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

MOD Pizza is a chain of over 200 restaurants across the country specializing in fast and casual pizzas. Their Cincinnati location has been open about a year in Oakley Station. Another location will be opening soon in Anderson’s Cherry Grove Plaza Shopping Center. There is also a location on Liberty Way in West Chester.

Inside

Orders are placed at the counter. The first decision is whether to have a pizza or a salad. Either way an individual serving size will set you back $7.77. You can choose from 10 signature pizzas, three salads, or create your own.

Oven

They use a gas-fired oven to cook at 800 degrees in a matter of minutes. When orders are ready the staff will call out your name for you to pick it up from just outside the kitchen area. During my visit the restaurant was not too crowded and my order was ready just moments after I collected a local draft beer and found a place to sit.

Caspian

For my lunch visit I went with the Caspian pizza with mozzarella, Gorgonzola, BBQ chicken, barbecue sauce, and sliced red onions. The sweet sauce complimented the tangy cheese very well. The pizza was cooked perfectly, with just the slightest bit of char on the edges of the crust. This was a really good pizza and I look forward to trying some other creations soon.

MOD Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pirate’s Cove Tropical Bar & Grill has been seasonally operating for 24 years on the Ohio River at the Four Seasons Marina. They are closed now for the season, but towards the very end of the summer my family and I stopped in for our first dining experience.

Inside Outside

There is no inside dining here, but nearly every seat has a roof overhead. The open air allows for you to view the yachts coming and going in the marina. There is a large bar and plenty of tables around the outskirts of the large space. A live band was playing during our visit near a sandy area that adds even more tropical island ambiance.

View

For lunch I decided on the Cuban Classic with roasted pork loin topped with cheddar jack, peppers, and onions served hot pressed on Cuban style bread ($14.50). I also subbed in onion rings for $2 extra. The pork loin was well cooked and thick sliced. Aside from the bread this is not an authentic Cuban sandwich, but it was actually really good.

Cuban Classic

Overall the prices are slightly higher than normal, but the views are hard to beat. Plus the quality of the food was great and there are plenty of choices on the extensive menu. We will likely be back again next summer.

Pirate's Cove Tropical Bar & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Play Library has been open for half a year in their new spot in Over-the-Rhine, 1517 Elm Street. For a monthly fee, the Play Library lends out games and toys. What started as a popup shop near Findlay Market has proven to be popular enough to fill their own permanent location.

Pop The Pig

The space is also available for families to drop in and play with the toys for absolutely no fee at all. If you want to take some home, memberships are available starting at $15 per month.

Dolls

There are so many choices available and run the spectrum from babies all the way to adult oriented games. It seemed that there were hundreds of options available and there is definitely something for everyone.

So Many Choices

If there location were any closer to home I would consider giving the membership a try. With that said I’m sure my family will stop by to play in the store from time to time.

The Cincinnati brewing scene continues to grow and I am struggling to keep up with visiting all of the new options around town. One that I have visited and should be at the top of your list if you haven’t is Brink Brewing Company. Brink is on Hamilton Avenue in the heart of College Hill and opened up earlier this year.

Bar

My family and I spent the better part of an afternoon here. There is a really large communal table in the center of the room that provided plenty of space for our group and another group on the other end. My wife tried a flight of beers, and let me sample them as well, while I went right for a pint of one of their three IPA’s that were on tap at the time.

Flight

The tap list changes often and none of the IPA’s that I sampled appear to be on the current list. Each of them were quite good, and I especially liked their Like A Boss the best. But what really stood out for me were the samples of darker beers. Their Brown Ale was one of the better that I’ve had and the Moozie Milk Stout seems to be a regular on the menu.

Logo

They do not have a kitchen but there are plenty of places nearby (with menus inside) for carryout or delivery. They also often have food trucks on the weekend and live music on Friday nights.

Labels

Brink is a wonderful addition to College Hill and is now one of my most highly recommended smaller breweries in town.

The Blue Goose Sports Cafe is pretty much the only sports bar in Sharonville, and it happens to be conveniently located in the heart of the tiny downtown area. The inside is covered in televisions making it the place to catch any game in this part of Cincinnati. And even if you don’t have any sports viewing to do, the sports bar menu is varied enough for anyone with a wide variety of burger, sandwiches, and salads offerings.

Outside

For my only visit to the Blue Goose I enjoyed the chicken Parmesan sandwich for lunch with crispy onion straws on the side ($8.99). This sandwich is a crispy breaded boneless chicken breast topped with tangy marinara and melted mozzarella cheese, served on grilled garlic sourdough bread. It was nearly like an entire chicken Parmesan dinner, just without a side of spaghetti.

Chicken Parmesan Sandwich

The serving size was large, the price was affordable, and the food was plenty good. I would likely be a more regular visitor to the Blue Goose Sports Cafe in Sharonville if my family lived any closer. Fortunately I have plenty of sports bar options much closer to home.

Blue Goose Sports Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Wicked Hickory food truck has been serving up smoked meats for at least a couple of years. Their menu is unique in the way that their meats (pork, brisket, and chicken) are served. Once you settle on your meat you pick the style from the choice of bun, tacos, pita, BBQ bowl, or nachos. And then you pick the toppings with choices like southern slaw, picnic slaw, island slaw, wicked style, or Texas style.

Truck

I ordered the pork BBQ bowl style ($9), which means the pork was served over red beans and rice. I also picked island slaw for the topping, which combines pineapple, jalapenos, cabbage, and cilantro. This was really good and even with all of the toppings I could still taste a bit of a nice smoky flavor in the pork. The beans, rice, and pineapple all worked really well together.

