5 Budget Cincinnati Diners for Breakfast, Lunch, Late-Night

Unique Cincinnati diners

This is my guide to those wonderfully unique Cincinnati diners, nosheries, and bistros that are both popular and popularly priced. Let’s face it, sometimes your budget is a factor. Still, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice quality to get a good meal for a decent price.

Therefore, when I find a Cincinnati restaurant that can deliver a fabulous meal for a reasonable price, I take notice knowing Cincinnatians will want to sample it and return again and again.

In order for a dining establishment to qualify as a cheap choice, menu items must be under $20. But, that’s not all. The establishment must be unique in some way. And, of course, the food must be amazing!

Price Hill Chili

One of my absolute favorite Cincinnati budget-friendly spots is Price Hill Chili. It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away to this west-side (of Cincinnati) diner but the truth is I’d be willing to drive for an hour or more to visit this sensational spot. Why?

Well, like most cheap eats places the atmosphere is comfy and unassuming. Even better, the food is comforting as well. The chili is good but I’m a Skyline Chili fan so that’s not an item I ordinarily order here.

Price Hill Chili Cincinnati
Price Hill Chili Cincinnati

The BLT and fried egg sandwich is a personal favorite. Love the clams as well (pictured below with their signature homemade home fries). Price Hill’s homemade soup of the day is always great. There are quite a few Greek items on the menu, the west-side of Cincinnati having a large Greek culture. My family especially enjoys Greek bread.

Cincinnati Price Hill Chili
Chili at Price Hill Chili

And, the custard pie is unbelievably good. If you are calorie conscious as well as budget aware, there are several grilled fish, chicken, and turkey options that are quite good. And, egg beaters can be substituted also. This restaurant is often a pleasurable stop for those in Cincinnati who make frequent goetta runs as well.

Price Hill Chili is open until 11 on weeknights and until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. They don’t take reservations so plan your visits carefully. Their location directly across from Elder High School makes it a popular hang out before and after sporting events.

Stop by today to see why this little gem has been a favorite restaurant for so many people since it opened in 1962.

Sammy’s Gourmet Burgers and Beers

An Inexpensive Cincinnati Restaurant Choice

Sammy’s Gourmet Burgers and Beers is where we head when we’re in the mood for ball-game watching food. Sure we could go to B-dubs or another sports-themed type chain. And, we do frequent those places at times. Still, the burgers at Sammy’s are among the best we’ve tasted in Cincinnati. So, more often than not we find ourselves drawn to this spot.

Located in Blue Ash, the address to enter in your GPS is 4767 Creek Road, Blue Ash, OH 45242. It’s handy for those coming into the city from the north. Or, for those residing or conducting business in the area. But, it is also worth the drive for those who live elsewhere in the city.

Sammy's Gourmet Burgers and Beers
Sammy’s Gourmet Burgers and Beers, Cincinnati OH

Although there are numerous choices on the menu, we usually opt for Sammy’s Burger. The juicy burger is slathered with Sammy’s secret sauce and topped with a fried egg, lettuce, tomato, bacon, and melted mozzarella cheese. You can see it up close and personal below!

In our Sammy’s Burger Basket we also love the fries, which are surprisingly non-greasy. Another favorite is the onion rings which are not oily tasting either. Maybe it is the beer-batter that adds that special taste to the fries and onion rings. The burger is fantastic and the accouterments are great too.

Sammy’s offers soups, salads, wings, hot dogs, breakfast and dessert as well as burgers. They serve Nathan’s hot dogs smothered with numerous ingenious items. For example, the Loco Dog is covered in pineapple, olives, and guacamole. The soups are homemade and the French Onion soup is especially tasty.

As I mentioned, there is a distinct sports feel here. Local team jerseys adorn the wall and TVs around the room are dialed to various sporting events. There is also a nice outdoor eating area for days when the weather cooperates.

Hitching Post Restaurant

Cheap Cincinnati Restaurants

The Hitching Post Restaurant is a great little spot located in Hyde Park Center: 2715 Madison Road at Edwards (Cincinnati, OH 45209). Plenty of parking available here, FYI!

Whether you’re shopping at Rookwood Commons, working in Hyde Park, or attending a service at Crossroads Community Church–Oakley, the Hitching Post is a nearby affordable alternative for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

I’d describe the decor as comfy and charming. No need to dress up here. Lots of homemade items adorn the menu including meatloaf, liver and onions, and an assortment of tasty pie choices. The Hitching Post claims to have the “world’s best-fried chicken.” I found it to be very good. Not sure if it is the “world’s best” because to say so assumes I’ve tried fried chicken all over the world. I haven’t.

