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

Friday for our family often means pizza night. Most of the time that means delivery from one of many area chains. This Friday would be different as we met friends at Delicio Coal Fired Pizza near the campus of Xavier University. Delicio had another location in Montgomery, but that has closed.

Inside

Delicio offers large areas for both inside and outside dinning. With so many tables I’m not sure you’d ever encounter a wait list. I was pleased to find out that happy hour runs Monday through Friday from four to seven, plenty of time for $4 craft drafts!

House Salad

My wife and I split a large house salad ($9) to start. The salad itself was large enough and fresh but unremarkable in variety. The Gorgonzola vinaigrette was tasty, but I don’t think I would go the salad route again.

Carnitas Pizza

We also split the shareable size carnitas pizza with creme fraiche, braised pork, spicy pickles, red onion, and house cheese blend ($13 during happy hour). This was certainly an interesting combination that I had never seen before. And while I enjoyed that for a piece or two, the pickle flavor eventually became too overpowering, and I like pickles. We had leftovers to take home, and this did not reheat very well at all, so keep that in mind.

Overall the food was average, but the happy hour pricing and kid friendly atmosphere will likely bring us back again in the future. The $6 personal size cheese pizza is reason enough for a repeat visit.

Delicio Coal Fired Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Cincinnati area currently has 45 breweries open and brewing beer with even more on the way. One of the newer to join the group is Narrow Path Brewing in Loveland near the Little Miami Scenic Trail. I grew up in Loveland and my parents still live there, so I am happy to see a brewery close to their house. With the bike trail in their back yard, I imagine that they will be busy during the warmer months.

Bar

The brewery is really just one open room with the brewing equipment taking up more than half of one side. There is a bar taking up another corner of the space and a large communal table eating up most of the rest of the space. The outdoor area out back is large and even seems to be getting some use in the cold with a firepit.

Decor

The beers I sampled were all pretty good. The vanilla cream and the Dred Lokt stout were my personal favorites on tap during our visit. I look forward to a return visit soon as it seems they are still tweaking the beer choices and there are a lot that I have yet to try available now.

Pint

My wife and I took advantage of a night without the kids to give Maribelle’s eat + drink a try. It is kind of surprising to me that we haven’t given them a try before due to their location being located fairly close to our home. But I think it boils down to while Maribelle’s is not kid unfriendly, they do not offer a kid’s menu and one of ours is a really picky eater.

Outside

We started with a couple of their house cocktails, the highlight being the new fashioned ($10) with Bulleit rye, chicory, campfire bitters, and orange zest. I really enjoy a nice rye whiskey and this take on a class old fashioned cocktail was very tasty!

Cocktails

For dinner my wife went with the black bean burger with muenster, spicy sour cream, greens, tomato, onion, and house pickle ($15). This comes with your choice of side and my wife immediately picked the sweet potatoes with honey, goat cheese, and candied pecans. Both were excellent choices and fairly unique. The goat cheese with sweet potatoes was like nothing I’ve ever had and made for a sweet and creamy side.

Black Bean Burger

I decided on the chicken and ham sandwich with Gruyere, truffle aioli, arugula, and tomato ($17). For my side I chose the fries with rosemary, shaved Parmesan, and truffle aioli. The sandwich was full of fresh and well prepared ingredients, but the fries stole the show. I loved that the truffle aioli was served on the side as this can be a polarizing ingredient.

Chicken & Ham Sandwich

Our service was spectacular and the food was overall very tasty. We will definitely be back again in the near future!

Maribelle's eat + drink Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pies & Pints is a small chain of just over a dozen restaurants, started in West Virginia and now in five states. There are now three locations in the Cincinnati area, with The Banks location being open almost a year now. This location is in the newest section of The Banks to open in the block where GE and Radius now call home.

Outside

My wife and I stopped in for dinner after an afternoon event downtown. We quickly decided to share a salad and a pizza. First up was the Spinach Salad with red onions, Gorgonzola, red grapes & sunflower seeds, tossed in house vinaigrette or creamy Gorgonzola ($8 small, $12 large). We went with the small size which was plenty for two to share. The greens were fresh, and the toppings were plentiful. I really enjoyed this creative combination!

Spinach Salad

As far as the pizza goes, we picked the Cuban Pork with caramelized onions, fresh pineapple, jalapenos, feta, cilantro & creme fraiche ($15 small, $25 large). Again the small size was enough for two and we even had a little leftover for the next day. Again I found the toppings to be plentiful and a rather unique combination of flavors. I enjoyed the jalapeno heat mixed with the sweetness from the pineapple and caramelized onions. With so many choices on the menu I would probably try something different on a future visit, but this is a very solid choice.

Cuban Pork Pizza

Overall we enjoyed our visit to Pies & Pints. The draft beer selection was really good, though our server was not very familiar with many of the offerings. Despite that fact the food was prepared rather quickly and drinks stayed full. I’m sure we will be back again in the future.

Pies & Pints Cincinnati Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato