For all of the good that The Banks offers—beautiful location, plenty of places to hang out—it’s worthless if you can’t unravel that labyrinth of nondescript restaurant names. (Jefferson Social? Sounds like a colonial-themed dating service.) But fear not, we’ve mapped it out for you. Lost, confused, and hungry is no way to experience the riverfront.
The atmosphere is chic and relaxed, but with a book-length menu that’s all over the place. Options range from burgers and flatbreads to calamari and sushi. It’s like Applebee’s joined a gym, got a makeover, and bought a whole new wardrobe.
175 Joe Nuxhall Way, (513) 241-8600, craveamerica.com
B Holy Grail Tavern and Grille
An ideal spot for those looking to grab a burger and six or seven cold ones before, during, or after a ball game. And if a trip across the street to the ballpark is too far, the 30-plus HD TV screens should suffice. Plus, the tank-top-and-short-shorts-clad waitresses are mighty friendly.
161 Joe Nuxhall Way, (513) 621-2222, holygrailcincy.com
C Jefferson Social
Wash down a few tacos with a craft beer or cocktail from the extensive alcohol menu, or go straight with 16 different bourbons and more tequila than you’ll find in Tijuana. The open, breezy environment also encourages dancing and socializing, so go with it: bring the gang and bust out those moves.
101 E. Freedom Way, (513) 381-2623, jeffersonsocial.com
D Jimmy John’s
It is not like Subway. Yes, it serves sub sandwiches. Yes, you can build your own with the ingredients of your choosing, or you can pick from one of the established selections. But the bread is baked fresh daily. The meat and veggies are sliced daily, too. And you can even have your sandwich delivered. (OK, so it’s almost like Subway.)
171 E. Freedom Way, (513) 381-4800, jimmyjohns.com
E Tin Roof
“A live music joint” as the tagline describes it, with performances every Tuesday through Sunday evening. The menu is a step above the usual bar fare, including a wide selection of Pizzadillas, which server Morgan Merrell describes as, “Quesadillas, but with pizza toppings.” Be honest. She had you at Pizzadillas.
160 E. Freedom Way, (513) 381-2176, tinroofbars.com
F Johnny Rockets
*Sunday, Monday, Happy Days! Tuesday, Wednesday, Happy Days!* This 1950s-style diner kicks it old school, with servers in white aprons, black bow ties, and paper hats serving up piles of good ol’ American burgers, fries, onion rings, and milkshakes. Except now you don’t have to worry about the Cold War. These Happy Days are yours and mine!
191 E. Freedom Way, (513) 834-6110, johnnyrockets.com
G Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse
This steakhouse chain brings high-dollar dining to The Banks. If the reports on Yelp are to be believed, most meat-eaters are impressed: The steaks are broiled to perfection, the sides are shareable, and the cocktails are fancy (and strong). Not rolling in dough? Hit the bar for happy hour deals Monday through Friday.
100 E. Freedom Way, (513) 381-0491, ruthschris.com
H Orange Leaf
Build your own fro-yo creation. Start with frozen yogurt, in flavors that run from snickerdoodle to honeydew to dairy-free pineapple, then pile on as many of your favorite toppings as you can fit in the bowl. The Banks’s main dessert stop is also billed as a “visually uplifting environment,” making it a treat for your tastebuds and your eyes.
160 Walnut St., (513) 421-5335, orangeleafyogurt.com
I Mahogany’s at The Banks
The Southern cuisine is oozing with sweet tea and soul, sourced from four generations of homemade comfort food recipes such as Southern fried catfish, collard greens, and chicken and waffles. “We’re going for a more relaxed atmosphere, a more mature crowd,” says executive chef TJ Jerreals. “The music we play is late ’80s and early ’90s R&B.” And the decor? “Mahogany,” says Jerreals. “All mahogany.”
180 E. Freedom Way, (513) 721-7685, mahoganysatthebanks.com
J Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar
It looks like an American flag threw up all over this honky-tonk hangout known for blasting country music and serving up giant burgers. Promising a “mason jar full of entertainment,” the live bands, 85-foot guitar-shaped bar, and jean-short-and-cowboy-boot-wearing waitresses are all inspired by Toby Keith himself—though it’s unlikely anyone will put a boot in your ass. Unless you act like one, so behave.
145 E. Second St., (513) 721-8629, countrybaroh.com
K WG Kitchen and Bar
This wine bar and bistro keeps the atmosphere posh and the vino flowing, even offering a wine shop so you can grab your favorite bottle to go. The minimalist black-and-white decor and exposed brick make for a great place to bring a date or the stuffy in-laws, offering a “casual fine dining” experience—meaning you can wear a nice pair of jeans while eating those $30 lamb porters (a.k.a. lamb loin chops).
161 E. Freedom Way, (513) 744-9463, thewineguywineshop.com
L Yard House
The menu is a wide-ranging collection: from seared ahi sashimi appetizers to a full rack of St. Louis style ribs. But it’s the beer that gives this place its name and identity. All 160 brews on tap can be guzzled by the pint or—you guessed it—by the yard, delivered to your table in a massive three-foot-tall glass.
95 E. Freedom Way, (513) 381-4071, yardhouse.com
M Moerlein Lager House
The Christian Moerlein brewery began rolling out the barrels way back in the 1850s. Today that history is embodied at the Lager House, where vintage photos plaster the walls and the menu features dishes that pair well with the signature suds. “We pride ourselves on having fresh recipes that complement the beers,” says marketing manager Mary Beth Weaver. Judging by the menu, that means plenty of barbecue sauce, bacon, and melted cheese.
115 Joe Nuxhall Way, (513) 421-2337, moerleinlagerhouse.com