For my wife’s birthday, my brother and his girlfriend offered to take our kids for the night. They even made a secret dinner reservation for us that was revealed when we dropped off the kids and they let us know we were heading to Mita’s, the latest restaurant from acclaimed chef Jose Salazar, who also owns his namesake restaurant, Salazar.

Suffering Bastard and Pisco Sour

Suffering Bastard and Pisco Sour

We started with a couple of their classic cocktails while we looked over the tapas style menu. My choice was the suffering bastard, a wonderful mix of bourbon, gin, lime, bitters, and ginger beer ($12). This is something that I wish I could easily make at home. My wife had the pisco sour featuring pisco (brandy), lime, triple sec, and egg white ($10).

Cheese Plate

Cheese Plate

The easiest decision of the night was to order a cheese plate, selecting three cheeses from nearly a dozen offerings. This comes served with toast, membrillo (a quince fruit paste), and marcona almonds ($15). We went with the servers suggestions for selecting the cheeses, but in hindsight I would have skipped the signature queso fesco, which also comes on top of some of the other menu items. It’s not that I didn’t like the cheese but it seemed better suited as a topping.

Coliflor Asada

Coliflor Asada

My favorite thing we tasted of the night was the coliflor asada, a warm mix of cauliflower, manzanilla olives, pomegranate, hazelnuts, and herb purée ($7). This is a truly unique blend of flavors and I really enjoyed it. Be sure to give it a try.

Arepa

Arepa

We also sampled the arepa, a cornmeal cake with queso fresco, and chorizo ($8). The single cornmeal cake was a little awkward to share. We found it easiest to slice it up like pizza and take wedges to our individual plates. The chorizo was nice and spicy and the cheese helped put out the fire a little. The taste was really good I just wish it was easier to share and eat.

At this point I debated ordering something else as my hunger wasn’t completely satisfied yet. However we decided to get the check at this point and head somewhere else for desert. Overall the food was very good and a tapas style restaurant is in need for the downtown area. For us it will probably remain as a spot for special occasions with the somewhat high price tag.

Mita's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Mita's

A taco truck has setup shop in Pleasant Ridge near the corner of Montgomery and Ridge in the BP parking lot. Tacos Locos offers a variety of tacos, quesadillas, burritos, and tortas. The posted menu actually looks pretty big but it basically boils down to the above menu items served with a large variety of meats (steak, chicken, sausage, pork, beef tongue, and shrimp).

Food Truck

Food Truck

The tacos are served traditionally topped with onion, cilantro, cucumber, and lime. Mild and hot sauce are served on the side to add any desired spice. The small corn tortillas are doubled up for each taco and the filling could easily be split between the shells. I ordered two chicken and two pork ($2 each) and that was more than enough for a lunch. I think that three tacos would be the perfect serving size and makes for a pretty cheap meal.

Tacos

Tacos

Of the meats I think the pork was slightly better, but both were very tasty. The traditionally simple toppings allow for the meat flavors to really shine. I did add some of the provided hot sauce to spice it up a notch, but there is plenty of flavor without it.

Quesadilla

Quesadilla

On another visit I tried the chicken quesadilla ($5.50) again topped with onion and cilantro with cucumber and lime on the side. This is a good alternative for someone who doesn’t like corn tortilla shells, as the taste is otherwise very similar to the tacos. Either way the food is served fresh and prepared quickly. I will definitely be back for more soon.

Tacos Locos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Tacos Locos

Happy New Year! One of my biggest resolutions for this year is to get back to blogging more regularly. Below is the list of cities that I visited in 2015 with at least one night spent in each place.

  • Cincinnati, Ohio *
  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Ocho Rios, Jamaica **
  • Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands **
  • Cozumel, Mexico **
  • Lexington, Kentucky
  • Williamstown, Kentucky *
  • Denver, Colorado *
  • London, Ontario
  • Northern Bruce Peninsula, Ontario
  • Toronto, Ontario
  • Niagara Falls, Ontario
  • Independence, Ohio
  • Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Orange Beach, Alabama
  • Asheville, North Carolina
  • Salida, Colorado
  • Bellevue, Kentucky
  • Oregon, Ohio
  • Loveland, Ohio
  • Sevierville, Tennessee

* 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: 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006

Some friends of mine recently commented that they hadn’t been to very many of our ever-growing list of craft breweries in town. We were considering doing one of the organized brewery tours but soon realized that for the price of those tickets, we could do our own tour using Uber to get around and go where we wanted to go when we wanted to go there.

