Monday, April 8, 2013

Pre-Prom Restaurants in Cincinnati

For those people (like me) who have their prom coming up in the following weeks, here are some of the best restaurants to go to for your size group.

Small Group (2-4 people)
Though all of the places on this list work for this size group, try something new and wonderful with these options...

  • The Primavista: If you want a special night, go to the restaurant with the gorgeous view and fabulous food. Make sure you budget at least $100 for this meal, but it really is an unforgettable dining experience.
  • Honey: Consistently voted as one of the best restaurants in the city, Honey provides you with incredible food at reasonable prices. Though you will stand out in your dresses and tuxes, the wonderful fare more than makes up for this. 
Medium Group (6-10 people)
I chose these places because they have enough space to accommodate a medium group but not enough for a large group.

  • Scotti's: My number one choice for this size group! This is wear my group of 8 went last year and it was phenomenal. The Italian music combines with melted candles, red and white tableclothes, and authentic Italian food to create an intimate and romantic atmosphere perfect for a tight knit group of friends. 
  • Campanello's: This is a cheaper and more casual option, but still has the family-owned feel. The atmosphere is definitely less impressive, but the food has the same quality. 
  • Akash India: Though many people will shy away from Indian before dancing, it is one of my favorite foods and almost always delicious. Akash India has the same quality as Clifton's many options, with more room to accommodate your group and a Fountain Square location for pictures. 
  • Mr. Sushi: Sushi is definitely one of the best things to enjoy with a large group. Order a huge amount of rolls for the group so you can try as many as possible. Mr. Sushi has been voted the best sushi in Cincinnati for a few years now, so you can almost guarantee a great time. 
  • Bella Luna: Definitely a favorite of mine, Bella Luna does a lot of things right. They flawlessly cater to a larger group, and offer lots of care and personality. The food is fantastic (try the bread pudding!) and the atmosphere is fun and cozy. I highly recommend this restaurant.
Large Group (10+)
For this size group, I went with restaurants that have party rooms you can rent out. The sizes tend to range from 10-40 so any size should work well. Make sure you call well in advance to rent these out!
  • Via Vite: This restaurant located right on the square offers rooms overlooking the fountain. They serve Italian with a twist at a good price point. This is my number one choice for a large group.
  • Moerlein Lager House: Each time I've been here, I was less than overwhelmed by the food. But the atmosphere is open and comfortable with fantastic views of the river. They should be able to accommodate your large group pretty easily.
  • Mitchell's Fish Market: Even if you don't like seafood, the food is pretty good here. Though I dislike chains, Mitchell's has plenty of room for a large group and is right on the river.
  • Montgomery Inn Boathouse: Can't go wrong with a classic...
Leave a comment if you can recommend any more restaurants. I hope all of you have a great prom!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Going out on $15: Sitwell's and the Esquire

      Sitwell's and the Esquire tend to be my go-to destinations when I can't think of anything to do on the weekend. The warm and bustling environment of Sitwell's is perfect for a long, meaningful conversation with a friend. I also love the Esquire's independent and foreign films as well as their inexpensive student tickets and special events. One such event is their presentation of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, which will be playing this Saturday, March 2nd, at 11:45 p.m. Make sure you dress up and be prepared for whatever comes your way- especially if you're a virgin! Another fun event to attend is their showing of The Big Lebowski on March 8th. As a result of their beautiful theater, excellent service, and boisterous events, the Esquire has been voted the "Best Movie Theater" By City Beat's Best of Cincinnati rankings for 5 years in a row. Check out their website for current showtimes and a calendar of events:
Address: 320 Ludlow Ave.
      A great way to compliment your evening is a trip to Sitwell's. With a wide array of both hot and cold drinks as well as an expansive food menu, Sitwell's is a great option for lunches with friends, business meetings, and date nights. My usual choices are a Cafe Au Lait and a Briemato sandwich (butter croisant with melted brie and a sliced tomato). They are open until 2am on Friday and Saturday to accommodate the post-movie late night rush.  Definitely one of my top 5 favorite coffee shops in Cincinnati.
Sitwell's Coffee House on Urbanspoon

Images Courtesy:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Best Places for Takeout in Cincinnati: Part 1

There are few things that I enjoy more than spending a weekend night curled up on the couch with takeout from one of my favorite restaurants, catching up on episodes of Breaking Bad. Here is my list of my favorite places to order takeout from in Cincinnati.

