Summaries of recently reviewed area restaurants, in the order in which they were reviewed, with the most recent at the top.
w Cinco de Mayo, 304 East Alexis Rd., proves the old adage that it's what's inside that counts. The tacos, chimichangas, and other traditional Mexican dishes are filled with delicious, savory, well-flavored meats. A few items lack oomph, but overall the menu is reason to celebrate. $$ 3 stars.
w Georgette's Grounds & Gifts, 311 Conant St., Maumee, serves good coffees, teas, chai, soups, quiches, and smoothies. Sandwiches are a tad skimpy, service is pokey. A large gift shop sells fair-trade items made by Third World artisans. $ 3 stars.
w Indian Jewel of Toledo, 6711 Airport Hwy., Holland, offers well prepared and presented Indian cuisine in a relaxing environment. The exceptional lunch buffet is a remarkably fast way to sample popular items on par with the dinner menu. Dinner appetizers and entrees were flavorful and generous, but the service was extraordinarily slow. $$ 3 stars.
w Michael's Cafe & Bakery, 101 Main St., makes some of the best sandwiches in Toledo. Their Rocky Mountain hoagie, portobello sub and Santa Fe chicken wrap are exceptional. Toss in a dizzying assortment of pastries and desserts and this is one of the downtown area's top lunch spots. $$ 3 stars.
w Yoko Japanese Restaurant, 465 West Dussel Drive, Maumee, is a low-key kind of place that serves excellent tempura. Some of the sauces seemed too sweet for the entrees and there's only one salad, but the seafood and steak were perfectly prepared. $$ 3 stars.
w Bad Bob's BBQ, 27250 Crossroads Pkwy., Rossford, isn't all bad, but some of its takes on southern classics were bland and uninspired. The pulled pork featured on the big hawg sandwich and the barbecue plate was meaty, moist, and flavorful. The Brunswick stew and rack of ribs, however, missed the mark. $ 2 stars.
w Sports Venue Bar and Grill, 7625 Sylvania Ave., is a top-notch sports bar with a variety of entrees, chicken wings, onion rings, burgers, and beer specials that make it the perfect place to watch a game or hang out with friends. Toss in a first-rate New York strip steak and this place is a winner. $$ 3 stars.
w El Nuevo Vallarta, 3330 West Central Ave., offers the sloppy, cheesy style of Mexican cuisine that is so popular with Toledoans. What the menu lacks in creativity, it usually makes up for with some sort of special sauce, more-then-generous servings, and the eye-popping, fluorescent decor that fills the restaurant. $$ 2 stars
w Bangkok Kitchen, 582 West Dussel Dr., Maumee, is a small Thai jewel that features big flavor and friendly service. A consistent emphasis on freshness is typified by the homemade soups and refreshing salads. Beautifully executed sauces are featured in the sublime curries and noodles. $$$ 5 stars.
w The Water's Edge, in the lodge at Maumee Bay State Park, 1750 State Park Rd. No. 2, Oregon, will serve you a decent meal in a lovely setting. Steaks, chicken, fish, pasta, and salads are cooked well but sans delightful flourishes. Melted cheese on many items adds nothing, and sauteed foods swim in too much oil. $$$ 3 stars.
•The Real Seafood Co., 22 Main St. at the Docks, continues to be a class act, serving broiled, sauteed, and grilled seafood with creative sauces in one of Toledo's loveliest settings. The restaurant also does a fine job with steak. $$$; 5 stars.
•Fat Fish Blue, 6140 Levis Commons Blvd., Perrysburg. A party atmosphere makes Fat Fish Blue a fun and festive place to enjoy Cajun-American food. The seafood is top-notch, but the restaurant specializes in good steaks, tasty appetizers, and a wide-variety of drinks. $$$ 3 stars.
•The Briarfield Cafe, 3220 Briarfield Blvd., in Monclova Township, offers comfort food in a comfy atmosphere. With breakfast offered all day and a variety of salads, sandwiches, and homemade dinner entrees such as meatloaf, all that's missing is a more robust flavor. $$ 2 stars.
•Grape Leaf Diner, 909 South McCord Rd., is a Lebanese/American diner that serves up heaping plates of Middle Eastern comfort food. The portions are huge and the dishes are uniformly consistent, whether it's the grilled kabobs or the veggie-heavy beef ghalaba. The hummus is perfect for dipping the complimentary pita chips. $$ 3 stars.
•Restaurant Pacific, 7629 Sylvania Ave., Sylvania, is the Asian-fusion choice that is safe for those wary of a walk on the wild side. First-rate sushi, particularly the red dragon roll, and distinctive entrees such as the pineapple chicken are served in a comfortable relaxed atmosphere. $$$ 4 stars.
