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Citybeat’s Best in the City Article

CityBeat released it’s Best of Cincinnati Issue this week (available on line here) and it came with few surprises and some good advice. If you aren’t familiar City Beat is Cincinnati’s local urban weekly periodical that provides information on the happenings of the city. Aimed at the 20-40 demo the paper tries to appeal to everyone by offering information on events, concerts, bars and pubs. The Best in the City has been running since the paper’s inception and you can find previous year’s entries going all the way back to the year 2000. Be careful when snooping back that long because many of the choice establishments have closed or moved on in the nomadic world of Cincinnati dining. 

The City Beat lists are broken down into several categories, the one I care about is called “Eats,” and it covers some of the best places to eat in the city. Within the Eats category there are two sections, one for reader’s picks, and one for staff’s picks. The reason these sections are names as such should be obvious: readers write in to choose the reader’s picks, and the City Beat staff writes up the staff picks. 

The reader’s picks are, unfortunately often bland and uninteresting. Unfortunately Cincinnati diners who write in to the city beat tend to frequent commercial establishments and appear to have little to no idea that there are places with better food prepared by people who actually care about the ingredients and the experience and not corporatized dining experiences. This is very evident in the breakfast category, where the top three breakfasts in the city are listed as follows:

First Watch
- Multiple locations
2. Bob Evans, multiple locations
3. The Echo, Hyde Park

You can’t see me, but I am rolling my eyes as I type this. First Watch has won best breakfast in the city for 11 years. While I am sure it is great news for the corporation that owns First Watch, and I am sure the employees and managers of that establishment are good people but COME ON Cincinnati? Are we really a city that wants to promote that establishment as the best we have to offer. I really have very little against First Watch, they typically offer a dependable eating experience, but to call it our “best” makes my stomach turn a little. I understand this is probably the result of a sampling issue, as there are multiple locations, which means many different people from around the city probably have access to one. Couple this with the fact that many Cincinnatians tend to orbit around their side of town, staying close to the east side or the west side whenever possible. This means that asking someone to drive out of their way to try amazing places with acclaim and quality like the National Exemplar, or Take the Cake, or Vitor’s is like asking them to stab themselves in the hand. I get it, while at the same time I hate it, but what can you do? 

And don’t get me started on Bob Evans being second best? I do appreciate that a local place like The Echo gets third place but I wouldn’t put it on my top list of anything, as may have been evident by my review of the place recently. I will note that First Watch also won the Sunday Brunch category but that the second and third places went to local establishments:

First Watch - Multiple locations
2. Grand Finale, Glendale
3. Take the Cake, Northside

Some other notable choices from the City Beat Article are among the Staff Picks. These tend to be a little more chosen with local flavor in mind. They also have interesting titles like: “Best Damn Pie When You Least Expect It,” which was the place where City Beat again lauds their darling “Anchor Grill,” the Covington Greasy Spoon that is pretty much a staple of every “Best Eats” since 2000.  At this point they are creating categories for it to remind everyone to go there.

I had to cosign City Beat’s designation of Take The Cake as the “Best Brunch with Dessert” as I also went there and had an amazing experience, as laid out in my review. They also listed Keystone Bar and Grill as Best Breakfast for Hungover Vegetarians Who Date Hungover Meat-Eaters. I’ve been to that place, and it was decent but I didn’t feel it was among the best places I have gone.

The City Beat surprise for me was a place called Bellevue Bistro, which was not on any of my lists of places to have Brunch. City Beat tagged it as the Best Intimate Brunch Across the River, and called it a great place for an intimate brunch. I will have to check it out.

Well, that’s all the ranting and raving I can stand to do today, Stay tuned for a TBM change of pace as I review my dinner at Aunt Flora’s (Cobbler can be breakfast right?) and more noncontroversial breakfast related reviews to come.


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