For those of you who have never had Indian, it is probably my favorite ethnic cuisine. Though it's difficult to find really authentic Indian food in the Midwest, the food is still fantastic, hearty, and flavorful. My favorite dish to get is Saag Paneer, spinach and cream with homemade cheese cubes. Some other great things to get are the Lamb Korma,Chicken Tikka Masala, and Chicken Tikka Saag. I am not a huge spice fan, so I usually get a level of 3, which results in just enough. The spice level is 1-6 with 6 being the highest. Also, don't forget to order naan (Indian bread) with your dish. My favorites are Garlic Naan and Aloo Naan.

  • Krishna India
    • This is probably my favorite place to get Indian takeout in Cincinnati. Their service is quick and  consistent and the food is always delicious. 
Krishna on Urbanspoon

  • Deep India
    • For those who live in the Clifton Area, Deep India delivers which is a huge plus. Since I do not live there, this place ranks second. Though they do have consistently good food, the service tends to be a bit slow and the naan, not as well made. 
Deep India Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I really love Vietnamese food because of the fresh flavors and hearty dishes. There is nothing better than a big bowl of Pho on a chilly day. Also, I've recently discovered Banh Mi sandwiches, which consist of cold cuts on a French baguette with pate, cucumbers, cilantro, and optional jalapenos. Absolutely amazing.
  • Cilantro
    • A mainstay for UC students, this small restaurant off of West McMillan offers up huge, steaming bowls of Pho and Vermicelli noodles on the cheap. 
Cilantro Vietnamese Bistro on Urbanspoon

  • Pho Lang Thang
    • Their small restaurant on the east side of Findlay Market serves some of the best food I've had in a while. Their Pho is more flavorful and authentic than Cilantro's while the Banh Mi sandwiches are the perfect lunch option. Unfortunately, they do not allow Pho on takeout order because the hot liquid melts the container. However, ordering a Banh Mi and some Vietnamese coffee makes a great meal that is worth the drive. 
Pho Lang Thang on Urbanspoon

I consider Thai food my alternative to Chinese Takeout. I personally prefer Pad Thai to Lo Mein and have had better luck with it in Cincinnati in terms of quality. This is just my personal preference, though. 
  • Thai Taste
    • Being a Westsider, this restaurant on Crookshank is a great place to hit up on a hectic weekday night. Just one order of the Pad Thai is enough to feed two. They also have a small selection of sushi that is pretty mediocre but still fine. 
Thai Taste on Urbanspoon
  • Thai Express
    • Their heaping bowls of stir fry noodles are worth the drive up the hill to Clifton. It is been said to be a more authentic alternative to other Thai places. Though the menu is pretty small, the prices are more than reasonable and the service is fast. 
Thai Express on Urbanspoon

Hope I gave you some new options on your list of Takeout Options. For the next post, I'll cover my favorite Mexican, Greek, Pizza, and miscellaneous options. Thanks for reading, and I apologize for not posting in a long time. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Quick List: Restaurants Near Fountain Square

A great night out downtown includes dinner at an awesome restaurant downtown then ice skating on Fountain Square. Here is a list of my favorite restaurants that you would be able to walk to from the square:

