The skilled chefs at Bacalls Café have spent nearly 30 years pleasing patriotic palates with a menu that bursts at the seams with classic American cuisine. Fuel table talk with an appetizer of thinly sliced onion straws ($4.95), or plunge spoon-first into a rotating selection of Stockmarket soups ($2.95/cup), which fluctuates more often than forecasts of bear attacks. The southwest spicy burger sates patty-craving bellies with a half-pound of meat seasoned with southwest spices and served with pepper jack cheese, chipotle mayo, and jalapeños ($9.95). Rival Mom's home cooking with a plate of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and fresh veggies ($10.50), or champion a chicken stir-fry served over rice pilaf ($12.45). Bacalls Café¬––with its classic brick façade, yellow awnings, and handsome tree-lined storefront––welcomes guests into an endearing, vintage-style dining space replete with a wooden bar, checkerboard tiles, and Calvin Coolidge cardboard cut-out.
Tan Thai serves up savory noodle dishes, authentic Thai entrees, and sweet curries in a relaxing, casual atmosphere. The menu showcases a smorgasbord of seafood specialties, including spicy salmon with basil and red curry ($14.95), as well as hot and spicy scallops, piled atop a mound of bamboo shoots, baby corn, bell peppers, basil, and red-chili sauce ($13.95). Tan Thai allows guests to customize meals with one of six protein choices—tofu, vegetables, pork, chicken, beef, or shrimp—and one of five levels of spiciness, ranging from the relatively mild level one, to the will-testing level five, capable of generating enough mouth heat to melt a harmonica. Personalize a plate of pad thai ($9.95–$11.95) or one of five colorful curries ($10.50–$12.50), such as the green, yellow, and red—inspired by Bangkok traffic patterns. Sip a refreshing thai iced coffee ($2.95) or nibble on a sweet treat of mango sticky rice ($4.95) in Tan Thai's cheery dining room adorned with serene, pale-yellow walls, comfy booth seating, and arched doorways.
Known for its collection of more than 300 cookie jars, Riley’s Restaurant presents a menu brimming with hearty American fare. Breakfasters can greet a spinach-and-cheese frittata, a fluffy egg dish that bears spinach, portobello mushrooms, and melted swiss cheese on its soft yet substantial shoulders, accompanied by fruit and a fresh-baked muffin ($7.99).
The seasonal brunch and dinner menus at Vitor’s change frequently, rotating approximately every two weeks, depending on what fresh ingredients become available to Chef Vitor Abreu. After refining his skills in such lauded establishments as Nana Grill in Dallas, Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse in Cincinnati, and Krusty Burger in Springfield, Vitor launched his own fine-dining restaurant and bistro in Cincinnati—a place where he leans on seasonal ingredients from domestic lamb to Georgia peaches. He also coordinates a special seven-course gourmet dinner that changes each week.
While partaking in Vitor’s culinary delights, guests can also enjoy the relaxing atmosphere anchored by three unique dining rooms decorated with a European flair—from nutmeg orange and black walls with slate floors to buttercream-colored walls and rich wooden floors. This color scheme extends to a sushi bar, lounge, and cigar patio, as well as a covered patio situated between Vitor’s and the neighboring building.
Vitor’s mix of seasonal cuisine and eclectic design has earned it a steady stream of awards, including multiple commendations from Cincy Magazine and a spot on Urbanspoon’s America’s Most Popular High-End Restaurants 2012. Chef Vitor also counts celebrities such as Nick Lachey and Chef Rego from Food Network's Chopped among his fans.
The Painted Fish offers a vibrant menu of delectable dishes that combine Eastern and Western culinary traditions as seamlessly as spray-on trousers. Choose fresh seafaring fare such as emerald shrimp, sautéed with spinach, ham, garlic, and sesame oil ($12.95), or sate a carnivorous craving with the 6 oz. filet mignon, which can be cooked to each diner's preferred level of un-raw ($16.95). Super-fans of protein synthesization can opt for the surf 'n' turf in order to follow a meaty mouthful of seared flat-iron teriyaki steak with the fetching flavors of seared Chinese five-spice bay scallops ($14.95).
The wood-paneled walls at SmoQ are full of vintage photos of renowned southern barbecue chefs, but that’s only one way the restaurant pays homage to the southern barbecue tradition. The other way is the smell, created by the molasses-brined chicken, hand-rubbed ribs, and spiced sausage basking in the wood smoker for up to 14 hours. The process infuses both succulent slabs of meat and the dining room with a sweet, smoky aroma.
SmoQ’s slow-cooked ribs earned praise from Cincinnati.com and were called “Best In Show quality” by Cincinnati Magazine, which also deemed the chicken wings “quite possibly the best in the city.” In addition to the meats, the chefs also send southern staples such as corn succotash to the smoker. At the end of the meal, SmoQ finishes in southern style with bread pudding crafted from Maker’s Mark sauce and glazed donuts.