And though I can barely keep my eyes open, I wouldn't trade a single second of it for anything.
At this point, my trip to Cincinnati for the NLDS seems like ages ago. And I'll be honest, I didn't expect to stay there for an entire week. The Giants were down 2-0 and looked dead in the water. But that's what I loved about this 2012 team. No matter what was thrown at them this season, they found a way to overcome.
As with most of these trips, we didn't have a ton of time to check out the local cuisine. We work late, often start very early, and spend most of our time at ballparks. We had a little time our first night in Cincy, and I was so happy my friend Chris could meet up with my co-workers and me for dinner. I've known Chris for 10 years, but this is only the third time I've seen him during that decade. While traveling with my friend Kasey, we met Chris, Paul and Jason on the boat ride to Santorini and have managed to stay in touch through the years on Facebook.
We ended up dining at Nada, which is a favorite among some of the Giants players and coaches as well. (In fact, I'm fairly positive this is where Ryan Vogelsong ate his #RallyEnchiladas in Cincinatti before his inspiring performance in Game 3 to keep the Giants alive). To be honest, I was a little skeptical about a Mexican place in Ohio, but this place was really good and pretty affordable. Great margaritas, and the tacos are the way to go here. I got to sample three different kinds: barbacoa, crispy pork belly and shrimp. All were fabulous, but the crispy pork belly tacos were the clear winner. I'd say the only thing to skip was the queso. It wasn't like the queso I'm used to in California. But the chips are fresh and house made and very good. Overall, I would totally recommend this spot if you ever find yourself staying in downtown Cincinnati.
There aren't a ton of lunchy (yes, I just made up that word) options in downtown Cincinnati. I did a quick Yelp search and discovered Paula's Cafe was within walking distance of our hotel. I heart this place. It's sort of like if your Grandma's kitchen was actually a restaurant. The lunch counter is filled with random ceramic pieces in shapes of cats and such filled with sugars and condiments. Mismatched little antique-looking salt and pepper shakers also line the counter and big metal chargers sit at each place setting.
As for the food...solid. It's diner-style, lunch counter food, so it's nothing fancy, but it's cheap and it hits the spot. Paula always has her "famous turkey chili" on the menu, with a different soup of the day as well. I'm not sure who decided it was famous, (maybe Paula herself), but it was pretty damn good. I had the chili and a tuna melt for lunch before Game 3. So guess what? I had the same thing before Game 4 too. (Covering baseball players tends to make you a little superstitious). The second time around, I went with my co-worker Adam, who ordered one of the other famous menu items, the "7 minute burger." (Which immediately made me think of 7 minute abs). Anyways. Talk. About. A. Burger. He got it with bacon and a fried egg on top and it was pretty much the best thing ever, and as Adam described it "a breakfast burger." It was *slightly* undercooked (hey, what do you expect in 7 minutes), but needless to say, Adam didn't eat the rest of the day.
To celebrate our last night there, the boys were craving steak, so we hit up Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse, which was recommended to us by bench coach Ron Wotus. As far as steakhouses go, this one was really good. But expensive. It was by far the most expensive meal during the playoffs, which should've been my favorite, but it wasn't. I shared a chopped salad with one of the boys and ordered a filet. I will say...my steak was HUGE. So you do get a lot for your money there. The Potatoes Anna were beautiful and tasty...crispy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. The creamed spinach was standard. My other knock on this place is they had no idea what a French 75 was, which is sort of my go-to pre-dinner cocktail.
I'm sorry to report that I did not try Skyline Chili or Montgomery Inn for BBQ. I'm more disappointed about the latter. Come to think of it, I'm not really sorry about the Skyline Chili. As I understand it, it's just chili served on top of spaghetti noodles. But since we had BBQ in all of the other playoff cities (and in my side trip to Austin), I'm disappointed we didn't make it to Montgomery Inn. In a last ditch effort, I saw on the Reds' website there's a Montgomery Inn stand at the ballpark. Of course, I set off in the wrong direction and ended up at Mr. Red's Smokehouse instead. As a bonus, they did *serve* Montgomery Inn BBQ sauce, so I topped my pulled pork with that. I know, that doesn't really count, but it's the best I could do.
Anyways...as I already told you about, St. Louis was the next stop with similar results on the field, and better luck in the food department. Click here to read about it!