What do you want to see at Cincinnati’s Restaurant Row?

Have you heard about Cincinnati’s Restaurant Row? This is the area on 6th and Walnut– think the old Oceanaire location, Mr. Sushi– on the ground floor of the 580 Building. The building has several spots open for restaurants (see the artist’s rendering to the left). I spoke with Kathleen Norris from Brandt Retail Group, who is trying to get an idea of what the community would like to see in that space.  I said– hey– we have some dedicated restaurant goers here at wine me, dine me— so why not ask them?  So tell me:

  • Which Cincinnati chef would you like to see open a restaurant on the proposed Restaurant Row?
  • Which cuisines do you feel need to be represented?
  • What DON’T you want to see there?

And no– I’m not getting anything out of this.  That area of 6th street has been sadly vacant for too long.  Remember when it was lined with Barleycorn’s, the Maisonette, La Normandie, Frisch’s– something for everyone.  I think it’s great that the folks at the Brandt Retail Group really want to hear what the people want.  Leave your ideas here– I know Kathleen will be reading!

196 thoughts on “What do you want to see at Cincinnati’s Restaurant Row?”

  • Some of my fondest al fresco dining experiences have been far, far away from here. Amsterdam has an amazing network of outdoor dining/drinking places. Darling cafes offering up everything from nutella pancakes and French pressed coffee to interesting Dutch appetizers and the best beers Europe has to offer.

    Closer to home, I’d want a variety of pricepoints and offerings. On any given weekend, I’d love a place where I can A) grab a coffee, a scone and pour for hours over the New York Times; B) grab a hearty brunch with my besties – complete with mimosas/Bloodys and the like; C) enjoy a romantic space featuring sparkling dinner tables dotted with tea light candles, innovative, fresh food, and a solid list of wine and *real* crafted cocktails. During the week- I’d be a fan of a place that offered great, quick sandwiches to grab between work meetings… and something that has late night bites for folks looking to nosh after a night out and before heading home.

    Gosh, this girl wants so much, huh?

    Cincinnati’s the place to do it.

  • I would really like to see an Italian trattoria offering some modern takes on classic dishes — could even include some basic pizzas or panini at a moderate price-point. While certainly Via Vite and Scotti’s offer some good Italian options, I’d like to see something lower-cost.

    I am continuously dumbfounded that no one has opened a Dewey’s downtown, which would help offset the total dearth of edible pizza options downtown and keep a somewhat local option in that space.
    .-= Sara´s last blog ..Dining Solo =-.

  • Tom+Chee needs to be o Restaurant Row, it’s nice to see them on the square, but they need a real location! Soon!

  • I like Kate’s idea of a great brunch place, perhaps a’ la the Paramount in Beacon Hill/Boston. By far the best brunch I’ve ever had. Would be awesome to have a place like that I could walk to downtown on the weekends!!!

    I know this is a money making venture, but wouldn’t it be cool if somehow we could make sure one space goes to an up and comer who might not have the $$ to start up, but is doing really cool and relevant things?? Or, how about an even further fetched idea – a teaching restaurant? I’d love to take a class on my lunch break……

    I’d also like to see a “comfort food” restaurant. A lunch of homemade fried chicken and potatoes would lead to severe lack of motivation during afternoons at work, but still, delicious. And that area right on 6th with the large sidewalks is prime for some great outdoor seating.

    So many options. No matter what, it will definitely be exciting, and I believe the venues should be local, no chains. Will help to create an “only in Cincinnati” type buzz about Restaurant Row!

    • Also – if anyone has ever eaten at Ramsi’s On the World Cafe in Louisville, you know how completely spectacular it is. Maybe we could talk them into opening one up here. I would literally have to get a second job because I would be there. EVERY. DAY. Something for everyone, across most genres and cultures, and it’s all great quality and reasonably priced.

  • RAW/vegan/ vegetarian
    NO chains whatsoever
    locally sourced
    world cuisines – something really unusual and not yet represented in the area

  • I agree- no chains, variety of price points and food you can eat all day- breakfast/brunch/lunch/dinner/cocktails. Locally grown/bred produce and meat would be a plus, as well.

  • Definately Vegetarian/Vegan.. possibly even a RAW FOOD place.. just to throw in diversity.

    Then how about a good Vietnamese restaurant.. or some other exotic food…… Ethiopian is always awsome!!..

  • Just to play devil’s advocate here, would it be terrible to see a selective chain like say Rock Bottom Brewery open up at Cincinnati Restaurant Row? I understand the desire to have things be as local as possible, but I don’t think Cincinnati wants to preclude itself from outside investment either, do we?

    In the end it will seem like market forces will dictate who and what opens at Cincinnati Restaurant Row. A Tom + Chee probably will not be able to afford a lease there, but some locals certainly will. At the same time, there are some desirable chains out there that might be good to have around and prove to attract even more people to our urban core.
    .-= Randy A. Simes´s last blog ..Celebrate American Craft Beer Week May 17-23 =-.

    • I agree with you- -a selective chain, like the Oceanaire was, or another small chain doesn’t seem problematic. It’s the TGI Fridays, Applebees, etc. that I think would be a really bad move.