Pork BBQ Bowl

I also ordered the chicken tacos for my wife ($9 for 2). This was ordered topped with southern slaw that featured cider vinegar, cabbage, and carrot. This was also a solid choice, but overall I preferred the pork to the chicken. Smoked chicken tends to be a little dryer, so the wet cider vinegar was a good topping to compliment and the flavors combined well. This one needed a little extra sauce to truly bring it all together.

Chicken Tacos

Wicked Hickory has solid smoked meats, which are essential for any BBQ spot. And the creativity they have put into their menu offerings helps to distinguish them from other BBQ restaurants.

After enjoying a day in Key West, my family and I headed for Turtle Kraals for dinner. One of our initial draws was to see their evening turtle races, but we ended up not staying late enough to see it. Our kids were tired from our adventures of the day, so we opted to head back to our resort earlier than planned.

Outside Seating

However we did enjoy the outside dining and views of the Key West Bight Marina from their spacious and relatively cool patio. We arrived in time for happy hour, which runs daily from 4:30 – 6:30, and enjoyed half off their decent draft list. A variety of food specials are also offered, most of the appetizer variety.

Harbor View

I knew going into our visit what I wanted to try for dinner, and that was their arepas ($13.99). Here the Venezuelan corn cakes are topped with a pistachio and raisin chicken salad, mango, tomato, and avocado. This is served with a field green salad on the side. The arepas themselves were good, but the real standout here was the chicken salad. I really enjoyed their unique take and found the addition of pistachios to be amazing! The toppings were fresh and complimented the rest of the dish quite well.

Chicken Salad Arepas

My wife chose the fish tacos on flour tortillas served with yellow rice, black beans (market price, $16.95 during our visit). The serving was large with three tortillas stuffed full. The fish of the day was mahi mahi and my wife really enjoyed that.

Fish Tacos

We also shared some of the happy hour appetizers with our kids. The pretzel bites ($6) were fried to perfection and served with a tasty mustard based sauce on the side.

Pretzel Bites

The cheese sticks were also good ($6.99) and was more than enough for a meal for our four-year-old. Kid’s meals are a bit pricey ($8.50), so if your kids are on the younger side the appetizers can make a more affordable option.

Cheese Sticks

One of our favorite things about Turtle Kraals were the bocce courts near the outdoor dining area. This allowed my wife and I time to enjoy a second happy hour beer while playing some games with our kiddos.

Bocce

We had a great time at Turtle Kraals and would not hesitate to visit again. The food was really good, the service was attentive, and the environment was perfect.

Turtle Kraals Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

During our summer trip to the Florida Keys we spent an afternoon in Key West. I was pleasantly surprised to find plenty of things for our family to do on the often party filled island. When I found the glass bottom boat tour from Fury I quickly made a reservation for the 2 hour tour.

Mermaid

Upon checking in I was told that due to water being too rough near the planned stop at the coral reef, we would instead be heading to a coral garden on the Gulf of Mexico side of the island. They let me know this ahead of time so that we could reschedule if we wanted, but we were not staying in Key West and would only have a chance to visit on this one afternoon. So we stuck with our planned time.

Cruising Out

The “Pride of Key West” is a large catamaran that features a seated sun deck on top, and an air-conditioned viewing area below. The indoor area is complete with plenty of seating, a snack bar, restrooms, and two glass bottom hulls. You are welcome to bring your own snacks and drinks, including alcohol, for enjoyment on the cruise.

Glass Bottom

The ride out to the coral gardens was smooth and before too long the engines slowed and we grabbed seats around the glass bottom sections of the boat. One of the crew grabbed a microphone and guided us through the garden telling us about everything we were seeing and some area history as well.

Corals

It was not the most interesting glass bottom trip I’ve been on, but our kids really enjoyed seeing all the fish and various corals. I enjoyed the boat ride with scenic views out of and back into Key West.

Cruising Back

We didn’t leave the resort much during our stay at Hawks Cay Resort, so when we did I wanted to find the best places around. For our first lunch away from the resort I chose Herbie’s Bar & Chowder House. I first found this place due to their excellent craft beer menu. But I was happy to find that they are wonderfully kid friendly as well.

Outside

Their screened in porch is the room for families wishing to dine in. There are fans throughout so the heat wasn’t overbearing. There are child seats that clip on to the table ends, as well as small chalkboards for each kid with a bucket of chalk to help pass the time for food to arrive.

Screened In Porch

There are two other rooms that are inside, but these feature high top tables and bar seating. Either way there is plenty of room that you wouldn’t expect there to be from viewing the restaurant from the outside.

Front Room

I ordered from the smoker side of the menu, the pulled pork sandwich with in-house smoked pork butt on a brioche bun with lettuce, tomato, and onion ($13.95). The pork had a wonderful smoke flavor and was lightly topped with a tangy sauce. I also enjoyed a side of black beans and rice ($3) though wish the beans had a bit more kick to them. With that said my daughter really enjoyed not having them overly spiced.

Pulled Pork Sandwich

My son really enjoyed the cheese burger sliders with fries. The burger was thick cut and cooked perfectly. I stole a couple of fries and these were fresh-cut and fried to perfection.

Kid’s Sliders

My wife’s only request was crab cakes. They appear as a starter on the menu ($12.95 for 2). However our server recommended adding a salad to this as she thought the crab cakes alone are not enough food for a solid lunch. My wife agreed but actually ended up with more food that she could eat. The salad ($8.95) portion was quite large with a blend of mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onion. This might be a good dinner option but too much for lunch. With that said, my wife really enjoyed the crab cakes and the salad was of highest quality.

Crab Cake Salad

Finally my daughter is big macaroni and cheese fan. She was given a massive bowl of the stuff and it was just as expected. No complaints from her on this dining adventure.

Mac & Cheese

We had a great visit to Herbie’s and would not hesitate to stop in again on future travels to the area.

Herbie's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato