There have been plenty of new restaurants opening in downtown Cincinnati lately, but nada is definitely one of the trendiest. The sleek two-story bar, riddled with colorful architecture and illuminated outside with paper lights, it’s got the interior feel of a trendy bar and yet its porch feels cozy and intimate, even in the midst of the city’s excitement. The Hispanic-themed food is way above par for what you’ve been trying in the suburbs. Upon eating here, one thing is clear; there’s a new flavor to the downtown restaurant scene, and places like nada are leading the charge.
So the menu has plenty of items from tacos to enchiladas and burritos. It’s all the kind of stuff you’ll find at a dive tex-mex joint. The real difference here is in the quality of ingredients; the tortillas are fresh, flour-based and definitely made in-house from scratch. The basic soft taco is topped with a delicious, intricately seasoned batch of beef tips or chicken, and plenty of lettuce, onion and vegetables go on the side. I’ve said it before, the secret to good Mexican cuisine is it needs fresh ingredients and plenty of smart seasoning. Many places do not do this well. It’s worth the increased cost at nada. Every bite is mind-blowing.
- Mac and Cheese: Even the simple dishes on the menu are good; I tried the appetizer mac and cheese, which is wonderful. The cheese is creamy velvet, a combination of a few savory types. It’s perfect for a couple to share.
- Baja Fish Tacos: Fried hake, guacamole, lime cabbage and pico de gallo. Definitely on the lighter end, and best for lunch on a light appetite.
- Tacos Al Pastor: Chili-marinated pork tops these tacos, which otherwise have a nice cilantro and onion mix to balence it out and pickled pineapple.
- Carne asada tacos: The meat speaks for itself completely. A few moderating veggies do the rest.
- Shrimp Verde Tacos: thick shrimp topped with a queso fresco and a “green goddess dressing” with radish and avocado to top. Lighter to be sure, and at its best because, honestly, shrimp needs a delicate hand and this one is pulled off really well.
- Chili-Glazed Crispy Potatoes: Unique! Pan fried potatoes with a slightly sweet, hot chili sauce.
- Quesadilla: A few kinds of cheese make this wonderful dish crunch when you bite into it but then bring that crazy, cheesy crunch. Topped with a lighter salad for good measure.
- Enchiladas: Not what you would think would be good on this menu, but it’s meaty and cheesy and saucy in one.
- Nadarita: The house margarita has maestro dobel and triple sec, agave and lime.
- La Bomb-A: Featuring maestro dobel reposado with a little lime and orange and habanero syrup to lighten it up.
The atmosphere is great; the restaurant has two stories and several bars between them, as well as an outdoor patio. On warm nights the patio is definitely preferable; it’s more intimate and feels less crowded. It’s cool to have such a fine dining experience. The bars on the inside are lively; they definitely get crowded on weekend nights and the crowd definitely skews to the trendy younger crowd. Consider this a mainstay of Cincinnati nightlife.
The people are fantastic, the food is fantastic, and the atmosphere is fantastic. I’m really blown away at how neat this place is. It’s got the feel of a fine dining establishment, but it’s got the menu of a high-quality made-from scratch tex-mex dive. Mark this one on your to-do list, nada is one of the must-go restaurants in Cincinnati.
- If at all possible, try to come to nada on a warm night so you can sit outside, because the interior tends to feel more crowded and stressful. You’ll definitely want reservations if you can get them, as well.
- Really, this is the kind of place you’ll want to go to with a date if you’re having dinner. It’s a better place to take a group of friends if you’re just getting drinks.
- Keep in mind the proximity to fountain square and other downtown landmarks. Parking is at a premium.