Food

Best of the City 2010

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Banana Split: Aglamesis Brothers

The most traditional of all sundaes becomes something almost magical at Aglamesis Brothers. While you can mix and match flavors to your heart’s content, this is the way we like our Banana Classique: a scoop of strawberry ice cream with pineapple topping, vanilla with hot fudge, and chocolate with strawberry. The ice cream is perfectly spoonable, the toppings truly fruity—no sickly syrupy sweetness here. Best of all, it comes topped with three small scoops—yes, scoops; there’s no spray can in sight—of real whipped cream, the consistency of softened butter and completely divine. Oakley, (513) 531-5196; Montgomery, (513) 791-7082

Fast-Food Sushi: Soho Sushi

Approach the counter at Soho Sushi in Tower Place Mall, and you will likely have this thought: It’s like Subway, but with raw fish! The roll you order is made right in front of you, whether you take the standard route (spicy tuna, tempura shrimp, California) or roll your own (calamari and unagi eel are among your options). Our favorite part besides the fast, yummy lunch? The maki cutter, which slices your roll into 12 easy pieces with a quick turn of the handle. (513) 421-7646

Cobb Salad: Mayberry

One night in 1937, the story goes, the owner of the Hollywood Brown Derby (Bob Cobb, cousin of baseball legend Ty) prowled the kitchen, throwing together a late supper from leftovers. Thus the Cobb salad was born—and at Mayberry, it has died and gone to heaven. Crisp lettuces, chewy peppered bacon, tender rosemary chicken, perky chopped tomato, succulent roasted pear, rich blue cheese, Vidalia onion vinaigrette, a celestial puff of poached egg: this is the Cobb of the Gods. (513) 381-5999

Soda Selection: Jungle Jim’s International Market

An undiscovered soda-verse looms large in the aisles of this Fairfield giganto-grocer. Sure, they’ve got Coke / Pepsi / Mountain Dew (they’re a grocery store, duh), but there is so much more: plain brown cartons of Blenheim Ginger Ale (hot, not as hot, and diet varieties); cases of Jones Soda, cans of Dr. Brown’s, and bottles of Faygo; a rainbow aisle of Jarritos sodas; bottles of Thums Up from India; ginger beers from Regatta, Barritt’s, and Sioux City; and that just scratches the surface. Go ahead, pop your top. (513) 674-6000

Late Night Dining: NorthSlice Pizzeria

We all know the pang of late-night hunger. But rarely has the go-to food been as good as NorthSlice Pizzeria. Mike Aug’s pizza window (a dining room opens this month) serves custom-made pizza by the slice or by the pie. Choose from 21 toppings and tomato or roasted garlic sauce. And if you happen to be at Northside Tavern, you can find Mike selling slices in the back—so you can fill up without ever leaving the bar. (513) 675-5917

Candy Store: Supreme Nut and Candy

Nothing brings out the kid in us like the Supreme Nut and Candy in Montgomery. The store is unassumingly located in a strip mall. But inside there’s everything from Smarties to buckeyes to those black and orange Halloween candies. Grab a bag, dig your hand deep into the bins, and pull out as much as you want. Best of all they have M&M’s sold by color—because no one likes the green ones anyway. (513) 489-9566

Beef Pot Pie: Holzman Meats

This version of the iconic beef pot pie is local comfort food’s newest recruit. Holzman Meats in Montgomery makes them the good old-fashioned way, with a homey beef and veggie filling suspended in a tasty gravy. And there’s no skimping out on the crust, either: top, bottom, and sides are all covered with melt-in-your-mouth pastry. Buy some for the freezer—they only make them November through January. (513) 489-1411

Grilled Cheese: BBQ Bacon Grilled Cheese at Tom & Chee

Tom & Chee’s grilled cheese doughnut gained instant fame when they opened last year, and they continue to redefine the childhood favorite, offering five bread and cheese options plus lots and lots of extras: oregano, garlic, turkey, pesto, etc. The best choice is almost always the option that sounds least like a grilled cheese. Our favorite is the heart-stopping BBQ bacon grilled cheese—melted cheddar topped with bacon strips and Grippo’s barbecue potato chips. The brains behind Tom & Chee are hard at work rehabbing a permanent storefront (opening very soon, we hope) at 133 E. Court St., downtown. Until then, you can find them at www.facebook.com/4TomAndChee.

