Best Of 2017

Best Expensive Restaurant For An Affordable Lunch

Spending the night out at Sotto is considered special occasion dining — with the candle-lit atmosphere and indulgent Italian pastas — but as of summer 2016, Sotto is also open for lunch. A midday escape from the cubicle drone or a clandestine destination for some bavette pasta con bottarga (pasta topped with salty fish roe), the sensible yet satisfying lunch menu features smaller portions and smaller price points on dinner classics. Featuring about 13 total items, you can still get fan favorites like short rib cappellacci or cacio e pepe — with gnocci instead of spaghetti — for less than $15. Entrées, including breaded pork loin and a take on their black kale Caesar with chicken, are under $20. Sotto, 118 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-977-6886, sottocincinnati.com.

Eats
Art: Phil Valois


2. A Tavola

3. Moerlein Lager House

2. Marx Hot Bagels

3. Panera Bread

2. Servatii Pastry Shop & Deli

3. Sixteen Bricks

2. Servatii Pastry Shop & Deli

3. Holtman’s Donuts

2. Montgomery Inn

3. City Barbeque

2. Taft’s Ale House

3. Moerlein Lager House

Best $25 Steak for $24

We write these words not to encourage the fine proprietors of Over-the-Rhine staple Senate to raise their prices but to acknowledge that without such a deal many of us would not often indulge in such fare. The “$25 wood-grilled, dry-aged ribeye” — which costs just $24 — with marrow butter and truffle fries is kind of like getting half-off a badass fancy meal. You can spend the other 20 bucks on the restaurant’s excellent beer, wine and cocktail lists. Or, if you’re one of those people who uses a budget app to make yourself feel guilty about how often you eat out, go with the $17 seared scallops or slum it with a $10 award-winning street dog until you’re deserving of the full steak treatment. Senate, 1212 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-2020, senatepub.com.

Best Actually Hidden Gem For Dinner, Drinks And Cover Band Jams

Some might argue that any good restaurant on the West Side is a hidden gem, but Sakura truly takes the cake. Located off I-74, this Japanese steakhouse is really hard to find from the street and must be accessed from Old Rybolt Road past the BP gas station or via Rybolt Road past the Holiday Inn, near the closed (we hope) Imperial House Hotel. The adventure continues inside, where patrons can choose from a seat at a Teppanyaki grill table or a spot at the sushi bar for classic rolls and rice dishes. If the music and lights emanating from the adjacent Hillside Gastropub tempt you, just head next door for drinks, jams and dad dancing. Sakura Steakhouse, 5510 Rybolt Road, Dent, 513-574-9666, searchable on Facebook.

Best Adult Pop-Tart

Very few things beat waking up in the morning as a kid and sliding twin Pop-Tarts into the toaster for a morning jolt of sugar. Benjamin Arington, owner, creator and chef of Fat Ben’s Bakery, has taken that childhood nostalgia and updated it for 2017 (and for grown-ups) with the creation of his pastry pockets. The pockets are rectangular crusty pastries filled with classy flavor combos like strawberry cheesecake, blackberry thyme and pineapple rosemary. And if you don’t feel like adulting quite yet, Arington also offers flavors like milk and cereal, chocolate PB fudge and Girl Scout Cookie. While you can only order the addictive pastry pockets online for now, a Fat Ben’s storefront is coming soon. Fat Ben’s Bakery, 917-628-8202, fatbensbakery.com.