Over the weekend my family and I ended up at the Yard House after an unsuccessful attempt at attending Oktoberfest on Friday night. We parked the car just as the rain started to fall and decided that our evening would be best spent inside. Fortunately the Yard House was nearby and was on my restaurant wish list.
The inside of the Yard House is massive! I was expecting to have to wait for a table at 6 P.M. on a Friday but was pleasantly surprised to be seated immediately in a large booth overlooking the covered patio. There were a few other open tables inside but I’m told that Reds games can pack quite a crowd as the restaurant sits just a block from the stadium. The bar area appears plenty big enough to handle a much larger crowd than I saw.
This wasn’t my first visit to a Yard House restaurant. There are now roughly 40 locations in 15 states with more opening soon. I visited the Denver location a few times in the months it was open before moving to Cincinnati. The large craft beer selection was usually the primary motivator for my visits, though I will admit to drinking a half yard glass filled with light beer on one visit. During our most recent visit I would not be ordering any beers of this size, but I did witness an entire tour group ordering round after round of the tall glasses.
I started my dinner with the classic ranch salad ($2.95 when added to your meal). The mix of iceberg and Boston lettuce was topped with tomatoes, carrots, sweet corn, jack, cheddar, croutons and buttermilk ranch. The serving size was smaller than I was expecting. And though I liked the addition of corn to the other standard toppings, I just didn’t love this salad and would definitely skip it in the future.
Our two-year-old son decided to eat a cheeseburger from the Kids Klub menu. This came served with a choice of side (he chose french fries of course) and a drink ($6.95). Since we usually encourage him to drink water when dining out, I would have preferred to have a cheaper priced option without the drink. With that said the serving size was generous for a kid’s meal and he seemed to enjoy it.
My wife ordered the spicy Thai chicken pizza, a lovely combination of firecracker sauce, mozzarella, macadamia nuts, carrots, green onion and cilantro ($12.85). The pizza is easily enough to share. I had a couple of slices of it and we still had two pieces left to bring home with us. I really enjoyed the macadamia nut topping, which is something that I have never seen before. The firecracker sauce has the right amount of spice to it and the dough was perfectly cooked with a chewy center and crisp edges. Their pizzas seem popular and for good reason.
The food menu is equally as lengthy as the beer list, which features over 100 draft options. I’ve sampled their sandwiches before and enjoyed them, but I was looking for something different on this visit. I found the street taco menu that offers two tacos with spicy rice and beans and decided to give that a try. I asked for the carnitas tacos and our waitress kindly pointed out that I could mix and match the two tacos. I quickly decided to try one each of the carnitas and chicken tinga ($10.65).
The carnitas taco was a delicious combination of roast pork with grilled onions, pico de gallo, guacamole and pineapple, while the chicken tinga added a rather bland chipotle tomato sauce with green cabbage, cilantro, feta cheese and cumin crema. I easily enjoyed the carnitas better and should have went with my original order. The spicy rice on the side was actually very good, but the beans were terrible. The soupy bean mix was very bland and barely warm. How they got the cheese to melt on top is a mystery to me.
With a few exceptions, all the food I’ve tried from the Yard House has been great. The beer selection alone is reason enough to visit. With all of that said I think I enjoy the neighboring Moerlein Lager House food and environment better, though the Yard House wins for beer.