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Cover Story: Where to Eat Like a Lady

Female chefs and restaurateurs dish on their favorite spots

By Interviews by Lora Arduser · April 25th, 2007 · Cover Story
  Brandi Daniels
Scott Beseler

Brandi Daniels

If restaurants were car dealerships the kitchen would be the service department. Testosterone rages, expletives fly and jokes are, to say the least, colorful.

But these times, they are a-changin'. The White House has its first female executive chef and, according the National Restaurant Association, the latest stats cite that 21 percent of chefs and head cooks in the United States are women and 44 percent of the cooks are as well.

In order to keep up with these trends, this year CityBeat's Where to Eat Dining Guide brings you our city's very own women chefs and restaurateurs and their suggestions on where to eat out.

Brandi Daniels
Co-owner/Chef, Embrace Sweets

Teak Thai: I love their stir-fry dishes with tofu. The atmosphere is great and, with the weather turning, their patio is the perfect spot for a Sunday night dinner!

Café Martin: I consider this place my little secret downtown. It's the only place I know of that's open extremely late any given night of the week, and the food (especially the pizza) is always amazing and consistent.

Sake Bomb: The perfect place to go with friends, share a huge platter/boat of sushi and knock down a few bottles of quality sake! The Sexy Woman Roll is killer!

Essencha Tea House: I'm an avid tea drinker, and this spot is great for a fresh, take-your-time bite to eat and drink. Make reservations!

Cafe Moca: A great place for coffee and sandwiches. Great when you want to escape downtown for an hour or so.

Betta DeLuca
Chef/Owner, Betta's Italian Cuisine

Benihana: I don't get out to eat much, but I like Benihana, where they make the food right in front of you.

Pleasant Ridge Chili: I like the BLT here.

Quatman's Café: The hamburger at Quatman's is very good -- thick and nice.

Leigh Enderle
Owner, Maribelle's Tavern

J Alexander's and The Pub at Rookwood Mews: I love going to J Alexander's for a great martini and good food and The Pub at Rookwood Mews for a pint of ESB and fish and chips.

Pho Paris: I love their crepes.

Dewey's Pizza: This is my favorite for pizza and salads.

Aqua: I love the atmosphere here; it's a nice place for a drink.

Zip's Café and Oakley Pub and Grille: Zip's is great to have a beer and a casual dinner, and Oakley Pub and Grill is a great neighborhood bar.

Starbucks and Essencha Tea House: For my caffeine fix, I do Starbucks and Essencha, which has the most beautiful and zen interior!

Theresa Flaherty
Chef/Owner, Chez T Cuisine

JeanRo Bistro: My favorite place to dine in Cincy is JeanRo Bistro downtown. The place always reminds me of my very first visit to Paris, and I love the confit of duck leg salad with the soft cooked egg on top. So French!

Nicola's Italian Restaurant: Another top favorite is Nicola's. His pasta dishes are always so satisfying -- really good pasta with a scant bit of some delicious sauce. My husband (who has spent a great deal of time in Italy) and I tend to go after the CSO, so we're always in a great mood to begin with.

Boca: Boca is just about perfect on all accounts. It's our special occasion place.

Cumin: This is my favorite place for Indian food. The vegetarian dishes are really unique. I appreciate the efforts to blend something ancient with something sophisticated.

Aqua: I turn to Aqua for a fun night out with friends.

Not that the food isn't really good, but the environment is as much of a draw as anything. You really don't feel like you're in Cincinnati once you step inside. It just has its own distinct vibe.

White Castle: True confession of someone who should know better: I love White Castle hamburgers about twice a year, usually when it's really cold outside and I'm out Christmas shopping. I know, you probably wonder where I shop.

Shoshannah Hafner
Owner/Chef, Honey

Primavista and Aglamesis Brothers: My husband Doug and I frequent Primavista and Aglamesis for their charm and consistently delicious treats.

Pho Paris: Summer Vigus is always exciting my palate with her desserts at Pho Paris.

Michelle Lightfoot
Owner/Chef, Deli seven20

Barresi's Italian Restaurant: I love the Pesce Florentine when she (Sarah Wagner) has halibut as the feature fish -- poached fish with sautéed spinach topped with cream sauce and pecans always served with a side of yummy pasta. The Zeppoles (or, as I call them, bread donuts) are the most delicious food ever! For dessert: Zabaglione.

Tuckers Restaurant: This is my favorite breakfast and carryout lunch (besides Deli seven20, of course). I love the veggie burger, and for breakfast the veggie and cheese deluxe omelet.

JeanRo Bistro: This is my staple. I like to sit at the bar and have the French onion soup and salad. The LaChouffe is always delicious, and the world's best bartender, Jeannie, is the reason I go back.

Cumin: I finally just discovered this restaurant in Hyde Park. The food was outstanding and the atmosphere was fun. I can't wait to go back and figure out my favorite dish. I'll let you know!

Thai Express and Ambar: My "gotta have it" food is Thai Express and Ambar. I love the Veggie Pad Thai, and the Saag Paneer from Ambar is the best! My friends and I argue over who has the best saag, and it's Ambar.

Tracy L. Monson
Co-owner, Essencha Tea House & Fine Teas

Gajah Wong: One of the few places in town that really transports you somewhere else. Great flavors, very fresh ingredients, fantastic outdoor seating, gracious host. My kids love this place.

