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by Maija Zummo 05.26.2016 15 hours ago
at 11:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
todo_tasteofcincinnati

What to Eat and Drink at Taste of Cincinnati

Gorge yourself all weekend — everybody's doing it!

Practice your plate-balancing and Porta-Potty hovering skills: It’s Taste of Cincinnati weekend.

As the nation’s longest-running culinary arts festival, Taste of Cincinnati ain’t always fancy, but it certainly is fun. More than 500,000 people will descend on downtown over this coming Memorial Day Weekend to eat, drink and make a mess of Fifth Street. More than 50 local restaurants will be serving up portable bites, and local breweries like Rivertown, MadTree and Christian Moerlein will be pouring some of their best summer and non-summer beers (like the tart Nice Melons, Sol Drifter blonde ale and Strawberry Pig cream ale, respectively).

Also big in brew news, Moerlein is launching its Over-The-Rhine Cider Company during Taste. It’s original and crisp hard cider varieties will be on draft at the OTR Cider Company booth; original is both sweet and acidic with a fresh orchard aroma, and crisp is reminiscent of granny smith apples, with a moderate but “pleasingly effervescent” bubbly finish.

And while we as a city have more than proven we’re great at drinking, you obviously can’t eat everything (or can you #doubledogdare). May we recommend the following eats from the more than 250 selections (vendor map here). And don’t forget Food Truck Alley, on Broadway, with...food trucks, plus live music and seating.


NEW

Skyline: It’s Skyline’s first year at Taste, which seems weird, right? They’ll be serving Greek salads, along with 3-ways, coneys and chilitos, for people who really enjoy the challenge of trying to walk and eat at the same time.
Buona Terra:
We pick cake batter gelato from this Mount Lookout creamery.

Cazadores:
Mexican-style roasted corn tips!

Crave:
Mexican sushi? With tuna, jalapeño, avocado, cilantro and soy citrus sauce.

Cuban Pete:
Recently expanding from a food truck to a Court Street cafe, Cuban Pete will be serving their classic Cuban sandwiches. 

Delicio:
 Coal-fired pizza and wing joint. The wings are a fave, but their Black & Bleu pizza has blue cheese, fire-seared steak and red onions, topped with balsamic glaze and spinach. Sounds fancy.
Forno Osteria + Bar: From the owners of Via Vite. Try the Fritto Misto (mixed fried seafood).

FAVE
Eli’s BBQ: Doing both their pulled pork and smoked turkey sandwiches, with vegetarian sides.
Habanero: This Clifton burrito spot will have their unique and cakey fried chips and salsa.
Melt Eclectic Cafe: For all you vegetarians out there, Melt’s serving a vegan sloppy joe.
Urban Vistro (food truck alley): A food trailer from West Side fave Vitor’s Bistro. Anything will be good.
Tom+Chee: Three words: grilled cheese donut.
streetpops (food truck alley): Thai basil lime pops! Perfect frozen summer treat.
Red Sesame (food truck alley): All the Korean barbecue tacos.
Empanadas Aqui (food truck alley): Fried plantains aka Tostones are a must.
Alabama Fish Bar (food truck alley): Cod plate!
Catch-a-Fire Pizza (food truck alley): Three little pigs. It’s a very meaty slice, with pepperoni, prosciutto and Italian sausage.


BEST OF TASTE WINNERS (people sampled, voted and these won)
Restaurant Best Dessert 

First Place: Chocolate Chip/Blueberry Bread Pudding — Bella Luna
Second Place: Gourmet Pops — Delicio
Third Place: Cinnamon Bread Pudding — Alfio’s Buon Cibo

Restaurant Best Appetizer 
First Place: Ricotta & Veal Meatballs — Via Vite
Second Place: Antipasto on a Stick  Bella Luna
Third Place: Buffalo Chicken Empanada — Alfio’s Buon Cibo

Restaurant Best Soup-Salad-Side
First Place: Black & Bleu Tuna Salad —Market Street Grille
Second Place: Cioppino — Via Vite
Third Place: Silver Ladle Salad — Silver Ladle

Restaurant Best go Vibrant! 
First Place: Wonton Soup — Thai Taste
Second Place: Chicken Wrap — Market Street Grille
Third Place: Vegetarian Grape Leaves — Andy’s Mediterranean Grille
*go Vibrant! menu items adhere to the American Heart Association per-serving standards of 6.5 grams or less of total fat, 1 gram or less of saturated fat, a half gram or less of trans fat, 20 milligrams or less of cholesterol, and 480 milligrams or less of sodium

Restaurant Best Entrée
First Place: Teriyaki Marinated Sirloin — The Melting Pot 
Second Place: Sacchetti (Stuffed Shells) — Bella Luna
Third Place: Five Cheese Angus Raviolo — Alfio’s Buon Cibo

Food Truck Best Dessert
First Place: Thai Lime Basil Pop — streetpops
Second Place: Sea Salted Belgian Waffle with Caramel Sauce topped with Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whipped Cream — Marty’s Waffles
Third Place: Frozen Cheesecake on a Stick — Sugar Snap! Sweet Treats