Outside Mt. Carmel

Outside Mt. Carmel

We started out at Mt. Carmel Brewing Company, and since this was the first stop of the day and the farthest from our starting point, we decided to drive ourselves out to the former farm-house turned brewery. Mt. Carmel Brewing Company was established in 2005 and is Cincinnati’s oldest craft microbrewery. As they have grown every space of the house has been slowly converted from living to brewing and drinking spaces. It can be somewhat of a maze to find a seat inside, but I think the true beauty of this brewery happens when it is warmer and the entire yard can be enjoyed.

Inside Mt. Carmel

Inside Mt. Carmel

As far as the beers go, I find their year round offerings to be mostly average, but their snapshot series are all really great beers. All three snapshots were on tap during our visit and there was even a taproom only beer pouring. There are plenty of TV’s throughout the space and though they do not serve any food of their own, they have food trucks visit often.

Blank Slate Bar

Blank Slate Bar

The second stop on our self guided brewery tour was to Blank Slate Brewing Company. We lucked into an excellent day to make our first visit to Blank Slate, as they were celebrating their one year anniversary of their PourHouse taproom. This included hourly special tappings and way more selections available than they normally have.

Blank Slate Birthday Party

Blank Slate Birthday Party

Despite this being our first visit to the PourHouse, I have enjoyed Blank Slate’s beer since their opening in 2011 and consider them to be one of my favorite breweries in town. Their Fork in the Road is outstanding and the Shroominous, brewed with shiitake mushrooms, is a must try. During this event they had their hugely popular Opera Cream Stout on and it did not disappoint! I look forward to many return visits and can’t wait to see what the brewery looks like after another year.

From there we moved on to a couple of breweries that I have been to and written about before. MadTree Brewing Company is one of my favorite breweries in the city and their tap-room is always busy. They have 18 beers on tap, so even if you are familiar with their canned offerings, there is likely plenty of other beers you haven’t had.

Braxton Brewing Company is one of the newer breweries in town, but they are quickly making a name for themself with their Dead Blow tropical stout and Storm golden cream ale. They have already started canning Storm, so their popularity will continue to grow. Their tap-room is large and probably the nicest around.

We had hopped to see a few other breweries on this tour, but I guess we will just have to save them for our next round of Uber Brewery Tours.

Mt. Carmel Brewing Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

While my wife and I enjoy exploring new restaurants, our preschool aged kids are not so happy with the idea, so a midweek date night has become a monthly occurrence. Next up is Son of a Preacher Man, a relatively new southern style restaurant in O’Bryonville quickly becoming known for their fried chicken.

Outside

Outside

While the outside of the restaurant is nothing special, the inside is a well done mix of part church artifacts and southern style decor. The limited menu of mostly chicken based dishes can be found hanging from hymn boards near the ceiling.

Inside

Inside

It was a quick decision for myself and I immediately placed an order of the Sunday’s Best fried chicken supper, 2 piece fried chicken (breast and leg) along with a biscuit and choice of side ($10.89). The chicken is fried fresh and the spice blend on it is outstanding. The chicken itself was cooked perfectly and was delicious. For my side I chose Carolina collard greens with bacon, pork shank, and sweet onion, which were equally as impressive. The smoky pork flavor was very nice and the greens were not overcooked.

2 Piece Chicken

2 Piece Chicken

My wife had a harder time deciding but eventually settled on the Nashville Hot fried chicken biscuit sandwich with a side of pork n’ beans ($9.29). Again the chicken was excellent, and normally I’m a sucker for hot sauce on the chicken, but I think this is better on its own. The pork n’ beans were good, but not as great as the greens. There were nice chunks of pork, but the side was a little too soupy.

Fried Chicken Biscuit Sandwich

Fried Chicken Biscuit Sandwich

I almost forgot to mention the biscuits, which are very good. A bottle of honey was offered to add to the biscuits, which I gladly enjoyed. It’s hard not to draw comparisons to The Eagle, which doesn’t have any biscuits by the way. The spicy hot honey at The Eagle is wonderful, but as far as the chicken goes, I prefer Son of a Preacher Man.