•Glendale Garden Cafe, 2521 Glendale Ave., serves decent food at a decent price in a casual environment. The 12-page menu is overwhelming, but the broiled perch, bourbon tenderloin beef, and chicken salad croissant are winners. $ 3 stars.
•Pam's Corner, 116 10th St., provides splashes of color, a seasoned staff, and solid lunch fare with delicious homemade soups, sandwiches, and fine salads. A bit hard to find, tucked behind a downtown parking lot, but worth the search. $ 4 stars.
•Jo-Jo's Original Pizzeria, 4336 Monroe St., is a simple neighborhood hangout where pizza is king. The thin-sliced stuff here is some of the best in town. The menu offers a surprisingly wide variety, including a smorgasbord of bar-style appetizers and standout stromboli. $$ 3 stars.
•Fortune Inn Restaurant, 6725 W. Central Ave., is an unassuming Chinese restaurant that provides great food at affordable prices. The wait staff is gregarious and the appetizers and entrees are consistently excellent. Try the Fortune Inn Special, a perfectly-balanced mix of fat shrimp, lobster, chicken and mixed vegetables in a subtle white sauce. $$ 4 stars.
•The Mango Tree, 217 South Reynolds Rd., serves huge portions to a loyal clientele. The menu features steak, veal marsala, chicken Mango, Scottish salmon, and crab cakes, among many other meals. A few minor glitches from the kitchen and a tired interior are all that keep this South End staple from being first-rate. $$$ 3 stars.
•Tony Packo's Caf, 1902 Front St., is an East Toledo institution that has served up flavorful Hungarian fare for more than 75 years - such belly-busting dishes as Hungarian sausage, chicken paprikas, chili, stuffed cabbage with tomato kraut, and homemade strudel. The eatery now boasts five locations, but the original East Side outlet remains the most interesting and nostalgic. $$ 4 stars.
•Stella's Restaurant & Bar, 104 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg, is an upscale, art-strewn eatery that serves such tempting choices as steak, lamb, ribs, seafood, pasta, sandwiches, and chicken Chadwick with artichoke hearts, shrimp, and hollandaise. $$$ 4 stars.
•Naslada Bistro, 182 South Main St., Bowling Green, specializes in the rib-sticking comfort foods of Bulgaria, as well as European fare from Greece, Turkey, Italy, and beyond. Among the choices are moussaka, goulash stroganoff, pork loin in burgundy sauce, shish kabob, panini sandwiches, and Russian potato salad. $ 3 stars.
•Maumee Chop House, 1430 Holland Rd., Maumee, is an upscale eatery that favors classic over trendy, both in dcor and food. The accent is on prime steak, pork and veal chops, and seafood ranging from lobster and king crab to swordfish and sea bass. $$$$ 5 stars.
•Monroe Street Diner, 4514 Monroe St., is a typical breakfast and lunch eatery with a delightfully off-kilter nature. Fifty-seven clocks clutter the walls, and the food ranges from bacon, sausage gravy, and monster omelets for breakfast to grilled sandwiches and hot platters for lunch. $ 3 stars.
•The Melting Pot, 5839 Monroe St., Sylvania, brings back the fondue style of eating. Patrons of the national chain do their own cooking and dipping of the food, which ranges from steak and chicken to shrimp, lobster, cheese, and veggies, along with fruits and brownies dunked in warm chocolate for dessert. $$$$ 2 stars.
•Al Smith's Place, 3550 Executive Pkwy., is a modest restaurant that's a favorite stop for people interested in reasonably priced home-cooked food such as meat loaf, roast beef and mashed potatoes, chicken dinners, all-day breakfasts, homemade pies, and bread pudding. $ 3 stars.
•Fifi's Reprise, 1423 Bernath Pkwy., is all about elegance, with fine food prepared exquisitely, including the signature boeuf au fromage ($29), veal marsala ($25.50), New Zealand rack of lamb ($29.50), and various seafoods at market price. The service is sometimes bewildering, ranging from overly paternalistic one night to surprisingly mediocre on a night we dropped in without a reservation. $$$$ 4 stars.
• Mancino's Pizza & Grinders, 6650 Centers Dr., Holland, one of five area outlets, serves up pizza, salads, spaghetti and meatballs, and two dozen terrific sub sandwiches, including the signature Italian sub that bulges with goodness. $$ 3 stars.
•The Seafood, 5504 Alexis Rd., Sylvania, serves a wide array of food in an unpretentious setting. The accent naturally is on seafood - perch, grouper, redfish, tilapia, crab, shrimp, lobster tails, frog legs, and other seagoing creatures. Landlubbers can choose among steaks, burgers, chicken, pasta, and salads. $$ 3 stars.
