The Urban Grill food truck has been a favorite of mine since I first tried it back in 2013. Now that they have a brick and mortar location they are easier to find. The 1870’s farmhouse in Newton has been home to the Urban Grill on Main since January 2017.

Outside

Decor

As this is an old farmhouse, the inside space is separated into rooms and even a covered patio. There is also a small bar area, so seating options are plentiful and they do take OpenTable reservations if you are planning to visit during a peak time.

Inside

Urban Grill is famous for their grilled mac ‘n cheese, which can be found sandwiched on a bun and topped with a variety of toppings. I went with the Urban Mac with pepper bacon and pepper relish ($12). This normally comes with kettle chips but I upgraded to fresh-cut fries for $3. The grilled mac n’ cheese actually holds up really well in sandwich form as the crispy cheese on the outside helps keep the creamy inside contained. Each of the grilled mac sandwiches I’ve tried are great!

Urban Mac Sandwich

My wife went with the couscous salad with grilled chicken, vegetables, slivered almonds, golden raisins, cranberries, and goat cheese ($10). She choose to have it topped with Thai peanut sauce. She was in love with this dish. I tried a bite of it and found the complex dish full of a variety of flavors and quite filling.

Couscous Salad

My son had the mini burger with chips ($6) and ate nearly the entire thing. The unique thing hear is that the cheese is grilled onto the bun, similarly to how the mac ‘n cheese is grilled. So the cheese is a bit crispy and adds an interesting texture.

Mini Burger

My daughter had the grilled chicken and mac ‘n cheese ($6). It was also served with kettle chips and was a very large plate of food for a kid. Urban Grill’s chicken is marinated, grilled, and pulled into bite size pieces making it very easy for anyone to eat.

Grilled Chicken and Mac ‘n Cheese

Overall we have been extremely happy with the Urban Grill on Main and have been back a few times in the year since their opening. We will continue to frequent for delicious hand crafted food in a comfortable and family friendly space.

Urban Grill on Main Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wild Eggs is a regional chain specializing in breakfast and lunch. There are currently three locations in Cincinnati. My family and I recently visited their newest location downtown on 4th Street in the ground floor of the Great American Tower.

Inside

We found plenty of tables available upon our 11 AM entry, something that cannot always be said about some of the other local spots. However I feel that this could change quickly as it was much more crowded on a second visit.

Turkey Reuben

I had already eaten a small breakfast earlier in the day, so I went for one of their lunch options. Their Reuben can be made with either a half-pound of lean corned beef or turkey breast. It is topped with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing between slices of toasted light rye ($11.99). This is served with your choice of fries, chips, or skillet potatoes. I went with skillet potatoes as it is not something you can often find during lunch. Overall this was a solid lunch option.

Trippin’ Chickin’ Crepe

My wife went with one of their more creative options, the Trippin’ Chickin’ Crepe ($10.99). This features savory crepes stuffed with pulled chicken, spinach, and wild mushrooms, topped with white cheddar Mornay and smoked paprika. This was outstanding! I’m always a sucker for Mornay sauce and this was delicious, and also very filling.

Kids Omelet

Our daughter really enjoyed having a kids omelet option that was filled with cheddar-jack cheese, and served with fresh fruit, and toast ($3.29). While our son stuffed himself on a short stack of two fluffy pancakes topped with powdered sugar and syrup on the side ($2.99).

Kids Pancakes

My family has really been impressed with Wild Eggs so far and we will return soon. There is a location in Oakley even closer to our home so we may head that way next time.

Wild Eggs Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

My family and I recently wandered into The Rook OTR and were blown away! For starters, this is a board game parlor with over 800 games, a great bar food menu, and a full bar along with 12 beers on tap.

Inside

My elementary school aged kids loved the variety of games available and we played through a dozen of them over the course of a couple of hours.

