The last meal I’d like to write about from our trip to Washington, D.C. was at the Old Ebbitt Grill. This family friendly restaurant with upscale food is just steps from The White House. I made a reservation for our family of four on OpenTable for 5 P.M. and we were seated immediately upon our arrival.

Inside

Inside Old Ebbitt Grill is a massive space full of rich mahogany and velvet covered booths. The decor is described as Beaux-Arts, meaning rich, lavish, and heavily ornamented. It is probably one of the fanciest places my young kids have ever stepped foot inside. Our service was excellent and the pace of the meal was perfect for our young family.

Brick Chicken

For dinner I had the brick chicken, a semi boneless half chicken, served with smashed sweet potatoes, apple-cranberry relish, crispy Brussels sprouts, and chicken jus ($18.59). The chicken was juicy and cooked perfectly. The sauce was sweet and the vegetable base was filling. This is one of the better chicken dishes I’ve had.

Jumbo Lump Crab Cake

My wife tried their signature jumbo lump crab cake served with roasted fingerling sweet potatoes, sautéed Swiss chard, and Cajun remoulade ($19.99). She was very impressed with this dish and having the option of a single crab cake is a nice option for those with smaller appetites.

Grass-Fed Cheeseburger Sliders

As impressed as we were with our entrées, the children’s menu is equally as impressive. The list is lengthy and has something for all appetites. My son decided to enjoy the grass-fed cheeseburger sliders ($9). This was served with a choice of side which is nearly as lengthy as the entrée selections, fries, tater tots, fruit, salad, apple sauce, vegetable, etc. The serving size was very generous and he seemed to enjoy these. My three-year-old daughter loved the finger food platter with carrots, ants on a log, hummus, ranch, pita, and fruit ($9).

Finger Food Platter

Our entire family loved dining at the Old Ebbitt Grill. I can only wish that our hometown of Cincinnati might one day have something comparable to this. An upscale eatery that also caters to those with kids. I would absolutely return without a question on a future visit to D.C.

Old Ebbitt Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Old Ebbitt Grill

Washington, D.C. can be a very tiring city to visit. After a full day out with the kids on our trip to the nations capitol, we were too tired to venture out for dinner. I didn’t want to order chain pizza, so instead I found Caviar, an online order and delivery system available in over a dozen cities nationwide.

Pizza Box

After browsing the available restaurants in the area of our hotel, I decided to order a pizza from Pizzeria Paradiso, a local wood-burning pizza company with three locations. Pizzas are served in two sizes, nine inch and twelve inch, with a large variety of creations or you can make your own. Salads and a handful of sandwiches are also available.

Bosco

My wife and I decided to split the Bosco with Paradiso tomato sauce, spinach, mozzarella, mushroom, and red onion ($19 for 12 inch). Their crust was perfectly dense and browned expertly. Toppings were plentiful and of the highest quality. This was a really good pizza and I felt that it was worth the somewhat high price tag. I would not hesitate to order from Pizzeria Paradiso again.

Pizzeria Paradiso Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Pizzeria Paradiso

After a visit through the National Zoo on a trip to Washington, D.C., my family and I stopped into the nearby Fat Pete’s Barbeque for lunch. The restaurant is located along Connecticut Avenue, very convenient for anyone walked to the Cleveland Park Metro station.

Pulled Pork Sandwich & Candied Yams

A quick look at the menu and I knew exactly what my wife was going to order. She is a sucker for candied yams and these house roasted sweet potatoes are deliciously sweetened and topped with plenty of marshmallows. To accompany the desert like side she went with a pulled pork sandwich ($10.99 including the side), which is hand pulled after 16 hours on the smoker. The meat was smoky and tender, just as it should be.

NC Chopped Pork Platter

I opted to get the NC chopped pork platter ($12.99) which adds a NC style vinegar sauce to their regular chopped up pork and tops it with coleslaw. Of course there is extra sauce on the table, six different varieties actually, but having the vinegar sauce already added can even add to the flavor of the other sauces. I think my favorite of the bunch was the KC style spicy sauce.