        • I believe the Short Vine area is also slated for redevelopment– Wet Willies would fit in quite well there (though I’m selfish– walking distance would be a must for Wet Willies, considering my last experience with them in Memphis!).

  • Independently owned and operated:
    Jewish delicatessen (with great hot pastrami).
    Vegan / Vegetarian.
    Late night coffeehouse with retro desserts (pies, cakes, puddings)
    Healthy breakfast / brunch
    Vietnamese or Pho shop.
    Authentic Chinese

  • I know it isn’t cool to like any chains, but I think we need a BD’s Mongolian Barbecue in Cincinnati somewhere other than Mason. I don’t care how evil chains are: I like picking my own stir-fry. Downtown Columbus has one, so should we.

    Otherwise, I agree with other people, especially dc. In fact, all of his/her ideas are great ideas.

    • “My name is cincyfoxy, and I like BDs.” Really, we shouldn’t have to feel like we’re at an AA meeting to admit we like something if it’s good, even if it is a chain. I would love a BD’s there. It’s healthy and there are a lot of different options.

    • Agreed! What would it take to lure Rue Dumaine here from Dayton? Chefs Anne Kearney and Tom Sand would be great additions to Cincinnati’s dining scene.

  • Not another martini bar. Not a chain, unless it’s a unique or local chain (aka, one that’s not all over the US – Izzy’s or Rock Bottom would qualify as unique or local). A Dewey’s would be nice, as would an Italian place. Restaurants that are quick for lunch, as well as good for happy hours and/or dinner, that stay open on weeknights and weekends.

  • If NuVo could just reopen there with Chef Bodenstein and Chef Peterson again, I’d be thrilled! Even more so if they did a casual menu (not horrible chain casual, more “street food” casual). What I don’t want is another high-end seafood or steak restaurant, like McMitchell’s or Jeff Morton’s.

    Oh, and as long as I’m dreaming, how about Barrelhouse reopens?!

  • No chains,

    a few dog friendly

    What about runners between the restaurants. Time to all play well in the sandbox. It would keep the quality high. Understand egos might be an issue here – but what a unique edge for the row.

  • With the dogs disallowed on Fountain Square proper, I wholeheartedly agree with the dog-friendly idea….even if it’s limited to outdoor dining seasonally.

    Even though I can be high-minded when it comes to dining, what’s really missing is a great cheap diner (think of a hybrid that blends Tucker’s in OTR with The Echo in Hyde Park) to balance out the pricier options.

    While I have no idea how the business model would actually work, a kitchenless restaurant that served its own drinks and allowed for limited choices from each of the neighboring restaurants would be a fascinating concept; If it meant longer waits for dinner to arrive, one would think that the bar sales would be that much higher.

  • Middle Eastern…I miss Mejena! Also, the idea of Dewey’s Downtown is certainly not a bad one. I’d really like to see a “Bar” like they have in Italy…coffee, scones and the like for breakfast/brunch, sandwiches, pizza, etc for lunch, and dinner. Plus, beer, wine, even entertainment at night.

  • I think that we need Thai downtown, and I’d love to see another brunchy restaurant / cafe. What I would hate to see is national chains. Agree with others that we need local businesses! Very excited about the development

  • As for chefs I would like to see, I would love to see something from Chef Todd Kelly at Orchids, how great would it be to sit outside and drink a good glass of white wine and eat that delicious lobster salad. My wife and I go frequently and sit at the bar, have a couple of glasses of wine and enjoy his yummy food. He is truly a great talent and bet he may have some good ideas.

  • The problem w “selective” chains is that all of the decisionmaking about menus and suppliers is still done at corporate. I want to know the chef is actively looking for the best ingredients around and using them in creative ways, not just unloading a truck and following some corporate-developed recipe that is geared to pleasing the lowest common denominator of palates.

  • Local Brewpub, with other local fare – no national chains! Lots of open air dining. Even better if it would be closed to cars walking only. Have some street vendors too, and a retro Skyline open 24 hours and a LaRosas with a walk up window for pizza by the slice.

  • In all seriousness, what about some drunk food? Balboa’s or something that’s open late. 5 Guys. Lucy Blue. There’s plenty of bars. Where do people go eat once they’re kicked out of the watering hole?

    • Lucy Blue is on 7th Street between Vine and Walnut.
      Balboa’s closed their downtown locations.
      I agree with a Five Guys & Fries in Restaurant Row.

  • I see some very good ideas on here. For me, a Healthy food restaurant is always needed. Poison-free foods, local produce. Also, perhaps the impossible, but ever since discovering true Italian food in Italy, I have found nothing in restaurants here in the States that even comes close to every day food that is commonly available in Italy. This goes for expensive and inexpensive Italian restaurants in Cincinnati. Nada. Real Italian food will blow people away. Entice Italian chefs and even servers to come here bc of the strong $ vs the € Euro. Put a Sam Adams pub in there. Jim Koch is a local boy who would jump at the idea.

