Cincy recognizes excellent dining

What's the last local dish or dining experience that blew you away? If you have a mental Rolodex of dishes and restaurants running through your head, several winners of this year's Silver Spoon Awards might be familiar. If not, grab your appetite and hit the door. These are staff favorites in the crowded and always-evolving field of excellent local dining. Tough choices, all.

Yes, we had to sample Flirtinis, linger over lobster bisque, savor Spicy Salad, share our Kauai Moa, and steal a taste of our date's Steak Collinsworth, all in the name of research.

If we missed something, or you simply want to weigh in, please comment online at, or send a letter to the editor at Cincy. We'd love to hear from you.

Best Restaurants

Best New Kid on the Block
Local 127, Downtown

In the year since he took over the former Pigall's location at 127 W. Fourth, Chef Steven Geddes has impressed with a farm-to-table philosophy and sophisticated cuisine. He's also a certified Master Sommelier, so you can't go wrong here.

Best New View
View, Walnut Hills

Spectacular. And that's just the river vista. On the hottest summer night, there's a bit of a breeze on the balcony. Doting service and perfectly prepared contemporary American cuisine make it, well, perfect.

Best Classic View
Primavista, East Price Hill

Like the upstart to the east, Primavista's name says it all. In Italian or any language it's "the best view" of Cincinnati's skyline, Northern Kentucky and the Ohio River. The fine Italian dishes and great service are classic as well.

Best Place to Linger
Ferrari's, Madeira

Opt for a table on Ferrari's outdoor patio and order homemade bread, terrific Italian food and a bottle of red for the table. A trickling waterfall, soft candlelight and friendly servers who know your name make it ideal for chatting with friends into the night.
"A long time ago, I used to live in this neighborhood, and this is a good excuse to come back. When our friends came from our of town, we didn't want to take them a chain restaurant."
- Tom Stanton, Mason (far right) with Jim Pullen, Northern Kentucky, Tiffany Miller, Protland, Ore., and Christine Buddecke, Phoenix, Ariz.

Best Tiny Table for Two
The Precinct, Columbia-Tusculum

You may be shoulder-to-shoulder with folks at the next table, but the lighting, service and atmosphere make it seem intimate. You lean forward to hear what your date is saying and steal a bit of crab and asparagus from atop his steak.

Best Beatles to Dine By
Bella Luna, Columbia Tusculum

Great live music quiets conversation in the crowded bar. The guitars are great and the resonance of the bass absolutely fills the room with sounds from The White Album.

Best Place for Hot Brown
Grandview Tavern, Fort Mitchell

It's risky to choose the best Kentucky Hot Brown, but it is wonderful at this neighborhood treasure that also serves award-winning fish.

Best Place to Spot a Celebrity
McCormick & Schmick's, Downtown

Neighbor to the arts district and Westin Hotel, it is no wonder visiting artists, musicians and celebrities stop by to eat. May we suggest the the lobster bisque?

Best Downtown "Hot Spot"
Mynt Martini, Downtown

If you love the nightlife, this is it. Mynt blends one part entertainment with three parts Vox or Stoli for specialties including "Sex in The Cinci." Salsa dancing makes Wednesdays special.

Best Burb "Hot Spot"
20 Brix, Milford

At this trendy wine bar, you can pair gourmet entrees, salads and bistro- style pizzas with more than 100 unique wine selections. It's a classy, relaxing atmosphere with a patio.

Best Dinner And A Movie
Biagio's and Esquire, Clifton

Watch owner Biagio Lamassa prepare your Penne Boscaiola right there in the dining room and then walk down the block for a movie. That's an evening.

Best Eclectic Cuisine
Myra's Dionysus, Clifton

The name is a nod to Greek cuisine, but Myra's menu also highlights Turkish, Mexican, and Chinese. Don't miss the homemade soup.

Best Italian Favorites
Barresi's, Deer Park

Expect generous portions of tasty Italian pastas, fresh seafood, signature veal and beef dishes along with excellent service. Buon appetito!

Best Place for Top Service
Orchid's, Downtown

We like great service. It makes us feel special and the exquisitely presented food tastes all the better.

