At the beginning of the year, a Latin street food restaurant called El Camino opened in Mt. Lookout Square in the space formerly occupied by Annabele’s. I never made it to Annabele’s so I cannot comment on how the inside is different from before, but the first thing that jumped out at me was how small the dining room was. There can’t be much more than a handful of tables inside.

Inside

Inside

At the time of my visit on a Sunday just before 6:30 the tables were probably half full. Being that this is a counter order style restaurant I would expect tables to turn over pretty rapidly, but I just want to point out that there could easily be a time when you’d have to wait for a table. I placed my to go order  and waited just a few minutes for it to be prepared before taking dinner home to share with my wife.

Queso Blanco Dip

Queso Blanco Dip

We started with the queso blanco dip with Mexican chorizo, served with house made tortilla chips ($6.95). The cheese was made with MadTree Lift and definitely had a distinct beer cheese flavor, which I liked. However it was a too thin for my liking and didn’t have as much chorizo as I would have hoped.

El Jefe Tacos

El Jefe Tacos

On the other hand, the El Jefe tacos were outstanding! These consist of pulled pork, pickled tomatoes, caramelized onions, sweet corn salsa, and fresh cilantro ($9.75 for 3). Of note here was the use of flour tortillas, which my wife really appreciated, as she isn’t particularly fond of corn tortillas. The pork was juicy and cooked perfectly, and the tomato and onion mixture really shined.

Cubano

Cubano

We also tried the Cubano sandwich with braised pork shoulder, thinly sliced ham, Swiss cheese, house made mustard, and pickles served on Sixteen Bricks bread ($7.95). The fresh-baked bread was top-notch and overall this was one of the better Cuban sandwiches in Cincinnati. It was a fairly large sandwich and was very filling. I will definitely be back soon to sample some of their other sandwich and tapas offerings.

El Camino Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato El Camino

Occasionally my wife and I still find time to sneak away for a busy workday for a nice lunch. The location for this latest dine was D. Burnham’s, which is hidden inside the recently renovated Renaissance Hotel at 4th & Walnut. The interior of this contemporary restaurant is very modern, there are even a couple of relaxing couch areas inside the dining room. We arrived just after the 11 AM opening and were the first patrons to be seated. Over the course of our meal a few more tables were occupied but there was plenty of room when we left around noon.

Inside

Inside

The lunch menu features nearly a dozen sandwiches, plus almost as many salads, several pizzas, and a few larger entrée plates. There were a few items that jumped out at me, but eventually I was sold on the chicken cordon bleu sandwich as it came on a pretzel bun. This sandwich was topped with shaved maple ham, Gruyere cheese, bibb lettuce, tomato, and garlic Dijon aioli ($12.50). The pretzel bun did not disappoint and overall the sandwich was quite good. Sandwiches are served with a choice of fries, kettle chips, or fruit. The fries were cut in-house and reminded me of those my family would make at home growing up.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Chicken Cordon Bleu

My wife ordered from the “healthy fare” section of the menu and had a marinated vegetable sandwich with grilled portabella, eggplant, roasted red pepper, zucchini, yellow squash, topped with arugula and fresh mozzarella on french bread ($11). This was served with a house salad of spring mix, tomatoes, sweet onion, and a lemon vinaigrette. That’s a whole of vegetables for me, but my wife seemed happy with her choice.

Vegetable Sandwich

Vegetable Sandwich

Overall we were happy with our lunch selections. The dinner menu is a little more limited and much more expensive, so I don’t think we will return for dinner but a follow-up lunch is not out of the question. The breakfast menu also doesn’t look too bad, so I’ll have to remember that for our next stay downtown.

D. Burnham's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato D Burnham's

This past Saturday was the first ever home game for new local soccer team, FC Cincinnati. Their home stadium is Nippert on the University of Cincinnati campus. The 35,000 seat capacity is much larger than they should expect to draw, but a very respectable crowd of nearly 15,000 turned out on a chilly night to see the first of fifteen home games for this season.

Nippert Stadium

Nippert Stadium

Having the upper deck on the east side of stadium closed (along with some of the lower sections) makes the crowd more compacted and looks good. The Bailey section behind the north goal was especially packed and rowdy. It featured members of a couple of fan clubs that have already started up, along with anyone else who wants to buy a general admission ticket and stand for the entire game. I think I will go for this next time, but with the kids with us for opening night it would not have been a good idea.

The Bailey

The Bailey

I will admit that I am not the most knowledgeable fan of soccer, not even close to being an average fan I would say. However I found the game to be extremely exciting and full of action. It was almost as if either team could have scored at any time throughout the match. Fortunately for the hometown fans the home team scored more than their opponents, with one of the goals being featured on SportsCenter, and went on to win 2-1. I will definitely be back for more soon, though I have prior plans that will keep me away from this coming Saturday’s game.

