Monday, July 13, 2015

Night in Cincinnati

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties
- Passing thru Cincy

Another post from the drafts to unload. I figured now was the best time for this since the 2015 MLB All Star game is taking place in Cincinnati this week. We spent a night there on the rebound of a roadtrip down to Asheville at the end of last summer. You can check out more spots in Cincy from a previous trip I took by clicking HERE. We didn't have much time as we got into town later in the evening right on time for a reservation at Sotto.

Modern Traditional Italian Downtown

I know this spot has gotten some mentions on here and elsewhere including my roundup of 2014's Favorite Meals, Bites and Sips. The restaurant is from the same people who own the hugely popular Boca which is located next door. I guess the building Sotto is in stood vacant for close to eight years, don't expect the place to be up for lease anytime soon.

A participant in the modern day woodfire grill rage

If theres a trendy thing happening in the kitchens across America, these guys are on-board. Handmade Pastas, House Cured Salami, Wood Grilled Steaks and so on. I just checked the menu and both of the items we ordered are still on there and this is a very good thing for anyone who might consider stopping in.

short rib cappellacci – shallot, amish butter & thyme

The picture up above doesn't do this pasta plate justice but f-ck it I wanted to post it anyway. This was one of the richest dishes I've ever had. I couldn't even finish all of it opting to eat the leftovers in the hotel room as soon as we got back as they occupied my mind the entire car ride. So good that they basically made this perfectly breaded pork loin with a dazzling lemon sauce an afterthought. I'd consider a trip to Cincinnati just to eat here again.

breaded pork loin w/ capers & lemon

Next morning I got up early and decided it was time to eat Cincinnati style chili in Cincinnati, never mind the fact it was the morning and the temperature was rising, you gotta get it in while the chance is there. I decided to take the drive to Price Hill Chili which has been a locals favorite since 1962.

Popular Diner on the West Side

This place has served multiple generations of people from the city and also folks from Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana. There were a few regulars drinking coffee upon my entry. It's got the textbook looks of most chili parlors and or Greek owned diners. Like most of them it started out small and grew as the neighbors became regulars. They're loved for their breakfast plates, Coneys, double decker sandwiches, and of course chili. For those that remember it I actually enjoyed the spicy chili at the long gone Chili Mac's here in Chicago and always ordered it with pasta. So I'm pretty much impartial to the use of chili and pasta together. Thus I went with a plate of the five way chili.

Preparing a plate of five way chili

Five way means everything which is a plate of spaghetti topped with beans topped with chili topped with onions topped with cheese. It's basically something most people find repulsive except for those that grew up on it. I look at it a little bit differently in that it's not chili in of itself but something entirely different. A regional eat so to say. This isnt Texas style chili, it's entirely its own thing.

A Plate of Five Way Chili

Other than the extreme overload of cheese which I removed at least half of, I pretty much dug into this plate leaving a few noodles and little else left. Was it the family recipe that experts say has a distinct meaty taste to it? Or was it the fact I coincidentally grew up eating this style of chili albeit I always ordered the spicy Texas version when at Chili Mac's? Who knows but I enjoyed the bowl and would go back for another. That's what I did when I ordered a side of goetta to go. The other Cincinnati specialty is an old school German-American snack made mostly with ground pork, oats and spicing. I liked this popular breakfast snack the first time around and made sure to get some on this trip too.

An order of goetta for the road

After that it was back to the hotel before it was time to hit the road back to Chicago but not before a stop at a place that had long been on my list. My mom used to hype Jungle Jim's up as my sister went to college not too far from there and my mom would shop there picking me up cool things each time in. That and the talk about them on here always made me want to check them out and I'm glad I did but it is what it is. They got alot but its mostly stuff you can find elsewhere although you would need to make a few stops here and there to do so, which I would guess makes it great for locals. The amusement park atmosphere wasn't something I need when shopping but it's strengths of regional bottled pop and also the hot sauce selection, both American and international, was what stood out as the best things about the place.

Image Image
Browsing the aisles at Jungle Jim's

Well if you know me by now you know that while en route to to JJ's I was searching around the area for a local roadfood type spot to add to the database. I found one in a place called Red's said to be pushing old school 1930's style burgers and other greasy goods. Even better was the fact there was little online about it. Allow me to introduce them.

Hamilton, OH

This was definitely a blue collar suburb driving thru and that's the feel I got from the customers and employees inside of here. As mentioned there isn't much online but you could tell the place was least a few decades old if not more. I don't know what it is but some of the longest waits I've had at these roadfood type spots have come from the places pushing sliders or in this case a true 30's style burger. This is usually due to the grill.

View of the grill from the counter

As you can see they got the authentic small grill in place and because there was a large family before me it took a longtime to get my cheeseburgers for takeout. They would end up being good but not worth the wait. As you can see in the pic above they don't start out with fresh balls of beef but rather fresh patties. This can be the difference in good and great. The little bits of onions thrown on top of the beef while cooking were potent but it was missing some of that key grease released when smashing the ball of beef down and thus the bun was a little bit dry. See ya next time.

Cheeseburger from Red's Hamburgers

118 E 6th St
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 977-6886

Price Hill Chili
4920 Glenway Ave #2
Cincinnati, OH 45238
(513) 471-9507

Jungle Jim's
5440 Dixie Hwy
Fairfield, OH 45014
(513) 674-6000

Red's Hamburgers
103 S Riverside Dr
Hamilton, OH 45011
(513) 863-9210


DennyG said...

Nice view of my neighborhood. Sotto is a personal favorite and you've prompted me to move Red's up on the To Visit list where it's languished for too time. At present, the HERE in the first paragraph stays here instead of going there but I'm betting it's a quick fix.

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