Food Truck Best Appetizer 
First Place: Borocado Martini — Urban Vistro
Second Place: Mini Quesadilla — Red Sesame
Third Place: 3 Meat Stroll — Adena’s Beefstroll

Food Truck Best go Vibrant!
First Place:
Korean BBQ Taco — Red Sesame
Second Place: Pomegranate Tangerine Pop — streetpops
Third Place: Psycho Hummus — Catch-a-Fire Pizza

Food Truck Best Entrée
First Place:
Bee Sting Sandwich — C’est Cheese
Second Place: Carnitas Taco — Urban Vistro
Third Place: 12 hour Braised Brisket Taco — Texas Joe Tex Mex


 
 
by Cassie Lipp 03.22.2016 65 days ago
at 02:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Slice of Cincinnati: OCD Cakes

As the night sky blankets Cincinnati at 3 a.m., a faint glow emanates from the kitchen window of a small apartment. While most University of Cincinnati students who are awake at this hour are up to their eyeballs in tedious lab reports and last-minute reading, James Avant is caught in a frenzy of mixing bowls, whisks and measuring cups. The apartment fills with succulent scents as he blends together lemon zest and raspberry puree. His everyday stress and anxiety pours into the batter, fills the cupcake tin and rises into lemon raspberry cupcakes.

Avant’s cupcakes are more than delicious — they’re the edible gratification of mental health. The 22-year-old began baking to relieve stress after he was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) about four years ago. “I spent a lot of my days just kind of cleaning and counting and repeating, and my mind was kind of clouded with worry all the time, and so one of the ways I was able to overcome that in addition to therapy was through baking,” he says.

After one year of baking to relieve stress, watching YouTube tutorials and a getting little inspiration from an episode of Two Broke Girls, Avant decided that if we going to bake so often, he might as well profit from it, too. So he started a business, OCD Cakes, out of his home.

Obsessive Cake Disorder (OCD) Cakes helps raise mental health awareness through tasty baked goods. “OCD Cakes exists to take a bite out of the stigma surrounding mental health,” Avant says. “Cake is something that is commonplace in our culture and linked with so many different emotions, so why not take something you already use and consume and change the way you look at it in order to start positive conversations about mental health?” he explains. Five percent of the profits are donated to mental health agencies.

Going through high school and college, Avant personally experienced some of the negative stigma surrounding mental health. He recalls feeling the eyes of everyone in his classrooms burning into the back of his neck as he scrubbed desk with Lysol wipes before sitting down or got up out of his seat to clean up stray marks left by the teacher when erasing the board.

“You can’t make people understand what goes on in your head,” Avant says. “You have to do the best you can to find things they can easily identify with to make that conversation more comfortable. That’s why I use cake, because everybody likes cake!”

After graduating from UC with a bachelor’s in neurobiology in the spring of 2015, Avant now teaches part-time as the culinary lead and pastry chef at Sur la Table. Avant still runs OCD Cakes out of his home, conducting business online and through word of mouth. In addition to baking up fun and innovative cake designs, Avant bakes to raise awareness for number of causes in addition to mental health. He has donated cupcakes to benefits for SOTENI International, a Cincinnati-based nonprofit that works to prevent HIV/AIDS in Africa and reduce it effects for those affected by the disease. OCD Cakes has also partnered with UC Counseling and Psychological Services for a Stress Less Fest, where students could try OCD Cupcakes and show their support for mental health by writing on a giant poster board what mental health means to them.

Avant says he also volunteers for local organizations, such as Su Casa and the psychiatry department of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. “I really want people to see that I’m more than just giving away my product,” he says. “I really want people to see that I’m engaged in the wellness of others as well.”

One of the goals of OCD Cakes is to change the way people think about mental health. Avant says one of the reasons for this is that mental illnesses are more common than people think; it is important not to push mental health issues under the table or discourage people from getting help, because our minds should receive the same attention as our bodies. Like he bakes to de-stress, everyone needs to find constructive ways to get their feelings out. That’s why Avant says he wants to be as loud and proactive as possible about mental health issues. “We’re only going to make progress is everyone’s involved,” he says.


For more information about OCD CAKES, visit ocdcak.es.

 
 
by Cassie Lipp 03.02.2016 85 days ago
at 01:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Slice of Cincinnati: My Dad's Place

Located in the heart of St. Bernard, My Dad’s Place has everything customers expect from a small town diner — crinkle cut fries, thick and juicy burgers, double decker sandwiches, homemade soups, fluffy pancakes and breakfast all day — on the cheap.

My Dad’s Place started because, well, owner Dave Roll’s father owns the building the restaurant is housed in. The space originally housed Dave’s Pub, but the business was sold after Roll’s son Tyler Rapien was born. After the space fell into disrepair as Boomerang’s Bar and Grill, Roll decided to buy it back and start a family-run restaurant.

“St. Bernard has been needing this for so many years,” Rapien says.

