I have a special place in my heart for my own hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. It’s a growing city with a vibrant underbelly of culture that most people don’t even try to get to know (many of which are natives). If you’re looking for fun things to do in Cincinnati, why not support the local economy while you’re at it?
I’m passionate about supporting local economies when we travel, and it doesn’t stop there. I try to support the small businesses of Cincinnati as much as I can as well. Here’s a mere sampling of small businesses in Cincinnati that either work to support our local economy and/or have eco-friendly practices.
Restaurants in Cincinnati
Eating locally can be healthier, more delicious and better for the environment and the local economy. The ingredients have more nutrients, and the environment wins when they fresh food doesn’t have to travel several thousand miles to get to your stomach.
Oh my, the french fries, they are loaded indeed. At Green Dog Cafe, they try to source as many of their ingredients locally and eco-friendly. From organic, fair-trade locally roasted coffee to sustainably caught fish, to local ice-cream – they have made a commitment to staying local. They are also very vegan and gluten-free friendly. Did I mention they have delicious fries? Open for brunch, lunch and dinner, with a very casual atmosphere. Location: Columbia/Tusculum, OH
Melt is best known for the awesome sandwiches, baked to melt the gooey cheese. But they are also active in the community and care about the environment. They use biodegradable/recyclable takeout containers, have loads of vegan options, and also support local artists by showcasing them throughout the cafe. Location: Northside
Delicious breakfast and brunch fare, with many of their ingredients sourced organic and/or locally. They also have a seasonal organic garden where they compost kitchen waste and use eco-friendly water irrigation. The Sleepy Bee is committed to delicious and healthy food, and it shows. Open for breakfast and lunch. Location: Oakley
A fantastic fine-dining yet casual establish that changes their menu based on what’s in season, since they source as much as they can locally. They’ve also started their own garden, and food doesn’t get much fresher or more local than that! They’re small and reservations are highly recommended. Location: Bellevue, KY
Looking for a a more upscale meal that uses local ingredients? Nectar has you covered. They describe their cuisine as farm focused and are committed to using local ingredients sourced from sustainable farms. Nectar offers brunch and dinner, and has a very creative seasonal menu. I love that their dinner menu is separated into two sections: herbivore and carnivore. They also offer cooking classes so I’ve got to get into one of those! Location: Mt Lookout
Traditional handmade donuts made from scratch in house. Holtman’s has been locally owned and operated since it opened in 1960. They have a wide range of selections, from traditional glazed yeast donuts (my personal favorite) to cronuts and bacon donuts. They even make a maple bourbon sauce out of Kentucky’s famous bourbon! They’re all delicious. Location: Over The Rhine, Loveland and Williamsburg.
Shop Local Cincinnati
To be honest, these guys do a little bit of everything, so they could be in any category. One half operates as a general store that sells locally sourced and eco-freindly goods. The other half serves as a wonderful cafe. Brunch? It’s delicious and completely vegan (all the vegan haters would have no idea, believe me). Coffee? Yup, it’s great and locally roasted. Beer? Tons of local brews. Kombucha on tap? Yup. Local classes on the cheap? Another yes. These guys even offer walking tours and allow local groups like Give Back Cincinnati to use the cafe area as a meeting spot. Cincinnati wouldn’t be the same without them. Location: Over The Rhine, OH
No Cincinnati post would be complete without the addition of Findlay Market. It’s Ohio’s oldest public market and it’s awesome. Local farmers line the outdoor area every weekend, and you can find almost anything you need somewhere in the market. Handmade pastas, local meats and cheese, crafts, soaps, spices, far off delicacies, and fantastic restaurants all reside within this eclectic market. Location: Over The Rhine
Blue Oven has become a Cincinnati staple. Not only is their bread absolutely phenomenal, they grow many of their ingredients fresh on their farm. They make everything from scratch and it shows. All of their breads and treats get baked in their giant stone oven. My absolute favorite are their english muffins. Location: at various markets and stores all over Cincinnati. Check their website for details.
Pet Food and Treats at Pet Wants
If you’re looking for high quality pet food in Cincinnati, this is the place. Penny, my furry bestie, was having some stomach issues (leave it to me to be the ONE person who gets a lab with stomach issues, who eats rocks, mind you). Now she’s on lamb (spoiled ass dog) and is doing much better, a big part to the fabulous fresh food from Pet Wants. Location: Over The Rhine
This boutique showcases the work of local and regional artists. They’ve got a little bit of everything: pottery, glass pieces, woodwork, metal, jewelry and paintings. Location: O’Bryonville
Cincinnati has a history of great breweries, in part to our large German heritage. Hence the “Over-the-Rhine” neighborhood downtown. In the late 1800’s German brewery started to really take off. These weren’t the first breweries, they just either had better beer or business skills than the English brewers already in the neighborhood and quickly took over. By 1890 Cincinnati was the third largest beer producer in the US. Then prohibition happened and put a damper on all that. Did you know we host the world’s 2nd largest Oktoberfest? There is a strong tie to Germany throughout Cincinnati.
These guys go a step above crafting local beer, they even source some of their wheat berries and other ingredients from local farms (such as Blue Oven, mentioned above). The bar is located in OTR, in the heart of what was once the thriving brewery district in Cincinnati (back in the late 1800s before prohibition). I recommend you grab takeout from any of the local restaurants and head into Rhinegiest for a pint. Plan to stay a while, it’s a fantastic atmosphere and there are ping pong tables, so…. Favorite beers: Panther (a robust porter) and Uncle (a British mild), Location: Over The Rhine
We loved getting a flight of all of their unique beers at the brewery! They have a decent selection on tap, and offer several seasonal brews as well. Only downside is there’s not really much around the actual brewery, even though it’s still worth a visit. Favorite beer: Roebling (a porter) and any of the seasonal sour beers. Location: Lincoln Heights
This brewery started in 1853 in Cincinnati and even though it’s changed owners they still brew great local beer. Rhinegeist is actually using the old Moerlein brewhouse now. Favorite Beer: Over-The-Rhine Ale. Location: Brewery and Restaurant at The Banks (Downtown); Seasonal biergarten at Findlay Market in OTR May – October.
A fantastic local craft brewery that keeps everything local: from employees to design and canning. I love their funky beer names. Favorite beer: Happy Amber Location: Reading
Coffee Shops in Cincinnati
We don’t grow coffee here in Cincinnati, obviously, but we have several local roasters who source their coffee ethically. Did you know the coffee growers have seriously terrible, scary conditions they work in? There are plenty of other options for fabulous coffee at the same price.
Coffee emporium sources all of their coffee from family-owned farms that use sustainable growing methods. ‘Nuff said. Location: Mt. Lookout and Over The Rhine
They’ve kept as much of their business local as possible, and are fair trade coffee certified. They also roast their coffee beans in house! Location: Mount Lookout and Downtown.
This coffee shop has great coffee sure, but my ultimate favorite is their to-die-for cheesecakes and pastries. If you LOVE chocolate (and you should), the chocolate rum espresso cheesecake is heavenly. I owe several extra pounds to it. Location: Park Hills, KY