  • Right by the Square
    • Akash India: Though a bit more expensive than most Indian, they have a broader menu and a lunch buffet for only $10 ($$)
    • Chipotle: Not a fan of chains, but it is right on the square... ($)
    • Graeter's: Cincinnati classic, great end to any evening ($)
    • Potbelly: Good and inexpensive sandwiches, and directly on the square ($)
    • Food Trucks: If there are any there, I recommend trying them out. My favorites are Taco Azul, Cafe de Wheels, and Pizza Bomba ($)
  • Not Too Far Away
    • Fusian: make your own sushi with lots of options as well as premade rolls ($)
      • 600 Vine st. (1 block away)
    • Tot Dogs: super cheap, fresh, and delicious.Only open on weekdays for lunch ($)
      • 634 Vine st. (1.5 blocks)
    • Hello Honey: Unique ice cream flavors home made to perfection ($)
      • 633 Vine st. (1.5 blocks)
    • Mr. Sushi: Some of the best sushi in Cincinnati, though a bit higher priced ($$)
      • 580 Walnut st. (2 blocks away)
    • It's Just Crepes: If you haven't tried this yet, you're missing out! A large menu consisting of sweet and savory crepes. My favorite is the Pesto Turkey. ($)
      • 151 W. 4th st. (3 blocks)
    • Shanghai Mama's: Hearty bowls of noodles and other dishes in a 1920's Shanghai-themed atmosphere ($$)
      • 216 E. 6th Street (3.5 blocks)
    • Gilpin's Steamed Sandwiches: A huge menu consisting of unique steam-cooked sandwiches. The steamed cheeseburger is worth a try ($)
      • 37 E. 7th st. (3.5 blocks)
    • Burnell's: One of my favorite restaurants in the city. Delicious and inexpensive for lunch, serene and romantic for dinner. There is a 50% off deal at Cincinnati Alt Perks:, to help with the bill. 
      • 915 Vine st. (4 blocks)
    • Scotti's: This 100 yr old restaurant features melting candles, Lady and the Tramp-esque accordion music, and recipes passed down through the generations. I highly recommend this restaurant for a romantic date or a small group dinner before a dance. ($$)
      • 919 Vine st. (4 blocks)
    • Taqueria Mercado: A good, solid Mexican restaurant with authentic recipes. 
      • 100 E. 8th (4 blocks)
$- under $10 for one
$$- $10-15
A Couple Tips:
Parking: For the restaurants like Fusian and Tot Dogs, parking in the Fountain Square garage works well. It is relatively easy to find street parking for all but It's Just Crepes and Taqueria Mercado on weekend nights. If going during the daytime, especially on a weekday, street parking is very difficult to find in the Central Business District.
Safety: The area tends to get more sketchy the farther north you walk. Just make sure you're aware of your surroundings and walk in a group, preferably more than two. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

$20 Date Night: Bakersfield and Washington Park

Over-the-Rhine's Gateway Quarter is definitely the trendiest the neighborhood in Cincinnati. I love all the eclectic restaurants and boutiques located within walking distance of each other as well as Washington Park just a block away. A great and inexpensive date includes an early dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in the city, Bakersfield, then enjoying caroling at the Bandstand in Washington Park.

  • Bakersfield OTR
    • Though this place has only been around for less than a year, they have already established themselves as the best place to get a taco in Cincinnati. With unique and fresh flavors coupled with an impressive selection of spirits, you can guarantee Bakersfield will be on a long wait when the weekend rolls in. I recommend trying to beat the rush and getting there sometime before 5:30. I have to say, though, if I was over 21, then I would be staying for the great late night crowd. Nevertheless, drinks still run second to food when it comes to this joint. Their queso and guacamole tastes fresh and delicious, the perfect starter for the tacos. The tacos range from $3 to $4 with 2-3 being the average meal for one person. When I visited here, I ordered the Short Rib and Rajas Tacos. The short rib was tender and flavorful with just the right amount of spice. The Rajas was made up of portobello, poblano, and onions that tasted fresh and perfectly cooked. For four tacos and an order of queso, my boyfriend and I's meal ran up just under $20. I'm sure drinks could very well double that, but this bill was definitely on the lower end for the quality of food we ate. The atmosphere is pretty loud, but not more than expected. If you do happen to come during a long wait, either grab a seat at the spacious bar or give the hostess your cell number and explore some more of the district. I think Bakersfield is a great restaurant to go to for a variety of events and serves as a mainstay in the Gateway Quarter Dining District. 
Bakersfield OTR on Urbanspoon

  • Washington Park 
    • Whenever I see this park, I become so proud of the changes being made by 3CDC in Cincinnati. Washington Park has been turned into the center of a rich and vibrant community that is growing its wings back. Since reopening in July of this year, a myriad of cultural, musical, and family events have taken place in it. Throughout the summer, Date Night movies played on the lawn, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra performed, and the Midpoint Musical Festival all occurred in the revitalized park. A great event to attend this season is the Caroling held in the Bandstand now until the 22nd. After an amazing dinner, bundle up in your hats and gloves and walk a block west to listen to some tunes that will get you in the holiday spirit. Hot chocolate will also be sold to warm you up in the (hopefully!) winter weather.  Caroling occurs every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday until the 22nd. Be sure to check out the many decorations that have been put up around the district. If you still haven't been able to get yourself in the holiday mood, this will be sure to do it!

