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Friday, February 26, 2010

Authentic Mexican in Dayton? Hells yeah!

A couple weeks ago we headed to Dayton to meet up with some fantastic friends and it was their choice for lunch. They guided us to Taqueria Mixtecha on 3rd near downtown Dayton and I'm so glad they did!

I did my research on Urbanspoon and saw that it's a hole-in-the-wall and was prepared for the worst. It was much better than I thought! It's a building of it's own and in a fairly industrial area. The building is bright and although - a little hole-in-the-wall-ish - not bad! There are about 7 booths inside and then some tables along the side as well.

Those are not bottles of ketchup & mustard - they are different kinds of salsa - I tried them all and loved them. I think I liked the yellow bottle the best.

Wendy got the chimichanga...and look at all that delicious avocado!

Think that Richard got a quesadilla of some kind - pretty sure that's what it was...

I got four tacos - chorizo, carnitas (pork), vegetarian and tongue. Yes - tongue. Larry is always wanting me to try gross stuff cuz he thinks I won't do it - but I did! Honestly I didn't know which was the tongue so I can't tell you the quality of the tongue. But I ate all four - so it must have been good! There were about 10 options for what you could get in your tacos - very much like La Mexicana in Newport.

I will say - I took the tomatoes off - those were sad sad tomatoes.

Larry got a burrito of some kind - it was giant like Chipotle.

The place was very busy with a constant stream of to-go orders and dine-in. You can order at counter for to-go or just have a seat and the staff will come to your table.

Why Should You Go? If you want authentic Mexican - it's the place to go. As I said - very similar to La Mexicana. And try the tongue - it was good! (Next time he's making me try tripe - oye help!)

Taqueria Mixtecha on Urbanspoon

Beef Tongue on FoodistaBeef Tongue

Thursday, February 25, 2010

More Cupcakes? Three Tiers this time!

After the visit to Bellevue Bistro that I discussed a couple days ago, I scurried down the street three doors to Three Tiers. While having lunch a woman walked by with cupcakes and I knew I had to find them! Sure enough - Three Tiers was just a couple doors away!

Their website and cards are such a nice design. The owner is very sweet and chatted me up about my blog and her shop. Her mom runs the Mrs. Teapots a few doors down.

There are some demo cakes in the shop - they look beautiful.

But for my trip - it was all about the cupcake. They have a few assorted varieties for sale - anything other than cupcakes has to be pre-ordered. The ones shown above are like a Hostess Cupcake.

Here's a shot outside - it's very cute...

Honestly I don't remember the names of what I got. The one on the left had caramel frosting with chocolate & toasted coconut. The one on the right was strawberry frosting I think.

The caramel frosting was delicious! I actually don't like caramel but this was just flavor and I loved it. The cake was nice - nothing special. The frosting is also more towards the whipped rather than buttercream - for those who know what they do and don't like.

Why Should You Go? All in all - it's a very cute shop. The cakes look great as well. Bellevue is so full of places - it's perfect for a Saturday afternoon with your friends - have lunch, shop and then get dessert - there are LOTS of options!

Three Tiers on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ah the Colts lost...but we had some kick ass dip!

My fiance is a Colts fan. Die-hard. Through and through. People actually mistake him for Peyton Manning. Seriously - it's happened more than once. So for the Superbowl we had to go all out for the Colts. Larry even wanted to watch the game in Indiana - with REAL Colts fans.

FYI - you can buy face paint of any color at Party Source in Bellevue, KY. So he painted his face and off we headed down River Road to get to the great state of Indiana! We didn't really know where to go - just figured we'd find something.

We ended up heading to Lawrenceburg, IN and found Willie's. There are a few Willie's in the Cincinnati area (Covington & Kenwood among others) so it was somewhat familiar. At least I knew it was a sports bar and that was all we needed. This one is a bit odd because it's inside the Hidden Valley Lake development and seems like it might be private - but it's not - it's a public open-to-all establishment.

We were mainly there for the game but did get the Buffalo Chicken Cheese dip and I have to say - it was amazing! It was oooey gooey and delicious! There was ranch in it too - we ate the whole thing and were well into it before thinking about the ranch and Larry's allergy - doh! But we were okay...

The chips were just so-so - but the flavor and spicy of the dip made up for it. They were the thick cheap chips...

At halftime we decided to head back to Ohio and found Smitty's Lounge in the Cleves. It's a "dive" but was really a fun time. There were a few tv's, pool table and some snacks. It was much more laid back and a nice time - even though the Colts fell apart when we got there!

All in all - didn't get much of an opinion of Willie's. It's a big sports bar and grill. The dip was good, the game wasn't. We definitely enjoyed Smitty's the staff was very friendly and the owner's son was hanging out with us watching the game.

Willie's Sports Cafe on Urbanspoon

Smitty's Lounge on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Falling in love with Bellevue...

I'm really falling in love with Bellevue, KY. It's so cute - there are so many shops and restaurants and it's right on the river. If I didn't have my house in PRidge - I'd probably look there!

With that, I like to go as much as possible and find new little places...so we headed over and just decided to find a new spot and came across the Bellevue Bistro.

