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Taco Takeover: The Best Taco Joints in Ohio

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 TacoSpringfield — 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.

Guerra’s Crazy Taco Facebook

CondadoColumbus — 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.

Condado’s Tacos Facebook

OH TacoSandusky — 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?

OH Taco Facebook

MomochoCleveland — 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.

Momocho Facebook

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.

Los Guachos Facebook

MazuntaCincinnati — 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.

Mazunte Facebook

Casa Nueva Restaurant & CantinaAthens — 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.

Casa Nueva Facebook

Have a favorite taco spot you think should be on this list?  Let us know in the comment section below!

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Lake Erie is for Wine Lovers

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!

Firelands Winery Facebook

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.

Heineman’s Winery Facebook

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.

Quarry Hill Winery Facebook Page

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.

Wine Vault Facebook Page

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!

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These 8 Pizza Places in Ohio Will Melt Your Buds

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 PizzaSandusky – 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.

Cameo Pizza Facebook

Avalanche PizzaAthens – 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.

Avalanche Pizza Facebook

Harvest PizzariaColumbus – 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.

Harvest Pizzeria Facebook

Coccia HouseWooster – 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.

Coccia House Facebook

A TavolaCincinnati – 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.

A Tavola Pizza Facebook

Frosty BarPut-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.

Frosty Bar Facebook

Scotti’s Italian EateryCleveland – 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.

Scotti’s Italian Eatery Facebook

Marion’s PizzaDayton – 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.

Marion’s Pizza Facebook

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!

 

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5 Things in Ohio She’ll Love on Mother’s Day

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!

Culinary Vegetable Institute Facebook

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.

Manitou Candles Facebook

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.

Spoon Market and Deli Facebook

Have something you’d like to add to this list?  Let us know!

PS. We love you mom.

Beer Class is the Best Class – Beer Exploration Society at Ohio Beer Garden

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.

The Rail Facebook

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.

Ohio Beer Garden Facebook

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.
    • Thursday,  April 27th @ 7:00 pm
Ohio Beer Garden Facebook

For more information you can visit www.therailburger.com or www.ohiobeergarden.com.  You can follow along on Twitter @TheRailBurger & @ohiobeergarden.  Side note: Looking for a ridiculously tasty Certified Angus all-Ohio steak? Check out City Square Steakhouse, their sister restaurant in Wooster, Ohio.

Cheers!

Love Ohio Craft Beer? FeBREWary at The Rail is Back, Bigger and Better Than Ever

If you’ve visited It’s Always Ohio before, you’d know that we aren’t shy about how much we like The Rail.  Their burgers are ridiculously tasty.  Their beers are ridiculously tasty.  And as if that wasn’t enough, it’s all OHIO!  So when we got word about them bringing back FeBREWary, we had to share. Check out the deets below.

  • FeBREWary has been expanded to include all of Mike Mariola’s concepts —All four Rail locations, Ohio Beer Garden and City Square Steakhouse in Wooster, Ohio.
  • Month-long event will comprise of a variety of draft beers not available anywhere else in Ohio.
  • Featured breweries include Wolf’s Ridge Brewing, Warped Wing Brewing and Zaftig Brewing.

New year, new beer.  The Rail, one of northeast Ohio’s staple craft beer and burger bars, is bringing back beer-centric FeBREWary for a second straight year.

The Rail Akron Ohio

While the exciting event will once again feature rare Ohio craft brews that can’t be found anywhere else, The Rail has stepped up their game by expanding the map and featuring a lot more beer.  Restauranteur Mike Mariola’s other two creations, Ohio Beer Garden in North Olmsted and City Square Steakhouse in Wooster, Ohio, will also be taking part in the fun.

The Rail’s affinity for everything Ohio is already well known amongst northeast Ohioans, evident by their use of local ingredients and Ohio only brews. 2017’s FeBREWary however, will up the ante by offering rare, delicious craft beers that won’t be available at any other space in Ohio.

“We’ve always known Ohio is on the forefront of the craft beer scene,” says Mike Mariola, award-winning chef turned restauranteur and craft beer aficionado. “That’s why we created FeBREWary.  It’s the perfect opportunity to showcase some of our favorite Ohio beer and have other local fellow beer lovers join us.”

