2016 Dining Guide Awards

. October 5, 2016.
diningguidelogo

Hunger pains— especially when your food options are limited. Even in a city with so many restaurants, bars and coffee shops, humans are still creatures of habit. Want to try something new? Discover the best charcuterie, great lunch specials, gluttonous mac n’ cheese, stiff drinks and more by sampling our readers’ picks.

georgios

Power Lunch

Georgio’s Cafe International
426 N. Superior St.
419-242-2424 | georgiostoledo.com

In need of a quality lunch away from the office? Look no further. Whether you are the boss, or just want to feel like one, slip into Georgio’s for the dynamic, upscale atmosphere you deserve in the middle of a difficult workday. Dine on a midday meal of fresh seafood, daily specials and homemade soups to feel revived. Really crave an ego boost? Opt for lamb shanks or an 8-ounce prime strip steak grilled to order with coarse pepper for the type of meal that says, “I don’t waste time. I devour. I conquer. I need a sharp knife, lots of protein because I don’t just need power— I am powerful.”

Finalist: Mancy’s Steakhouse

New Restaurant

Winner: Fleetwood’s Tap Room
28 N. St. Clair St.
419-724-2337 | fleetwoodshensville.com

Since opening in April of 2016, patrons of Hensville have poured into Fleetwood’s to sip whiskeys or fill their glasses with one of the 100+ craft beer choices on tap. By pairing quality beers with elevated pub food, Fleetwood’s Tap Room has earned a well-deserved reputation for savvy, chic and contemporary offerings. Nosh on charcuterie-style boards, marinated olives or caprese skewers, or opt for vibrant salads and hearty sandwiches.

Finalist: Smokehouse Bistro

Perrysburg Restaurant

Winner: Swig
219 Louisiana Ave. | Perrysburg
419-873-6224 | swigrestaurant.com

Dishing up handcrafted sausages and franks with complex, smoky flavors, this easy-going charcuterie has become a neighborhood hotspot. A curious menu boasts uncommon, but familiar, pub food, like Scotch Eggs and Smoked Salmon, with plenty of seasonal, local brews on tap to wash it down. Everything, even the ketchup, is housemade, so be prepared for a memorable meal.

Finalist: Stella’s

Sylvania Restaurant

Winner: Element 112
5735 N. Main St.
419-517-1104 | element112restaurant.com

This unique restaurant offers diners a guided culinary experience with Chef Chris Nixon leading the way. Foodies with insatiable appetites for unique fare won’t pass up the daily menu, which employs only prized, seasonal ingredients. Can’t decide what to order? Go with the chef’s tasting menu, served with an exquisite glass of wine from their award winning selection. To top it off, daily specials are available, such as half-off beer and $1 oysters on Thursdays.

Finalist: Treo Restaurant

BG Restaurant

Winner: Reverend’s Bar & Grill
130 E. Wooster St.
419-352-0400 | reverendsbarandgrill.com

For a heavenly experience, head to Bowling Green for truly divine burgers and sandwiches paired up with garlic fries, soups and salads, all at prices that even college students can afford. Pick from an assortment of microbrews, specialty beers or scratch made cocktails like margaritas, sangrias or the tantalizing blueberry mojito.

Finalist: Myles Pizza
After 39 years as a BG staple, the pizza parlor is now closed as owners Chip Myles and his wife Bridget announced their retirement.

rockwells

Secret Spot

Bar at Rockwell’s Steakhouse Lounge
27 Broadway St.
419-243-1302 | mbaybrew.com

While The Oliver House is buzzing, tucked away inside Rockwell’s Steakhouse & Lounge, a dimly-lit bar is a tranquil hideaway for those seeking a quiet, pensive moment. Sit back and enjoy house-brewed beer fresh from the brewery, or carefully sip a piquant dirty martini, lost in your thoughts, and enjoy the secret while it’s still hidden.

Finalist: Angelo’s Northwood Villa

East Side Restaurant

Winner: Tony Packo’s
1902 Front St.
419-691-6054 | tonypacko.com

Tony Packo’s is a tried and true Toledo staple. Originating on the East Side in the Hungarian village, since 1932 this old dog has been learning new tricks. If you haven’t had the classic Original Hot Dog topped with Tony Packo’s famous chili and a side of their sweet hot pickles, we’ll just pretend you’re new to town.

Finalist: Cousino’s

Maumee Restaurant

Winner: Dégagé Jazz Cafe
301 River Rd. | Maumee
419-794-8205 | historiccommercialbuilding.com

This French inspired restaurant offers a smorgasbord of seasonal fare, like the braised pork belly or seared duck, with salads so garden fresh they named it ‘Dirt Candy’. Slide into the intimate, jazzy atmosphere to hear live music, sip smooth martinis and dine on palate-pleasing, distinctive dishes to feel like a true gourmand.

Finalist: Mancy’s Bluewater

Best View

Winner: The Real Seafood
22 Main St.
888-456-3463 | realseafoodcotoledo.com

Location location location— it’s just as important as great food. So, eat up satisfying seafood and soak in the downtown Toledo skyline. You’ve got the best view in T-town.

Finalist: El Vaquero at the docks

Date Night Restaurant

Winner: Revolution Grille
5333 Monroe St. | Monroe Street Market Square Shopping Center
419-841-0066 | revolutiongrille.com

For a time-tested tradition, treat your beau to a meal enjoyed in a romantic, nouveau atmosphere. A truly revolutionary date night, Chef Rob’s seasonal menu takes couples on a tempting tour of the world, with international fare including grilled Chilean sea bass or German-inspired dishes.

Finalist: Kengo Sushi & Yakitori

Gastropub

Winner: Social Gastropub
1440 Secor Rd. | 419-725-2836
25818 Dixie Highway | Perrysburg
419-931-9936 | socialgastropub.com

This gastropub offers unique eats with a seasonal menu bolstered by the freshest ingredients. Signature patties make up the overloaded Fat Boy, which include capicola, mortadella, salami, pepperoni, mustard and more. Keep an eye on the changing beer menu for new and unique drinks.

