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.

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On our way up to Salida for the weekend, a few friends and I stopped at the Sit N Bull Saloon in Indian Hills, Colorado for lunch. This dive bar is located just off of U.S. Route 285 just past the Morrison area. Entry to the building is through the covered outdoor area, which is not a smoke free spot. The inside area is really just the bar, so it’s probably not the best restaurant to take the kids.

Outside

Outside

Our group decided to sit outside. Fortunately the Thursday afternoon lunch crowd was not large and there weren’t too many smokers around. The back of the outside area overlooks a man-made waterfall area, which provides soothing sounds throughout the space. There is a dart board and what looks like an area for bands to setup.

Inside

Inside

Our group started with a couple of orders of mozzarella sticks, which appeared to be cooked from a frozen bag as is often done. They arrived hot and were served with large bowls of marinara, which actually looked to be homemade. The waitress actually said that a lot of the food is made from scratch, which surprised me as I was expecting standard ready to cook bar food.

BLT & Onion Rings

BLT & Onion Rings

For lunch I had the BLT sandwich with onion rings. Again the onion rings did not appear to be of the frozen variety, which was a nice touch. The BLT was served on your choice of bread, of which there were many. I went with sourdough and thoroughly enjoyed the sandwich. The bacon was cooked perfectly and the toppings were fresh and tasty. Sit N Bull provides a great lunch or dinner stop when in the foothills of Denver.

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I spent this past weekend in Salida, Colorado for Mumford and Son’s last Gentlemen of the Road stopover for this year. Salida is a beautiful little mountain town about three hours from Denver and it served as a great backdrop for a weekend full of music.

View From Our Hike

View From Our Hike

A group of my friends and I rented a house near the downtown area, adjacent to the Arkansas River. We were only a couple of blocks from the center of town and we spent a lot of time exploring the area’s bars, restaurants, and shops. For the most part the town seemed very receptive to the large number of visitors and welcomed us with open arms.

Town Painting

Town Painting

There was also plenty of music downtown, with a stage going from Thursday evening through late Saturday night. This area was blocked off to traffic and beer was being sold from a wide variety of Colorado breweries.

Downtown's River Stage

Downtown’s River Stage

The downtown area was about a mile from the main festival site, where thousands of people were camping. This was a lot farther than the last stopover I went to in Troy, Ohio, but it was still a manageable walk. Plus shuttles were available between the two areas.

Entry Gates

Entry Gates

The main festival site was set next to a little mountain ridge on the left and had sweeping views in all directions. The sunsets each night were really awesome! It was definitely an ideal spot for a festival and the weather couldn’t have been better.

Dawes

Dawes

The first night highlight was easily the band Dawes. This was the same band that opened up for Mumford and Sons the first time I saw them play. This time they opened up the first night of the festival for The Flaming Lips, which I skipped out on after a few songs as I’ve never been a big fan of theirs.

Jenny Lewis

Jenny Lewis

Jenny Lewis was another highlight of the weekend. She played just before Mumford. If you don’t recognize her name, you may know her as the front-woman for the now defunct band Rilo Kiley. She played songs from both her solo efforts and from Rilo Kiley and I was surprised by how many of the songs I knew.

Mumford And Sons

Mumford And Sons

Mumford and Sons easily delivered another great performance. I will admit that I wasn’t too sure how the tracks from their latest release, Wilder Mind, would sound live but after hearing roughly 3/4 of them played I am a fan. The rest of the 20+ song set was an excellent mix of their other two releases plus an awesome encore ending “With a Little Help from My Friends” with many of the artists from the festival. That was an awesome way to end an incredible weekend of music.

The Cuban Pete food truck has been around Cincinnati since April 2014. Their brick and mortar shop opened in April of this year in the spot formerly occupied by the first Tom+Chee restaurant. I haven’t had a chance to see the restaurant transformation yet, but I finally got a chance to give their Cuban sandwich a try at a local event.