Mariola’s deep involvement in the event even has him driving a U-Haul across the state to pick up these highly coveted kegs.

Beer Flight The Rail Ohio

These scarce brews will spread across the style board and include Driftwood IPA, Daybreak Clear Sky Cream Ale and Hop Smoothie IPA from the Columbus-based Wolf’s Ridge Brewing.  Gamma Bomb IPA, Trotwood Lager and Jolly Tar Dark Brown Ale from Dayton’s Warped Wing Brewery as well as A-Crop Blacklight Stout and Wee Heavy Scotch Ale from Zaftig Brewing in Columbus.

Follow the FeBREWary journey on The Rail Burger Blog and on social media at The Rail’s Facebook page and on Twitter @TheRailBurger.

8 Places in Cleveland Where We Love Drinking Beer

It’s pretty evident nowadays that Cleveland, Ohio is pretty much the LeBron James of beer towns.  I mean this place has deep, deep roots when it comes to concocting the nectar of the gods and has truly been an integral cog in the wheel of the craft beer revolution.  Every neighborhood you walk into and seemingly every street you walk down has a great place to sit down and sip.

So we thought it’d be useful if we pointed out some of our favorites.  Now with that in mind, let it be known that this list could’ve just as easily run 50 deep because let’s face it, Cleveland has more worthy beer joints than the Browns have injured quarterbacks…for the last ten years.

The Bottlehouse Brewing Company — Their motto is “Good beer for good people.” Simple, but right on.  While this spot is certainly considered a craft brewery, it’s really so much more.  In addition to the eight house beers on tap, they always feature six house meads as well (Our favorite is the City Mead).  Go on the right night and you’ll most likely see a food truck serving up local grub too.  Be sure to try out Trivia night and bingo night — Oh yes, and they have pinball.

Bottlehouse Brewery Facebook Page
Bottlehouse Brewery Facebook

The Rail (Various locations) — We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again.  The Rail is awesome.  Locally sourced, tastebud-melting burgers at a place that takes great pride in everything Ohio.  And if you couldn’t tell, we love Ohio.  If you haven’t already, check out their Beer Exploration Society — Monthly events held at various Rail locations where studious, hop-minded folks get together and chat beer.

The Rail Facebook
The Rail Facebook

Tremont Tap House — This bustling beer bar located on Cleveland’s Southside of historic Tremont boasts more than 100 craft brews, 48 of which you can get on draft.  Let’s say that again.  100 beers with 48 on draft.  That’s an insane amount of beer.  You won’t feel overwhelmed though, because every person that works there can give you cliff notes on every one.  Just one thing to remember, the place is always busy and for good reason.  Get there early and stake your claim because if you don’t, you’ll be standing and drinking beer.  Which now that we think about it, is perfectly fine too.

Dolph M. - Yelp
Dolph M. – Yelp

Great Lakes Brewing Company — If you’re talking beer and you’re talking Cleveland, you have to be talking Great Lakes.  While the entire brewpub is a wonderful place, the basement beer cellar is our favorite.  If you can snag it, grab the standing barrel table that’s perched above the room in the back left corner.  The perfect spot for surveying the scene and sipping one of the coveted pub exclusives.  Last time we had the chance to sample the crazy delicious Belgian Stout called Dark Stone Waters…and by sample, we mean polishing off four to five beers.

La Cave Du Vin — When you’re rolling with a group of friends, some may be dastardly wine drinkers and for them, you have a solution — La Cave Du Vin.  If you’ve ever caught a show at The Grog Shop, than you’ve undoubtedly stopped into this small, almost secretive basement gem.  As you might’ve guessed by the name, La Cave is all about wine, however, it’s huge selection of bottled beers says otherwise.  So much so that I can almost guarantee they’ll have a bottle of something that will surprise the most seasoned hop head.

Hofbräuhaus Cleveland — If swinging around a Bier Stein the size of your head filled with glorious Bavarian brew while munching on schnitzel sounds like a good time, then this place is for you.  Seriously though, this place is unbelievably awesome.  Recreated to look exactly like the original establishment in Munich, Germany, Hofbräuhaus is like a vacation.  I mean c’mon, their beer has to follow the 500 year old Bavarian Beer Purity Law, so you know it’s good.  Bottom line: Some of the most fun you can have in Cleveland.  Prost!

