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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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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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Going Back to Athens, Ohio 10 Years Later: It’s Still That Great

You don’t even need to say it, I already know.  As a graduate of Ohio University it’s absolutely, positively despicable that I haven’t spent the night in Athens for 10 years.  A place that’s affected me in such a wonderful way.  A place that’s given me so many memories it’s hard to conjure up every one lucidly.  A place that’s just magical, there’s no other way to put it.  All that being said, I finally made my way back and here’s some of what I found.

Courthouse

The brick streets still just feel right.  Of course this isn’t a revelation, like I somehow expected them to be gone, but there’s just something about the old-school feeling they give uptown Athens.  Something about the way they feel on the bottoms of your shoes.  I wish every town had brick streets…wait, no I don’t.  Save it for here.

SteetViewAthens

On to my favorite lunch spot and quite possibly my favorite in the state of Ohio — Bagel Street Deli.  Everything felt exactly the same, albeit a little bit busier.  Classic rock bellowed from the kitchen, this particular time I think I heard some Zombies and Zeppelin.

BagelStreet

A perfectly straight single file line stretched down the narrow corridor filled with hungry college students debating which one of the 50 or so sandwiches they’re going to choose.  Will it be the simply Tom’s Turkey with sprouts on a pretzel bagel (my favorite), or the veggie-centric Kimmie Gibbler.  Ultimately it doesn’t matter, they’re all fantastic and so are the names that describe them.

TurkeyTom

Bringing back even more nostalgia, I had to take my finely crafted sandwich across to College Green and sit indian-style in the grass.  Much to my dismay, there wasn’t anyone else taking advantage of the green space although it’s fair to point out no one expected a sunny 70-degree day in mid-November.  Nonetheless it was fantastic, view of the Burrito Buggy and all.

CollegeGreen

Right down the street is the new Jackie O’s Brew Pub, which for me will always be O’Hooley’s, but that’s okay because there’s enough of the old staple inside to make an alumni feel at home. I’ve had plenty of Jackie O’s brew in the past, but these guys really are making some seriously great beer.  Beers like the Paw Paw Wheat and Mystic Mama IPA are solid, but if you get the chance, score one of their Bourbon Barrel Stouts which are ridiculously good.

JackieO's

Now it wouldn’t be a return visit without a night at the bars and by all means this is debatable among the OU elite, but Cat’s Eye is still my favorite.  That’s not to say other taverns aren’t great or even close to top of the list for that matter, but there’s no replacing an old personal staple.  And I’m happy to report nothing has changed, not a single thing at least as far as I could tell.  Beers are outrageously cheap, the two front window seats are still highly coveted perfect for people watching and speed quarters (not ashamed), and the bartenders still have that like-it-or-not-I’m-going-at-my-own-pace attitude which in my opinion, is perfect.  Bottom line: the Cat’s Eye is timeless.

CatsEyeShuffle

While I certainly could talk about more of my favorite tavern experiences, like Hot Nut shots at Tony’s and the fact that the Court Street Shuffle is still going strong, I’ll skip to the late-night food scene which any Athens dignitary knows is strong.

Souvlakis

Souvlaki’s is just like I remembered, uptown’s oldest eatery and still killing the gyro game.  A souvlaki and seasoned fries is really all you’ll need here, although you can certainly add grape leaves for a little extra Mediterranean flare.  But make sure to strike up a conversation with the owners because they’re just as nice and relatable as I recall.  Also, if it’s Friday or Saturday night skip eating inside where it’s too busy to move and opt for a curb outside, nobody’s judging.

Goodfellas

Then there’s the old pizza staple, Goodfellas, where you can still get a slice of cheese pizza for $1.50.  Thick, doughy and delicious, one slice will usually do it, even for the most hearty of appetite.  I say that not owning up to the fact that I always and just recently bought two in one sitting.

I could go on and on about all the good places to eat, about how dive bars only get better with time and can’t be made, but that could take eons.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there’s just something magical about Athens.  Maybe it’s because I’m from northern Ohio or that I’m simply an Ohio University Alumni reflecting on the past, but even the air smells different down here.  A funky little college town whose character rivals most large cities, Athens is a town for me that will never get stale.

DeerAthens

Oh yeah, we came across a deer roaming around downtown — Only in Athens.

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