In case you haven’t heard, there is an article posted on Buzzfeed yesterday that’s making waves around the Internet: 11 Cincinnati foods that are better than yours. Of course, it’s just one person’s opinion and they are entitled to that opinion, but we here at One Clean Plate think this list leaves much to be desired and ignores many of the greatest small restaurants and artisan shops Cincinnati has to offer in favor of the big well-known brands.
So, here we offer up our list of 11 Cincinnati foods that are actually better than everywhere else.
1. Ice Cream
Our Pick: We here at One Clean Plate take our ice cream very seriously and while Graeter’s does serve some delicious ice cream, Aglamesis Bros. certainly does too. They are the two biggest ice cream makers in Greater Cincinnati – so which is the best? Well, that would be Dojo Gelato. Haha! Weren’t expecting that, were you? Seriously, while Graeter’s and Aglamesis are worthwhile, they can’t match the creaminess and velvety texture of Dojo combined with the unusual variety of intense flavors they offer. That makes them our favorite.
I know, gelato isn’t technically ice cream, but it’s awful close and, dare I say, better.
Original: Skyline Chili
Our Pick: A lot of debate goes back and forth between Skyline vs. Gold Star and frankly, we’re going to have to say absolutely not to both of them. Cincinnatians consider our city to be the chili capitol of the world – Skyline and Gold Star may be popular, but in falling into the fast food model we think they’ve lost touch with what made them great in the first place. So why go for one of the big chains when you can have real local chili?
Instead why not try Chili Time, Price Hill Chili or our favorite, Camp Washington Chili?
Original: Izzy’s 110 Reuben
Our Pick: Izzy’s 110 Reuben is a big Reuben, but biggest does not equal best. While Izzy’s is definitely a Cincinnati staple, they fall into the same ‘growing into a chain’ category as Gold Star and Skyline. Why not go for something a little more unique? Nearly every restaurant in Cincinnati that serves sandwiches has a Reuben on its menu and everyone has their personal favorites. Mine’s Paxton’s in Loveland – but Mt. Adam’s Bar & Grill also serves a pretty tasty Reuben. This could go on for days. So seriously, we’re not even going to pick on this one, because it’s just so ubiquitous. Instead how about you tell us your favorite Reuben in the comments!
Original: La Rosas
Our Pick: The author rails against “gross chain pizza” but forget that La Rosas is a “gross chain” as well. Sorry, it really is. Luckily there are lots of great artisan pizza makers in Cincinnati – even in Greater Cincy like The Works in Loveland. Via Vite in downtown makes brick oven pizzas that are hard to rival, and Dewey’s is our favorite local chain. For the best pizza though, you just can’t do better than A Tavola. From the simple and familiar to the gourmet and unusual their wood-fired pizzas are divine.
5. Blueberry Soft Serve Ice Cream
Original: Blueberry Soft Serve from Kings Island
Our Pick: Blueberry Ice Cream is good, but not unique to here. Much less soft serve ice cream. So it’s a bit difficult to tackle this one. I’ll be the first to argue that I don’t care how nostalgic you are, you should never eat anything from Kings Island. Ever.
If you want the best soft serve ice cream – go to The Cone in West Chester. Not only does it have the novelty of being a giant cone, but they serve an awesome cone.
Original: Montgomery Inn (Specifically, the sauce)
Our Pick: Our thoughts on this are very similar to the pizza discussion. There’s lots of great places for these things, but nobody does barbecue in Cincinnati better than Eli’s. From the atmosphere to the flavor, Eli’s nails it. From the smoky pulled pork, perfectly buttery toasted buns, exceptional sides in a casual and homey atmosphere with groovy tunes spinning on the record player you just can’t do any better elsewhere. If you’re not feeling it, try SmoQ instead.
7. Best Bakery
Original: Busken Bakery
Our Pick: Again, we don’t really have anything against Busken, in fact we like them and wrote about their latest donut just yesterday. We’d rather showcase a smaller shop, though. Cincinnati is lucky to have a lot of great bakeries, from Stan the Donut Man way up in West Chester to Silverton Donuts to North College Hill Bakery and many others. But only one can “win” and for the best all around bakery, we’ll have to give it to The BonBonerie.
The BonBonerie is technically more than just a bakery, sure, but that is what they are best at – and they really are the best. The cakes are more than just beautiful, they are also delicious and pair perfectly with a cup of tea. Most notable is the Opera Cream cake, but even the scones, cookies and danishes at BonBonerie will make you have a spiritual, soul-searching experience.
8. Best Goetta
Original: Glier’s Goetta
Our Pick: Goetta has a special place in Cincinnati’s collective heart. Colonial Cottage, Tucker’s and Anchor grill are all solid places to find excellent goetta, but our favorite is really none other than Eckerlin Meats in Findlay Market. If those sound like fighting words head to Goettafest next year and sample everything side by side. You can find everything there – regardless of your taste preference.
Original: Papa’s Easter Eggs
Our Pick: Sure, Papa’s does have some good candies, but Cincinnati has lots of other rival chocolatiers too – just check out any one of the places that frequent the Cincinnati Chocolate Festival. Out of all of them though, our favorite is Chocolats Latour. Nobody is more passionate about their chocolates than Chocolats Latour – hand crafted with local ingredients and fair trade chocolate then wrapped up in Earth-friendly (recyclable/compostable) packaging. They’re expensive, but if you’re looking for a darn good chocolate you might as well get the finest.
10. Grilled Cheese
Original: Tom+Chee’s grilled cheese donut
Our Pick: Tom+Chee does have some very good grilled cheese sandwiches, and the grilled cheese donut is a notable, tasty sweet treat. We’re pleased with the local pick but Tom+Chee has often left us feeling a bit.. underwhelmed. While I don’t know of other places that do grilled cheese donuts, there are better places for a good grilled cheese – Senate’s Pork Belly Grilled Cheese, Lavomatic, Melt or Bone’s Burgers. We can’t pick a favorite, we love them all. Tom+Chee has a lot of potential, and we do like them, just not enough to call them the “best” the city has to offer.
Original: It’s Just Crepes
Our Pick: I’m not sure of too many places that sell crepes, and many that do don’t serve exclusively crepes but for the best in Cincinnati… well, we completely agree with the original author’s pick of It’s Just Crepes but for a different reason. We pick them as the best crepes because they are freaking delicious. The author claims they’re notable because you can eat crepes there with your hands, though I’m pretty sure that’s true everywhere. If you’re looking for some delicious crepes on the run other than from It’s Just Crepes, swing by Taste of Belgium in Findlay Market.
Now we hardly think this list does Cincinnati any justice. No mention of Taste of Belgium’s Chicken and Waffles? Or Senate’s hot dogs? The list could go on – we’re really lucky here in Cincinnati to have so many great restaurants to argue about, even in the suburbs.
So what do you think about this list – agree or disagree? Which Cincinnati restaurants do you think are world-class? Discuss in the comments below – as they say on the Internets, come at me bro.
Photo Credit: Frank Pierson