A while back, Ilovetoeatgoodfood made a post to CHOW asking for recommendations of restaurants in the Toledo/Bowling Green, Ohio area because she was moving here from San Diego. Original thread here. After being appalled that so many people wrote back with comments along the lines of “You’re screwed; there’s nothing to eat there. Get thyself to Ann Arbor and Detroit,” I signed up for a CHOW account and started posting all of my recommendations. Below is a copy of the recommendations I posted (please note, I wrote these directed to Ilovetoeatgoodfood and also wrote some things in reply to other posters, so some of the wording may seem odd and out of context):JenBak Jun 21, 2012 02:15 PM
Hi! Good luck on your move. It’s kinda sad that you haven’t gotten a lot of good suggestions yet. There are gems in Toledo, though we’re obviously not going to have the selection you had in San Diego.
Korea Na on Reynolds [Korea Na has since moved to Bernath Pkwy — the old Fifi’s location] in Toledo is very authentic Korean Food & tastes like my Halmonee (Korean Grandma) makes (except for the mandoo guk, don’t get that. everything else is excellent). Also, the owner is quite the craftsman. He made the wooden archway that surrounds the entrance, the tables in the restaurant, the psuedo-pavillion inside, etc. He also painted the decorations on the table. Mr. Kim and his son are often the servers & Mrs. Kim is in the kitchen cooking. [The decor is a little different in the new place, but it still has a lot of Mr. Kim’s touches. They have a larger staff now, and Sam isn’t around as much]
In BG, my favorite place is Reverends Bar & Grill on Wooster. They are a higher-end burger bar (I’m not a huge burger fan, but I love theirs. Love the ones mixed with chorizo), with some Latin items on the menu (NOT Mexican). I’d be really interested to hear what you think of the fish tacos and how they compare with what you’re used to. They also have good sweet potato fries. Their spiciest salsa is called “diablo” and I personally don’t find it spicy but my tolerance is very high & apparently the chefs always know when I’m in the restaurant because I’m one of the only people who can take it.
Naslada on South Main in BG is authentic Bulgarian food. Not great, but pretty good.
As mentioned above, Squeakers on Main in BG has some locally grown and specialty items as well as a small vegetarian menu.
Happy Badger on Main in BG I’ve only been to once or twice but was pretty happy with the desserts I got.
As mentioned before Bangkok Kitchen has pretty good Thai food. (located on Dussel in Toledo)
Tandoor is often voted Toledo’s best Indian restaurant (on Reynolds). I like it but haven’t checked out many others, so I can’t really give a “this one is the best” recommendation.
Masala is another Indian restaurant on Reynolds. I’ve only been there once. They were okay, but I was excited that there was goat in the buffet.
The Indian Jewel was mentioned in a previous post. I’ve heard it’s excellent but I’ve also heard that the wait times and service are horrendous. [I’ve since been there, it was pretty darn good and I must have gone on a good day because our service was fine]
Ferdos (on Bancroft I think?) has pretty decent Middle Eastern Food, as does Sahara on Dussell, and The Grape Leaf on McCord, I think. Please, note, the Grape Leaf does not have a liquor license.
I have to disagree with the post recommending Myles. I personally think they’re a greasier, lower-quality version of a Chicago deep dish. I’ve had some deep dish in Chicago I’ve actually liked. I’ll eat Myles occasionally with friends, but it always upsets my stomach. I prefer California-style pizza but haven’t found anything good enough around here (People have recommended Pizzapalis in DT Toledo to me, but I thought it was over-priced for the quality).
Though it’s not great pizza, the places I think have the best pizza in Toledo are Capers, on Bryne, and Calvinos (on Central, I think?). What I like about Calvinos is they sell wine by the actual bottle price and only charge a corking fee, so your alcohol bill isn’t outrageous. [Since this original post, 5th Street Pub has opened in Perrysburg and they have excellent pizza. A coworker also suggested a place called “Amy’s”.]
New Empire in Spring Meadows (off exit 8 on 475, Airport HWY exit) is the only place I know of in town for Dim Sum.
Nearest Ethiopian restaurant I know of is Blue Nile in Ann Arbor.
Pho Vietnam on Upton in Toledo is a hidden gem. The only place I go to in town when I’m craving Pho. They also have soul food. [There is now also Amango — good but not as good as Pho Vietnam]
For fancier evenings out, I suggest Treo in Sylvania or DeGage in Maumee. Mancy’s is often touted as the best steak place but I found them to be trading more on their long reputation than on actual food quality. I was appalled that I paid high-end restaurant prices for a salad that was made of iceberg lettuce and looked like it had just been emptied out of a Dole salad bag.
For Italian, my Italian coworker suggests Ciao! in Sylvania or Zia’s (on The Docks in Toledo). He also suggested Calvinos (mentioned above). I think he’s suggested the Margarita pizza at all three of these places.
