Full disclosure, musicals and theatre are not our forte. Did you notice how we spelled “theatre?” We heard that’s the proper way to do it. All of that being said, some productions get us dancing and we love us some Spamalot. Adapted from the hysterical 1975 film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, this parody of the Arthurian legend has left many a crowd in stitches. Lucky for the folks in and around Sandusky, they now have the chance to join the aforementioned galley of laughter.
If you’ve been following along with It’s Always Ohio, you’ll know that we’re quite fond of Sandusky, Ohio and it seems like the revival of this old town continues to flourish. A Broadway musical? That’s big. For those who haven’t seen this original film this musical is based off of, well, I blow my nose at you! Trust us, you’ll get it later. But seriously, it’s one hilarious movie and the Broadway musical version is just as funny.
Aside from the actual show, the Sandusky State Theatre is something to behold in its own right. A striking and beautiful historic landmark, the State, as locals refer to it, has been around since 1928 and is currently on track to be completely renovated for it’s 100th anniversary in 2028.
If it was us, we’d go ahead a book tickets for the show on Wednesday, Nov. 21st, so that we could hit up Volstead Bar for a proper old fashioned before the show. Just a suggestion. From there you could visit a number of fantastic restaurants around the area for post-show supper. Shore House Tavern,OH Taco and Crush Wine Bar are a few of our favorites. Make a little night of it! All jokes aside, this is definitely an experience you don’t want to miss. Snag up some tickets before they’re gone, we heard they’re going fast. See you in Sandusky!
Tickets range from $35-$68 and are available for purchase through the Sandusky State Theatre website here. Spamalot is presented by the Firelands Regional Medical Center.
A Peace Lily for a fern. How about a spider plant for a Zanzibar Gem? Or maybe you’re the Devil’s Ivy type? Whichever way you roll, chances are someone this weekend at the Barnes Nursery Houseplant Swap will show up with something green that you’ve just got to get your hands on. Us? We’re more of the succulent type.
Now if you’ve never traveled to a plant swap before, you need to. So you’ll be a little green, no big deal. See what we did there? (Insert Laugh Here). Those boring old plants you’ve been staring at for the last two years might just spruce someone else’s house right up and vice versa. You’ve been warned however, it’s very easy to walk out of these things with a truck load of foliage. Next thing you know your front room will be looking like a scene from Jurassic Park…although we’re not sure that’s a bad thing. As long as it’s from the original, JP1, those new ones are ridiculous.
Barnes Nursery, the folks behind this particular houseplant swap, have a pretty sweet setup as well. Located on 3511 West Cleveland Rd. on the outskirts of Huron, Ohio, their Huron Garden Center is stocked up with tons of greenery and super cool Fall goods. If you’ve got time, be sure to take a stroll through Sheldon’s Marsh Nature Preserve on the way out — An ideal spot for a crisp, autumn walk that’ll eventually lead you to the idyllic shores of Lake Erie.
Back to the swap. This Saturday, October 27th from 12pm – 4pm, the Barnes Nursery Houseplant Swap has zero entry free, but asks you to show up with at least one or several pest-free rooted indoor houseplants, either potted or bare root. You’ll also be rewarded with tasty vittles in the form of brick oven pizza, wine and craft beer. Sounds good to us, let’s have a plant party! RSVP details below — Head on down a bit.
We’ve noticed, you’ve noticed, the whole midwest has noticed — It seems like tacos are taking over the food scene and that’s perfectly fine because we happen to love them. Sweet, salty, savory, fresh, cheesy, melty…folks are doing everything you can imagine in a corn tortilla these days. And with this delicious Mexican creation on the rise, we thought it’d only be fitting to give praise to these foldable morsels of heaven by etching out a list of our favorite tacos joints across Ohio.
Taco Bell— Everywhere — Just kidding! Admit it, you just got so upset for a second. Okay, let’s get serious.
Guerra’s Crazy Taco — Springfield — The gentleman behind this spot grows his own herbs and peppers and touts that “fresh” is of the utmost importance. You can certainly tell. If you want to send your tastebuds on an epic journey, try the shrimp tacos or brisket smoked in house.
