Mo Egger may live and breathe sports, but in 2009 we discovered that he takes dining out just as seriously after he published his own Top 10 Restaurants list on his blog (espn1530.com/pages/mo.html) as a rebuff to ours. Given that he was our inspiration for this article, we had to include him. Don’t hold back Mo, tell us how you really feel.
The Silver Spring House It is everything a restaurant should be: great food, attentive wait staff, and no pretentiousness. I’ve been going on an almost weekly basis for 11 years and I’ve never had anything but the house specialty—baked chicken—which is a culinary masterpiece. The onion rings are the best in the city, and it’s a great place to knock back a few cold ones. Also, there are lots of women in their 40s looking to score with young dudes. Score. 8322 E. Kemper Rd., Symmes Twp., (513) 489-7044, thesilverspringhouse.com
Terry’s Turf Club Since Terry’s ascension from hidden gem to mainstream cable TV star, there’s been the inevitable attempt to knock Terry’s back a few rungs. This is because a) the hipster crowd—which used to be Terry’s lifeblood—hates what the rest of us likes; and b) people are stupid. Terry’s Turf Club has the best burger in Cincinnati, which you know, even if you are still trying to find one better. What you might not know is that Terry’s employs Cincinnati’s best bartender. His name is Tony. He’s a retired cop who makes incredible elixirs that my mom gets drunk on when I take her every Mother’s Day. 4618 Eastern Ave., Linwood, (513) 533-4222
Knotty Pine on The Bayou The good news is, they’re relocating. The bad news is, they’re relocating. This is a good thing because Knotty Pine’s old location is not easy to get to, and the place always felt like the floors were about to cave in. It’s a bad thing because—like when teams move to new stadiums—it doesn’t always mean the product is better (see Reds, Cincinnati and Bengals, Cincinnati). If the owners get the move right, the best Cajun food in the area (not a long list) will continue to be served at the new locale. The etouffe has passed the test of Louisiana natives I’ve dined with, and their crawfish boil is a must. They also make a killer steak. I once met a man there who threatened to stab me when I asked what the score of a UK/Florida football game was. I hope he doesn’t make the move with the Knotty Pine staff.
Fratelli’s Pizzeria I’m a pizza snob. I admit this. I also maintain that there are only two things you’re allowed to be a snob about: ice cream and pizza. Keep that in mind when I tell you that Fratelli’s has the best pizza in Cincinnati. Why, you ask? Because the guy who runs Fratelli’s is from Jersey. Also, because the nine pizzas ranked above Fratelli’s in this magazine’s “The 50 Best Pizzas in the Queen City” issue [November 2011] have things on them that they can’t pronounce at Fratelli’s. There are a lot of places in Cincinnati that try to make good pizza—and I respect their efforts—but you know how you don’t asked a Pittsburgh native for hygiene tips? You don’t ask a Cincinnatian to make your pizza. (Sorry.) 6890 Tylersville Rd., West Chester, (513) 777-5061, fratellispizzeria.com
Nada I’m not cool enough to eat at Nada. I’m not a hip young downtown professional. I’m not a poptart local TV news reporter; I’m not dating a pro athlete, nor am I a pro athlete. Frankly, I don’t want to like this place at all, given the built-in high douchebag quotient. However, in the last year nearly every cool friend of mine has asked to celebrate something of note at this downtown hot spot. Given that I don’t fit in among the clientele when I go to Nada, and that I really don’t like Mexican food, the fare offered at this place must be incredible for me to include it in my top 10, right? Get the sliders, the pork belly tacos, and the pork green chile while trying to figure out if you need a second mortgage to pay for your meal. I hate myself for liking this place. Let’s move on. 600 Walnut St., downtown, (513) 721-6232, eatdrinknada.com
Sugar and Spice I have a friend who recently quit drinking, and since then he’s thrived at work, entered into what promised to be a long-term relationship, and for the first time in his life, he seems genuinely at peace with who he is. He also never gets hangovers anymore, meaning he doesn’t join me at Sugar and Spice anymore for those incredible, hangover-curing omelettes. Poor guy. 4381 Reading Rd., Paddock Hills, (513) 242-3521, sugar-n-spice-restaurant.com
Quatman Café A few winters ago, my buddy Tim and I decided to kick off a night out by getting a burger at Quatman. Problem is, it was already past closing time. The chairs were on the tables, and the guy behind the bar was just finishing his duties, alone by himself in the restaurant. When we walked in, instead of telling us to come back the next day, he poured two Hudy drafts, fired up the grill, and served two signature Quatman burgers. No one else I know does that, and if they did, they’d be on this list. Quatman also has the nicest waitress in the city, a delightful woman named Sheila whose car could’ve exploded on the way to work, and she’d still be friendlier than most people are capable of being on their best day. 2434 Quatman Ave., Norwood, (513) 731-4370; 224 W. Main St., Mason, (513) 229-0222, quatmancafe.com
Pompilios The best house salad dressing on the planet, Coke served in a glass bottle, waitresses who’ve worked there since the Depression, and incredible pasta. Their best dishes are their simplest—spaghetti and meat sauce, scallops with basil pesto sauce. Italian restaurants are often guilty of fancying up the menu too much. Those owners should see how it’s really done in Newport. 600 Washington Ave., Newport, (859) 581-3065, pompiliosrestaurant.com
The Holy Grail OK, so it’s more of a bar than a restaurant. But location helps—it’s less than 100 yards from home plate at Great American Ball Park. They’ve also got chicken tortilla soup, which is unmatched even by my mom’s (huge statement there), and the best bar pizza in Cincinnati. Also, they have two tables with beer taps on them. They could serve Ohio River sludge and I’d rank them in the top 10 for that reason alone. 161 Joe Nuxhall Way, downtown, (513) 621-2222, holygrailcincy.com
Kreimer’s Bier Haus West I don’t love German food, but I do love steak, and their steak rivals anything that the cool kids dining at Jeff Ruby’s joints are overpaying for. Their crab legs are as good as you’ll find in the Midwest, and their beer is served in such large portions that you wonder why they don’t just roll the keg over to your table. 6052 State Route 128, Miamitown, (513) 353-2168
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