Games

While there isn’t a kids menu there are plenty of appetizers that should suffice, pizza rolls, tater tots, mini corn-dogs, pretzel bites, chicken tenders, etc. We all shared the pretzel bites & Fat Tire beer cheese ($8). The pretzel bites were fried golden and the beer cheese was very tasty.

Pretzel Bites & Fat Tire Beer Cheese

For my lunch I went with the world domination cubano with cherry braised carnitas, grilled pork loin, house mustard, pickles, and provolone ($10). This was not your standard Cuban sandwich, but I mean that in a good way. The carnitas and pork loin were cooked perfectly and piled high on a grilled roll. All sandwiches are served with house chips in either ranch or BBQ flavoring.

World Domination Cubano

The kids split the traditional mini corn-dogs that are dipped to order in house honey Polenta batter ($7). My picky son was not happy that these didn’t look like the frozen mini corn-dogs he is used to being served in other restaurants. But I’m told the tasted much better than their frozen counterparts.

Mini Corn-Dogs

My wife enjoyed the farmageddon black bean burger with curried brie, mixed greens, and sauteed veggies ($10). This was served on what appeared to be an everything bun, which was an awesome surprise. She was happy with her choice, but I didn’t get a bite to let you know my own thoughts.

Farmageddon Black Bean Burger

Our lunch visit to The Rook OTR was awesome! We tried to go back more recently for dinner but found that all tables were occupied, and it didn’t look like one would open up soon. We will likely save this for weekend lunches, but it is good for a couple of hours especially in cold winter weather.

No trip to Louisville is complete without a hot brown. On our most recent trip my wife and I stayed at the Brown Hotel, which is an awesome hotel. Before heading back home to Cincinnati we stopped into J. Graham’s Cafe for breakfast.

Hot Brown

The Brown Hotel is where the hot brown originated, so I immediately knew what I wanted. This did not disappoint and was delicious! The turkey breast was thick sliced, piled high on toast, and covered with a thick mornay sauce before being topped with bacon, tomato, and Romano cheese ($18).

Country Farm Omelette

Unfortunately my wife was not as happy with her choice, the country farm omelette with ham, tomato, and smoked Gouda ($14). It was overdone and the side of toast was burnt. The hot brown takes 20 minutes to prepare so I hope her plate wasn’t sitting under a heat lamp for an extended period. That is what it surely seemed like. Regardless I would still recommend a stop to any of the Brown Hotel restaurants or bars to sample their hot brown.

J. Graham's Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A night away without the kids took me and my wife to Louisville for dinner and a concert. I had a few places in mind for dinner and let my wife pick from the small list. We ended up at Garage Bar after making a reservation with Yelp.

Inside

Garage Bar is located in the East Market District and occupies a former auto service garage. Large garage doors are opened when the weather is right and a large patio is out front as well. We quickly grabbed drinks, a West 6th IPA for me ($6) and a Coopers Mule for her ($10 keeping the cup).

Pimento & Crackers

We started with a couple of appetizers. The pimento and crackers ($4) were outstanding! The crackers were more like slim bread sticks that could easily be smothered in the delicious cheese mixture. The falafel ($6) was also good and was a generous portion. They might have been fried a touch too long, but still the inside flavor was spot on.

Falafel

For dinner we split the sweet corn pizza with cream, bacon, and jalapeno ($16). The crust was excellent and chewy as well as cooked perfectly. The combination of flavors was amazing on this pizza with the sweet corned complimented by the smoky and spicy flavors of the other toppings. I could have used a few more pieces of bacon actually, as those bites were my favorite!

Sweet Corn Pizza

Overall Garage Bar was a great place for a date night! I wouldn’t have brought the kids here as it didn’t seem like there was much that they would enjoy. The patio is awesome and there is plenty of room to run around by I don’t think the menu really would cater to their limited food interests.

Garage Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The last meal worth mentioning from our trip to South Haven was from Joe’s Bar and Grill. We sort of stumbled across Joe’s on our walk back from South Beach to our accommodations near the Black River. We weren’t sure if it would be good for the kids, but were quickly told that there was a kids menu. Score!