Egg Salad: Marx Bagels

Egg salad: either you love it or you hate it. If you’re a lover, make a beeline to Marx Bagels. Anyone can make this classic salad with eggs and mayo; Marx kicks it up a notch with celery and carrots. The matchstick-thin carrot strips give the salad just enough form, crunch, and flavor to elevate it into “best you’ve ever had” category. It’s especially tasty on—you guessed it—a nice warm bagel. (513) 891-5542

Ravioli: Sacred Heart Church

Our apologies. You can’t have the best ravioli in Cincinnati until next April. Twice a year since 1911—Palm Sunday and a Sunday in October—the parishioners of Sacred Heart Church and members of The Order of The Sons of Italy unite, handcrafting more than 200,000 ravioli served for full service dinner or boxed for carryout. Plumped with spinach, ricotta, ground veal and pork, the ravioli are so popular that lines form hours before carryout or dinner service begin (10 a.m. and noon respectively). It’s a worship you shouldn’t miss. (513) 541-4654

Vegetarian Burrito: The Comet

Think “burrito” and “tofu” in the same sentence is blasphemous? Then get thee to The Comet, ye of little faith, and order the Jerk Tofu burrito, the full-figured one as big as your forearm, hefty with beans (black or red); rice; housemade salsa (we like the hot, or the too infrequently featured tomato curry); and chunks of tofu cooked in allspice, pepper, cinnamon, and soy. Even carnivores may convert. (513) 541-890

Salad Bar: Boi Na Braza

We know what you’re thinking: Isn’t Boi Na Braza the meat-eaters haven? Yes, it is, but it’s also got a killer salad bar with enough fixings to make a meal. The four-sided bar features around 40 items, five of which are hot sides—marinated shiitake mushrooms, broccoli with Parmesan cheese, Brazilian rice with beef, mashed potatoes, and black beans. Beyond the standard salad ingredients, Boi Na Braza stocks palmetto (Brazilian hearts of palm), tabouleh, fresh buffalo mozzarella, bruschetta, smoked salmon, gourmet cheeses, potato salad, and more. Though the $29.99 price tag might seem steep, we promise you will leave as satisfied as your meat-on-a-stick eating companions. (513) 421-7111

Weekend Breakfast:ForkHeartKnife

There may be only four tables, but Sunday morning customers at tiny corner café ForkHeartKnife are willing to wait for custardy quiches or buttery Italian stratas plump with cheese and seasonal vegetables (spinach, tomato, and provolone one morning); sweet potato biscuits with sausage gravy; or any of the other provincial comfort that emerges from Sierra Laumer’s and Leah Heisel Grande’s kitchen. Pour yourself a cup of coffee, grab a fresh muffin, and order from the blackboard menu. (513) 381-3451

Macaron Flavor: Taste of Belgium

Macaron madness has finally descended upon Cincinnati. The little French confection—two crunchy meringue layers united by a thin layer of smooth filling—comes in jewel tones and as many flavors as the gourmet jelly bean. No stranger to things French, Belgian import and waffle-slinger extraordinaire Jean-Francois Flechet, owner of Taste of Belgium, brings us his version of the pillowy sweet. It was a difficult decision, but we kept reaching for the orange meringue layered with dreamy dark chocolate. Toot sweet! (513) 381-3280

Vegetarian Dish: Amma’s Kitchen

Feel like going meatless? Try the gobhi Manchurian at Amma’s Kitchen in Roselawn. Amma’s specializes in “authentic Indian vegetarian flavors” and the menu is chockablock with zesty taste sensations. But we fell for the gobhi Manchurian: fried cauliflower florettes (the gobhi) tossed in a smoky-sweet red sauce that tastes of tomatoes and tamarind with a subtle heat (the Manchurian). It’s like barbecue chicken wings—same crunch, same lip-smacking flavor—only made with cauliflower. Good and good for you. (513) 821-2021

