Asked to name his favorite Cincinnati dishes, Tim Kreiling immediately thought of Nada’s guacamole appetizer: a verdant combination of avocado and tomatillo (a cousin of the traditional tomato plant) served with chips and crudites for your dining pleasure. The guacamole appetizer for two is $10 on the dinner menu, and there is also a $6 option on Nada’s lunch menu. Nada, located on Walnut Street downtown, is David

Falk’s newest restaurant. It features a range of contemporary Mexican dining complemented by unique accents such as images of popular Mexican

comics on its menus and videos of Mexican telenovelas (soap operas) and luchadores (professional wrestlers) in its restrooms.
— Stephanie Metz

Texas Roadhouse's Filet Mignon
"It's a meat and potato thing llaughs Ken Webber, when asked why he names the filet mignon from the Texas Roadhouse as his favorite meal when dining out. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also his wife’s favorite restaurant, aside from The Forum Grill. The Texas Roadhouse prepares its “Dallas Filet” by dusting the steak with its signature blend of seasonings, then searing it for one minute on each side, and finally char-broiling the meat to perfection over an open-flame. Webber typically orders the Caesar as his salad, which is made with crisp romaine lettuce, secret-recipe Caesar dressing, house-made croutons, and shredded parmesan cheese. Served with a choice of two made-from-scratch sides – Webber likes the baked potato – and homemade rolls topped with your choice of basic or honey-cinnamon butter, it’s easy to see how this meal would be chosen by one of Greater Cincinnati’s top chefs. At $14.99 for the 6-ounce cut and $16.99 for the 8-ounce cut, you’d be hard-pressed to find a quality steak at these prices elsewhere. Texas Roadhouse has five Tristate locations, in Fort Wright, Milford, Western Hills, Hamilton and Springfield.
— Michelle J. Smith
 
Carlo & Johnny Veal Chop
Jonathon Hunt admits “(he’s) more of a fish and chicken fan, but if I’m going to be eating meat, I’ll choose veal.” Perfectly pleased with the veal from “any of (Jeff) Ruby’s restaurants,” Hunt says he’s particularly partial to the dish served at Carlo & Johnny in Montgomery, where he was once employed. Perhaps it’s nostalgia, but his preference for the “steakhouse veal chop” ($36.95) remains unfettered. He hails the restaurant’s meat purveyor, and says the veal is “tender” and “not too heavy.” Served a la carte, the chop is coated with Jeff Ruby’s signature steak dust, and then broiled – medium to medium rare is recommended. The meat is then laced with a truffle sage demi-glace, which is a rich brown sauce made of reduced veal stock and finished with fresh sage, truffle oil, and butter. So next time you are splurging on a meal at Carlo & Johnny and can control your urge to order a steak, go with the veal chop.
— Michelle J. Smith

Blue Ash Chili's Ham and Beef Double Decker
For Tom Millikin, no sandwich reflects growing up on Cincinnati’s West Side better than a double-decker. Ironically, his high-stacked sandwich of choice is found on the other side of the city at Blue Ash Chili. Millikin visits this family owned, diner-style neighborhood favorite for its ham and beef double-decker ($5.75). Generous portions of ham and roast beef are piled on the customer’s choice of bread along with lettuce, tomato and real mayonnaise. Aside from the memories it conjures of his childhood, Millikin appreciates the quality ingredients and great taste of Blue Ash Chili’s double-deckers.
— Gabrielle Kuholski

Sung Korean Bistro's Dolsot Bibmbab
Christopher Burns replies without a moment’s hesitation, “Dolsot Bibimbab” when asked to name his favorite dish among the myriad served in the Tristate area. Say that 10 times fast. Dolsot Bibimbab ($16) can be found on the menu at Sung Korean Bistro on Elm Street downtown. Cooked and served in a flaming hot stone bowl, this dish starts with a bed of rice, layered with loads of vegetables including squash, watercress, bean sprouts, carrots, radishes and lettuce and is topped with an egg, sunny side up, and comes with either beef, chicken or tofu. Spicy bean chili paste is served on the side as a condiment. The rice comes out sizzling, crispy and caramelized. Burns describes the combination as “very earthy.” According to Executive Chef and Owner Sung J. Oh, the dish dates back to ancient Korean Buddhist monks, who were vegetarians. One of the many things that make this plate unique is that the ingredients are mixed tableside. The dish is very healthy and fresh, according to Sung, who explains that in Korean, “dolsot” means “stone bowl,” “bibim” means “to mix,” and “bab” means rice. Before entering the bowl, each vegetable is cooked separately, using a different technique and spice combination. Sung says this is what gives the dish “multiple flavors.”
— Michelle J. Smith

Barresi's Osso Buco
Like many chefs and business owners, Bunny Villalba is usually busy cooking, shopping and managing. But given the chance to dine out, she escapes to the relaxed, romantic atmosphere of Barresi’s Italian Restaurant in Deer Park. Barresi’s Chef Sarah Wagner-Barnes “has truly grasped Italian cuisine in Cincinnati,” Villalba says. “Sarah is an unbelievable chef.” Of what she calls Barresi’s “true, genuine” Italian cuisine, Villalba particularly loves the osso buco. The veal osso buco Milanese, $34.95, is slow roasted and served over risotto with a light tomato sauce. It is available year-round. But for something “different and delicious,” Villalba suggests, try the lamb osso buco marsala (shown), $36.95, which is served during the winter. The lamb shank is slow roasted and served with sweetened marsala wine, portabella mushrooms, artichoke hearts and pine nuts. You won’t find the osso buco marsala on the menu, so ask the server if it is available as a featured item.
— Lindsay Kottmann