Our local claim to fame is Tony Packos. I think it’s okay. I’d eat at the original one on Front Street at least once, if I were you, just to say you’ve done it.
Bar 145 is my favorite burger joint (on Monroe). They have a very customizable burger and you can select the temperature you want it cooked. Last time I got a turkey burger with some Detroit Brick cheese (heavenly!) from Zimmerman’s (excellent shop in Ann Arbor), arugula, wild mushrooms, roasted red pepper, and some other toppings, I’m sorry I forget. The side of truffle oil and rosemary fries was fantastic.
Regarding the burger places I’ve listed, Reverends and Bar 145 — My boyfriend prefers Reverends and I prefer Bar 145. He feels Bar 145 has more pretentious food (i.e. arugula and anything with truffle oil, selecting your bread type) and prefers Reverends. I prefer Bar 145 precisely because of the reasons he finds it pretentious.
I’m currently trying to decide which sushi place I think is best, so I don’t have a recommendation on that front yet. [I have since been to Kyoto Ka and also had the sushi at the new Korea Na location. I recommend both those places]
For ice cream/frozen yogurt, I suggest either Handel’s (seasonal ice cream stand, eat outside at tables) or Toppers (on Monroe) for frozen Greek yogurt. Toppers has also just added a crepe station. Haven’t had any yet, but I’m excited! [Had the crepes since then. They’re not really crepes. They’re tasty wraps, but not actually a true crepe. And they’re pre-made.] [Also, I like Yogurt Vi’s in Levis Commons better than Toppers now, mostly because the service at toppers has been pretty dismal every time I’ve gone in].
For the Mexican food you should probably avoid because you know what it’s supposed to taste like, I’d say try El Salto on the Anthony Wayne Trail in Maumee, El Vaquero in Perrysburg, and Abuelos in Maumee. All three are very different in their style of Mexican food offered, so maybe, just maybe you’ll find one that’s passable? And, for the love of all things holy, stay away from Loma Lindas. So many people say that’s the best Mexican food in town and I have no idea why. It tastes like over-priced Taco Bell. I’m pretty sure the “queso dip” I ordered was, in fact, Cheese Whiz or something similar.Okay, that’s all I’m going to list for now. I need to get off the computer. If you want more recommendations or want a food tour of Toledo, just let me know. :)
JenBak Jun 22, 2012 05:11 AM
Glad to be of service! :)
Perrysburg? Do you like burgers? Perrysburgers in DT Perrysburg is pretty good. They have endless fries, which is dangerous. Also, I haven’t tried this place yet, but Swig makes their own hot dogs, sausages, and stuff, apparently. Off their website, “Swig’s in-house charcuterie illustrates the care and effort that goes into every one of our sausages. All of our sausages and hot dogs are hand crafted -that is, ground, seasoned, stuffed and smoked – daily. From classics like the Coney and Chicago dog, to unique items like the Gyro Sausage, Swig appeals to a wide variety of tastes, from those looking for comfort food, to those hoping for a little adventure. ” [I’ve been to swig not. The band playing was so loud and headache causing, I honestly don’t even remember what the food tasted like. If you go, I suggest going on a night a band is not playing.]
Post back and let us know where you end up going. :)
JenBak Jun 22, 2012 05:28 AM
Oh! and for really solid, Midwest comfort food, from a real family restaurant, I suggest Glendale Gardens Cafe at the corner of Glendale and Detroit. It’s a GOOD family restaurant that’s been there forever and hasn’t let the quality suffer over the years like a lot of other family restaurants. It’s also one of those places that has a 5 or 8 page menu, so you can be slightly overwhelmed with the possibilities. Appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, pastas, some Middle Eastern food (the family that owns it is Turkish), breakfast all day, massive onion rings, and lots more.
I just realized I suggested a lot of burger places, which is odd because I actually don’t eat a lot of meat. My honey is looking for the perfect burger and hot dog, so we’ve tried a lot of burger places in town. Side note, don’t go to Burger Bar 419. They tout themselves as a gourmet burger place with locally sourced stuff, but from what I understand, the meat is just butchered locally, not grown locally. Also, the meat isn’t seasoned that great, you take away the toppings and it’s just a slab of ground beef. Plus they have very little else other than really heavy, greasy stuff. You pretty much can just get fries or onion petals and a burger there with a few unimpressive salad offerings. And the fries are terrible. Greasy and limp, yet somehow still burnt.
Plate 21 in South Toledo is my favorite coffee shop to eat lunch at. When you get a grilled cheese there, it’s not just a grilled cheese, it’s a lovely blend of cheeses and bread that come together to form a high-end, artisianal grilled cheese. And they have great smoothies and soups. The atmosphere there seems fresh and open to me, with a hint of regular coffee shop vibe/modern hippie/hipster, but less pretentious.