Condado — Columbus — Two words, Bubba Kush. Don’t let the odd name fool you, just like the rest of the tacos on the menu here, it’s legit. It comes with a “Peezler” shell, which is a hard shell and soft shell combined, smoked cheddar, pulled pork, jicama, onions, pineapple salsa and jackfruit BBQ sauce. Try and recite that entire line without getting all slobbery…impossible. They also have a location in Pittsburgh, but we don’t care about that.
OH Taco — Sandusky — Oh, so you want a view of the Great Lakes while you’re munching on a delightful beer battered tilapia taco? Well look at that, we’ve found a place for you! Albeit fairly new to the restaurant scene, OH Taco more than makes up for its young age with superb authentic Mexican street tacos and a unique atmosphere. Connected to the wonderful boutique-style Hotel Kilbourne and its lobby bar dubbed Moseley’s, patrons here have more than enough choices of venue to go around. Vegetarian? Try the portabello taco with fire roasted poblano peppers for an explosion of south of the border flavor. Did we mention there’s a rooftop bar, too?
Momocho — Cleveland — With one in Lakewood and one in Ohio City, east side Clevelanders have it good…really good. This funky spot focuses on “Mod Mex” cuisine and does it well, and the particular part of that culinary style we’re interested in is the taquitos, or rolled tacos. All taquitos come with five soft corn tortillas, whether it’s the outrageously tasty coffee + chili ancho braised brisket or the beef tongue pastrami. Worried about that second one? Don’t be, it’s so good it’ll make you forget you’re eating tongue. Wash it all down with one of their signature flavored margaritas — We like to go for the Red Bell Pepper.
Los Gauchos — Columbus — If you’re lucky enough to have already happened upon this local’s spot, then you also already know that the taco el pastor here is northing short of life changing. And if you haven’t found this place yet, go. Go now! A perfect combination of slow-cooked marinated pork, cilantro, pineapple and onions served on two soft corn tortillas…you can’t see it, but the “s” on our keyboard has a little bit of drool on it. Los Guachos has two locations, one in Columbus and another in Gahanna.
Mazunta — Cincinnati — Steak? Fish? Pork? It really doesn’t matter what taco you decide to have at this place, they’re all melt-in-your-mouth good. Just for extra measure though, try the pork tacos served with cotija cheese…absolutely ridiculous. This small joint has a beach vibe that’s unlike anything you’ve most likely seen in the states and really makes you feel like you’ve been transported to Oaxaca. On top of all of the goods, prices are very affordable. Make sure to try the horchata, fresh chips and salsa bar as well. You know what? Try everything, you won’t be disappointed.
Casa Nueva Restaurant & Cantina — Athens — It’s true we have a soft spot of Athens and Casa falls right in line with what’s so good about this little southern Ohio town. It’s just different. Different and spectacular. Owned by the workers, the foundation of this restaurant is vastly different from most — Want to leave a tip? They’ll take it, but instead of going in their pocket, it will be donated to a local Athens organization. Make sure you come hungry though because the food here is abundant and the tacos are usually large. Also, keep the number of margaritas you have to a few, as they’re not your average. Wink, wink, they’re strong. If you can swing it, stop in on a Wednesday, order the puerco pibil and then watch everyone look at you like you’re a local.
Have a favorite taco spot you think should be on this list? Let us know in the comment section below!
When thinking about wine in all it’s grapey magnificence, you can’t help but think about legendary regions of the country like Napa Valley or Sonoma, California…maybe even all the way across the pond in Bordeaux, France. And that’s all well and good, but Ohio in it’s own right, has some really good wine, too.
The weather, mostly due to the fresh waters of Lake Erie, make this unique area of the country ideal for growing grapes. While we’ve found that the sweeter wines tend to take precedence in the Heart of it All, the range of wines available is still quite impressive. In turn, places like the Firelands Winery have been around for almost 140 years. Did you see how we snuck that old Ohio tourism slogan in there? Course you did.
Since the first cellar of this historic winery was built in 1880, Firelands Winery has been taking advantage of this unique environment and harvesting their fruit from a place that enjoys a 200 day frost-free growing season, the Isle of St. George on the western basin of Lake Erie. Our favorite? The Gewurztraminer — A sweet white with a passion fruit flavor and rose petal aroma. Wow, we remembered how to spell it and took notes. Look at us!