  • I’m totally obsessed with the Movenpick Marche concept. Saw it in Toronto. Nothing like it around here (or anywhere else in the US). Cross between a fresh supermarket and a restaurant with made-while-you-watch stations (sandwiches, pastas, salads, smoothies, coffee drinks, etc). Also has a craft bakery on site. Large footprint, but still feels crowded all the time. Can take out or eat in. Here’s their link: http://tinyurl.com/2636599

  • It would be nice to have an African American restaurant, serving soul food, and African American delicacies.

  • Dewey’s
    Trattoria Roma Ristorante (will this restaurant be in business after the Metropole closes?)
    NKY staples The Keystone Bar & Grill or Mokka and the Sunset Bar and Grill

  • There’s a cajun restaurant in Indy called Yats that is fantastic. Unique, casual, affordable, with lots of vegan/vegetarian options. Something like that would be perfect. And I love the idea of a dog-friendly restaurant.

  • NO CHAINS AT ALL. Watch Top Master Chef and try to get one of those to open here. OR get one of the retired chefs in town to open a place. Christa Salquist’s children are now in HS and it would be great to see her in a kitchen again. She was a wonderful chef.

    And for fun…how about the Midwest Culinary open a place with the students?

  • Some authenticity. It this ends up looking and feeling like an inside-out mall or an elaborate concession stand, then what’s the point? Work with local restaurateurs to use this location and opportunity to present Cincinnati to the Region and beyond. Don’t bring us the same thing we can find in Indianapolis, Louisville, St. Louis, etc.

  • I don’t get this whole “no chains, no way” mentality. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t want to see an entire street devoted to just McDonalds, Burger King, and KFC either. BUT… there needs to be diversity. Two or three chain places out of, let’s say 10, is fine. I can see a Five Guys going in somewhere downtown soon, might as well be in this stretch. What people don’t understand is you need to have a good mix of “unique” and “familiar” to make any place successful. If you open up an entire block of restaurants that nobody has ever heard of a lot of people aren’t even going to bother venturing down the strip to see what’s there because they don’t recognize any names. I could go without a McDonalds, but I swear we have to be the only major city in America with no Mickey D’s or Burger King in the downtown area. Maybe the solution is to do a “fancy” McDonalds like the one in NYC or even the one at the Easton Mall area in Columbus. Whether it’s healthy or not is really irrelevant, and while the food snobs may turn their noses up to it but there is no doubt a place like this would be popular.

    • I definitely understand the need to be entirely local, but I don’t know that it’s feasible. I wouldn’t be surprised if a Five Guys came into that area of the neighborhood, and wouldn’t consider it an eyesore. There’s no McDonald’s in the CBD; the closest is in Newport or Clifton. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head– familiar (a.k.a. chains) can get funding far more easily than independents. But the presence of chains, which can usually guarantee some foot traffic based on name alone make an area more marketable to the banks and investors funding independents. Give me a high end McDonald’s with macarons like they have on the Champs, and I’m in. 😉

  • I don’t think its realistic to rule out chain restaurants. I’m not a fan of them but many people are and for this development to be successful it has to appeal to the masses and those who live outside the city (where the only option is chains). Lure them in with something familiar and then maybe they branch out and try something new and local.

    Another key thing is to make sure that there are affordable options – they want people to live here so they need to provide options that are realistic for people on a daily/weekly basis. That’s the issue with the Gateway Quarter right now and its dining options.
    .-= Dan´s last blog ..Anchor Grill =-.

    • This is probably the best post on the topic yet. Not only the point about the chains, but the pricing as well. As someone who has worked downtown for 10 y ears, I’ve eaten many a meal from the various downtown restaurants. While I certainly have those days when a $5 value meal sounds good, I wouldn’t be afraid to drop $10-$13 on a lunch every so often if I knew it would be good food and served quickly. I’m not going to drop $15 or $20 or more on a lunch probably ever – which eliminates a lot of the options downtown right now. There is a big gap to fill between the 99 cent value menu garbage and the $14 ham and cheese sandwiches at the trendy spots.

  • I would love to see a really good sports bar… not BWs or Willies. I want an ESPN sportszone or CBS sports come in.

  • I agree with Nate. Like it or not, you need some places with familar names. If it takes a chain restaurant to get people to eat downtown so be it. If the chain increases foot traffic by your independant place then thats a good thing. Not everyone is as adventerous as the readers on a food blog. They want something they are familar with. They may be from out of town and they don’t know or care that ” Chef so & so just left (insert trendy, one word restaurant name here) opened a new place called (another trendy, one word restaurant name here).

    • Really good points. I know several years ago I was in downtown St. Louis. My wife and I were looking for a place to eat lunch – we had tried a couple of the local places and they were “OK” but nothing more. We finally stumbled across a TGI Fridays – familiar, maybe even a little boring, but it sounded good at the time. I would think people visiting Cincinnati for the first time would feel the same way. They may not known what the heck a Nada is, and they probably can’t pronounce (much less afford) Boi Na Braza, but they surely would know a Fridays or whatever.

  • We need a variety. More reasonably-priced restaurants with longer evening hours would be ideal for Downtown. Most of the restaurants with longer hours are pricier, and I find myself in the Clifton or Clifton Heights areas for dinner more often.