Outside Dining

They have a large outdoor dining patio with plenty of room for the kids to run around a bit. The view is not scenic at all, but is much more spacious than the outdoor areas closer to the river.

Cajun Chicken Sandwich

My wife ordered the Cajun chicken sandwich ($12) and opted to sub the fries for sweet potato fries ($1.25 more). The chicken great was grilled perfectly and had a nice Cajun seasoning applied. I was also pleasantly surprised to see the fresh jalapeno and plenty of cheese smothered on top. My wife and I actually decided to split sandwiches are the food arrived and I was pleased with this sandwich.

California Turkey Reuben

I ordered the California turkey Reuben ($11) though I’m not sure what was Californian about it. It was just your average turkey Reuben on marbled rye. Nothing out of the ordinary but it was just what I needed to go with some of the local craft beers on tap.

Kids Burger

My son went with his standard ordered of cheeseburger ($6) and this was one of the better ones he’s had. It was a fairly large serving size and was plenty food for the little dude.

Kids Pizza

My daughter went with the kids cheese pizza with fries on the side ($6). It would have been nice if she could have caught some steamed vegetables or something else, but the pizza itself was decent enough.

Overall we had a good dining experience at Joe’s. Everyone in my family enjoyed their meals. However I was actually a little surprised by the prices, which seemed to be a bit higher than some of the other local spots that were closer to the river.

Joe's Bar and Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Another stop we made during our trip to South Haven was to the Idler Riverboat Bar & Grill for lunch. There was a decent crow there upon our arrival shortly after noon, but we were immediately shown to a table on the open air top deck.

Outside Dining

The view from the top deck is pretty awesome. My kids loved watched the boats pass by on their way to and from Lake Michigan. My wife and I also enjoyed the view while sampling the S.H.I.T. or South Haven Iced Tea (similar to a Long Island, $8) and a Bell’s Two Hearted Ale.

View

If there are fried green tomatoes on the menu, chances are I am going to give them a try. The Idler offers a fried green tomato BLT that adds hickory smoked bacon, romaine, and a roasted garlic Parmesan mayonnaise ($9.25 with chips). The tomatoes themselves were really good, thick cut and golden fried. I would have liked to see a thicker cut bacon as well, but the flavor there was good. Overall it was a good sandwich.

Fried Green Tomato BLT

My daughter had the kids peanut butter and jelly ($3.95) which was actually the same size as my own sandwich. No complaints from the little one though, and she did her best to eat it all.

Peanut Butter & Jelly

My wife went with their award wining Jamaican Me Crazy sandwich that combines a jerk chicken salad with cranberries, something called holy trinity (Cajun spice), mixed greens, mango chutney, and Parmesan on a roll ($10.95). There was a lot going on with the sweet flavors of this sandwich but we both thought it was very good!

Jamaican Me Crazy

My son had the grilled cheese again served with chips ($4.95). This was another large serving for our elementary aged kids, but he did his best to polish it off. The chips were not to his picky palate as they were a salt and pepper mix. Keep that in mind for the little ones.

Grilled Cheese

Overall we had a solid dining experience while aboard the Idler Riverboat and would happily return for another lunch on the deck. And if inside dining is more of your thing, they also offer seats inside, though during our visit the dockside room was completely empty. The weather was just too nice to be inside!

Dockside Bar

Idler Riverboat-Magnolia Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

During our trip to South Haven, Michigan I convinced my family to take the 45 minute drive north to New Holland Brewing’s Pub on 8th. It helped that the day of our visit was Kid’s Night with free family-friendly fun in the form of games on the patio.

Inside

After dropping my family off at the door, and then finding a place to park, I was delighted to find that they had already been seated inside the sprawling complex. We had a low table near one side of a long rectangular room. The other side was occupied with a very long bar and plenty of high top tables.

