A concept that hails from Dallas, Texas, Cantina Laredo has since expanded to a few key cities all over the country, typically finding its way into upscale shopping centers, airports and commercial centers. An open concept busy with decorative earthen pots, hanging lights and a massive bar that serves up refreshing drinks of all kinds. The menu is ‘Modern Mexican,’ a version of Tex-Mex that is cleaned up a bit and served with higher-notch ingredients. The locations often end up being large-size very busy establishments, but they don’t make for a bad place for a happy hour.
A sit-down sushi restaurant that was founded in West Chester, Dancing Roll recently added a second location in Hyde Park on Cincinnati’s East Side, with a menu that has broadened with the interest in Japanese and Korean food that has increased in the Midwest recently. This spot is best known and liked for its half-price sushi nights and its whole plates of great Korean specialties, which are otherwise not easy to find in a lot of other places in Cincinnati. This spot is one to remember.
Newport, Kentucky is dominated by the huge developments along the river, but this town is much more than that. The historic stretch of town to the south is home to plenty of great little restaurants, dive bars and small businesses. Amid the bevy of interesting food to try, you can find little storefronts like La Mexicana, a taco stand and shop with big-time tasty Mexican dishes and preparation styles for Tex-Mex favorites and more authentic dishes alike. It almost feels over the top, but this spot is all deliciousness.
Inspired by the classic Italian trattoria, or casual restaurant, A Tavoola brought this concept to Cincinnati as an eatery that offers shareable bites in a less formal setting. Now with locations both in downtown’s Over-the-Rhine and in Maderia on the East Side. Pizzas, pastas and other shareables dominate this menu and there are more than a few good drinks to try. A Tavoola brings a concept to areas that really benefit from having something like it, and I like the concept for its welcoming interior.
The growth of West Chester has meant many kinds of new restaurants have followed as population and offered an increasingly diverse array of great foods. It’s no short task to try and keep track of them all. A stalwart hole-in-the-wall in the sea of ever changing trendy names, Asiana Korean Restaurant is a relatively low key place, catering to the Asian American population of southwest Ohio with a simple joy: Korean food. The restaurant offers dishes few other places which are not so niche would bother to try, but the end result is something altogether amazing. A trip to Korea will leave you hungry for the foods that typify the land. This spot brings them to Ohio and in a good way.
A downtown Cincinnati destination that specializes in Mediterranean, specifically Turkish, cuisine, Istanbul Cafe is popular with groups and larger crowds, specifically for events that might be a little nicer and more upscale. It’s got a following with tourists, a space popular with the local Turkish American population, and brings people in quantity on weekend nights. Plenty of great dishes from kebabs, falafel, lamb dishes, chicken and more. It’s a delightful place, a nicer restaurant that still delivers with friendly service and good food. The restaurant has landed some good reviews in local media, but where it continues to find good ratings, really, is with crowd-sourced reviewing sites.
Envisioned as a way to bring a Brazilian style of eating to the United States in a form where it hasn’t been, the Rodizio Grill chain finds its way into upscale shopping center and mixed use developments with a lot of cool ideas. The over 20 locations promise a meat-lover’s paradise; the full Rodizio experience offers different kinds of steaks and meats roasted over a spit, then served to you at your table by “gauchos,” or Brazilian cowboys. Then you can also enjoy the buffet with a full list of hot foods, veggies, and other kinds of things. It’s a pricier experience, and one where you’ll walk away very full, but Rodizio still has a lot to offer.
A definite modern take on a very beloved Midwestern cooking style can be found in the middle of Cincinnati’s Over-The-Rhine neighborhood in Pointiac BBQ and Bourbon Bar. The street has brought forth many interesting concepts in the past few years with a contemporary flare, but one with a special focus on something as dear to the city as barbecue is rarer and more ambitious. This spot is great for its bevy of good drinks and the food deserves a definite tasting.
A dive bar serving Cincinnati’s West side, Tavern on the Bend can be found just off Interstate 74 near Monfort Heights. This local sports bar features a menu of burgers and other sandwiches as well as 20 craft beers on tap. The sandwiches are named for different celebrities, famous characters and big personalities. And indeed, the food here has a lot of personality. This spot is a safe local place to grab a bite to eat and some company.
A new concept in finer burgers, Flip Side specializes in nicer burgers, milkshakes and craft beer. It’s a concept borne out of Ohio and totes Ohio-raised, grass-fed beef. With a minimalist concept inside and a menu that espouses quality, it’s here to challenge the finer burger standard with a localized take. All in all, the food and experience aren’t too bad, but the spot is a bit pricier. It’s the cost to be paid for good local cuisine.