Best Spot to Start the Night
Mount Adams Fish House, Mount Adams

Any night beginning with a banana-laced Fish House Cosmo, sushi rolls and fresh grilled fish is sure to end well "” especially when the city's best bar scene is just steps from the front door.
"Our special rolls are the Mount Adams Roll (spicy scallop, shrimp and crab meat, topped with a crab stick) and the St. Gregory (spicy crab meat, crab sticks, asparagus and tempura flakes with shrimp on the outside). People always come in and ask for them."
- "Nong" Itthi Chaopraeknoi, Sushi Chef
Best Patio To People Watch
, Covington

If people-watching is on your list, take a seat on Otto's patio and watch the MainStrasse crowd. It's ideal for sampling $5 martinis on Tuesdays or brunching on Sundays.

Best Downtown Patio
Nada, Downtown

The bustle of downtown Cincinnati fades into the background when you are relaxing over mahi-mahi tacos and a mojito on Nada's chic patio.

Best Authentic Mexican
Taqueria Mercado, multiple locations

Imagine your perfect taco. Whether it's filled with chicken and cilantro, cheese with shrimp or barbacoa, this is the place for your taco fix.

Best Seafood with Style
Bonefish Grill, multiple locations

The beauty of Bonefish is in its simplicity. Grilled Norwegian salmon, ahi tuna and rainbow trout shine through in sophisticated sauces, such as mango salsa and chimichurri.

Best Serendipitous Find
Stone Creek, Montgomery

You stop for a glass of wine and decide to stay for dinner. It's half-price martini night and the Godiva chocolate-infused Stewie martini seals the deal. The Durango beef medallions are perfect. This is luck.

Best Business Breakfast
First Watch, multiple locations

The omelets are great but if you want to be able to talk, the fruit dish is fresh and bite-sized. The coffee keeps coming and you can stay on task.

Best Live Jazz to Dine By
Dee Felice, Covington

The restaurant's live jazz feels fit for New  Orleans, but it can take center stage or be pleasant background music depending on the night.
"We come here to eat, but the music is definitely a plus. The atmosphere is like no other here. I always order the filet mignon because it's really tender, and I don't get it anywhere else."
- Lisa Wurster with Liam Dolan, Northside
Best Croque Monsieur
 Cafe de Paris, Downtown

Linger over coffee and this French treat on croissant at one of the sidewalk tables as the world rushes by.

Best Vegetarian Bounty
Melt, Northside

Many of Melt's soups, salads, sandwiches and brunch items are vegetarian or vegan, and there are so many options. This is not rabbit food "” this is healthy, eco-conscious cuisine with serious flavor.

Best Dining for a Cause
Newport Aq
uarium, Newport

The stunning views of downtown and the river are yours to enjoy at any number of fundraisers and special events. Plus, after-hours aquarium guests enjoy wandering among the exhibits. Standing in the shark tunnel never gets old.

Best Tea Party
BonBonerie Café, O'Bryonville

Make a reservation and meet the girls for afternoon tea at the BonBonerie Café, featuring a three-tiered presentation of fresh fruit, fruit bread and scones, quiche, dill biscuits and finger sandwiches, pastries and tea cookies. Don't pass up the Opera Cream cake.

Best Royal Brunch
Orchid's at Palm Court, Downtown

A brunch fit for a king, or just a ravenous Cincinnatian. Every Sunday, enjoy made-to-order omelets, freshly carved roasts, salmon, crab legs and desserts from a 20-foot display. Bring your camera to capture the family all dressed up in the most elegant of places.

Best Cozy Brunch
Vitor's Bistro, Westwood/Cheviot

Known for more than just its award-winning French toast, Vitor's Bistro is a cozy, but upscale place to indulge in a delectable brunch, which also includes fruit and Santa Fe crepes, gourmet omelets and goetta breakfasts.

Best Superior Sushi
Teak, Mount Adams

The extensive sushi selections are dressed to impress, but the attractive restaurant space and stone patio make for an even more delightful experience. Try the Mount Adams Roll for a true taste of the town.

Best Casual Lunch
Arnold's, Downtown

The meatballs are so good but even the grilled cheese (provolone and mozzarella on Italian bread) is far beyond comfort food at this historic tavern.

Best Place to Wait for a Table
Dilly Café, Mariemont

You can wander in the wine shop or examine the incredibly diverse beer selection while you wait to be seated. Face it, it's worth waiting for the Dilly's perfectly grilled shrimp and asparagus.