Oh! And check out the menu for Balance in Maumee. It’s Chinese, but it’s build-your-own-dish-with-or-without-meat. Best Crab Rangoon I’ve had. The intererior is very clean and modern. Probably not as modern as you can get out in California, but for the Midwest, it’s a pleasant alternative.
JenBak Jun 22, 2012 05:34 AM
And Fifi’s restaurant on Airport Highway. Complete surprise. The outside is a very unassuming stripmall but inside, very nice. Besides Treo, it’s my favorite place for a fancy meal out. Actually, I like Fifi’s better but it’s more expensive and more high-end foodie, so I love it but my honey finds feels like he out of place. [Unfortunately, Fifi’s is now closed]
And Cake in a Cup! They won the cupcake wars on the Food Network.
JenBak Jun 22, 2012 07:26 AM
I agree with nsxtasy about Real Seafood. I had a terrible experience there. I love, love, love seafood and was so disappointed by my food. When I asked the server for recommendations, everything she suggested was breaded and fried. I had trouble explaining to her that I like the taste of fish, not the taste of breading and grease. :P
Thanks for the Bluewater Grille recommendation, I’ll have to check them out. :)
I’ve also hear the Mango Tree has great seafood.
I find it sad that, out of my friends, family, and my honey, I’m the only one who really loves seafood, so I normally don’t get a chance to check out the good seafood restaurants in town — unless it’s my birthday and then I can drag them to wherever I want to go. ;)
JenBak Jun 27, 2012 08:12 AM
Sure, mid-August sounds good. :)
Oh, & I forgot Sam B.’s on South Main. It’s the nicest restaurant in BG. Fairly standard faire, but tasty steaks and pasta and such. Not outstanding, but a nice, solid option. They do have a good French Onion soup. My dad says it reminds him of the French Onion soup he had while stationed in France in the 60s, at a sidewalk cafe run by an old French couple. :)
I’m sorry, I haven’t actually made it to any farmer’s market yet. It’s on my list of things to do this summer.
I haven’t been to any of their get togethers, but there is a Slow Food Maumee Valley.
There is also Phoenix Earth Food Co-Op. I haven’t joined the co-op yet, but they do have natural foods.
I also know of various Asian and Middle Eastern markets in the area. They’re little, but you can get most of what you need. Oh, & there’s a good Italian market place with so many kinds of cheese, olive oils, olives, etc. [There is also a good Indian market I have been to.]
Let me know if you have any other questions! :)
JenBak Aug 30, 2012 07:13 AM
Ilovetoeatgoodfood, great to hear back from you! Good to know you’re settling in and trying the food.
For Indian, I’ve also recently tried Star Diner [This was an error. I meant Star of India.], which was fun because it was in an old, 50s style diner. There was this odd and fun mix of 50s decor (booths, colors, counter, etc), with Indian posters on the wall, Bollywood on the TVs, and Indian food served in very American metal trays.
If you want to do that food tour of Toledo, or want company on one of your farmer’s market or dining jaunts, feel free to friend or message me on Facebook or reply to this thread with a time & place & I’ll see if I can make it.
Welcome to the area! :)
JenBak Aug 31, 2012 05:28 AM
mrnyc, though Tony Packos is a Toledo institution, if you’re not in the mood for hot dogs and are craving Indian or Thai, I think it would do the restaurant a disservice to go there. I find when I’m craving something, I should eat that thing because if I get something else, I end up disappointed with my food, no matter how well made it actually is. :)
JenBak about 23 hours ago
Crap. I just reread this post and realized I put Star Diner instead of Star of India. Two VERY different restaurants. Star Diner is basically a breakfast version of a Hooters, from what I’ve been told. Star of India is an Indian restaurant. Sorry if I confused anyone! :)
JenBak about 22 hours ago
Since my initial posts, I’ve been a few more places.
I HIGHLY recommend Registry Bistro (When I ate there, I couldn’t believe I could get food that awesome in Toledo, I’ve just had that level of cuisine in NYC and Chicago).
I also really loved the pizza at 5th Street Pub in Perrysburg (wood fired pizza, they imported the oven from Italy), but they were a bit noisy (they’re aware of the issue and are working on the acoustics)
Gradkowski’s has a surprising upscale menu, but a slightly relaxed atmosphere, considering it’s right off of UT’s campus, but they’re marketing more towards the business and professor crowd, not students.
Oh, and like recommended by someone else above, I finally made it to Bluewater Grille. It was excellent and had things for seafood lovers and non-seafood lovers alike. :)
And Korea Na (my personal fav, though I am biased because I’m Korean) recently moved to the old Fifi’s restaurant location, so now it’s the same great food, but in a fancier space, with an awesome sushi bar and other Japanese items added to the menu. The decor is now an interesting mix of Korean, Rococo, and antiques.