The platter also included two sides and my choices were the BBQ beans and hush puppies. The beans are a combo of pinto, kidney, and canneloni beans which are baked overnight with onion, poblano pepper, and bits of smoked meat. These were really good with a touch of smoke to compliment the sweet onion and spice from the peppers. The hush puppies are made with goat cheese and smoked poblano and these are outstanding! The are served with a side of apple honey butter for dipping, which isn’t necessary but adds a nice sweetness to the heavenly fried bits of dough.

Kid Food

My wife enjoyed a couple of dark & stormy cocktails with her meal and I was happy to see beers from DC Brau available. Fat Pete’s also was very accommodating for the kids and featured a grilled cheese sandwich with waffle fries ($5). Our service was fast and attentive and the restaurant had plenty of TV’s to enjoy your favorite game. This was one of our favorite stops in DC.

Fat Pete's BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Fat Pete's Barbeque

Happy New Year! Below is the list of cities that I visited in 2016 with at least one night spent in each place.

  • Sevierville, Tennessee *
  • Cincinnati, Ohio *
  • Sandpoint, Idaho
  • Nassau, Bahamas **
  • Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas **
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • Effingham, Illinois
  • Williamstown, Kentucky *
  • Orlando, Florida
  • Cocoa Beach, Florida
  • Lake Mary, Florida
  • Montgomery, Alabama
  • Gulf Shores, Alabama
  • Bowling Green, Kentucky
  • Lexington, Kentucky
  • Washington, D.C.
  • West Portsmouth, Ohio
  • Portland, Oregon

* Those cities marked with an asterisk were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days.
** Those cities marked with a double asterisk were ports on a Caribbean cruise.

See also: 20152014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006

We had a few meals worth mentioning while on our recent trip to Washington, D.C. The first was at Burger Tap & Shake near our hotel and The George Washington University within Foggy Bottom. They are located right across the street from the Metro station that we used regularly to get around. There is a nice size patio, but it was much too cold during our visit to make use.

Outside

Orders are placed at the counter, including beer orders. Then once ready the food will be delivered to a table of your choosing. We arrived around 4:45 on Saturday and were surprised to see the restaurant as crowded as it was. Fortunately we didn’t have to wait more than a couple of minutes for a table to open up.

Inside

I’m a sucker for a good veggie burger and the offering at Burger Tap & Shake is like nothing I’ve had before. They have a crispy falafel patty that comes topped with pickled vegetables, feta, and cilantro raita ($8). The falafel was perhaps a little overdone, but I wonder if that is done on purpose to help it stay together. With that said it was actually a very delicious falafel offering and the pickled veggies were a great addition.

Haight-Ashbury

My wife went with the SoCal PILGRIM turkey burger with provolone cheese, smashed avocado, greens, red onion, tomato, chipotle ranch, all served on a whole wheat bun ($8). This was a massive sandwich! The avocado was fresh and delicious, as were the other veggie toppings. The turkey was good, a tad dry, but that is often the case with turkey burgers. The one complaint here was the bun, which was too dense and chewy, and nearly dominated the entire sandwich. My wife chose to put it aside and focus on the good stuff inside.

SoCal PILGRIM

Their sweet potato fries ($3) were awesome! Do not skip over them, even if the massive burgers may seem like enough food alone. Our kids also enjoyed the regular fries, but if you are a fan of sweet potato fries you have to give these a try.

Fries

Our service was great. Our food arrived at our table quicker than I had expected it to be delivered. And what we tried was all mostly really good. One thing that I wish was offered was a kids sized burger. Currently the kids menu is just a grilled cheese (which my kids enjoyed) or chicken tenders. I see no reason to not add another choice to the menu.