And it’s not just Firelands that has been benefitting from this latitude and longitude. In 1888 a man from Baden-Baden Germany (Say that three times fast), an area of that country known for it’s rich viticultural history, founded Heinemans Winery. Located in the village of Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island, it has been producing fine wines for over 100 years.
As a bonus, especially if you go this weekend before it closes for the year, you can take a look at the Crystal Cave, the world’s largest geode. Random we know, but awesome nonetheless. I mean where else are you going to see a three foot crystal?
Tasting tip: Go for the Lake Erie Pink Catawba pictured below. It’s sweet, light pink in color as the name suggests and very easy to drink. Just be careful, a bottle between two people goes down very quickly. And by be careful, we mean order two bottles.
Since we’re focusing on wine, we’d be remiss not to mention one of our favorite island events, the Put-in-Bay Island Wine Festival. Hop on the Miller Ferry on Saturday, October 7 and for just $6 you will get into the festival with a souvenir wine glass. Combine that with a $14/RT ferry ticket and you’re looking at a meager $20 total — Budget travel day! Of course to sample the more than 200 wines that are there, you’ll have to cough up $1 per ticket…how much is completely up to you, ya boozehound.
You can tell wine connoisseurs are starting to take notice of the region as well. In the last decade newer wineries have been popping up like, well, grapes. Quarry Hill Winery sits perched 834 feet above Berlin Heights, Ohio while the Paper Moon Vineyards nests in the historic harbor town of Vermillion, Ohio.
While in Vermillion, be sure to visit the ludicrously delicious Wine Vault. With a newly renovated menu that’s focused more on a tapas style, it’s a refreshing style of nourishment. Try the prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, lobster bisque and delicious cheese plates. Not sure while we’re giving you ideas of what to order, all of it is tremendous. You’ll see.
So next time you’d like to hit the wine trail, skip the expensive plane tickets and head north. France and California will always be there.
Have some other recommendations regarding wineries around Lake Erie? Let us know in the comment section or by tweeting @itsalwaysohio!
These circular, sometimes square or rectangular cheesy pies from heaven are what we imagine the ancient Greek gods would eat. Or wait, maybe Italian gods. You understand what we’re getting at. Pizza is life, which is why we’re here to give you our suggestions when it comes to finding this wonderful sustenance in the state of Ohio.
Cameo Pizza – Sandusky – Family owned and operated since 1936, this iconic Sandusky, Ohio establishment has been making pizza their way for a long, long time. Talk to anyone from this boating town about pizza and you’ll immediately be inundated about why pizza should be cut in strips and not triangles — That’s Cameo’s doing. Recently updated with an outdoor patio, new front facade and upstairs area called TopSide, Cameo is truly a staple on the north coast. Whether you’re riding rollercoasters at Cedar Point, island hopping or just cruising around Sandusky, it’s a must-visit. Need a place to stay? Check out one of our favorites, the rooftop-bar-equipped Hotel Kilbourne.
Avalanche Pizza – Athens – Turn around and head far south to the home of Ohio University and you’ll find Avalanche Pizza, which is home to some phenomenal creations like the Veggie Garden and the K-2. Really want to go big? Try the pizza that won “Best Pizza in the USA” at the World Pizza Championship in Saggiamore, Italy — The Godzilla.
Harvest Pizzaria – Columbus – While this operation has three spots all around Columbus, we’ve only tried Harvest right next to Curio, a high-end cocktail bar we also thoroughly enjoyed. Striving to use only the finest, locally sourced ingredients, Harvest puts out some unbelievably tasty pies. Somehow both crispy and chewy, yet thin enough to hold all of the toppings, their crust is the real deal — Almost positive you could eat it with zero toppings. Please however, add toppings. Three words: Ohio Double Bacon.
Coccia House – Wooster – Upon first glance, the Coccia House looks like a personal residence masquerading as a restaurant and that’s because, well, it is. Back in 1958, Domenica “Minnie” Coccia did just that, turned her home into an Italian restaurant. This old school gem, aside from a few additions, hasn’t changed much and that’s a great thing. Truth be told, this place is so cool that the pizza tasting fantastic was just a bonus — And if you don’t believe us, this stuff is so good, they have shipped it all over the world to places like Papa New Guinea and Iraq. Want to look like a Wooster local? Order the Pepperoni Bread that’s not on the menu.