Finalist: Swig

Hippest Atmosphere

Winner: Kengo Sushi & Yakitori
38 S. St. Clair St.
419-214-0574 | kengotoledo.com

For a chic evening, our trendsetting readers say Kengo is the place to be seen. Opt to up your vogue by sitting at the Omakase sushi bar, where you can tempt your tastebuds by leaving it up to the chef and enjoy the stimulating surprise of being served twelve delicate, handmade courses for $75.

Finalist: Revolution Grille

Ma & Pop Restaurant

Winner: Schmucker’s Restaurant
2103 N. Reynolds Rd.
419-535-9116 | schmuckersrestaurant.com

Since 1948, Schmucker’s has been serving up real-deal home cooking at the right price. Food lovers will die for homestyle dinners just like grandma used to make like roast beef and swiss steak, or try their diner classics with a variety of burgers and sandwiches. For a sweet ending, savor their famous freshly baked pies.

Finalist: Glass City Cafe

Best Patio

Winner: El Camino Real
2500 W. Sylvania Ave. | 419-472-0700
2072 Woodville Rd. | 419-693-6695
elcaminorealtoledo.com

Everyone loves a good sunny day, and why not dine outside? Sunshine, a nice breeze, a margarita and a menu featuring delectable mexican fare like enchiladas, chimichangas, and fajitas? No wonder our readers love to lounge on El Camino Real’s expansive South of the Border-inspired patio.

Finalist: Zia’s

Place to be seen

Winner: Element 112
5735 Main St. | Sylvania
419-517-1104 | element112restaurant.com

If the paparazzi need to catch you, make them visit this restaurant with sleek looks and a nouveau atmosphere complemented with even better food. The seasonal and innovative menu takes ingredients from local farms and the restaurant’s own garden to make unique dishes like the Roasted Amish Chicken Breast.

Finalist: Mancy’s Steakhouse

Pre-show hangout

Winner: Georgio’s Cafe International
426 N. Superior St.
419-242-2424 | georgiostoledo.com

Enjoy an elegant lunch or dinner with the freshest ingredients from local and organic produce at this fine dining spot before or after the show. Next to The Valentine Theatre, and a block from The Huntington Center, Georgio’s is a favorite for event-goers of all types.

Finalist: Sebastiano’s

Place to take out of towners

Winner: Tony Packo’s
1902 Front St. | 419-691-6054
7 S. Superior St. | 419-246-1111
5827 Monroe St. | Sylvania
419-885-4500 | tonypackos.com

You know you can’t truly visit Toledo until you’ve tried Tony Packo’s famous hot dog. Serving authentic Hungarian food since 1932, give visitors a little Glass City 101 with a trip to Tony P’s.

Finalist: Rockwell’s

Place to catch up

Winner: Grumpy’s
34 S. Huron St.
419-241-6728 | grumpys.net

This family-owned restaurant is famous for its salads and sandwiches, but has something for everyone. Whether it’s soup, wraps, or burgers, this is a great place to gather to enjoy food and company.

Finalist: Rosie’s Italian Grille

fleetwoods

Craft Beer Selection

Fleetwood’s Tap Room
28 N. St. Clair St.
419-724-2337 | hensvilletoledo.com

Even the most difficult to impress craft beer snobs are wowed by Fleetwood’s selection of 109 hand-picked craft beers on draught. The rotating tap carries a bounty of local and regional brews, from stouts and porters, to ales, hybrids, ciders— and styles most of us haven’t heard of— there’s always something new to try. Can’t make a decision with the myriad of options? The knowledgeable bartenders are more than happy to make suggestions based on your preferences.

Finalist: Black Cloister Brewing Company

Place to Impress a Client/Date

Winner: Element 112
5735 Main St. | Sylvania
419-517-1104 | element112restaurant.com

If you want to impress, don’t hold back— show off masterfully executed, epicurean, upscale and innovative selections. Whether you’re starting a business relationship, or initiating something more intimate, allowing Element 112 to help with your introduction might give you just the boost you need. Ask yourself: is this an expectation you can live up to? Good luck.

Finalist: Registry Bistro

Place you can boat to

Winner: The Real Seafood
22 Main St.
888-456-3463 | realseafoodcotoledo.com

After a day on the waters, let a trained chef do the hard work and enjoy a fresh catch without the trouble. Right on the docks of the Maumee River, this contemporary restaurant serves premium seafood and succulent dishes.

Finalist: Webber’s

“Toledo Area Best”

Winner: Mancy’s Restaurant Group
(Steakhouse, Italian, Shorty’s, Bluewater)
Steakhouse – 953 Phillips Ave. | 419-476-4154
Italian Grill – 5453 Monroe St. | 419-882-9229
Bluewater Grille – 461 W. Dussel Dr. | Maumee | 419-724-2583
Shorty’s – 5111 Monroe St. | Beverly Hills Plaza | 419-841-9505
mancys.com

From steaks to Italian cuisine to seafood, this fine-dining restaurant group has it all. Spread throughout the Toledo area, the best place to eat is right around the corner.

Finalist: The Oliver House Complex

Baker

Winner: All Crumbs Artisan Bakery
419-377-8999
squareup.com/store/allcrumbs
facebook.com/AllCrumbsBakery

For delicious breads and pastries, like a chocolate croissant or “uptown funk sourdough”, this independent bakery satisfies tastebuds with careful, hard work. Pre-order pastries, bagels or breads online, check them out at farmer’s markets, or follow them on social media to see what local businesses carry their loaves or use their bread for sandwiches.

Finalist: Holey Toledough Doughnuts

Barista

Winner: Eileen Iannone, of Bleak House Coffee
612 Adams St. | 419-740-1125
bleakhousecoffee.squarespace.com

If you want a little pep in your step, or just a relaxing tea in a calming atmosphere, Eileen Iannone, manager of Bleak House Coffee, will help you choose the right cup. Whether you’re craving a pour-over, a perfectly-pulled espresso, or something more creative, Iannone’s got the cool beans to keep you going.

