Northside in Cincinnati has seen a dramatic turn in the past few years, like many neighborhoods of urban America, not without challenges but renewed amid an influx of people and businesses determined to see it around. Spots like Melt Eclectic Deli on the Hamilton Avenue Stretch. Melt has made quite a name for itself including CityBeat and Cincinnati Enquirer mentions, and now it’s landed itself right on the national stage with a visit from Guy Fieri and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Vegetarian foodies, this grilled cheese spot lives up to the hype.
The spot specializes in grilled cheese creations, all of which can be made vegetarian with some pretty creative ingredients. Here are a few of the good ones:
- The Joan of Arc: This grilled cheese is made with braised beef, roasted red peppers and garlic, and caramelized onions with a mixture of blue cheese and provolone on focaccia bread. The cheeses take a back seat to the meat, but the savory taste of the onions and the garlic chines through in a big way.
- The Rachel: Smoked turkey and so-called “rubykraut” — red cabbage and apples topped with a tangy sauce on rye. It’s the approximate of a Reuben sandwich, I’d say it’s a pretty accurate representation of such, the sauce is what really hits it home; the stuff doesn’t overwhelm the other flavors.
- Veggie Cheesesteak: This is a favorite of mine, because it’s a Philly cheese streak equivalent that is still vegetarian. It’s made with seitan, which is gluten taken from wheat. It’s got very much the flavor of something like turkey sausage, and the texture of the thing, with onions, peppers and provolone it’s very evocative of the classic Philly, and I’d argue, a reasonable dish all on its own.
- The sides are also good; the default option is Sun Chips but a few other takes are good. One is the chili — contrary to its name, it’s not Cincinnati-style but no less interesting, I think it’s got allspice in it to make it a bit spicy.
The staff is great; the spot might be a good place to make reservations or for carry-out. While it’s not a large spot, it is a spot that can cater to a lot of diets that other places in Cincinnati can’t match, such as vegan and gluten-free appetites. The food takes a little longer than other spots, but it’s worth the wait. In all, very excited to see Melt so successful.
- This is one of few restaurants in town where the food can be made vegan or gluten free with relatively little sacrifice in quality. Definitely worth trying.
- If you don’t mind gluten, taste the veggie cheesesteak, it’s my personal favorite.
- There is more seating in the back of the restaurant from when you first walk in. Seems to be a common misconception that the storefront is tiny.