    As for chains — Yes, I agree we need as many local establishments as possible, but chains help draw in people who don’t live Downtown. It also doesn’t make sense that some of the “better” chains with Cincinnati locations don’t have Downtown locations. (BD’s, Five Guys, and Dewey’s are some of the chains that have been mentioned that I’d like to see Downtown.)

  • I would like to see a good tapas restaurant with some really chic design inside to create an experience, rather than just a meal. Also, how about a high end desert place where local bakeries supply only their best cakes/etc.. and really good coffee drinks/alcoholic and non-alcoholic are served with fresh deserts/pies etc…Ports, desert wines and martinis could also be served. Finally, I would like to see Findlay Market Restaurant, a concept where all the vendors in Findlay Market could contribute their finest meats, cheeses, etc.. to a menu revolving around fresh Findlay foods and recipes.

  • Previous suggestions, I must admit, are a perfect world scenario. In reality, a CHeesecake factory would do well, maybe also a PF Changs, and/or a Thai Express or Cilantro (yummy clifton joints)…need a chain like malls need an anchor store. Local is best but they need to build a rep to sustain. Also, how about a martini bar/high class bowling lounge if there’s room…I’m thinking pin-ups in St. Louis. (another best case scenario)

  • I don’t live in Cincinnati anymore, but living in NYC I have acquired a taste for Caribbean food. You all are missing out. There is a great place in the West Village called Negril. I think adding such a restaurant would diversify Cincinnati’s restaurant mix beyond the standard Thai/Chinese/Spanish/French/Italian fare…

  • Local, local, local.

    I’m a sucker for some good, authentic Northern Italian food. Also, as mentioned previously, a Tapas restaurant would be great. As well as a nice Vegetarian restaurant.

  • Final thoughts: Vegetarian place would be good, but must it be all vegetarian? How about offering some flesh in addition to mainly veggie options. Also, I would love to see a Christian Moerlein brewpub but it would fit better in the OTR brewery district. I also would like to retract the PF Changs, I kinda think their food is garbage and the Cheesecake factory I have honestly never been to but I know that it does well and heard that it is acceptable. I also would like point out that rock bottom is mediocre at best. I think a good place to start is to look at many of the great food cities and take inventory of what’s doing well. You all have really good ideas and I’m so glad that Cincinnati is returning to its once great stature. By the way, Andy’s should open a location downtown, Ethiopian sounds great and is quite an experience and stay away from seafood unless it is fresh from the Ohio. Peace and Love. One.

  • I would love to see:
    – sit in coffee shop with lots of table space inside and out, preferably an extension of a local chain like Coffee Emporium or Mt. Lookout Joe’s
    – Mediterranean casual dining open for lunch/dinner with al fresco dining: there could be a variety of different restaurant concepts like authentic Spanish tapas, Lebanese (like old Mejana with Shisha), Greek, Turkish (like old Cafe Istanbul), French (casual style like the old Le Cezanne in Hyde Park square or a bit more fancy like Chicago’s Bistro Zinc or Avec), fresh Italian with real Napoli style pizza etc, Basque etc etc
    – late night food for those leaving bars i.e. kebab, weiner circle, tacos etc
    – Healthy farm to table fusion-y food (ideally would offer organic, veggie, vegan etc to capture growing ‘green’ following)…Local 127 has the right concept but is a bit pricey for lunch or non special occasion dining
    – Gastro-pub…Cincinnatians like sports and beer and bar food…having a classier option than one that involves a bull and has great burgers downtown might be a nice change
    – Wine bar…sorely lacking in downtown – could combine with a mediterranean rest. too but a nice wine bar with charcuterie would be a great add
    – Someplace with a great weekend brunch…actually having a brunch that’s open on weekends would be a great start 🙂 …this could be Echo diner style or something more inventive like Anabelle’s
    – A mini grocery with some ready-made/take away options…downtown lacks groceries, especially staples like produce and dairy (unless you go to findley)…it would be great take a Goddess & Grocer Chicago model and fit it for a Cinci market
    – maybe leverage Findlay vendors and bring something downtown

    I would stay away from:
    – more Sushi/Thai options. I love both but we have SO MANY good options already (arguably mostly on the east side)
    – too much fast food…this has been said already: I don’t eat it and think its generally an eye-sore HOWEVER people do eat it and it does draw crowds AND they are more easily funded to expand.
    – higher price points…i’m happy to spend cash on good food- love Ruby’s, Via Vite, Jean-Ro etc but having places where you can get dinner for $25 or less like Nada, Senate, Green Papaya etc would be lovely

  • I would love to see a pizza place, either dewey’s or (preferably) an authentic wood-fired pizzeria napoletana, like paulie gee’s (http://www.pauliegee.com/) in NYC or pizzeria delfina (http://www.pizzeriadelfina.com/) in SF. not enough good pizza in this town.

    I also would love one of those pre-made to-go sandwich shops like Pret a Manger (http://www.pret.com/us/) or EAT (http://www.eat.co.uk). Those things are all over London and NYC and they’re great tasting, fresh and easy for busy people. Tazza Mia and Ingredients are similar, but there’s nothing like them here. I don’t see how the concept couldnt work here.
    .-= mikeD´s last blog ..Home Burger #4 – Blue Mountainjerk spice-rubbed patty, chipotle… =-.