Son of a Preacher Man Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Son of a Preacher Man

Recently my wife and I celebrated our anniversary with a trip to Salazar Restaurant & Bar. This Over-the-Rhine spot has been on my list of places to try for some time and we finally found time to get there without the kids.

Inside

Inside

The inside of the space is pretty small, with no more than ten tables available, none of which were available upon our arrival. We put our name on the list and grabbed a couple of drinks at the bar. The Jalisco Spice ($11), blanco tequila mixed with lime juice, agave, chili simple syrup, on the rocks and topped with Royal Jamaican ginger beer and a Peychaud’s bitters float, was a spicy yet refreshing drink.

Farm Greens Salad

Farm Greens Salad

For starters I went with the farm greens salad with carrot-coconut milk vinaigrette, salted cashews, peas, and pickled cucumber ($10). The portion was plenty for two to split and it was packed with fresh ingredients. Overall a solid starter and I thought the dressing was top-notch.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Heirloom Tomato Salad

My wife ordered the heirloom tomato salad with burrata, cucumber, pickled sweet onions, tomato focaccia, and petite lettuces ($11). This was a much smaller serving size and not really enough to share. However what was there was incredibly fresh and delicious.

Amish Chicken

Amish Chicken

For dinner I had the Amish chicken breast with braised kale, smoked chicken sausage, garbanzo beans, peas, and preserved cherries ($23). The chicken was cooked to perfection but I felt it could have used some extra seasoning. The rest of the dish was also fairly bland aside from the chicken sausage and cherries, which I could have used a lot more of.

Barley "Risotto”

Barley “Risotto”

The real surprise of the night was the barley “risotto” with tomatoes, fennel, rainbow Swiss chard, and Pecorino Romano ($19). The serving size was large and the sauce was exquisite! I didn’t taste much fennel, which was not very upsetting to me, but the chard was plentiful. A true vegetarian delight.

For the most part we had a good dining experience at Salazar, though I do wish I enjoyed the chicken more than I did. I would definitely go back for more of the risotto, though the prices are a little more than we typically like to spent. Salazar will be reserved for special occasions, and with so many competing restaurants we haven’t been to, it will be hard to justify a return trip in the near future.

Salazar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Salazar Restaurant

Things have been pretty crazy around here lately. I had a week-long business trip to Denver towards the end of September, sandwiched by an epic run of three weddings. First was Kim’s cousin’s wedding at the Newport Aquarium Saturday night before my trip. The kids sure loved having the aquarium to themselves for the evening.

Family Shot

Family Shot

Frog Bog

Frog Bog

The next morning I got up early to catch my flight to Denver in time to make the drive out to Evergreen, Colorado for our friends Rob & Robyn’s wedding. The scenery was amazing and I got to see a lot of old friends throughout the night.

Evergreen, Colorado

Evergreen, Colorado

Robyn & Rob

Robyn & Rob

After my week of work it was time for Kim’s brother’s wedding back home in Cincinnati. Chip and Emily couldn’t have been any happier and the reception was packed with well over 350 of their closest family and friends.

Emily & Chip

Emily & Chip

Flower Girl

Flower Girl

Wedding Nap

Wedding Nap

I’m going to do my best to get back to somewhat regular posts. I already have a few restaurant reviews nearly ready to go, so check back soon.

After nearly two years the Cincinnati Bearcat football team finally returned home to Nippert Stadium this past Saturday night. The stadium was closed while major renovations were complete to increase the number of seats at the stadium, add new concession and restroom options, and majorly change the flow through the stadium.

It seemed that all around campus and even offsite things were being done for the big reveal. I know I hadn’t been on campus for months and it was awesome to be back and everyone was so excited to see the big changes.

Short Vine Mural

Short Vine Mural

My family and I had been tailgating down on campus at The Grid for at least two years before the temporary move of the games downtown, and we returned back to The Grid again this year. The crowd on Saturday afternoon was larger than any I had ever seen. It was hot and humid, but the drinks were flowing and everyone was having a great time.

