How do you CHIPOTLE? And - your chance for FREE Chipotle!

So there we have it - the question of the day - HOW DO YOU CHIPOTLE?

My favorite - after many combinations:

black beans
mild salsa

Now why is this my choice? Well - trying to eat healthy - so you gotta go bowl. Then black over pinto - not even a question. The pork - well it's the most tender and most flavor IMHO. The mild salsa - I'm a wuss. Lettuce - eh - need some crunch.

Guac - here's the complex answer...okay being healthy I can't have everything - I used to get cheese, sour cream AND guac (yikes!). Now - I only let myself get one. Cheese - can't really taste it on the bowl. So we're down to sour cream and guac - guac is good fat - right? And more flavor - so that's my choice.

Your turn!

Chipotle's tag line - you decide what's inside.

That's naughty.

And awesome.

How do you do your Chipotle? Describe your favorite Chipotle combination in the comments. The best comment (judged solely by me) on this one gets free Chipotle with me!

Chipotle on Urbanspoon

My favorite downtown Italian? Not who you think!

This is officially the very first restaurant I ever ate at in Cincinnati. I flew in one afternoon to meet with my new boss about my impending move to the 'Nati and needed to get a bite before settling in for the night. I was staying downtown and just started walking and stumbled upon...Campanello's! I mean hey - it's only 3 blocks from the beach! (haha)
Since visiting then five years ago, Campanello's has been one of my favorite spots in Cincinnati. It's a very homemade sweet marinara - so if you like the darker (cooked longer) sauce - this probably isn't the spot for you. But if you like a bright red thick sweet marinara - and cheese cheese cheese - then you're good!

I work just a few blocks away and the programming team likes Campanello's so we hit it up for the latest birthday (happy birthday jordan!).

With many entree choices you get your choice of soup or salad. The salads are iceberg lettuce with a few olives and tomatoes. I had the honey mustard this day - good salad - especially when it comes with the entree!

Birthday boy isn't a salad fan so he got chicken noodle and it looked great! Big bowl and the noodles sure looked homemade! He was most definitely a happy camper.

The table got a variety of options - this was the mostacciolli with meatballs...

Someone else got Spaghetti with Meat Balls...

Another got Manicotti...

And then the Lasagne!

It's my personal favorite - I always get it...I would definitely recommend the lasagne for any first time Campanello's people.

The service isn't always the fastest - but it's usually just 2 guys running it. The decor is horrible - it's all dark old wood paneling - but it's also the charm of the place. It's almost Sopranos-esque. It's also cheap - it's just over $7 for salad, bread and entree! (The bread is nice and fresh too.)

Bottom Line - I love Campanello's!

Campanello's Restaurant Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Taco Tuesday!!!!!! Downtown Margaritas - Here We Come!

Downtown lunch on Tuesdays typically means one of two things - Paula's for the Chicken & Wild Rice soup or TACO TUESDAY at Margarita's on 4th!

Margaritas is downstairs in the mall with an entrance on 4th and one in the food court.

First, of course, you get a big bowl of chips & salsa. The salsa is pretty darned good - light, tomatoey and lots of cilantro. The chips could be saltier but I like them.

You can ask for a small side of white queso dip and it's only 99 cents - yumtastic! It's my favorite. Back home there was a Mexican restaurant that had the white queso on top of refried beans - it was soooo good. Anybody know a place that has that?

For Taco Tuesday you can get your choice of hard or soft shell with shredded chicken or ground beef for like $1.10 each. The chicken is fairly light and juicy. I'm always a fan of hard shelled tacos and these are good. There's a nice amount of cheese on them as well. They're a little greasy but i like 'em.

The ground beef is actually my favorite - I think it's very flavorful! These aren't fancy - but you know at $1.10 each - they rock!

They also have a new lunch special - doesn't look too bad!

While Margs isn't the best Mexican in the city - it's the only cheap Mexican downtown and I like it. It's a little greasy, the service can be slow, it's not unique at all - but you know what - it's good!