Finalist: Dakota Cousino, of Bleak House

Champion of Farm to Table

Winner: Fowl & Fodder
7408 W. Central Ave.
419-690-2490 | Fowlandfodder.com

Featuring a scratch-made menu and a fresh juice bar, locally grown ingredients make up the food at Fowl & Fodder. Without additives, their menu offers organic, vegan and gluten-free options making for a healthy, fresh and enjoyable meal.

Finalist: Element 112

Craft Beer Apostle

Winner: Tom Schaeffer, Black Cloister Brewing Company
619 Monroe St.
419-214-1500 | blackcloister.com

Before opening the Black Cloister Brewing Company in March 2015, Shaeffer tapped into The Glass City’s craft beer scene by founding The Glass City Mashers in 2011, a homebrew club that brings Toledo hobbyists with a passion for brew together to talk small-batch and craft. Now, Shaeffer owns one of downtown’s favorite breweries. Cheers!

Finalist: Amelia Jarrett, The Attic on Adams

Celebrity Dinner Companions

Winner: Denny Schaffer, of Q105.5’s Denny Schaffer Show
Q1055.com

Denny Schaffer has a reputation for speaking his mind and not caring who agrees— making him famous, and sometimes infamous. Our voters agree that if you want to have a fun evening, the best dinner companion is someone who’s going to keep the conversation going. If there’s anyone who’s sure to serve up surprises, it’ll be Schaffer.

Finalist: Kristi Leigh, of NBC 24

evansstreetstation

Road Trip Evans Street Station

110 S. Evans St. | Tecumseh | MI
517-424-5555 | evansstreetstation.com

Since opening in 2001, this family owned restaurant has maintained a simple culinary philosophy— through an ingredient-driven menu, curated from local farms and food providers, a small-town restaurant can thrive by embracing metropolitan standards. Just 40 minutes from Toledo, the elegant eatery boasts an expansive, imaginative menu with sophisticated dishes, nestled inside the town’s old fire station, with rich mahogany wood and a statuesque fireplace effortlessly blended into their simplified, contemporary style. By rotating their menu for seasonality, Evans Street Station has become a regionally-celebrated dining destination that is certainly worth the drive.

Finalist: The Stables

Local foodie

Winner: Joshua Wagy, of Smashing Toledo
smashingtoledo.com

Joshua Wagy took his two loves, food and film, and cooked them together to create Smashing Toledo (formerly known as Smash Toledo), a social media campaign highlighting Toledo’s exciting, colorful and diverse culinary scene. Wagy is also a partner at the popular downtown hotspot, Kengo Sushi & Yakitori, a 23-seat restaurant promoting fine food and creativity— a food lover’s dream.

Finalist: Scott Bowman, of Fowl & Fodder

Purveyor

Winner: Sam Okun Produce
33 N. Huron St.
419-241-1101 | samokunproduce.com

Starting off with a one-horse cart, the Okun family has provided Toledoans with fresh fruits and veggies since 1914. Today, Sam Okun Produce is over a century old and has flourished over four generations of family, ensuring healthy, local produce to our community.

Finalist: Al Peake & Sons

Caterer

Winner: Shorty’s True American Roadhouse
Beverly Hills Plaza | 5111 Monroe St.
419-841-9505 | Mancys.com

Good BBQ gives a social gathering the relaxed, comfortable atmosphere we crave. But let’s be honest— not everyone can make good BBQ. Fortunately, Shorty’s can effortless add a “Who me? Yeah, I’ve just been slowly cooking pork all day long” vibe to your party with their successful catering business. Whether you’re planning a large event or a small party, Shorty’s can bring the spice you want in a smooth, organized process.

Finalist: Michael’s Gourmet Catering

Chef

Winner: Rob Campbell, Revolution Grille
5333 Monroe St. | Monroe Street Market Square Shopping Center
419-841-0066 | revolutiongrille.com

Chef Rob Campbell’s ingredient-focused menu reflects his commitment to local, fresh and sustainable foods. His playful, relaxed personality comes through with indulgent, smart takes on classic dishes, like Chicken and Waffles. By putting hard work and long hours into the kitchen, his unique style has become well-recognized and locally craved revolution.

Finalist: Chris Nixon, Element 112

Pastry Chef

Winner: Chris Ritter, of Holey Toledough Doughnuts
holeytoledough.com

Whether you want a donut identical to the one Homer Simpson loves so much, or have a more sophisticated palate and crave a pastry fit for a gourmand— like apricot pistachio or lavender chai— Chris Ritter’s Holey Toledough Doughnuts keep local lips smacking. Just be prepared to never, ever settle for a grocery store’s boxed donut ever again.

Finalist: Serrina Teron, of So Sweet Lebanese/French Pastries

Restaurateur

Winner: Pat Giammarco, of M’ Osteria & Bar/Marco’s Pizza/Avenue Bistro
609 Monroe St. | 419-214-4222
mosteriatoledo.commarcos.com

Pat Giammarco is a man of diversity and flexibility. Take a slice out of his history: not only has he started a pizza delivery business— feeding hungry college kids, little league teams or anyone on a budget with consistently delicious ‘za— but he has also successfully opened a sophisticated, contemporary bistro that executes rustic, Artisan pizza and house-made Tuscan fare

Finalist : Jeremy Fitzgerald, of Bar 145 & RESET

Server

Winner: Shawna Shepherd, of Black Cloister Brewing Company
619 Monroe St.
419-214-1500 | blackcloister.com

Shawna Shepherd’s personality is almost as bubbly as the beer she enthusiastically serves, which keeps happy and thirsty patrons coming back to Black Cloister to try the independently-brewed varieties of beer. If you want to know what goes into your mug, Shepherd’s knowledgeable and informative approach to serving will keep you in the know, providing a flavorful and enjoyable experience.

