Although it’s a newer restaurant on the block in Kent, Ohio, Fresco Mexican Grill and Salsa Bar is making waves in a big way already. The Tex-mex cuisine it makes, tacos and salsas with a lot of flair, are definitely at home in the adventurous palettes of the Kent State University student crowd. And even though you might take a look at this assembly-line style restaurant and think it’s something you’ve tried before, you’ll be in for a surprise. “Fresco” of course means “Fresh” and there’s something to be said in that salsa.
It’s very nearly invisible without any kind of an online presence and really no advertising other than a simple sign out front, but downtown is served by a tiny sandwich shop called “Donut & More” with a pretty simple proposition, a lot of snacks and prepackaged things you can take to go, in addition to prepared sandwiches and donuts prepared in house. The spot primarily serves employees of the nearby government buildings as well as the people visit them. But beware: cash only.
A Chinese takeout option serving south Kettering in Dayton, Peking Garden is an option for Chinese food for most of the suburbs of southeast Dayton. It’s not a fancy operation, in fact it’s sort of tucked away in a strip mall in the suburbs that is almost impossible to find unless you know where you’re looking. Still, the Chinese food this spot offers is hit and miss in terms of what I liked and didn’t like. As with many of the spots in town, this one has specialties.
The emerging food truck business lets you meet all kinds of folks, really, as they break into the food business. That’s what I chuckled to myself when I first laid eyes on Horseless Buggy Eatery, a Dayton-based food truck that looks to have been build out of an old RV. This funny little spot is a rare sight, though I admit I wish it was more common to find in town. At catering events, food truck rallies and the like you can find this small but delicious menu of sandwiches and burgers on hand.
It’s a small sports bar concept that opened last year on Wilmington Pike in the Dayton neighborhood of Kettering, and Sidelines occupies a space that has seen some concepts come and go, most recently a Starlite Diner. The spacious restaurant has been reworked with a concept for more of a family setting, with a bar, lots of TVs for sports, some space for musicians to perform, and more. It’s a concept that has a few draws to attract the locals, but I would consider it to be more of a dive than a spot worth a special visit.
It’s a relative newcomer to downtown Columbus, but Phatt Taco is plugged into a vibrant lunch dining scene in Capital City. There have been a number of tex-mex inspired dining options come and go from downtown in the past few years, but at last one has come to town that specializes in something downtown dwellers are looking for more and more: delicious but healthy ways to have lunch. This spot takes the custom-made mex food concept but instead of packing that into thousand-calorie burritos, it espouses smaller and more veggie healthy items.
Now with just over 100 locations around the country, The Original Pancake House started in the 1950’s as a diner in Portland, Oregon and now has franchised across the West Coast and moving to the East Coast as well. As it continues to grow, the restaurant says its got a commitment to high quality ingredients that keeps it ahead of the competition. My experience in this regard has been mixed. The Pancake House does some things well but overall my feelings on this breakfast chain is mixed.
I review a lot of odd things. But you know, I never turn a strange dish down. Turns out, I have a chance to put my adventurous palette to the test.
For a very long time, the storefront at 63 North Court Street stood vacant. The spot, formerly known as the Blue Gator, closed in 2007 and didn’t come back to life until recently. Now re-imagined as “The Over Hang,” this new Athens bar sports a spacious interior for dancing and a large bar where people come and enjoy both food and drinks and some company. It’s a dark and spacious interior and another spot along Court Street where the college crowd gathers to enjoy a few drinks and some lively company.
Conceived in 1983 as a fine dining spot for the Mariemont Inn in northeastern Cincinnati, The National Exemplar is one of the fancy and upscale amenities of the historic Mariemont destination. The National Exemplar is a bit of a formal place and a steakhouse in the evenings, and during the day it’s also a well-known brunch spot with a patio right along the main stretch. A little bit of a historic feel dominates the low lit dining room where you’ll be served top quality steaks and a variety of other American classics.