Just close to 90 locations of Bar Louie are spread out across the Midwest and the East Coast, slowly expanding west in the U.S. These restaurants tend to locate one or two to a city, generally in the very upscale bar districts where they can justify higher prices and clientele looking for a more upscale experience. The bars are trimmed, often filled with televisions and sports gear, and most importantly, they’re nearly always packed. Expect a safe experience at one of these bars food-wise. Drinks are a different story. But whichever you pick, don’t expect to be wowed.
As a little old-fashioned ice cream shop serving the Oakley neighborhood in eastern Cincinnati, it’s hard to miss the bright pink, colorful facade that hosts Algamesis Bros. This little shop offers a selection of delicious, refreshing ice cream flavors, as well as an extensive menu of chocolates that make the mouth water. Nowadays, larger commercial ice cream operations abound in Cincinnati, and it’s nice the city has always hosted a dedicated group of local creameries. When you set foot into this shop, you’ll find an experience that is becoming rarer in America every year: a pleasant walk-up shop with top-notch ice cream flavors.
While south Dayton has seen a few great new restaurant concepts around the Dayton Mall area, the Asian House Sushi Bar is the reinvention of a spot that has long been a hibachi grill, buffet, and a few other things. Asian House, though, is a concept that I think has staying power; offering a variety of Chinese food entrees, sushi and dim sum. Dayton has very few places with that range of food, and I found trying it here to be a worthwhile experience.
A hot, rising chain of taco bars with locations in several cities, Bakersfield is a trendy bar that finds itself in the hippest part of town. Bakersfield OTR in Cincinnati, is a centerpiece of Over-The-Rhine’s active nightlife scene. The taco bar has plenty to offer with its particular brand of cuisine, whether you want familiar toppings or some of the more exotic stuff rarely found elsewhere in Cincinnati, you’ll find it here. You’re almost certain to have a significant wait to dine at Bakersfield, but the food, I think is worth a try.
The Cock & Bull Public House — it’ll remind you somewhat of an English pub with its intricate exterior, but inside it’s much more a sports bar than anything else. Located along Hyde Park’s main stretch in eastern Cincinnati, this bar has plenty of pub grub favorites, and a few British-inspired dishes, to go along with a longer list of beer. It’s a place that seems to attract plenty of Cincinnatians on the weekends, but the wait and the prices can’t be ignored.
With a few locations around Cincinnati, the Coffee Emporium isn’t your average coffee shop. Not only does this shop roast its own coffee beans, but it also strives to present them in a way that is much more of a neighborhood dive, where folks drop in to pick up a cup of coffee along their way. Coffee Emporium tends to have relatively small shops around town, but it’s also implanted in especially active neighborhoods where lots of people like to come and go. The variety of coffees and baked goods to be tried is impressive.
Tipp City is a highway town, and while a lot of the folks who pass it by on Interstate 75 north of Dayton never bother to stop there, if they did they would find a really wonderful experience of a little American town. Houses are well-maintained on the main stretch, American flags are everywhere, and the main street downtown is full of historic buildings and quaint little local businesses. One among these, Coldwater Cafe, is a well known name in the small towns of western Ohio, for its funny past, built in a former bank building. You can literally eat inside an old safe. And it’s a really fun time, too.
It is the reinvention of a small cafe that graced the main stretch of Springboro, Ohio, but SG-75 Gastropub (formerly known as Soooo Good Bar & Grill) is a beefier version of the original concept, in every sense of the word. This spot is built to focus on the four B’s: Beer, bacon, burgers, and bourbon. Definitely with a streamlined menu and a narrower focus: to be a place to grab good food and a good drink to go with it. Nice to see an option like this pop up in the suburbs.
Far from the excitement in south Dayton, Buckhorn Tavern feels a lot like a rustic lodge, nestled a bit off the beaten path in Clayton. The low lit, slightly smoky interior is filled with regulars and locals and the chandelier is made of deer antlers, but make no mistake, the food here is some of the most down-home good stuff to be tried here in town. This steakhouse should not be passed up.
It’s the re-imagining of a familiar location for Dayton residence, but Caddy’s Tap House is a whole different kind of watering hole in his predecessors. The spot has a focus much more on craft beer, good food, and socializing. There’s definitely a sports bar aspect to it, but I’d say that this is more of a spot that you really like to go to enjoy some time with friends. The food here, though, can’t be ignored. Caddy’s makes a lot of great pub food in house, and its versions of these dishes make for really delicious fare.