Hitching Post Kellogg Cincinnati
Hitching Post Kellogg Cincinnati

There are a few other places in town with incredible chicken such as Ron’s Roost and Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery. This was on par with those perhaps but I’m not sure if it surpassed them. Many people order the fried chicken as a take-out item for their family evening or Sunday dinner. People came in continuously while I was there to pick up an order.

As the cashier delivered the food-to-go, I heard him say “fried chicken” in almost every case. Clearly, chicken is a popular choice. I also saw several people collect pies for the road.

But, chicken is not the number one item I seek when I go to this restaurant. I love to get breakfast here.

Check out the picture of the Kettle Cooked French Toast, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and Hickory Smoked bacon I had recently. The bacon has such a wonderfully unique sweet flavor.

Some Cincinnatians belong to goetta or cod run groups. That’s where friends travel to different restaurants (weekly or monthly) to sample their versions of these Cincinnati favorites. Good news, the Hitching Post has both.

I would describe the fare at this Mom-and-Pop-style restaurant as “comfort food.” You can sit back, relax, sip your tea or coffee, inhale the aromas, and scoop up goodness with each bite. Close your eyes and your mom’s kitchen may just come to mind!

The Original Pancake House

Cincinnati breakfast lovers

The Original Pancake House on Montgomery Road will surely please if you’re a breakfast lover like me. I’ve driven by many times and only recently visited. I’m sure glad I finally make plans to pop in with a couple of friends for brunch. The bright and cheery exterior of the restaurant solidified my already light mood as I entered. Although there was a short line, our group was seated fairly quickly by friendly personnel. The ambiance inside conveyed a typical breakfast/coffee shop but with an extra helping of class. The tree-adorned ceiling certainly added to the lofty impression.

I finally settled on the Strawberry Pancakes which are only served in season. Buttermilk pancakes arrived topped with a dusting of powdered sugar and fresh strawberries. It was the homemade strawberry syrup and real whipped cream that sealed the deal. Incredible!

The Original Pancake House Cincinnati
The Original Pancake House Cincinnati

One of my friends chose the Blueberry Waffle which she pronounced “quite good, especially the blueberry filled syrup.” Another friend chose the Almond Cinnamon French Toast. This she found under the listing “Our Originals” on the menu and declared she’d go for a more unique dining experience.

The lightly browned cinnamony-almondy sourdough bread creation was in fact distinctive. You betcha she let me try a bite so I’d know first-hand what I was missing. I must admit it was very tasty indeed!

The restaurant is only open until 2 through the week and until 3 on the weekend. So, it’s definitely a breakfast/brunch/lunch spot. Still, I admire businesses that know their market and stick to what they do well. You won’t have to break the bank to feast at this local favorite spot. Most menu items are under $10.

It certainly was hard to choose what to order. Everything looked heavenly.

Restaurant Details:

There are several locations of this chain restaurant in the Cincy area, but the Montgomery spot is my favorite and the one I have personally reviewed. I recommend it highly as my experience there has always been positive.

  • Address: 9977 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, OH 45242
  • Hours: M-F 6:30 am – 2 pm; Sat & Sun 7 am – 3 pm
  • Telephone: (513) 745-0555

The Works Restaurant

Favorite Cincinnati whistle-stop

The Works Restaurant is a favorite Cincinnati whistle-stop for several reasons. Coupling outdoor park setting with indoor dining charm keeps it chugging along as one of Cincinnati’s most popular and unique dining experiences. The train theme makes sense because the building, located in downtown Loveland, originally served water to steam locomotives.

The Works Pizza Restaurant pumps more than water these days. In addition to liquid sustenance, they offer sandwiches, salads, and pasta. But, their specialty is their brick oven pizza. The Potato Pizza I tested was finely engineered. The personal pan size wasn’t too guilt-inducing despite the sour cream covered, bacon dotted goodness.

The Works Restaurant Loveland, OH
The Works Restaurant Loveland, OH

Outside on the patio overlooking the picturesque Loveland bike trail.  And, with the easiest access to Loveland Sweets, a cute little ice cream stop along the tracks (if you don’t get one of The Works desserts). Or, in the dining car.  Personally, I can’t conduct a scenario where this option isn’t just the ticket!

Final Word

The restaurants I have highlighted here are reasonably priced if not downright cheap. Still, our family often cuts our dining out costs even further by participating in the Groupon program

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