Margaritas on Urbanspoon

Favorite Cincinnati Pizza? Will it be Newport Pizza Company?

My friends and I were all excited to go to York St. Cafe on Monday before heading to see the Hangover - yes I went 2 days in a row. We got there - closed on Mondays...Argh!

So we headed a few blocks towards the Levee and came across Newport Pizza Company - I'd heard a few things about this and thought we should check it out!

It's on the corner on Monmouth and has a small outside seating area as well as about 10 tables inside.

Scott wasn't fond of having his picture taken and kept pushing away the camera and it turned out to be a cool picture!

We ordered a salad and planned on splitting it between the 3 of us. Here's the bone of contention for the evening. The house/caesar salads were approx. $3 each (they don't have a website so I can't look up menu). The server said the other salads were much larger - they were also $6.50 or more so we figured they would be bigger. Well they aren't - we saw our BLT salad and the other's house/caesar - all the same size - yet this was twice the price. It's some lettuce people - good God!

The salad tasted fine but if I'd paid that and thought it was an entree salad - I would have been even more peeved! FYI that's a small probably 6" plate - just for reference.

Now they do have good beers - these are a couple of fancy pants beers that were about $10/bottle but the bottles had probably 3 glasses in each. I think they were both Belgian beers - the boys were very happy. The one on the left has double the alcohol...just fyi.

Finally - the 'za - we got the Monmouth - basically the "combo". Sausage (very good - like really great), pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, bacon, etc...

It's a thinner crust but still not the super crispy thin crust that is my favorite. It was far superior to that of Chi-nnati's from last weekend.

My Dad used to put LOTS of sauce on pizzas and I miss that - it's used so sparingly I don't really remember it. Overall it was a good pizza pie. Probably on par with Deweys - (but not in the salad dept). I like Dewey's unique choices more than the standards...but for a standard this was good.

They also had sandwiches on the menu but we were all in a pizza mood. We got the 16" and we ate all of it with 3 people (they also have a 12" - that's what she said - dammit - sorry - just watched the office.)

I'm still searching for my favorite pizza - I think my two favorites of all time are probably Godfather's Combo - fond memories of it as a child - remember the dude in the commercials? And my other favorite: Pagliai's where I went to college - my best friend and I would get 1/2 pepperoni/green pepper and 1/2 sausage/mushroom. Ahhhhh.

What's your favorite pizza?

Newport Pizza Company on Urbanspoon

Anything good at the Levee? We tried Claddagh Irish Pub...

Sunday was Father's Day and coincidentally my friend Lou and I don't have fathers around to celebrate with so we choose to ignore the holiday together!

We were heading to Newport on the Levee to see The Hangover - FANTASTIC MOVIE! Before the movie we decided to grab a bite or two...her favorite spot on the Levee is Claddagh Irish Pub. She loves their fries - and some of you may have read reviews when I've eaten with her before - she's picky as hell!
It was really busy with the Father's Day traffic - I've never seen that many people there!

Paddy Mac’s Corned Beef & Slaw Corned beef topped with Irish cole
slaw & Swiss cheese served on grilled Marble Rye. Also available with turkey! 8.99

This was my choice - I am usually a fish & chips girl but the new menu and the fact that it was lunch made me change my mind. I love Ruebens and this was a little different but I decided to give it a whirl. I obviously got the corned beef - I mean - turkey? GAK!

The corned beef was DELICIOUS! Like seriously - I cannot say enough - it was flavorful, plentiful and just fan-damn-tastic! (That's a Lou-ism.)

The change of cole slaw instead of sauerkraut? Meh - I'll stick with sauerkraut. First half was fine - 2nd half - I took the cole slaw out. I wouldn't get this again because of the cole slaw - but I'll definitely get something with the corned beef!

The fries are soooo good! Make sure you get the pub chips - these are the wedges with skin on and they are really great! The menu changed a few months ago and now they offer another kind of fry - don't get em - make sure to get the pub chips!