Finalist: Eric Johnson, of Revolution Grille

Staff

Winner: Kengo Sushi & Yakitori
38 S. St. Clair St.
419-214-0574 | kengotoledo.com

Kengo recognizes that if you have a 23-seat restaurant that serves carefully-prepared, fine sushi and yakitori, it’s a necessity that the staff is polite, helpful and knowledgeable. Since many dishes require explanation and curious diners often come with questions, servers are educated to help navigate their guest’s experience.

Finalist: Element 112

Toledo Bar

Winner: The Attic on Adams
1701 Adams St.
419-243-5350 | theatticonadams.com

If you want a bar where everyone knows your name, head to The Attic. Even if you don’t know anyone, the friendly vibe and chill atmosphere makes introductions easy. Sip craft brews, cheap beer, creative cocktails, easy mixers— whatever you want, they’re ready for you.

Finalist: Bar 145

Sylvania Bar

Winner: The Sodbuster Bar
5758 Main St. #6 | Sylvania
419-517-1045 | sodbusterbar.com

There is always something going on at this lively bar located in downtown Sylvania. Get the group together and enjoy a night of live music with daily specials and happy hour until 7pm.

Finalist: Treo Restaurant

Perrysburg Bar

Winner: Swig
219 Louisiana Ave. | Perrysburg
419-873-6224 | swigrestaurant.com

Beyond the meaty, mouthwatering eats, Swig’s seasonal draught menu will satisfy any craft beer enthusiast’s curiosity. Quench your thirst by choosing between a varied list of 15 taps that typically offer a large assortment of local and regional craft breweries, with a few national favorites. Plenty of bottles are in stock— even available to go— in case you have something more specific in mind. Even if beer isn’t your thing, Swig boasts creative, chic cocktails, ciders and wines. 

Finalist: 5th St. Pub

Maumee Bar

Winner: The Village Idiot
309 Conant St.
419-893-7281 | villageidiotmaumee.com

Revitalizing the music scene in the Toledo area for local and national artists, this pizzeria provides live music acts every night of the week. Enjoy craft beers from the bar along with top-notch pizza in a cozy, friendly environment.

Finalist: Barr’s Public House

BG Bar

Winner: Reverend’s Bar & Grill
130 E. Wooster St. | Bowling Green
419-352-0400 | reverendsbarandgrill.com

A varied tap with a dozen varieties keeps craft beer enthusiasts satiated, but Reverend’s biggest draw is the sinful and heavenly variety of cocktails. Six varieties of margaritas offer a kick, and dessert-inspired “bartinis,” like Oatmeal Cookie or Blueberry Dream satisfy a sweet tooth. Feeling risky? Opt for a whiskey drink, like a Blueberry Mint Julep or an Old Fashioned. An extensive assortment of specialty drinks, like sangrias and mojitos, are perfect for sipping— or gulping.

Finalist: City Tap

Margarita

Winner: Ventura’s Mexican Restante
7742 W. Bancroft St.
419-841-7523 | toledostripletreat.com/ventura

Ventura’s margaritas are known for being classic bar drinks— no frills, no fluff.  They keep it simple and delicious with a classic, consistent margarita cocktail that is strong enough to get the job done.

Finalist: El Camino Real

oneida-greenhouse

Local Maker

Toledo GROWs
Market Stand: 900 Oneida St.
419-720-8714 | toledogarden.org/toledogrows

To help cultivate a sustainable community, Toledo GROWs works with diverse people of all ages and abilities to produce fresh, healthy food in Toledo-area, community-based gardens throughout Northwest Ohio. The grassroots nonprofit organization, a community gardening outreach program of Toledo Botanical Gardens, provides organization, resources and technical assistance with the belief that access to nutritious, clean food creates healthier, happier communities. In 2012, Toledo GROWs served over 165 community gardens. To help support the organization and to enjoy the fruits— and veggies— of their labor, stop by their Market Stand  on Oneida St. every Thursday from 11am-3pm.

Finalist: Toledo Spirits Company

Bloody Mary

Winner: Doc Watson’s
1515 S. Byrne Rd.
419-389-6003 | docwatsonstoledo.com

Not all weekend mornings are made equal— some need to start with a little bit of last night. For those brunches where you can’t quite manage donning your “Sunday best,” hit Doc’s Bloody Mary bar. Curb whatever is going on in your stomach with indulgent, gooey, melty food, sip heartily-seasoned Marys and pick your toppings at the bar. Don’t worry— Doc’s knows where your head’s at. Sleep in. They keep the Bloody Mary Bar going until 3pm on Saturday and Sunday.   

Finalist: Ye Olde Durty Bird

Craft Cocktail Bar

Winner: Element 112
5735 N. Main St. | Sylvania
419-517-1104 | element112restaurant.com

Before you head to Element 112 for a cocktail, do two things: 1) Charge your phone— you’ll want to take photos for Instagram. 2) Take your time. The cocktail menu reads like a Proust novel— ruminate over the lush menu, Google ingredients (see advice #1), and carefully weigh your options before determining your pick. Experiment with refined flavors, like hibiscus, vanilla-infused Flor de Caña Rum, fig jam, cardamom bitters, rhubarb, and treat yourself to innovative beverages, like smoked cocktails.

Finalist: Barr’s Public House

Dive Bar

Winner: Rocky’s Bar
4020 Secor Rd.
419-472-1996 | See them on Facebook @rockysrules

“Relaxed” doesn’t even begin to cover it— Rocky’s is the place for anyone. With live music most nights, a visit to this neighborhood favorite means a room full of very different people all having a great time together any night of the week. The cheerful, cozy atmosphere is the perfect place to meet new friends to fall into some enjoyable conversation. If you go to Rocky’s without talking to anyone new, you haven’t truly been there.

