Foodie Couple

Top 8 Restaurants for Appetizers & Drinks

This list contains our favorite places to grab starters and either have a cheaper night out or hop to your favorite entree place later.  There are some places in town with great appetizers and drinks, but may not be your top choices for entrees.  Or budgets, time, and schedules may only allow for apps and a drink.  Chef says:  Sometimes it is nice to have light appetizers at a spot with great drinks and a full bar.



  1.  Maribelle’s
    • Contemporary American
    • Oakley; East side
    • Good: Appetizers, sides, and cocktails are worth the trip. Chicken wings, fried brussel sprouts, and mac & cheese are excellent.  Kid friendly.
    • Bad: Specials are the only entrees, which are hit-or-miss; but who cares if you are there for apps and drinks.
    • Chef Says: Creative cocktails.  Kitchen is actually in the same room with the dining area, which makes for easy viewing (which every chef likes).  Appetizers and sides are awesome, which is why they top this list!
    • Maribelle’s Website
  2. A Tavola
    • Italian
    • Two locations – Madeira; East side, and Cincy OTR.
    • Good:  Very fresh ingredients.  Wagyu (aka American Kobe beef) meatballs with goat cheese are soooo good.  The house tomato sauce is worth paying for extra.  Bacon-wrapped dates keep me coming back.
    • Bad:  The only pizza is thin crust and thinner crust.  Not much on the menu for kids.  No pasta.
    • Chef Says: Variety of unusual beers and cocktails. Food is excellent but servings are small.
    • A Tavola Website
  3. Wildflower Cafe
    • Eclectic American, with local and organic focus.
    • Mason, Northeast
    • Good: Cheese Board was fabulous and memorable.  16 Bricks Bread is way tastier than it sounds.  Soups and salads were unique and worth exploring.  The quiche was good.  The local and organic theme is real and excellently executed, not a gimmick.
    • Bad: Place is sooo small.  The place has like 2 tables (an exaggeration, but the place is very small).  Need reservations for any hope of getting a table.  Be prepared to sit very close to another table if you are lucky enough to get a seat. Not kid friendly due to tight quarters.
    • Chef Says: One of my favorite places.  Locally sourced, with menu limitations based on what’s available.  Unusual beers on draft.  Did I mention it is one of my favorite places?
    • Wildflower Cafe
  4. Rookwood Pub
    • Comfort American
    • Mt. Adams, Central
    • In old Rookwood Pottery kiln
    • Good: The shareables/appetizers are the best part of the menu.  Prepare to be surprised by seemingly standard menu items.  Fried pickles, beer cheese, spicy spring rolls, Angus Guinness sliders – enough said.  Sitting in the kiln room is worth the trip, especially for kids.  Not a bar feel like the name implies.
    • Bad: The British Comfort Food items are confusing – whoever got comfort from British food?
    • Chef Says: Great eclectic atmosphere.  Full Bar.  Nice and unusual appitizers.
    • Rookwood Pub Website
  5. Relish Modern Tapas
    • Mediterranean
    • Mason, Northeast
    • Good: Chorizo in medjool dates is crave-worthy.  Full bar.
    • Bad: Empanadas (spanish calzones/ravioli) were mediocre.  The menu is kid friendly, but the vibe of the place wasn’t.
    • Chef Says: All drinks, including beer and wine, are served in water cups – weird.  Prices are appropriate for the small/tapa sized portions.
    • Relish Modern Tapas Website
  6. Seasons 52
    • American with focus on fresh grilling
    • Hyde Park/Norwood, East Side
    • In Rookwood Plaza, the new side.
    • Good: Menu changes frequently so there is always something new to try.
    • Bad: Flavor can be bland; too much focus on low sodium. An adult feel, kids not welcomed but would be tolerated.
    • Chef Says:  I know this is a chain, and I don’t care.  Great wine selection.  Good full sized bar.  Great service.  Grilled items are grilled with hardwood, which gives a great flavor.
    • Seasons 52 Website
  7. J. Alexander’s
    • American Classics with focus on in-house preparation
    • Hyde Park/Norwood, East Side
    • In Rookwood Plaza, the old side.
    • Good: Love the Fire Grilled Artichoke appetizer, best in town.  Salads never disappoint.  Carrot cake is the best in town. Prime rib sandwich is the star of the menu. Mac & Cheese is fantastic!  What happened to mac & cheese in America?  Hardly any place knows how to make an excellent version anymore.
    • Bad: The deviled eggs were disappointing; not creamy and too much mustard.
    • Chef Says:  Responsive full bar.  Decent wine & beer selection.  Appetizers and salads are very tasty.
    • J. Alexander’s Website
  8. Mimi’s Cafe
    • Cajun inspired French cafe
    • Mason, Northeast
    • Good: Croissants, salads, and sandwiches are great appetizer choices.  The appetizer and small plate options are vast.
    • Bad: The drink menu was uninspiring, but anything can be ordered from a full bar.
    • Chef Says: Excellent soups, salads, appetizers, muffins, etc.  I love the French/New Orleans themed food.  More of a great appetizer place than a drink place.
    • Mimi’s Cafe Website

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