Before barbecue became trendy and people had a clue there was a difference between Memphis, St. Louis, and Texas, Cincinnati had its own style of barbecue. Places like Ike’s and Ruby’s used old Southern recipes, grilled their ribs on a charcoal pit and northernized the sauce for a little extra sweetness. And they always had the best peach cobbler around. I remember standing in line at Ike’s when they’d yell “Cobbler’s up!” and—well, don’t get me started. Not like the big chains today, with their $20,000 industrial smokers and an ambiance manufactured to look like somebody’s garage. I think Cincinnati-style ribs were something to be proud of, but they got lost in the fad. Goodies might not appreciate me saying so, but to me it seems to be one of few remaining old Cincinnati-style joints. Though they do a brisket and a fine smoked chicken, the ribs are the thing to get. As they should, they’ve got a little fight in coming off the bone. And the sauce is a little hot, overly sweet, and has a touch of clove hiding in there. Goodies does some damn fine collards and a full run of sides, like mac-and-cheese, fried okra, and cornbread. Surprisingly, in these days of big commissaries, the desserts are homemade, including sweet potato pie, chess pie, and peach cobbler that’s one step from heaven (I bet St. Peter gets it carry out at the Pearly Gates). You can eat in at Goodies, but like real Southern joints, it’s nothing special inside, since most of the business is carryout. This stuff just tastes better at home anyway.
5841 Hamilton Ave., College Hill
Prices: $7–$12. Lunch and dinner Mon–Sat.
Originally published in the September 2011 issue