Food

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Day Trips in Cincinnati

Are you planning to go to  Zinzinnati for Oktoberfest, but need something to do the next day? Have a day free and are wondering what to do? Here are some day trip ideas for Cincinnati.

Trip 1: A day at the park 

A trip to Eden park is a great way to spend the day, see the sights and not spend a lot of money.

  1. Echo Restaurant: a great place to get a quick breakfast before a long day of sightseeing
  2. Krohn Conservatory:  Located in Eden park it is a greenhouse that goes way beyond anything at the local flower shop.
  3. A picnic in Eden Park:  While in one of Cincinnati loveliest sites stop for a quick bite. Sit on the lawn, by the lake, or at the river overlook.
  4. Cincinnati Art Museum: The next stop is also in Eden park. One of the best art museums in the state.

 Trip 2: Signs in the Sky

An afternoon and evening trip to see the city in a different light.

  1. American Sign Museum: A museum dedicated to signs of all forms. With a working neon shop and more neon that one location needs. Last Tour starts a 2pm
  2. Arthur’s: One of the best burger joints in town. Grab a bite for dinner and then walk around Hyde Park.
  3. Cincinnati Observatory:  A great place to visit any time. See the stars at night or just see the telescopes during the day.

Trip 3: History on Display 

Important sites for two of America’s Presidents and a lesson on the struggle for freedom

  1. William Howard Taft National Historic Site: The home of one of Ohio 8 Presidents.
  2. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center: A museum dedicated to freedom for all and the struggle of obtain it.
  3. William Henry Harrison Tomb and Memorial: The site official resting place of the first president to die in office. Also near-by is a marker for the Birthplace of his grandson President Benjamin Harrison.

Trip 4: Art – food for the soul. Food – art for the stomach

A walking tour of the heart of the city and all the art it has to offer. This walking tour can pass by Music Hall and many other great sites.

  1. Findlay Market: A historic market in Over The Rhine. A great place for breakfast or lunch.
  2. The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Main Branch: Stop in for a book, or just to see the great art they have on display.
  3. Fountain Square: The heart of downtown. Stop and admire the fountain, see a concert, or grab a bite.
  4. Contemporary Art Center and 21c Museum Hotel:  Two free art galleries just down the street.
  5. Some of the many, many, many murals the city has: Way more than one could probably see in one day.

Trip 5: A ballgame and some sites

  1. A walk along the riverfront to see the Riverboats
  2. National Steamboat Memorial: A hidden treasure with hidden secrets worth finding
  3. Great American Ballpark: The home of the Cincinnati Reds OR Paul Brown Stadium: Home of the Cincinnati Bengals

Whole Day Themselves:

  1. Cincinnati Zoo: One of the Best Zoos in the nation (maybe start with breakfast at Sugar n’ Spice)
  2. Cincinnati Museum Center. When it reopens this will be one of the premier attractions in the area.

Fountain Square

520 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH 45202

https://myfountainsquare.com

In the heart of downtown Cincinnati is a large fountain. Surrounded by buildings and the hustle and bustle of business life this fountain could easily be forgotten by the people outside of Cincinnati. But even if the people outside the city forgot it, the people of the city never would. Fountain Square has become the heart of Cincinnati and as famous an icon as the riverfront and the bridges.

The fountain was commissioned by Tyler Davidson, and made at the Royal Bronze Foundry of Bavaria, to honor his late brother-in-law and businesses partner. August von Kreling had the design, but had found no one to sponsor its creation. The fountain stands 43 feet tall. On top is a statue of a lady called The Genius of Water. Around here are four figures representing the human uses of water. Around them at the edges are four figures that represent the pleasures of water. These figures were originally added to the design as drinking fountains and can still be used to this day. The fountain was dedicated on October 6th, 1871 and has been renovated 3 times over the years. In 1971, for its centennial celebration, the fountain was moved and the entire square was redesigned. This was the design and configuration made famous by the WKRP in Cincinnati opening. In 2006 it was moved again as the entire square was revitalized hopping to make it the heart of the city once more.

The original model on view at the Cincinnati Art Museum

It did become the focal point that organizers were hoping for. The square is surrounded by shops and restaurants. The variety of food, from local upscale venues to national fast casual chains, is large enough to make it a daily destination. Many workers simply walk to the square instead of hunting around town. Food trucks park in and around the square on occasion too.

