Ohio, I miss you! Reuben and I just got back from a wonderful week in the greatest state. This past week was packed with family, good food, group photos, old friends, driving, beer tasting, living room chilling, and lots of ice cream. I've been looking forward to this trip home for months and it didn't disappoint. My smarty-pants little brother graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in Neuroscience. I'm so proud! He's so old and smart now, I almost can't believe it! Everything that he studies is way beyond me (architecture was a much fluffier major) but I'm 100% confident that he is going to become the greatest brain doctor : )
In 1 week, we were in Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati. Ohio's Big C's! This trip was Reuben's first time to my hometown of Cleveland, and it was Reuben and I's first time being in Cincinnati together. Fun Fact: Reuben and I both studied architecture at the University of Cincinnati during the same time. I was in the undergraduate program and he was in the graduate program. Besides briefly meeting once in studio, we never really got to know each other until we both ended up in San Francisco. Being in Cincinnati together was super interesting because in the last 3 years, we've discussed and referenced the same Cincinnati things and places, but had yet to experience any of it together.
Ohio has changed so much since I lived there, so it was a trip of exploration for both of us. I've known this for a while, but the Big C's are getting SO COOL. The Midwest is feeling very West Coasty these days. I was pleasantly surprised by how many breweries, cute cafes, and interesting restaurants there were. I had one of the best meals I've ever had in Cincinnati! More details below. And can I talk about the weather?! I was able to stay outside at night with only a light jacket on. I know that doesn't sound like much, but after you've lived in chilly San Francisco for a while, you'll understand the luxury of being able to comfortably hang out on a roof deck at night without a parka on. *I'm currently ignoring the fact that it snows in Ohio.
It's no secret that I want to move back to Ohio. A big part of me is really over living in San Francisco. It's beautiful and whatever, but it just doesn't really feel like home. I love our sunny apartment and living in Inner Richmond, but a lot of days I feel worn out and exhausted living in this expensive city. I contemplate if living and working here is really worth being so far away from my family? No, I don't think so... I have probably another 1-2 years of living in SF left in me. To be honest, I would move back to Ohio yesterday if Reuben didn't want to stay here a little bit longer.
People ask me why I love Ohio so much and it's really hard to explain.
1. Half my family is there (the other half is in Hong Kong).
2. Life is a little easier and more peaceful.
3. I can buy/renovate the house of my dreams there. Half a million dollars gets you a litter box in the Bay Area.
4. People are just generally nicer to you there. So many people wanted to just talk to us last week!
5. I can have a car. Is it anti-millennial to say that I hate taking public transportation?
I obviously, can't really complain about living in San Francisco. But there really isn't anything that can compare to being near your family, or stopping by your grandma's house to say hello after you land to also find your aunt and cousin there having dinner. Mini family reunion! I don't know if moments like this making you feel all warm and fuzzy, but it does for me. I hope that those of you who live close to your families appreciate what an amazing gift that is. And for those that live far away like me, make the most of the few moments you have with them!
Below is a recap of everything that we saw and ate while in Ohio!
I didn't really get to explore Columbus that much because I was at the graduation ceremony getting a sunburn, but Reuben opted out of sitting in the sun and had a blast wandering around Columbus.
Hoof Hearted Brewing | "Best Beer in Ohio" - Reuben
North Market | Fun market full of food stalls, spices, waffles, and a Jeni's stand. Reuben had the best pierogies ever at Hubert's Polish Kitchen.
Rossi | Our destination for a post-graduation dinner. Their menu was a mix of Italian and Asian small plates and shareable dishes. Great pizza, crispy octopus, and Bo Ssam (braised pork shank with kimchi and pickled cauliflower and served with steamed bao and lettuce)!
Jeni's Short North | Jeni's is my favorite ice cream. Hands down. I couldn't go to Columbus and not get a scoop (or two) from a Jeni's scoop shop. My favorite flavors are the Brambleberry Crisp and Milkiest Chocolate flavors.
We were only in Cincinnati for about 36 hours... which makes this list a little ridiculous.
21C Museum Hotel | If you are going to Cincinnati, I highly recommend that you stay here! It's such a fun and unique hotel! The lobby and first 2 floors are active museum galleries. It's located right downtown next to the Contemporary Arts Center and you can walk to Over-The-Rhine and to the rest of downtown. There are also boob tiles in the bathrooms.
Cheapside | Get the Oatmeal Creme Brûlée - OMG
Mediterranean King | $4 Amazing Falafel Pitas?!!!!!!!!! Why did I not go here everyday during college?
Skyline Chili | We arrived in Cincinnati around 10:30 pm after graduation dinner and mustered enough energy to head to Skyline for a late night coney. No regrets.
Arlin's | Classic grad school bar.
Listermann Brewery | The Blueberry Lime Tart Gose was my personal favorite. They mixed it with gatorade to make a green colored Haterade that I was super into.
Urban Artifact | They are located in an old church and specialize in sour beers, both factors we love.
Rhinegeist Brewery | It seems like Rhinegeist is slowly taking over the world. We just saw their beer in the Whole Foods here. Not my favorite beer, but they have an awesome roof deck which made for a great place to wrangle old friends together.
Salazar | ONE OF THE BEST MEALS I'VE HAD IN A WHILE. Please go. Order the chicken liver mousse, polenta with crispy egg, pork belly, and crispy chicken. Order everything.
Taft's Ale House | How did we consume so much beer in one day? We were only here for about 30 minutes, but it was such a nice and grand space to be in!
DAAP | Where I spent 4+ years of my life drawing, building models, drafting, not sleeping.
Washington Park | GORGEOUS. Might be my favorite place in all of Cincinnati. I can't think of a comparable park. It's just so beautiful and made even more magical with Music Hall as it's background.
OTR + Downtown | OTR has changed so much. When I first moved to Cincinnati in 2009, people told us to avoid it because of how dangerous it was. It slowly started to have more shops, restaurants, and bars pop up, and now it's completely blown up with some of best restaurants and cute shops around!
Greater's Ice Cream | Had to get it.
Bluebird | Classic little diner Reuben used to go to a bunch. Excellent crispy potatoes!
TBH I really wanted to just lounge around at my parent's house, which we did! My mom threw a thanksgiving caliber family cookout and made her famous fried chicken... I can't get myself to share the recipe yet. But since it was Reuben's first time in Cleveland we went in search of restaurants and trendy coffee shops!
Li Wah | I've been going here for Dim Sum with my family since before I was born.
Siam Cafe | Another place I've been going to with my family since I could remember! Go with a large group and order one of the large set dinners!
The South Side | Mmmmmm give me another skillet of their Mac n' Cheese.
West Side Market | I take everyone here when they come and visit Cleveland. Sample fruit from the produce vendors. Eat a crepe, a smoked sausage, a gyro, or all of the above!
Cleveland Museum of Art | It's free to go here all the time! The main atrium is impressive and so is their collection of french impressionist paintings.
Platform Beer Co. | I had one of the most interesting beer flavors here - smoked pineapple sour.
Brick and Barrel Brewing | Cool space in a random industrial neighborhood I couldn't tell you the name of.
Mitchell's Ice Cream | I'm used to going to their location in my hometown of Westlake, but their location in Ohio City is really nice and you can watch them prepare and package their ice cream from an observation deck. It smells like waffles.
Apple Cart Ice Cream | I'm upset that I didn't actually get to have any apple cart ice cream this time. But I felt like I still needed to add it to the list because it is one of my favorite places to take people in Cleveland when the weather is nice. This is another place that I've been going to to since before I was born. The best soft serve. My order is always a small vanilla with candy eyes!