A Tavola – Cincinnati – This innovative, communal gathering spot meant to replicate an Italian Trattoria started in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood and has since then expanded to the suburbs in Madeira, and that’s for good reason: This place is just cool. From the atmosphere and vibe to the thing that we’re here to talk about, pizza. I mean, the pizza oven apparently came from Naples, Italy, so there’s that. Do we even need to say more? Seriously though, it’s quite possible the best Neapolitan Thin Crust Pizza we’ve ever had, and that’s something.
Frosty Bar – Put-in-Bay – There’s something about pizza on an island, we’ll admit that. Simply, yet delicious, the pizza at Frosty Bar isn’t going to knock your socks off the first time you have it, but we’ll guarantee you’ll want more. Perhaps that’s partly because of our affinity for this island, but it’s mostly about the sweet, tomatoey goodness that’s stealthily hidden underneath a thick of layer of melty cheese. Is there better pizza around? Maybe. Is any of that pizza on Put-in-Bay? Probably not. Need to get over to the island on a budget? Check out the Miller Ferry where the R/T tickets are a mere $14.
Scotti’s Italian Eatery – Cleveland – We’re going to keep this short, mainly because we’re still out of breath from attacking the Meat Lover’s pizza here. Ready for this? A huge piece of pie with pepperoni, ham, salami, bacon, chicken sausage, meatballs, house Italian sausage and ridiculously thin sheets of prosciutto. Game. Set. Match. Scotti’s – 1. It’s Always Ohio – 0.
Marion’s Pizza – Dayton – For 52 years, Marion’s has been firing out delicious, handmade pizza. With nine locations, this Dayton staple has expanded, yet stayed true to its values by serving the same “Dayton-style” thin crust pizza that’s cut into squares, instead of slices. Lightly cheesed, heavy on the toppings and just the perfect sized square so that you can just keep popping them in your mouth. Feeling a bit wild? Try their Super Cheese…it’s exactly what you’re imagining.
As we say, listing our favorites is always tough because there are so many choices out there. We could’ve easily thrown Bar Cento in Cleveland on there or even thrown a shout out to the legendary Myle’s Pizza in Bowling Green — R.I.P.
Have a favorite pizza place in Ohio that you think is the best? Let us know!
Once in a while you’ll find two things that go together to form a perfect, harmonious balance otherwise unseen in ordinary combinations. Ham and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, Jordan and Pippen…we all know the classics. One such marriage, one we consider to be among the classics, is Put-in-Bay, Ohio and music. The two have always worked together, delighting locals and visitors alike with tunes from fantastic bands hailing from all across the country. This is why when we found out that the already live music-laden island will be putting on the inaugural Put-in-Bay Music Festival, we were stoked.
Some of the best parts about the festival? Just a $7 ticket on the Miller Ferry to Put-in-Bay gets you in and once you’re in, the fest takes place in front of one of the most picturesque backdrops on all of South Bass Island — Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial.
In true Perry’s Victory style, the Put-in-Bay Music Festival is all about two other things that go very well together, peace and music.
Seven stellar bands will perform including the Flyin’ Jays, Emily Keener from The Voice, MC Bob Gatewood, JP and the Chatfield Boys, Mo ‘Mojo, Strung Like a Horse and the Floorwalkers. Legendary performer Pat Dailey just recently agreed to perform his new song during the day-long festival.
The music line up is tentatively set (times are approximate and subject to change):
11:15am – Flyin’ Jays
12:15pm – Emily Keener
1:15pm – Bob Gatewood
2:00pm – JP and the Chatfield Boys
3:15pm – Mo ‘Mojo
4:15pm – Pat Dailey
5:00pm – Strung Like a Horse
6:45pm – Floorwalkers
Free music workshops will be given during the day. Mo ‘Mojo will give a workshop on zydeco dance, and a second on drumming. Islander Dick McCarthy will also give two workshops on playing the ukulele, one for beginners and a second for those with some experience. There will also be a “Guitar Hero” competition in the workshop tent. There will also be two cornhole tournaments, so bring your “A” game.