Pancakes: National Exemplar

Liberally laced with banana slices and homemade granola, the Banana Crunch pancakes at the National Exemplar are not to be missed. The fluffy flapjacks are golden and light with crispy crunchy edges only a griddle can produce. Sure, the stack is sweet enough to stand on its own, but go ahead, drizzle (or drown) them with warm maple syrup and a smear of thick-as-butter fresh whipped cream. (513) 271-2103

Holiday Feast: The Restaurants at Palm Court

Secular as it may sound, eating out on Christmas Day can be a religious experience. For one thing, the Great Gatsby grandeur of the Palm Court in the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza is bound to make someone at the table say “Holy” something-or-other. And the sumptuous buffet orchestrated by chef Todd Kelly will have your relatives praying that this is a new family tradition. (513) 421-9100

Steak: Jeff Ruby’s

Yes, there are other great steaks and steakhouses in town. We know. We’ve dined our way through most of them. But when someone asks where can you get the best steak in town, without hesitation we answer: Jeff Ruby’s. Our steak of choice? The dry aged bone-in rib eye; 24 ounces of superbly char-grilled USDA prime beef with a moist, robust chew and a penetrating flavor to each luxurious, beeftastic bite. (513) 784-1200

Prepared Party Dish: Hyde Park Meats

Obsessing over your first cocktail party? Striving to improve on fondue and pigs-in-a-blanket? Give the crowd something to dish about: Hyde Park Meats’s beef tenderloin, cloaked in garlic and cracked pepper, thin-sliced, and served au jus, will take your holiday buffet into the Big Time. And the pressure’s off you. (513) 321-4328

Fiery Hot Dish: Sichuan Bistro

Literally translating to “water boiled fish,” a more appropriate translation of Sichuan Bistro’s shuizhu yu may be “fish filets suspended in blazing red volcanic chili-laced broth.” No worries though. With the addition of hua jiao, the aromatic bud better known as Sichuan peppercorns, and a key ingredient in authentic Sichuan cuisine, it will only be a matter of minutes before your mouth is pleasantly anesthetized. (513) 770-3123

Root Beer Float: The Root Beer Stand

The Root Beer Stand’s root beer and vanilla ice cream float is lick-the-cup-clean good, thanks largely to the root beer made on-site since 1957. The stand began life as an A&W during the height of carhop-serving, drive-in eateries. Ownership has changed hands a few times in the past half-century, but what matters most—the foot-long hot dogs, the root beer float, the baseball caps tacked to the ceiling—has remained the same. Open late March through September. (513) 769-4349


 

Best of the Food Trucks

Our five favorite meals on wheels.

Little Pepper Food Cart

Co-owner Saresa Hanna brings the flavors of her Puerto Rican heritage to the Rock N Roll Bowl: basmati rice topped with red beans, sautéed peppers and onions, cheese, and grilled chicken or barbecued tofu. Follow them on Facebook or e-mail them at littlepeppercinci@gmail.com.

Just Q’in

Owner and ’cue master Matt Cuff serves a tenderific pulled pork sandwich topped with vinegary chopped housemade slaw. www.justqin.com

New Orleans To Go

Great gumbo, these po’ boys are good (and the gumbo is great)! Plump shrimp or strips of catfish sheathed in crunchy golden breading, tucked into a bun with lettuce, tomato, mayo, and a spicy honey barbecue style glaze. This truck lets the good times roll. (513) 833-1342

Café de Wheels

The signature juicy Wheels Burger crowned with cheese and balsamic onion marmalade is not only their best item, it’s one of the best burgers in the city. Try it “Animal Style,” cooked in mustard and onions. www.cafedewheels.com

Señor Roy’s Taco Patrol

Slow roasted pork shoulder marinated in pineapple and adobo sauce makes the al pastor tacos the best of Roy’s menu. We like ours with a little crumbled cojita, and the smoky sweet and hot mango habañero salsa. Follow them on Twitter or e-mail tacopatrol@senorroys.com

* Please note that the information listed in this section was accurate at the time the issue went to print in 2010 and that addresses, menu items, company status, etc., may have changed. Please contact the companies to confirm details.

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