Roll and his son stepped up to fill the void of local restaurants, despite the fact that neither of them have prior restaurant experience. The menu was brought to life by Pam Bishop, the former owner of Pam’s Diner in Colerain (now Frank’s Diner).

Rapien, a senior at Roger Bacon High School, says managing the restaurant comes easy to him because he is a people person. Next year he will continue to manage the restaurant while he attends Northern Kentucky University to study marketing.

If you grew up in St. Bernard like me, or a small neighborhood just like it, you probably have a thing for small diners. While many people from around the neighborhood absolutely love Chili Time (including my grandfather, who ate there almost every day), I am one of the Naridans who is willing to face the look of shock on others’ faces when I say I am not a big fan of that spot.

Thankfully, My Dad’s Place offers traditional comfort food with the same low prices. For only $4.75 you can get a cheeseburger with slices of thick, premium bacon. The burgers are surprisingly thick and filling for how inexpensive they are, and very tasty.

For those who like breakfast, the pancakes are as big as your face, sweet and fluffy. A stack of three with your choice of breakfast meat is $6. My Dad’s Place’s most popular dish is the goetta, egg and cheese hoagy for $4.25. Glier’s goetta, a fried egg and American cheese pack the hoagy bun for a treat that’s appropriate any time of the day. It’s no wonder the sandwich is even popular during dinner hours.

My Dad’s Place also serves Philly cheese steak sandwiches, chicken Phillys and reubens, as well as a variety of salads. In short, there’s something for everyone.

What makes the restaurant unique is the friendly feel customers are greeted with immediately after walking inside. All staff are pleasant and helpful — this is thanks to the fact that the restaurant is family-owned and operated.

“When you walk in here it doesn’t feel like a restaurant to be honest,” Rapien says. “It doesn’t matter where you are from; you are family to us.”

You do not have to be from St. Bernard or missing Pam’s Diner in order to enjoy My Dad’s Place. It is a nice stop for anyone craving comfort food at a great price in a friendly atmosphere.

While My Dad’s Place has only been open for a little more than a month, it has already enticed a string of regulars and a packed house on its first day. This was largely thanks to Rapien’s marketing on Facebook.

“The whole friggin’ town was here,” Roll says. “We had people still waiting for food at 10 even though we closed at 9.”

No worries — I waited less than 20 minutes for the food I ordered. This is quite impressive considering the grill is quite small. Rapien says there are plans to expand the building to make the small kitchen larger in the future.


MY DAD’S PLACE is located at 4501 Vine St., St. Bernard. More info: 513- 448-0030 or facebook.com/Mydadsplacestbernard.

 
 
by Maija Zummo 02.19.2016 97 days ago
Posted In: Holiday, fish at 12:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
izzys codfather

Friday Fish Fry Guide

Don't have to be religious to enjoy some beer-battered cod

For those of the Christian faith, Lent is the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter spent in religious observance preparing for the resurrection of Christ. It's a time to reflect, repent, fast and engage in some Americanized self-denial — like giving up Coke products or chocolate. It's also a time when people abstain from eating meat on Fridays — fish good; red meat bad — so in Cincinnati there's a flurry of end-of-week activity at local churches and parishes, who are all serving up fried fish dinners and raising money in the process. 

The competition is stiff, so if you're looking to indulge in some down-home, damn-good weekly beer-battered cod and hearty mac and cheese through March, here's where to dine. Some churches even offer adult beverages and parishioner-baked desserts, along with catchy themes and specialty items. Here's a list of local favorites — those offering unique twists or with "best of" votes from area media outlets. 

For a full list of local fish fry events, visit thecatholictelegraph.com/fish-fry-guide.

All Saints
Two words: fish tacos. Why wait in line in OTR when you can pop on out to Kenwood for some fan favorite fried fish, nestled in a lovely tortilla. Menu also features grilled salmon, tilapia, fried cod, sweet potato fries and pizza. And local beer. 5-7:30 p.m. Fridays through March 18. 8939 Montgomery Road, Kenwood, allsaints.cc.

Beechwood High School Fish Fry Drive-Thru
One of the more popular local drive-thru fries. Head to the high school's concession stand to pick up your order — email in advance so it will be ready. Meal includes choices like a baked salmon dinner, fried fish dinner with two sides, fried fish sandwich, pizza, chicken nuggets and sides. 4-7 p.m. Fridays through March 25. 54 Beechwood Road, Fort Mitchell, Ky., 859-620-6317.

Bridgetown Finer Meats
Ok. So this deli is not a church. They still do Fabulous Fish Fridays. Every Friday through Easter, you can grab a fish sandwich as big as a house (with cheese, lettuce and homemade tartar sauce on two slices of giant bread), a shrimp boat, lobster mac and cheese and other fancy specialties. They also have a contest on their Facebook page where if you guess the closest to how many fish sandwiches they serve that day, you win a free sandwich. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays through Easter. 6135 Bridgetown Road, 513-574-3100, bridgetownfinermeats.com. 

