10 July 2013

Our Favorite Places to Eat: Cincinnati/Northern KY

Our favorite places to eat in Cincinnati and Northern KY #cbias

Visiting the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area soon? Then you're going to need to know the best places to eat - and who better to give you advice than a local? When we travel, we always ask the locals for their dining recommendations - and they've never steered us wrong!

These are our local favorites - enjoy!!

(And because I know I can't be the only obsessive conscientious traveler out there, you can get a printable version of our recommendations here!)

 ~ LaRosa's ~
LaRosa's is great hometown Italian restaurant that's been around since 1954. They offer pizza, pasta, calzones, hoagys, salads, and appetizers; alcohol is available at some locations. The food is good, service is quick, and the price is right. At the original location on Boudinot Ave. in Cincinnati, it's not unusual to see members of  the LaRosa family going around, table-to-table, talking to all the regulars. You'll also see a lot of family photos at all of the locations. You can sign up to receive email deals, become a fan on Facebook for coupon codes, or take advantage of the All-You-Can-Eat Spaghetti for adults and children on Mon & Tue from 4pm - 9pm!

LaRosa's Merchant St., Florence, KY Italian food

Location: There are lots of locations, but we go to 5880 Merchant St. Near corner of Merchant St. and Houston Rd. in Florence, KY. The hours listed are for that location, so be sure to verify if you go to a different location. Some locations are take-out only.
Phone: (513) 327-1111 or toll-free (877) 347-1111
Dining Room Hours: Mon-Thurs 11am - 10:30pm, Fri-Sat 11am - 11:30pm, Sun 11:30am - 10:30pm
Delivery/Carry-Out Hours: Mon-Thurs 11am - 11pm, Fri-Sat 11am - 12MN, Sun 11:30am - 11pm
Online ordering: Yes
Takeout: Yes (also delivery)
Kid's menu: Yes
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Price: budget-friendly
Our favorite dishes: Gus, Lulu, & Buddy: hand-tossed pizza, house salad w/ Italian or creamy garlic dressing; Kim: Baked Buddy hoagy (meat & cheese only), antipasto salad w/creamy garlic dressing.

 ~ Sebastians Greek Restaurant ~
In our opinion, Sebastian's is the best place to get gyros in the tri-state area. It's been family-owned and operated since 1976 by the Sebastian family and you'll almost always see founder/owner Alex Sebastian at the grill. There are a few tables for dining-in, but most people get take-out. Never had a gyro? This is a great place to try your first! Just remember to bring cash, because they don't take checks or credit cards.

Location: 5209 Glenway Ave.,Cincinnati, OH 45238, at the corner of Glenway Ave. & Sidney Rd.
Phone: (513) 471-2100
Hours: Mon-Sat 10:30am - 8pm, closed Sunday
Online ordering: No
Takeout: Yes
Kid's menu: No
Payment: Cash only!!
Price: budget-friendly
Our favorite dishes: Gyros!!

 ~ Oriental Wok ~
When I think of Oriental Wok, I think Old Hollywood glamour! Another family-owned and operated business - this one was started in 1977 by Mike & Helen Wong. This place is so much fun to just look at inside - it makes me smile (and sometimes giggle) every time we go there! You can get all fancy if you want, but you can also wear jeans. You'll always see one or more of the Wong family here - Mike, Helen, or one of their daughters. New Year's Eve is probably the only time you really need a reservation, and you need to make it at least a couple of months in advance.The rest of the time, you can pretty much just walk in and be seated right away. The food is served piping hot, delicious, and with a smile.

Oriental Wok Lakeside Park, KY Chinese food

Locations/Phone: 317 Buttermilk Pike, Lakeside Park, KY 41017 (859) 331-3000
                              2444 Madison Rd., Cincinnati, OH  45208 (513) 871-6888
Hours: Hours vary, so check website or call.
Online ordering: No
Takeout: Yes
Kid's menu: I think so
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Price: dinner entrees $15-29
Our favorite dishes: Gus: Hong Kong Chicken (fried crispy & topped w/gravy over Chinese veggies); Kim: Seafood Double (shrimp & tilapia w/veggies in a light garlic ginger sauce)

 ~ Izzy's ~
Izzy's began as a kosher deli in 1901, and was owned by Izzy Kadetz. A second restaurant was opened in 1982 by his son, David. Now there are 9 locations throughout Cincinnati & Northern KY. Best reubens ever! Seriously. My mouth starts watering when we pull into the parking lot. As soon as you sit down, the waitstaff hurries over with a crock of kosher pickle slices that are the best pickles you ever tasted! All sandwiches come with a potato pancake as a side (alternative sides available which are equally yummy). They also serve other deli sandwiches as well as wraps, soups, & salads. Some locations serve beer. Some locations have live music in the evening on the weekend in the summer.

