Summaries of recently reviewed area restaurants, in the order in which they were reviewed, with the most recent at the top.
● KotoBuki Japanese Restaurant, 5577 Monroe St., in Sylvania hasn't lost its luster in the decades that it has fostered our local love of sushi. The KotoBuki roll and the Toledo roll along with the yaki soba noodles stand out on a menu packed with some of the areas best Japanese fare. $$$ 4 stars.
● San Marcos Taqueria, 235 Broadway St. is a popular and authentic taco restaurant that has evolved from a tiny lunch counter at the back of a Mexican grocery store, also called San Marcos. It's just south of downtown at the foot of the High Level Bridge, and you still enter through the grocery. The recent expansion includes daily specials that bump the menu up a notch, a liquor license, and dramatic murals in the back room. There's also a small taco shop at 719 Galena at Chase streets in North Toledo. $ 4 stars.
● La Forchetta di Pasqualone, 2022 Woodville Rd., Oregon, is an OK place to go if you're looking for a no-thrills Italian-American meal. The gnocchi ai quatro formaggio and fettucine alla panna are good choices. The ravioli di ricotta is pretty solid as well. $$ 2 stars.
● Charlie's Homemade Pizza and Edibles, 6600 Sylvania Ave. in the Saxon Square strip mall, is under new ownership, but the restaurant remains a great place for Italian comfort food. Charlie's pizzas are top-notch and far better than what you'll find at any chain, and the lasagna and manicotti are excellent. $$ 3 stars.
● Michigan Bar & Grill, 1140 South Monroe St., Monroe, may lack curb appeal, but it more than makes up for it with spectacular thick prime rib, exquisite desserts, and a relaxing and romantic interior. $$$ 4 stars.
● Tropical Smoothie Cafe, 1385 Conant St., Maumee, is healthy fast food (sandwiches, wraps, salads, soup, smoothies, and breakfast) in a cheerful decor. It's pricier than the fast-food joints of the last century but worth it for the quality of meat, fruit, vegetables, and breads. This is a smart, contemporary franchise, the only one in the area. $ 4 stars.
● Harbor Inn & Ale, 13993 Laplaisance Rd., Monroe, is the perfect spot for a burger and a beer. But it also has a varied seafood selection -- from shrimp and sausage cioppino to bluegill sliders. The onion rings are a can't-miss appetizer or side order. $$ 4 stars.
● Magdalena's Bar and Grill, 1955 West Alexis Rd. is a fine place to go for a drink and a game, but the food is another matter. The lunch taco buffet on Mondays and Tuesdays is solid, and the fajitas have some zing, but some of the other Mexican entrees fall short of expectations. $$ 2 stars.
● China House, 255 Golden Gate Plaza, Maumee, stands out from the common Chinese take-out restaurants that dot area strip malls. Efficient service, great value, and superbly prepared food are just a few reasons to make this your 'go-to' place for quick meals in Maumee. Particularly worthwhile are the mei fun noodles and hearty budget-friendly lunch specials. $ 3 stars.
● Mac & Tong's Restaurant and Lounge, 4330 W. Central Ave., is a great choice for dinner, not so much for lunch. From duck with orange marmalade to shrimp fettuccine to New York strip steak, you can't go wrong when dining in the evening. Beware of cold dishes and salty sandwiches during the lunch hour. $$$ 4 stars.
● The Common Grill, 112 South Main St., Chelsea, Mich., is a sublime dining experience. The atmosphere is close to that of a French bistro, and chef Craig Common's creations are inventive without being oddball. The pan-fried walleye in a black walnut crust and the pine-nut crusted scallops are well worth the drive. $$$ 5 stars.
● Deet's BBQ, 1385 Conant St., Maumee, just might be the best barbecue joint in the Toledo area. The ribs are big and meaty, the sauces are simple but tasty, and you can't beat the pulled pork or barbecue chicken on big sturdy buns and the homemade side dishes. The menu isn't vast, but the folks who work at this family-run restaurant are friendly. Be warned, though: the place is small, with seating for only 12, so you might want to carry out. $ 3 stars.
