Cincinnati Magazine’s Top 10 List (+ Bonus Lists)

It’s that time of year again: Cincinnati Magazine’s top ten list has been released.  It’s always something that causes some debate– strangely, people feel quite strongly about restaurants around here (yes, that was sarcasm)– and this year, they’re not limiting it to just ten.  Donna Covrett and team have added an additional “Top 4 New Restaurants” as well as the top ten lists of 14 “Notable Cincinnatians” (4 included in the print version, the rest online: read Mo Egger’s, as his is hilarious).  I’m looking forward to reading them (and I’ll link to them in this post once they’re live).   For reference, here are the past few years‘ lists.

Top 10…

1. Orchids at Palm Court (Downtown)

2. Jean-Robert’s Table (Downtown)

3. The Palace (Downtown)

4. Bouquet (Covington)

5. Nicola’s (Over-the-Rhine)

6. Cumin (Hyde Park)

7. Senate (Over-the-Rhine)

8. Hugo (Oakley)

9. Boca (Oakley)

10. Sichuan Bistro (Mason)

Best New:

Abigail Street (Over-the-Rhine)

Enoteca Emilia (O’Bryonville)

A Tavola (Over-the-Rhine)

Taste of Belgium (Over-the-Rhine)

Some commentary:  Dropped off from last year’s list are Nectar, Daveed’s, Via Vite and and Honey.  Over-the-Rhine is really becoming quite the dining mecca (lucky me!) and that is reflected in both the “best new list” and with two spots on the top 10.  I’m really glad to see Sichuan Bistro, representing the vibrant non-European food scene in Cincinnati as well.  I also like to see the variety of price points– you could spend $300 on dinner for two on this list, or $25, which is representative of the city as well.

The issue hits newsstands on March 1, and the online exclusive material will be available then as well.

What’s on your Top 10?

  • Chris Stone

    That’s funny that you posted this.  My new year’s resolution is to go to the old top 10 list, the top 10 pizza places from Cincinnati magazine’s top 50, the top 25 sushi places too.  It’s going to be a long year!

  • Ajbell2

    Not to be too catty, and this is just my personal opinion, but any list that doesn’t include overrated Montgomery Inn or a Jeff Ruby establishment is just fine by me.

    As for establishments not mentioned, I would definitely go with the neighborly and accessible Otto’s. Also, I am very surprised La Poste wasn’t mentioned, it seems to be quite a bit of notice (for good reason).

    Double kudos to the Senate. Their dogs are great, but have you had the mussels? Those are what keeps me coming back.

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com Julie

      I pretty much only order the mussels there now, I’m so addicted.  Mmm.

  • Wildcat fan

    Had dinner at Cumin 3 weeks ago and Boca last weekend: Boca is much, much better. . .no contest.

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  • Shrmnr

    Bouquet is a hidden gem in Covington’s Mainstrasse Village and they have been so successful they are expanding.

  • Rodhinton76

    I would surely include Eddie Merlot’s Steakhouse (Sycamore) on this list.

    • http://winemedinemecincinnati.com Julie

      My guess is that they weren’t included because they are a chain (for the record, Amy Tobin includes it on her list in the issue).

    • YourFather03

      This is a perfect example as to why Cincinnati is light years behind other food cities. Because of comments like this and thoughts that EDDIE MERLOT’S should be ranked in the Top 10 Best restaurants in Cincinnati.  Just analyze this comment for awhile….

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  • Ewgreenberg

    I find that every year I am questioning the inclusion of Cumin on the list. It is a solid establishment but just not top 10 for me. Table falls into that category too. I just dont love it.
    I’m not surprised to see that Daveeds finally dropped off the list.

    I would like to see spots like Pho Lang Thang, Miyoshi or Ando. And sorry, I just love a good Precinct steak and will always keep that establishment in my top 10.

    • Ewgreenberg

      Oh and the fact that Boca isn’t in the top three calls the validity of the entire process into question.

