According to Mike Gelastopoulos, "people shouldn't have to pay $10 for a burger." Indeed, his burgers fall well below that price?they're $6.49 on average?and they still earn their gourmet title. The Rockefeller, for instance, is layered with cranberry chutney, blue-cheese crumbles, and beer-battered onion strings, whereas the Pride of Zeus is heaped with gyro meat, feta, and tzatziki sauce. Every burger is also made fresh from 100% Black Angus beef, seeing as Mike doesn't truck with freezers or patties encased in carbonite.?
But it's not just the burgers that have folks talking. When Mad Mike's was immortalized in Cincinnati.com's Burger Hall of Fame, food critic Polly Campbell wrote that "the fries are like nothing you've ever had [at] a fast-food joint." Hand-cut daily, these taters can be ordered plain, topped with cheesy bacon, or with nacho cheese and grilled onions.
Pelts and guns hang from the walls of the dining room at Kreimer’s Bier Haus, lending it a hunting lodge’s rustic charm. As hunting lodges often are, the eatery is a hub for succulent meat dishes such as rib-eye steaks and smoked sausages. However, they place a high premium on veggies as well, and the kitchen serves as a hub for shredded cabbage. Founded in 1982, the German eatery dishes sauerkraut piled on sausages or fried into sauerkraut balls. At white-clothed tables overlooking the Little Miami River, diners can also nosh on seafood such as grilled salmon and jumbo shrimp and sip an eclectic array of beer, wine, and cocktails. During the summer, tables on an expansive riverside patio allow diners to feel the wind in their hair or persuade rain clouds to refill their water glasses.
With more than 25 sandwiches on its menu, Monk's Kitchen specializes in variety. While wildly diverse both in name creativity and ingredients?from the Ham Damnation (or Salvation) to a straightforward fried bologna?every sandwich does share one key element: Monk's trademark homemade french and whole-wheat breads, which are made-from-scratch daily. There's plenty more to enjoy at Monk's Kitchen in addition to the sandwiches, from pizzas and breadsticks to salads and calzones. The family-friendly eatery also has an outdoor patio for nice days and games for kids to play after posting sandwiches pics to their food blogs.
Craig and Laura Decker seem to have a difficult time making up their minds. They also seem to have a knack for turning this indecisiveness into an advantage at every turn. When it came to opening their new business, for example, they briefly wondered whether it should feature a wine shop, a wine bar, or a gourmet bistro. Their solution? All three.
This spirit of inclusivity pervades The Wine Guy Bistro, where the Deckers pair seasonal wine varietals with globally inspired cuisine. Rather than choose between European elegance and New-American pizzazz, they settled on a compromise they describe as “Old World chic.” This label suits a menu that features small plates of housemade meatballs and bruschetta alongside assorted cheeses from around the world. The focus on small plates is in keeping with the Deckers’ have-it-all mentality and gives diners the option to sample several dishes without having to barter with adjacent tables.
As a young Lebanese man living in Cincinnati, Andy Hajjar found himself longing for the tahini, mint, and feta flavors of his family’s home cooking. Once his mother and brother joined him in the US, the three of them decided to start a deli. Their corner establishment quickly burgeoned into an award-winning restaurant, Andy’s Mediterranean Grill, where they continue to share family recipes without asking relatives to adopt every diner first. Their talent with seasoning lamb—which they grind, chop, marinate, and even serve tartar, if a diner orders in advance—landed Andy on WCPO Channel 9, where he showed the audience how to make lamb burgers. When preparing skewers of charbroiled tenderloin, cilantro-flavored sea scallops, and flatbread pizzas, the kitchen also relies on fresh ingredients and house marinades. Diners can also sip dozens of beers or wines, including some from Lebanon, Israel, and Turkey, as they relish the old-fashioned coziness of a wood-burning stove and the modern joys of a flat-screen television. On weekend evenings, belly dancers appear, and on any evening guests can lounge on black-and-red striped cushions in the wood-paneled hookah room. The Hajjars also sell marinades, salad dressing, and Turkish coffees through Andy’s International Market, which helps customers stock the pantry in their own apartment, home, or sandcastle.
La Petite France's proprietor, Daniele Crandall, grew up in France, where she spent her youth working in family restaurants before emigrating to the United States in 1964. She stayed in touch with her roots by teaching French to students before eventually deciding that it was time to return to the kitchen with her family members.
Today, they bustle among pots of steaming port with sun-dried tomatoes—which will become a demi-glace for duck—and crackling skillets of salmon, endives, shallots, and white wine. They plate filet mignon and pâté that the Cincinnati Enquirer said “has a nice rustic texture, more like a fine meatloaf than a liver pâaté, with a hint of clove or allspice. Little sour cornichon pickles accompany it, just as they do in thousands of bistros and restaurants all over France.” Beneath glittering chandeliers, the glow of fireplaces dances across tables clad in white tablecloths, like a maitre d’ who forgot his uniform. A stained-glass mural depicts the idyllic charm of Peillon in Provence, France, as diners sup on three-course dinners, enjoy tastings of California wines, or sip cocktails and listen to live music during catered banquets.