Hartzell United Methodist Church
All-you-can-eat fish fry, featuring hand-cut and hand-breaded cod. Menu also includes chicken breast, shrimp, cheese pizza and sides including mac and cheese, cole slaw, applesauce, bread, dessert and drinks. Also available for carry out. $10 adults; $5 children 6-11; free under 5. 4-7 p.m. Fridays through March 11. 8999 Applewood Drive, Blue Ash, 513-891-8527, hartzellumc.com.

Immaculate Heart of Mary
Offers standard fish fry fare — shrimp, crab cakes, pizza, mac and cheese, french fries — but is also home of the famous Tommy Boy, a piece of fried fish nestled inside of a grilled cheese. Also available at the drive-thru. 5-7:30 p.m. Fridays through March 18. 5876 Veterans Way, Burlington, Ky., ihm-ky.org.

Mary, Queen of Heaven
Home of the Codfather, aka the alter ego of John Geisen of Izzy's dressed in mafia-wear and carrying a stuffed cod (photo ops welcome). Offers dine-in, carry-out and drive-thru options so you can get a Holy Haddock sandwich on a hoagie bun, Icelandic beer-battered cod cooked in vegetable shortening, mac and cheese, green beans and more. Menu also features homemade desserts, pizza, grilled cheese and BEER, which you can imbibe waiting in line to get in. 4-8 p.m. Fridays through March 18. 1150 Donaldson Highway, Erlanger, Ky., 859-371-2622, mqhparish.com/#!fish-fry/rhwto.
  • All Izzy's restaurant locations are also offering the Codfather special through March 24: North Atlantic cod filet, battered with Izzy's special blend of 17 spices, served on a kaiser bun with lettuce and tartar sauce. izzys.com.

St. Barbara 
For dine in or carry out. Menu features a cod fish dinner with three sides, the Bob Lee special (baked tilapia and four shrimp), shrimp dinner (8 shrimp with three sides), baked tilapia and a la carte options. 4:30-8 p.m. Fridays through March 18. 4042 Turkeyfoot Road, Erlanger, Ky., 859-371-3100.

St. Columban Church
Lots of choices here. Dinner choices include two sides — fish sandwich dinner, fried shrimp (five pieces), grilled salmon dinner, grilled tilapia dinner, fish taco dinner or buffalo shrimp wrap dinner, with side choices of waffle fries, green beans, baked potato, french fries, mac and cheese, coleslaw, applesauce or tossed salad. 5-8 p.m. Fridays through March 18. 894 Oakland Road, Loveland, 513-683-0105, stcolumban.org.

St. Francis de Sales
Fish fry featuring fried and baked fish, pizza, the famous "DeSales Slammer" and mac and cheese. 5:30-8 p.m. Fridays through March 18. 1600 Madison Road, Walnut Hills, 513-961-1945.

St. Francis Seraph
For $8, grab a meal with two sides (mac and cheese, applesauce or coleslaw). 5:30-7:30 p.m. Fridays through March 18. Christian Moerlein Malt House Taproom, 1621 Moore St., Over-the-Rhine, stfrancisseraphschool.com.

St. Joseph Academy
Adult fried/baked fish dinner includes 12 oz. fish with three sides, drink and dessert, or adult six piece shrimp dinner for $11 (senior dinners $8). A la carte items include Cajun shrimp gumbo, fish sandwich, hush puppies and sides like scalloped potatoes, mac and cheese, french fries, salad and green beans. 4:30-8 p.m. Fridays through March 18. 48 Needmore St., Walton, Ky., 859-485-6444, sjawalton.com.

St. Joseph Catholic Church
Menu features hand-breaded cod and catfish, plus shrimp, crab cakes and salmon. Also includes homemade desserts. 4-7:30 p.m. Fridays through March 18. 6833 Four Mile Road, Camp Springs, Ky., 859-635-5652, stjosephcampspringsparish.com.

St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish
The parish's 11th-annual fish fry. Carry out and dine in available. Menu includes beer-battered and fried cod and shrimp, baked cod, grilled salmon and a seafood combo (with all three!). Dinners include two hush puppies and choice of sides (baked potato, green beans, mac and cheese and more). 4:30-8 p.m. Fridays through March 18. 5720 Hamilton Mason Road, Liberty Township, 513-777-4322, saint-max.org.

St. William 
Annual fish fry with drive thru or dine in. Features weekly live entertainment. Menu includes choices like Magnificod Platter (hand-breaded cod, fries, hush puppies and coleslaw), Baked Salmon Platter (baked salmon, green beans, roasted potatoes and coleslaw), Shrimp Platter (eight pieces of butterfly shrimp, sauce, fries, hush puppies and coleslaw) and other dinner platters and sides. Baked goods sold weekly. 4-7:30 p.m. Fridays through March 18. 4108 W. Eighth St., Price Hill, stwilliamfishfry.com.


 
 
by Cassie Lipp 02.18.2016 98 days ago
Posted In: Bar at 02:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
courtesy of urban artifact

Slice of Cincinnati: Urban Artifact

With sour beers and live music with state-of-the-art audio quality, Urban Artifact brings people together for “wild culture” — its tagline — all housed within a historic Northside church.