Finalist: Buster Brown’s Big Dog Lounge

Hangover Cure

Winner: Glass City Diner’s Haymaker
1107 Jackson St.
419-241-4519 | glasscitycafe.net

Last night was rough and you still have a belly full of booze, but you managed to get out of bed. Congratulations. We are proud of you. Now there’s only one thing to do— hit the Glass City Diner for the Haymaker. The towering plate of eggs, breakfast meat (your choice), home fries, served on top of a biscuit and smothered in sausage gravy is Toledo’s perfect prescription for a hangover. What else do you need but a big ol’ plate of protein and carbs to soak up whatever’s leftover from last night? You poor thing.

Finalist: Sunrise Skillet’s Irish Benny

Happiest Happy Hour

Winner: Doc Watson’s
1515 S. Byrne Rd.
419-389-6003 | docwatsonstoledo.com

Even though Doc’s is known for their rotating, monthly food and drink specials, the 2-6pm weekday Happy Hour also kicks with $2 domestic bottles and cans and $2.25 for well liquor drinks. On Monday, take $1 off craft beer, Tuesday sip $2.50 margaritas, Wednesday enjoy $1 off imports in drafts and bottles, Thursday try $1 off Doc’s drinks on the drink menu, and Friday means $1 off Scotch and Bourbon. On Saturday, $5 Long Islands, $2.25 pints and $6.75 pitchers of Bud Light, Yuengling and Labatt Light with a Bloody Mary Bar until 3pm. On Sunday, $4 mimosas, $1 off Guinness and Guinness mixes with the Bloody Mary Bar from 11am-3pm. All daily drink specials end at 9pm.

Finalist: Table Forty 4

Wine Selection

Winner: Element 112
5735 N. Main St.
419-517-1104 | element112restaurant.com

Element 112’s extensive wine list is the only one in Northwest Ohio that boasts three Wine Spectator Restaurant Awards. For vino enthusiasts and novices alike, sommeliers are available to help you perfectly pair a glass or bottle to your meal.

Finalist: Mancy’s Steakhouse

Addictive Appetizer

Winner: Poco Piatti Seafood Trio
3155 Chappel Dr.
419-931-0281 | pocopiatti.com

Poco Piatti is Italian for “small plates”— and for the patron, it also means “many options.” For those overwhelmed by choices, the Poco Seafood Trio can be a relief. While you still get to choose, your options are reduced, easing an indecisive appetite. Glean a short list of Calamari Zaatar, Shrimp Saganaki, Shrimp Asti, Thai Shrimp and Crabcakes to select the trio you desire.

Finalist: Registry Bistro’s Scotch Olives

Midnight Snack

Winner: Oasis
Multiple locations | eatatoasis.com

It’s Midnight— do you know where your munchies are? If they aren’t in the kitchen, and your fridge is empty, and you’re too “tired” or intoxicated to drive somewhere, Oasis drives to you. With reliable service, multiple locations, a menu that offers over 400 items and late night delivery, Oasis serves sustenance when your fridge looks like a desert.

Finalist: The House of Eats

Bubble Tea

Balance Pan-Asian Grille & BubbleTEA
Multiple locations of Balance
BubbleTEA is located by UT campus at 1440 Secor Rd.
facebook.com/madewithlove419Balancegrille.com

Sip on something special with a fresh and flavorful bubble tea from Balance, including at their bubble tea-only location by the University of Toledo campus, BubbleTEA. The unique beverages are served cold as either fruit or organic milk teas, with almond milk also available, and brewed with uncommon and surprising flavors, like honeydew, matcha, passion fruit, jasmine, taro, red beam and more. Sitting at the bottom of the cup, chewy tapioca bubbles or fruity juice bubbles wait to be sucked up through the extra-wide straw giving you a truly unique drink that you can also chew.

Finalist: Lola’s

registry

Martini

Registry Bistro
144 N. Superior St.
419-725-0444 | registrybistro.com

When the names are as impressive as their ingredients, you know Registry Bistro’s martinis are going to be serious as soon as you look at the menu. Care for  ‘Persephone’s Demise’? You’ll slowly slip a blissful blend of Boodles Gin, Bianco Vermouth, Velvet Falernum and Lavender Bitters. ‘Take Liberties, My Friend’— you might need it after the careful concoction of Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Bonal, Antica Formula and Orange Bitters. Other curiosities include a Smoked Maple Manhattan, rum and tequila cocktails, and more than a handful of ingredients you’ve probably never heard of. When you’re served your masterfully-made martini, try to casually sneak photos of your drink. Sip slowly. We know you might feel out of your element, but just try to pretend you fit in.

Runner up: Revolution Grille

Frozen Treat

Winner: Rachel’s Handmade Ice Cream
612 Adams St.
rachelsHandmadeIceCream@gmail.comrachelshandmadeicecream.com
instagram.com/rachelshandmadeicecreamfacebook.com/rachelshandmadeicecream

Ice cream doesn’t have to be stuffed with a dozen types of cookies to be delicious— just try Rachel’s Handmade Ice Cream. The hand-crafted, small-batch, richly-delicious, organic ice cream made in town and sold at Bleak House Coffee comes in flavors so strong it doesn’t need the fuss of toppings and add-ons. Follow the brand on social media to see what unique, seasonal flavors are offered next.

Finalist: Handel’s Ice Cream

Southern Food

Winner: Shorty’s True American Roadhouse
Beverly Hills Plaza | 5111 Monroe St.
419-841-9505 | mancys.com

Meaty ribs, hearty mac n’ cheese, tender pulled pork, warm cornbread, plenty of sauces, and all the traditional fixins’ keep Shorty’s a favorite for Toledoans with a taste for Southern charm. A huge menu, and even heftier portions, ensure diners leave with that “need-to-nap feeling” so often desired after chowing down on some good home cooking. 

Finalist: J’mae’s Home Cooking

Breakfast

Winner: Fowl & Fodder
7408 W. Central Ave.
419-690-2490 | fowlandfodder.com

Opt for a healthy start with locally-sourced, fresh ingredients colorfully prepped and portioned to nourish you for the whole day. Whether you’re ready to devour almond crusted Chicken and Waffles, Ham and Grits or a stuffed Southwest Wrap, or prefer to savor something lighter, like fresh-squeezed juice and avocado toast, Fowl & Fodder offers a fare beginning.

