Monday, September 13, 2010

Joe's Diner

Joe's quietly opened about six weeks ago in the old Diner on Sycamore. A mainstay of the pre-riot OTR bar district, the diner recently re-opened as part of the casino-related redevelopment of the area. This is a quintessential but also seemingly out of place diner. Kinda reminds you of Katz's Deli in New York. ...According to Polly Campbell the diner actually dates to New Jersey in the 1950s, and was moved to Cincinnati in the early 80's. It's been sitting vacant since I moved downtown three years ago, and I'm glad to see it back up and running.

While Joe's is open to 4am on weekends, we decided to stop by around 4pm on this past rainy Saturday. Despite the small diner look, it's actually quite sizable inside. There's a classic diner front and then a larger annex in the back (on the left in the picture above). They were still setting up some fixtures and doing a little cleaning up and still when we came by. As a result, the smell of cleaning solutions was in the air when we squeezed into a tight booth. ...Shortly after being brought the menu, I realized that it was rather large. They have breakfast food, burgers, shakes, and sandwiches.

First, we ordered some drinks. I ordered a a Diet Coke, which is only worth mentioning because it arrived in a mason jar. My friend opted for a chocolate shake, which I am assured was quite good:

In the spirit of Katz's, I opted fro a Corn Beef sandwich with Fries for my meal:
I was pretty happy with my sandwich (although mine was suposed to come without mayonnaise... but I can live). Everything was pretty good. Lots of sour dough bread and good corn beef (although not too much of it). It's not like they use locally sourced or particularly high quality ingredients. But, everything was of respectable quality. Also, the fries were a little spicy and pretty good.

All and all, it was a nice quality meal. You get a decent size and quality sandwich for a reasonable price. I suspect I'll be back (Also, I hear good things about the burger, so that may be worth a try). ...If you're looking for late night dining options in OTR, there's nothing I would recommend more.

Brief Update 9-20:
Our first visit was good enough for us to return for a pre-Bengals-opener breakfast. I had the bacon overload omelet with sour dough toast and fruit (for a $1.50 up-charge over potato pancakes).

I was happy with the omelet - It had a good taste, although was quite greasy with lots of cheese and bacon. My complaint would be that it was a little small, at least for the $9.50 price. My friend had some pancakes, which he was very happy with... I wish I had something more interesting to say, but it was pretty basic breakfast food. I would recommend it over all the other all-day breakfast places I know of in Cincinnati.

I can't say I was blown away by anything at Joe's Diner, but they have a big menu and everything I've had here has been pretty good. Nonetheless, the Bengals won yesterday. So, the laws of luck (ungoverned by reason - kinda like Bird law) require us to keep returning before home games until the Bengals lose.

Joe's Diner on Sycamore on Urbanspoon


  1. Katz's it is not, but Joe's is okay. I love the fact that you can get breakfast anytime -- there are few places in Cincinnati that offer that. Personally, I think their fries are the definite standout, both the default version and the sweet potato.

    When I was there a few weeks ago, I got the burger. I thought it was terrible, honestly and truly. The burger itself was a really thin, overcooked patty. I tried the veggie burger as well and, surprisingly, found it to be excellent.

    I'm looking forward to returning, but I think I'll stay away from the burger from now on. There are plenty of other tasty-sounding options on the menu.

  2. The highlight for me was definitely the fries also. ...I went back this week and had breakfast, which I thought was quite good if slightly pricey. I had the quite greasy & unhealthy bacon overload omelet - I'll probably update this post with details. As their competition for anytime breakfast in Cincinnati is Perkins, IHOP and Waffle House, I'd have to say Joe's is #1 in that category.


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