The Non-Definitive Guide to New Cincinnati Classics

by bsherm on July 12, 2015

Last post I tried to focus on long-time Cincinnati Classics. This post I want to cover the newer places. The problem with this post is there are a LOT of newer places. Since this is ASG inspired, I am going to limit myself to three areas; OTR (just north of downtown, north of Central), the Central Business District and nearby. But frankly, that leaves a LOT of choices.

Waffles

McWaffle

Taste of Belgium is one of a kind, so it gets its own heading. As I alluded to in the previous post, one of the traditional Cincinnati tastes, Cincinnati Chili, owes itself to Greek immigrants. I am wondering if years from now we will look back at Taste of Belgium in a similar fashion. Jean-Francois is a Belgium immigrant who decided to share his Belgium food with Cincinnati.

You can read about the history of the place on their web site. It all started with the waffle. They make a Liège waffle, not a light and fluffy waffle that Americans associate with Belgium Waffles. It is a denser waffle. They combine this with a number of dishes, my favorite is the Waffle n’ Chicken where the more traditional Chicken and Waffle meets the Liège waffle. Of course the Waffle gets top billing here. The Chicken is a boneless chicken breast, and the dish is covered with syrup and hot sauce. It is delicious. I could not find a picture of this, likely because I can never wait to dig in.

If you can make it for brunch, you can sample another Cincinnati distinctive in the Goetta Hash. This dish is Goetta, onions, peppers, and a poached egg over a bed of frites. Go figure a Belgium knows how to make great fries. This is my favorite dish in the place, but again, only available for brunch. That is the picture that heads this post. The picture for this section is the McWaffle. They split a waffle to be the muffin, and have bacon, egg, and gruyere. I’ve not had, but my wife recommends it.

The whole menu is top notch. My wife has sampled the entire thing. I tend to get hung up on favorites. You can find Taste of Belgium just north of Central on Vine at the south edge of all the OTR restaurants. They also have one on Short Vine in Clifton if you are looking for a short drive.

Hot Dogs

Mexico City Dog

Sure, you can get a dog at the park, but not like the ones at The Senate Pub, also in OTR. They serve a wood-fired all-beef 1/4 pound locally produced dog, and the combinations are delicious. Pictured above is the Old Mexico City. Unfortunately their menu online is not up to date, but this is on the menu, and as I recall has queso, guac, and some more queso fresco on top. There are a number of dogs on the menu, and always a dog of the day. Before you go you may say “$10 for a hot Dog! Really?” Afterwards I am confident that you will say “$10 for a hot dog. Really!” It’s all in the punctuation. They have a really good burger as well.

Burgers

Kruegers

There is nothing like a good burger, and that has hooked me on my current pFav, Krueger’s Tavern in OTR. They are just North of Taste of Belgium on Vine. The theme when they opened was canned beers (I believe Kruegers was the first brewery to can beers). They have quite the selection of canned craft beers. When they opened they just had one burger, and some great sausage plates. They flew in Pat LaFrieda meat from New York. As they have evolved they realized they already had the gear to grind their own sausage, why not grind their own beef, and add more burgers. Excellent choice. They now have 6, and I only have the BBQ left to try (well, I don’t really count the Veggie). The Spicy is REALLY spicy. And the fries are fantastic, especially with the malt vinegar aioli (genius). I don’t really care for the challah bun, but that does not detract too much from the burger. The one pictured is the Krueger’s. They describe it as a grown-up Big Mac. All their burgers are thin patty burgers, and all but one (the BBQ) come with two patties stacked.

It’s not really a burger joint, but if you are looking for a killer burger, be sure to check out Jean-Robert’s Table. The French Chateau Burger with frites will set you back $15, but once you’ve had it, you will marvel at the bargain. There is Bleu Cheese in the grind. Now I am not typically a fan of bleu cheese, and asked if I could get it without, but could not. Turns out it is awesome. The caramelized onions just add to the awesomeness. The style of this burger is one fat patty.

Mexican

Right at the corner of Vine & 6th is Nada. It is a great take on Mexican. The guacamole is outstanding. Going north into OTR, you can check out Bakersfield. They are in the same restaurant group as Krueger’s.

If you want to journey up to Clifton, a great stop would be the Tex-Mex of Cactus Pear. Their salsa is outstanding. Roasted tomatoes give it almost a black look, and very garlicky. Be forewarned, the enchiladas are really large. They also introduced me to the wonders of El Yucateco Green Habanero hot sauce. Great for kicking up the already delicious salsa.

If you want to cross the river for something very authentic, you can check out La Mexicana at 643 Monmouth in Newport. I was once told you a good sign of an authentic Mexican restaurant is if they serve goat, and they do. Their tacos are highly recommended. I usually go for lunch and get an Asada and a Barbacoa.

 Other Suggestions

Those are mine. Do you have any to add? Add them in the comments. Also, check out some of the links on the left for other good (and by good, I mean better than mine) sites. I especially recommend Wine me, Dine me and Cincinnati Nomerati for excellent, informative reviews.

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