Finalist: Executive Diner

Brunch Spot

Winner: Manhattan’s
1516 Adams St.
419-243-6675 | manhattanstoledo.com

Fill up with an all-you-can-eat buffet with several breakfast and lunch items, bottomless coffee and a complimentary Mimosa in this downtown hotspot. Nibble on quiche, breakfast meats, turkey, prime rib and cuts of fresh fish, and visit the omelette and waffle station. The busy brunch brings crowds, so it’s a good idea to reserve a table.

Finalist: Black Kite Coffee & Pies

josephines

Fried Chicken

Josephine’s Kitchen
902 Lagrange St. | 419-242-6666
See them on Facebook @JosephinesKitchen

Certain things are best left to the professionals. Call it experience, call it commitment, call it what you’d like, but if frying chicken was as easy as sinking your teeth into it, we wouldn’t get so delighted and excited by finding the perfect combination of a crispy, crunchy outside and a tender, piping-hot, juicy inside. Fortunately, Josephine’s Kitchen has put both heart and soul in the food they’ve served since 2011. Traditional sides and mouth-watering fried chicken, with a light, flavorful and crunchy coating that isn’t greasy, show that Josephine’s effortlessly achieves what may seem impossible.

Finalist: J’mae’s Home Cooking

Charcuterie Board

Winner: Swig
219 Louisiana Ave. | Perrysburg
419-873-6224 | swigrestaurant.com

Graze on zesty bites and stirring snacks dished up at Swig. A kitchen of curiosities produces plenty of platter delights, like smoked salmon, beer-battered gouda, and in-house, hand crafted, roasted and seasoned sausages with sauces and pierogies designed to be enjoyed slowly with friends over craft brews and drinks.

Finalist: Registry Bistro

Cheap Eats

Winner: Schmucker’s Restaurant
2103 N. Renolds Rd.
419-535-9116 | schmuckersrestaurant.com

We don’t have any confirmation, but there’s a rumor that Schmucker’s Restaurant is actually a time machine. Since opening in 1948, not much has changed. The vintage sign, the old-school interior, the comfort food, the pie recipe— and the prices. Maybe two eggs and toast cost a little less than $3 in 1948, but we dare you to find it for less anywhere else in 2016.

Finalist: Star Diner

Creative Burger

Winner: Bar 145
5305 Monroe St.
419-593-0073 | bar145toledo.com

Burgers are deceptively complicated— nobody wants them the same way— and Bar 145 knows that, so they invite patrons to be as choosy as they want. While chef’s choice options are available, diners can design their perfect burger, choosing between irresistible, high-end topping choices and multiple types of patties, including a fantastic veggie burger, so everyone from adventurous foodies to burger purists can leave satisfied.

Finalist: Burger Bar 419

Cup of Coffee

Winner: Bleak House Coffee
612 Adams St.
419-740-1125 | bleakhousecoffee.squarespace.com

Cozy and comfortable, downtown’s Bleak House Coffee boasts aromatic, flavorful roasts with a wide variety of drink options. For coffee purists, bold coffees and strong espresso drinks are sharp and robust. For something sweet, add homemade, natural syrups in flavors like Lavender Vanilla or Cardamom and Clove. 

Finalist: Maddie & Bella Coffee Roasters

Dessert

Winner: Revolution Grille
5333 Monroe St. | Monroe Street Market Square Shopping Center
419-841-0066 | revolutiongrille.com

For a dessert absolutely not worth wasting on a child’s immature palate, tempt your sophisticated sensibilities with a playful, but decadent, treat at Revolution Grille. With choices like Zeppole— a fried ricotta doughnut served with raspberry, salted caramel and fudge— or Strawberry Bread Pudding garnished with micro basil, these desserts will leave you dragging your fork through the sultry sauces leftover— but just don’t lick the plate. You’re an adult, remember? 

Finalist: Schmucker’s Restaurant

Ethnic Dishes

Winner: Beirut
4082 Monroe St.
419-473-0885 | beirutrestaurant.com

Since 1977, the Beirut’s energetic, eclectic and exotic atmosphere and spiced aromas have coaxed diners curious to try Mediterranean and Lebanese cuisine. From Shish Kafta to Ara-Yes Kabab Halabi, to the famous puffed pita bread and hummus, Beirut’s legacy is as rich as their flavor.

Finalist: Pho Vietnam

Gyro

Winner: The Grape Leaf Diner
909 S. McCord Rd.
419-686-1229 | grape-leaf.com

For a juicy gyro straight off the rotating spit roast, our readers suggest The Grape Leaf Diner in Springfield. One of their many decadent menu choices, the Grape Leaf provides the right balance of spicy meat and cool tzatziki sauce that really makes a gyro.

Finalist: Manos Greek Restaurant

Farmer Market Vendor

Winner: All Crumbs Artisan Bakery
facebook.com/AllCrumbsBakery

Thanks to All Crumbs, fresh-baked bread, pastries, muffins and bagels are a highly anticipated appearance at local farmer’s markets. The small, independent bakery brings loaves early and typically sells out fast to their hungry patrons thanks to high-quality ingredients and careful recipes.

Finalist: Holey Toledough Donuts

Fast-Casual Eatery

Winner: Balance Pan-Asian Grille
Multple locations | balancegrille.com

For hungry diners in search of vibrant flavors, fresh fixings, nourishing combinations, signature sauces and a harmonious fusion of diverse Pan-Asian cuisines, Balance delivers quickly and efficiently. A clean, contemporary dining room is inviting for patrons polishing off Thai-spiced or Filipino-style tacos, but regulars revel in the ease of their successful take-out business, often using their pick-up ordering smartphone app.

