Food tours are one of my absolute favorite ways to experience a city. A big part of visiting a destination for me is learning about the local foods and surrounding area. Tourists and locals alike can learn so much about the area by experiencing menu items at restaurants that may have not been on their radar.
The food tour guides are your best resource because they know the area well, they have sampled the menu items, and they have also found the restaurants that have a great story to share giving you access to an experience that you can’t recreate on your own for the same price.
I was invited by Cincinnati Food Tours to check out the Wander Walnut Hills tour at a starting location less than 15 minutes from downtown Cincinnati. I’ve taken a few of their other tours and I always learn so much and discover places that I want to go back to.
The Walnut Hills tour involves a little more walking which is kind of a relief because you never go hungry on a food tour and the extra steps help take away any eaters remorse.
Serving up Wood-fired pizza in former Firehouse #16, Fireside pizza creates unique pizzas using locally picked ingredients on dough made daily. Another bonus for our first stop is that it has free parking that you can use during the tour.
We tried “The Italian Connection” made with red sauce, garlic, provolone-mozz mix, thin sliced cappocolo, goat cheese, arugula, balsamic vinegar, and black pepper. Make sure that you also try the hot honey on your pizza when you visit too.
Known for their “turtles,” Gomez Salsa Cantina is the second location for the local favorite. This space offers seating for customers vs. the original downtown that is carryout only.
So what’s a turtle shell?
“Hybrid Burrito, flat out awesome
We take a burrito sized tortilla, stuff it with all the goodies rice, beans, sour cream, lettuce, salsa, meat, veggies, cheese and to form it, a tostado to give it some crunch. We seal it up with a cheese of approval, cut it in half and give it to you!”
I’ve been a Gomez Salsa fan for a few years now and the Turtle is still my #1 go to.
We sampled the carnitas, chicken, and tofu turtles along with chips and salsa and chicken tacos. Their pineapple salsa is a must (spicy/sweet combo)
This is a restaurant that had been on my list to try and I was really excited to check it out. Featuring handcrafted pies ranging from savory to sweet, O Pie O has 23 steps for their pie dough. With that kind of precision you know it’s gonna be good!
During our visit, we tried an assortment of empanadas including one made with Eli’s BBQ, Ham & Cheese Pockets, and the Honey Vinegar pie (which is described as if creme brulee and chess pie had a baby) and the Lemon pie. I honestly couldn’t decide which one was my favorite…which is why I was so glad that we got to sample a lot of menu items.
Myrtle’s Punch House
Known for their handcrafted punches that can be shared in a bowl, ordered in a flight, or in a single glass, Myrtle’s Punch House is part of Wellmans Brands by Cincinnati’s mixologist icon Molly Wellman, who is one of the friendliest owners/bartenders that I’ve ever met.
We tried the Jungle Julie which is a seasonal punch made with bourbon, blackberry-sage syrup, lime, and white Earl Grey tea. Myrtle’s was the perfect last stop for our tour.
We met lots of great people and shared lots of great food on our Cincinnati Food Tour and as a result, we ended up back with friends in the area the following next two weekends.