The craft brewery, which opened in April 2015, offers house-brewed sour beers, including seasonal flavors, as well as five signature staples. Liquor and wine are also offered for those who do not care for sours.
If you visit Urban Artifact this month, be sure to try their Abacus gose, which pairs the flavors of raspberry and chocolate for a surprisingly smooth treat. (I am not much of a beer drinker myself, but Abacus is the only beer I have ever liked.) One of Urban Artifact’s four owners, Scott Hand, boasts that it is probably the only beer of its kind in the world.

“We like to combine the activity of getting together with great beer,” Hand says. Urban Artifact beer is complemented with live music nearly every night of the week. With a different band playing each night, Urban Artifact’s crowd also changes nightly. The venue invites all different types of artists to play there, but the strongest emphasis is on local and regional acts.

The brewery’s taproom and listening lounge are located in the old church basement, unique for its high quality acoustics. Artists who play there are left remarking on how great the sound is. This excellent sound comes thanks to Hand, who used his expertise in designing theater spaces to craft the music venue.

Urban Artifact plans to move into the sanctuary part of the church after renovations are complete. Converting this space into the ideal music venue will be the most difficult part of the process, but Hand says he is ready and excited for the challenge. He is currently in the planning phase for this project.

The idea for Urban Artifact sprung from Hand’s interest in music. In fact, he started an independent music label while in college at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning. His label, Grayscale Records, was meant to represent all music in the indie spectrum.

After writing a plan about the future of the music business, Hand decided to focus on connecting an audience directly to musicians instead. Beer was added to the mix in order to create the Urban Artifact brand.

While Hand moved to Chicago after graduating from UC, he returned to Cincinnati almost five years ago for his family. Here, he met the right business partners to bring his vision to life. He remarks on how Cincinnati is the ideal city for a project to sprout.

“You can do everything here,” he says. “You can come here with a dream and good business plan and make it happen.”

Urban Artifact’s location within the city is also ideal. The old church was chosen because it was in the middle of a neighborhood, which Hand says has been fantastically receptive to the new venue.

“While I would love to be a tourist attraction, it’s great to be appreciated by the locals,” he says.

At first, Hand was apprehensive about housing Urban Artifact in an old church. “I thought the church thing was going to be a deal breaker, but almost everyone who comes here thinks it’s hilarious,” he says. This includes a group of 18 priests who came into Urban Artifact dressed in their full traditional garbs to drink one day.


Check artifactbeer.com for complete music listings. Visitors can also look forward to URBAN ARTIFACT’s one year anniversary party April 23 and special events housed above the bar and music space. Drinkers in Dayton and Columbus can find Urban Artifact beers at select distributors throughout the area.

 
 
by Julia Olmsted 01.27.2016 120 days ago
Posted In: Bar at 12:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
16 bit bar cincy

Raising the Bars: Nerd Night

Some bars just know how to bring a little intellectual fun to a night out. From classic trivia nights to unique arcade games, these places have it all. So pull up a chair, order a drink and get geeky.

The Famous Neons Unplugged – For trivia nerds

This eclectic place has one of the best trivia nights in town, along with one of the best drink selections as well! They offer 10 rotating drafts, 135 craft bottled beer and in-house vintage beers in addition to domestic favorites. For those who like to mix it up a little, Neons creates specialty cocktails every day. For now, their cozy and homey interior will keep you warm through the winter, but be sure to check out their string-light-lit back patio in the warmer months — you can even bring your pets along for the ride! Monday nights are trivia nights at Neons and if that’s not enough excitement for you, they even have giant Jenga to play.
208 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-827-9361, wellmannsbrands.com/neons. $.

Over-the-Rhine Brewery District Tours – For history nerds

If you’re anything of a history buff, you’re going to love these tours through the pre-Prohibition-era breweries of Cincinnati. Not only will you get to explore the historic buildings, you’ll also get tours of the cellars and underground tunnels that were at the heart of the Cincinnati brewing scene decades ago. Some of the places featured on this tour include the Sohn/Cliffyside Brewery (opened in 1846), the Hudepohl Brewery (founded in 1850) and the Christian Moerlein Brewery, which is among the top 5 largest pre-Prohibition breweries in the country. Explore the beer-stained history of the Queen city with these incredible tours.
cincinnatibrewerytours.com. $.

16-Bit Bar+Arcade – For video game nerds

With more than 50 classic arcade games from Donkey Kong to Pac Man, this throwback bar is one of the geekiest places in the city. The best part? If you drink, you play for free! The bar even continues its ’80s and ’90s theme into their “old school” and “new wave” cocktails. Drinks like the Hulk Hogan (vodka + lemonade + original bomb pop popsicle), the Cheech Marin (Espolon Reposado tequila + lime + agave nectar + orange zest + salt) and the Pam Anderson (Malibu rum + peach vodka + cranberry juice + pineapple juice + lime juice + grenadine) will keep you juiced up and ready to beat high scores all night. And if you haven’t had enough by the time you leave, they even sell nerdy apparel to suit your every need.
1331 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-1616, 16-bitbar.com/cincy. $$.

