I'm a Fred & Gari's evangelist. Or more accurately, I’m a pusher. “You should go to Fred & Gari’s,” I say, when I meet a hungry downtowner. “They’ll set you up.” More often than not, however, the response is “Who?” That’s because this little carryout caterer—tucked away in the 600 block of Vine Street between Total Juice Plus and a parking garage entrance—flies under the radar (mainly because they’re only open on weekdays from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.).
The interior is hilarious: 1980s retro throwback with random (read: amazing) cat-themed paintings on the wall. The staff is jolly: Gari mans the cash register, greeting customers with a smile and a one-liner; Fred holds down the line, turning out an impressive and tasty array of deli salads, soups, gourmet sandwiches, and, in my case, pizzas. The traditional 8-incher is hot, crunchy, zesty, melty, and unbelievably fresh (keep your eye on Fred and you’ll see him press fresh dough into a personal-sized pan). It’s the perfect lunch for when you just want to shun the rest of the real world, go back to your cubical, and stare at the Internet.
Fred & Gari’s, 629 Vine St., downtown, (513) 784-9000. Prices: $3.50–$19.75. Lunch weekdays.
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