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 Big Billy: The first thing you should try; a sandwich that is part Philly Cheese Steak, part au jus, all delicious. That tasty tri-tip steak kicks it up a notch.
- French toast: The thing about this toast is that it’s crispy and crunchy to the extreme; heavy on the cinnamon, chopped up so it’s eaten better as crispy bites topped with whipped cream and banana. Fantastic but relatively speaking, not that heavy.
- Smoked Wings: I love these wings, with a strong smokiness thanks to the Taft’s Wood Chip smoker. A little bit of sauce on top gives character.
- Quiche: This stuff is cooked in a deep dish so the fluffy egg is served sky high with a choice of spinach or, if you really like it, the signature tri-tip steak. The key magic here is in that thick pie crust on the edges. Perfect.
- Breakfast burrito: The burrito is filled with breakfast goodies, eggs, black beans and the tri-tip steak. Small enough that it’s not overwhelming, but still a filling meal.
- Bloody Mary: One of the better takes on this great drink I’ve tried. Be careful! It’s spicy. But if you like the little bit of hear, this will be great.
Through all the deliciousness, it can be easy to forget that Taft’s is, in fact, a craft brewery too. The beer menu is relatively small, but the place favors those delicious darker beers.
- I like the Maverick Chocolate Porter the best. Are you a special fan of the beers? A number of them have cocktail versions, too.
- Chief Justice: Columbus, Citra and Mosiac hops combine in this punch-packing double IPA with a striking 9.5% ABV.
- 27 Pils: The house pilsner is pretty keenly crisp. Love it.
- 27 Lager: Another crisp, golden beer; Tafts does those so well. German malts and Saaz hops.
- Nellie’s Keylime Caribbean Ale: The citrus is strong with this one, just like the pie. But it sure does take you back to Florida.
The atmosphere of the place is awesome. Of course it draws a huge crowd on the weekends, but the inside of the ale house is labyrinthine, with three different stories to enjoy. The upper floors have a wide open feel where you can share tables or rail space with a private group. The ground floor has something like a beer hall feel; long tables meant to be enjoyed by large masses of people. Then, there is a basement that feels very much like a close-in, dark pub. And really, each is very distinct.
Taft’s is a definite experience for Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine. And it’s an experience worth trying a few times.
- The craft beer here is great, a lot of darker varieties are good. If you like, a number of them come as cocktails with other kinds of drink.
- Overlooked are the three levels of the restaurant, each of which has a very different feel.
- Also overlooked: The delicious brunch options.