Best Matinee Lunch
Nicholson's, Downtown

Enjoy the salmon salad or go for it and order the fish and chips. Then stroll across the street to the Aronoff. Could it be more convenient? Kilts optional.

Dishes To Die For

"Wow" Appetizer
Dynamite Sticks
Parkers Grill
, Blue Ash

The bartender was right: Look no further than the top of the menu. Shrimp, andouille sausage and red peppers in crisp flatbread. He did not overstate.

Hot Potatoes
Honey Fries
, Northside

Check your greasy, fast food notions at the door. Northside's Honey brings out metal buckets of sweet, Yukon and Idaho potatoes, seasoned and begging for a dip in a chili, lime and honey sauce.

Salad With a Kick
Spicy Salad
Wild Ginger
, Hyde Park

It's just that, spicy and big enough to share while you await dinner. The tiny bar fills with folks sampling sushi and business-suited Hyde Parkers stopping in for carry-out.

Not Your Basic Burger
Jean-Robert Burger
, Norwood

Raymond Gordo, former chef de cuisine for the Jean-Robert Restaurant Group, named this creation for his former employer. The patio is nice, service is great but it's all about the burger topped with grape compote, blue cheese and goat cheese.

Chicken to Rave About
Shish Tawook
Andy's Mediterranean Grill
, Walnut Hills

The tangy, garlicky marinated chicken is charbroiled, and the lingering smokiness pushes it over the top.

Off the Hook
Grilled Salmon
the Palace
, Downtown

Flaky, fabulous and prepared with a roasted tomato vinaigrette to be enjoyed in historic luxury in the Cricket Lounge.

Fantastic Fish
Wild Blue Mussels
Mitchell's Fish Market
, Newport

Cooked in a simple white wine, garlic and tomato sauce, these delectable mussels are only missing one thing "” bread to soak up every last drop. (Don't worry, it's not hard to come by from this attentive staff of friendly servers.)

Flavored with Flair
Mediterranean Pasta
Nick & Tom's, Bridgetown

This dish combines traditional ingredients including feta cheese, basil, garlic, pepperoncinis, sun-dried tomatoes and olives with vermicelli pasta and will have you booking a flight to the Mediterranean pronto.

Towering Mousse
Chocolate Cordial Pie
Grande Finale, Glendale

The chocolate mousse wedge nestled in a pecan crust could be called a monstrosity if it weren't so darn pretty. Share with the table or prepare for a chocolate-induced coma if you go solo.

So Much More Than Pizza
Ryan's Inferno
Dewey's, multiple locations

Classic buffalo chicken is transformed with gorgonzola and mozzarella cheese, red onions, celery and ranch dressing on Dewey's perfectly baked crust. Who needs bar food with a pie this perfect?

Libations, If We Must

Best Signature Cocktail
Brio Bellini at Brio, Newport

Perhaps best enjoyed on Brio's Newport on the Levee patio, the blend of fresh fruit, peach nectar and Prosecco is the perfect way to punch up brunch or fritter away the afternoon.
The Cincy staff agrees - Brio's bellinis bring a taste of Italy close to home. The sparkling cocktail is a lighter option to enjoy while the sun's still shining.
Pull Me A Pint, Please
Pub at Rookwood, Norwood

An authentic British pub with imported English furniture, The Pub has one of the best beer selections in town with its wide range of English draught and cask conditioned beers, as well as Scottish, Irish and domestic selections, all served over a handcrafted bar.

Where to Start?
Chalk Food + Wine, Covington

Rare spirits, an array of wine, crafted cocktails and locally sourced infusions are just some of the likely culprits to dot the bar at Chalk. The wooden bar and eclectic décor make for an especially enjoyable perch from which to enjoy a beverage.

Aptly Named
20 Brix, Milford

20 Brix, named after the measurement of sugar in wine, can be measured by its sizable wine selection. The wine store at the front allows tasting before buying, stopping in for a quick bottle, or expert pairing with the restaurant's mouth-watering dishes.

Brewed In-House
Rock Bottom Brewery, Downtown

Offerings range from light to dark, brown to pale ales, all brewed on site. Can't decide which to order? Try a sampler of Rock Bottom's best for only six bucks.