Conan! What is good in Cincinnati?
November 13, 2017 7:26 PM   Subscribe

Hey MeFi! I'm going to be in Cincinnati shortly and am a bit of a snowflake as you may know from my prior asks. It's going to be a short trip but I'm not at all familiar with the area. Under the cut for more, any advice appreciated.

Food: no gluten, no soy, no fish. Cool foods I can't get in other areas appreciated strongly - in a prior ask someone directed me to the Basque food in Boise, and I loved it. I like Indian, Ethiopian, Mexican, South and Central American, and I love hippie cafes where the recipes seem to have been made up by stoners and then tested on a sober person. What's good?

Tea: where is a nice place to sit around and drink some tea and maybe get work done? Bonus for LGBT owned/run/friendly, tea rooms, punk rock, or electronic music. Minus for places with heavy folk or British Invasion rotation. Coffee shops with a decent tea selection are fine, though if the place knows that not all tea steeps at the same temperature that's preferable.

I'm always interested in local spots that carry zines or cool local museums.

I will have a car and a navigation app. I have a minor mobility disability that means no hiking and I avoid stairs when possible. I will be spending the night before in Yellow Springs.

posted by bile and syntax to Travel & Transportation around Cincinnati, OH (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Essencha Tea House in my limited experience seems like it is the place with the largest selection of teas. They absolutely know that different teas have different steeping times & temp.

Please is a great tiny place that will absolutely work with you on your dietary restrictions. They will serve you a 4 course vegan meal if you give them heads up otherwise you can construct a 4 course meal out of vegetarian and non-vegetarian choices. They also offer items a la carte.

Cincinnati does have a very well respected Colombian chef whose restaurant is called Mita's. The food isn't exclusively Colombian but it is good.

For cool local, unusual museums you can't beat the American Sign Museum. For traditional art museums, the Contemporary Arts Center and the more traditional Cincinnati Art Museum are both free and excellent.
posted by mmascolino at 9:33 PM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

The best coffee and tea house in Cincinnati, bar none, is Highland Coffee House. There is truly no better coffee shop in America for sitting and working, having long stretches of involved conversation, or watching old guys play chess. I've lived in a bunch of cities in different countries. Highland is, bar none, the best. It opens at 5pm--try to go a bit later to get Jay the barista. Not LGBT-owned, but very LGBT friendly. They may not know that all tea steeps at the same temperature or play the exact music you want, but, trust me, it's worth it.

2nding American Sign Museum.

If you like Peruvian food, Sabor Peruano in Fairfield is very tasty. There's also a fairly good hipstery Mexican place called Mazunte on the east side of the city near Xavier University. But Cincinnati's actually known for its German food (if you eat meat, get goetta with your breakfast--it's delicious) and its chili, which is technically Greek. Best place for that is Skyline. Though both of those cuisines are heavy on the gluten.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 9:50 PM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you want a punch in the gut, the Underground Railroad Museum is really powerful.
posted by dbx at 4:19 AM on November 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I never miss a chance to recommend Cincinnati chili, although I'm not sure it could work with your diet.

If you like barbecue, Montgomery Inn is both famous and delicious. Their sauce is now gluten free according to the bottle in my fridge. (It wasn't always so, for some reason. I bought my celiac mother-in-law a bottle a few years ago and she couldn't eat it then.)

Graeter's ice cream is among the best in the world. Make sure to order a flavor with chocolate chips.

No trip to Cincinnati is complete without going to Jungle Jim's market. I can't describe it. Also, if the aforementioned Sabor Peruano sounds appealing, it's just down the street. There's a Ghanaian market/bakery nearby, too.

Have fun in YS, too. I grew up nearby.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:44 AM on November 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

A weekly paper, CityBeat, puts out the Annual Manual which I think has a lot of good ideas.
posted by girlmightlive at 4:52 AM on November 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

My cousin just got back from visiting other cousins in Cincinnati and the Iris van Herpen exhibit at the Cincinnati Art Museum looked utterly amazing.
posted by drlith at 5:47 AM on November 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Definitely Graeter's. If you at all care for Graeter's you must. I'll go ahead and say that the canonical Graeter's flavor is Black Raspberry Chip. That is the flavor you should try.
posted by mmascolino at 6:41 AM on November 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Ambar India (Yelp link) in Clifton, near the University of Cincinnati campus, is one of the best Indian restaurants in the area. There's a number of shops and cafes nearby, as well as an accessible (stairs-free) neighborhood art cinema (Esquire Theatre) if you decide to take in a movie.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:05 AM on November 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you like barbecue, do not go to Montgomery Inn unless literally the only reason you go there is because they have a gluten free barbecue sauce. There is MUCH better bbq in Cincinnati:


Just Q'in has THE BEST brisket I have ever had, anywhere, seriously it is amazing.

Pontiac Bourbon & BBQ

Ethopian restaurants:

Habesha: I've heard good things.

Emanu: Amazing!

Mexican/Tex Mex:


Taqueria Mercado

La Mexicana

Gomez Salsa: a walk-up taco window in Over-the-Rhine

Seconding the Contemporary Arts Center; it's one of my favorite places. The restaurant inside, Melt, is really really good and is excellent with gluten-free options. There's also the main Melt in Northside.

Oh, Shake It Records has cool zines, and lots and lots and lots of vinyl. It's also in Northside, as is Ruth's Parkside Cafe.

I love my city. I could go on and on.
posted by cooker girl at 8:53 AM on November 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

I plan on making a trip to Cincinnati before the end of February to see the Swoon exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Center
posted by stachemaster at 9:02 AM on November 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

cooker girl: Bad news, Emanu closed back in May when its head chef/namesake Emanu Mogos retired from the restaurant business. The space has been bought by a rotisserie that will open sometime in the next few months. It's a shame because they were one of my favorites, but at the same time I guess it's not necessarily realistic to expect such a hands-on business to continue past the founder's retirement.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:09 AM on November 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

I would also highly recommend a trip to Findlay Market.
posted by girlmightlive at 4:11 PM on November 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

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