Monday, September 6, 2010

More Good Downtown Lunch Options

In June, I published a list of the best sandwiches to eat in downtown Cincinnati. This post is a bit of a follow up - a few moth downtown lunch options that I recommend. Once again, consider all the to be much better options than a $5 footlong:

Taqueria Mercado
Taqueria Mercado opened a couple months back in the old Javier’s space, across from the Main Library. The layout of the interior is essentially the same as Javier's with a bar on the far right (with margaritas on tap), but now you order from your table. To start off, we ordered some chips & queso for $2.25. The chips are made of the same tortillas as the tacos -They are oily, but also light and airy. I thought they were very good – perhaps the best chips and cheese downtown (Move over Burrito Joe’s):

For my meal, I ordered the chorizo con huevos - admittedly, a bit of a cop out:

Maybe I should have ordered something more interesting, but I was pleased with my meal... I hear Taqueria Mercado serves very authentic Mexican food. I am unable to render and authoritative verdict on that (although the website is mostly in Spanish, and that’s a good sign, right?). But, what I can say is that I thought the food was damn good - everything I tried had a nice full flavor.

I saw a couple complaints about the service on Urbanspoon. I’ll attribute those complaints to the place being new. The day I went, I found the service to be friendly and very quick. In sum, I had mixed feelings about the old Javier's, but think Taqueria Mercado is excellent. I suspect that I'll be back.
Taqueria Mercado 3 on Urbanspoon

Caffe Barista and Deli
This deli/grocery is located in the 4th & Plum building. It is the only "Caffe" in Cincinnati. They spell Caffe like Italian coffee for reasons I'm not sure I understand. I suspect it's to indicate they have aspirations of sophistication (like calling a restaurant a "bistro") - I'll take that as a good signal of their craft. But enough dwelling in the name... I went for lunch, but I hear the breakfast food is good here. Also, their website indicates that they also have pizza, but I did not see anyone ordering it. When I was here, I ordered a classic Italian sub - Pepperoni, salami, ham, provolone cheese, sub dressing, red onion, and tomato (I opted to skip the lettuce & mayo):

For $6.00, including a bag of Grippos, you can get a good quality sub at Caffe Barista. My sandwich was fresh, very juicy, and had a lot of meat on it. It was also pretty filling. They use Boar's Head meat, the same brand as Silverglade's and Lunch on Main. So, while the recipes are different, to a degree they are sister restaurants. Caffe Barrista's sub has a similar and pretty good taste.
Caffe Barista & Deli on Urbanspoon

Mythos
Mythos has two locations a block apart from each other on 4th street (Vine & Walnut) in downtown Cincinnati. The flagship location on Walnut, next to Capri and the Mercantile Library is the much bigger of the two, and a standard lunch stop for me. The walls of the interior are painted with Greek scenery. The blue and white walls make it look as if it would not be out of place in Athens (it seems everything is blue and white over there), but Mythos is not nearly as cramped as restaurants in Greece - This place is big and open. The guy behind the counter is friendly (he acts like he wants to hear about my visits to Greece) and has a Greek accent. So despite the lack of lunch-Ouzo, I suspect this place is pretty authentic.


When I stop by I usually order the Supreme Gyro - a gyro with feta cheese:
Mythos has one of the best gyros I’ve had in Cincinnati. Raya’s on Court Street is also good and Sebastian’s in Price Hill is awesome (Also, I hear good things about Greek to Me, Areti's and Gyro Plaza Café, but haven’t been). One thing about Mythos is that their Gyro's have a lot of onions, so I often pick a few out. But that's not big deal - this is a very nice lunch option with reasonable prices.
Mythos on Urbanspoon

Cafe de Wheels
I had been meaning to check out Café de Wheels since I saw it reviewed on Cincinnati Nomerati way back when. ...It seems like food trucks could be making up a large percentage of the future of downtown lunching. They are more flexible than fixed locations (they can easily switch locations!), don't pay rent, and can be open more than 20 hours a week since they can go somewhere else at night. Hell, those crappy hotdog carts somehow stay in business; Good mobile food should do great.

Anyway, I finally got around to stopping by the truck on 6th street last week (Thanks Laure Quinlivan for allowing them to park in govt. lots). The burger here is supposed to be great. But I decided to order the Cincy Cuban sandwich. I placed my order and waited around for about 5 minutes before they called my name and handed me my bag sandwich. Cafe's Cuban consists of pork, ham, Swiss cheese, grilled onion, butter, mustard, and dill pickle:

While a bit smashed, I thought the Cuban was quite good - Nice because the good Cuban sub is a rare breed in Cincy. Cafe de Wheels has a calendar online, so you can see where they’re planning to be parked. Right now, they’re on Court Street Monday & Tuesday and 5th Thursday and Friday. I plan to catch up with them again and try the burger and the Cuban Ruben.
Cafe de Wheels (Food Truck) on Urbanspoon

4 comments:

  1. Nice round-up! Glad to hear the service issues at Taqueria Mercado have resolved themselves - I was hoping they were would after the restaurant had been open for a while. I've got to get over there. Meanwhile, have you checked out the other food trucks at 5th & Race? New Orleans To Go is awesome, and I've seen a 'cue truck there on Fridays that might be right up your alley. Thanks for your report!

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  2. Thank you! The only other one I've been to so far is Señor Roy's, but that was at night somewhere else. It wasn't bad - Big tacos but the meat was a little dry, and watery cheese with the chips.

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  3. I hit Taqueria Mercado a few weeks back & was pleasantly surprised. Service was great & they were about 75% full.
    Check out Cafe De Wheels Mount Healthy sandwich.
    Of course, I know CdW from Northside - not downtown. Interesting aspect of food trucks.

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  4. just a note... Cubans are supposed to be flat, they are a "pressed" sandwich. thanks for the review! //tom ;-)

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