Food Truck

Food Truck

The El Cubano sandwich features ham, slow roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, mayo, and mustard ($8 for the full). All of their sandwiches are served on dense authentic Cuban bread. Let me tell you that this was easily one of the best sandwiches I’ve had out of a food truck, and likely one of the best Cuban sandwiches in the area.

El Cubano

El Cubano

The Cuban Pete menu also features the Cincy Cuban, with goetta instead of pork, and the Bar B Q Ban with the traditional Cuban meets along with cheddar, coleslaw, and barbecue sauce. Both of those sound equally amazing to me. There are also a variety of salads and standard sandwiches along with Cuban inspired sides like plantains and corn. I can’t wait to try out more of their menu in the future.

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Late summer of last year I first wrote about Braxton Brewing Company, which opened March 27 of this year. I finally made the trek down to Covington on a recent work day after my internet connection at home cut out for the afternoon.

Outside

Outside

Though they are closed Mondays, the brewery opens up at 8 A.M. the rest of the work week and has plenty of space for individuals or small groups to work. They have even launched a coffee program with Carabello to serve hot and cold brewed coffee, as well as beans to go.

Inside

Inside

I brought my lunch with me on this visit, but they have also partnered with Four Seasons Catering to offer food delivered to the brewery. There are whiteboards, projectors, and gigabit internet, making it easy to spend your entire work day there. Plus they have space to host meetings for groups of 10-60.

Flight of Beer

Flight of Beer

Before leaving for the day, I treated myself to a flight of four of Braxton’s signature brews, Crank Shaft IPA, Dead Blow Tropical Stout, Trophy Pale Ale, and their small batch Blown Gasket Robust Porter. Of these four I liked the Dead Blow the most, which was like nothing I’ve had before. There is a lot of fruit flavor in the beer from the addition of dates, which mixes well with the roasty base.

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I was a very skeptical when I first heard that the owners of the Holy Grail were going to open an Italian restaurant next door to their riverfront location. I’ve never been a fan of the food from the always crowded sports bar, but recently decided to meet my wife for lunch at Santo Graal recently.

Inside From Outside

Inside From Outside

Just like their neighboring spot, Santo Graal has large garage doors that open up to let the fresh air in during nice weather days. There is also a small patio out front, which is where we sat for lunch. The interior finishes are much nicer than their sports bar, though it is still a casual spot for a meal.

Pizza Salad Combo

Pizza Salad Combo

The menu is decent sized with a handful of signature pizzas, plenty of pasta options, along with some sandwiches and salads. My wife and I both ordered the same thing, a slice of pizza along with a side salad and drink ($8). Pizza by the slice is served either as cheese, pepperoni, or the pizza of the day, which happened to be the vegetarian during our visit.

The side salad is a nice combination of lettuce, sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes, Parmesan Reggiano, and Balsamic Vinaigrette. Their veggie pizza features Portobello, capers, roasted red peppers, tomato, arugula, and roasted garlic. I was pleasantly surprised by the pizza, and while the crust was fairly bland, the fresh toppings and house cheese blend made up for it.

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My wife and I have been searching for our go to Mediterranean spot since moving back to Cincinnati a few years ago. After our first visit to Ali Baby Mediterranean Grill I think we have found our place. This small restaurant is somewhat hidden in a strip of stores along Red Bank Expressway.

Inside

Inside

Orders are placed at the counter and toppings can be requested as plates are put together. The menu is straightforward and features gyro, chicken, steak, or falafel served as either sandwiches in a pita or on a platter. A handful of Mediterranean appetizers are also available. We choose the hummus and pita ($5), which is plenty for four people. The hummus itself was some of the best around.

Hummus

Hummus

I ordered the chicken gyro platter and topped it with cucumber salad, baba ghanouj, and tzatziki sauce ($10.50). The serving size is enough for two to share or likely enough to take home for lunch the next day. The chicken was a little dry, which is to be expected as it is not cooked to order, but well seasoned.