Izzy's Mall Rd., Florence, KY sandwiches (kosher)

Locations: 9 locations in OH & Northern KY, we visit the one at 7905 Mall Rd., Florence, KY
Phone: (859) 525-2333 (Florence)
Hours: Mon - Fri 10am - 9pm, Sun 10am - 8pm
Online ordering: Yes
Takeout: Yes
Kid's menu: Yes
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Price: budget-friendly
Our favorite dishes: Gus: Reuben, potato pancake, pickles, matzo ball soup; Kim: Reuben (no dressing), potato pancake, pickles, beef barley soup

 ~ Mai Thai ~
If you like Thai food and/or sushi, you need to stop by Mai Thai. This is a little place that is almost always packed - but we've only had to wait for a table once. Everything I've ever tried has been delicious - but you really have to like Thai food or sushi because there isn't anything else on the menu - and it can be a bit pricey. Which is probably why you almost never see young children there.

Mai Thai US 42, Florence, KY Thai & sushi

Location: 7710 U.S. 42, Florence, KY  41042 (exit 180, across from Wildwood Inn)
Phone: (859) 282-1888
Lunch: Mon- Fri 11am - 3pm, Sat 12pm - 4pm, closed Sunday
Dinner: Mon-Thurs 5pm - 10pm, Fri 5pm - 10pm, Sat 4pm - 10pm, closed Sunday
Online ordering: No
Takeout: Yes
Kid's menu: I'm not sure, but I don't think so
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Price: can be pricey depending upon what you order (some of the sushi & sashimi is pretty expensive)
Our favorite dishes: Gus: Pra-Ram w/beef (roasted beef served over steamed spinach, topped w/Thai peanut sauce & steamed broccoli garnish; Kim: Shrimp California rolls, Shrimp tempura rolls w/eel sauce

 ~ Fuji Steakhouse ~
If you like sushi, bento boxes, or hibachi grill, Fuji Steakhouse is your place! The Florence restaurant has recently relocated to a former bank building, so the outside looks a little odd, but the inside is pretty cool. The food is very, very good, but can be pricey ddepending upoin what you order. Every Tuesday from 4pm - 10pm, they offer half-price sushi rolls - so while it's a great deal, expect to wait a while on your sushi (there's only one sushi chef!).

Fuji Steakhouse Houston Rd. Florence, KY Hibachi & sushi

Location: 4 locations, we visit the one on Houston Rd., Florence, KY  41042
Phone: (859) 746-8180
Hours: Mon-Thur 11:30am - 10:00pm, Fri 11:30am - 11:00pm, Sat noon - 11:00pm, Sun noon - 9:30pm
Online ordering: No
Takeout: Yes
Kid's menu: Yes
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Price: can be pricey depending upon what you order (some of the sushi & hibachi can be pricey), but every Tues 4pm - 10pm they offer half-price sushi rolls!
Our favorite dishes: Gus: steak & chicken w/fried rice from the hibachi grill; Kim: California rolls, shrimp tempura rolls

 ~ Bella Luna ~
Like Italian food served in a funky atmosphere? Try Bella Luna! This is a great (pricey) Italian restaurant that is in an old house, so it has a really interesting vibe. The food is amazing, but pricey. I have seen children here, but it seems to mostly be couples or adult groups. I do believe it's considered a "family" restaurant though. I do recommend reservations because it can get crowded quickly, especially on weekends. They do serve alcohol, and there is a bar.

Location: 4632 Eastern Ave., Cincinnati, OH  45226
Phone: (513) 871-5862
Hours: Tues & Sun 4:30pm - 9pm, Wed-Thurs 4:30pm - 10pm, Fri-Sat 4:30pm - 11pm, closed Mon
Online ordering: No
Takeout: Yes
Kid's menu: I'm not sure, but I've seen children there
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Price: can be pricey depending upon what you order- reservations recommended
Our favorite dishes: Prime Rib Cannelloni!!

 ~ Prima Vista ~
Prima Vista is a fancy-shmancy, coat & tie required for men, dress/skirt/dress pants for women restaurant. It sits atop a hill in Price Hill (not the best area in town, but the parking lot is safe), and has one entire wall made of glass, so that guests have a fantastic view of downtown Cincinnati and the surrounding area. In my opinion, while the food is good, it's a bit overpriced - but - it truly is a dining experience, and one that out-of-town couples would probably really enjoy. They do serve alcohol, and there is a bar.