Our Sizzling Signature Steak Burger Grilled steak burger on a Brioche
bun, lettuce, tomato & onion. 8.99

Now said friend - yes same person from the Balboa's fiasco - always gets her burger the same way. She gets it well done and plain! They could keep the bun and she'd be fine. This day she also got bacon - now uniquely - she eats the bacon separately.

There was cole slaw on her plate as well - she allowed it to stay there long enough for me to take a photo and then it was banished to my plate. She's not a cole slaw fan. I liked it okay - it's very creamy. KFC is still my favorite cole slaw of all time - isn't it everybody's?

Friend greatly enjoyed the burger but moreso the fries. She was in happyland. We were a bit distressed while waiting for our food - seeing another group get their plates and eyeing the "other" fries...but our waiter quickly reassured us - we were getting the ones we liked!

Friend is pretty picky but likes the burger and fries at Claddagh so I will kindly oblige and go!

They also have a big bar with tvs...and there's a nice patio that faces the river and the Purple People Bridge as well.

While it's not my favorite spot at the Levee I do enjoy every trip to Claddagh but I'll bet that has something to do with the company.

Claddagh Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

My new favorite downtown lunch spot!

So I've become a creature of habit - I go to the same few lunch spots every day. Well last week my twitter friend Jeff got me to branch out and I'm so glad he did! We met up for a mini-tweetup at Red Squirrel on Walnut. (By mini-tweet up - I mean we had lunch together.)

Jeff started with the red pepper crab bisque - he loved it! I went this week and tried to get it but they were out...dammit! I hope to try it sometime!

The second time I went I got clam chowder and it was really good too! Very creamy and a good balance of potatoes and clams.

So I'd say - soup is a good bet there!

I chose the Tuna Pasta special on my first visit - it's basically a cross between tuna and pasta salad. There's peas, celery, etc... along with a couple slices of tomatoes. I really liked it! It's not fancy but it's tasty!

Jeff got the oriental wrap - he didn't love it. All their sandwiches come with chips and a pickle.

When I went back this week - I got the #73 - which is grilled cheese with tomato and bacon and I loved it! No shortage of bacon!

My friend actually said she refers to the Squirrel as the "House of Meat" because they are ALWAYS plentiful in that area. And after grilled cheese with bacon - I can see why!

It's sort of unique too that it's a little bit of a "good old boys" feel - I swear - it was 95% men in there! Maybe I should go more often!

Red Squirrel on Urbanspoon

Boneless Wings My Ass!

Now I know - I always hit the locals but I have to admit - every once in a while - I gotta do a drive-thru! It sucks - I wish I could always go someplace unique and new - but I can't help it - I do love a Big Mac.

On this particular occasion though - it was Dave Thomas' famous Wendys!

I was driving out to a friend's place and it was late and I was hungry - so yes - I did it.

I went to a crappy drive thru. Normally I like Wendys - today I came through and noticed something new!

They have these new boneless wings in 3 flavors: Bold Buffalo, Honey BBQ and Sweet & Spicy Asian Chicken.

It was 6 "boneless wings" made of breast meat. Isn't it contradictory to say it's a WING made of BREAST meat?

They aren't boneless wings - they're chicken nuggets - just f'in say that.

They're basically just 6 nuggets microwaved and thrown in some sauce...the asian stuff has a kick. Look at those red pepper flakes! It was kinda spicy! They weren't bad but they weren't great either.

Normally I like Wendy's fries but these dogs were f'in old as hell! Look at those sad ass fries! They were stale and crappy. Yucko!

Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers on Urbanspoon

Newest Downtown Spot? You can go Cold Turkey!

My fellow blogger Mark Mascolino let me know about a new spot downtown for lunch and I'm definitely glad he did! Cold Turkey is in the former Frisch's which didn't mean anything to me - but just for y'all that know downtown history better than me.

Local restaurateur Jameson Stewart chatted me up during my lunch and told me that this is his first restaurant. He co-owns and previously worked for Blackfinn and decided to try his hand with his own restaurant.

You'll notice a wide variety of artwork on the walls - it's all for sale - I think you have to inquire with the owners. I really like the fact that it's a nice variety - there's really no theme - it's fun!