  • * Which Cincinnati chef would you like to see open a restaurant on the proposed Restaurant Row? A new kid on the block, possibly a recent grad of the Culinary
    * Which cuisines do you feel need to be represented? Authentic Latino, a great Austrian or French pastry shop , authentic Russian, Turkish, North African, a real-deal Italian with AUTHENTIC regional cuisine.
    * What DON’T you want to see there? Not ANOTHER Pan-Asian, not ANOTHER middle-brow Italian, please.

  • A good burger place. And I second the gastropub.

    We have great dive/sports bars, but nothing between Brothers, and Tinas. Just a happy medium would be nice…

  • A vegetarian/vegan/RAW place which doesn’t serve flesh at all is necessary – there are a lot of veg* people who would eat at a restaurant they know isn’t contaminated – and it would be unique! The growing area Cincy is situated in, Findlay market, the community gardens, CSAs all feed into this idea being right for Porkopolis – the juxtaposition is begging to be expolited!

    One that could make this pledge:
    To make healthy food taste great
    To never use microwaves
    To support our local organic farmers
    To use organic, unsprayed and hormone free products
    To make you healthier!

  • A vegetarian/vegan/RAW place which doesn’t serve flesh at all is necessary – there are a lot of veg* people who would eat at a restaurant they know isn’t contaminated – and it would be unique! The growing area Cincy is situated in, Findlay market, the community gardens, CSAs all feed into this idea being right for Porkopolis – the juxtaposition is begging to be exploited!

    One that could make this pledge:
    To make healthy food taste great
    To never use microwaves
    To support our local organic farmers
    To use organic, unsprayed and hormone free products
    To make you healthier!

  • It would be awesome if we had a Weber Grill like the one in Indy. Open kitchen with the Chef’s cooking on Weber’s. Chef Zach Leinen at the Cincinnati Museum Center get’s very little credit, neither does Chef Chris Prince at Primavista.

  • We need something that the working class can afford to go to lunch at, i.e., Frisch’s. Also local fair – LaRosas, Skyline, mini Montgomery Inn.

  • Please, NO Margaritavilles, or Hard Rock Cafe, or any touristy chain places, leave the chains in the suburbs, We need some of what we had years ago, one of a kind cafes like Rusconis, or remember Incahoots in Clifton ? both of those had really really good food, those type of places, not these huge fad places that everyone crowds into so only one or two places can make it . Cincinnati is quaint and compact, so we shouldnt try to have all of what alot of bigger cities have , just be more unique . Have smaller unique food venues rather than giant ‘trendy’ places with huge menus and armys of staffs, slinging the huge plates filled with whatever .

    • Why would Hard Rock Cafe build in the suburbs??

      Actually, with it’s proximity to the Backstage District, this would be a great location for a Hard Rock Cafe.

  • Cuban. And the independents have to be well-run. I’m so tired of patronizing locally-owned places that don’t know how to seat people and make diners wait far too long to order and even longer to get their food. If you’re going to open your own restaurant, please make damned sure your servers and cooks know how to do their jobs!

  • How about a normal bar, that serves normal bar food, and has normal drinks all for a reasonable price. Why not put in businesses that cater to the the everyman. There are thousands of people pouring into downtown during the summer for Reds games and they are all looking for good locations to gather before and after the games that are a short walk from the stadium.

  • I know this may sound stupid, but I would seriously love a Penn Station and/or a McDonald’s downtown, in this area. I totally love and support the local, original restaurants too, but I would love to be able to walk to a PS and McD’s. Ha ha! Go ahead and attack me. 🙂

    Thai and French restaurants are also my favorite.

    • There are a couple of Penn Stations within a few blocks of this area. Although, I’ll back you up on McDonald’s in at least the food court at Carew Tower.

  • I think the idea of a good burger place would be great. Maybe a 5 guys or a Fatburger. I think people would be suprised by how busy places like that would be downtown.
    Also I would love to see a Cajun place downtown. I do think it is important for the places survival to be able to get the lunch crowd in. I live in OTR and the places downtown are dinner spots for me. However lunch should be the target market for Restaurant Row to be successful. I hope MR. Shushi is doing a good lunch I was impressed with the food prices and service and would love to see it survive for a long time.

  • Uno’s, Fridays. Some good Carribean cuisine, Italian Cuisine, Specialty pizza place. No skyline or Montgomery Inn.

  • Since I’ve been “traveling” area restaurants since 1983, I would like to see something that is NOT in northern the Kentucky Ohio river strip from Covington to Newport yet in their price range. Also, if real estate charges 40 to 60 dollars a square foot do not even open the doors because overhead costs will close them. Currently, I stop in OH for ribs and KY for seafood, steak, German brew, and music for the “value” (meaning $$$ versus enjoyment with quality). Is there an Oriental brew house available to open there?…just a thought! Thanks.05.18.10.

  • With all these comments requesting international fare I think a “theme” of an international food village is very intriguing. Having one place where you could choose from Italian, French, German, a British pub, Moroccan, Japanese, Greek, Thai, etc. would be really entertaining for locals and visitors alike. As for an “American” experience I also think the Weber Grill would be great.