 
 
by Cassie Lipp 01.21.2016 126 days ago
Posted In: Food news at 01:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Slice of Cincinnati: Cuban Pete

It’s a Wednesday, and the line at Cuban Pete Sandwiches on Court Street downtown stretches out the door during lunchtime. Hungry customers don’t mind waiting in line for the only authentic Cuban cuisine in Cincinnati. The staff is prepared, having pre-made 50 traditional Cuban sandwiches at the start of their shift.

The restaurant catches the attention of a Cuban man, who cuts all the way to the front of the line and approaches Nelson Fonticiella.

“This isn’t real Cuban food!” the man tells Fonticiella.

Fonticiella, the restaurant’s owner and general manager, simply tells the surly customer he has no idea. The man admits he has been looking for authentic Cuban food in Cincinnati for years. He hasn’t even been able to find a restaurant that uses Cuban bread for sandwiches.

Of course, he doesn’t believe that the man before him with green eyes, red hair and freckles is Cuban —not until he samples the piece of bread Fonticiella gives him. It’s so good that he orders a Cuban sandwich and eats the entire thing while having a conversation with Fonticiella’s father. Just one sandwich isn’t enough for him, so he orders a steak sandwich and scarfs it down in the store before ordering a chicken sandwich to go.

“A real Cuban guy sat there and couldn’t resist eating two of our sandwiches,” Fonticiella says later. “That’s about as complimentary as it gets.”

He knows for a fact Cuban Pete is the only restaurant in Cincinnati that serves authentic Cuban bread, which he imports from Miami.

The bread cooks up nice and crisp when sandwiches are pressed, giving them the perfect filling-to-bread ratio (as opposed to other styles of bread that can make sandwiches too … bready).

Each week Fonticiella roasts 100 pounds of pork for his sandwiches and tacos. It’s juicy, tender and flavorful.

“This is authentic as it gets. Besides, I’m cooking in an oven instead of burying a pig in the ground,” he says with a laugh. “Eventually I’m going to have to teach someone else how to do it, but I’m having trouble giving up my secret pork recipe.”

The recipe comes from a leather-bound book he found in his grandmother’s attic containing all of his great-grandfather’s recipes. Pedro — or Pete, as he was nicknamed — cooked for his hungry baseball teammates in Cuba. Although he did not make it to the U.S. when the family immigrated to Florida, his recipes did.

Fonticiella’s grandmother began to teach him how to cook when he was seven years old. Now, his great-grandfather Pete’s recipes account for half of what is served at Cuban Pete, including the chicken and steak. The other half are Fonticiella’s creations.

The idea for Cuban Pete began eight years ago when Fonticiella opened a food truck in Lexington, Ky. The business moved to Cincinnati three years ago after Fonticiella frequented the city for concerts and saw the restaurant and music scenes expanding. So far, he has not regretted his decision to move up north.

“The thing I love about Cincinnati is that everyone who is from here or lives here is proud as hell to be from Cincinnati,” he says. “Everyone knows the ins and outs and the history of their city.”

Although he originally intended to open up more Cuban Pete in other cities such as Indianapolis, Fonticiella has decided to stay put in the Queen City. In fact, he loves it so much that a second location will open by the end of the summer. The new store will be located somewhere in northern Cincinnati, he says.

“I want to take the food and culture that has influenced me my entire life and share it with places that don’t really have it,” he says. “Cincinnati is the perfect place to start. Every day, I have people coming up to me telling me it’s the best sandwich they’ve ever had in their life.”

It’s not just the unique foods that makes Cuban Pete an experience — it’s also the interaction with the staff and Cuban culture.

“Ninety percent of the time when it’s not busy, you are going to see me sitting and talking with the customers,” he says as a couple of regulars step into the restaurant. He greets them by name.

While Fonticiella’s father lives in Lexington, he regularly commutes to Cincinnati and hang around Cuban Pete. Fonticiella describes his father as the quintessential loud Cuban; he is always out on the floor talking to customers.

Understandably, customers’ favorite part of Cuban Pete is the food. I enjoyed the authentic Cuban sandwich as well as the Chicky Boom-Boom sandwich. Seasoned, marinated chicken is complemented by the perfect combination of sweet jerk sauce and spicy Sriracha, paired with red onions and tomatoes.

Enjoy hand-cut fries as a side or fried plantains for a sweeter alternative. They’re sweet and enjoyable enough for dessert. You can also get some of Pete’s amazing pork or chicken on a taco, which comes with pineapple cilantro salsa. There are also breakfast options and different variations of the Cuban to try, such as the creative Cincy Cuban with goetta.

The menu will be expanding with healthier options and desserts Feb. 1, with house-made black bean burgers, salads with homemade dressing, and Tres Leches Cake.