Aglamesis Cinnamon Ice Cream
When Shoshannah Hafner is not busy with the restaurant she co-owns with her husband Doug, she might be seen at Aglamesis Brothers eating ice cream. It’s the cinnamon flavor that calls Hafner’s name. A self-proclaimed “ice cream junkie,” she enjoys making her own (cinnamon, of course), but since the hectic lifestyle of a chef doesn’t allow for that very often, she turns to Aglamesis. “Most places don’t make the cinnamon flavor,” she says, but Aglamesis has been making it “the sincere way,” in small batches overseen by master confectioners, for years. In addition to cinnamon, Aglamesis uses fresh cream, honey, sugar and eggs in its ice cream, which is considered “French” due to the egg yolk content. Hafner prefers hers served with a dollop of hot fudge sauce, which, incidentally, is also how the ice cream parlor recommends it be eaten. Served plain, the cinnamon ice cream at Aglamesis is $2.10 per scoop in a carryout cup or cone ($2.50 if eaten in, served the old-fashioned way in a silver dish) or $3.99 per pint, and is sold only seasonally, starting in late October. Aglamesis has Locations in both Oakley and Montgomery.
— Michelle J. Smith

Cumin's Tiki Masala and Tandoori Mushrooms
Julianne Buechel is reminiscing about when she didn’t have her hands full running her new combination wine bar/restaurant in historic Milford — but that’s just because these days she doesn’t have time to visit Cumin as often. Cumin in Hyde Park serves modern Indian fusion cuisine in a bold, contemporary atmosphere. “The Shrimp Tika Masala and the Tandoori Mushrooms with mint and tamarind sauce are addicting,” Buechel says. “In fact, those dishes inspired me to try my hand at Indian cooking at home.” The Tandoori Mushrooms are available for lunch and dinner for $6.95 and $8.95, respectively. The Tika Masala can be ordered with chicken, lamb or vegetables as well as shrimp.
— Lindsay Kottmann

Whisky's Ribs
Todd Ferguson says Whisky’s in Lawrenceburg has the best barbecue ribs in the Tristate. He even goes as far to say that its ribs “blow Montgomery Inn away.” Whisky’s baby back ribs are slow smoked for hours and topped with an original sweet and spicy sauce, a recipe designed by Chef Larry Youse from Grand Finale, a longtime friend of Whisky’s Owner Jim Schwier. According to Ferguson, Whisky’s also puts a unique spin on traditional appetizers: for example, its BBQ Potato Skins are stuffed with a slow roasted hickory smoked pork brisket and topped with Whisky’s signature barbecue sauce. Ferguson also suggests the Whisky’s peanut slaw. He says it has a perfect blend of “creaminess and saltiness.” The slaw is made from a secret recipe kept so discreet that not even Schwier knows all the ingredients; the same employee has been making it since the Whisky’s opened almost 24 years ago. 
— Gabrielle Kuholski

Hofbräuhaus  Wiener Shnitzel
Hofbräuhaus Newport is where Karl Lenz dines when he’s craving a taste of home. Having grown up in Germany, he deems the Wiener Schnitzel served by Hofbräuhaus to be “soul food.” “It’s not cutting edge,” says Lenz, but “comfort food. This is the food my mom used to make.” Using an 8-ounce pork cutlet, Hofbräuhaus Executive Chef Peter Haubi serves a “wiener-style” schnitzel, which is “traditionally made with veal.” To prepare the dish, the pork is dipped in whole eggs, seasoned flour and plain bread crumbs, and then pan-fried in butter. Served with lemon only, the Wiener Schnitzel comes with French fries and roasted seasonal vegetables, currently butternut squash, carrots, green beans, rutabaga and button mushrooms. Hofbräuhaus offers many variations of schnitzel for the more adventurous diner: Holsteiner – with fried egg, Jager and burgundy, mushroom and bacon sauce, Paprika Rahm – grilled, not fried, covered in paprika mushroom sauce and served with buttered egg noodles, or Cordon Bleu – filled with smoked ham and Swiss cheese and served with beer cheese, roasted vegetables and spätzle. Order the basic Wiener Schnitzel, only $11.75, and you’ll have enough cash left to purchase the perfect accompaniment … a premium Hofbräuhaus beer!
— Michelle J. Smith

The Pub's Goat Cheese Dip
Ask Adam Beck where he spends his down time and he’ll tell you: The Pub, in the Crestview Hills Towne Center. Why? The wide selection of imported beers. Oh, and the goat cheese dip, which Beck claims as his favorite dish apart from those he serves at Mokka, the popular breakfast and lunch spot in Newport. The warm dip, a blend of goat, parmesan, and cream cheeses, mixed with garlic, white pepper, dried basil and kosher salt is topped with marinara sauce, then garnished with fresh parsley and toasted almonds. Served with lightly toasted pita wedges, this starter is meant to serve 3-4 people who plan on leaving room in their bellies for a main dish (and plenty of beer). For $9.50, you get “a light dish that’s creamy, but not too heavy on the stomach,” says Beck, and it “matches well with the import beers” served at The Pub. Note: the dip matches the drink, and not vice-versa. Noticing a theme here? Being a pub, it’s really all about the beer, right? The Pub is also located in Rookwood Commons in Norwood.
— Michelle J. Smith

O'Charley's California Salad
Gaetano Williams recently enjoyed a meal with his daughters at O’Charley’s and was pleasantly surprised by this California Salad ($8.99). Sweet, colorful and healthy as its name suggests, this salad features grilled chicken breast served atop a bed of spring mix and romaine lettuce. Strawberries and mandarin oranges add a hint of sweetness, while dried cranberries and crumbled bleu cheese and O’Charley’s tangy balsamic vinaigrette balance out the dish. An added plus: O’Charley’s multiple locations throughout the Tristate make this light dish easily accessible to most of us.
— Stephanie Metz