Packed Tailgate

Packed Tailgate

I went in to the game early with my parents to see the renovations up close. We didn’t make it too far around the new massive press box and club suite structure before the skies opened and it started to pour. Unfortunately the game ended up being delayed almost two hours, but the majority of the crowd stuck around to see the Cats triumphant return including the big win over Alabama A&M.

Nippert 2015 Panorama

Nippert 2015 Panorama

The stadium seemed louder than ever! The new concessions are nice and I was really happy to see all the craft beer options. The restroom closest to our section near the students hasn’t changed much at all, but I didn’t encounter any lines so that was very nice. Overall the game experience seems better than before and that is about all you can ask for. I look forward to better weather this coming Saturday to see more of the changes first hand. Go Cats!

My family and I all met up with my brother, his girlfriend, and my parents for a birthday celebration in West Chester. My brother and his girlfriend are regulars at Troy’s Cafe and recommended that we all give it a try.

Outside

Outside

I had never heard of Troy’s before and it would be easy to drive right past their West Chester location at the corner of a plain strip mall. There is a small patio out front, but none of the tables were large enough for our group of eight. Fortunately it wasn’t too crowded inside and one of the employees gladly pulled two tables together for us.

Inside

Inside

We started with a couple of small plates to share around the table. My favorite were the spring rolls ($6.45 for 2) filled with grilled chicken, Queen City chorizo sausage, and aged Wisconsin cheddar. Sweet chili sauce was served on the side, but the rolls didn’t really need to be dipped. The flavor from the cheddar and chorizo was outstanding!

Spring Rolls

Spring Rolls

For dinner I had the chicken pretzel sandwich ($9.95) topped with sweet smokey BBQ sauce, apricot chutney, goat cheese, and field greens. The chicken was drenched in sauce, making it pretty messy to eat, but the mess was worth. The flavor combination was like nothing I’ve had before with the creamy goat cheese, smokey BBQ, and sweet apricot all mixing together in each bite.

Chicken Pretzel Sandwich

Chicken Pretzel Sandwich

My wife had the veggie panini ($8.95), which was filled with so many fresh vegetables including Portobello mushroom, zucchini, squash, tomato, and spinach. It was topped with basil mayonnaise and Muenster cheese between sour dough bread. I didn’t get to try a bite, but I’m told it was also very good. Both sandwiches were served with cafe chips on the side.

Veggie Panini

Veggie Panini

My brother has tasted a majority of the menu and says that it is all excellent. And from what we tried during our first visit to Troy’s Cafe I would have to agree with him. I would definitely return for me, especially the Cuban panini that looked amazing.

Click to add a blog post for Troy's Cafe on Zomato Troy's Cafe

My parents live in Loveland and are regular patron’s of the various restaurants in their cute little downtown area. We joined them on a summer afternoon for lunch on the patio at Julian’s Deli. The spacious patio overlooks the bike trail and is a great place to relax over a drink and some food after a bike ride.

Sauerkraut Ball

Sauerkraut Ball

We were all very hungry upon our arrival so we quickly decided to split an order of sauerkraut balls ($6 for 4). Unfortunately our server forgot to put the order in until our lunch was being delivered, but she quickly brought out an order and didn’t charge us for it. These meatball sized rolls of sauerkraut, pork sausage, and cream cheese are delicious and didn’t really need any of the dressing that was provided on the side.

Cobb Club and Broccoli Salad

Cobb Club and Broccoli Salad

For lunch I thoroughly enjoyed the cobb club ($9.59) with turkey, bacon, cheddar, bleu cheese dressing on a grilled baguette with lettuce and tomato. The sandwich was large and more than enough for me for lunch. I opted to substitute broccoli for the included chips for an extra $2. In hindsight, though this was a tasty addition, I ordered more than I needed for lunch and should have just stuck with the chips.

Kid's Grilled Cheese

Kid’s Grilled Cheese

With such a large menu there is something for everyone at Julian’s, including the little ones. My son enjoyed the panini press grilled cheese ($4.99), which also included chips. Overall the food at Julian’s Deli is very good, however the prices are a little high for a deli style restaurant. Alcohol is available as well, including a couple of draft options. Inside seating is also available, though trust me the patio is where it’s at.

Click to add a blog post for Julian's Deli and Spirits on Zomato Julian's Deli