Now that the nice, warm weather has returned to the Tristate, many senior foodies' thoughts turn to dining al fresco — that is, out in the fresh air. May and June may be two of the better months for dining outdoors here, as the evening chills typical of early spring have started to abate and our region's usual still, humid summer weather pattern hasn't yet had a chance to settle in.
We've talked before about some of the best spots for outdoor dining in Cincinnati. This week, let's take a look at four more.
In the mood for a pizza with a bit of panache? A Tavola (Italian for "at the table") may be your best bet. With two locations — one in Madeira and one in the trendy Over-the-Rhine restaurant district — it's convenient to get to and offers plenty of opportunity for people-watching.
A Tavola is primarily a pizza and cocktails concept. But the pizzas aren't your standard greasy parlor fare. You can try one of the chef's Signature Pizzas, or build your own Neapolitan or Roman-style pie, with gourmet toppings ranging from the original tomato-basil-fresh mozzarella combo popularized by Allied soldiers returning from service in Italy after World War II, to wild 21st-century fusion toppings like farm fresh eggs, Brussels sprouts and fresh sage.
The menu can be a touch pricey, so your best bet may be to go during happy hour (Monday through Friday, 3 to 6 p.m.), when Signature Pizzas are just $10. You'll also enjoy the well-stocked cocktail bar and amazing appetizers, like bacon-wrapped, sausage-stuffed dates.
There's nothing quite like dining outdoors in a busy downtown. Nada, located at 600 Walnut St. in the heart of the Aronoff theatre district, is the perfect location for doing just that. With its upscale twist on Tex-Mex dining, you won't find basic burritos, tacos and refried beans at Nada. At least, not in the form you might expect.
You might start out with a Papa's Ceviche appetizer (shrimp, calamari, roasted peppers, onions and a spicy avocado puree), then proceed to an order of Barbacoa Tacos (beef short rib, cilantro and pickled red onion). Or you might start with Mexican Mac 'n' Cheese before trying the Tinga Poblana (chicken and chorizo stew, with tomatoes, poblano rice and a fried egg).
Afterwards, it's an easy walk over to the Aronoff, Fountain Square or down to a Reds game. Make sure you make reservations for dinner — Nada is a popular spot, so walk-in tables can be hard to come by during the dinner rush.
In the mood for something a bit more casual? How about nice evening out on the river? The Ludlow Bromley Yacht Club is a floating restaurant and bar, and a classic summer institution for Cincinnatians.
A "yacht club" in name only, the restaurant features a riverside view, laid-back atmosphere and, on summer evenings, local music. It has an outdoor bar and patio that are great for enjoying a sunset over the water. The weekly menu also features theme nights: Monday steaks, Tuesday kabobs, Wednesday chops and so on. The bar also offers $11 domestic beer buckets Monday through Thursday, so it's a great place to go hoist a few with friends.
When you go, make sure you bring cash; the restaurant doesn't accept credit cards. There is an ATM on the premises, but plan ahead and you can avoid unnecessary bank fees.
Staying on the casual side of dining, and with an eye toward Cincinnati's German heritage, we should make you aware that over on the west side of Cincinnati, near Cleves, stands Kreimer's Bier Haus — home of what may be the thickest, juiciest pork chop in the city (their chops are literally an inch thick). And those chops also come with sauerkraut, fried apples, a potato pancake, side veggie and a salad, so plan on bringing home a well-stocked doggie bag.
And chops aren't the only crowd-pleasers on the menu. You'll enjoy metts, hand-cut steaks, schnitzel, Bavarian chicken and more.
Featuring mostly German-American fare and quirky decor (the motif is a bit Bavarian hunting lodge turned military history museum), Kreimer's has been intriguing Tristate diners since 1982. It sits right along the Great Miami River, so in the spring and summer, ask for a table out on the back patio and enjoy the view!
There are plenty of opportunities for al fresco dining in Cincinnati.
And dining outdoors is just one of the many activities Cincinnati seniors enjoy during the warmer months. Gather your friends and family members together and make a night out of it.
And remember, the restaurants above are but a sampling of the many places you could try. Use the web, or social review sites like Yelp, to find restaurants that interest you. This spring, let your appetite lead you to do some exploring.