As if there wasn’t enough reason to take a trip over to Put-in-Bay already, Miller Ferry is saluting the U.S. military by offering up a pretty sweet deal. And by pretty sweet, we mean FREE! Active U.S. Military Personnel and American Veterans are invited to ride aboard Miller Ferry at no charge Saturday, May 27 through Memorial Day, May 29. Miller Ferry asks that Military Personnel and Veterans identify themselves at the ticket booth to obtain free passenger ferry passage.
After getting over to the island without paying a dime, the savings continue. While we’d like to give a nice description of each place that’s giving a discount, we’re going to be completely honest here, we don’t have enough time and you’d stop reading — It’s so, so many places. So instead, we’ll just list them. Below are valid from:
Saturday, May 27 through Memorial Monday, May 29
Boardwalk Main & Upper Deck 10% off any food item (does not include alcohol). Cameo Pizza $2.00 off a large and $1.00 off a medium pizza. Candy Bar 10% discount. Carriage House Gift Shop 20% discount. Chicken Patio $5.00 off a chicken dinner. Country House Gifts 10% discount.
Dairy Isle 10% off any food item.
E’s Golf Carts $5.00 off daily cart rental. Heineman’s Winery 50% off combo tours. Pay only $4.00 for a winery tour, cave tour and a glass of wine or juice. Hooligan’s 10% off any food item (does not include alcohol) . Island Bike & Cart Rental $5.00 off daily golf cart rental. J.F. Walleye’s (Middle Bass Island) 50% off vacation rentals, golf cart rental and breakfast buffet. Lime Kiln Bus free transportation & $1.00 off for adult family members. Miller Ferry free transportation to Put-in-Bay or Middle Bass Island. Park Hotel Golf Cart Rental $5.00 off cart rental (day rate only). Pasquale’s Cafe 25% off mean (does not include alcohol). Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center free admission to Perry’s Cave & $1.00 off for adult family members. Put-in-Bay Brewing Company Free souvenir pint glass with any purchase. Put-in-Bay Surf Shop 25% discount. Put-in-Bay Tour Train free tour & $1.00 off for adult family members. Reel Bar 20% off total food bill (does not include alcohol). T & J’s Smokehouse 15% total off food bill (does not include alcohol). The Bucket Shop 10% discount. The Butterfly House free admission & $1.00 off for adult family members. The Keys 10% off any food item (does not include alcohol).
Memorial Day Only – Monday, May 29
Boardwalk Main & Upper Deck Free bowl (one) of lobster bisque.
Mossbacks 50% off any food item.
We were right, right? So many discounts. For more information visit www.millerferry.com. We’ll see you on the island!
It’s pretty simple, you owe a lot to your mother. It’s not really up for debate, she was the one who created you — Literally. And that’s no offense to dad, because clearly he played a very important role, but let’s be honest…she had it a little bit tougher don’t you think? It’s for this reason among a litany of others that you should probably think about doing something special this Sunday. Luckily for all us Ohio residents, there’s no shortage of fun and unique things to do. While there’s way, way more than five, we’re going to give you just a few of the activities we like best.
Annual Mother’s Day Tea at The Culinary Vegetable Institute — If you haven’t already been, Mother’s Day is the perfect excuse to visit this Ohio gem. Highly renowned chef’s from all over the world gather here to focus on how they can benefit from the unique, sustainable vegetables grown right here in Ohio. What’s that mean? Super tasty food is what we’re guessing and that’s awesome because mom loves food and when you take her to the serene setting of the Chef’s Garden, she’ll love you forever (Even though she already does). At the Mother’s Day Tea event you’ll sip on sumptuous tea while enjoying a lavish spread of decadent sweets and savory offering with a contemporary twist amidst a rustic, springtime decor. Enjoy!
Take the Miller Ferry to Put-in-Bay for a Day — Our affinity for Put-in-Bay has already been well documented, which is precisely why we think you should take your mother there. She’ll not only appreciate a tasty lunch at the Reel Bar or maybe even a quick adult beverage at the Round House, but really enjoy the zen-like ride aboard the Miller Ferry on the way over. At about 20 minutes long, it’s the perfect time to chart your own course for the day and chat about how much you appreciate everything she does. Pro Mom Tip: Grab a golf cart from E’s after sauntering up the hill and head out out Scheef Park for some alternate island perspective.
