The New Icons of Cincinnati’s Food Scene

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They may not be dynasties yet, but these local eateries have already cemented their status as instant Cincinnati classics.

Photograph by Marlene Rounds / food styling by Katy Doench / prop styling by Emily Cestone

Gomez Salsa

Andrew Gomez brought his abuelita’s flavors from Brownsville, Texas, to Cincinnati, including the restaurants’ eponymous salsas like classic Gomez pico, spicy Kowabunga pico, corn, pineapple, and salsa verde. Perhaps most famous are the Turtle shells, stuffed with your choice of savory meats and ingredients, folded, and finished on a griddle to achieve maximum crispy goodness. • 107 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 381-1595 • 2437 Gilbert Ave., Walnut Hills, (513) 954-8541

Taste of Belgium

In 2007, Jean-Francois Flechet began selling his dense Belgian waffles—made with a 120-pound cast iron press—in the back of a produce shop inside Findlay Market. Today, his empire has grown to seven bistro locations across the tri-state serving the most iconic chicken and waffle dish around. • Multiple locations

Bakersfield

Tacos. Tequila. Whiskey. That’s the mantra of this western-themed bar and grill, which opened on Vine Street in 2012 and has since grown to seven restaurants in six states to bring its homage to Bakersfield street food to the masses. We especially love the short rib and fish tacos, paired with a whiskey strong enough to make a cowboy blush. • 1213 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 579-0446

Kung Food Chu’s AmerAsia

Don’t let the hole-in-the-wall appearance fool you—you’ll find delicious Asian fusion fare at AmerAsia, like the Dragon’s Breath wontons, spicy boiled pork dumplings served with chili bean paste and hot chili oil. Look beyond the “beginnings” menu to find whimsical names—Sesame Street Chicken, Fly Rice, Brocco-Lee—for a unique take on classic dishes. • 521 Madison Ave. Suite E, Covington, (859) 261-6121

Pho Lang Thang

The flavors of Vietnam abound at this Findlay Market spot best known for pho, a traditional dish of rice noodles in broth with herbs and meat. Go with the Bò (beef), Gà (chicken), or Chay (veggie) in any combo of add-ins you wish. And don’t sleep on the bánh mì, either. • 1828 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 376-9177

Just Q’in

This Black-owned BBQ joint opened in Walnut Hills in 2016, and it prides itself on making everything from scratch. All of the meat, sourced from Fischer Farms in Jasper, Indiana, is cherry- and sugar maple-smoked, and all of the sauces and rubs are made in-house. No wonder it’s all so good. • 975 E. McMillan St., Walnut Hills, (513) 276-7507

Dewey’s Pizza

The year-round offerings on hand-tossed crust and their fresh salads are equally iconic, but Dewey’s seasonal pies truly shine, like the Cuban, topped with pickles, Canadian bacon, pulled pork, and mustard sauce; the Tito Santana, named for the Mexican-American wrestler and built like a taco with beef, lettuce, tomato, chipotle ranch, and corn chips; and the Ballpark, which piles on stadium favorites sauerkraut, caramelized onions, and spicy sausage atop a mustard sauce and mozzarella base. • Multiple locations

The Eagle

On The Eagle’s culinary stage, fried chicken steals the spotlight. The food and beer hall is well-loved by OTR’s hungriest, seeking crispy, peppery fried chicken with spicy honey and southern comfort accoutrement, like collards, spoonbread, homemade biscuits, and more. • 1342 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 802-5007

Maverick Chocolate Co.

Sitting around their kitchen island, chocolate lovers and avid travelers Paul and Marlene Picton decided they wanted to make their own world-class candy from ethically sourced ingredients. In 2014, they opened Maverick in Findlay Market followed by a Rookwood Commons store in 2018. Today, the Pictons create their chocolate delights in small batches, focused on quality and care. • 2651 Edmondson Rd., Norwood, (513) 834-8369 • 129 W. Elder St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 381-0561

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