Best Of 2017

Best Nona-Approved Sandwiches

If you’re looking for a relatively simple menu with locally sourced ingredients and a die-hard dedication to authentic charcuterie, look no further than Panino, OTR’s former food truck turned artisan panini shop. Nino Loreto and Joe Helm are the owners of the fast-casual sandwich and cured-meat restaurant located on Vine Street. Firm believers in the farm-to-table philosophy, the duo sources almost everything from the surrounding area: Tristate-raised livestock, veggies grown in a garden down the street and a wine list featuring only OTR’s Skeleton Root wines (the wines also make an appearance in dishes like fennel pollen salami). Farmers deliver entire carcasses to Panino, where upon arrival the meat is butchered, cured and aged in the restaurant’s own aging room to be transformed into elegant prosciutto, sausage, soppressata and other meats. With an Italian lean — the word “panino” is basically Italian for sandwich — and a con la famiglia mission, the menu also features family recipes like Mama’s Grassfed Beefballs, made by Loreto’s mom Patty, desserts made by Loreto’s sister and small entrées and decadent charcuterie trays to share during the tableside dinner service. Loreto still uses the same butcher block his grandfather did when he was a West Side butcher; the bar is made from an old Delhi bowling alley lane; and the deli case is a restored antique. If you seek realism in a time of falsehoods, you’ve found it. Panino, 1313-1315 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-0287,

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,

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,