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a person holding a hot dog

By Laura Noyes, owner of Riverside Food Tours June 4, 2017

Visiting Cincinnati for the first time?  Here are the foods that Cincinnati is known for.  Some are old favorites and others are the new kids on the block.  You’ll recognize the old timers by the multiple locations where they can be found!

1 – Cincinnati Chili – What is about chili and Cincinnati?  It’s not chili con carne.  It’s not Tex-Mex. It’s a thinner, soupy concoction with minute size particles of beef in a spicy sauce.  It is ladled over hot dogs and spaghetti and mounded with cheese or onions & beans if you prefer.  Two brands vie for attention.  In first place is Skyline with runner up, Gold Star.  The taste is similar, but not the same.  Both have multiple locations all over downtown Cincinnati and neighborhoods beyond.


a bowl of food on a table                 a close up of food                a cup of coffee


2 – Graeter’s Ice-creamGraeter’s wins the prize for longevity!  It’s been around since 1870.  Graeter’s ice cream is made using the French Pot method. This is a slow, small batch process making only two gallons at a time. It creates ice cream that is rich, creamy and dense. Graeter’s also uses this method to create chocolate chips completely different from other brands. How different?  It’s easy to find chips as big as a quarter in every scoop.  There are almost 2 dozen Graeter’s stores in the tri-state area.  Since they are carried in every major supermarket, you can get your Graeter’s fix 24 hours a day!

3 – LaRosa’s Pizza – In 1954 Buddy LaRosa opened his first family pizzeria on Cincinnati’s West Side. His Sicilian-born father told him he was crazy. “You gonna sell pizza?  You must be crazy!”  Who could argue with him? After all, back then many Americans hadn’t even heard of pizza.  Dad was wrong!  Today LaRosa’s is the number one pizza in Cincinnati!  That’s pretty amazing when you think of the stiff competition pizza makers endure. 60 years later, you can’t find a person who hasn’t heard of pizza!


a pizza sitting on top of a table                                 a man holding a slice of pizza

4 – Montgomery Inn Barbecue Ribs – November 1, 1951 the Gregory’s and their four children took over a restaurant and began serving ribs full-time. A local journalist dubbed Ted Gregory “The Ribs King,” a nickname that stayed with Gregory for the rest of his life. The restaurant attracted some famous customers, including Bob Hope, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Other famous diners include several Cincinnati Reds legendary baseball stars as well as actors and entertainers from all over the world.  The secret to their success is in the sauce – Wife Matula’s still secret family recipe from 1959.  Are you hungry yet? The Boathouse, located on the Ohio River is just east of downtown Cincinnati.  The original store is north of the city on Montgomery Road and a third location is in Ft. Thomas KY. Or go to and have a slab delivered to your doorstep!

a close up of food                       a sandwich sitting on top of a table

5 – Izzy’s World Famous Reuben can trace its roots to Russia. Settling in Cincinnati Izzy Kadetz and wife Rose opened the first kosher style delicatessen West of the Alleghenies in 1901. Consistently ranked as the “best deli in Cincinnati“, visitors to this tri-state can indulge in Izzy’s Famous Reuben and their famous potato pancake. The savory sandwich is piled high with Izzy’s famous corned beef, sauerkraut, Izzy’s special dressing and melted imported Swiss cheese served with a bowl of all you can eat locally made dill pickle slices.

6 – Glier’s Goetta –  “So what the heck is goetta?”  If you have to ask, you’re not from around these parts.  Goetta is an old German recipe brought here in the 1800’s by the German immigrants who dominated Cincinnati 200 years ago.  It was a way for poor folks to stretch a few scraps of meat. It’s a mixture of  pork, beef, steel-cut oats, and seasonings shaped into a roll or a brick and fried up in a pan like it’s fancy cousin all meat sausage.  In 1946 Robert Glier returned home from World War II and bought a small store with a sausage kitchen and a smokehouse.  The rest is history.  Fortunately we can buy this old fashioned favorite in stores and celebrate its German heritage at festivals throughout the summer!  

a plate of food with a slice of cake on a table

For a serious culinary adventure, join us on a Riverside Food Tour. Led by a professional guide, visit 5 unique restaurants, all locally owned.  You are treated as a VIP, as we sample a wide variety of food. Every tour includes one alcohol tasting also. We meet some of the chefs, hear their stories as well as share local history and beautiful architecture.  After a Riverside Food Tour, you are well acquainted with the city and ready to embark on your own adventure. We  offer 4 distinct tours 5 days a week.  For tickets and more information, go to