    Also liking the idea of a regional specialities area with LaRosa’s, Graeter’s, Montgomery Inn, Skyline/Goldstar, Frisch’s if the goal was to have a more modest price point.

  • Honest to goodness, real (and I mean real) AUTHENTIC Mexican fare/street food. Homemade tortillas, mole, carne seca, albondigas, flautas, tamales, rellenos…you get the idea. With the talent in the local kitchens mostly coming from immigrant cooks, I am sure that finding an authentic mexican nationalist with strong family recipes can’t be that hard to find.

    I also am a HUGE proponent of the Farm to Table movement and would love to see someone do a rustic Napa Valley-esque farmhouse restaurant with huge emphasis on crediting local farms and dairies.

    Molecular gastronomy could be fun, too but doubt Cincinnati could sustain that!

  • it really cracks me up with how little people know about what actually is downtown as far as food goes. plenty of high end steak places, theres a penn station not 2 blocks from where the restaurant row is being planned and taqueria mercado serves inexpensive authentic mexican on 8th and walnut.

    also, please stop with the hard rock cafe and the usual skyline, montgomery inn, frisch’s stuff. to create something special you have to go beyond expected and create something unique. there’s a reason the frisch’s downtown closed and all the other ones are in terrible shape, theres already 3 skyline chili’s, and the boathouse is right down the street.

    tourists go to HRC’s, locals may go once, but rarely return. this should be about making a place that people want to go to again and again so that it’ll grow and thrive. and when tourists come to visit, they’ll return home with stories about how Cincinnati has his really cool dining district with places you can’t find anywhere else, rather than “theres nothing to do in cincinnati, its a dump. all they have downtown is a friday’s”
    .-= mikeD´s last blog ..Home Burger #4 – Blue Mountainjerk spice-rubbed patty, chipotle… =-.

  • I would love to see a really good frozen yogurt place like 16 Handles in NYC or similar! I think it would do really well downtown.
    Also, I think Melt from Northside would be really smart to open a second location downtown or in OTR.

  • -Please no chain restaurants. Unless it is Ruth Chris Steakhouse!
    -I hate to take any idea from Pittsburg, but a place that has the sandwich, slaw and fries on it would be a great late night treat
    -A wine bar would be great

  • Local. & please no more wannabe upscale places trying to seduce “YP’s” young professionals with trendy smoke & mirrors.

    Get some businesses with original flavor & not just trying to bank off the latest trends. Let’s give Cincinnati a face lift containing adaptable personality, diversity, and history. Not another rock bar booking the same old glorified local indie hipster bands and not another upscale douche joint with top 40 djs.

  • – LaRosa’s
    – Pret a Manger – esque place (quality grab a sandwich and go place)
    – Deli 720
    – A second location for a Maribelle’s or 20 Brix etc.
    – Somewhere high end with class… a place that really is special when you go (ala The Maisonette)

  • I know everyone would like to keep it local. However, there is a great Lebanese Mediterranean restaurant called Aladdin’s Eatery that has quickly been expanding out of Lakewood, Ohio. In fact, some might already be familiar with the one that opened up in West Chester. What’s great about it is the reasonably priced menu of healthy options, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. I have gone there for years, and make special trips to Union Centre to dine.


    Either that or a really authentic Vietnamese place. I notice a lot of Chinese and Thai places that include things like pho soup on their menu, but I have never had anything like the Pho Saigon at Mihn Ahn in Cleveland, Oh. The entree menu is great too.


    As anyone may have guessed, I am a native of the Cleveland area, but have been relocated here for 7 years now. The food scene up there is great. I like to share my faves with others.

  • (Follow-up post) I’d also like to see a Corner Bakery. I find it far superior to Panera, and a good option for casual lunch meetings. When I worked Downtown that was always a struggle. While Coffee Emporium was my preferred choice, it’d be nice to have another option.

      • Yeah, I guess… if Servatii was any good aside from their cakes. While superficially the sandwich/bakery concept makes Corner Bakery seem similar to Servatii, Corner Bakery serves higher quality food. Plus, Servatii on Court Street isn’t setup well for the type of casual lunch meeting environment I was referencing. Poor layout and design.

        Silverglades’ lunch fare is better than Servatii if we’re making comparisons. And Deli 720 is far superior to both food-wise. However, Corner Bakery has more mainstream appeal and a broader menu than them all, which is why it’d be a good fit.

  • I like the idea of an international marketplace. Perhaps we should think about blocking off 5th St from Vine to at least Walnut and making it a walking mall. I’d like to see something with entertainment like they have in Memphis at B.B. King’s. If we create a district that has potential for a lot of foot traffic, there will be some innovative restaurateurs that will come out of the woodwork.

  • Cuban, Cajun, and a late night cafe. Please no more steakhouses! Please please please.

    Unfortunately Ms. Brandt wont have the luxury of picking and choosing in this economy. My guess is a Payday lender and “Sell Your Gold Here” store will show up instead. I hate those places.

  • Don’t laugh, but I was watching The Food Network Sunday, and they showed all these great hotdog places across the country. I don’t really like hot dogs, but we ended up looking around Louisville trying to find a hot dog place as a result (We were unsuccessful).

