
Corned beef hash is a hearty and flavorful dish that typically consists of diced or shredded corned beef mixed with diced potatoes, onions, and seasonings.
The name “corned beef” comes from the salt (or “corns” of salt) used to cure the beef. The ingredients are normally sautéed together until the potatoes are golden and crispy, creating a satisfying combination of textures and flavors
The dish is a popular breakfast or brunch option and normally comes with eggs cooked to your preference. If you’re looking for a classic breakfast in downtown Cincinnati, make sure you add on an order of corned beef hash!
Goetta is a unique and flavorful breakfast sausage, which is a food Cincinnati is known for due to its roots in the city’s culinary heritage.
You make it by combining ground meat, usually a mixture of pork and beef, with steel-cut oats and a blend of seasonings like thyme, sage, and bay leaves. This mixture is then simmered until the flavors meld together and the oats soften, creating a dense and savory sausage-like consistency.
After cooking, the goetta is typically formed into loaves, chilled, and sliced into patties for cooking. If you want to try this breakfast classic, don’t miss the Top Sites and Food Morning Tour! After taking stock of the sights downtown, you’ll end your tour at the Taste of Belgium Bistro with some goetta and a delicious waffle!
If you’re more in the mood for a sweet breakfast food, consider ordering up some apple fritters, often among the best food in Cincinnati! Apple fritters are delicious and indulgent treats that combine the sweetness of apples with the crispy, fried texture of pastry.
To make them, you dip slices of apples into a flavorful batter, which can include ingredients like flour, sugar, eggs, and spices. The coated apple slices are then deep-fried until golden brown and crispy on the outside.
The result is a warm and comforting treat with a contrast of textures between the soft, cooked apple and the crispy outer layer. Often dusted with powdered sugar or drizzled with glaze, apple fritters are a delightful way to enjoy the flavors of apples in a dessert form.
If you’re looking for food in downtown Cincinnati, you’ll see that waffles are a famous Cincinnati food option! Waffles in Cincinnati offer a delightful twist on the classic breakfast treat.
Often found in local diners and breakfast spots, Cincinnati-style waffles are known for their size and fluffiness. These waffles normally come larger and thicker than their traditional counterparts, with a light and airy texture.
They often have a crisp exterior that contrasts with the soft interior, creating a satisfying texture. Cincinnati waffles generally come with butter and maple syrup or sometimes fresh frush or whipped cream. This regional take on waffles reflects Cincinnati’s penchant for hearty and flavorful breakfast offerings.
Famous Meat Dishes And Foods In Cincinnati
Montgomery Inn Ribs
Montogomery Inn ribs are legendary among foods in Cincinnati and leave a lasting impression. Known for their tender and succulent quality, these ribs are synonymous with the Montgomery Inn restaurant. The ribs are expertly prepared using a special blend of seasonings and slow-cooked until they’re ready to fall off the bone.
These ribs then come with a generous helping of the restaurant’s signature barbecue sauce, which is tangy and slightly sweet, adding a flavorful and distinctive twist to the dish. These ribs have become a must-try for locals and visitors alike, embodying the city’s love for hearty and flavorful comfort food!
Fried chicken is a beloved comfort food in Cincinnati, which showcases Cincinnati’s proximity to Kentucky’s fried chicken fame.
Often found in local diners, soul food restaurants, and comfort food spots, Cincinnati’s fried chicken is known for its crispy and flavorful exterior. The chicken normally comes coated with seasoned breading or batter before being deep-fried to golden brown perfection.
Cincinnati fried chicken often carries a blend of spices that can include paprika, garlic powder, and black pepper, lending it a distinctive taste. Served with sides like biscuits, mashed potatoes, and coleslaw,
Cincinnati’s fried chicken is a testament to Cincinnati’s love for comfort food. The Eagle is a top spot for fried chicken in OTR if you’re on the lookout! You will also commonly find this dish in the many fun food tours in Cincinnati!
Frisch’s Big Boy Burgers
You’ll see the lovable Frisch’s Big Boy mascot all around Cincinnati, but this is only part of what makes Frisch’s Big Boy part of the Cincinnati food scene. Frisch’s Big Boy is a restaurant chain that offers iconic burgers. Their burgers feature a seasoned ground beef patty that’s grilled to perfection and served on a sesame seed bun.