Hofbrauhaus Cleveland Facebook
Hofbrauhaus Cleveland Facebook

Happy Dog (Various locations) — First off, and this has nothing to do with beer, try to say “Happy Dog” without smiling.  You can’t do it.  Second, beer tastes so good with tubular meat and that’s why this place is so special.  Just imagine a topping for your hot dog and I can almost guarantee they have it — And they’re all made in house.  And on top of that, their beer selection is very good.  Combine that with the vintage neighborhood vibe, great live music and boom, you’re one happy, well fed pup.

Happy Dog Facebook
Happy Dog Facebook

Mcnulty’s Bier Markt — For the beer purists out there, there’s Mcnulty’s.  Easily one of Cleveland’s leaders in the craft beer revolution, this spot is serious about Belgian beer and you can tell from the litany of beer advice and info you’ll get.  Ohio’s only Belgian beer bar has more than 100 craft beers to choose from and 30+ rotating drafts, which means there is a zero percent chance you’ll walk out without finding something to tickle your fancy.  Plus, Mcnulty’s is dog friendly, so bring your best buddy along.

Mcnulty's Bier Markt Facebook
Mcnulty’s Bier Markt Facebook

Have another great spot that one of your favorites? Let us know!

Ohio Beer Garden Opens in North Olmsted

If you’ve ever popped into The Rail for a burger or the City Square Steakhouse in Wooster for a mouth-watering steak, you’ve probably noticed whoever owns these spots has a particular affinity for everything Ohio.  We really like that.  That gentleman is Mike Mariola, restauranteur, beer lover and founder of a new joint in North Olmsted dubbed Ohio Beer Garden.  Much like The Rail, the Ohio Beer Garden will share that same love of the state of Ohio…just in liquid form.

24 Ohio Beers on Draught

Ohio Beer Garden, the newest Mike Mariola Restaurants concept located next to The Rail – North Olmsted, is bringing a unique sense of brewing camaraderie to northeast Ohio with a communal gathering place.  Ohio Beer Garden will feature 24 limited-edition beers on draught, Ohio spirits and wines, weekly live music, a shuffleboard table, board games (yes, board games and a shuffleboard!) and TVs for catching the game in this relaxed indoor/outdoor space.  The fun, casual atmosphere is reminiscent of a brewery tasting room/German beer hall. 
ohio-beer-garden-main-room
The fast and simple menu offers pizza and snacks for sharing, and guests are also encouraged to bring in food from home or from their favorite take-out spot.  A small retail area will accompany a mix-and-match bottle selection and lucky for all of us, all draft beers will be available to-go in growlers.

Ohio Beer Garden Patio

The Grand Opening kicks off Friday, October 14 with an official ribbon cutting at 5 p.m. followed by a Growler Giveaway at 6 p.m.
Ohio Beer Garden is open everyday at 3 p.m. and located at 402 Great Northern Blvd.  You can reach them at 440-979-1001 or by visiting www.ohiobeergarden.com.
ohio-beer-garden-logo

Fall Getaways – These Small Ohio Lake Erie Towns Have Some Serious Color

While it’s true places like The Catskills in New York and The Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee have some truly legendary fall foliage, Ohio’s certainly no slouch when it comes to proudly displaying autumn’s complexion.  Whether it’s the rolling reds of Hocking Hills, the searing oranges of Cleveland’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park or the blazing yellows of Wooster’s tree lined streets, we Ohioans have it pretty good.

That being said, sometimes it’s nice to venture a little off-the-beaten path to a few lesser-known locales.  A few spots where the tepid waters of Lake Erie provide the perfect canvas for fall’s burst of chroma. Or just maybe, if you’re feeling wild, even put an island in your life.  So, without further adieu, let’s take a look at some small towns on Lake Erie who’s true colors may surprise you a bit.

Huron, Ohio:  Just past the edge of Sandusky in the town of Huron, Ohio, the contiguous wetlands of Sheldon’s Marsh State Nature Preserve are most frequented during the spring, due large in part to a bird migration that attracts nearly 300 species.  However, that’s not why we’re here.  We’re here because of this…look below.  A one-mile paved trail will take you to Lake Erie’s edge and hopefully, if you time it right, give you this type of photo opp.

