We visited southern Ohio (Cincinnati suburb region) late last year and decided to take advantage of the regional food fare. While we were there for an extended weekend visiting Ben’s family, we subjected ourselves to trying the local chain restaurants such as Bob Evans, Quaker Steak, and other restaurants dealing with country life and large amounts of gravy.
While I had never previously…”experienced” White Castle, Ben’s been there a handful of times when he’s been to Ohio before. To be honest, I didn’t have high exceptions for a chain that sells its burgers in packs of 10, 20, 40, probably 100 if you asked politely enough. While I have also not had the opportunity to view the entirety of Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (or any of its delightful sequels), now I know why one would crave these when they’re…intoxicated. Guess which state(s) recently passed marijuana legalization laws? White Castle – here’s your golden opportunity. *wink wink*
We ended up going twice in our short stay, spurred by an impromptu late-right visit, this time for waffle-cut sweet potato fries accompanied by “Pecan Marshmallow Flavored Syrup” (pictured below) and “Chipotle Ranch” sauce (not pictured, but far more tolerable). Keep in mind, White Castle fries come in “sacks”, instead of “bags” or “cardboard sleeves” so we grabbed a huge sack before we drove to Cincinnati, drove through part of Indiana and swung by the Creation Museum in Kentucky at 2am to snap a photo.
I had Chick-Fil-A back in August 2009 while in Maryland before the same-sex marriage comments controversy. Since they’re closed on Sundays, we stopped the first day so Ben could say he’s tried it (turns out the one at the airport was open Sunday anyway, so we went again before the flight home). I don’t really think their food is anything special (though I like the idea of non-breaded chicken nuggets) but more the novelty idea of cow-based advertising and a menu centered solely of chicken-based items. I even got a comic book in my kids’ meal – the “Amazing Cow Heroes, DeciBell and Cowmeleon”.
I’ve traditionally heard that chili in Ohio was a bit different that what we’d traditionally eat on the West Coast. While some people fight if real chili should have beans or not, at Skyline Chili, it’s more of a sauce, served over hot dogs, spaghetti and covered in (my estimation) several cups of shredded cheddar cheese (Wikipedia article for some reading material). I opted for a “Greek salad” (load of Feta cheese included), Ben was game for two skimpy hot dogs floating in a soupy bath of chili and hidden under a hay bale of cheese.
No, not a playground equipment retailer, but a “Trader Joe’s on crack” as we came to call it after our first trip (another place we ended up going to multiple times). From the outside, Jungle Jim’s is a sprawling store, complete with a fake monorail surrounded by animal statues. This place is so big that there’s a map for each section and the site recommends “We recommend spending anywhere from 2-4 hours on your first visit“.
There are sections for “American” grocery items, produce, beer & wine, even a section devoted entirely to hot sauces, but first we hit the International section. It featured individual aisles ranging from Asian, Eastern European, European (which subdivided into German, British, etc.) and a small section for Australian goods with the obligatory stuffed koala bears. Not to mention the hookah and loose tobacco section.
I also couldn’t help but notice that Jungle Jim (dressed as a wizard) looked suspiciously like a certain character of a certain comedic sitcom currently on hiatus:
All in all, a nice, fairly stress-free trip, however not sure it was worth the 5-10 lbs. of extra “carry on luggage” I gained while trying all the greasy, deep-fried fare.