● Caper's Restaurant & Bar, 2038 South Byrne Rd., is a low-key neighborhood place with a wide variety of great pizzas (crusts, bread, and sauces made in the kitchen), pasta dishes, and calzones. The ribs are succulent, and there are burgers, fish and chips, and several oven-baked sandwiches. Check out the warm bread pudding topped with Kahlua, brown sugar, candied walnuts, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. $$ 3 stars.
● Glass City Cafe, 1107 Jackson St., serves tasty diner food that's easy on your wallet. The Glass City burger is one of the many highlights on the menu, as are the meat-lover's omelet and french toast. The cafe also serves as an after-hours dining destination on the weekend. $ 3 stars.
● Bai Du, 26530 Dixie Hwy., Perrysburg, serves Chinese-American food, things like kung pao chicken, orange beef, and won ton soup. There's nothing upscale about it, and Chinese nationals probably wouldn't recognize most of what's on the menu. But hey, there's a time for authenticity and a time for sweet and sour chicken. $$ 3 stars
● Ice Restaurant and Bar, 405 Madison Ave., is an unpretentious upscale dining experience in the shadow of the Huntington Center in downtown Toledo. Live jazz plays on Thursdays, and the restaurant has a warm, friendly vibe. Check out the pan roasted walleye or the salmon and soak in a unique atmosphere that makes your night out feel special. $$ 3 stars
● Oregon Inn on Bayshore, 6067 Bayshore Rd., Oregon, is a homey, off-the-beaten-track roadhouse, 20 minutes from downtown Toledo at the western edge of Maumee Bay State Park. A broad selection -- prime rib, Lake Erie perch and walleye, pork loin, frog legs -- is well prepared and augmented with home-made soups. $$ 4 stars.
● Manos Greek Restaurant, 1701 Adams St., is one of the many ethnic restaurants in the Toledo area, and this one isn't to be missed. Manos' gyros and spinach pies are first-rate, and it serves everything from lamb shanks to baklava. $$ 4stars.
● Tea Tree Asian Bistro, 4100 Chappel Drive, Perrysburg, can boast a stylish and sophisticated interior along with extraordinary sushi, but some of the appetizers and entrees fell short of the great expectations and comparatively high prices. $$$ 3 stars.
● Zia's Restaurant, 20 Main St., at the Docks, emphasizes the sturdy fare Americans have come to consider Italian cuisine: pastas, cream or tomato sauces, pizzas. But if you look closer, you can find chicken, steaks, and seafood, mostly with creative Italian twists. Service is pleasant and efficient, and desserts are wonderful. $$$ 3 stars.
● Ahmed's Steakhouse, 1923 West Alexis Rd., exudes family atmosphere and warmth. As its name suggests, one of the menu's strengths is the restaurant's steaks, but there are plenty of seafood and chicken offerings, all served with a Middle Eastern twist. $$ 3 stars.
● Spaghetti Warehouse, 42 South Superior St., remains largely unchanged in the 28 years since it opened in a one-time brewery on downtown's south side. That holds nostalgic charm for some; for others, it appears dated. But if you're hankering for hearty pasta in a big place full of stained glass and antiques, and you don't mind a wait staff that encircles patrons with hand-clapping birthday chants, add this family-friendly spot to your list. $$ 3 stars.
● Baldy-Q Rib Shack, 90 Dodge St., Swanton, is on its way to being known as the place to go for ribs. The smoky, fall-off-the-bone ribs, paired with one or more of the house barbecue sauces, makes Baldy-Q a destination place for meat lovers. Don't forget to leave room for the tasty corn cakes. $ 3 stars.