Chicken Gyro Platter

Chicken Gyro Platter

The real star of our meal was the falafel platter that my wife ordered ($10). This is the best falafel I’ve had in the city, no doubt. Make sure to try some, even if you just do an appetizer order (6 for $5) but I prefer to make a sandwich with the provided pita and mix the chicken in as well.

Falafel Platter

Falafel Platter

Ali Baba may not look like much from the outside and the inside could use a little work, but the food is overall very delicious. I imagine we will probably do carry-out next time as our kids don’t typically eat Mediterranean. Though I should note chicken tenders and fries are available for the kids.

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Last month I attended my first Dayton Dragons baseball game. The Dragons are the Class A affiliate of the Reds. They play their home games at Fifth Third Field in downtown Dayton, Ohio. The 8,200 seat stadium has great amenities including a craft beer bar and plenty of activities for the kids too.

Seat View

Seat View

As with every game in their sixteen year existence, this game was a sellout. On July 9, 2011, the Dragons officially set a new record of 815 consecutive sellout games. The sellout streak is the longest across all professional sports in the U.S. and is still going strong. They are well over 1,000 games at this point. Needless to say, the games are the place to be!

Outfield View

Outfield View

With just a month left in their regular season (15 games), time is quickly running out to attend a game this year. Tickets cost roughly $15-20, making it a great place to take the entire family for a fun night out in Dayton.

When my wife and I lived in Denver a few years back, our favorite BBQ spot was easily Moe’s Original BBQ. Whether it was the location in Vail, the one with bowling and live music in Englewood, or the one in Denver itself, each location was visited multiple times. While on a recent vacation in Gulf Shores, I noticed a Moe’s location not far from our rental house. My wife and I rode our bikes there one afternoon for lunch.

Outside

Outside

Moe’s in Orange Beach is not a big spot, though there are some extra tables outside. We found a few open tables upon our arrival, but those quickly filled as time went on. Just with the other locations we’ve been to, orders are placed at the counter and food is quickly delivered to your table.

Inside

Inside

If the chalkboard menu on the wall is a bit intimidating, the do have printed menus that are easier to read. But basically it boils down to your choice of smoked pork, sausage, chicken, and turkey served either as a sandwich or on a platter. They also have fried catfish and shrimp, but the real star here is the BBQ.

Pulled Pork & Sides

Pulled Pork & Sides

Just as I did many times before I ordered the pulled pork “bama style” with both BBQ and white sauce, slaw, and pickles ($5.75). I also had a side of baked beans and an amazing cornbread casserole ($1.50 each). The pork is always so tender and full of a great smoke flavor. But what separates Moe’s from other joints are there always amazing southern sides. Do not skip out on the sides, trust me.

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A great place to take the kids when on vacation around Gulf Shores is the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. This zoo distinguishes itself from others by offering various animal encounters. You can actually play with baby tigers, though at $50 per person it is a little more than most would likely spend.

Tiger Encounter

Tiger Encounter

The zoo itself is fairly inexpensive, $11 for adults and $8 for kids 3-12. And while it isn’t as large as other zoos I’ve been through, there is enough to easily spend a few hours exploring. There are plenty of big cats, bears, and lots of little critters too.

Baby Macaws

Baby Macaws

You can definitely get a little closer to many of the animals here at this zoo. We saw some animal shows taking place at various times, and keepers out talking with visitors often.

Caged Family

Caged Family

The lemur encounter was only $10 per person, plus it was free for our two-year-old daughter. My mom was happy to take her inside the cage to pet these primates and get some pictures. There enjoyed playing the lemurs for a good fifteen minutes before moving on to the next exhibit.

Lemur Encounters

Lemur Encounters

The zoo has been open since 1989 and is open year round and has survived many hurricanes, several of which have forced evacuations for most of the animals. During Hurricane Ivan a twelve-foot alligator was lost for a week before being found and relocated back to his caged in pond.

12 Foot Gator

12 Foot Gator

I’m told they are trying to build a new location farther inland and less likely to flood. This facility was announced in 2009 and was supposed to open in 2013 but it has yet to do so. They are now targeting the summer of 2017.