Explore the New Hiking Trails at Hocking Hills State Park — From up north at Put-in-Bay to down south at Hocking Hills, we’re all over the place and we know it. It’s fine though, just hop in the car and drive…nowhere in Ohio is that far. Especially when we’re talking about this place because it’s 100% worth this trip. They’ve also just opened a two new beautiful trail systems, something they haven’t done in 50 years. One of which will take you to the second-largest cave in Ohio. So you can help navigate your way to the freshly cut trails when you arrive, look for the names Whispering Cave and Hemlock — the two new monikers for the bridge trails connecting to the Old Man Trail System. Since we let you in on this cool news, all we ask is that you take pictures and share with us. Sound good? Perfect.
Unplug and Create Scented Soy Candles at Manitou Candle Co. — So, this place is seriously cool and your mom will not just like it, she’ll love it. This mellow, yet somehow vibrant space in the Columbia Tusculum neighborhood of Cincinnati is the perfect spot to shut off your phone and just do something different. Not only will your learn the art of making scented soy candles at Manitou, but leave with some really unique tangible memories. Learn well and smell good my friends.
Explore a Small Town — Honestly, this one is tough because Ohio is chock full of really unique small towns. So instead of focusing on just one, we’ll rattle off a few. Yellow Springs is easily one of our favorites and it’s not just because Dave Chapelle lives there. This cute town has a super mellow, almost hippy vibe that we really dig. Stroll downtown and visit Dark Star Books, Dino’s Coffee Shop or the Yellow Springs Brewery. Next up, Wooster. We’ve talked about this one before, but it’s definitely worth a revisit. Bustling with energy and what seems like a new restaurant opening every few months, this charming town is perfect for a day visit with mom. Our recommendations? Lunch at the newly renovated Spoon Market & Deli followed up by coffee and Hungarian pastries at Tulipan. If you feel like you need more time, stay in lavish quarters of the St. Paul Hotel, which just added new four new rooms for added vacancy. And last but not least, Oberlin. Of course you kind of have to hit up the Frank Lloyd House, because it’s the Frank Lloyd House. You’re going to want to grab your bike as well — Oberlin’s numerous bike trails lend perfectly to this mode of transportation. Where to eat? Try the Italian Hash N’ Eggs for brunch or The Feve Burger with pickled jalapeno at The Feve. Anything that’s pickled is fantastic. You can take that to the bank.
Have something you’d like to add to this list? Let us know!
Don’t worry, there won’t be a quiz afterwards. However, we do have two questions for you. Do you like beer and do you like learning about beer? If you’ve answered yes to both of those, then Ohio Beer Garden’s Beer Exploration Society is for you.
Speaking of beer, it’s no mystery that we at It’s Always Ohio like beer…and in fact, we like learning about beer. The Rail and Ohio Beer Garden have this sweet little class dubbed the “Beer Exploration Society,” which is exactly as it sounds. Top breweries from around Ohio come in, produce an awesome lineup of new beers, pour them for everyone and then chat about what makes them so tasty.
One session has us particularly fired up this month and that’s because one of our favorites, Market Garden Brewery, is rolling in to the Ohio Beer Garden on April 19th with a ton of awesome brews. They’ll be featuring Hellamango IPA, Prosperity Wheat, Citramax IPA and Progress Pilsner.
We’re not sure about you, but we’re getting a little thirsty just looking at those bottles. If you’ve never been to a Beer Class yet, the cost is a meager $12/person and with that you get plenty of beer tasters and appetizers to go along. The easiest way to book a seat is by calling (440) – 979 – 1001.
If you can’t make it to the Ohio Beer Garden on April 19th for Market Garden, there are three others you can meander to:
Beer Exploration Society at The Rail Strongsville – Jackie O’s Brewery
Thursday, April, 20th @ 6:00 pm
Beer Exploration Society at The Rail Canton – Columbus Brewing Co.
Thursday, April 27th @ 6:00 pm & 7:30 pm
Beer Exploration Society at The Rail Fairlawn – Four String Brewing Co.