Economic hardships and fickle consumer tastes wreck havoc on even the heartiest of restaurant business plans. The following ever-growing list of dining establishments were among our faves, facing an untimely death. Rest in peace, Cincinnati eateries. You're sorely missed.
Amigo's (199? - 2002)
Another great Mexican restaurant that was located near Tri-County Mall in Fairfield. It's been replaced by a more generic, Tex-Mex style joint called the Blue Agave Mexican Grill. We'll miss the Shrimp and Cactus: sauteed shrimp with strips of tender cactus, garlic and arbol pepper sauce. Other notable menu items were the Pechuga Habanero and the Guachinango a la Veracruzana (red snapper covered in "Veracruz sauce," made with tomatoes, onions, garlic, green peppers, olives and oregano.
Burnell's (2012 - 2013)
Damnit. This tiny cove of a place, located in the former Mayberry on Vine St, offerred just a handful of tables and another row of seats along the North wall to showcase Chef Nathan Jolley's amazing small plate menu. His passion for food could be savored in every bite, from his rotating variations of homemade grits, to his challah-enhanced lunchtime sandwiches; from his hearty soups to his seared scallops, his braised, Brazilian beef with pickled onions, tomatoes and chimichurri, his warm, lemon-flecked shortbread cookies. This was a special place, a local treasure, not some tired chain seen at virtually every new real estate development. It's disheartening that, with increasing frequency, we are letting these gems die off in favor of the routine. I will sorely miss Burnell's.
Cuba Cafe (2009)
It was an unassuming sandwich shop specializing in authentic Cuban fare including, of course, the Cuban sandwich. Cuba Cafe was the first restaurant reviewed on Cincinnati Bites that has since closed. It lived a short life but, as the saying goes, "the candle that burns twice as bright burns twice as fast."
Dink's (2006 - 2008)
One of the cheapest and tastiest of the downtown Cincinnati restaurants, Dink's was a throwback to the 50's diner, serving great burgers, specialty hot dogs (like the Chicago Dog), deep fried twinkies and the beloved gravy fries. I still yearn for their chunky chicken salad sandwich.
Hyde Park India (2006 - 2008)
Our favorite Indian restaurant (read: better than Baba India) closed its doors. Not surprising, as we were typically only one of a few couples who ever frequented the place.
Jalapeno's (1999 - 2008)
This was easily one of the best Mexican restaurants in the Cincinnati area. Alas, thanks to the magic of greedy landlords, the restaurant was put to pasture long before its time, replaced by a Chicago pizza joint that we predict won't last two years closed after four years.
Javier's Mexican Restaurant (2000 - 2010)
Javier Villaneuva started his eatery as a small hole of a place located at 30 E. Court St., downtown. Focusing primarily on burritos, the place quickly grew in popularity as one of the key "go-to" places for lunch, often sporting lines out the door.
As success grew, Javier moved his location in 2007 to a much larger, seemingly more convenient corner location at 100 E. 8th St. Unfortunately for Javier, the downtown opening of the big-name burrito chain, Chipotle, combined with an awful recession spelled doom for his business. Javier's served its last burrito February 26, 2010.
Mekong Thai (2007 - 2014)
While Mekong's menu boasted nothing that distinguished it from other Thai restaurants, it very much set the bar for creating near-perfect representations of Thai, Vietnamese and other Asian dishes. Never greasy and sporting a 1-3, mild-to-scorching-hot spice level, Mekong served the best Thai food in Cincinnati.
After working with his father out of a food trailer on Fountain Square back in 2000, George Psihountakis branched out on his own to open Mythos, a Mediterranean restaurant specializing in tasty Greek gyros.
While a popular restaurant both Downtown and in Newport, Mythos was doomed by an ambitious expansion plan that backfired. By the time Psihountakis had opened three new locations, the reeling economy helped seal Mythos' fate. The last Mythos location shuttered its doors in November, 2010.
Pasta Wagon (2004 - 2007)
Great cheap Italian fare, large salads, great pastas and a decor that paid homage to all the Italian cliches: Rocky Balboa, the Soprano's, the Godfather, Frank Sinatra and more.
Porkopolis Tavern and Grill (2005 - 2008)
Their ribs and pork chops were legendary; their portions were huge and tasty. And who wouldn't want to eat while seated inside a kiln? Sure, another restaurant has taken up residence at the old Rookwood Pottery building, but it's just not the same.
Pusch's Family Restaurant (19?? - 2002)
When I lived and worked in Fairfield, Ohio, I had stumbled upon some of the best-tasting pancakes ever made. Serving breakfast all day in addition to its long list of down-home favorites like meatloaf, open faced roast beef sandwiches and chicken, Pusch's made a regular out of me.
I still yearn for those pancakes; nothing else in the area has come close.