Don't worry: there's no actual swamp water to be found inside Swampwater Grill. The restaurant's name instead alludes to the fact that it serves mostly seafood-centric Cajun cuisine, including everything from oyster po' boys to fried gator bites.
Cincinnati Magazine describes both of the above as "casual classics done right," but that's not to say Swampwater's culinary team doesn't ever get inventive. Their spicy Swamp Pasta, to name only one example of their creativity, brings together crab, crawfish, shrimp, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, and penne pasta. And they aren't afraid to look toward the land for inspiration, smoking pulled pork and ribs over premium hardwoods. Swampwater's dining room is a perfect setting for these Southern meals, thanks to its rustic vibe, decorative crab cages, and tables reserved for brooding sailors.
A Forkable Feast provides an array of restaurant-quality meals packaged in microwave- and oven-safe containers, ready to be taken home, reheated, and devoured with all the ferocity of a sun-swallowing Fenris wolf. Signature entrees include savory veal and ricotta meatballs ($6.95), mac 'n' cheese with herbed goat cheese ($4.95), and lemon-rosemary chicken ($6.95). Assemble a full meal by partnering a lonely entree with a winsome side dish, such as succotash, creamy mashed potatoes, or lemon-orzo salad ($2.95 each). Glowing obediently behind the cashier, the brick pizza oven ushers forth crispy, wood-fired pies such as the minimalist margherita or the roasted-vegetable varietal, which employs a delectable cast of portobello mushrooms, onions, zucchini, pesto, and mozzarella ($7.50). A Forkable Feast also cooks up a reputable variety of gluten-free meals to share its edible accomplishments with the gluten averse.
Dilly Café is a free-spirited deli turned gourmet restaurant brimming with a charmingly relaxed elegance. The bulk of the menu is devoted to simple yet elegant lunch and dinner fare, such as the oven-roasted trout almondine with rice, haricot verts, and brown-butter sauce ($18), the creamy stilton and mushroom pasta ($12), and the Mariemont gobbler, a tribute to the historic village's 43rd first Thanksgiving with thick slices of turkey, imported brie, and cranberry chutney nestled within a crusty, warm baguette ($8). Lilliputian appetites can opt to nosh on an array of small plates and appetizers, including the Maryland-style crab cakes ($8) or the signature Dilly Café beer cheese ($8). The extensive wine list reflects Dilly Café's passion for discovering new and interesting fermented fruit, and the continuously changing craft-beer selection features Cincinnati's own Mt. Carmel American Wheat Ale ($3.75, $4.95) and Rivertown Helles Lager ($3.75, $4.95). Off tap, Dilly boasts more than 1,000 different beers and wines to peruse in its back-room alcohol oasis.
Montgomery Inn has seen a lot of famous faces over the years; Johnny Cash, Brittany Spears, Cameron Diaz, countless professional athletes, and every US president since Gerald Ford. The real stars, though, are the restaurant's award-winning ribs. Founders Ted and Matula Gregory started serving them in the late 1950s using Matula's homemade barbecue sauce. The ribs were an instant hit with diners and earned their first official accolades from the Cincinnati Post in 1968.
Years later, Montgomery Inn has expanded both its menu—specialties now include housemade Saratoga chips and barbecued spring chicken—and locations, but the ribs still steal the show. In recent years, they've been lauded by The Today Show, CNBC, and Fox News. The restaurant has even their own grocery line, so customers can enjoy their ribs and sauces at home.
Bars are great spots for declaring preemptive thumb war on unsuspecting foes, so you’ll need to stockpile rations for a lengthy campaign. Sidebar’s menu offers plenty of options, including appetizers such as onion straws ($5.95), quesadilla rolls ($5.95), Juan Parnello’s queso dip ($5.95), and Sidebar wings (6 for $4.95, 12 for $8.95). Dig your mouth-shovels into a tasty burger that’s hand-pattied daily with 80/20 Black Angus beef. Burger options include the Soprano (pizza sauce, onion, and two cheese sticks, $7.50), the Devil’s Advocate (spicy ranch sauce, sliced jalapeno, and provolone, $7.25), and the Double Jeopardy (two patties with your choice of cheese, $8.50). Sandwiches such as the Roebling Reuben ($7.95) are also available, as well as 12” pizzas such as buffalo chicken ($9.95) and The Big Bill with onions, peppers, mushrooms, pepperoni, Italian sausage, and double cheese ($12.95).