Burger Tap & Shake Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Burger Tap & Shake

Just before election day, my family and I took a trip to Washington, D.C. On our first day we explored the monuments via bikes rented from Bike and Roll DC. We followed that up with a trip through a visit to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Our second day was mostly dedicated to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. And we spent our last day at several museums that we had missed the day prior: Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

I loved that nearly everything we visited was free to explore, which made it great for the family. If we had quickly grown tired of a particular attraction we left without feeling bad that we had wasted too much money. Our family loved this action packed quick trip to our Nation’s Capitol.

Last week I was treated to a tour of the Servatii Commissary thanks to Yelp’s Baked & Brewed series.

Welcome

Welcome

Nearly everything sold in their thirteen pastry shops is made in this central commissary, including cakes, cookies, donuts, breads, and more. It is then sorted onto carts destined for each location and delivered in the early morning hours.

Delivery Ready

Delivery Ready

Pretzel Donuts

Pretzel Donuts

3lb Sesame Pretzel

3lb Sesame Pretzel

Bread Loaves

Bread Loaves

Wilhelm Gottenbusch opened the first Servatii store in 1963 just down the street from where I currently live. He quickly made a name for himself by focusing on quality ingredients and products. With the help of his two sons, Servatii has been growing ever since. Fortunately both Wilhelm and his son Greg were there to lead us on a tour through their entire building.

Cake Decorating Room

Cake Decorating Room

Melted Chocolate

Melted Chocolate

Dipping Donuts

Dipping Donuts

Pumpkin Donuts

Pumpkin Donuts

Along the way we got to see many of their employees actively working to prepare some of the finest baked goods around. Though the highlight of the trip might have been seeing the donuts be fried, glazed, dipped, and decorated. We were also treated to some donuts fresh off of the line!

Glazing Donuts

Glazing Donuts

Pretzel Donut

Pretzel Donut

Drizzling Icing

Drizzling Icing

Seeing all of this work being done, so much of it in very traditional ways, makes you really appreciate the end products even more than before. And to top it all off our hosts gave us a very generous sampling of their goods to take home. Thanks Servatii and Yelp!

Gift Bag

Gift Bag

The University of Cincinnati Department of Athletics continues to expand their Gridiron Tailgate offerings before each home football game this year. Brand new this year is the Bearcats Music Festival with live music starting two hours before kickoff for the first five home games. In addition to the music, additional food truck offerings are now located adjacent to the stage.

Truck

Truck

Just before a recent game I stopped by the Quite Frankly food truck for something quick to eat before heading into the stadium for the game. This food truck has been around for at least a couple of years, but this was my first time trying it. I’m not big on hot dogs, so I was glad to see that they have added some sandwich offerings to their menu this year.

Menu

Menu

I easily settled on the melted pig sandwich, a three cheese grilled cheese with the addition of BBQ pulled pork and had it served on dark rye ($7). The sandwich was prepared fresh in just a few minutes and was served hot. These aren’t large sandwiches like you would find from C’est Cheese, so I was a little surprised by the cost. However the sandwich tasted very good and was actually more filling that I would have initially thought.

Melted Pig

Melted Pig

Overall I would definitely order from Quite Frankly again.

Quite Frankly Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Quite Frankly

My family has made it to the point where more than eight or nine hours in the car while driving to or from a vacation is long enough. So we have started stopping for the night at various places along the way. On the way back from Gulf Shores this summer we stopped near Mammoth Cave to visit Kentucky Down Under. It was recommended to me from some family members and I was surprised to have never heard of it before.

Red Kangaroo

Red Kangaroo

The grounds of Kentucky Down Under not only contain the Mammoth Onyx Cave, but they over the years have expanded to include animals from around the world, with an emphasis being placed on Australian species. One of the owners is from Australia and since 1990 kangaroo, dingo, kookaburra, and emu. There are also plenty of more native farm animals, along with wolves, a large bird garden, and several reptiles.