    The Varsity in Atlanta caught my attention. An institution.

  • I wanna see a Burger King. cant get enough of da King!
    AppleBees? hell no, that’s way too fancy for downtown.

  • A variety of types of restaurants. I live downtown and sometimes I just want a fast-food restaurant that is open past 6pm. Sometimes you want a chain restaurant with a predictable, affordable menu. A LaRosa’s would be a good idea.

  • Are you kidding me? A Friday’s or Applebee’s? You must not get out much!
    Please NOOOOO Fridays or Applebees!!!
    … and NO fast food

  • Oh, I forgot – besides Varsity in Atlanta for great hot dogs, I’d like to have a midwest version of the Pink’s, the famous hotdog place in Hollywood.

  • I’m sure this has been said but a BD’s Mongolian BBQ would be perfect in this location. It’s reasonable prized for lunch and dinner. It would bring people downtown for dinner all nights of the week.

  • I would to see something that speaks to the theatrical flavor of the surrounding area…perhaps something like a piano/cabaret style/supper club dining experience??? Maybe some of the out-of-town touring companies could stop by for some impromptu performances? One can dream. Might even get Cincinnati into the national conversation regarding performance dining…

  • These suggestions are some of the funniest things that I have read all day.
    Like a vegetarian/vegan restaurant will make it in Cincinnati, or any of these other buzzwordy type places. Yes- everyone would rather go to a locally owned/sourced establishment, but the landlord- a large institutional investor is not going to lease space to some small fledgling start up that cannot afford to pay its rent. People need to be realistic. I hope that no one that matters is reading this mindless garbage. Sure, cool places are fun, but these places- in high profile real estate, need to have enough broad appeal to pay the rent.

  • I agree with the guy who’s now living in NYC. We need some unique restaurants downtown. In most large cities I go to I eat at great gourmet soul food/southern/fusion restaurants (i.e. B. Smith’s in NYC and D.C. – – elegant! and excellent food), as well as Carribean and Brazilian fare.

  • No more: sushi, mexican, chili, chinese, steak houses.

    We need bistro with small plate options and great wine by the glass.

    No more pastel fruity drinks masquerading as martini’s either. If its pink…its not a martini.

    • You should make sure to check in here on Fridays– I do a feature called Cocktail Hour, and if they’re pink I definitely don’t call them martinis– though the Martini and the Martinez will be featured some Friday soon!

      • glad to see we are on the same (web) page with this. I will definitely check in on Friday. Do you know when that huge “martini” bar in the old oceanaire location is opening? IMO: martini’s belong in a small initmate place with a piano and good-listening bartender.

  • If a chain moves in, maybe a Ted Turner’s Montana Grill?

    A nice but affordable “locavore” restaurant would be nice. As someone else said 127 is great, but a bit pricy.

    Due to its proximity to the Back Stage district, it would be very nice to have a late night place to hit. Perhaps and all-night Tazza Mia?

    How about a third local Habeneros location?

    Maybe a place like Fox & Obel they have in downtown Chicago for groceries?
    .-= Chris Giddings´s last blog ..News: Lexington Sees New Tea House! =-.

  • I agree with a little from all of you. NO MORE STEAK HOUSES, NO MORE SUSHI etc… we do need a few fast food places just for the sheer fun of it. If I could pick one it would be In and Out burger for sure, but Larosas would be great too. I do believe we need more vegetarian options if not its own restaurant which I agree would fail. We need more indi bistro’s that are quaint and cool like Melaines used to be. Even a greasy spoon like Echo in hyde park would be nice. The last thing we need is any more Jon Robert restaurants. He has spread himself so thin now that his food has lost its luster, and for the money I can find better.

    • Honey, even *I* know that Jean Robert doesn’t have a single restaurant in town.

      Where do you live? West Chester? He left all of those restaurants (Jean Ro Bistro, Lavomatic, Greenup Cafe, etc.) well over a year ago. None of that food is his. Do you really think Cincinnati’s best chef would be dishin’ up tater tots slathered with marinara and bacon bits? Please. Right now, the only thing that guy’s got cookin’ is his gig with the Midwest Culinary Institute… and he’s snagged up the old Buddakhan space, but nary a plate’s been served. Hopefully by this summer.

      Really. Y’all should head on down to downtown a bit more often.

      Oh, wait. You MUST be joking.

    • seriously, In and Out Burger, they aren’t going to enter a metro market with one location, this is so silly.

  • Something like the Quarter Bistro in Mariemont would be great. A variety in the menu both in price and style as well as an indoor/outdoor presence would really click on the river.
    It is the kind of place you can stop by for an appetizer and a drink or have a romantic dinner. How about the Downown Quarter?

      • By “on the river” I mean the riverfront area. An outdoor bistro on 6th street would be just as effective adding to the general levity of the scene (like in Mariemont square). A choice of a corner booth for a date or in an outdoor area with good food and drink would make for a dining destination not just a carryout joint, foil wrapped burrito or suffocating pretentiousness.

  • If we could finally get a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, I just might do a dance. Or if anyone cares to reserect Funky Blackstones that would be great also.

