CoreLife Eatery has solidly cemented itself into my lunch rotation. They are located in the Hyde Park Shopping Plaza where Mellow Mushroom used to be. Started in mid-2015, this chain has quickly grown to over 50 restaurants in 11 states. They are fast-casual style with counter ordering. All ingredients are free of GMOs, trans fats, artificial colors, sweeteners, and other artificial additives.

Outside

Outside

The inside is clean and bright. Your order is prepared in front of you and can be customized as desired. There is ample seating throughout the dining space, though I normally take my order to go. You can also order online for rapid pickup.

Inside

Inside

On my first visit, I had the spicy chicken rice bowl with purple rice, roasted beets, roasted sweet potatoes, falafel, spinach, pickled red onion, spicy Sriracha sprouts, and chicken bone broth ($10.95). I enjoyed this, but I wasn’t completely sold. On my second visit, I had the spicy Thai chicken and rice noodles with Nappa cabbage, peppers, scallions, sesame sriracha sprouts, and Thai chili sauce ($8.95). This was spicy and delicious, and I have yet to try anything else on the menu.

Spicy Chicken Rice Bowl

Spicy Chicken Rice Bowl

Now every time I go back (once every couple weeks) I get the same spicy Thai chicken and rice noodles. It is highly recommended. And also from time to time, I treat myself to a honey ginger lemonade.

Corelife Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pleasant Ridge has become one of our go-to neighborhoods. In addition to Nine Giant and Revolution Rotisserie, we recently discovered the Latin inspired cuisine of Casa Figueroa. Located in an old house on Montgomery Road, you might drive right past it if coming from the south. It sits back off the road and hides behind the Everybody’s Records building. But that allows for a large patio out front, which is where my wife and I sat to enjoy a dinner out.

Outside

Outside

We both started with the House Margarita ($7 on happy hour), and while these were delicious, I really enjoyed the spicy margarita I ordered for my second drink.

House Margarita

House Margarita

We also started with guacamole and chips ($6). The guac was made fresh and was delicious!

Guacamole & Chips

Guacamole & Chips

For dinner, I had the Armadillo Crunch with chicken ($15). This is similar to the turtle at Gomez, or the crunchwrap from Taco Bell, with a corn tostada surrounded by a flour tortilla and grilled. There was plenty of chicken inside, with the addition of pico, lettuce, and a nice aioli sauce. It was served with a side of rice and beans, which were really good.

Armadillo Crunch

Armadillo Crunch

My wife went with a couple of taco choices. The Florida shrimp were fried and served with pineapple salsa and avocado crema ($7). The chicken fajita was served with green mole, roasted poblano, onions, red bell peppers, pepitas, and cotija ($7). I stole a bite of the fajita and it was delicious and not like anything I’ve had before.

Tacos

Tacos

We had a great meal at Casa Figueroa and look forward to returning in the future. The prices are a little higher than other more traditional Mexican restaurants, but the quality of the food and the variety was worth the extra cost.

Casa Figueroa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Condado Tacos started in Columbus in 2014, and now has a dozen locations spread across Columbus, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, with more scheduled to come soon. They specialize in a build your own taco concept where the tacos are customizable in toppings, proteins, and shells.

Outside

Outside

The Cincinnati location occupies the southwest corner of Freedom & Joe Nuxhall Ways, directly across from Great American Ballpark. On nice days the entire walls of windows can be pushed back to really open up the restaurant space.

Bar

Bar

The inside is completed covered in street art style murals, all designed and painted by local artists. My wife and I sat at the bar and were lucky enough to discover it was happy hour, Monday through Friday 4-7, with half-price margaritas and $1 off tacos.

El Tres Amigos

El Tres Amigos

On recommendation from the bartender, we started with the El Tres Amigos, a selection of 3 salsa, quesos, and guacamoles ($15). He also let us know that he would give us the salsa verde and salsa roja at no charge with our taco orders. So we went with the traditional guacamole, the diablo queso, and the chorizo queso. The chorizo queso was really good and comes highly recommended.

Tacos

Tacos

While the make your own taco concept was intriguing, I decided to play it safe and ordered off of their taco suggestion menu. The El Santo ($4) was my favorite I think. It’s a sweet Lucy shell, which is a soft flour tortilla wrapped around a hard corn shell with queso and guac, topped with chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, queso fresco, salsa roja, and Condado Secret Sauce. I do think I will try creating my own on my next visit, which I hope is sometime soon!

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

I’ve been a fan of Revolution Rotisserie & Bar dating back to my 2015 visit to their Over-the-Rhine location. Since then they have grown up quite a bit. They added a location in Pleasant Ridge, they have more on the menus other than pita sandwiches, they offer a kids menu, and the list goes on.

