Cincinnati’s Incline Public House is created with two big ideas going for it: A low-key gastropub with a special focus on its unmatched view. With a great view of the cityscape and a menu inside with great pizza and beers, the place is frequently packed even when the view can’t be enjoyed. The prices keep relatively reasonable, and even though there is a long wait for the place on the weekends, it’s still an experience worth having.
Served up with a healthy dose of history for its namesake, Taft’s Ale House honors a Cincinnatian who just happens to have been President of the United States once. So it’s nice that this eccentric church-turned-brewery has an aura of history to it, and a heck of a lot of character. While the libations are what bring the crowds to this spot on the weekends, it has a huge menu of food to keep people returning, including a brunch menu that isn’t often advertised. The food here is really worth a special visit.
The famous Golden Lamb Inn of Lebanon, Ohio has been in business for over 200 years, and counts among its thousands of satisfied customers a dozen United States presidents. Once a stagecoach stop on the road to Cincinnati, this spot still operates as a hotel, restaurant and bar stop with some very classic and long-loved dishes. Step into the country kitchen and you’ll find an experience that is something like a museum, something like an old tavern lost in time, but still serving great food. Golden Lamb is a landmark well worth a stop in Lebanon, and the food delivers.
A small chain of a few dozen ice cream shops primarily oriented toward the Midwest United States, Ritter’s Frozen Custard is a group of little frozen custard and frozen yogurt stands best enjoyed in the summer, when their outdoor-only dining brings out lots of families and groups looking for cool treats. It’s a fun concept of course; custard, frozen yogurt, ice cream cakes, smoothies, and just about anything cold you could desire on the menu. There is a lot to be enjoyed at these spots, but the namesake frozen custard is what you really ought to be going for.
As a bookend to the Oregon District, Franco’s Ristorante Italiano foregoes the more modern feel or nightlife option of many of its counterparts in order to be more of a classic nicer Italian dining establishment. Chief on the menu are pastas of just about all kinds in just about any way you would like them. Distinctly more low-key than many of the other places in this part of town, but no less quality to be sure. That said, the food is good, the professionalism of the staff is top notch and the price points really aren’t that bad. Franco’s would be an experience best shared with a few friends or maybe a date.
As downtown Nashville has exploded and vibrancy has spread to nearby Midtown, many new restaurants and businesses have found their way into the city’s core. This has been bad for some venues as the competition has stepped up, and some have folded entirely. But it has also shown some of the bigger and better places which have survived, and continued to serve Music City. The Row, a music venue and barbecue joint, is hard to forget. Even for a city known for its smoked meats, this one rises far.
While Columbus has plenty of Chinese food of all kinds, it’s harder to find a really good experience for the less Americanized palette of dim sum in the city. But when you get a taste of the more traditional Cantonese meal, you find it quickly grows on you. Sunflower Chinese Restaurant has a following in town, particularly in the close-knit Chinese-American community, for how its food hearkens to a different kind of eating. The spot has a regular menu full of Americanized dishes, but I highly recommend coming in to try something a bit more unusual, because here you’ll find a special liking for it.
Set up as a taproom ever-so-close to the Vanderbilt University area near downtown Nashville, Belcourt Taps is kind of a dive bar with a heavy focus on providing local beers on tap. Set up as a sometimes-music venue, sometimes-sports bar and always an out-of-the-way place to get a good sandwich to eat, this place has a niche appeal—a hole in the wall, easy to pass up, with a glimpse into many of the things that make the Music City shine.