Cafes in Mount Lookout

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To help readers venture beyond classic children’s tomes such as Dr. Seuss and Last Exit to Brooklyn, Blue Manatee will happily introduce you to the latest in li’l lit. Escape to the city with Brown Rabbit in a new title by Natalie Russell, or investigate the adventures of Origami Yoda with a pint-sized padawan Star Wars fan. Slightly older readers, meanwhile, can stock up on award winners such as Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, a macabre re-imagining of The Jungle Book. Check out the list of recently released titles, or peruse the shelves to find books for babies (prices vary). Blue Manatee also offers a unique gift selection of Uglydolls ($6–$22) and puzzles (starting at $9.99). Blue Manatee is open daily.

3054 Madison Rd
Cincinnati,
OH
US

Essencha's leisurely tea lunch begins with your selection of either a hot pot of tea or a shot of matcha (finely milled green tea). The tea house lets you choose from over 70 varieties of high-quality blacks, oolongs, greens, whites, rooibos, herbals, and organic flavors. Essencha's passionate staff of tea-totalers will help you navigate this voluminous variety until you find the tea you never knew you craved. Next, a soup of the day or miso soup stretches tongue tendons, followed by a fruit salad or a café salad with seasonal greens, veggies, dried fruit, pine nuts, and lemon vinaigrette. After you fill up on finger sandwiches with your non-teacupped free hand, enjoy a scone paired with clotted cream and jam. A cupcake or triple-chocolate-chunk brownie caps off a meal fit for tea tycoons and tea-drinking raccoons alike.

3212 Madison Rd
Cincinnati,
OH
US

A Forkable Feast provides an array of restaurant-quality meals packaged in microwave- and oven-safe containers, ready to be taken home, reheated, and devoured with all the ferocity of a sun-swallowing Fenris wolf. Signature entrees include savory veal and ricotta meatballs ($6.95), mac 'n' cheese with herbed goat cheese ($4.95), and lemon-rosemary chicken ($6.95). Assemble a full meal by partnering a lonely entree with a winsome side dish, such as succotash, creamy mashed potatoes, or lemon-orzo salad ($2.95 each). Glowing obediently behind the cashier, the brick pizza oven ushers forth crispy, wood-fired pies such as the minimalist margherita or the roasted-vegetable varietal, which employs a delectable cast of portobello mushrooms, onions, zucchini, pesto, and mozzarella ($7.50). A Forkable Feast also cooks up a reputable variety of gluten-free meals to share its edible accomplishments with the gluten averse.

3363 Madison Rd
Cincinnati,
OH
US

At first glance, J & W Sandwich Shoppe's menu is unassuming, but customers rave about this off-the-grid joint's giant stacked sandwiches. Favorites include the BLT, which is crammed with thick slices of bacon, and the multi-meat Little Italy, a 16-inch sub roll that boasts salami, ham, capicola, and provolone, plus lettuce, tomato, onion, and banana peppers, which, much like a few drops of lava, lend a nice bit of heat. Chips and pickle spears, as well as soups and sides such as slaw and potato salad, accompany the hot and cold sandwiches.

2008 Worth Ave
Cincinnati,
OH
US

While the décor at HD Beans and Bottles Café may not change when the lunch hour comes to a close, the atmosphere certainly does. That’s because as the baristas file out after a long day of pouring coffee and crafting light sandwiches, the bar staff begins preparing for nightly activities. The chatter that fills the shop revolves around a range of activities and themes, which range from karaoke and UFC fights to hip-hop on vinyl and half-price wine nights. During these events, bartenders grab glasses to pour in one of more than 100 different beers and wines or whisper in reviews of popular films. Chefs keep preparing meals throughout it all, creating croissant sandwiches, veggie burgers, and flatbread pizzas.

6721 Montgomery Rd
Cincinnati,
OH
US

Sugar n’ Spice first opened its doors in 1941, and its breakfast, lunch, and now dinner offerings haven't changed much since. Steven Frankel, the restaurant's new owner, and fifth overall, attributes this consistency to the unstoppable allure of signature items such as wispy-thin pancakes ($4 for four), and also to the hysterical, screeching silly-putty riots that broke out the last time the menu underwent a significant change. Feast on inventive, recipe-guarded dishes such as the spinach and mozzarella Popeye omelet ($6.25) and the two-egg, sausage-bacon-and-more platter known as the slaughterhouse five ($10.25), a favorite among Ohio's expanding Tralfamadorian population. Lunch at Sugar n' Spice sees a close clique of sandwiched meats sitting in the menu's coolest spots; the muffin burger ($4.75) is a quarter-pound beef patty set on a toasted English muffin with grilled onions and cheese, while the chicken not-so-little ($5.75), six ounces of teriyaki-grilled chicken breast, finally grows out of its melodramatic "sky is falling" phase via the life transition of getting devoured.

4381 Reading Rd
Cincinnati,
OH
US