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Pizza, patios, and pints in Cincinnati!

Today’s post is all about celebrating the three P’s: pizza, patios, and pints.  All delicious.  All family friendly.  All perfect for summer.  Let me give you the 411 (does that totally date me?) on a few of my favorite spots to sit down, relax, and enjoy.

Hoppin’ Vines in Kenwood:

Close to the Kenwood Mall, Hoppin’ Vines is a big, open, airy spot both inside and outside.  The two patios are lined with hanging baskets and filled with comfortable seating (plus a television or two for you sporty people)!  While this is not a brewery, Hoppin’ Vines focuses on serving up beer from local Cincinnati brewing talent.  All your local favorites on tap in one place!  It also boasts a pretty extensive wine menu; thus, Hoppin (beer comes from hops) Vines (grapes grow on vines).  Clever naming, right?!  And whether you are a drinker or not, the pizza, served by Delicio, is coal fired and pretty spectacular.  Plus, those dry rubbed wings are out of this world.  Up for a little game action? Try the Duckpin bowling inside the restaurant.  Super fun.  

Little Miami Brewing in Milford:

This is my new favorite place to relax.  Little Miami Brewing is an airy warehouse with a great breeze inside and awesome  seating outside overlooking the Little Miami River. If you sit outside, which I highly recommend, there are picnic tables and Adirondack chairs ready for you.  It’s not uncommon to see people in kayaks and canoes park along the bank and walk up for a beer and a bite; same with bikers popping in from the Milford Bike trail.  A local brewery, Little Miami features small batch craft beer brewed on sight.  Think various IPA’s, sours, stouts, and interesting flavor combinations.  Get a flight to try all the latest brews.  Plus, the pizza is crazy good and the salads are light and refreshing.  Speaking of pizza, I’ve had their brick oven Buffalo Shuffle Pizza, Carlito Taco Pizza, and the Margherita Pizza.  Yummy!  Be sure to check out their event schedule online for trivia nights, open mic nights, and more.  

Taft Brewporium in Winton Place:

Close to Spring Grove Cemetery, Taft Brewporium pays homage to William Howard Taft who supposedly loved a good pint or two!  Taft Brewporium is essentially a big warehouse where beer and pizza are made under the same roof.  The pizza served at Taft Brewporium is New Haven Style Pizza so the crust is thin and crispy- just my kind of pizza.  The Tomato Pie with Mozzarella is classic, simple, and super tasty!  If you enjoy craft beer, Taft features new beers all the time and you can find brews here that are only sold at the brewery!  There are lots of games including shuffle board, corn hole, and giant jenga to entertain family and friends.  As someone who is all about supporting local businesses, I love that Taft, in addition to events like live music and trivia nights, also has summer markets where local vendors set up shop inside the brewporium; be sure to check out the next market, Saturday, June 29th from 11:30am to 5:00pm.  

I have nothing against bars, don’t get me wrong, but what I like about these places is that family is included.  These are local gathering spots where you can sit outside, relax, have a drink (or not), share a pizza pie, and enjoy the summer.  As John Lomax, anchor on channel 12 news said in my segment this morning, “it’s almost like having a picnic” but in this case, you just show up and the rest is provided for you!

If you’ve been to Hoppin’ Vines, Little Miami, or Taft, I’d love to know your favorite pizza and beer!

GO THERE (Hoppin’ Vines, Little Miami Brewing, Taft Brewporium)!  TRY THAT (A flight of craft beer, a delicious pizza, a table outside)!

New Places to Eat in Cincinnati Part 6: Branch

If I were sending you to just one new restaurant, this would be it.  Located in the old Central Trust Bank in Walnut Hills, right on the corner of Madison and Woodburn, this incredible space that sat empty for years is once again alive and open to the community.

Paying homage to its original purpose, Branch is a really unique space with lots of old bank details, including the restaurant name, a menu organized by Shares (think appetizers) and Stocks (main dishes), and dessert cocktails like the Frozen Account.  That attention to detail also includes lots of fun nods to the prohibition era with a Temperance Map above the bar, water served in an old gin bottle, and the Night Drop, an “underground” bar.

And if that isn’t enough, the staff is welcoming and the food is bright, complex, rich, and cozy.  Open my account because I plan on being a loyal customer at Branch!

Let me give the rundown on what I’ve tried so far:

From the Brunch Menu

Beignets: Holy smokes!  These are not the average every day beignets (well, if I were to ever actually make beignets); no, these are pistachio praline beignets served with pistachio praline to add a little something extra extra! Delish!

Challah French Toast:  In an attempt to not look like we were ordering the entire brunch menu, we got a half order of french toast. I loved the warm butter and maple syrup.  As with everything we ordered, every plate is beautiful and intentional, including this one.

Shrimp and Grits: I will be straight up honest.  This was my husband’s pick and the last thing I wanted him to order.  I tried to nudge him in a different direction, but man I’m glad it didn’t work.  I literally kept reaching for his bowl because I could not get enough.  This dish is super creamy and cozy and rich . . . from the homemade chicken stock to the cream, butter, and mushrooms, it’s perfection.

Steak, Egg, and Potatoes: Think juicy flank steak cooked a perfect medium and topped with an over easy egg and chimichurri sauce.  Unbelievable.  And, I don’t even care about potatoes, but these smashed, roasted, and then deep fried red skin potatoes are out of this world.

If you’ve read my blog, you know I have a love affair with coffee, especially when it comes from a local roaster.  So the cherry on top of this amazing meal was the perfectly brewed cup of Urbana coffee!  Keeping it local!  It’s all in the details at Branch. And speaking of details, owls happen to have a special place in my heart because my grandmother loved owls, be sure to look for them around the restaurant.

Don’t forget this is a two-in-one spot: Branch restaurant up top and the Night Drop bar below.  Two completely different spaces, two different feels, two different purposes- both worth a visit (or two or three)!

P.S.- I’m looking forward to trying the dinner menu next. Thank you, Branch for having us!

GO THERE (Branch)!  TRY THAT (Beignets, Shrimp & Grits)!