Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine Neighborhood Emerges as a Culinary Destination
Big cities are no longer the only place to experience fine dining. Towns like Cincinnati, which are close to metropolitan hubs, are attracting top talent, resulting in the growth of a neighborhood food scene.
For a nostalgic glimpse of Americana, make your way over to Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. The area is one of the largest historical districts in the country. Among its sights is the Music Hall, spanning a block with its Venetian Gothic architecture; Findlay Market, the only surviving municipal market house, and the Brewery District, home to the first beer brewing company; all of which date back to the 19th Century.
But don’t expect to feel stuck in the past. The area known by locals as OTR offers a fresh feel that gives you the urge to move there. There’s even a streetcar, modernized for today’s commuters, known as the Cincinnati Bell Connector. The buildings might give off some old-timey vibes, but the start-ups and businesses designed with Instagram in mind, tell a different story.
For instance, a walk down Vine Street, a main road in the neighborhood, takes you past Graeter’s. The ice cream shop has been churning out flavors such as black cherry chocolate chip, peppermint stick and s’mores for 145 years. It might be a legacy brand, but it’s by no means stale. It’s continued to grow and reinvent itself alongside of the community. Turn off Vine, onto 14th Street and at the end of the block, on the corner you’ll run into Salazar, the James Beard nominated restaurant by Chef José Salazar.
Salazar, a native of Colombia, grew up in Queens, trained at New York Restaurant School and refined his talent working for big name chefs like Thomas Keller and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. He first came to the city 10 years ago for a job at The Palace in the Cincinnatian Hotel. His decision to stay and open his own operation, shows a promising step towards OTR being a competitive culinary city. And with it only being a short drive away from the hustle and bustle of Chicago, Nashville, Detroit, St. Louis and Pittsburgh, it’s only a matter of time before others come to the same realization as Salazar: this is a city worth keeping your eye on.