As the heart of the city, the square should be near many other things. 3 art galleries, the library, The Aronoff Center, The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Great American Ballpark, and so many other arractions are within walking distance, or a short ride on the Streetcar. Throughout the week the square host trivia nights, themed food nights, concerts, a Farmers Market (harking back to the sites original uses as a butchers market), and much much more. During the colder months it hosts a skating rink.

We went after a visit to the Cincinnati Public Library Main Branch on a warm spring day. It was lunch time and we found the square busy. Many people were visiting the local food trucks that had parked nearby. Seating seemed to not be a problem as the square had many tables set up. Music was playing from a dj booth located next to the stage. Over all the atmosphere was festive and lively despite the crowds. We were full from eating earlier but found this would be a great place to stop for lunch while exploring the city.

Tip: The fountain is turned off when the weather becomes freezing on a constant basis and is turned on before the first game of the MLB season.

Sugar n’ Spice

4381 Reading Road, Cincinnati OH 45229

https://sugar-n-spice-restaurant.com

Our quest to eat at any breakfast place we can allowed us to come along this little gem. What we like about breakfast places is that you can find some really local and quirky ones. Sugar n’ Spice Restaurant has been in business for 75 or more years. This shows how popular this place has stayed. This is not a huge restaurant, but it does not need to be, either

We went in the middle of the morning on a weekday. We saw a mix of people from workers to families. The place has a counter and tables around the outer edges of the one room. We decided to sit at the counter in order to not have to wait for a booth. This place probably has a wait during the busy times and on the weekends. So expect to wait. The turnover is quick, but if you in a hurry do not go on the weekends.

They are known for their wispy thin pancakes and omelets. We ordered a breakfast quesadilla and a salmon platter. If you like a breakfast burrito a breakfast quesadilla is a sibling to this fine dish. The salmon platter had  flavorful salmon patties. We did not order lunch, but some of the menu items looked tasty. There is a cuddlin puppy, which is a hotdog wrapped in bacon with melted cheese and relish served on Texas toast. They also have all types of burgers and sandwiches. They have coffee. The real test of a breakfast place is not over fancy coffee, but if the coffee is refilled often. Our coffee was never empty. The staff made sure we had a coffee. The prices for the food were reasonable and the wait time for food was not long.

Sugar n’ Spice does support the local community, so we felt good about going to this place.

We made to feel at home at this place and taken care of. We felt a sense of fun and were even offered a choice of rubber duckies to pick from. This is a place one should check out and return to often.

 

World A’fair

2018 location: Dayton Convention Center
22 E 5th St, Dayton, OH 45402

https://www.aworldafair.org/

Date: Usually the weekend before Memorial Day (May 18-20, 2018)

Ohio is a melting pot. Over the years people from all walks of life and all parts of the globe have come together to make it a very interesting place. In the beginning most of the immigrants came from Europe. As the Countries involvement in Asia and other area of the world, the diversity of the state expanded too. One city that has embraced this diversity is Dayton. The city has many cultural organizations that help to keep the spirit of the people’s homeland alive and to help to educate the next generations.

For the past 45 years the many organizations have been coming together to celebrate the diversity of its people. Known as A World A’Fair, the event brings over 30 cultural heritage groups from around the region to one large celebration, the largest international festival in Ohio. Housed in the Dayton Convention Centers main hall the event is basically a market and two stages.

The “market” area is the largest section. It consist of one booth from each of the organizations involved. Each year the A’Fair has one aspect of culture that it focuses on. Each booth is required to display something based on that aspect. The single focus does an amazing job of showcasing the diversity of culture, while at the same time showing that all cultures have something in common. At most booth food is served. This is not just some over popularized sampling of the culture, like a fourth grade presentation. This is the real immigrants spending time to make the food of their homelands. While some of the food is common to the palate of the average 21st century American, such as bratwurst, wontons, curry, or pizza, it is all made in the tradition al way. The food is reasonably priced and a great reason to come back over the 3 days. Some booths sell merchandise too. The event is one of the largest fundraising for any group involved. Over 30,000 people attended in 2016.

The entertainment for A World A’Fair is also provide by the organizations. The 3 day event has many dancers, singers, and acrobats spread out over two stages. The Main Stage is where the large presentations take place. It is a large area off to the side of the main floor. The very large bleachers always seem to have space despite the crowds. The Interactive Stage is a smaller area for more, well interactive, presentations. The area is quite small and can fill up fast. Most groups preform many times over the weekend, with multiple chances to see them every day. These are great places to stop and eat, rest during the day, and wait to eat some more.

To help keep the younger ones interested the event has a children’s passport. The passport is a small book with questions that can be answered with information found at each booth. There also is a small child’s area in front of the Main Stage with crafts and demos. There also is a separate fair in the lobby of the convention center. Here many local organizations such as The Humane Society of Greater Dayton, and the Dayton Metro Library have informational booth for people waiting in line to enter. Sometimes the festivities from inside spill out into this area.

Over the years The World A’Fair has become more than a simple high school level presentation of cultures. It is a 3 day explosion of diversity and food, and dancing, and more food.  A must see for anyone looking to expand their understanding of the world.
Tip: Around noon Saturday a Naturalization Ceremony is held to welcome more citizens to the nation. A great chance to see the love that the immigrants coming to the area have for their new home, while still celebrating their old home.

Gift Basket Ideas from Ohio

This is the time of year that the stores are filled with simple stocking stuffers and easy to grab gifts for friends and family.  For loved ones near-by this is fine. For friends or family that have moved out of Ohio, or who live in another state and wonder what’s so great about the great state of Ohio, a little more is needed. Here are a few suggestions (not a complete list add your own in comments below) for perfect way to wrap up Ohio.

We have organized our ideas into regional baskets. Pick and choose or add your own. These are just suggestions. If you have any more suggestions you can add them in the comments below.

Northeast:

Northwest:

Southwest:

  • Cincinnati Style Chili – A little bit thinner than the “other” styles of chili, this classic is known for its ability to turn spaghetti into a regional favorite. Everyone has their favorite place, and all are good.
  • Grippos – if they want barbecue chips they probably crave these.
    Mike-Sells – if they are from a little closer to Dayton these are the choice
  • Ester Price – Chocolates from Dayton
  • Boston Stoker Coffee – Don’t let the name fool you, it’s locally roasted coffee.

Central:

Amish Country:

 

 

Mel-o-dee diner sign

Mel-O-Dee

2350 S Dayton-Lakeview Rd, Carlisle, New Carlisle, OH 45344

http://www.melodeerestaurant.com

Located just north of Fairborn and Huber Heights, the Mel-o-Dee is along the small strip that is the business district of New Carlisle. The restaurant is very hard to miss with the famous sign lighting up the way. While many other food options are available in the major cities nearby, and a few in town, Mel-O-Dee is worth the short drive.

The restaurant was opened in 1964, and run ever since, by the Childers family. They are currently on the 3 and 4th generations. The place feels like it has been updated, and yet kept the same ever since opening. If you want a fancy modern chain restaurant, this is not the place. The decor however does not feel inauthentic and cheesy. Everything works nicely to give a small town ascetic.  The atmosphere is of a local restaurant where people will come before a football game, or after church, and discuss the town’s mayor, with the mayor probably at the next booth.

When we went the food was amazing. The menu consists of Breakfast, sandwiches, and Dinner. The menu is nothing too fancy but has enough options to satisfy all but the pickiest eater. The selection is a reminiscent of a menu found in the 70’s and 80’s before current food trends started to take over. When we went the special was Baked Swiss Steak. It was a great traditional meal that many a place has forgotten.  The bread, as with most items, is simple and fresh made daily in house. The daily specials change from time to time and the online menu does not do justice to the selection at hand in store.

Mel-O-Dee is famous for its broasted fair of chicken, pork, or fish. Broasting is a style of cooking that is a mix of pressure cooking and frying. It is famous in central and southern Ohio. The food comes out crisp, not extra crispy, on the outside and juicy on the inside. The overall effect is similar to frying, but different enough to be memorable.  Mel-O-Dee takes pride in their broasting and has a whole section of the menu dedicated to it. If one has never had broasted foods before, Mel-O-Dee is a great place to begin. They even have carryout buckets up to 1000 pieces.

The prices of food may have gone up since the 90’s, but are still are the cheaper side of most sit down restaurants. The decor and feel of the place has not changed much since then. So for a good old nostalgic feel of small town Ohio go to Mel-O-Dee. As they say “Our Food will put a Mel-O-Dee in your Heart.”

Al’s Woody’s Diner

9 N Wood St
Wapakoneta, Ohio, OH 45895

On a trip to the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta we decided to try something new for lunch. We really wanted something local and good. We ended up going to Al’ Woody’s Diner. What we first noticed is that is not a huge place and that it seemed everyone knew everyone. The menu ranges from burgers, pizza, sandwiches, to dinners. The menu also has lots of local advertisements in it, so one more reason it seems this place is connect to the community.

When we went it was lunch time and we took the last seats at the bar. If we would have waited we could have gotten a table. The place seemed to have a lot of locals and just the right amount of seating for everyone. The overall look was local Wapakoneta with a major kick to Ohio State University and the buckeye state. “Woody” in the name refers to former coach Woody Hayes.  The inside is a a sports bar and not overdone, but retained its local diner/restaurant feel.

At lunch they have a buffet. This is mostly Pizza and Fried Chicken. We had Burgers and Chicken sandwiches. The food was standard and nothing too fancy on paper. But was exactly what one would want from this type of diner. It was well prepared and came out quickly enough to be able to get back to work or the museum. We started with the giant basket of onion straws and lost track of time. They were more than enough to share with 2 people or a group. The taste was of onions but not overpowering. The breading was well balanced with the insides to make for a great french fry substitute.

The food was good. It was well prepared and had a touch of homemade to it. Nothing felt “bagged” or factory prepared. The staff was friendly and service great. The selection was good and the price just right. The next time you visit Armstrong Air and Space save some time to go down the street to Al’s Woody’s Diner.

Bears Mill

6450 Arcanum Bears Mill Rd, Greenville, OH 45331

https://www.bearsmill.org

Bears Mill in Darke County is one of the last water powered mills still in operation in Ohio. The 4 story mill has become more of a museum than a full day to day mill. The mill still mills though.

Bears Mill has a shop on the first floor with a wide variety of kitchen utensils, pottery, decor, and ever chaining selection of art. Of course the shop also offers a selection of grains milled on site. It is a nice place to get a gift, or even just to get something for oneself.

The difference between Bears Mill and other local shops is in the mill itself. The mill is still in operation and during certain times one can actually see the grinding going on. When the miller is away the museum still is informational. The four floors are full of informational placards and pictures of the older days. Along with the working equipment are artifacts and items to support the story of how a mill works. One of the unique things about Bears Mill is that it has both the old buhr stone along with newer roller mills. Most mills discarded the old stones when they got the new rollers. The fact that the mill has both is a testament to the history that is preserved at the site.

Along with the beautiful mill are the acres of land surrounding it. Take a hike along the powerful Greenville Creek and see the force that drives the wheels inside. Sit and enjoy the sounds of the water and nature at the gazebo near-by. So stop by to pick up some grain, a painting, or just to see the old work mill.

Maid Rite

125 North Broadway St.Greenville, Ohio 45331

http://maidrite-greenville.com

Right down the street from the Garst Museum is the Famous Maid-Rite. Named Best burger in Ohio at times, but the award like the meat in the sandwich, is loose.

The meat in a Maid Rite is closer to a dry sloppy joe than a hamburger. It is steamed and seasoned, not fried. It is slightly sweet and will fall off the bun. The size is not quite a slider but with the looseness of the meat not quite a full sandwich. Two will be only slightly more than an average hamburger. The Maid Rite is not the only sandwich the restaurant has. For a more filling option the Big Jim is a maid rite with cheese and a slice of ham. They also have chicken salad, egg salad, and just ham, and ham and cheese sandwiches.

Along with the sandwiches are drinks and chip options, and desserts. The chips are Dayton’s own Mike Sells. The drink menu is large. Fountain drinks, bottle and sports drinks, and even something for the older folks (beer) are all available. The dessert menu includes traditional shakes, malts and sundaes.

The building is small and has limited seating. Not a problem at times, but seating can be an issue at meal times when the place is busy. In a hurry? Try the drive through. Want something to remember the place by? They sell hats and t-shirts in store.

Maid rite as the name says is mde right. The loose meat sandwich will leave one full and happy while the local atmosphere will leave one reminded of simple times in Greenville.

Schmidt’s Sausage Haus: Updated!

Original Post: Schmidt’s Sausage Haus

NEW: Food trucks (http://www.schmidthaus.com/sausage-truck/)

Schmidt’s Sausage Haus is still serving the classic German fare it has for over 100 years. They still have the Autobahn Buffet. They still are in the old building that fills up on weekends and is hard to park at during busy hours. They have added a food trucks to help with this problem.

We have not been to the food truck yet, but have been to their tent at local fares. The food is just as good as at the original location and the cream puffs just as large. The food trucks are outside of  business most days. They have more than one truck and generally spread through out the city pretty well. They also have a truck tracker and schedule on their website. On weekends in the fall they are with everyone else in Columbus at the OSU games. So where ever one might be in Columbus they are never to far from good German food.

Tip: Visit Schmidt’s on most social media platforms @SchmidtsCbus.