Location: 810 Matson Place, Cincinnati, OH  45204
Phone: (513) 251-6467
Hours: Dinner begins at 5:30pm Mon - Fri, and at 5pm Sat & Sun - reservations recommended
Online ordering: No
Takeout: I don't think so
Kid's menu: I don't think so; you usually don't see kids here - they do have pizza on the menu, and they also offer gluten-free, vegetarian, & vegan menus
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Price: Pricey (you're paying for the view); average entree is probably around $23-30
Our favorite dishes: Veal Saltimbocca!!(Gus also likes their meatballs)

 ~ Grammas Pizza ~
Grammas Pizza is a local pizza place with several locations, mostly in Ohio. We use the one in Florence, KY. It's located in a small strip mall, and has a few tables for dine-in. The pizza crust is a little thicker than average, but not quite as thick as pan pizza. The toppings are generous, and the cheese is plentiful and ooey-gooey. Yum. When my family visits from out of town, they always want pizza from Grammas. They also offer salads, chicken filets & nuggets, shrimp, & fish baskets, along with several hoagies, pasta, wings, & side items.

Grammas Pizza US 42, Florence, KY pizza & Italian food

Location: 8449 U.S. Hwy. 42,  Florence, KY 41042
Phone: (859) 525-1440
Hours: Sun-Thurs 11am - 11pm, Fri-Sat 11am - 12am
Online ordering: No
Takeout: Yes (also delivery)
Kid's menu: No, but it's a pizza place :-)
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Price: Budget-friendly
Our favorite dishes: Pepperoni & mushroom pizza!

There are a few others that are favorites, but they are regional or national chains. I'm including them just because we really like them and some travelers may not have them in their home area.

 ~ First Watch ~
If you've never been to a First Watch, you really need to try to go while you're here. It's almost always packed on the weekend (especially Sunday), so a weekday is best unless you don't mind waiting. The one we go to is in Crestview Town Center, so you can do some shopping after you eat! Once you're seated, service is pretty fast - and the food is piping hot & delicious.

Location: 2762 Town Center Blvd., Crestview Hills, KY  41017 (9 other locations in Cincy area)
Phone: (859) 341-0222
Hours: Daily 7am - 2:30pm
Online ordering: No
Takeout: Not sure
Kid's menu: Yes
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Price: Budget-friendly
Our favorite dishes: Paul: bacon & onion skillet hash; Kim: Tri-Athlete Omelet (healthy), Breakfast Scramble, Tri-fecta, and for lunch - the chicken salad.

 ~ P.F. Chang's ~
We love P. F. Chang's. We try to go here at least a couple of times a month, if not more. And I'm not ashamed to say that I always order the same thing! I normally hate egg drop soup, but theirs is absolutely delicious. It doesn't resemble any other egg drop soup. Try it - you won't be sorry! Our favorite waiter is Dean - he's incredible!! It's a little pricey to take a large group, but it's a great place for couples. Reservations accepted.

Location: 2633 Edmondson Rd., Norwood, OH  45209 (another one in West Chester)
Phone: (513) 531-4567
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11am - 10:30pm, Fri-Sat 11am - 12am, Sun 11am - 10:30pm
Online ordering: Yes
Takeout: Yes
Kid's menu: Yes (also offers gluten-free and vegetarian)
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Price: Average entree $12-25
Our favorite dishes: Paul: Mongolian Beef, beef & broccoli, fried rice; Kim: Crispy Honey Shrimp (or Chicken), Mongolian Beef, & I love, love, love the eggdrop soup.

 ~ Chuy's ~
Chuy's is a Tex-Mex restaurant that is fairly new to our area. The decor is incredibly fun, the food is really, really good, and the prices are very reasonable. There can be a wait on Friday and Saturday night, but there rest of the time there usually isn't a wait.

Location: 6825 Houston Rd., Florence, KY  41042
Phone: (859) 525 2489
Hours: Sun-Thurs 11am - 10pm, Fri-Sat 11am - 11pm
Online ordering: No
Takeout: Yes
Kid's menu: I'm not sure
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Price: Budget-friendly
Our favorite dishes: Paul: Steak burrito; Kim: combo #5 - chalupa & enchilada w/deluxe tomatilla sauce, bean burrito - and their Mexican rice & refried beans are awesome! Great frozen margaritas, too!

 ~ Cheddars ~
Cheddars is a great family restaurant. You get an incredible amount of food for a very reasonable price. The burgers are under $5. There is a bar area, but it's separate from the dining area (although there are booths & tables in the bar area as well). It can get pretty busy here any night of the week, so timing is everything. They're busiest between 5:30pm-7:30pm.

Location: 6935 Houston Rd., Florence, KY  41042
Phone: (859) 746-2966
Hours: Sun-Thurs 11am - 10:30pm, Fri-Sat 11am - 11:30pm
Online ordering: No
Takeout: No
Kid's menu: Yes
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Price: Budget-friendly
Our favorite dishes: Paul: bacon cheeseburger or chicken tender dinner; Kim: half-rack honey BBQ ribs w/Southern green beans & mashed potatoes w/white gravy

Even if you only get to try one or two of these restaurants while you're in the area, I know you'll be happy you did! We have a lot of hidden gems that will have you bragging to all of your friends!

(Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way for this post, and the opinions are strictly my own. However, I am participating in a Social Fabric blog hop with other Social Fabric members who are also blogging about their favorite places to eat.)