Growing up in California, my friends and I would make some large generalizations about the rest of the inferior country. One of the main ones was, “that’s even more in the middle-of-nowhere/redneck/hickey than Ohio!” or “why would you ever go to Ohio!?” It was nothing personal, but in our minds, there was no reason to visit Ohio all the way from our perfect coast.
However, that all changed when I got to college and met some of my best friends who happened to be from the midwest…and they were normal!!!! (Sorry, I’m the worst.)
After graduating, I went straight to NYC, and then did a complete conceptual 360 and visited my friend Joey in Cincinnati.
It turned out to be one of the most wonderful visits ever. The people there are unbelievably kind and genuine. If you pass anyone on the street, they will make eye contact, smile and say hello. It threw me completely off guard maybe because I had just been in Manhattan or just because there’s no other place in the country where people are just that friendly. My first night there, I was wearing this dress and random people went out of their way to compliment it. I honestly didn’t even completely adjust to this kindness the whole time I was there.
Since I had just stepped out of the whirlwind that was graduation (be ready rising seniors, it’s absurd), this was the perfect vacation. Joey happens to be disgusting at tennis, so we spent a lot of time just lounging in his living room, watching the French Open.
But apart from that, I was really pleasantly surprised at how good the food was in Cincinnati (of all places!) We would eat one meal and then just wait…not knowing exactly what to do because our life (and friendship?!) revolves largely around food.
Our first stop was Teller’s, a former bank-turned-restaurant. We ordered Joey’s favorite Chicken Quesadilla which was UNREAL. I’m a huge Mexican food snob being from California, but this quesadilla was bomb diggity. In an attempt to be healthy, we also ordered a salad with goat cheese and apples plus some added avocado because avocado makes everything better (obvocados obviously!)
I’ve eaten at a lot of different places, high and low, but my meal at Joey’s favorite restaurant Nada made it into my top 10 eating experiences, I kid you not. Given I was STARVING, but the food was SOOOOOOOO good. Like so good. SO so good. We ordered Mac N Cheese with roasted poblanos and jalapenos and I got Crispy Pork Belly Tacos with a fried egg on to. Eating tip: fried egg on top of anything is always the way to go. We also got unlimited chips and guac. Although I was sort of detoxing post-grad, we had to order margaritas which didn’t really hit us since we were eating so much (and because we are now RESPONSIBLE adults!), but tasty nonetheless After this meal, we walked over to Fountain Square, a gorgeous little spot in downtown Cincinnati where there happened to be a music concert going on, with random groups of people dancing. Overall a wonderful night.
The next day, Mrs. Fritz, one of the most wonderful, friendly, smiley, happy, energetic women I know, threw a graduation party which included M&M’s with our faces on it – a really bizarre phenomenon, and tons of little eats, paella, and a black raspberry chocolate chip ice cream cookie sandwich (crack). It was so much fun meeting all of Joey’s family friends who fall into the Cincinatti-kind-friendly-wonderful thing. I also visited some Cincinnati classics, including Oprah’s favorite ice cream place Graeter’s. It is now my favorite ice cream place as well. We would get the ice cream and eat it in Hyde Park Square, which apparently is an obligation. Sort of got berated for thinking otherwise. I also got to try Skyline Chili, Cincinnati-style chili which apparently Cincinnati natives love and outsiders hate…but I loved it. The cheese on top was clutch.Montgomery Inn next for Joey’s high school’s Varsity Athlete Banquet where Joey made a dope speech. WHAT CAN’T HE DO!!?? …but seriously… The Inn is also known for their barbecue. And for our last meal together – literally the last supper before he goes off to China and I go off to funemployment – we ate a classic burger at Zip’s.
Overall, it was such a great place to unwind and appreciate the simple things in life. I was so comfortable and happy the whole time. The next time life seems to be moving too quickly for me, I hope to find my way back to Cincinnati 🙂