West Side Brewing

Newly opened on Cincinnati’s Harrison Avenue, West Side Brewing had a high profile run-up as it raised money and prepared to open, bringing a counter-balance to the beer scene in the other sections of the city. A wide interior with games, long tables and plenty of room to play with, this is a destination stop where you’ll want to hang out for awhile.

To understand Cincinnati, you have to get it has two very distinct sides in the East and the West. The former gets a lot of attention and, in this Cincy native’s perspective, the latter is less understood, especially by outsiders. Something that brings more people this way is always a good thing.

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Amar India

Now with two locations in Dayton, Amar India is an Indian food restaurant with a focus on a more upscale Indian food experience. Owned by Surjit Singh Mattu, the two restaurants complement the group’s Beavercreek restaurant and buffet Jeet India, which is more of a casual kind of location. Here, you’re served by a waiter and choose from a smaller but robust menu of dishes that have a deeper character and flavor profiles. While at first intimidating to sit down and choose from so many kinds of food that might not be familiar, the end result is still a great dining experience.

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Breakfast Club

Lebanon Ohio is very much a little slice of Midwestern America, with a quaint stretch of Main Street populated by small businesses that are beloved by the locals. Of all the restaurants along that stretch, the Breakfast Club is the resident morning spot. Like many classic pancake houses, you come in, take your order lightning fast, and breakfast is served within minutes. This is classic comfort food, with the simplicity to be enjoyed.

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Remember When Tea Room

A charming pink house in Southwest Ohio’s quaint Waynesville, Remember When is a gateway to a bygone era, evoking the very friendly and all too uncommon art of the afternoon tea. Literally run out of the house of its owners, you will find every dish made by hand and every item a but of a personal touch. Once you understand how the place works you wilk find it a very pleasant place to try.

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Cinebistro

There are a dozen Cinebistro locations all over the country, most to be found in new high-end developments. Bringing a new and creative take to the traditional movie night, Cinebistro offers something all-too-handy: the chance to eat right in your seat as you watch the movie — a very convenient choice! With a general menu of a lot of different kinds of foods, this place offers the seafood, sandwiches and other dishes you would expect at many an Americana-style grill around town anyway. While you might pay a bit more for the experience, I would also said you might find it an attractive novelty.

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Critic’s Special: Raising Cane’s

Oilman-turned-fisherman-turned-restaurant owner Todd Graves did more that open a restaurant when he created Raising Cane’s. This chain has attracted a cult following and wherever it goes, people get crazy. This week its first location opens in Dayton, Ohio, and opening day was met with lines out the door and a drive through that has a constant security detail, with traffic headed around the block.

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ChikaLicious Dessert Bar

The ultra-tiny storefront along East 1oth Street in Manhattan looks like a wisp of a restaurant, but it’s a place highly in demand. Chef Chika Tillman launched this concept in 2003 with a focus on finding some very unusual and experimental dessert pieces. Yes, while a storefront across the street offers street desserts and common dishes, the small, 16-seat corner on the other side is a memorable experience. Expensive, but a worthwhile experience.

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La Colombe Coffee Roasters

There are 26 locations of La Colombe Coffee Roasters, but the Philadelphia-based chain has concentrated on the East Coast, with most locations in New York City. Often innocuous — one location is built into an old warehouse near Hudson Yards that looks almost indistinguishable from the outside. But it’s a perfect little dive to grab a cup of coffee with a friend or two and enjoy some pleasant Conversation. Unusually spacious for a coffee shop in New York City, this place has an extra allure in that they roast their own coffee here and serve it with a small menu of baked goods and other things. Easy to overlook, hard to forget.

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Melt Bakery

While a husband-and-wife team founded Melt Bakery in a storefront on Orchard Street in Manhattan, you probably recognize the name of this place by its ice cream sandwiches which are sold in little carts located around New York City, as the little shop has grown “one sandwich at a time.” This spot has a ton of charm — it’s hard not to like a shop that has been perfecting ice cream sandwiches since 2010. You also have to credit them for the smart real estate t00 — just when you’re feeling a bit hot or tired, suddenly you come upon one of these trucks in the nick of time.

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Otafuku

Otafuku is a pretty simple operation, just a small room with a counter and a few stools along 9th Street in Manhattan. For all intents and purposes and a hole in the wall, you could pass by the store front and miss it. The spot does a simple menu of some very popular Japanese street food dishes near the very hip East Village neighborhood in Manhattan. You can count the items on the menu with one hand, and you’re supposed to be able to take them with you and eat. From the outside it doesn’t look like much, but it’s a great little dive with good food to offer.

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