Beer

There are so many beers on tap that deciding can be difficult for any craft beer lover, and there should definitely be something for everyone including cider and kombucha. I enjoyed their Brew Tang take on the New England style IPA ($5 pint) as well as the Hoptronix double IPA ($5.50 10oz). In hindsight I should have followed my wife’s lead and got a sampler tray as there were plenty of other options I wanted to sample.

Equipment

After placing our orders I took the kids around to look at some of their brewing equipment and to check out the kids activities. There was definitely plenty to do to pass the time and our food actually was served pretty quickly.

Hot Brown

I’m a sucker for a hot brown, so when I saw one on their menu I knew I had to give it a try. The NHB take combines Michigan turkey with cheese sauce, bacon, pimento, mustard, and beer bread with chips on the side ($13). The portion size was smaller than what you’d often find in Kentucky, but the ingredients were top notch and really went well together. I would not hesitate to order this again.

Black Bean Spelt Burger

My wife went with the black bean spelt burger with vegan mayo, lettuce, tomato, and onion with raw veggies on the side ($9). It’s always nice to see a made in house black bean option and this was one of the better ones we have had in recent memory.

Kid’s Plate

My daughter loved the kid’s place with cheese, turkey, fruit, and vegetables ($3.50). This is a preschoolers dream come true!

Kid’s Burger

The kid’s burger was also well liked, though a bit on the pricey side once we added cheese and subbed for fries ($8). I would include cheese and fries for the original $6 and then this would be a great option.

Overall my family and I really enjoyed our meal at New Holland’s Pub on 8th and I hope to make a return visit on future trips to the area.

New Holland Brewing Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Happy New Year! Below is the list of cities that I visited in 2017 with at least one night spent in each place.

  • Sevierville, Tennessee
  • Cincinnati, Ohio *
  • Seven Springs, Pennsylvania *
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Copper Mountain, Colorado
  • Williamstown, Kentucky *
  • Duck Key, Florida
  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Beachwood, Ohio
  • Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
  • Asheville, North Carolina
  • South Haven, Michigan
  • Louisville, Kentucky
  • Lexington, Kentucky
  • Mason, Ohio
  • Saline, Michigan
  • Mount Sterling, Ohio

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

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

During our summer travels we stayed just across the Black River from Captain Lou’s in South Haven, Michigan. Despite Yelp reporting that the bar and grill was not good for kids, my wife and I decided to stop in for an early dinner one evening with our early school aged children.

Across River

Captain Lou’s sits right on the river so you can watch the boats come and go. It is directly next to the drawbridge which opens up every half hour to let the large boats through. So there is certainly plenty to see and occupy the kids with.

Outside

Nearly all of the seating at Captain Lou’s is outside on docks. We grabbed a table as close to the water as we could, but ended up toward the back of the main dock. I imagine in the heat of the summer this would be a very popular place and be filled to capacity often. I did notice a back section of outdoor seating that was already closed for the season.

“Inside”

For dinner I had the drawbridge turkey wrap with fries and a pickle spear ($9.50). Nothing remarkable sticks out in my mind about this wrap. I did appreciate that they put it on the grill for a minute to try and crisp up the outside. It actually could have used another minute or two of this.

Drawbridge Wrap

My wife went with the perch tacos  with chips and salsa ($10). The chips and salsa were average at best, but she said that the tacos were good. They were packed with plenty of fresh perch. I did not try the tacos but from what I’ve read these are one of the more popular items on the menu.

Perch Tacos

My son had the cheese burger with fries ($7.50). This was a high priced kid’s meal, so maybe that is why this place gets flagged as not kid friendly. They do offer a limited kids menu, and there are plenty of fried appetizers that should provide something for even the pickiest eaters.

Kid’s Burger

This was a fairly pleasant experience with a good outdoor dining experience. The food was average to good. I would like to see more draft beer options, the bottle selections didn’t seem to be the freshest. Overall it was not my favorite place in South Haven but a good time was had by my family.

Captain Lou's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato