Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Best Sandwiches of Downtown Cincinnati

One of the reasons I blog is that I want there to be more good food in Cincinnati - So, I criticize bad food and praise/popularize good food, doing my small part to shift incentives to favor better restaurants. Fortunately, many very good lunch spots have opened in downtown Cincinnati over the last couple years that I can say good things about (They're all better than a $5 Footlong). So, as part of my ongoing (quixotic) effort to encourage people to try options other than Subway/Quiznos and help further develop a market for good and interesting food downtown - I present my picks for the best downtown Cincinnati lunch sandwiches:

Wicked~wich is the type of lunch spot a lot of people would like to see more of in Cincinnati. They pride themselves in producing a high quality product and present it in an interesting way (with all kinds of witch crap). It's an excellent little restaurant.

The key to their sandwiches is the excellent meat. According to their website: "We dry rub our fresh only USDA meats with our own blend of spices, marinated over night, and slow-roasted every morning in our pressure sealed ovens to maximize moisture, tenderness and optimum flavor." The meats certainly taste like that description is true and are sliced to order. The breads are butter toasted, and also quite good. As a end result, the sandwiches are juicy and very flavorsome.

It's a little pricey, but ounce for ounce one of the best lunch sandwiches I've had in downtown Cincinnati.
Here's their rather interesting witch-ish mural from the wall along with a rather tasty Italian sub:
Wicked-wich on Urbanspoon
It's Just Crepes
I suppose it's not quite a sandwich, but It's Just Crepes is, of course, awesome. There's nothing comparable to it in Cincinnati. Restaurants that are the single representation of a type of food often disappoint as they have no competition. Unfortunately, I don't have much experience with other similar crepe joints, but I can say that I really like the output here. The only complaint I can level is that it's sometimes tough to keep the crepe/sandwich together. But, I can manage. If you work downtown, you'd be foolish not to try this place.

Here's a Pizza Crepe and a slightly dirty hand (And I acknowledge that while I like a lot of variety in my restaurants, I don't vary my order that much):

It's Just Crepes on Urbanspoon
It's Just Crepes on Urbanspoon

Capri Tavola Calda
These are all great lunch options, but if I had to pick one place Capri would be my personal favorite. The restaurant is run by Neapolitan Nicola Santagata, who is very thoughtful about the food he produces. "Tavola Calda" btw means "Warm Table".

The first time I stopped here, I just had a slice of pizza. It was good. However, if you're going to Capri, you really should try the panini. They don't look like most of the pressed panini you see around here, but they also taste much better. The quality of the ingredients here really stands out. Although you can barely see it in these picture, both sandwiches include some buffalo mozzarella which was outstanding. They use very high quality materials here and it shows - awesome sandwich.

I hesitate to post these pictures, because I'm not sure they do the food justice (It's tastes much better than it looks), but at least they give you an idea of what you are ordering:

Capri Tavola Calda on Urbanspoon

Gilpins Bagel and Deli
Serving steamed bagel sandwiches, Gilpin's is unique in downtown Cincinnati. I don't put them on this list for being unique but because Gilpin's make a damn good steamed bagel. The sandwiches include more meat than you would expect and are also a bit messier. They also have a pretty good selection of ingredients, with which you can build your own sandwich. The end result is excellent.

Here's a short of the best Corn Beef Bagel I've ever had:
Gilpins Bagel and Deli on Urbanspoon
Silverglade's is just a good straightforward sandwich. They have been in Findley Market since 1922, and have also had a lunch sandwich shop downtown for ten years now (making them a downtown institution compared to the others here). They use all Boar's Head meats, which are not amazing but quite a bit better than Subway meats. While they don't have as interesting a menu as some of the other places on this list, you really can't go wrong here. They have a big menu with wraps, pannini, soups, and salads. All the things I've tried (mostly the Italian sandwiches) have been good. So, if your coworkers don't want bagels or crepes, this is a fine alternative.
Silverglade's on Urbanspoon

Lunch On Main
Lunch on Main is a modest soup, sandwich, and salad place on Main Street. Like Silverglade's they also use Boar's Head meats. However, Lunch on Main produces a better sandwich because they have some more interesting combinations. When I visited, I had "The Main" which consisted of hot pastrami, imported Swiss cheese, red onion marmalade, roasted fennel, and pepper gourmaise sauce on toasted multi-grain bread. It worked very well and was one of the better sandwiches that I've had downtown.
Lunch On Main on Urbanspoon

Bouchard's on Main
Bouchard's recently closed, so this post is in requiem. I was only there once about a week before its demise, but the restaurant left a very good impression on me. The Cuban sandwich consisted of good ingredients, had an excellent taste, and was the best such sandwich I've had downtown. Besides that, the ruffled potato chips were from a big bag in the back, and I had to buy a soda - So, not great. So, let me be the first to call for the resurrection of Bouchard's with Grippos and fountain drinks to oversatisfy my middlebrow food tastes.
Bouchard's on Main on Urbanspoon

Try them all


  1. If you want to compare the crepes, try Taste of Belgium at Findlay Market. It's closer to what they do in France. They use buckwheat flour for our lunch crepes. You can also find them on tuesday for the market on fountain square and on sunday am at the hyde park farmers market.

  2. Nice round-up of some excellent lunch places downtown! I would add that an additional plus for wicked-wich is their non-traditional, healthy sides, such as pearl couscous and wheatberry/edamame salads (included in the price of the sandwich). I'm a big fan of Lunch on Main, too, which, in addition to its intriguing combinations of ingredients and condiments, uses Shadeau Breads (which I personally prefer over whatever wicked-wich uses, although their house-roasted meats are amazing). And I'm delighted to hear you sing the praises of Capri! Have you tried any of the panini from their specials board? The one with house-made porchetta - I think they call it the Antony - is amazing (although that slow-roasted pork is so doggone good, it doesn't really need the eggplant, imho).

  3. I'll have to try Taste of Belgium's crepe, I know the waffles I've had from them at Findley were excellent.

    Haven't had any of the special panini from Capri yet either. You're not the first person I've heard praise that roasted pork, so it must be pretty good.

    Thanks for the comments, one benefit of blogging is good restaurant suggestions.


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