    • Additional Tip
      • You can try to park in the lot on the corner of 12th and Vine, though this one usually fills up first on weekend nights. If this occurs, park in the Washington Park garage which is inexpensive and within walking distance. 
Photos Courtesy:
The Atlantic Cities

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Weekday Lunch on Fountain Square: Tot Dogs and Hello Honey

The Fountain Square Ice Rink is officially open! Ice Skating is my favorite winter activity so I try to go at least 5 or 6 times during the season. My best suggestion is to go during the day when there will be less people and you can show off your awesome ice skating skills (or lack thereof). Two of my favorite places within walking distance of the square are Tot Dogs and Hello Honey. A great weekday lunch includes picking up a gourmet hot dog and homemade ice cream, then walking over to the square and enjoying them by the Genius of Water before heading out on the ice. These restaurants are located right across the street from each other on sixth, just a block away from the square.
    • Tot Dogs
      • This super tiny joint located just past 6th Street on Vine serves some of the best hot dogs in Cincinnati. Their vast menu allows you to customize the hot dog however you wish, and includes many gourmet ingredients such as Muffaletta, Raspberry Salsa, and Smoked Gouda. If hot dogs aren't your taste, the menu also offers sausages, veggie dogs, and many other options. Their prices are very reasonable, with a hot dog just $2 and $0.50 per ingredient. Though the hours are fairly limited and there is no seating, the taste of the hot dogs is worth it and you cannot beat the price. 
      • Open Mon-Fri: 11am to 2pm
Tot Dogs on Urbanspoon
    • Hello Honey
      • Probably my favorite ice cream shop downtown, Hello Honey serves a variety of flavors which range from Honey Lavender to Brownie and Cream. They also serve waffles, crepes, and other seasonal desserts. Everything is homemade, which is evident from the rich flavors and unique combinations.  The times I have visited, I got the Honey Lavender and Nutella ice creams. Both had a great taste and consistency, with a very homemade feel. For anyone who is a fan of ice cream and loves to experience new types, Hello Honey is a must try.
      • Open Mon.-Fri: 11am to 6pm; Sat: 2pm to 7pm
Hello Honey on Urbanspoon
    • Ice Skating
      • Sun.-Thurs: 10am to 10pm; Fri and Sat.: 10am to Midnight
      • $3 admission, $3 skate rental
    • Additional Tips: 
      • Since street parking is pretty scarce downtown on a weekday, I suggest parking in the Fountain Square Parking garage: go to for rates

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: Burnell's

      Adam and I decided to eat at Burnell's on Saturday. I have been hearing about the restaurant a lot lately, and  loved the concept of small plate dining with more of a focus on the food. After reading many stellar reviews, I was not disappointed. After passing the restaurant three times because of its subtle appearance, we finally got there and took a seat in the dining room with the two other parties there. After perusing the menu, we started to set up a game plan of what to order. The set up of the menu consists of two different small plate sections: 5 mainly vegetarian dishes at 3 for $33 and 3 entree options at 3 for $45.
      We decided to go with the Challah Toast points with roasted mushrooms and a baby Arugula salad. The service was fantastic, though this might be because of the small number of diners. The setting is very intimate, with dimmed lighting, candles, and soft Indie music playing in the background. After about 10 minutes, the first course arrived. The toast points were the perfect texture and a subtle buttery taste. When topped with the mushrooms and salad, the result was a mouth watering flavor combination. The mushrooms were cooked to perfection with just the right amount of flavor and melded well with the lemony taste of the arugula.
      We ordered the Chicken flat-bread next, with tomato, mozzarella, and a winter squash salad. This too was delicious. Beginning to feel full, we decided to finish the meal with two sides instead of another small plate, ordering the grits of the day followed by the homemade mac and cheese. The grits were different than any other I have had with a creamy smooth texture and addictive flavor. The mac and cheese was equally as good and unique. Our meal was finished with the cookies du jour  that I still can't get out of my head. They  were four warm shortbread cookies with a delicate composition that just melted in my mouth.
      Overall, the entire experience was phenomenal. Burnell's is now on my list of favorite restaurants and I plan on going back to try their lunch menu in the near future. Though this restaurant is a bit more expensive than what I would normally blog about, I definitely recommend it for a quiet and delicious night out. You won't regret it!

  • 915 Vine St. (on the west side of Vine next to Scotti's across from the library)
  • Open Tues.-Fri.: 11am to 2pm; Thurs.-Sat. 6pm to 9pm
Burnell's on Urbanspoon

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