Every March, we compile a Best Restaurants list—or some variation—highlighting the hottest eateries in the Queen City. It's always a pulse-taking exercise, when we strive to present the best of what Cincinnati's dining scene offers at that moment in time. For our 2020 issue, dining critic Akshay Ahuja ranked the top 10 restaurants in town (below).

In this unfortunate pandemic period, though, we forgo our usual top 10 ranking for our March 2021 issue. Too many quality restaurants are closed, paused, or focused on carryout to allow us to properly evaluate and compare dining experiences and menus. Instead, we highlight Cincinnati's resilient family-owned restaurants and the challenges they've faced.


Best Restaurants No. 10: Orchids at Palm Court Can Still Surprise You

A wonderful room, exquisite food, and fantastic wine—Orchids delivers on all its promises.

Best Restaurants No. 9: Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar Leans Into Seasonality

A dedication to using only the best ingredients to their fullest potential pervades the menu.

Best Restaurants No. 8: Phoenician Taverna Elevates Classic Mediterranean Dishes

New twists on old Mediterranean favorites and a passion for excellence turn meals into feasts at Phoenician Taverna.

Best Restaurants No. 7: Boca Shows Extraordinary Creativity

While staying mostly grounded in the fundamentals of Italian and French cuisine, Boca has an air of international sophistication that sets its food apart.

Best Restaurants No. 6: Abigail Street Knows What Works

Abigail Street is always watching for what works and is willing to abandon bits of impractical culinary flair for what will truly satisfy.

Best Restaurants No. 5: Nicola’s Is Back

Always an institution, Nicola's has entered a new era of exuberant creativity under the leadership of chef Jack Hemmer.

Best Restaurants No. 4: Restaurant L Serves Up Playful Yet Elegant Dishes

Restaurant L's menu reflects chef-owner Jean-Robert de Cavel’s sense of playfulness and his mastery of the fundamentals of la grande cuisine.

Best Restaurant No. 3: Mita’s Restaurant & Bar Delivers Global Flavors

Mita's offers sophistication, modestly concealed in homey, warm dishes from Jose Salazar.

Best Restaurant No. 2: Sotto Makes the Familiar Profoundly Satisfying

Eating at Sotto is a familiar experience but also one that's so profound and satisfying that there's no reason to ever stop.

Best Restaurant No. 1: Please Is Simply a Great Restaurant

Born as a pop-up, Ryan Santos’s “weird and wonderful” Please is a symbol of everything exciting that has been happening in the Cincinnati food scene.

How the Last Decade Has Shaped Cincinnati’s Dining Scene

The past 10 years have set the bar high for our dining scene. Future possibilities feel endless.

Editor’s Letter, March 2020: Celebrating Cincinnati’s Restaurant Scene

Behind each great restaurant experience, for the most part, is a chef with a love for hospitality and a vision for satisfying your cravings.

Cincinnati Chefs to Watch in 2020: Erik Bentz and Elaine Townsend

Erik Bentz and Elaine Townsend are the dynamic duo behind runaway success ramen, omerice, and Japanese pastry pop-up Mochiko.

Cincinnati Chefs to Watch in 2020: Nathan Friday

After more than a year slinging his signature steamed baos from an OTR walk-up window, Nathan Friday plans to open a brick-and-mortar for Boombox Buns.

Cincinnati Chefs to Watch in 2020: Anthony Sitek

Crown Republic Gastropub's chef-owner Anthony Sitek shares how he stays inspired in the kitchen and what’s next for his boutique steakhouse Losanti.

Cincinnati Chefs to Watch in 2020: Ethan Greene

Under chef-restaurateur Daniel Wright’s tutelage, Ethan Greene dishes up Middle Eastern street food as executive chef of Forty Thieves in Over-the-Rhine.

Cincinnati Chefs to Watch in 2020: Mallory Myers

Orchids at Palm Court’s Executive Sous Chef Mallory Myers sticks to classic cooking techniques while always searching for new ways to push the envelope.





Best New Markets

Feed your need for the obscure, hard-to-find, and mom-and-pop-iest of foods. (Sorry, Findlay, this isn’t your list.)

Best New Bars

Whether drinks are a prelude, the evening’s main event, or a nightcap after a pleasant dinner, there are plenty of watering holes to satisfy your needs.

Best New Breweries

We’re awash in enough new breweries to float a coal barge. Narrowing the field to our favorites was tough, but we tackled the hard work of hoisting a few so you won’t have to wonder.

Top 10 Best New Restaurants

A roundup of the tastiest additions to our local dining crop.

Best New Design Trends

Ron Novak, design architect and partner at Oakley’s Drawing Dept—which has created spaces for Boca, Sotto, and Taft Ale House—says, “the best trend is no trend.”

Best New Sandwich Joints

The Queen City is experiencing something of a sandwich renaissance, with small-batch, homegrown, and handcrafted creations in the spotlight.

Local Chefs on the Best Restaurants, Best Bars, and What’s Missing

We sat down with 8 chefs from the best of Cincinnati's dining scene to learn their favorite spots in the Queen City.