Pimp your Palette: Great Places to Eat in Cincinnati

By: Rayshaunda Byrd

Looking for unique places to eat? Try one of these restaurants:

Gilpin’s Steamed Grub

Gilpin’s Steamed Grub has only been around since 2008 but is very popular among downtown patrons. The staff cooks the food with steam to keep it from drying out, which can happen during the typical baking and toasting process.

Gilpin’s downtown location, on 37 East 7th St. is small with seating downstairs and upstairs with a small loft area.

The restaurant also provides old-school Nintendo games for those looking for some nostalgia. Guests can write on the chalkboard walls and windows. The menu has over 40 options to create-your-own- burger, salad, sandwich or pizza. If create-your-own isn’t your style, Gilpin’s has premade options such as “peace, love and happiness” or “razzle dazzle,” and has steamed desserts like the “referee” (pretzel roll or telera, marshmallow fluff and nutella) or a Holtman’s donut.

Gilpin’s lunch specials start at $4.50 and regular priced items are no more than $8. Gilpin’s is open from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sundays and Mondays, and Tuesdays through Saturdays 10:30 a.m. to 3 a.m.


Tom+Chee is a quickly growing franchise offering grilled cheese and tomato soup with a twist. It features an inviting atmosphere, and an ever-changing menu.

The “build your own grilled cheese” option offers various breads such as white or wheat, and cheeses such as cheddar or smoked gouda. Customers also have the options of meat such as bacon or goetta and toppings such as veggies or potato chips.

Tomato soup is always an option, and customers can choose between classic, chunky or creamy. Other soups change daily and include their bleu cheese chili and chicken noodle soup. What makes Tom+Chee so unique is its sweet, savory and salty grilled cheese donut.

The restaurant has the baker’s dozen challenge in which a participant must eat 13 grilled cheese donuts. This concoction has been featured on Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food Nation” and “Amazing Eats.”

Lucy Blue Pizza

Lucy Blue pizza opened in 2001. The restaurant served pizza from a pickup window until 4 a.m. Since then, Lucy Blue has added four locations in addition to its original pizza window.

All locations, except the pizza window which is open until 4 a.m., are open until 3:30 a.m. most days. The pizza options include the usual pepperoni, cheese, veggie and Hawaiian pizza, but the restaurant also serves BLT, Thai chicken and the “Best Greek Pizza,” according to CityBeat Magazine.

For a large group, a pizza costs $18 with the option of a half-and-half pizza. A slice runs about $2. Customers also have the options of salads, soups and sandwiches.

Lucy Blue’s downtown location on 35 East 7th Street is simple, yet inviting. If you happen to be downtown during lunch hour, the restaurant offers a lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

You can order soup, salad and pizza plus a beverage for $8.

Shanghai Mamma’s

Shanghai Mama’s is old school meets new school, offering traditional dishes with some creative liberties. Items such as seafood cantonese chow mein and fish and chips “Mama’s Style” are included in the menu.

The interior is a model of a noodle shop in Shanghai during the 1920s with a little urban flare. The menu is expansive and includes starters, soup, flatbreads, rice bowls, plates, wraps and homemade noodles.

Portions for all menu items are large enough for two people. Shanghai Mama’s also provides plenty of items for those who follow vegetarian diets.

Hours are Monday through Thursday 11:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., with lunch sold until 3 p.m. and a closing time of 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Mahogany’s at the Banks

Mahogany’s at the Banks brings the South to Cincinnati. Located on East Freedom Way, the restaurant serves classic Southern cuisine.

Mahogany’s atmosphere and interior is contemporary and modern. While its approach is current, Mahogany’s food comes from over four generations of family recipes. Like its atmosphere, Mahogany’s is able to bring a modern twist to its food.

Appetizers include fried green tomatoes and breaded fish or shrimp baskets. It also includes down-South spring rolls (collard greens, cabbage, fried yams, red onions and smoked turkey). They serve chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits or oxtails and gravy.

If you have room for dessert, try some “Slap Yo Mamma Banana Pudding” or the “Five Flava Pound Cake.” Friday nights at Mahogany’s are karaoke nights. Mahogany’s at the Banks gives Southern cuisine and Southern delicacies a whole new meaning.