Cincinnati's food scene is buzzing right now. From family-owned, character-filled little bistros to Michelin-starred fine dining establishments, there's a restaurant for every occasion, every taste, and every budget. If you're looking for an eatery that serves up a portion of dazzling waterfront views with its menu, you'll find plenty of options along the riverfront. To help you pick the best from the rest, we've rounded up the 10 best Cincinnati river restaurants.
10. Chart House Restaurant
With an "Awesome" rating from reviewers at Open Table, this fine dining restaurant does a fine line in top-notch surf n turf, exceptional service, and lovely riverfront views. Boasting a creative menu bristling with freshly caught fish dishes and deeply indulgent meaty delights, it's the perfect place to blow the diet and give your tastebuds a special treat. Be sure to save some space for their legendary Hot Chocolate Lava Cake - it's the perfect way to round off a memorable meal.
9. Joe's Crab Shack
For an elbows-deep seafood dining experience, take the advice of cincinnatifoodandwineclassic.com and head for Joe’s Crab Shack. Sure, it's a chain, but when a chain does buckets of ready-to-shell shrimp, lip-smacking crab doused in garlic butter, and Cajun Steampot this good, who's going to complain? Just be sure to bring a bib and leave your table manners at the door - this a place where getting hands-on with your food isn't just accepted, it's practically obligatory.
8. Riverwatch Floating Restaurant and Bar
As a word of warning, don't try booking a table at Riverwatch Floating Restaurant and Bar in winter. Thanks to its location on the Ohio River (and by on, we literally mean on), this floating restaurant is only open for business during spring and summer. But even if you have to hold on for a few months for a seat, it's worth the wait. With a winning combination of breathtaking views, exceptional service, and finger-licking good seafood, it promises an unmissable culinary experience.
7. Kreimer's Bier Haus & River Bar
This quirky little eatery has been named as one of the best lesser-known riverfront restaurants in Cincinnati by Only In Your State, and for very good reason. With its warm, friendly atmosphere, it makes an ideal destination for a mid-week treat or lazy weekend lunch. Food-wise, expect a tasty combination of German - American dishes like home-made meatballs covered in a bourbon glaze; tender corned beef, ham, and Swiss cheese sauerkraut balls fried golden brown with 1000 island dressing; and smoked sausage layered with sauerkraut and melted Swiss cheese served on toasted rye bread with crunchy fries on the side.
6. Brio Newport
If you've got a hankering for some Italian food, Brio Newport makes a fine choice. This Tuscan-inspired restaurant specializes in authentic northern Italian cuisine, dishing up hearty plates of made-to-order pasta, fresh seafood, flavor-packed flatbreads, and premium steaks and chop, all of which are cooked to perfection on the restaurant's authentic Italian wood-burning stove. Factor in a chic decor, attentive service, and a world-beating selection of luxury wines and cocktails, and it's easy to see what makes it one of Cincinnati's most popular waterfront restaurants.
5. 10 West
Set in Cincinnati Marriott at RiverCenter, this spectacular riverfront restaurant combines a dazzling interior with gorgeous views of the Ohio River and a menu you'd happily trek for miles to get a taste of. Get your morning off to a flying start with Good Start, a very virtuous but very tasty selection of housemade granola with fresh berries or bananas and a choice of toast, bagel or muffin, before jumping into a lunchtime menu of jumbo lump crab cakes served with jalapeno lemon aioli, braised beef brisket served with house-made bbq sauce, sliced pickles & crispy fried onions, Kobe burger with Boursin cheese, marinated mushrooms & roasted pepper aioli, and much, much more besides. If you've got any room left, a slice of the deliciously gooey, deeply indulgent triple chocolate cake will round off the experience nicely.
4. Montgomery Inn Boathouse
If you're in the mood to try some of the best ribs you'll ever wrap your lips around, make your way over to Montgomery Inn Boathouse, purveyors of what could very well be the best-slow-cooked ribs in the country. Elsewhere on the menu, you'll find a smorgasbord of culinary delights like Barbequed Spring Chicken (farm-raised half chicken, served with a choice of Original or Spicy Chipotle barbecue sauce), Coho Salmon, blackened to perfection, and Gulf Shrimp Cantonese -ten perfectly plum shrimp, delicately breaded, fried to a golden brown and served with sweet Damson plum and hot mustard sauce.
3. Moerlein Lager House
Situated in the Smale Riverfront Park, the causally upscale, hugely welcoming Moerlein Lager House makes a great spot to catch up with friends over drinks and food. Enjoy one of the Moerlein's craft brews in the 19th-century beer garden as you tuck into dishes like beer-braised pork shank with garlic smashed potatoes, french green beans, tomato chutney, and a whole grain mustard demi-glace; tender, slow-cooked ribs with the restaurant's signature honey chipotle bbq sauce and beer-battered onion rings; and flame-grilled Kabobs with local Avril Bleh sausages, portabella mushrooms, onion, and peppers served with roasted fingerling potatoes, balsamic Brussels, apple-bacon kraut, and a German mustard demi-glace.
2. Fatboy's Dream
Located just east of Cincinnati along US-52, this unique floating restaurant is easily one of the coolest restaurants in Ohio. You can reach it by land if you prefer, or by water if you've got a boat. Regardless of how you get there, be sure to bring your appetite and sense of fun along. With a hopping lineup of live music and special events, a relaxed, informal atmosphere, and a menu of big, juicy burgers, crispy golden fries, and other classic American fare, you're going to need both.
1. Cabana on the River
With its lively atmosphere, river views, live music, and good eats, this open-air restaurant on River Road on the west side of Cincinnati offers a winning combination of fun and food. While you're there, don't miss the Grouper Tender Basket (light and crispy wild-caught grouper served with crunchy golden fries and tartar sauce) and the Premium Pot Roast (slow-cooked choice chuck roast simmered in jus, served on French bread and topped with shredded smoked provolone). There's also an excellent selection of salads (plus the option to build your own) and sandwiches.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson