The boyf and I took our talents to Queen City a couple weekends ago and just like Louisville, we were SO pleasantly surprised by the local food scene and energetic vibe of our neighboring big city!
We'd both been to Cincinnati before but never to spend a weekend doing what we do best---eating, drinking, and laughing. We'll definitely be making this a regular road trip!
Where to Stay
Remember when we spent time in the Louisville 21c? Well ever since we experienced the greatness that is 21c, we promised ourselves that we'd actually stay there next time we visited a city that had one.
If you're not familiar with the concept, 21c Museum Hotel is redefining Southern hospitality with their unique boutique hotel + contemporary art museum concept all rolled into one. The 21c Cincinnati is located right in the heart of downtown and it's pretty much a hipster dream.
photo courtesy of 21c
We're in a love love relationship with this hotel and have a goal to stay at all six of their locations around the country (and eat at their respective restaurants, duh).
The design is eccentric chic meets modern minimalist; yet it's still quite unpretentious and inviting. Our friends at 21c hosted us in a spacious corner sweet, complete with the bathroom of my dreams. As soon as we walked in the boyf and I looked at each other and blurted out, "Can we live here?"
In addition to the entire hotel being an art museum, they also have renowned spa services and an incredible restaurant with a super cool bar that we were lucky to dine at on Saturday evening.
Meet 21c's mascot, the yellow penguin. You'll find him and his friend bopping around the hotel and if you're really lucky (which we were), they'll place one right next to your dinner table!
Since it was so cold on Saturday night, we stayed at the hotel after dinner and were totally entertained without ever having to leave the building. The Cocktail Terrace is on our list once the arctic tundra subsides!
What to Do
Hyde Park Square
This is one of Cinci's oldest yet hippest shopping areas, home to over 175 classics like LuLu Lemon and Gap, boutiques like Leeli + Lou, and plenty of yummy places to eat like The Weekly Juicery.
Located downtown, this area is especially fun in the Winter since you can ice skate!
This was on our list but we didn't actually make it over there. I've heard wonderful things about this place and I'm sure it's just beautiful. It's going on my list for our next visit!
Over the Rhine (OTR)
One of the most beloved historic districts in Cinci, OTR is known for its many boutiques, breweries, restaurants, and shops. We especially loved Article and Continuum for his and her shopping.
What to Eat
You guys. I don't know where to start. Our dinner at Metropol (the restaurant at 21c) on Saturday evening was one of the best meals we've had in a really long time. After ordering a couple drinks, we started off with the Burnt Carrot Salad which had avocado, pickled onion, cilantro, and toasted pumpkin seeds. It was the perfect balance of bright flavors and textures.
We then tried the 7-hour egg, warm olives, and cheddar, which came with local bread and the most insane smoked grapes, stone fruit chutney, truffle honey, and dijon. I'm obsessed with olives so it wasn't a surprise that those were inhaled almost immediately. But the truffle honey on the toast with all the aforementioned accompaniments...heaven.
I ordered the Fall Vegetables entree and Jeff got the Pan Roasted Aleppo Chicken. Both were delicious, especially the quinoa fritters and salsa verde. I told Jeff we were 100% getting dessert since I knew it would be incredible: Chocolate Budino for me and Apple Hand Pie for him. I can't describe in words how foodgasmical my dessert was, so just imagine a super creamy and decadent (yet not overly sweet) thick pudding with salted crunchy bites, coffee ice cream, and chewy little chocolate and coconut squares that made the whole dish a textural home run.
Next time we're in Cinci we'll definitely be brunching here.
What I would give to have this adorable breakfast and lunch nook in Cbus! Sleepy Bee has an awesome selection of pancakes, omelettes, coffee drinks, smoothies, and specials all made in house with local and organic ingredients plus tons of vegan options. This place truly speaks to food with purpose. Started by a pediatrician and an artist, they have two locations and one on the way downtown.
We obviously wanted the entire menu, so we ordered a taste of everything! We began with an almond milk latte, the tofu and cauliflower scramble "Avi style" with avocado, tomato, spinach, mushroom, and onions, an almond, quinoa, and buckwheat flour "bee cake" with blueberries, maple and honey butter, a buttermilk "nutty bee" with peanut butter, chocolate, and bananas, multi-grain toast, the chorizo omelet (boyf) with breakfast potatoes, and fruit!
It was brunch perfection. I couldn't get over how fluffy the pancakes were! Everything from the super sweet staff to the cozy vibe was perfect. We can't wait to go back!
And you better believe I'm always willing to stand on chairs to get the perfect pic.
Organic and local brunch goals right here. Maplewood has an incredible airy interior and scrumptious breakfast fare complete with Cold Pressed Juice Mimomas and Avocado Toast with pistachios and honey straight out of your dreams.
I liked the style of ordering at the counter and having everything brought to the table. Per usual, we got a huge spread to sample including the Avocado Toast, Pastel Omelet, Super Green juice, Whipped Goat Cheese and Ricotta Toast, Avocado Benedict, Chicken Tinga, and the best damn Lemon Ricotta Pancakes in the world.
I was beyond full before I laid mouth on the pancakes and proceeded to lick the plate clean. I don't eat much dairy but the staff brought us the goat cheese toast and OMG...it was insanely delish. They also serve dinner. Maplewood is a must!
We came to Jose Salazaar's beautiful Spanish and Latin American inspired restaurant right when we got into Cincinnati on Friday evening. We started with drinks at the bar: wine for me and a yummy tequila drink with ginger and jalapeño for the man.
To start, we ordered the Jicama and Mango Salad with watercress, frisee, and cilantro vinaigrette. It was the greenest salad I've ever seen and quite tasty! But the House Bread Plate...holy moly. I actually had to close my eyes and savor the Blue Oven olive and multigrain bread with smoky romesco spread and Portuguese olive oil. I'm still drooling over it.
For the main course, I ordered the Vegetarian Entree which was quinoa, harissa roasted carrots, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, sweety drop peppers, cipollini onions, and butternut squash puree. The boyf got the seafood and hominy stew with cilantro and avocado. I stole a few bites and we were really pleased with both entrees!
My good friend Theresa of Fusian told me I had to go to Krueger's Tavern in OTR for their veggie burger, so you better believe I listened.
The boyf got the Classic Krueger Burger and I got the Veggie Burger with pesto aoili, spicy pickled greens, whole grain mustard, on a Challah bun. Totally delish! We also shared some dreamy fries. They have a nice beer selection, too.
This eclectic little coffee shop was a short walk from 21c and Maplewood so we stopped there for java on Sunday morning. They had awesome coffee, some really tasty looking breakfast sandwiches, and an overall great vibe.
Rooted Juicery + Kitchen
I of course always do my juice bar research before I travel because I love me some inspiration! I was super impressed with this place. They have a huge kitchen in the back which I was pretty jealous of. From small plates like avocado toast and loaded nachos to power bowls, cold-pressed juice, treats, and smoothies, this place is killing the organic plant-based game.
We were still full from lunch but we tried the Dr. Dragonfruit bowl with apple, orange, pitaya, banana, and strawberry topped with mango, kiwi, coconut, and granola. Delish! We also had a juice with kale, orange, jalapeño, and fennel that knocked my socks off.
We also got an AMAZING Queen Healer latte with cashews, coconut milk, dates, cacao, cordyceps, reishi, cacao at The Weekly Juicery!
Huge thanks to 21c for providing wonderful accommodations and dinner at Metropol. Additionally, thank you to Mita's, Sleepy Bee, Krueger's, Maplewood, and the Cincinnati Visitor's Bureau for providing delicious meals and travel tips, respectively. I was not compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own.