What sets them apart is their size, with the burgers being notably larger than the average fast-food burger. Toppings like lettuce, cheese, pickles, and the famous “special sauce” make the flavor profile even better. This is definitely one of the classic and best Cincinnati food choices! Swing by Frisch’s Big Boy if you’re in the mood for a Cincinnati burger!
Sandwiches And Snack Foods In Cincinnati
Cincinnati Goetta Reuben
You’ll only find this twist on the classic Reuben sandwich among foods from Cincinnati. This sandwich features slices of crispy, flavorful goetta, a German-inspired sausage made from a mixture of oats and meats. The goetta comes layered on top of rye bread with traditional Reuben ingredients, such as Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing.
The combination of the goetta’s savory and slightly nutty taste with the tangy sauerkraut and creamy dressing creates a harmonious blend of flavors. Served warm and often pressed to meld the ingredients together, the Cincinnati Goetta Reuben is a must-try for visitors seeking a local twist on a classic sandwich option.
Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
The pork tenderloin sandwich is a hearty and satisfying dish that’s well-loved in the Cincinnati food sphere. This sandwich offers a breaded and fried pork tenderloin, which is tender and flavorful on the inside and crispy on the outside. The tenderloin is typically served on a bun and can be topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles.
The sandwich’s size often gives it the nickname of “Gorilla Burger,” since the portion size is so large. This quintessential example of comfort food shows Cincinnati’s appreciation for an indulgent sandwich that can satisfy even the largest of appetites.
Cincinnati Breakfast Sandwich
You know by now that people in Cincinnati appreciate a good sandwich, but not just at lunch! Breakfast sandwiches are also a popular Cincinnati food option at breakfast! This breakfast favorite often features a combination of ingredients emblematic of a Cincinnati breakfast, such as goetta, eggs, cheese, and sometimes bacon or sausage.
The goetta adds a savory and nutty element to the sandwich, while the eggs provide a creamy texture and added protein. The sandwich normally comes in a variety of bread options, from biscuits to rolls, enhancing the overall taste and texture. If you’re looking for a tasty breakfast on the go, keep a breakfast sandwich in mind while you’re in Cincinnati!
Ethnic Foods In Cincinnati
You can really taste Cincinnati’s German heritage in this delicious Cincinnati food! The Cincinnati Bierwurst is a hearty and tasty German-style sausage that has made its mark on the city’s culinary scene. This sausage has a mixture of finely ground pork and beef, seasoned with a blend of spices such as garlic, nutmeg, and marjoram.
Bierwurst gets its name from its historical association with being paired with beef, making it a great accompaniment to a pint. You normally smoke the sausage to enhance its flavor and textures for a balanced blend of smokiness and savory spices.
Cincinnati Bierwurst reflects the city’s German heritage and love for robust foods. It is often enjoyed as a stand-alone snack or a full meal.
Since Cincinnati has some strong Eastern European roots, you can expect some delicious pierogi in town! These dumplings are crafted from unleavened dough that’s rolled out and filled with various ingredients, such as mashed potatoes, cheese, meat, or sauerkraut. The dough gets folded over, forming a semi-circular shape, while the edges are crimped to seal the filling inside.
Normally, you’ll see pierogi boiled until they float to the surface, indicating they are cooked. Then they can be further fried or sautéed to add texture. Often served with toppings like sour cream or caramelized onions, pierogi offers a satisfying and comforting Cincinnati food option!
Potato Pancakes (Latkes)
Although latkes are a traditional Jewish dish, this delicious food has found its place among foods in Cincinnati. These potato pancakes come from grating potatoes and onions, then mixing them with eggs and a bit of flour or matzo meals. The mixture carries seasonings like salt and pepper. The pancakes are then fried until golden and crispy.
The result is a dish with a crispy exterior and a tender, flavorful interior. Latkes normally come with sour cream or applesauce, creating a delightful balance between the savory pancakes and the tangy (or sweet) accompaniments. This dish adds a touch of Jewish tradition to Cincinnati’s array of global flavors!
This is another dish of German heritage that is famous among foods from Cincinnati! Typically made from marinated and braised beef, Sauerbraten gets its name from the German words “sauer” (sour) and “braten” (roast). The cook generally marinates the beef in a mixture of vinegar, water, and spices like cloves, juniper berries, and bay leaves, which give the dish a distinctive tangy profile.