Inside

Inside

I really like the openness and the feel of the newer Pleasant Ridge location. My wife and I stopped in one Saturday afternoon for lunch. Actually, we were there for brunch as they serve brunch on Saturdays and Sunday until 3 pm. I’m not really much of a brunch fan, mainly due to the dependence on egg-heavy dishes, but there were a couple of items I found to try.

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

First, my wife went with the tried and true Joan of Arc salad with goat cheese, strawberries, toasted almonds, and raspberry basil vinaigrette ($8). She has had this salad before and consistently goes back to it, so it must be good! I slightly allergic to almonds, so I cannot comment on the flavor of the salad, but it looked pretty good, though I thought it appeared on the small side.

Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson

For my brunch offering, I went with the Jackie Robinson Chita (chicken pita) with bacon, pepperjack cheese, tater tot hash, and hot honey ($9). This was really good, as have been the other chita sandwiches I have tried on previous visits. I would still recommend getting a chita when you visit.

Side Salad

Side Salad

I also had a simple side salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing ($3) on the side. The ingredients were fresh and the salad was tasty. Overall, I am still a fan of Revolution and their rotisserie chicken, and you should definitely give it a try if you haven’t already done so.

Revolution Rotisserie & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

While going to and from the airport recently, the Fort Mitchell Public House has often been on our agenda for a meal. Their convenient location is just off of the interstate and on an exit without a whole lot else going on, so it is easy to get in and out. We have enjoyed their quick and friendly service, kid friendly atmosphere, decent beer selection, and never a wait for a table (at least in our experience).

Outside

Outside

There is ample seating throughout the old home turned dining establishment. We prefer a table on the outside wall with half of a booth, also in view of some televisions and the bar.

Inside

Inside

On our first visit I tried the blackened chicken flatbread with blue cheese cream sauce, andouille sausage, banana peppers, red onion, cheddar jack, green onion, and bacon ($13). This was a healthy serving of food and the blackened chicken was great! I would have liked the peppers and onions to be a little more cooked, but overall this was a solid start to our meal.

Blackened Chicken Flatbread

Blackened Chicken Flatbread

My wife went with the fish tacos on the advice of our server. The blackened whitefish served on flour tortillas with a corn salsa, lettuce, cheddar, and sour cream ($10). The serving of fish was very large and quite delicious. She remarked that these were among the best chicken tacos in the city.

Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos

The kids burger and fries ($6) was good enough for my often picky son. It was served plain just as he liked it and had plenty of ketchup on the side.

Kids Burger

Kids Burger

On another visit I went with the public house mac and cheese, filled with andoiulle sausage, bacon, sauteed onions, and peppers ($15). The cheese sauce was slightly on the lighter side, but it clung well to the penne pasta and other ingredients. The addition of panko bread crumbs also helped to thicken the sauce. Overall this was a very good meal and I would definitely get this again. It is filling, so if you aren’t too hungry I would go with the tacos or flatbread from before. Or maybe just take the leftovers home.

Public House Mac and Cheese

Public House Mac and Cheese

Overall we have been really happy with the Fort Mitchell Public House and I look forward to another visit when our travels take us nearby.

Fort Mitchell Public House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Casa Sanchez in Copper Mountain has closed and El Zacatecano has opened in it’s place. If you liked Casa Sanchez you’ll like El Zacatecano, but if you didn’t like it the same will also be true. Reason being that I didn’t find any differences between the two.

Outside

Outside

Aside from a new sign out front, the space looks identical on the outside. And absolutely very little has changed on the inside. The same booths that are badly in need of repair are still there. There does appear to be a fresh coat of paint on the inside, which does help brighten up the space.

Inside

Inside

I couldn’t tell that much had changed with the food either. The place my food was served on was the same blue plate I had a year prior. The rice was the same, and the beans too. I had a medium combination plate with a chimichanga and an enchilada ($12.99). Pretty average tex-mex food here.

Combo Plate

Combo Plate

There aren’t a ton of places to eat in Copper, and this is the only Mexican around, so there isn’t a lot of competition. I just had hoped for more when I heard that the Mexican place had changed, but then I soon realized that not much had truly changed.

With the increasing number of breweries around the city I’m finding it harder to visit them all. Fretboard Brewing has been open for a little over two years now, and I’ve only visited them twice. If they were located closer to my house I’m sure my visits would be more often.

Outside

Outside

Fretboard is located in Blue Ash not too far off of I-71 at Pfeiffer in a sort of warehouse district. While the space looks pretty typical of the surrounding buildings on the outside, the renovation on the inside is great!

Inside

Inside

Of their six or seven year round beer offerings, I probably drink Improv (IPA) or Trey (Amber) the most, though their Vlad (Pilsner) has won some national and international awards. But when I’m in the taproom I love trying out the creative seasonals that they have on tap.

