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.
A bit off the beaten path in Dayton’s north thoroughfare, El Cazador in Englewood Is a Tex-Mex house set up for large groups of people to enjoy some good Spanish inspired cuisine. The servings are hearty, the food is inexpensive, and the spot really brings a lot simple food to the table with an overall pleasant service. That said I found the food to be pretty uninspiring.
One of the bookends of Dayton’s hippest sector, the Oregon District, The Trolley Stop is not a city-wide destination as many of its sister businesses, instead content to be more of a local dive for the residents of the nearby streets. It’s got a large outside porch, a spot so isolated from the bustle of the nearby downtown that it might as well be a garden on an island at the end of the world. Inside is a spacious dive bar, a friendly staff, and the kind of place it’s almost better to experience on a Tuesday evening when the Friday night rush isn’t complicating things.
El Toro is a pretty well-regarded Dayton chain, with nine locations up and running right now. It serves good stuff aplenty, offering fast and economical tex-mex cuisine for people all over town. It’s a convenient choice and one is always nearby in this city, but for one reason or another I never managed to try it before now. I’m never one to turn down Hispanic cooking of any flavor — in fact it might be my favorite food to write about. It’s high time I gave the place a try, and it was really very good.
1 South High Street Columbus, OH 43215 614.754.1451 website Cinco Burritos, Tacos & Salads is a lunch spot for Downtown Columbus, essentially a to-go burrito place with an upscale twist. Whenever a burrito place comes out, I’ve noticed people just compare it to a certain chain of burrito places. Including me, sometimes. Well, I don’t … Continue reading
1956 North High Street Columbus, OH 43201 614.294.5004 website An Illinois-based chain of 18 quick burrito shops, La Bamba tends to implant itself near college campuses as an alternative to the plenty of other burrito choices you’ll find around them. Burritos are a huge business, and with popular places like Chipotle, it must be difficult … Continue reading
Hot Head Burritos is an ambitious Dayton upstart with a mission in mind. The chain of tex-mex style fast food opened in 2007 in Huber Heights and plans to expand as quickly as possible. The store has about 14 restaurants as of summer 2011, with the plan to outnumber Chipotle’s hundreds of locations within years. That kind of spunk requires a lot of good food to back it up, and I have to say this place has a lot of similarity to its larger competitor, but has a very different local take which is definitely worth a try.
Another small tex-mex chain around the Dayton area, Elsa’s currently operates four locations around the town. It’s got a different feel to it than some other tex-mex places; it feels almost more like a family bar than the average place does. You walk in and are greeted immediately by a dominating drink bar, and on either side, seating, televisions, and an arcade. With a lunch buffet it’s undoubtedly a very way to sell a business. Unfortunately, for all the other things going on around the place, making good food seems to have gotten lost somewhere.
A chain that has expanded into over a dozen locations around Dayton and Cincinnati, El Rancho Grande brings a good, inexpensive option to the table. The simplicity of the dishes adds a great deal of appeal. The food is cheap, easy to recognize, and very tasty. El Rancho Grande enjoys a dressed-down environment and it’s clear business is steady here, especially during lunch. This is not surprising.
Another more recent addition to the Athens restaurant lineup, Gran Ranchero opened in February 2010 as the second franchise of a restaurant based in Parkerberg, West Virginia. Owner Emanuel Morales, one of five owners of the chain, told reporters he opened his second restaurant in Athens after so many people drove from there to Parkersburg just for the food. I’m convinced this place has attracted quite a following, but I’m not sure I’m about to join the flock.