Having previously visited North Market in Columbus, Natalie and I headed to Cincinnati to visit the oldest continuously operating market in the state, Findlay Market in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. We hoped to eat a decent lunch and do a little bit of shopping. We weren’t disappointed.
Findlay Market is located in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood in downtown Cincinnati. It’s a beautiful neighborhood with a German flair. And we fully intend to return this summer to explore the neighborhood more fully.
The market itself was erected in 1852, but didn’t open until 1855 as an open air market. At the time, public markets were a good source of perishable foods for residents of American cities, including Cincinnati. Before the advent of the modern supermarket, markets offered a place for butchers, fish mongers and farmers to sell their goods.
The Findlay Market was renovated and expanded over the years, most recently in 2003. Currently the Findlay Market houses a number of merchants selling a wide variety of wares including: baked goods, cheese, meat and poultry, seafood, specialty foods, spices, produce, plants and flowers, carry out food and more.
The Over-the-Rhine neighborhood was settled primarily by German immigrants in the 1830s through 1850. The canal, which then ran through the center of the city was nicknamed “the Rhine,” referencing the Rhine River in Germany. As many of the residents of the neighborhood had to cross the canal for work each day, the neighborhood where they lived, on the other side, became none as Over-the-Rhine.
Following World War 2, many residents left the neighborhood in favor of the Cincinnati suburbs. As businesses and residents left the area it developed a reputation as an undesirable area of town and crime rates escalated.
Then, due to investments in the area the neighborhood underwent a renaissance of sorts. Businesses, including a number of restaurants and bars, returned to the area. As business increased, crime decreased and the neighborhood became known as a go-to destination in the Cincinnati area.
Our Visit to Findlay Market
Finding parking was a bit difficult, but we eventually found a pay lot adjacent to the market. Being a Saturday, the parking and nearby market was bustling.
It was a bit chilly so the outdoor area had only a few vendors. They offered pies, cupcakes and baked goods along with personalized jewelry and other goods. I imagine in the summer time that this area would be full of vendors.
We headed by Mr. Redlegs and into the market, stopping at Pet Wants, one of the stores just outside. The shop offered all sorts of pet products and specialized treats. Of course we had to stop to purchase a few treats for Pumpkin, our golden doodle waiting at home.
Upon entering the market, we were met with produce vendors on each side of the entry. Continuing on, we came to the center of the market which was marked with some of the original tile and a seal signifying 100 years of continuous operation.
The market featured all sorts of products. There were baked good, spices, ethnic products and some of the best looking steaks I‘ve ever seen. We purchased some fresh baked sour dough bread at Em’s Bread, some of the biggest pickles I’ve ever seen from Country Meat Co and spice blends from Colonel De’s. We would have loved to purchase some steaks as well, but we’d neglected to bring a cooler.
Hungry for lunch, we decided on Eli’s BBQ, because we’d heard good things and I love barbecue. As soon as we walked in we were met with a delicious smell.
We each ordered the pulled pork. Natalie ordered baked beans with hers, and I decided to sample both the mac and cheese and cole slaw. The sides were good, not outstanding, but solid. The pork on the other hand was amazing. It was hot and there was plenty of it with a delicious smoky flavor. It was served with a bun as well, though I prefer my barbecue solo.
Eli’s does not have an inside seating area and relies heavily on the outside seating areas around the market. There were a number of chairs and I imagined in warmer weather the outside spaces would be booming. With the cold weather, we decided to eat ours in the car.
Visiting Findlay Market and FindingOhio
If you haven’t been to FIndlay Market or the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, I highly recommend a visit this summer. Be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to explore and plan to have lunch or dinner in the area. Oh, and bring a cooler. You’ll definitely want to bring a cooler as well. Those steaks looked amazing!
Thanks for FindingOhio, and in this case Cincinnati with us. We love our Ohio adventures and hope you will too. For more Ohio travels, visit the day trips section. And if you have any favorite spots, drop a note in the comments or send us an email. We’re always looking for more of Ohio to explore.
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