  • Bill Hall

    JAGS is top 5 …

    • Kkl001

      It’s best in Cincinnati, not West Chester or Sycamore!

    • YourFather03

      Jags is a steakhouse, has no right being anywhere near the top 10.  There menu rarely changes and items are redundant.  Same goes for a Jeff Ruby Place.  Now, both are good and respectable places to eat, and do a good job at serving what they advertise but do not belong near the top 10.

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  • Chris Daniels

    Biggest issue with these places is the crowd. There aren’t nearly as many confident people that visit these establishments anymore. Theres the notorious “circle of guys standing around holding cups bobbing their heads” and/or “women with low self esteem that get nudged into the corner by the confident gals who are far too high maintenance. Get on top of your confidence level and take advantage of Cincinnati’s newest In-Home Personal Trainers now at http://www.xactwellness.com

  • Dick G

    Does being in Over The Rhine automatically qualify for the Top Ten list?

  • YourFather03

    I have no idea how JRs Table got to #2, much less even in the top 5.  It should be MAYBE 10th and definitely behind Boca.  JR is a great person and I have heard a good Chef to work for but he has made his living off being a personality and swooner. He spends his days out in the dining room chatting with guests and not vigilantly overseeing his food in the kitchen.  Can anyone explain why every restaurant he has touched is no longer open? The menu’s are redundant and are loaded with cheeses and heavy cream based sauces.   I think the food that comes out of his kitchen is mediocre at best and all of it is projected much better than it actually is because he is from France and all food from France is great! Haha, WRONG. Throw out all the ambiance, dialect, wish washy French accents and get down just straight to the food.  Thats why we are all here right?  Just be totally concerned with the foods quality and refinement and you’ll see that Tables food is not worthy at all.  I have personally sat in JRs dining room, ordered a $40 Tenderloin Med-Rare, waited far too long for what is a reasonable cooking and resting time, then had it delivered to my table.  My jaw nearly fell off from surprise.  It was presented to me cut into about 5 biased slices and was Med-Well to Well Done and appeared to have sat under the heat lamp in the pass for 15 minutes.  That is absolutely unacceptable from a good restaurant.  That tenderloin should have never made it to my table, not even close.  The Chef, which is JR and who also happened to be bullshitting in the dining room the night on this night, should have immediately started cooking a new piece of meat and sent a small course to my table to help delay Entrees.  That just cannot happpen, no excuse for it. At places like Orchids and The Palace, that never ever wouldve happened.  Why? Because the Head Chef is back in the kitchen making sure his food is perfect.  I have trailed at multiple kitchens in Cincinnati and one that sticks out the most is The Palace where on several trails there I have watched Chef Salazar either cook the proteins himself or look at every single plate that leaves his kitchen.  Maybe its being a perfectionist or maybe its not always possible to be an Executive Chef and be in the Kitchen 24/7. And I understand sometimes a dish gets to a table not as hot as possible or a vegetable is not cooked enough or under seasoned, thats just reality. But Ill bet everything I own, if Chef Salazar or say, Chef Wright (from Senate/Abigail Street) isnt meticulously watching every single plate leave their kitchens they certainly arent out in the dining room shmoozing the guests while horrid food is reaching guests tables. 

  • PubRock

    I really like every restaurant on this list, except Bouquet, which I haven’t been to.  With that said, not having Boca listed in the Top 5, and almost taking it off the Top 10 makes me think that there is something more going on than what meets the eye.  Boca is one of the few places that has gotten measurably better better over the years, which is no small task considering how great of a place it’s been since its time in Oakley.  I have to assume that Donna and Boca have butted heads at some point and she’s taking it out on them with her keyboard.  We’re lucky to have an increasingly great set of places to enjoy our evenings in Cincinnati, but Donna appears to only care about advancing her perspective.  By the way, Nada, Cumin, and Senate all fall into the same category of fun, fashionable places with unique menus, but Nada, which we all know is a great place, is the only one of the three that isn’t on the list, and just so happens to be owned by the Boca guys.

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