● Sebastiano's Italiano,4448 Heatherdowns Blvd., is simply a delightful little neighborhood place that has an owner with a huge smile and an even bigger talent for re-creating the Tuscan recipes of his mother and grandmother. The Tricolore will make a carnivore forget about meat, and the Mare and Monte offers a great combination of flavors and textures. If veal marsala is on the menu, it's worth every penny. $$ 4 stars.
● Balance Pan-Asian Grille, 541 The Boulevard, Maumee, offers a unique 'modular' menu that's big on flavor, variety, and value in a cool minimalist bistro. Diners choose one of five proteins, along with one of five carbs and one of the spectacular sauces to customize fresh, healthy meals. $ 4 stars.
● Adam's Place, 2417 West Laskey Rd., is back in the hands of its original owner, serving excellent steak, fish, and ribs along with a fine sampling of desserts at its Wernert's Corners location. With the feel of a big-city neighborhood restaurant, this place is an understated gem. $$ 4 stars.
● Table Forty 4, 610 Monroe St., is a handsomely renovated century-old building downtown, with a well-rounded menu of tasty sandwiches, specialty salads, and entrees. Opened in April by the owner of the Maumee Chop House, it has a great street-facing patio for mild weather. When crowded, it's noisy. $$ 4 stars.
● Plaza Azteca, 5125 Monroe St., offers Toledo authentic Mexican food that isn't swimming in liquefied cheese. The chori-pollo has a smoky flavor with a little kick from the chorizo, and the tacos al pastor rival some of the best tacos in the city. And don't forget to say, "Mas margaritas, por favor." $$ 4 stars.
● DiBenedetto's Italian Bistro, 121 South Main St., Bowling Green, has a prime downtown location with a sophisticated urban atmosphere and excellent food. The chicken saltimbocca is spectacular as is the antipasto plate. For dessert, the amaretto parfait is a sublime guilty pleasure. $$ 4 stars.
● Wei Wei Seafood Restaurant, 1202 North Reynolds Rd., does an admirable job with poultry, meat, and seafood dishes, including some unusual offerings, from Szechuan, Cantonese, Hunan, and Mandarin cuisines. Fresh veggies and homemade sauces, such as ginger/soy/cilantro, are a plus. Interior is spartan. Lunch, four days a week, is a good deal with 26 plates under $6 including egg roll and rice. $$ 4 stars.
● Main Street Stable and Tavern, 116 N. Main St., Blissfield, Mich., offers plenty of good food -- from the prosciutto and fresh mozzarella melt to the planked whitefish -- as well as ambience. The chile-braised beef brisket is tender, and you can't go wrong with the honey-barbecue salmon. $$$ 4 stars.
● City Barbecue, 7402 West Central Ave., is part of a small regional chain that focuses on southern-style barbecue. The ribs are solid and the half chicken excellent, but unfortunately on both of our visits the side dishes were cold and the atmosphere generally drab. $$ 2 stars.
● El Camino Real, 551 West Dussel Drive, Maumee, has a great atmosphere and tasty margaritas, but the Tex-Mex meals are rarely better than ordinary. The guacamole was one delightful aberration. $$ 2 stars.
● SamB's Restaurant, 163 South Main St., Bowling Green, practically wrote the book on bistro cuisine in this unassuming college town with perfectly prepared seafood and steaks. The excellent hazelnut creme brulee and exquisite crab cakes are worth the drive. $$$ 4 stars.
● Calvino's Restaurant and Wine Bar, 3143 West Central Ave., serves Italian fare that focuses on a wide array of specialty pizzas, heaping plates of lasagna and sandwiches. Don't miss the stromboli, especially the tasty Greek with spinach, feta cheese, pine nuts, and more. $$ 3 stars.
● Treo Restaurant, 5703 Main St., Sylvania, presents simple elegance in a charming old downtown building. Open for lunches and dinners with an Italian, French, and American menu and lots of pastas and sauces. $$$ 4 stars.
● Ipoh, 3527 Dorr St., is one of Toledo's best little "hole-in-the-wall" Chinese restaurants. Short on style, but big on flavor, it offers very generous servings at a price that even a college student can afford. The wonderful noodle soups make it easy to overlook the loud, tattered interior. $ 3 stars.