All menu items are reasonably priced, especially considering the quality of the food. Cuban Pete serves the only authentic Cuban food in Cincinnati, and Fonticiella goes the extra mile when sourcing his ingredients. He can find his pork, drinks and ingredients for marinades locally from Jungle Jim’s, Findlay Market and Restaurant Depot, but the bread and bolo ham come from Florida.


For more information on CUBAN PETE: cubanpetesandwiches.com

 
 
by Julia Olmsted 01.15.2016 132 days ago
Posted In: Alcohol at 01:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Raising the Bars: Foodie Fever

Do prefer to fill your stomach before a night out? Love loading up on artisanal appetizers, fancy finger foods and awesome hors d’oeuvres? Calling all foodies: these bars are for you.

Hofbrauhaus – Newport

If German food is your cup of tea, the Hofbrauhaus in Newport is the place to be. It’s hard to go wrong with their bier cheese fries or any of the indulgent schnitzel options — and don’t forget about their legendary beer selection! This local favorite was the first Hofbrauhaus in America, modeled after the 400+-year-old original in Germany. So loosen your belt and join in the tradition.
200 E. Third St. Newport, Ky. 859-491-7200.
$$. Lots of space. 

Latitudes – Anderson

From Germany we head to this eclectic Mediterranean bar and grill. Sit down for some tapas while you experience one of their famous karaoke or trivia nights, and make sure to check out the calendar for their next live music act. This place is perfect for a low-stress, high-caliber night out with close friends, acquaintances you occasionally grab dinner with or a hot date.
7454 Beechmont Ave., Anderson, 513-827-9146.
$$. Theme nights. 

BrewRiver GastroPub – East End

BrewRiver GastroPub has some of the best “bar food” (if you can even call it that) in the area — they call chicken liver pate a light snack. The head chef, Michael Shields, spent six years working under Emeril Lagasse: chef extraordinaire and the star of 12 different cooking shows. If you love New Orleans delicacies and an incredible beer and wine suggestion for every meal, then this authentic establishment is right up your alley.
2062 Riverside Dr., East End, 513-861-2484.
$$. Live music.

 
 
by Julia Olmsted 01.12.2016 135 days ago
Posted In: Alcohol, Bar, Cocktails at 05:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Raising the Bars: Girls' Night

Pull on your high-heeled boots, grab some of your best friends and head out on the town for your best-ever girls' night! These bars have everything from spacious dance floors to crazy cocktails that’ll definitely spice up your weekend plans.

Bar Louie – Newport

“Open early, closes late” is the credo of this café/lounge based out of Chicago. Bar Louie’s vibe is eclectic and welcoming and features a wide range of handcrafted signature martinis like the new Star Wars-themed cocktails — these definitely are the drinks you’re looking for. And if you want something to soak up all those whimsically themed martinis, the Verde Chicken Flatbread is to die for.
1 Levee Way #3118, Newport, Ky., newportonthelevee.com/bar-louie.

Open late. $$. Specialty drinks.

Longworth’s – Mount Adams

Longworth’s huge dance floor, live DJ and unique feel should make it one of the first stops on your agenda — and with happy hour every day from 4-8 p.m., it’s easy to get a good start for a great price, meaning your night can last even longer. Then if you feel like continuing the party into Sunday Funday, you’ll be welcomed with $3 Mimosas and Bloody Marys all day long.
1109 St. Gregory St., Mount Adams, mtadamslongworths.com.
$$. Outdoor patio.
 

Mynt Martini – Downtown

Want to add a touch of class to your big night out? Check out the super sleek Mynt Martini lounge for their live music, tasty hors d’oeuvres and fancy cocktails. The first thing you’ll notice when you walk in is the neon-lit bar and tables, which clearly sets the scene for how awesome the rest of your night will be.
28 Fountain Square Plaza, Downtown, myntcincinnati.com.
$$$. Live music.

 
 
by Julia Olmsted 01.08.2016 139 days ago
Posted In: Bar at 11:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Raising the Bars: Game Day

The Steelers are coming to town. Let's go to the bar and watch the game!

No matter which game you’re watching or which colors you don (better be orange and black), the Cincinnati bar scene has a little something for every kind of fan. From packed sports bars to quiet neighborhood grills, there’s always a place to enjoy a couple of the things the Queen City is known for — good teams and great beer. This Saturday will be no exception when the stupid Pittsburgh Steelers come to town for an AFC first-round playoff game.


Brass Tap
The Brass Tap in Clifton has 20 HDTVs, which play any and all Bengals games — with the sound on! The bar also serves up more than 300 beers — 80 on draft and 250 in bottles with 30-plus locals. Saturdays and Sundays, any pizza (served on pretzel dough crust) and pint combo is $10, and on game days, enjoy $3 off any large format beer selections. You can check out the expansive wine, food and both draft and bottle beer menus online. Fun place to get loud and shout at the TV with college kids. 251 Calhoun St., Clifton Heights, 513-242-2337, brasstapbeer.com.