Sulcata Tortoise

Sulcata Tortoise

The coolest part is easily walking through the kangaroo habitat where you are allowed to pet and feed them. My three-year-old could have followed them for hours. While my five-year-old was much more interested in the giant Sulcata Tortoise that was in the same enclosure.

Mammoth Onyx Cave

Mammoth Onyx Cave

Mammoth Onyx Cave is included with admission to Kentucky Down Under and all guests are assigned to a 30-minute tour time. I found this to be about the perfect length of time for our family, and I think most other families on our tour would agree. While the temperature is cool (especially on a hot day) the cave can be a little tight and dark in places. Our three-year-old found it the perfect spot to take a nap in the middle of the tour, while our five-year-old enjoyed keeping climbing on his own with a flashlight and looking for salamanders.

Kentucky is well worth a couple hour visit and be sure to check Groupon before you go as we found discount tickets were available, which made our visit even better!

One of Cincinnati’s newest craft breweries, Nine Giant, has been open for a couple of months now. My family and I finally got a chance to give it a try a couple of Sunday’s ago. We had actually tried to go a couple of Friday’s earlier for dinner and found it too crowded and loud for a our preschool aged children. On our second attempt we chose early on a Sunday evening and found the crowd to be much more manageable and it not quite as loud. It was still a little on the louder side, but there were signs posted that around the room stating that sound insulation was soon coming.

Beer Glass

Beer Glass

I sampled both their Gold Soundz, a fruity IPA, and SRV, a hoppy brown ($6 per full pour). I enjoyed both beers and would rate them above average with no real preference toward either one. I would recommend ordering the one that traditionally falls in line with your flavor preferences. My wife also thoroughly enjoyed the Django Belgian Single, so don’t be afraid to give that a try if you are more into Belgians.

Inside

Inside

The food menu is quite small but we found plenty on the menu that suited our tastes. We started with an order of house made deep-fried pickle chips with a side of horseradish aioli ($4). I almost didn’t order these but threw them in at the last second and I am so glad that I did. The pickles were thick sliced and fried to perfection. The aioli wasn’t necessary in our eyes, but just a slight dip in the sauce added a nice kick to each bite.

Fried Pickles

Fried Pickles

Each week they have a new special item on the menu. During our visit it was the local heirloom tomato BLT topped with arugula pesto on Sixteen Bricks Artisan Bakehouse Challah bread. I’m a sucker for a good BLT, so I knew right away that I would be ordering this. I’m not normally a huge fan or arugula, although my exposure has mostly been in salads, but the pesto was awesome. The tomatoes were ripe and perfect and their bacon was outstanding. Overall an excellent BLT.

BLT

BLT

The kids menu is simple but effective, a cheese burger and a grilled cheese. The burger features local, grass-fed beef in a smashed-style patty with sharp cheddar cheese on Sixteen Bricks Challah bread with the crust cut off ($5). My five-year-old loved this and ate nearly the entire thing.

Kid's Cheeseburger

Kid’s Cheeseburger

My wife went with the falafel wrap served in a naan wrap with lettuce, tomato, house-made pickles and tzatziki sauce ($7). She didn’t seem as impressed as I was with the BLT, but I took a bite of the wrap and really enjoyed it. The pickles added a nice touch and the falafel was above average. I would have maybe liked a bit more tzatziki sauce. Overall I felt it was a great vegetarian option.

Falafel Wrap

Falafel Wrap

Free wi-fi is offered as well as a handful of low top tables for those with families. Though most of the space is reserved for the bar and larger sized high tops. The space is not nearly as large as some of the dominant craft breweries that opened years ago in the area, but falls more inline with what is opening up more and more these days, smaller tap rooms with an emphasis on their immediate neighborhoods. With that said I think the popularity of their beers and food will allow them to cater towards those from around the entire city.

Nine Giant Brewing Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Nine Giant