● Nick's Family Cafe, 2516 Reynolds Rd., is the quintessential greasy spoon, a place to go for mounds of food at a modest price. The huge menu features American and Mediterranean standards, from omelets and burgers to grape leaves and gyros. $ 2 stars.
● The SouthBriar Restaurant, 5147 Main St., Sylvania, is a quirky, charming place that serves an eclectic variety of American, German and other types of food. If you go on Wednesday, one of the owners, Tom Henkel, will be out front grilling excellent steaks and other items. Highly recommended. $$ 4 stars.
● Plate 21, 3664 Rugby Dr., near Detroit Avenue and Glanzman Road, is a stylin' coffeeshop that turns out deliciously interesting beverages, sandwiches, soups, and desserts. The interior design alone is worth a visit. $ 4 stars.
● Mayberry Diner, 2155 South Byrne Rd. and 8523 Mayberry Square, Sylvania, are sister restaurants that do a fine job of serving standard American breakfasts and lunches. It's simple and satisfactory. $ 3 stars.
● Five Guys Burgers and Fries, 3305 West Central Ave., focuses on top-quality burgers and fries in massive servings. Some of the unexpected burger toppings include grilled mushrooms and jalapeno peppers. The fresh cut fries, cooked in peanut oil, are delicious. $ 4 stars.
● Black Pearl, 4630 Heatherdowns Blvd., across from the Stranahan complex, takes over where its predecessor, HJ's, left off. The decor is still the same, as are parts of the menu and some of the staff. The prime rib is tender, mouth-watering, and served in generous portions, and the perch deserves attention too. $$$ 4 stars.
● Grumpy's, 34 South Huron St., is the best place downtown for an interesting lunch that combines creative taste pairings with a certain no-frills attitude and approach. They serve the best burgers in town and the Garbage salad is exceptional. $$ 4 stars.
● Deez Diner, 2007 North Holland-Sylvania Rd., goes heavy on the retro, complete with oldies music and images of Betty Boop. It's the kind of place where breakfast is served all day and menu items are named for people. Try Grandma Faye's homemade soups and Johnny's original chili mac. $ 3 stars.
● Rumors Restaurant, 5205 Monroe St., serves big portions of Mediterranean and American standards. Atmosphere is casual, and quantity sometimes trumps quality, but it offers long hours (breakfast to late dinners), a kids' menu, and a full bar in busy West Toledo. $$ 3 stars.
● Jasmine Thai Cuisine and Japanese Steakhouse, 5834 Monroe St., Sylvania, takes over where Toledo tradition En Japanese Steakhouse left off: with Japanese classics, sushi, and teppan yaki and an expanded Thai menu. The pad Thai and mango and pineapple curry are excellent. $$$ 3 stars.
● South End Grille, 5105 Glendale Ave., offers standard pub grub enhanced by some delicious additions, including a perch dinner and St. Louis-style barbecued ribs. A laid-back ambience during the week gives way to a livelier -- and louder -- scene on weekends. $$ 3 stars.
● Prestige Restaurant, 3439 Hill Ave., does diner food right. Ample portions of comfort food are served piping hot from breakfast all the way through to supper. The restaurant features American, Mediterranean, and Italian food and specializes in breakfast. $$ 3 stars.
● Cheers Sports Eatery, 7131 Orchard Centre Drive, Holland. Tucked away in a strip mall, this sports bar is full of pleasant surprises, from interesting salads to huge grinders to soft pretzels. For a real treat, try the fantastic homemade salsa, then top it off with a Texas-sized burrito. $ 3 stars.
● El Salto, 219 Golden Gate Plaza, Maumee, serves a wide variety of Tex-Mex fare quickly with good service. Portions are large, sometimes spicy (ask), and prices are decent, but the decor is a bit shabby. $ 3 stars.
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