Finalist: Fowl & Fodder

Late-Night Menu

Winner: Glass City Cafe
1107 Jackson St.
419-241-4519 | glasscitycafe.net

Uptown is in mourning. Not long ago, when the clock struck midnight on Friday or Saturday nights at Adams Street bars, the alcohol-laden mutterings began— ”Dude… they’ll be open in an hour…”  Then the trek to the Glass City Cafe for the 1am-5am Saturday and Sunday morning service would begin. While the Cafe no longer offers regular late night eats, they’ll be back for upcoming, special events, like the Adams Street Zombie Crawl on Saturday, October 22.

Finalist: The Attic on Adams

Lunch Special

Winner: Kyoto Ka
300 Madison Ave. | 419-321-4000
6801 W. Central Ave. | 419-841-2070
kyotoka.com

Since opening a downtown location for lunch, Kyoto Ka has kept hungry diners seeking healthy, fragrant and flavorful meals full from bento boxes, lunch entrées and sushi specials. Enjoy an assortment of options, including house salad, miso soup, a California roll, gyoza and shumai, with your choice of grilled meat in a bento box for a reasonably-sized, but filling, portion that provides a midday pick-me-up for around $10. For a light meal, enjoy bites of expertly-rolled sushi and sashimi. Explore the expansive menu for additional offerings that go beyond the sandwich.

Finalist: Grumpy’s

Mac N Cheese

Winner: Social Gastropub
1440 Secor Rd. | 419-725-2836
25818 N. Dixie Hwy. | Perrysburg
419-931-9936 | socialgastropub.com

This ain’t Kraft. Social elevates this comfort food staple with upscale ingredient options like Asian-spiced pork,  lobster, chimichurri filet, goat cheese, market veggies, among others. Diners still get to feel like kids—Social lets you use your imagination and “play with your food.” Pick and choose the high-end ingredients you want for a personalized  dish that’s equal parts complex and comfortable. 

Finalist: Shorty’s True American Roadhouse

Food Truck

Winner: Grumpy’s On The Go
Follow the truck online at grumpys.net

Everyone loves Grumpy’s— you can tell by the length of the line that creeps out the door for lunch almost daily. Unfortunately, not every work day allows for a leisurely lunch, so Grumpy’s On The Go brings the highly-textured and popular Garbage Salad to you. The truck’s menu also includes a few staples, like pinwheel sandwiches, gazpacho, chips, desserts, drinks and bottled salad dressing. Follow online to see where they go to next.

Finalist: Rosie’s Italian Grille’s Rosie’s Rolling Chef

Creative Menu

Winner: Element 112
5735 N. Main St.
419-517-1104 | element112restaurant.com

The St. John’s Jesuit and Wooster College graduate has made a name for himself as one of the area’s most creative chefs. Unconcerned with culinary conventions, Chef Chis Nixon uses his technical knowledge to push the envelope and plays with expectations to execute elegant and inventive meals that are bound to please the most demanding taste buds.

Finalist: Registry Bistro

Organic Menu

Winner: Fowl & Fodder
7408 W. Central Ave
419-690-2490 | Fowlandfodder.com

Fowl & Fodder sprouted through a commitment to organic, sustainable and local foods, and has blossomed into a favorite for naturally-minded foodies since opening in July 2014. Owner Scott Bowman carefully selects each ingredient to create colorful, lively menus that leave nothing to be desired.

Finalist: Element 112

Pie

Winner: Schmucker’s Restaurant
2103 N. Reynolds Rd.
419-535-9116 | schmuckersrestaurant.com

Whether you have an occasional sweet tooth, or chronically suffer from a mouth full of ‘em, Schmucker’s has been satisfying sugar cravings since 1948 by offering more than 20 types of handmade pies Monday-Saturday. From classics, like apple and peach, to contemporary legends like their Chocolate Peanut Butter, you’ll find something perfect— no matter how you slice it.

Finalist: Revolution Grille

Gluten Free Menu

Winner: Fowl & Fodder
7408 W. Central Ave
419-690-2490 | fowlandfodder.com

To find fine fare sans gluten, Fowl & Fodder provides a vast variety of hearty, nutritious options. Whether you want gluten-free bread from the Columbus-based Eban’s Bakehouse to scarf down a sandwich, try a gluten-free soup, or simply opt for a signature salad or side— never intended to include gluten— you sit comfortably with a bounty of delectable choices.

Finalist: Earth to Oven Bakery

Salad

Winner: The Garbage Salad at Grumpy’s
34 S. Huron St.
419-241-6728 | grumpys.net

Salads don’t have to be dainty. For a big ol’ pile of goodness, dive your fork into The Garbage Salad at Grumpy’s. This ain’t just a light plate of greens and EVOO & vin’— it’s an undertaking of mixed greens, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, grilled chicken raisins, provolone, mozzarella, feta and fresh
Parmesan cheese tossed together and finished with their homemade poppy seed dressing, croutons and chopped bacon.

Finalist: Pam’s Corner

Sandwich

Winner: The Original Sub Shop & Deli
402 Broadway St.
419-243-4857 | originalsub.com

Since 1979, downtown Toledo’s Broadway St. deli has filled hungry bellies with their original take on the sub and sandwich. In the summer of 2015, regular Maureen Brogan bought the shop from longtime owners Sarki and Jackie David and continues the legacy by keeping the classics, but adding creative goat cheese paninis and new, aromatic subs featuring grilled fennel, housemade pesto and honey mustard. Using locally-sourced ingredients from Toledo makers, like All Crumbs Bread, Turkeyfoot Creek Creamery goat cheese, among others artisans, The Original Sub Shop keeps it wholesome, sustainable and fresh.

Finalist: JB Sarnie’s

Secret Menu Item

Winner: Fowl & Fodder
7408 W. Central Ave
419-690-2490 | fowlandfodder.com

For a delightful surprise check out Fowl & Fodder’s secret menu featuring special non-menu items listed on the chalkboard inside the restaurant, like the cheese plate selection or unique sandwiches that change every few days.   