•Nagoya Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi, 6190 Levis Commons Blvd., Perrysburg, is an architecturally elegant restaurant that serves such familiar Asian fare as hibachi-grill meals, sushi, teriyaki, lettuce wraps, chicken, lamb, and seafood. But it also prepares excellent steaks, including incomparable Wagyu beef, a very expensive variation of Kobe beef from Japan. $$$ 4 stars.
w Chuck's, 4477 Monroe St., serves sports-bar food with a difference. The usual burgers, wings, fries, and chicken chunks are available, but so are exceptionally good crab cakes, salads, and tilapia sandwiches stuffed with two tasty, outsized fillets. $$ 3 stars.
•J. Alexander's, 4315 Talmadge Rd., is a chain unlike most chains, in that most of the food is made from scratch each day - such memorable fare as juicy steaks, grilled salmon, big salads, chicken pasta soup, and bubbly casseroles of macaroni and cheese. $$$ 5 stars.
•Mon Ami, 3845 East Wine Cellar Rd. on Catawba Island in Port Clinton, has built its reputation on fine, locally produced wines, but it also draws diners far and wide for the likes of Kansas City steak, king crab legs, delectable lake perch, pork chops, weekend buffets, and live entertainment. $$$ 4 stars.
•AJ's Doolittles, 8525 Secor Rd., Lambertville, offers eclectic fare such as burgers, steaks, chicken dinners, fish, pizza, and Mexican dishes in an informal sports bar atmosphere. $$ 3 stars.
•Shorty's True American Roadhouse, 5111 Monroe St., revels in barbecue - tender ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork, glazed pork chops, and chicken. But it also serves tasty lake perch, salmon, steaks, and chopped salad. $$ 4 stars.
•Coney Island Hot Dog, 430 North Superior St., has been serving hungry Toledoans for nearly 90 years at the same location. The food ranges from breakfast fare to burgers and other sandwiches, but most people go there for the chili dogs, served with lots of meat sauce on a steamed bun. $ 3 stars.
•Bolles Harbor Caf, 13986 LaPlaisance Rd., Monroe, is a little jewel of a place that serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes such as fried scallops and shrimp, veal ala tosca, lamb chops, burgers, and salads. Among the tastier choices are a plump fisherman's omelet and mostaciolli casserole in red sauce. $ 3 stars.
•Ranya's Mediterranean & American Restaurant, 608 Adams St., is a modest downtown spot that draws customers with a goodly variety of Lebanese food, from ground kafta to lemon chicken oregano, plus kabobs, gyros, burgers, and wonderful Egyptian lentil soup by the cup or bowl. $ 3 stars.
•Chowders 'N Moor, 312 South St., Waterville, recently expanded. With another outlet in Holland, it has something for everyone, including breakfasts, clam chowder, white chicken chili, steaks, seafood, and more than 60 plump sandwiches. $$ 3 stars.
•Georgio's Cafe International, 426 North Superior St., continues its 22-year tradition of fine dining in the heart of downtown Toledo. The sauces are delicious, complimenting the perfectly prepared entrees. The menu is limited but covers the meat-fish-vegetarian gamut. Save the need for speed for somewhere else; this is a place where meals are to be savored. $$$ 5 stars.
•Gourmet Garden, 5817 Monroe St., Sylvania, serves excellent food in a setting of understated colors and potted greenery. The expansive menu ranges from crispy duck, hearty boneless chicken, and lamb to pepper beef, jumbo shrimp, and lobster. $$ 4 stars.
•Erie Restaurant, 9788 South Dixie Hwy., in Erie, Mich., offers typical roadhouse food such as meat loaf, baked chicken, kielbasa, and lake perch, but its specialties for the last 27 years have been buffalo burgers and steaks, which are said to be leaner and with fewer calories than ground beef. $ 3 stars.
•Generations, 1917 West Alexis Rd., is a family-friendly restaurant serving comfort food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner - everything from pot roast and meat loaf to southern-fried chicken, cod sandwiches, and homemade bread pudding for dessert. $ 3 stars.
•El Tipico, 1444 South Ave., has been dishing up Tex-Mex food for 40 years - such staples as tacos, enchiladas, burritos, and tamales, but also specialties like cheese crispys, chicken mole, huevos rancheros, and puff tacos. $ 3 stars.
•Nick & Jimmy's Original Bar & Grill, 4956 Monroe St., has been serving stick-to-the-ribs food since 1979, from Greek omelets for breakfast to pizza, burgers, crawfish Po' Boys, and barbecue for lunch and dinner. $ 3 stars.
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