Tasters

Tasters

One thing that make Fretboard stand out from other breweries is that they have live music essentially every weekend. I have not had the chance to check that out, but it seems to be very popular. They are also kid friendly during day with cornhole and giant jenga sets.

Glassware

Glassware

Smoked Out Cincy is located at the back of the room and features in-house barbecue. I’ve enjoyed the flying pig sandwich with pulled pork, coleslaw, BBQ sauce, spicy bacon bits, and horseradish aioli ($11). They even offer a limited kids menu when the entire family is in need of some lunch. Fretboard is another great addition to the Cincinnati craft beer scene.

In the year or so that The Hi-Mark has been opened, I’ve visited the bar/restaurant three times. The first time was with my entire family, parents, and brother. This included the kids, which struggled to find something that they wanted to eat from the menu. It’s not a kid friendly menu, but the space is not entire kid unfriendly either.

My second visit was with a couple of friends on our way to a FC Cincinnati match. And my most recent visit was with my wife when we needed a quick meal before an event downtown. I ordered the Pulled Pork Bánh Mì on both my first and most recent visit ($9 with fries). This delicious sandwich features Eli’s smoked pork, do chua, cucumber, BBQ sauce, cilantro, green onion, and optional jalapenos. Eli’s pork is some of the best around and it really stands out on this sandwich, but the other ingredients help to reinvent the classic smoky taste.

Pulled Pork Bánh Mì

Pulled Pork Bánh Mì

I’ve also had the fried chicken sandwich and the grilled chicken torta ($9 each with crinkle fries on the side). The fry sauce that comes on the fried chicken sandwich is awesome and comes on the side with the crinkle fries. While both of these sandwiches are good options, it is hard to beat the Bánh Mì.

Fried Pickles

Fried Pickles

The crinkle fries can also be loaded for an additional $2. This adds Psychobeer cheese, cheddar, sour cream, bacon, tomato, and green onion. Honestly I think the fries are best served plain with the fry sauce on the side. The fried pickles can also be served with the fry sauce, which I highly recommend. I guess what I’m saying is to get the fry sauce is one way or another!

Loaded Fries

Loaded Fries

The Hi-Mark also features some great cocktails, the Horse’s Neck is one of our favorites – bourbon, bitters, ginger beer ($6 for well). They also have a dozen mostly local draft beers on tap, plus a tons of bottles, cans, and wines by the glass or bottle. It is a great place for a quick meal and drink!

The Hi-Mark Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Happy New Year! Below is the list of cities that I visited in 2018 with at least one night spent in each place.

  • Cincinnati, Ohio *
  • Copper Mountain, Colorado
  • Denver, Colorado *
  • Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina
  • Williamstown, Kentucky *
  • Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
  • Gatlinburg, Tennessee
  • Gulf Shores, Alabama
  • Asheville, North Carolina
  • West Portsmouth, Ohio
  • Seven Springs, Pennsylvania

* Those cities marked with an asterisk were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days.

See also: 2017 | 201620152014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006

My family and I enjoy spending time occasionally out at Summit Park in Blue Ash. When the park first opened there wasn’t much more than a playground a grass fields. Now there are restaurants, an observation tower, nature playscape, and much more!

Inside

Inside

After letting the kids get their energy out early on afternoon day, we stopped into the Brown Dog Cafe for brunch, which is offered on Saturday and Sunday from 10-3. I’m not the biggest fan of brunch menus typically due to the overwhelming amount of eggs that are typically on the, but Brown Dog had a nice variety of offerings, so I agreed to give it a try.

View

View

Inside and outside dining options are available, both with a view overlooking some of the parks main features. We settled into our high-backed booth and enjoyed the views on a pretty but chilly morning. I started with a Kentucky mule, a favorite of mine that combines bourbon, lime, mint, ginger syrup, and soda. There are also a variety of other craft cocktails that are worth a try!

Flyin' Hawaiian

Flyin’ Hawaiian

As I mentioned earlier there is a good variety on the brunch menu, including brick oven pizzas. I went with the Flyin’ Hawaiian with house smoked local pork belly, pineapple, red onion, house BBQ sauce, and local cheddar cheese curd ($16). This was a really good pizza and the toppings were of the highest quality.

Monte Cristo

Monte Cristo

My wife went with the Monte Cristo, which was great since we actually shared these plates. This sandwich combines ham, turkey, and Swiss between grilled French Toast and served with fresh fruit ($13). This was also really good, though the sourdough bread made for French Toast that was a little lighter than I was expecting. Something a little more dense might really make this excellent.

Our kids were happy with the chocolate chip pancake ($8) and the breakfast plate with one egg, bacon, ham, or turkey sausage, and toast ($6). The dinner menu looks fairly pricey making Brown Dog a candidate for a suburban date night, though we are much more likely to enjoy brunch or lunch again in the future.

Brown Dog Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato