Serving up French-style Louisiana cooking along with traditional American favorites for lunch and dinner, Fat Fish Blue also hosts live jazz and blues performances five nights a week. Start tongues tapping with a half pound of boiled crawfish ($6.99) and fried green tomatoes with collard greens, mobile relish, and Cajun mayo ($5.99). Entrees include the mumbo jambalaya chicken ($9.99) and the Cajun crawfish ravioli, which replaces the tiny crustaceans' hard outer shells with tender pasta and tosses them with sauteed chicken, onions, and pepper in a Cajun pepper cream ($17.99). Vegetarians can nosh a crisp veggie burger heaped with lettuce, tomato, and shaved onion ($7.99), while roving sweet teeth can be wooed back with desserts such as the carpetbagger, a chocolate sack filled with sponge cake, fresh fruit, and Godiva white chocolate mousse ($11.99). Fat Fish Blue also offers a spacious bar full of potent potables.
Cool breezes caress the faces of diners seated at the brick-walled outdoor patio at Marbella Restaurant, recalling the Mediterranean climate of the Spanish seaside resort for which the eatery is named. Indoors, tuxedoed waiters deliver fresh seafood such as twin lobster tails, grilled scallops, and jumbo shrimp to tables lit by flickering candlelight. Spanish wines, from sparkling cavas to rich, red riojas, pour into glasses from a full bar.
First-time visitors to Chowder House Cafe often fixate on the dining room’s walls—or lack thereof, as every square inch has been painted over with electric flowers, guitar players, crowned kings, and other artistic testaments to the café’s funky and unconventional outlook. This same outlook makes its way onto the menu, which features the namesake clam chowder alongside salads, sandwiches, and dinner entrees similarly inspired by the sea. Aside from the Sunday brunch’s traditional omelets and buttermilk pancakes drenched in fresh Ohio maple syrup, a crab cake benedict celebrates the weekend atop a toasted ciabatta roll. Regardless of the time of day, a considerate BYOB policy accommodates the sailors who often stumble into the café with unlabeled bottles of clam juice.
When it comes to the Fratello's heaping portions of lasagna and chicken piccata, you'll want to do some sharing of your own. That's doubly true on Sundays, when the restaurant loads their brunch buffet with custom omelets, belgian waffles, and biscuits with made-from-scratch gravy.
Carrying on the tradition of his father Labib Hajjar, a restaurateur who opened the original Poco Piatti location on Monroe Street, Elias Hajjar and his wife Joy have created a welcoming new space where locals can experience Mediterranean cuisine. Diners choose from Greek classics including moussaka, Italian-inspired dishes such as prosciutto crepes with basil and homemade sundried-tomato sauce, or Middle Eastern-style kabobs with swordfish or beef tenderloin. The owners have designed the interior to resemble a Spanish villa—the mural above the bar colorfully depicts rolling Mediterranean hills, and a stone oven churns out freshly baked pita bread or lights the miniature Olympic torches of waiters jogging by.
Since 1996, Labib has given back to the community as the co-chairperson of Share our Strength's Taste of the Nation Toledo, an annual food and wine event that, according to The Toledo Blade, raised more than $100,000 to help fight childhood hunger in 2011. Elias also follows in his father's community-minded footsteps by electing to source his ingredients from local suppliers.
Whitehouse Inn's America-themed menu sates appetites for classic domestic fare such as steaks and burgers, and the presidential portraits that line the walls encourage scintillating historical conversations. In honor of the 27th president for which it is named, the mushroom-topped William Taft dish of char-grilled beef is slathered with onions and thick beef gravy to help grease it out of a too-small bathtub ($11.99). Platters of juicy prime rib range from 8-ounce AARP cuts ($11.99) to 36-ounce presidential cuts ($35.99), and all arrive with Secret Service escorts of a salad or soup, dinner rolls, and choice of side. Oval-office burgers such as the hickory burger with barbecue sauce and bacon ($6.99+) resolve international disputes with the help of a neutral mushroom-swiss burger ($6.99+). Pair any dish with a selection of sides, including sweet-potato french fries and waffle fries that emigrated from France on a buoyant waffle iron.