Buckeyes are an fundamental part of the Ohio experience. In Ohio elementary schools, future corn-hole champions learn about the State's official tree, the Buckeye, and can identify its leaves before the age of six (although they will likely become confused that every stoner sporting a pot leaf t-shirt is an avid Ohioan...or maybe that was just me?). We learn about the state buckeye tree, we watch Buckeyes play football, and, best of all, we eat lots and lots of delicious peanut butter-chocolate buckeye likenesses.
'Ohio' on Serious Eats
Whether you read Slice or Serious Eats in general, you're familiar with OMG, Food That Changed My Life. For most of us, it's exaggeration, a figure of speech. But for the students in Walter Gloshinski's special needs class at Newark High School, pizza is literally helping shape them as they shape it.
Goetta is a German-American breakfast staple close to the heart of Cincinnatians and the lucky out-of-towners that discover it. But where did it come from and what's all the fuss? We give you a bit of the history and where you can nosh on it now.
When Matt Danko isn't in the kitchen at The Greenhouse Tavern creating seasonal desserts for everyone to enjoy (even vegetarians, vegans, and gluten-free diners), he's satisfying his sweet tooth all over Cleveland with everything from marshmallow doughnuts to clothespin cookies. Check out all of his favorites.
Taste of Belgium makes phenomenal thick, sweet, chewy Belgian waffles, so it's no surprise that the company's expanded from a waffle cart to a bistro that's packed minutes within opening. We went beyond the waffles to this stunning, and indulgent, torte.
Findlay Market is Cincinnati's oldest continuously running public market, and with some serious revitalization it's now also the most exciting place to source local meat, fish, and produce. In the summer, the market teams with farmers and outdoor merchants. Even in the dead of winter, though, there are great eats to be found. We took a tour of the offerings inside, to help you get through the coming months.
Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood has developed dramatically in recent years—so much so that we were floored by the flood of enthusiastic eaters, long lines, and tight parking that's now the norm on nights and weekends alike. We ate our way through as many new spots as we could, and compiled some of our favorite bites for our very first OTR neighborhood guide.
Balance is the key with the Custard Filled Long John at Holtman's Donuts in Loveland, Ohio, where they've been making doughnuts for over 50 years.
The multiday preparation for this sandwich starts with pork belly, butt, jowl, and trotters, which are braised with mirepoix and garlic. The rendered gelatin from the trotters seeps into the marvelous meat milieu which—when shredded, packed in a pan, and left to chill overnight—sets into a terrine loaf. The following day, it's sliced into thick slabs, floured, dipped in egg wash and panko, deep fried, and served up to lucky diners. That's one fancy-pants schnitzel.
Challah is an excellent (if not traditional) choice for the Cuban, and I really liked it. The perfectly grilled challah was nice and crunchy, yet soft and yielding, unblemished by the Cap'n-Crunch-roof-of-mouth effect that a toasted and pressed sandwich sometimes presents. Roasted pork, ham, cheese, pickles, and "monkey mustard"—made with whole grain country Dijon, honey, bananas, pineapple, and banana peppers—all worked together to make one damn good sandwich.
While I imagine die hard crepe-eaters might turn their nose up at any liberties being taken with the traditional concept, the creative ingredient combinations and quick, friendly staff obliterated any hesitation I might've had after my first visit to It's Just Crepes.
Creamy macaroni and cheese, savory bacon, and gooey cheddar is an amazing combo, even when not in a sandwich, and the generously buttered and grilled white bread adds a satisfying crunch. It's a sizeable meal; I usually eat half and save half for later. It's also a great value at $6.50, though I would save some room in your lunch budget for a soda, as this sandwich tends toward the salty side.
Bakersfield OTR is a new Mexican-influenced restaurant in Cincinnati's Gateway Quarter. And while the tacos (particularly the fish and the short rib) are excellent, I also urge you to order one of their specialty tortas.
Deli Seven20 is tucked away in the corner of a large office building, amid law and advertising firms on one of the farther corners of Cincinnati's central business district, or as the natives call it, the "CBD." Despite the location, which is a little off the beaten path, the Deli is going into its sixth successful year, and is always packed around lunch time. Their secret could be the fresh, high quality ingredients used to make each sandwich and salad (such as smoked tofu, fig jam, brie, or jalapeño jelly), the creative specials that change daily, or the friendly staff who always remember your name. Or it could be the Ring Dang Doo.
Few will seriously dispute the claim that The Greenhouse Tavern is one of the best restaurants in Cleveland. And the build-your-own four-course meal might be the best value I've experienced at a higher end restaurant. If you're fortunate enough to check out chef Jonathan Sawyer's downtown establishment, it's definitely worth exploring the menu as much as possible, but passing over the burgers would be a huge mistake.
Michael Symon had already made it as a serious culinary and television star before he opened B Spot, his fast casual burger mini-chain in his hometown of Cleveland. As far as I'm concerned, these burgers are his crowning achievement.
Wendy's is classing it up with a new line of Black Label Burgers—tagline, "The perfect harmony of signature taste and select ingredients"—currently being tested in Wichita, Kansas, and Columbus, Ohio. The quarter-pound burgers come in Bacon Portabella (with mushroom sauce, muenster cheese, three half-slices of bacon, thick tomato slice, and peppery sauce; $4.89) and Spicy Santa Fe (with guacamole, pepper jack cheese, mixed salad greens, thick tomato slice, red onion slices, and cilantro jalapeño lime sauce; $4.49), says GrubGrade.
If the scent that wafts in all directions from the outdoor smoker at Hot Sauce Williams isn't enough to get you in the door, the sweet, spicy, and tangy sauce ought to be. And fortunately for all who enter, the sauce gets poured onto every order, including this pulled pork sandwich ($6.50).
Iron Chef Michael Symon doesn't have a pizzeria but based on the pie I had at his restaurant Lolita in Cleveland, he definitely should think about. The pork sausage pizza, featuring housemade sausage and an excellent crust, is too good to be relegated to a small pizza section on a menu with so many non-pizza options.
I went to the B Spot for AHT purposes but when I saw Michael Symon's menu had not one, but two different fried bologna sandwiches, I knew I had to do some research.