While the name may suggest that Ele Cake Co. is a simple bakery operation, the several Dayton-area locations of this restaurant feel much more like a bistro. With a menu of sandwiches, small plates and other kinds of cuisine with specialties around the world, there’s definitely more to the place than its name. Come hungry and be ready to be filled, but don’t think about skipping dessert; that would be a mistake. About as bad a mistake as missing out on this spot.
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.
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.
Opened in Over-The-Rhine in downtown Cincinnati as another of its much-loved experimental restaurant concepts, Abigail Street is a Tapas bar with a flair for making great small-plate Mediterranean specialties. Served up easy to divide and meant to be shared with friends, this spot has a long wait for its food on the weekends, but the quality of the food is immediately apparent, from when the first dish lands on your table to when the very friendly service sees you off at the end of the night. The concept is definitely unique on this street for the experience that it offers.
A funny thing of a concept in Cincinnati’s Hyde Park neighborhood, the Dutch’s shop is a combination bottle and craft beer bottle shop, as well as a deli and bar. The spot has a lot of people coming and going for different reasons, but its tiny bar room is always full and its extensive patio is welcoming on those warm weekends. As much as the spirits here are something to behold, I would say the the food just can’t be overlooked.
A hot, rising chain of taco bars with locations in several cities, Bakersfield is a trendy bar that finds itself in the hippest part of town. Bakersfield OTR in Cincinnati, is a centerpiece of Over-The-Rhine’s active nightlife scene. The taco bar has plenty to offer with its particular brand of cuisine, whether you want familiar toppings or some of the more exotic stuff rarely found elsewhere in Cincinnati, you’ll find it here. You’re almost certain to have a significant wait to dine at Bakersfield, but the food, I think is worth a try.
Opened just off the square in downtown Troy, Basils on Market is a significant departure from the Night Sky Coffeehouse which formerly occupied this space. While it keeps the same intimate and cozy interior feel that made the former space so comfortable, this new concept goes instead in the direction of a high-quality bar with a menu of pub grub and an appreciation for the local arts scene. Good to see local artists are still represented in the space, but now you’ll want to take a look at that menu, too. The dishes you’ll find here are definitely worth a detour.
While northern Cincinnati’s suburbs have changed drastically over the past 25 years, Grand Oriental has remained a mainstay on Fields Ertel Road. Since 1988, this upscale Chinese restaurant has served not only popular traditional Americanized Chinese food, but a more traditional Cantonese tradition called “dim sum,” where small dishes of different traditional foods are served in steamer baskets, with servers bringing many different kinds of these dishes around the restaurant and diners pick out what they like. It’s not common to find this kind of dining around Ohio, and it’s definitely worth a visit.
A community-centered fine dining establishment in small-town Grand Rapids, Ohio, LaRoe’s Restaurant serves a lot of roles in this community. It’s got a brass-railed, rich wood interior that serves in part as a tavern and in part as a fine dining establishment and bistro with a riverside view of the Maumee River. From year to year it also hosts a ton of community events, ranging from a holiday dinner theatre to a concert venue to a banquet hall for special occasions. This far south of Toledo, it’s great to see the small town charm of a place like Grand Rapids, and LaRoe’s fits into this town very well.