121 Calhoun St.
Vegetarians cannot go wrong at Myra's Dionysus. This restaurant has been serving up great veggie fare for years and there is a reason for their staying power when so many other places go bust: great food at great prices served in an friendly, unpretentious atmosphere.
The restaurant's prime location in the heart of the University of Cincinnati no doubt helps the bottom line, but it's the jawdropping amount of vegetarian fare that keeps me returning year after year. From the astonishing number of wholesome, veggie/vegan soups to the remarkable list of Mediterranean-inspired sandwiches and rice dishes, it is obvious that the folks at Myra’s are old hands at vegetarian/vegan fare. I do not know how long the restaurant has been in business, but judging from the dark wood paneling, hand-painted signs and other hippie touches, I’m guessing they opened in the mid-70’s.
Not every item on their vast menu is available everyday because food is prepared in small batches of daily specials and can sell out. Their menu lists approximately 30 soups, for instance, but not every one of them will be on offer. It's best to call ahead to find out what's cooking if there's a certain something that's got your jones.
While Myra's menu is skewed heavily in favor of vegetarians, they do offer a couple of chicken dishes and spiced meat gyros for those not interested in a veggie meal. For those not adverse to mock meats, they offer a FBLT (faux bacon/lettuce/tomato) sandwich and a green salsa burrito filled with soyrizo.
Even though the Turkish Imam Bialdi dish of eggplant and tomato sounded divine, and past experience of their baked tofu had me waffling about what to order, in the end I had to feed my craving and go with the falafel pita sandwich.
It's a simple sandwich comprised of fried chickpea patties garnished with tomato, romaine lettuce, and pickle that is really packed with flavor thanks to the interplay of the spiced patties and the bright tahini lemon sauce. Delicious.
Be sure to leave room for dessert when visiting Myra's. You'll see the chilled deli case of home made desserts as soon as you walk through the door - stop and have a look. Chances are that something in there will strike your fancy. For me, it was a coin toss between key lime pie and vegan lemon-blueberry pound cake, although there are plenty of chocolaty goodies too. While I found the vegan pound cake delicious, it was almost too sweet for me. I like my desserts on the sharp side, and the iced topping on the cake overpowered the tart blueberries and lemon.
The student-friendly prices and hours (open til 10 p.m. Sunday and weekdays, and 11 p.m. on weekends) make Myra's a popular haunt, although parking along Calhoun can be hit or miss. Save your meter money and park in the free lot at the corner of Calhoun and Scioto. In a city famous for chili and goetta, Myra's Dionysus is a real gem for the non-meat eater.