When polling fans of La Mexicana Restaurant, a few words show up again and again. "Authentic" is one; "fresh" is another; "delicious" shows up a lot. It's not surprising?eschewing a busy decorating scheme and comically sized margarita glasses for a simple focus on high-quality meals, La Mexicana is the subject of many local conversations. Dishes include classics from tacos and burritos to quesadillas and flautas, and the cargo clasped between corn tortillas include goat, pork, beef, beef tongue, and tripe. Toppings often spotlight cilantro, onions, and house-blended tomatillo salsa, and sides feature refried beans, rice, and guacamole. Diners can round out the meals with homemade margaritas and finish on a sweet note with flan, while others go through a wormhole in the kitchen so they can travel back in time and enjoy their entrees all over again.
You don't have to drive all the way to Nashville for great music and food?just head over to The Little Nashville of Newport. Executive chef Shamus Craig offers a menu of Southern favorites, such as slow-cooked baby back ribs, pulled-pork sandwiches with slaw and pepper jack cheese, and crab cakes. The laid-back joint features weathered wooden floors and a bar that holds plenty of drinks and the occasional dancing guest. Libations pour freely inside the joint as guests enjoy live entertainment on the stage with local musicians and karaoke nights.
Pearls are often prized for their exquisite appearance and oystery aroma, but Boba Cha values a different sort of pearl?bubble tea's chewy spheres of tapioca. This cozy shop in downtown Cincinnati specializes in creamy concoctions that combine sweet flavors with the tapioca pearls' satisfying chewiness. Aside from the signature bubble teas?which can be prepared hot or cold and with or without milk?the shop whips up frozen snow treats flavored with fruit and yogurt.
Sis's on Monmouth treats guests to a feast for the senses, with the strains of live country and folk music serenading diners as they dine on hand-breaded cod sandwiches, Texas-style chili, homemade meatloaf slathered with brown gravy and ketchup, and taco salad served in a crisp tortilla bowl. While enjoying the music of local songwriters, customers chow down on hearty pub fare, or can order catered meals of spaghetti and meatballs, roast beef, and lasagna.
Bred on Louisiana-style cooking, local restaurateur Grant Gieseler was dismayed by the lack of quality southern fare in the Cincinnati area. He and his business partner Blake Gieseler founded Bayou Fish House to introduce the area to fresh fried fish and hearty gumbo. Diners can grab meals to go or kick back at the bar or seating area and tell exaggerated tales about the biggest fish they ever ate. The eatery's walls sport a paddle, a life preserver, and various aquatic tchotchkes to remind fish of their home.
GameWorks fosters friendly competition between kids and adults by surrounding pizza, draft beer, and half-pound burgers with a mosaic of interactive pursuits. Each location holds more than 150 arcade-style games, which include racing and shooting challenges from Sega as well as lower-tech classics such as pinball.