I have lived in Cincinnati for most of my life and really thought I knew and understood the history and stories behind many of the restaurants and parts of town. After completing my first Cincinnati Food Tour adventure, I realized there was a lot I didn’t know about this great city! Cincinnati Food Tours is a walking tour founded by Barb Cooper in 2012. Her vision was to share her love for Findlay market, food, and Cincinnati neighborhoods. There are a variety of $50 tours to choose from, which focus on savory eats, sweet eats, or both! I opted for the Over The Rhine (OTR) savory tour, lasting about 3 hours with multiple stops.
Our meeting place for the tour was Findlay Market, which is Ohio’s oldest continuously operated public market!
Fun fact: The market is open year-round Tuesday-Sunday and attracts over a MILLION visitors a year! It has over 40 merchants ready to meet your culinary needs. Findlay Market is definitely a great stop if you want unique, fresh ingredients. Now let’s start moving with the tour…
Our first stop on our stroll through OTR was Tafts Ale House. Originally an Evangelical church constructed in 1850, this building is absolutely a sight to see. After a fire destroyed the beautiful church, it was revitalized to become what is now Taft Ale House. Saying it is large is quite the understatement. With an upstairs and downstairs with many rooms throughout, there is certainly no shortage of space. The structure and décor is so well crafted. They certainly live up to their name with an abundance of drink choices to suit everyone’s palate. While you’re there, you might as well have a seat and enjoy some of their great food too! We were served the Big Billy with thinly sliced tri-tip steak and caramelized onions. It was both warm and delicious! If you order this, be sure to dip it in the au jus! This is just stop number 1 foodies! There’s so much more to come…
Next up was Panino. Panino is an Italian deli style restaurant that recently opened on Vine street. They pride themselves on using fresh and local ingredients. We were lucky to have the owner greet us, describe their menu options, and provide us with a decadent meat, cheese, and bread tray. When ordering, you can select meat and cheese options to meet your needs or you can have them work their magic and craft one for you. From a simple burger to specialty sandwiches, you will be quite pleased with this restaurant! They also have a full bar, which happens to serve local winery options such as Skeleton Root.
Are you getting full reading this? We certainly were at this point, but there’s no stopping now! Keep scrolling while we keep walking and eating 😉
We then made a quick stop for a sweet treat at Brown Bear Bakery. Although Brown Bear has been operating for years, it is their first year at the OTR location. As soon as you enter, you are hit with the most pleasant aroma of flavors. If heaven had a bakery, I’m sure this is what it would smell like! We were all able to choose one item, but if you know me, you know I am going to go big or go home! I ordered a salty chocolate chip cookie, a ginger cookie, an iced & spiced molasses cookie and the savory brioche. Oh. My. Word! Talk about amazing! I wanted to eat all of it on the spot, but I knew there was more food to come. My favorite was the savory brioche, as I did not eat it until the next day, yet it tasted as if I’d just ordered.
Ok… time to walk again…
On the way to our next stop, we stumbled upon a nice mural painting on a building near Brown Bear, which was lovely to look at. We also made time to enter Old St. Mary’s Church, which is a Roman Catholic church established by German immigrants. If you are near, stop in and take a moment to appreciate the architecture and charm. It is a beautiful church with much history behind it.
Sidenote: Did you know how deep Cincinnati’s German and pork history is? Hence the love for sausage, brats, sauerkraut, Porkopolis, Flying Pig festivals/runs, etc.
Next up was the Argentinian restaurant Che´, established in January 2016. They use innovative methods to serve traditional dishes that have been in their family for years. We were served a plate of the De Espinaca empanadas, which contained baby spinach, mozzarella, and provolone. Amazingggg! Not only is their food extremely delicious, they have a super cute restaurant with an intimate patio for the warmer months. The only thing I would change about this stop is having another order of empanadas to somehow fill my already overstuffed belly! They were that good!
Our last stop was the well-known Holtman’s Doughnuts. Although I was too full to eat anything else, we were all given our choice doughnut. I ordered the maple bacon to have once I finally made more room. 🙂 Although many mistakenly think Holtman’s is a restaurant founded in Cincinnati, it actually dates back to May 1960, and is based out of Newton, Ohio. Read more about Holtman’s deliciousness in our previous post here: Holtman’s – Cincinnati, OH location (OTR)
As you can see, the $50 paid is well worth the amount of food you receive. To add to that, the experience was so informative! There was so much I learned, which certainly deepened my love and appreciation for Cincinnati. Many of us tourists came in as strangers and left laughing and joking as friends. Kudos to Cincinnati Food Tours for offering this to residents and travelers. As The New York Times said, we highly recommend your service!
Looking to book a tour? Visit https://www.cincinnatifoodtours.com/ to secure your spot!