Over the last decade or so, Ohio’s food scene has exploded, with an ever-increasing number of restaurants hitting the streets of both its biggest cities and sleepiest suburbs. Regardless of whether you prefer fine dining experiences, all-you-can-eat BBQ joints, or chic little bistros, you’ll have no problem finding something to suit. If you’re ready to tap into the region’s bountiful offerings and enjoy some scrumptious food, these are the 20 best restaurants in Ohio to check out.
20. Scioto Ribber, Portsmouth
Unless you’ve hopped on board the vegan bandwagon, you won’t want to miss Scioto Ribber. Ranked as the number one restaurant in Portsmouth by Trip Advisor reviewers, its hearty BBQ sandwiches, tender ribs, and mammoth steaks are a carnivore’s dream. Just be warned, this isn’t the place for people with tiny appetites and a preference for plants – the portions are generous and, save for a side salad, the only thing veggie-friendly on the menu are the battered onion rings.
19. Lucky’s Cafe, Cleveland
If you’re looking to enjoy a lazy weekend brunch, you’ll find no better place to eat it than at Lucky’s Cafe in Cleveland. As Eater explains, chef, owner, and devoted locavore Heather Haviland sources all her eggs, dairy, produce, and meats from local farms, resulting in a dazzlingly fresh, lively menu stuffed with tasty eats like cheddar-scallion scones piled high with eggs and sausage gravy and Ohio sweetcorn waffles served with strawberry compote. If you arrive on a sunny day, skip the indoor tables and grab a seat on the pretty terrace instead.
18. Salt, Lakewood
Since opening its door in 2016, Salt has been winning over local foodies with its thoughtfully curated menu of small plates, signature cocktails, and intriguing wine list. Chef Jill Vedaa’s visually arresting dishes taste as good as they look, with hungry diners raving for days about dishes like smoked trout with matzah, pickled veg, trout roe, and charred leek mascarpone, scallops with apple nage, peas, apple relish and pancetta oil, duck confit pie with cognac raisins and parsnips covered in a lard crust, and lamb stew with creamy polenta and herb mojo.
17. Catch-a-Fire Pizza, Cincinnati
According to Eater, Catch-a-Fire Pizza started as a food truck inside Oakley’s MadTree Brewing, but thanks to its enormous popularity, it eventually moved into its own premises in the Cincinnati suburb of Blue Ash in 2020. Although known and loved for its wood-fired pizzas, it also dishes up a generous selection of other wood fired goodies like peppadew peppers filled with basil and goat cheese, wings, and loaded potato skins.
16. El Segundo Mexican Kitchen, Columbus
Over the last few years, Cameron Mitchell has taken over Columbus’ Short North neighborhood. The latest in its long line of restaurants to hit in the district is El Segundo Mexican Kitchen. Inspired by Mexican street food, this lively diner is the ideal place to enjoy some gracious service, good vibes, and a menu packed with fresh, responsibly sourced and local ingredients. All of the tortillas, sauces, and signature ingredients are freshly made from scratch on site. The setting is just as exciting as the menu, with Mexican street art filling the walls, floating sombreros hanging from the ceilings, and a cavernous tequila cabinet filled with every type of Mexican liquor under the sun.
15. Lupo, Upper Arlington
It may only have been open a couple of years, but already, chef Rick Lopez’s Spanish-inspired restaurant Lupo has become a firm favorite with local foodies. Expect a rotating menu of seasonally inspired pastas and small plates, along with an exceptional selection of fresh seafood and roasted meats and a superb assortment of wines, Spanish spirits, and cocktails. Set in a former bank space in the Columbus suburb of Upper Arlington, it’s a great place to enjoy some tapas and drinks with friends.
14. Tony Packo’s, Toledo
If you’re chasing a fine dining experience, don’t bother going to any one of Tony Packo’s numerous locations in Toledo. Whatever else you get here, it won’t be silver service and white tablecloths. If, on the other hand, you want to wrap your lips around some of the finest chili dogs known to humankind, forget whatever else you’re doing and go there now. While you’re there, be sure to check out the Styrofoam buns dotted around the walls, all of which have been autographed by the many celebs and US presidents who’ve dined there over the years.
13. Kihachi, Dublin
Dining out in a strip mall might seem the kind of thing you’d only do if hunger struck in the middle of a shopping session, but it might be time to adjust your preconceptions. Located in an otherwise unremarkable strip mall off Sawmill Road in Dublin, this Japanese gem dishes up a stunning array of delicious Japanese food like tuna fermented in soy beans and soba noodles with duck. It’s not your usual Americanised sushi joint either, boasting a traditional tatami mat, floor-seating plan that’s as authentic as the food.
12. Tortilleria Garcia, Cincinnati
When Omar Garcia opened Cincinnati’s Tortilleria Garcia, he bought with him the traditional techniques for making tortillas he’d grown up watching his mother and sister use in their home in Michoacan, Mexico. Today, he grinds all the corn for the masa onsite, without the addition of any flours or chemicals, using the finished product as a vehicle for everything from al pastor tacos.to carnitas. There’s also a fabulous selection of tamales, burritos, and meat dishes to work your way through.
11. Slyman’s Restaurant, Cleveland
For the best corned beef in Ohio, there’s only one place to head – Slyman’s Restaurant in Cleveland. It’s cooked and served every which way to heaven – try it with grilled rye, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut in a Reuben, served as a burger, with eggs and home fries for breakfast, or, for the most committed corned beef junkies, on its own by the pound. By lunchtime, the queue will be snaking out the door, so be sure to get there early- preferably by 11 am, if your appetite is up for it.
10. The Spot To Eat, Sidney
Whoever chose the name for this Sidney hotspot couldn’t have picked a more appropriate name if they’d tried. The Spot To Eat started out as a check wagon over 100 years back, but has since evolved into the kind of classic, 50’s style diner where you wouldn’t be surprised to find the Foz chugging down a milkshake at the bar. It’s not fancy, but it is fun, sporting a tempting range of homemade soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and an old-fashioned creme pie you’d happily bathe in.
9. The Lonely Pine Steakhouse, Cincinnati
Founder and CEO of Gorilla Cinema Presents Jacob Trevino might have made his name with his wildly creative bars, but when he chose to go into the dining malarky for the first time, the results were predictably excellent. Taking inspiration from the Route 66 roadside steakhouses of his native Texas, The Lonely Pine Steakhouse combines laid-back vibes and casual intimacy with a menu of prime Wagyu and dry-aged beef. If you want fine dining without the stuffiness, this is where you’ll get it.
8. Il Rione, Cleveland
If you like pizza, you’re going to love this lively pizzeria in Cleveland’s Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. The character-filled dining room encourages you to feel at home from the moment you step inside. The New York-style pies, meanwhile, will make you never want to leave. The menu is fairly small (think Margherita, sausage, and clam pies), but there are a few surprises in the mix if you look hard enough, including the very tasty speck pie (white pie, speck, lemon ricotta, pistachio, hot honey), plus a few salads and a small selection of meat and cheese boards.
7. Wolf’s Ridge Brewing, Columbus
As Thrillist says, craft beer with a meal is fine, but craft beer in your meal is better. Wolf’s Ridge Brewing in Columbus had curated its entire menu around brewery flavors, resulting in tempting treats like Oktoberfest-glazed donuts, pickled herring paired with an IPA mustard, and beer-braised Chilean sea bass. The infusions are subtle enough not to put off people who don’t much care for beer, but there’s enough of a hoppy bite to give beer fans a kick.
6. The Golden Lamb, Lebanon
If you haven’t got a reason to visit Lebanon, make one up. Once you arrive, head straight for The Golden Lamb. Set in the town’s oldest continuously operated hotel (a place where everyone from Harriet Beecher Stowe to Charles Dickens and Mark Twain to Neil Armstrong has bedded down for the night), the only thing the restaurant has in greater abundance than history is exceptional food. Key dishes not to miss include a slow-roasted beef tenderloin sliced and served with crushed red potatoes with leeks, bacon & aged cheddar, a classic parmesan tomato garnish and cabernet jus and, for something extra comforting on a cold day, the Ohio Fried Chicken Dinner served with skillet gravy, mashed potatoes, and fresh seasonal vegetables.
5. Buckeye Express Diner, Bellville
If you’re in the mood to expand your culinary horizons, take the advice of Only in Your State and make a beeline for this very unusual diner located just off Interstate 71. The burgers are juicy, the fries are crispy, the pop runs freely, and the experience of chomping down on some good old fashioned American fare in a converted train carriage is one you won’t forget in a hurry.
4. Orchids, Cincinnati
Orchids promises a unique culinary experience in the heart of Downtown Cincinnati, inside of the Hilton Netherland Plaza hotel. In 2018, it became the only restaurant in Ohio and one of just 64 in North America to be awarded the AAA Five-Diamond Award… but that’s not the main reason to visit. Neither is that fact that it purchases 55gal barrels of a Four Roses bourbon special-blend (although admittedly, that does help). The real reason is the menu, which boasts scrummy delights like foie gras served with cornbread, Ohio cherries, and cherry gastrique, roasted Cervena venison with local chestnuts, and the kind of deserts you’ll be happy to blow the diet for.
3. Amber Rose Restaurant, Dayton
Named one of the best restaurants in Dayton by vacationidea.com, Amber Rose Restaurant is the place to go for some made from scratch European cuisine. Expect a culinary tour of the continent with dishes like Lithuanian Cabbage Rolls, Beef Stroganoff, Warsaw Medley, Hungarian Chicken Paprika, and Hunter Schnitzel. With its cozy ambiance, elegant decor and exquisite collection of global wines, craft beers, and handcrafted cocktails, it’s a lovely place to while away a few hours over a leisurely lunch or dinner.
2. Metropole, Cincinnati
Located in the wonderfully quirky 21c Museum Hotel in downtown Cincinnati, Metropole’s ever-changing menu puts a 21st-century spin on old-world cooking techniques. Most of the food comes by way of the custom-built fire, whose coals and flames add extra character to executive chef Vanessa Miller’s seasonal French and Italian dishes. The dining space is equally delightful, with soaring arched windows, original mosaic tile floors, and beautifully restored period features adding to the air of elegant intimacy. For those who like to round off their meal with a tipple, the selection of craft beers, house-made cocktails, Bourbons and old and new world wines won’t disappoint.
1. Z Cucina di Spirito, Columbus
According to exploreist.com, this rustic Italian restaurant in Columbus is known for dishing up some of the finest traditional and modern Italian cuisine in the state. The menu offers up a flavor-packed selection of small plates, salads, and main courses, including a lovely range of hand-made ravioli, tortelloni and fresh pastas. Everything that can be made on-site (including the ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, sausage, breads and desserts) is. The restaurant also offers a full bar, with signature beverages such as the Spiced Cider Punch, Basil Gin Smash and the Spiced Pear Fizz jostling for space alongside artisan wines and a hefty collection of craft beers.