Vinyl: A great vibe (cool music and atmosphere), innovative drinks and tasty, creative little plates.

Boca: Impeccable service and food to match. Stylish but somehow really unpretentious and down-to-earth.

Riverside Korean: Wonderful dishes, combination of flavors, pickles. Attentive and friendly service, cozy, authentic, fun atmosphere.

York Street Café: The food is always fresh and made with a lot of care; both food and service are well-executed and consistent. I love the décor -- comfortable and friendly, a great place for "date night."

Owner, Paula's Café

Boca: I love the casualness of the bar area. You can walk in and get dinner and a glass of wine for less than $40. It's gorgeous and the food is great, not to mention you get to look at David's beautiful blue eyes.

JeanRo Bistro: It's a great little downtown spot to stop in and grab and appetizer or salad and glass of wine and do a little people watching.

Jill Ruschulte
Chef de Cuisine, Greenup Café

Pit to Plate BBQ: Everything is hickory smoked, and Diane (Creech) makes the best beef brisket.

La Mexicana: They serve great food at a great price. I'm addicted to the Al Pastor tacos and pumpkin flower quesadillas.

Friendly Stop: I enjoy the cozy atmosphere with delicious burgers and cold beer. My favorite is the garlic burger with provolone.

Thai Express: It's the perfect spot for some hot and spicy food. I love the Mango Salad and Chicken Galanga Soup.

Pam Sturkey
Owner/Pastry Chef, Mesh

Aqua: I don't get to go out that often because of the kids, but I can't wait to return to Aqua. It has a great feel inside, and the food is delicious.

Beluga: The sushi rolls, and they have a great lobster pasta dish.

One Restaurant & Lounge: It has very consistent food and a nice lounge.

The Dragon: Now where we eat often is carryout from The Dragon in West Chester; they have the best General Tao.

The Village: On Tylersville Road there's an Indian restaurant called The Village. I love their Chicken Saag.

Bravo: It's very consistent and has a great outdoor patio with bocce ball.

PF Chang's China Bistro: Who doesn't like their lettuce wraps?

Carol Tabone
Director/Cooking Instructor, The Cooking School at Jungle Jim's International Market

The Echo and Maribelle's Tavern: When I'm at home and want a bit of exercise, I put on my walking shoes and head to the Echo Diner in Hyde Park. For a short jaunt, it's off to Maribelle's Tavern on Eastern Avenue. This new local restaurant offers upscale and traditional tavern fare.

Jean-Robert at Pigall's, Daveed's at 934, Sturkey's and Boca: When in the mood for a fine dining experience, I gather friends and head to one of these, which I consider Cincinnati's finest restaurants. They always offer me an adventure in eating.

Wild Ginger, Bangkok Bistro and Cumin: I truly enjoying eating Asian cuisine, but I don't make it at home because it requires too many products to store in my pantry. So it's off to one of these three favorites.

Zip's Café: When all I want is a good hamburger or it's birthday time (which means my entire staff and volunteer group join me), it's time to zip over to Zip's for a burger and fries.

Sarah Wagner
Owner, Barresi's Italian Restaurant

I am just the person to ask about dining out. I never cook at home, and every meal I have is either at the restaurant or someone else's establishment. Since I've been pregnant, my palate has become more particular. Here are my top places that never seem to disappoint.

Deli seven20: Ask for the Riki Tiki Turkey with the olive tapenade. It's not on the menu as such, but the staff knows what it is. Also the Ring Dang Doo is Michelle's claim to fame and is a Porkopolis must-have! The housemade chips are addictive -- I like mine with BBQ sauce. The staff is fun and energetic. Makes you feel like grabbing an Orange Crush out of the deli's cooler and heading back to the '80s.

The Precinct: The only day I have off is Sunday; it's hard to find a good place to eat on this day because I know most chefs are off on Sundays. So since before I knew I was pregnant my husband and I had been eating at the Precinct. We sit at the corner table in the bar in our jeans and order our usual: for me Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail and Caesar Salad. It's the simple pleasures I like for a night out. We have missed only a few Sunday dinners in seven months. The staff is always friendly, and the service is prompt.

El Pueblo: For lunch I usually pick up something on my way in, usually Mexican food. (This baby doesn't give me heartburn, so she must be a future chef!) This place in Blue Ash, El Pueblo, is the real deal; they have the best Chilaquiles in town, and they have great salsa and guacamole. The staff is always smiling and makes you feel like family.

Jag's Steak and Seafood: Special occasions have been celebrated at Barresi's since I was in high school and going to prom, but since I bought the restaurant from Sal I've had to find another celebration place so I could actually relax and enjoy the evening. We go to Jag's for our birthdays and anniversaries. Chef Michelle really is talented and makes us feel pampered every time we come. It's a drive for us city folk, but it's worth it. The spinach salad bouquet is too beautiful; it takes me a moment to dig in.

Amarin: For lunch I crave Pad Thai, and the only place that keeps me coming back for more because of the consistency is Amarin in Madeira. The chicken Pad Thai is spiced to my liking every time, and the flavor is divine!

Saki Bomb: For sushi before I was pregnant, definitely Saki Bomb on Erie Avenue. Chef Bobby makes the night fun and flavorful! It will be the first place I head to after the baby is older. ©



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