After marinating, the beef gets slow-cooked until tender and then served with rich, savory gravy. Often accompanied by sides like red cabbage and potato dumplings, Sauerbraten showcases Cincinnati’s appreciation for German cuisine and culture. It’s a must-try if you want a taste of Cincinnati’s German heritage.
Desserts And Sweet Foods In Cincinnati
Graeter’s Ice Cream
Graeter’s Ice Cream, which you can find all over town, is undoubtedly a famous Cincinnati food. They follow a unique French Pot process in making its ice cream, meaning the ice cream is made in small batches using a traditional handcrafting technique. This process results in a dense and creamy texture, with flavors that are exceptionally rich and intense.
Graeter’s Ice Cream is famous for its large chocolate chips, which are created by pouring melted chocolate directly into the freezing ice cream. In stores, you can find a wide array of flavors, from classic vanilla and chocolate to more innovative options. Graeter’s Ice Cream is sure to impress any ice cream lover!
These candies are one of the foods Cincinnati is known for, since they harken to the nut of the state tree of Ohio, the Buckeye!
Buckeye candy is a sweet and indulgent treat, made by forming creamy peanut butter mixture into small balls and partially dipping them in melted chocolate. This leaves a portion exposed, which gives the appearance of the buckeye!
The peanut butter filling is typically a blend of creamy peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar, resulting in a rich and slightly sweet interior. The outer chocolate shell adds a satisfying contrast, providing a balance between the creamy peanut butter and the smooth chocolate coating.
Buckeye candy is a beloved treat, which you’ll find during holidays, family gatherings, and large Ohio events.
Drinks In Cincinnati Food Scene
With the growing appreciation for wine in Cincinnati, you’ll find that it’s an increasingly important part of the Cincinnati food scene. Over the past years, Cincinnati has seen the emergence of local wineries and wine bars that showcase both regional and international selections. The city’s diverse culinary scene creates many opportunities for wine pairings, from comfort food to upscale dining.
Wine enthusiasts can explore tasting events, wine tours, and educational workshops on offer around the city to deepen their knowledge and appreciation of wines.
If you’re looking for a taste of wine and a sweet treat, a Wine & Dessert Tastings tour could be for you! This tour takes you through one of the best wine spots in Cincinnati, Revel Urban Winery, and gives you delicious dessert pairings to boot! What else could you want?
With so much German culture in the area, you’ll be unsurprised to learn that craft beer has an enormous foothold among Cincinnati foods and drinks.
The region is home to a multitude of craft breweries, each with its own unique styles and offerings, making it a haven for beer enthusiasts. Cincinnati’s craft beer history traces back to the 19th century when it was a brewing hub, and you can taste that history all around the city!
From innovative IPAs and rich stouts to sour ales and traditional lagers, Cincinnati’s craft breweries have something to satisfy every palette. The city hosts various beer festivals and events, such as the yearly Oktoberfest, which celebrates local breweries and the camaraderie of beer lovers.
If you want to explore craft brews in Cincinnati, consider taking a Craft Brewery Tour, which will take you through the most popular spots!
Since Kentucky is just over the river, Cincinnati foods and drinks have a strong connection to Kentucky in many cases. There is a particularly strong link to the Kentucky Derby, a renowned horse race, and the mint julep is a classic cocktail at that event. While the Derby takes place in Kentucky, you’ll find that the mint julep tradition rules in Cincinnati as well.
The mint julep is a classic Southern cocktail known for its refreshing and flavorful profile, typically served in a silver or pewter cup that elevates its presentation. It consists of just a few ingredients: bourbon, fresh mint leaves, sugar, and water. This is a refreshing cocktail, guaranteed to make the perfect pairing to a warm Cincinnati day!
FAMOUS FOODS IN THE US
Sampling Famous Foods In Cincinnati
Of all the delicious Ohio foods, Cincinnati captures a special blend of regional classics and ethnic favorites. With its strong German heritage, you’ll find German dishes throughout the year, but especially during the city’s Oktoberfest celebration. Along with this, there are regional favorites like Cincinnati chili, Montgomery Inn ribs, and Frisch’s Big Boy burgers to enjoy.
Whether you’re looking to try the most famous Cincinnati food or more undercover classics, Cincinnati has something for everyone! Make sure you get a taste of it all during your visit!