  • No more sushi places! How about an italian tapas restaurant similar to Quartino in downtown Chicago! Small italian dishes to share and cheap table wine!

  • Please.
    Let’s not do more chains. Let’s not make this “Anytown, USA”. Can we please have some originality? You go to any thriving urban environment – where they are doing things right – and you’ll find restaurants there that are unlike anywhere else. You go to Soho, Chicago, etc. – and you find places with character – with appeal. And yes, I agree – let’s not have all high end food. Let’s have good quick food. No Wendy’s or McDonalds, but rather an amazing burger joint, diner, wraps, sandwiches, etc. Let’s do something interesting. Let’s make it good. Let’s make it memorable. Let’s make a difference.
    Wow … I actually really care about this.

  • dude is right about bd’s Mongolian Grill. This chain is one I might make an exception for. It seems successful in Ann Arbor.

  • My challenge is to create a place that is uniquely and truely cincinnati that doesn’t come off as posh, too conservative or like a german sports bar.

  • Here would be my picks:

    Dewey’s Pizza -Best Pizza in Cincy needs a downtown presence. LaRosa’s =Yuck!
    Five Guys Burgers or IN-N-Out!
    A Tapia Bar
    Al’s Beef -Chicago’s best Italian Beef!
    Cajun Food -something similar to Yat’s in Indianapolis
    Walt’s BBQ

  • An Indian restaurant would be AWESOME as we don’t have enough of that delicious food!
    Pause, pause, wait….and I’m kidding. I do love me some Indian food but I think there’s enough downtown already.

  • I fully agree on the Tapas small plate idea. As this area is also a hotspot for 20 / 30 somethings that go out and if you look at Nada it is always packed on the weekends. I would think something fun where a small to medium group could dine and get pitchers of sangria along with comfort (non-authentic) tapas would be great. I went to a chain once in Chicago although I forget the name that had this exact experience. Granted I’m all for local owned non-chain type restaurants I think a few exceptions are ok. I like the In and Out burger idea as well as there are plenty of late night people now downtown.

  • I would like to see a RainForest Cafe – sure it probably does not have the best food in the world and they are going out of business wherever else they are, but it is a neat experience. Also I’d love to see a restaurant called Nando’s Peri Peri. I visited one in London and they have the best chicen served affordably, cooked with the legendary Portugese recipe. The franchise started in South Africa . There are only two American locations in DC. http://www.nandosperiperi.com/. I’d love to see Forest View Gardens emerge from the ashes. Obviously I go more for the experience than the cuisine. Also we need a great affordable steakhouse not owned by Jeff Ruby. Can someone bring back Ted Kluzewski’s

  • Hello, Kathleen. I have the same name as Kathleen in this article. I absolutely agree with you about no restaurants on 6th St. I moved back to Tri-Sate recently and when I was working for a couple months downtown, I walked up to 6th St. to find out if Frishs’s, or even McDonald’s was still there. Nope. So I walked around the corner and found that Izzy’s was still there.

  • Hello, Kathleen. I have the same name as Kathleen in this article. I absolutely agree with you about no restaurants on 6th St. I moved back to Tri-Sate recently and when I was working for a couple months downtown, I walked up to 6th St. to find out if Frishes’s, or even McDonald’s was still there. Nope. So I walked around the corner and found that Izzy’s was still there.

  • I wouldn’t mind seeing the boys from Mayberry make a run at one of those spaces. I think Chef Josh is chomping at the bit right now to open something up. Im amazed with what they do in the space they have now. But more importantly the last thing we need is more chain restaurants to go in downtown.

  • How about the worlds largest White Castle? Just kidding….just put a fancy place there that will close down after 2 years. Maybe after the street cars are put in………haha..I almost said that with a straight face.

  • I believe places mentioned below could be a hit. Philly is a secret gem of great places to eat/drink, back in the 80’s it was dead, then I believe it was Stephen Starr that began what is now a foodie city. I think a variety in food, portions, and scene are important. I think a late night option other than shanghai mamas is a good idea, but not in this location.

    (variety of concepts)

    (more international variety)

    (boston concept that would be great for ground level that opens up to outside)

    • I ate at Sonsie when I was in Boston– it was fantastic, and yes– the opening up to the outside is a larger version of what Senate is doing. Great, sidewalk dining.

  • I think everyone is missing the point here. Everything that has been down there is gone…….for a reason. Too expensive. The only ‘life’ downtown is during the day Monday-Friday. We, the people, who work down here everyday are tired of all the sandwhich shops (ie: Subway, Potbelly, JJ’, Roly oly) and the restraurants offering $10 lunches. Who can afford those anymore ? How about wings ? I agree with Burger King, we have Wendys – HELLO, LaRosa’s — sit down w/lunch specials. Someone who offers combo offers etc. JGumbos rocks !! and a great addition to downtown……because they’re different.

    • I don’t mean to sound combative, but do you ever go downtown on the weekends or stay after work? It’s actually pretty darn vibrant. Fountain Square on a Friday night, for example, with MPMF… or Saturday or Sunday night with movies and family events. Branch out from there and you can see people walking downtown– right past Restaurant Row– into the late hours.

Leave a Reply