Finalist: Glass City Cafe’s customization and secret sandwich

Smoothie

Winner: Fowl & Fodder
7408 W. Central Ave
419-690-2490 | fowlandfodder.com

When you’re on the go and want something fast, flavorful, and jam-packed with healthy super foods, Fowl & Fodder’s ambrosial smoothies are a nutritious, convenient choice. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a Chocolate Raspberry smoothie, or relax with natural island sweetness in the Tropical Blend. For an extra kick, add some fresh-squeezed veggie juice or spinach to feel like a wellness guru.

Finalist: Tropical Smoothie

Speciality Pizza

Winner: 5th St. Pub
105 W. 5th St. | 419-931-9933
5577 Monroe St. | 419-517-5311
5thstreetpub.com

Take a trip to Italy without even leaving Toledo with the house made wood fired oven pizza of 5th St. Pub. Savor the Italian-style atmosphere with pizzas like the Bruschetta Pesto layered in fresh mozzarella and pecorino romano cheeses, basil leaves and tomato.

Finalist: Homeslice

Adventurous Dish

Winner: Kengo Sushi & Yakitori Fish Head
38 S. St. Clair St.
419-214-0574 | kengotoledo.com

Secret, but not-so-secret, Kengo’s Madai Fish Head is a dish fit for courageous culinary enthusiasts. Freshly caught and fired on the grill, the madai stares back at you— eyes and all. With tiny teeth, charred scales and succulent flesh, this might not be everyone’s idea of “comfort food,” but it’s an adventure worth taking. Despite the uncanny appearance, this fish is fully cooked, not the raw fish of sushi, so no worries— it won’t bite back.

Finalist: Element 112’s Crickets

Spicy Dish

Winner: Bangkok Kitchen
582 W. Dussel Dr. | Maumee
419-897-7777 | bangkokkitchenmaumee.com

Foodies with a sense of adventure must add the spicy-hot flavors of Bangkok Kitchen to their To-Eat list. Partake in their assortment of authentic Thai cuisine with curries, seafood, vegetarian choices, and noodles like their signature Pad Thai flat rice noodles with eggs, peanuts, veggies and your choice of heat— mild, medium, hot, and if you are extra daring, ask for it “authentically spiced.”

Finalist: Jewel of India

Taqueria

Winner: San Marcos Taquéria
2060 W. Laskey Rd. | 419-851-0051
235 Broadway St. | 419-244-2373
719 Galena St. | 419-720-0041
sanmarcosmexicanrestaurants.com

Once a grocery store, now expanded to a restaurant with two other locations, San Marcos is serving up exceptional authentic mexican food like corn tortilla tacos, tamales, enchiladas, and much more. The tacos have a garden bed of greens on top of your choice of protein, and are terrific with the house made hot sauces.

Finalist: La Michoacana

Use of Local Food

Winner: Dégagé Jazz Cafe
301 River Rd. | Maumee
419-794-8205 | historiccommercialbuilding.com

Perfect food doesn’t begin at the kitchen, but at the farm. Chef Mike Lambert of Maumee’s Dégagé takes what the best farms in Northwest Ohio have to offer to cook up original French-inspired food. 

Finalist: Fowl & Fodder

Use of Trendy Ingredient

Winner: Element 112
5735 N. Main St.
419-517-1104 | element112restaurant.com

To try out that niche food, or “what-is-that?” ingredient you read about online or saw on Instagram, Element 112 is the place to go. The ever-adventurous Chef Chris Nixon is always up for a challenge, and uses his kitchen as a testing ground to push the limits on the latest cravings. 

Finalist: Registry Bistro

Vegetarian Entree

Winner: Balance Pan-Asian Grille
5860 W. Central Ave. | 419-578-7777
514 The Boulevard | Maumee | 419-893-9999
26520 N. Dixie Hwy. | Perrysburg | 419-874-7777
balancegrille.com

Warning: Vegetarians might be overwhelmed at Balance. Instead of identifying the menu’s two or three meatless items, the large menu boasts a bounty of veggie-friendly options, with almost every option available to be prepared with tofu.

Finalist: Dégagé Jazz Cafe

Veggie Burger

Winner: Bar 145
5305 Monroe St.
419-593-0073 | bar145toledo.com

A housemade veggie burger— that’s tender but doesn’t fall apart— serves as a canvas for your gluttonous desires at Bar 145. Enjoy free range to dress up your patty with cheese choices, veggies, creative sauces and other inventive toppings. Opt for a regular bun, flatbread, among other serving options, to devour your dream burger. 

Finalist: Burger Bar 419

Wings

Winner: Frickers
Multiple locations | frickers.com

Ficker’s has famous wings for a reason— the jumbo, meaty pieces are flawlessly breaded for a crisp-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside, finger-licking-good wing you won’t want to order as just an appetizer. For the carb-conscious, skip the breading to simply savor the dry rubs and 17 varieties of Frickin’ Sauces, which vary from mild to oh-my-god-help-me spicy, with plenty of zesty in between options, like Frickin’ Garlic, Chipotle, Bourbon Molasses, Sweet Chilli, among others.

Finalist: Swig

cocinadecarlos

Vegan

Cocina De Carlos
27072 Carronade Dr. | Perrysburg | 419-872-0200
205 Farnsworth Rd. | Waterville | 419-878-0261
Cocinadecarlos.com

Vegan chorizo provides nearly-endless possibilities to hungry vegetarians and vegans dining at Cocina De Carlos. Between the vegan options for street tacos, enchiladas, fajitas and the tarasca soup, meatless patrons have an extensive variety of choices, with the flexible and courteous staff always more than happy to accommodate vegans looking to swap the meatless substitute in featured dishes. Still not biting? Vegans love to flock to Cocina’s for the prized Vegan Pineapple feast— dig in for half of a pineapple grilled and filled with onions, more pineapple, vegan chorizo, corn, black beans and portobellos.

Finalist: Balance Pan-Asian Grille