Brothers Bar & Grille
For those looking to find a unique and eclectic sports bar on a budget, Brothers Bar & Grill is right up your alley. The bar itself is located right on Newport on the Levee's square, meaning a stunning view of the river is just outside on their back patio. The menu features made-from-scratch appetizers like Wisconsin World Famous Cheese Curds, bleu cheese and bacon tavern chips, and jumbo pretzel sticks, and also has plenty of full sized meals. Their daily drink specials ($2 double wells, anyone?) will keep your pockets lined and your belly warm while you cheer on your favorite team
1 Levee Way #2126, Newport, Ky., 859-291-2767, brothersbar.com.


Gas Light Café

Pleasant Ridge’s friendly neighborhood tavern expects a big crowd for the playoff game. Its legit bar-food menu includes one of the best burgers in town, plus other creative sandwiches and sides. 6104 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, 513-631-6977.


Holy Grail Tavern & Grill

One of the city’s biggest and most authentic sports bars, the Holy Grail at The Banks hosts weekly Bengals radio shows and will undoubtedly be packed for the big game against the Steelers. Huge menu, tons of draft beers and enough TVs to see exactly which player tries to poke another in the eyes. Holy Grail West offers more of the same in Delhi. The Banks, 161 Joe Nuxhall Way, Downtown, 513-621-2222; Holy Grail West, 1278 Ebenezer Road, Delhi, 513-941-5555. holygrailcincy.com.


Kitty’s Sports Grill
Positioned directly across the street from Paul Brown Stadium and buzzing with a big bar-vibe, Kitty’s is the place to be for Bengals fans. This gem is relatively new to the Cincinnati scene, but it’s already making waves with super friendly staff members, fantastic drink specials like $12 bottomless bloody marys and mimosas on the weekends, and so many TVs you won’t even know where to look. There’s even a 120-inch projection screen above the bar — talk about a front row seat. 
218 W. Third St., Downtown, 513-421-8900, kittyssportsgrill.net.


Knockback Nat’s
This all-American, nationally recognized (check out their
Travel Channel shout-out), locally beloved dive bar mixes together all the necessary ingredients for the perfect game day. Their dartboard-and-jukebox vibe pairs wonderfully with the inexpensive and delicious array of grub — from their famous smoked wings (just 75 cents when you buy a beer!), to loaded vegetarian nachos. You’ll feel like a regular on your first visit, so it’s easy to get comfy and enjoy the game, no matter the score. They also have free popcorn. 
10 W. Seventh St., Downtown, 513-621-1000.


Lachey's
Anything more hometown than a hometown sports bar run by a couple of hometown dudes? Lachey's does game day up right with drink specials for every Bengals home and away match — $5 mimosas, $5 Bengals bombs when the Bengals score and $3 Bud and Bud Light drafts if the Bengals win. They have a plethora of giant TVs above the bar, a running sports ticker and a tasty tailgate-friendly bar menu featuring three different flavors of tater tots, buffalo wings and stuffed meatballs. 56 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-275-0740, lacheys.com.

Martino's on Vine
Some people like the Pittsburgh Steelers and if those people don't want to be boo-ed out of a bar, they can head to Martino's on Vine. You can watch the Steelers lose on any one of their 31 TVs while you enjoy a two-foot hoagie, a variety of interpretations on a Philly cheesesteak or Pittsburgh-style wings. 2618 Vine St., Corryville, 513-221-8487, martinosonvine.com.

O’Malley’s in the Alley

The quintessential Cincinnati sports bar, O’Malley’s offers weekly lunch specials, happy hour deals and other specials for Reds and Bengals games. The Irish pub is one of the city’s oldest bars, O’Malley’s is a crucial stop to and from riverfront sports contests and should be poppin’ on playoff night. 25 Ogden Place (off Vine Street), Downtown, 513-381-3114. omalleysinthealley.com.


Rhinehaus
OTR's original sports bar Rhinehaus is not only a Bengals bar, they're also an official Packers bar (and they also show all Premier League Match games; sportz!). With 14 total TVs, including a giant projector and a screen in the mens bathroom, it's a cool and cozy place to imbibe a brew from one of 16 rotating taps or down a few "rhino" shots. These haus shots include concoctions like the Orange Rhino (Malibu orange float, vanilla vodka, orange juice and cranberry) and Kentucky Rhino (whiskey and creme de menthe). You can also get food to go or delivered from nearby OTR eateries aka buy yourself a Turtle Shell from Gomez. 119 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, rhinehausbar.com.

Tina's
Bengal Nation's who-dey hangout. This third-generation family-owned and -operated watering hole is only a block from Paul Brown Stadium, so naturally they bleed orange. They have 13 wall-mounted flatscreen TVs, 8 rotating beers on tap, shuffle board, darts and plenty of room to relax and watch the game. Their full menu features everything from sandwiches and salads to chicken wings, chili and a cheese plate. They even do tailgating pick-up orders for home games; call ahead. 350 W. Fourth St., Downtown, 513-621-3567, tinasbar.com.
 
 

 

 

 
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