After visiting Krueger’s Tavern, I have finally completed the Over-the-Rhine trifecta of Thunderdome Restaurant Group offerings. First I enjoyed the tacos and margaritas at Bakersfield. Then I fell in love with the fried chicken at The Eagle. Would I be as impressed by the elevated bar food from Kruger’s Tavern?

I’m not much of a red meat eater, so I skipped the house ground burgers, which is the largest part of the menu (a house made veggie burger is available). After eliminating the house made sausages from my list, I was left with a choice of two sandwiches of a few salads. My choice was pretty clear at this point and I ordered the Cuban ($10) with a side of fries ($4).

Cuban

Cuban

The Cuban is served on a traditional roll with braised pork shoulder, ham, Gruyere cheese, home made pickles, Dijon mustard, and black bean purée. This was a very good example of a fine Cuban sandwich, with delicious pulled pork and outstanding pickles. The black bean purée was a welcome addition, though it didn’t stand out much with the other flavors.

The fries are served with a malt vinegar aioli that is incredible. I’m a big fan of malt vinegar on the fries and this delivered a little something extra that I found very enjoyable. And with that the verdict is out that Thunderdome can do no wrong.

Krueger's Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Krueger's Tavern

Some time ago I met a college roommate for lunch down at Pontiac in Over-the-Rhine. The BBQ and bourbon bar has been open for over a year and comes to us from the creators of Senate. The interior of the space is rustic, warm, and welcoming.

Inside

Inside

Though I wasn’t able to sample any drinks on this visit, the bar is fully stocked with ten rotating taps of draft beer, a lengthy bottle and can list, as well as a dozen specialty cocktails and quite the bourbon list. With a large portion of the space dedicated to the bar, I would be surprised to find that the drinks being a reason for many people to stop for a visit.

However on this visit I would be focusing purely on the food. The food menu features a handful of BBQ sandwiches, along with platters of smoked meats served by the pound, a long list of snacks and some sides to round it out.

BBQ Quesadilla

BBQ Quesadilla

I almost ordered the pulled pork sandwich ($9) but instead went with the BBQ quesadilla, which seems to have disappeared from the online menu, along with a side of cheddar bacon grits. I knew it would be hard for the sandwich to compete with the pulled pork sandwich from Eli’s so I felt like I had to mix it up.

I was really glad that I did because this quesadilla was actually very good. Perhaps a petition is in order to bring it back to the menu? My friend had the pulled pork sandwich and commented that while he didn’t think it was as good as Eli’s it was still above average. And the grits were also very good, full of plenty of cheese and just the right amount of smoky bacon. Pontiac is well worth a visit for the food alone, and not to mention a very solid drink list.

Pontiac Bourbon & BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Pontiac

Late last year a new breakfast and lunch spot opened up downtown on the street level of the Aronoff building on 7th Street. I wandered in to V’s Cafe on 7th for lunch one day while serving on the grand jury. They were offering 20% off your first visit by checking in on Yelp.

Counter

Counter

Orders are placed at the counter and are brought to your table when ready. There is plenty of seating inside to accommodate the lunch rush, though I think word had yet to spread during my visit as there were plenty of open spots.

Inside

Inside

I ordered the Not Another Club sandwich with turkey, house maple espresso bacon, white goat cheddar cheese, and red pepper aioli on a flaky croissant bun ($9). This came served with a choice of kettle chips, a cup of soup, pasta salad, or two deviled eggs along with a pickle and 24 oz. drink. I went with the creamy chicken and rice soup which was hearty and very filling.

Not Another Club

Not Another Club

The club sandwich was excellent and their house bacon is to die for, it is incredibly sweet and crisp. I was also fond of the bread, a hybrid mix of a croissant and a bun. It was buttery and flaky but not so much that it was falling apart like some croissant sandwiches I’ve had in the past.

The staff members were all very friendly and super helpful. And it’s nice to see some eco-friendliness in the products they are using to serve their delicious food. Overall I was very impressed by V’s Cafe and would be a regular visitor if I worked downtown.

V's Cafe on 7th Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato V's Cafe on 7th

After our first dining experience at Mita’s downtown, we moved up to East Walnut Hills to try O Pie O, which features both sweet and savory handcrafted pies, wine, and local beers. On this visit we focused solely on desert, though I do want to return for a full meal soon.

Nitro Cow

Nitro Cow

First up was a drink and after one glance at the menu I knew exactly what I was ordering, the nitro cow. This features a scoop of Graeter’s Madagascar vanilla ice cream served with Left Hand’s nitro milk stout ($8). This was a little large to be served in one pint glass so I was given another glass for the rest of the beer, which I gladly added to the ice cream after eating/drinking some of the deliciousness.

Honey Vinegar Pie

Honey Vinegar Pie

O Pie O is already famous for their honey vinegar pie, so again I knew exactly what I wanted to try ($5 per slice). This is similar to a custard pie and is truly amazing. The sweetness from the filling are complimented well by the sea salt on top. Each day the sweet pies are different and sold while supplies last, though it seems this crowd favorite is always on the menu. Be sure to give it a try!

O Pie O Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato O Pie O

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