You don't get appetizers at breakfast, right? Not usually. In that spirit, let's dispense with the intro (hi friends!) and get right into it:
MAPLEWOOD KITCHEN — 525 Race Street
Maplewood offers one of the most magnificent dining experiences in Cincinnati. It’s an ideal place to bring out-of-town guests. They’ll love the avocado toast, the quinoa and farro bowl, the steak and eggs, and the signature omelet. If you don't want to endure the wait (it’s like that episode of Portlandia in there on weekends), pick up one of their amazing breakfast sandwiches and be on your way.
Best for: Impressing out-of-towners so you can get that coveted "your city is cooler than I thought" farewell.
CHEAPSIDE CAFE — 326 E 8th Street
Cheapside is effortlessly cool. It looks like a posh white barn on the inside, which is a good thing. Sit down, eat out… it’s a you-do-YOU kind of atmosphere. We recommend the breakfast sandwich, whose bacon melts in your mouth — or the grilled cheese with spaghetti squash, which you’ll quickly realize is the thing that's been missing from your life all these years. Bonus points to them for making a great cortado.
Best for: Grabbing the casual, everyday breakfast and feeling like you've done something hip in the process.
TASTE OF BELGIUM — 16 West Freedom Way or 1133 Vine Street
Don’t succumb to the little voice in your head that tries to get you to eat healthy. Get the ricotta cream waffles. (As a side.) Then go for the biscuit, waffles, and gravy as your main. And then, never look back.
Best for: Cheat day, with a group, on the weekend.
WILD EGGS — 301 E 4th Street
It’s downtown’s newest breakfast option, and it’s a solid one. The decor is egg-themed and inviting. The food is thoughtful rather than chain-ish. Sit down for the Kalamity Katie’s Border Benedict or the Kelsey “KY” Hot Brown (yes, all the dishes are named like that). It’s not grab-and-go by any means, but with a location in Queen City Square, it could be a great option for before work.
Best for: Breakfast anytime with a side of southern charm.
BROWN BEAR — 116 E 13th Street
Take a break from that eggs-n’-bacon life. Try a pastry once in a while. And Brown Bear is the place to do it. The sticky buns are next level, but so is the green tea cake, and the scones, and... well, literally everything else they make. If Yelp ever allows us to give out six stars, Brown Bear is the first place that deserves it. It's OTR 2.0, and it's freaking delightful.
Best for: Putting you in that British Baking Show mood.
PLEASANTRY — 118 W 15th Street
This is just a dinner place, right? Not so fast my friend. They open for breakfast almost every day, which makes it one of the best restaurants to spend the a.m. in OTR. The menu isn’t expansive, but the breakfast sandwich is top notch, the granola bowl is hearty, and the toasts are satisfying. Not too pricey either, especially if you go for the $2 High Lifes (assuming it's that kind of breakfast).
Best for: Breakfast dates in the first year of dating.
B&A STREET KITCHEN — 1500 Race Street
Just a block from Pleasantry, B&A Street is a consummately cool place. They call it a diner, and that seems about right, but it’s also imbued with plenty of OTR trendiness. An obvious shoutout to the burrito grande (“big burrito” according to Google Translate). But the inside-out grilled pimento cheese is a little bit life changing too.
Best for: Breakfast dates in the second year of dating.
HOLTMAN’S DONUT SHOP — 1332 Vine Street
Shove your crazy toppings and glazes. The cake donut is where it's at. That is all.
Best for: When you want a freaking donut.
VONDERHAAR’S CAFE ON 7TH — 650 Walnut Street
Hard to say no to pancake lasagna, right? Actually it is, but only when it features the maple béchamel from V’s Cafe inside the Aronoff Center. This place is open early every day, and it’s a super low-impact way to fill up in the morn. Disregard the lede though; get the V’s Griddle, which is served on a toasted English crumpet and therefore is everything this anglophile wants in life.
Best for: Quick food that’s apparently immune to price inflation.
FIRST WATCH — 104 E 7th Street
Best for: What do you want from me? It’s First Watch.
NATION KITCHEN & BAR — 1200 Broadway Street
Sunday’s bottomless brunch is the best way to stretch your weekend hangover into Monday. Make sure to down at least one hangover burger in the process. Or go for the seasonal French toast, which sometimes is delicious, and other times is very delicious.
Best for: When you’re forced to crawl down into the crevasse of your hangover.
MELT — Contemporary Arts Center
I haven't been to Melt's new CAC location yet. And their website is down. Meaning I have nothing to say except that I ran into Molly Wellman once and she seemed like a pretty nice lady. So, there it is. Maybe go check it out and report back.
Best for: Good food, probably.
FRENCH CRUST CAFE & BISTRO — 1801 Elm Street
The humble omelet is overlooked because we’re Americans and we make it poorly. Get it at Crust, and you’ll have it how it was meant to be had. This is likely the most upscale option on the list, but they also have a pastry shop in the back so you can stop in for a croissant and still be happy.
Best for: An elegant breakfast that’s very elegant. Also, France.
TUCKER’S — 1637 Vine Street
An OTR institution, Tucker’s has solid dishes. The biscuits and gravy, for example, is exemplary diner cuisine. It’s also a community watering hole, which pleasantly includes long-timers as well as young folk new to the neighborhood. This is OTR stripped-down, and it’s a really refreshing experience if you find yourself in the Northern Liberties with a rumbling tummy.
Best for: Community vibes and good food.
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Alright, there you have it folks. Now if you're not hungry, then I don't have any more words for you. As for me, I'm about to dive into breakfast.