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Good Cheap Eats near Univ of Cincinnati

I'm going to be passing through Cincinnati in a few weeks and will be stopping for the night near the University. I'm wondering if there are any good cheap places near there for dinner on a Thursday night. Type of food doesnt matter, price and location are much more important. Thanks!

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  1. I like the macover and the (yes, this is not a typo) monster burger at Mac's Pizza Pub at 205 West McMillan.

    It's really a pizza place, but the burger is OUTSTANDING and CHEAP

    1. In the UC area, I like Pomodori (my first choice; wood-fired pizza and fresh pasta) and Cactus Pear (eclectic Mexican, pastas and salads). Ambar has some of the best Indian food in town, but it's not exactly cheap. Martino's on short Vine has fair Italian and huge sandwiches. There's also a hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese place with decent pho, but I can't remember the name; it's right on Clifton near McMillan. And there's always Skyline, as well.

      1 Reply
      1. re: johnbycz

        after seeing the note below, you probably are talking about cilantro. but there is also a great thai restaurant on clifton called thai cafe - one of my favorite places for pad thai!

      2. I'm not sure I'd call Cactus Pear or Pomidori's cheap, but cheap is relative.....:-)

        What is your per meal budget, CT?

        5 Replies
        1. re: TJ Jackson

          I'd say the budget is $10-15 for an entree. I'm just stopping through on a mini road trip and am trying to find a place so I don't get stuck going to a normal chain or the restaurant in the hotel. I'm definitely not looking for a multi-course meal.

          1. re: CiaoTerp

            Oh, cool - your "cheap" is my "medium" :-)

            Any of these places mentioned herein (thus far) will be well within your budget, incl (though your choices *may* be limited to the lower end of the menu) Cactus Pear

            1. re: TJ Jackson

              Actually my cheap is probably the same as your cheap, but I'll be with my mom who is paying, for once, and her cheap is kinda higher than mine. So of these choices, which would you recommend if I only had one meal in the area? Cactus Pear?

              1. re: CiaoTerp

                Cactus Pear (review: http://tinyurl.com/zocda) has great salsa -- it's a roasted pepper thing -- really good margaritas and many good dishes. My personal preference is for Pomodori (review: http://tinyurl.com/q7fq3), cuz I'm more of a pasta/pizza guy anyway, but Cactus Pear is a nicer place to eat. Ambar has great food, but lacks atmosphere.

                1. re: johnbycz

                  Cactus Pear is a favorite of mine (see below), but I was disappointed in the meal and the margarita I had there this weekend. Especially the margarita ... I had it on the rocks, and it was super-watery even before the ice melted (my husband's frozen one was better). The prices had increased since the last time I'd been there, which may have added to my disappointment too ... it just didn't seem worth the price anymore. The good news? The salsa is still delicious. I'm hoping it was an off night -- would someone please post soon to tell me that they think one of my favorites is still great?

        2. The Vietnamese place is Cilantro ( 2510 Clifton Ave.) ... you can get a huge soup or stirfry with a spring roll for $8 or so.

          Habanero (358 Ludlow Ave.) is a cheaper Mexican option than Cactus Pear, though I really like Cactus Pear. Big burritos like Chipotle, which is also near campus, but with many more options and varieties. You could probably spend $7 there.

          Sitwell's Coffee House (324 Ludlow Ave.) is a funky, no-smoking coffee house with big sandwiches and slow service. Sandwiches and salads run $4.50-7. My favorite, the Big Ass Pocket Pita Burrito will fill your belly with smoked gouda, avocado, hummus and more.

          My husband craves Chicago Gyro ( 200 W. McMillan St.) every once in awhile, but I've not eaten there in many years. It's cheap (maybe $5 for a gyro), with a few options for sides (fries, definitely; spanokoepita, maybe.)

          I've heard that the Indian place on Calhoun near Clifton is cheap and decent, but I can't personally vouch for it nor remember its name at the moment. Does anyone know? Also, I know McMillan is dotted with a few Chinese & Thai spots, but I don't know much about them either -- maybe someone else on the board can speak to that.

          Enjoy your visit to Clifton!

          1 Reply
          1. re: tapas

            Hubby and I used to eat at King Wok once a month or so. The quality definitely has slipped, with undercooking or overcooking now unfortunately frequent. They're somewhat unusual in that they have tanks of live fish available, though.

          2. I've only been to King Wok on MacMillan, but it seemed decent. There is a special Chinese menu if you would care to try some more traditional dishes, although it seemed to me that quality had slipped on a most recent visit.

            Still, the water spinach (ask if they still do it Malaysian-style, or if not, the garlic) was very good, and the seafood options were quite varied. On a previous trip, I loved the steamed tilapia. Deep-fried was not so impressive. I can't remember what else we had off hand, but it might be worth a look if the original poster wants to check out something more unusual in the ethnic cuisine department.

            1. I do not live in Cincinnati, but my wife has family there (in Clifton near U of C) so we have spent a lot of time there. My personal favorite is Skyline Chilli for dinner and Graeter's ice cream for dessert because they are both unique tCincinnati places. However, if you are not into Cincinnati chilli, I would recommend Ambar for Indian food. The food is fantastic and the prices are reasonable.

              1. Back when I lived in Cincinnati, it didn't get much better than Floyd's ( http://www.cincinnati.com/freetime/di... ) for cheap eats around th UC campus.

                Another vote for Pomi's (Pomodori's) as well. Always loved their wood fired oven pizzas and spinach salads.

                1. Ambar India on Clifton Avenue is good, but it's not the cheapest. Directly across the parking lot is Habenero, which is darned good. I'll second the vote for Pomodori's.

                  If you go to Skyline on Ludlow, take a look at their 'wall of fame'. I'm the dark-haired guy in glasses in one of the pictures!

                  Cilantro is also awesome -- it's currently my crave-food, though their sanitation practices aren't great (one of the guys there tends to work the register, handle money, and dig right back into the food he's preparing). The food is very good, especially their #20 -- a chicken over crispy noodle dish. They have recently 'simplified' their menu, which made it more confusing to me. Look instead at the large menu board over the fry station and order by number.

                  1. Ambar is by far one of the more reasonably priced places around. If you don't believe me, check out their menu at ambarindia.com. Almost all their dinner sized entrees cost $10 or $11, and you will get enough food for more than one meal.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: pmadha1

                      I disagree on the portion sizes at Ambar; that's the difference between price and value. I really love the food, but when I order lamb, I want LAMB, not the six or eight pieces I usually find in Ambar's dishes.

                      I will add, though, that anyone headed for Ambar should grab a copy of CityBeat, which always has a $5 coupon in the dining section. For you out-of-towners, CityBeat is a free alternative weekly newspaper here. You can find it just about anywhere.

                      1. re: johnbycz

                        I love Ambar. I can understand how you want more lamb, but I am always stuffed when i leave. I think the portions are decent sized considering all the rice you eat with it.

                        I normally go to Baba, just because it is closer to me, but it has the same owner. You can probably get Citybeat at the restaurant...I thought I was being clever one night and went and got one while I waited and tore the coupon out. I started a trend with all the people around us. When we all got sat one by one they told us they were not good on Friday or Saturday nights. Just our luck.