This is my favorite piece of idea why but I love it!

I really like the layout. The front is for take-out and has small booths along one wall and a nice counter that faces the kitchen. The chef is out there interacting with everyone so it's fun to watch. The back is more tables and booths - and a performance area. Jameson is a musician and also likes to perform as well as bring in other acts.

Bengals on one wall - flowers on the other!

The menu is sprawled on the wall when you walk in so you can walk up and order takeout - or you can sit and someone will come to you (2nd part is not very obvious - we didn't know until we ordered at the counter and they told us). There is a nice big selection! I like that the website says "no microwaves, no fryers, no freezers".

Diet Mt. Dew - oh how I love thee!

Strawberry Fields Forever: A chilled strawberry soup spiced with rosemary and pepper and topped with a mint garnish. $4

Yogurt Parfait: a tall glass of chilled vanilla yogurt layered with berries and topped with camping mix. Papa Ps favorite. $2

But now - the food! My friend Marla eats like a bird (and weighs about as much as one too). I tried a bite of the soup and it's very strawberry-ey. I'm not a cold soup fan - but it was good for me to try it. Marla agreed that it pretty much just tasted like strawberry - wasn't much of a hint of the other flavors.

The parfait - well - it was a parfait. She liked it though.

The Vegetarian Philly: Sliced, fresh portabella mushrooms soaked overnight in a red wine marinade, stuffed with banana peppers, caramelized onions, diced tomatoes, and melted mozzarella. - $7

This was delicious! I wish it had been a tiny bit hotter...but it was really great. Marla was jealous!

I like the ease of pricing with the menu - it's $7 for sandwiches and salads, $4 for soups and $2 for sides. It's a $10 lunch - which seems pretty typical for downtown - but it's not cheap. I don't think it's out of line - but it's not Subway (fine by me - I'm not a fan).

There are a lot of options and I look forward to going back and trying more. They might be well served to have a greeter or something more towards the front to let folks know they have table service as opposed to order and sit.

Now - how much is that pretty pink & white bird painting?

Cold Turkey on Urbanspoon

Chi-nnati's - the new kid in town

In the former Jalapenos near Kenwood Mall a new pizza place has emerged - Chi-nnati's. It's a combo of Chicago & Cincinnati (duh) and they have thick crust Chicago style pizza and thin crust pizza.

My friend Amy and I decided on take-out last week because we weren't very presentable and I convinced her to try out the new place. Amy's not big on "new" so she was a little skeptical - but she went for it with me.

Chi-nnati's doesn't have delivery but they do have a separate take-out door and waiting area. It's pretty nice and the order was ready exactly when they said it would be.

The person on the phone wasn't very helpful. I asked if they had breadsticks with cheese and he said "Yeah - we have garlic bread with cheese" - well that is different. Then I asked if he had any vegetarian, chicken or interesting pizza's (was thinking along the lines of Dewey's-like). He said well - we have the pizza with sausage, pepperoni, mushroom, etc... Um - sausage and pepperoni - not really unique. They do have a Pesto Shrimp pizza I would have loved to have tried - but he didn't mention it and I didn't have a menu. They need to educate the phone people a little more.

We got garlic bread with cheese. It was okay. Now granted - we did get it take-out so it sat for 4 minutes in the time it took to get from Chi's to Amy's house. It was just okay - not enough garlic.

We got a thin crust half-cheese/half-vegetable pizza. It was mediocre at best. The crust isn't very thin - I mean - I it's thinner than thick but it's not paper thin or NY thin - which is what I was hoping for.

The vegetarian side - well it was mediocre at best. A new pizza place in 2009 needs more adventurous vegetables. There were peppers, onions, mushrooms, onions and black olives. Oooh exciting. (sarcasm, sarcasm)

So - I'd give it another chance - mainly cuz I'm not a fan of LaRosa's but I'd like to try the thick crust in the restaurant.

But overall - I'm not too excited about the new kid in town.

Chi-nnati's on Urbanspoon