It's very cute and near all the shops. I could totally picture walking there if I lived in that neighborhood.

It's very cute inside - maybe 10 tables and art work for sale around the walls. It's just a very cute little place and the server knows a lot about aquariums...the things you discover!

portobello / portobello, red onions, fresh mozzarella, and red bell pepper, grilled
with our house vinaigrette on ciabatta // 7.25

I got the portobello - I'm not a vegetarian but like to pretend I am. The lunch menu is fairly limited but there are a lot of tasty options! This was good - I gues maybe a different bread might have been nice - something thinner and lighter to put more flavor onto the toppings.

bavarian reuben / corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese and thousand island
dressing grilled on a freshly baked pretzel bun // 7.95

Larry isn't quite as adventurous but I checked ahead and I knew he'd like the reuben. He liked it very much - pretzel buns are always great.

Why Should You Go? It's adorable, the food is good, the service is great and it's affordable. Plus Three Tiers is just three doors down...cupcakes for dessert!

Bellevue Bistro on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Valentine's Day & a Birthday - all at Benihana!

So last week we had Valentine's Day and Larry's birthday all together - so we decided to go to his favorite place - Benihana. Strangely enough - I'd never been - I've been to fake Benihana's but never the real thing. So here we go...

We went to the Benihana by Tri-County Mall...after we were seated we waited...

and waited...so I had time to take pictures...see I like the plates...and waited...and WAITED. (more on this at the end)

The Valentine's menu was separate (you could order from the regular if you like). Everything was $20+. We each chose something around $30 and that came with miso, salad, steamed rice, entree and ice cream. Fried rice was $4 extra per person (really????).

First some miso soup - it was fine. Chicken broth and some thinly sliced mushrooms...not much flavor but it was a cold night so tasted good.

Then a salad. I hated the dressing - it was very ginger-y. Most everyone at the table was commenting on how strong and overpowering it was. I've had better dressings at the other Japanese restaurants - this was NOT good.

My goodness we're cute and we're not afraid of bright colors either.

Our chef was fairly animated - and being Valentine's Day - he made the rice into a heart and then with the spatula - made it beat. AWWWWWWWW...

I got shrimp & steak - it was very good. I always dump all the sauce on that they give me to make it tastier but the steak was actually medium rare. I haven't typically had much luck with that at these places. I ate half and had half for leftovers a few days later. I never leave hungry!

Also with our dinner we got ice cream. There was some excuse about why so little - they ran out or it was too hard to scoop or something. But this was an extremely sad portion of chocolate ice cream if I do say so myself.

The real issue here was the service. We had 6:30 reservations and were seated at 6:50. We sat for a full 30 minutes before anyone even came and got our drink order. Turns out the hostess didn't tell the server she had another table so we waited. One couple actually left about 15 minutes in. After 30 minutes, Larry went and talked to them and then they came and hurried along as best they could.

But seriously - we waited far too long - and then for them to come back and give us half-servings of ice cream and no discount or anything. We all sort of expected a manager to come over and comp us something or a coupon for next time or SOMETHING!

They were CRAZY busy but still when you have a table full of people that you've clearly disappointed - make some type of effort other than just having your swamped server apologize once. Especially when your paying $30/person without drinks.

Why Should You Go? The food was good - except for the salad. But I would NEVER go on a busy night again.

Benihana on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Million Dollar Strawberries

This past weekend was Valentine's Day and I FINALLY have a Valentine (collective AWWW). It was also the fiance's birthday so we had a weekend full of events planned. After dinner Friday night (Aroma - review coming soon) we decided to head into Kenwood Towne Centre and hit up the Godiva store for some chocolate covered strawberries.

They have a big case of them in the window just taunting you...hello my friends!

I had to jump out and take a quick pic - there's Larry - staring at the berries. They also have boxed chocolates and drinks (I hear the shakes are AMAZING).

The counter person asked if we wanted strawberries - sure of course we do! Asked if we'd like 1/2 dozen - sure of course we do! She boxed them carefully in this beautiful packaging and gave us a free truffle for joining their rewards program (it's free and you get a free candy every month). Then we got a couple other things and headed to the checkout.

The total - $58!!!!!!

Holy crap - well we about fainted. The box of chocolates was $12, the truffle was free - what the heck was the rest!?!

Turns out the strawberries are $7 each! Larry said "Man - that's a week worth of value meals!" I admit - there was definitely some sticker shock. My fault for not asking...but damn.

So there you go - $58 worth of chocolate. We savored every strawberry and definitely made them last through the weekend! We also added in a berry cup - you'll see it in bottom left - it was good too - that was like $4. The packaging is ridiculously nice - the strawberry costs like 10 cents and then the packaging must be the rest!

We are still joking about the "million dollar strawberries".

Why Should You Go? Godiva - well it's special occasion chocolates definitely. Just be aware of the prices before you make your purchase. They are delicious.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Behle Street - as good as I remember?

Behle Street in Covington is the first restaurant I went to in the city. It was when I was considering a move to the Queen City and one of my then-boss' favorite stops. Thus, it holds a special place in my heart. Now that I work on the OH side of the river I don't get there too often but found the time to get back...