Huron, Ohio - Sheldon's Marsh State Park Nature Preserve
Walking Path @ Sheldon’s Marsh

Local’s Tip: If you’re looking for a quick bite to eat and don’t mind driving an extra five minutes, try the Sand Bar.  It may look like an unassuming diner, but the food is terrific and the service is excellent. Go for the pizza.

A bit further up the lakeshore in Huron, Ohio
A bit further up the lakeshore in Huron, Ohio

Sandusky, Ohio: The renaissance-minded town not only has Cedar Point, home of the extremely popular Halloweekends, but a downtown historic district that is seriously booming and a ton of lookout points to scope the beautiful fall colors surrounding Sandusky Bay.  This particular spot, and yes we could’ve picked a better photo that actually showed leave’s color (the sunset is worth it don’t you think?), is called Shoreline Park.

An early fall sunset at Shoreline Park in Sandusky, Ohio
An early fall sunset at Shoreline Park in Sandusky, Ohio

Local’s Tip: Sandusky’s restaurant and bar scene has exploded over the last 5-7 years, which is great news for anyone visiting for the night.  Try the Volstead Bar for a 30’s style speakeasy cocktail or Small City Taphouse for authentic Vietnamese Cuisine, sushi and 50+ beers on tap.  Looking to stay overnight?  Hotel Kilbourne, a 9-room luxury boutique hotel, just opened and features Sandusky’s first-ever rooftop bar, Moseley’s Public House.

Moseley's Public House & Rooftop Bar @ Hotel Kilbourne
Moseley’s Public House & Rooftop Bar @ Hotel Kilbourne

Vermilion, Ohio: This quaint harbor town sits directly on Lake Erie and the Vermilion River, making it ideal for boaters and almost feels New Englandly.  Don’t bother looking that up, it’s not a word.  Vermilion’s waterborne location also makes it an awesome spot for scoping fall colors — Everything downtown is also within walking distance.  So park your car, pop down to Main St. Beach and start snapping photos.

On the Vermilion River
On the Vermilion River

Local’s Tip:  Woodstock Cafe, a colorful spot focused on local sustainability, is a great place to grab a coffee and gourmet sandwich — Great selection of craft beer as well, if you’re into that sort of thing.  We are.

Standing on Main Street Beach in Vermilion, Ohio
Standing on Main Street Beach in Vermilion, Ohio

Put-in-Bay, Ohio:  Yes, this legendary island is home to a bevy of taverns and pubs, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Put-in-Bay has a sneaky good outdoorsy side and is absolutely beautiful pretty much any time of the year, especially in the fall.  Combine this unique location on the western basin of Lake Erie with events like the Island Wine Festival and Put-in-Bay Oktoberfest and boom, there’s no reason you shouldn’t go.

Photo courtesy of Miller Ferry Facebook Page
Photo courtesy of Miller Ferry Facebook Page

Travel Tip:  The Miller Ferry, the easiest and most affordable transportation to the islands, is just $14 RT per person.  You should probably take your dog too, since they ride for free.  You’re welcome Fido.

Photo Courtesy of Miller Ferry Facebook Page
Photo Courtesy of Miller Ferry Facebook Page

Marblehead, Ohio: On your way to the Miller Ferry, you should probably stop off to see one of Lake Erie’s most iconic landmarks.  Marblehead Lighthouse is not only the region’s most photographed spots, but is the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on the United States side of the Great Lakes.  From the rocky headlands of Marblehead Peninsula you can look out and see Kelleys Island, Put-in-Bay and the rollercoaster-laden skyline of Cedar Point.  And while the Lighthouse gets a lot of the attention, the town of Marblehead itself is gorgeous.

Local’s Tip:  If you’re looking to spend the night or even just visit a unique winery, the Redfern Inn at Rocky Point Winery is the perfect spot.  Guests here have access to bicycles, a private lounge on the grounds of the winery and several fires pits with gorgeous views of the lake.

Marblehead Lighthouse
Marblehead Lighthouse

Have another Lake Erie town you’d like to add?  We know there’s more, these just happen to be the one’s we frequented last year.

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