The pasta dish I chose came with a dinner salad. It was fine - the bread was the best part and the honey mustard was a little spicy which was nice. I'd love to see them take this salad to a higher level - I can get this salad in a diner - give me something a little extra.

I got my standard - the Capellini Meatloaf ($9.75) - it's your standard "spaghetti & meatballs" but with angel hair and chunks of meatloaf instead of meatballs. It was good - the sauce is very tomato-y - not cooked for hours and hours like a dark sauce would be. I have to say - yes I enjoyed it - but not as much as I had in the past. The meatloaf chunks were a bit flavorless and overcooked. I think I expect more than I used to in terms of flavor. But not an overall disappointment by any means.

My friend got a wrap - I think it was a gyro wrap - it was their daily special. She ate it but mostly with knife and fork - it was pretty big and not sure how you could have picked that up. It didn't look like anything too special that I would order again.

Why Should You Go? If you're in Covington looking for a little nicer place - this is the spot. Especially in the nice weather - the patio is wonderful. Not sure it's worth a special trip from too far away - but like I said - if you're in the area and want something nicer than Skyline - it's a good stop.

Behle Street Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cafe Mediterranean - will it live up to the hype?

A couple weeks back the twitter world was discussing Pera - the new Mediterranean restaurant in Mt Lookout. While that was going on someone mentioned how awesome Cafe Mediterranean was. I had never been - so it went on my Wish List! Then that weekend - we magically stumbled upon it on our Saturday drive. Larry isn't big on ethnic food but he was up for the challenge and I'm so glad he was!!!!
Cafe Meditteranean is on Beechmont in the "mall" where Macy's is. It's one of those outdoor malls - so look for Macy's as you're driving down Beechmont or you'll probably never find it. Then it's across from the Irish Pub.

We started out with hummus ($5.95). Larry had never had hummus so I was figuring he wouldn't much like it - WRONG! He loved it! It was very good - I'd love to see them add some flavored hummus (or is it "hummi" when it's plural) to the menu. Very generous portion as well.

Iskender Kebab ($16.85) Layers of doner (lamb), diced pita bread, garlic, yogurt and fresh
tomato sauce.

This was my choice - I've always thought Andy's was too dry when I've been there so I like to find things with sauces. This was an EXCELLENT choice. The sauce was so rich and delicious. The pita bread was soft because of all the sauce but not mushy like wet bread can be. The meat - amazing. Just really - can't say enough about how much I loved this dish!

This dish also introduced me to the odd phenomenon of the region where people call green peppers "mangoes". Larry asked if he could have my mango - I looked at him like he'd had a stroke! Then after a coworker tip and a bit of internet research I found he's not crazy - it's just this region. Y'all call em mangoes - who knew?

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls ($13.75) Cabbage leaves stuffed with rice, beef, peppers,
onions and herbs.

Larry went for the cabbage rolls - another surprising choice. But again - loved it! It tasted much like a stuffed mango/green pepper would so it was pleasing. The sauce was also very good.

Here's a separate room off the main area where you can have group dinners and sit very low to the ground. It's very cute and private.

The portion size was fantastic - we had 1/2 mine and one cabbage roll left so I had lunch for work the next week.

The only thing to mention is we went during "lunch" on a weekend but were presented the "dinner" menu. Maybe lunch is reserved for M-F but it's something to take note of when looking at online menu prices.

Overall - this is definitely now my favorite Mediterranean stop in town...can't wait to go back and try more things!

Why Should You Go? It's awesome. I hear the red lentil soup is good too - I'll try that on my next visit. Trust me - it's worth the drive.

Cafe Mediterranean on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 12, 2010

Because I want a cupcake right now...

Cincinnati has been overcome by cupcakes in recent months with Sugar, Take the Cake, Abby Girl, Three Tiers and so many more. It's cupcakes all over the place!

Larry and I have been on a few drives through Milford but always on a Sunday - finally we got there on a Saturday and I forced him to stop at Sugar.

Milford is such a cute little neighborhood - I really want to live near a "neighborhood square" again one day...

There were quite a few varieties available - most in regular and mini-size. The regular are $3.50 each and the mini are $1.75. The cake is typically chocolate or vanilla with differences in frostings/etc...

Because there were so many, I decided to try 4 minis...

I had from left to right (with comments following):

Chocolate Truffle: I had these one a day so by the time I got to this it was a bit stale. The chocolate taste is good and not too overpowering.

Vanilla w/ Buttercream: My least favorite - I had the first day so it should have been freshest but dry and nothing special.

Coconut Lime: Probably my favorite of the bunch - you could definitely get the flavor of both in this little morsel.

Chocolate Chai: Very interesting - took some getting used to but afterwards I liked it a lot. The flavor is definitely unique but I did enjoy it. I'm pretty sure it's in the cake as well as the frosting - which is nice.

Overall - I really found the cupcakes on the dry side. Maybe it's because I got the minis. The flavor is good and the icing is thick - but they're pricey and a bit dry. I liked them - just didn't love them.

Why Should You Go? If you're in the Milford area and craving sweets - load up!

Sugar Cupcakery on Urbanspoon