Energized by a revitalized downtown, Middletown is offering more eating options for its residents and out-of-town visitors.
Here’s a look at 11 family-owned restaurants you may want to try in the city:
Triple Moon Cafe
Long before actor/producer Ron Howard ordered a “Bad Hunter,” a vegetarian sandwich, at Triple Moon while visiting Middletown, locals flocked there for its sandwiches, soups and coffee.
Heather Gibson opened Triple Moon, 1100 Central Ave., in 2015 at the corner of Central Avenue and Broad Street, in a location that has buried dreams of other business owners. Triple Moon continues to grow and Gibson recently remodeled the inside of the restaurant to make room for more chairs.
Triple Moon offers chicken and egg salad sandwiches, vegetable wraps and Italian subs, free WiFi and a conference room that seats 30
Mz. Jade’s Soul Food
Middletown got a taste of one of its newest restaurants late last year when Mz. Jade’s Soul Food opened at 3237 Yankee Road, the former site of a doughnut shop.
The new restaurant’s menu features ox tails, collard greens, fresh fish and baked macaroni and cheese, among other homemade soul food classics.
Owner Naiyozcsia King previously told the Journal-News she made a name for herself catering food at large gatherings and celebratory events.
This Italian restaurant opened in 1981 in Fairfield, and while that location has closed, the Middletown location, 2229 Verity Parkway, remains open and offers a full-line of Italian dishes, nightly specials and a complete bar.
The Middletown location was the first expansion for the family-owned and operated Italian restaurant. The restaurant has seating for about 120.
Located at 1131 Central Ave., Gracie’s is a key part of an effort launched by Ami Vitori to create a “destination corner” for dining, retail and entertainment.
Gracie’s offers a diverse menu, nightly specials and full bar.
Vitori’s grandparents owned a grocery store Vitori’s Market, which was started by her great-grandfather and lasted 80 years until 2006, but because her grandmother Gracie Vitori worked up front “everyone called it ‘Gracie’s.’”
The Meadows, an iconic upscale restaurant at 2102 Yankee Road, closed in 2012 after 78 years in operation, but then reopened in 2014 under new owners Ken Ledford and Emily Profitt.
Built in 1934 by Mike Mandzak Jr., the Meadows was a dining staple for executives in the city for years and featured a rustic wood paneled interior, and historic prints from the old Sorg Mansion adorned the walls. Mandzak Jr.’s son, Mike Mandzak III, operated the restaurant until it closed. He later sold the business to Ledford and Profitt.
Opening in 1932, The Jug is one of Butler County’s oldest eateries. It’s known for its Jug Burger, french fries and root beer.
The hamburger stand/drive-in got its start on South Main Street in 1932 thanks to former Middletown Journal publisher Bert Lawler, who opened the current location at 3610 Central Ave. in 1939.
Middletown has changed a great deal during that time, but the business remains essentially unchanged.
Central Market & Deli
Located at 1218 Central Ave., Central Market carries Walnut Creek products with full deli, hot and cold sandwiches, pizza, breakfast sandwiches, salads and fruit cups, along with fresh produce shakes smoothies.
Party trays of deli meats and cheeses are available for special events.
The Swire Inn
Located at 64 S. Main St., The Swire Inn features sandwiches, pot roast, Chicken & Waffles, Fish & Chips, Bourbon Salmon and Shepherd’s Pie, and wine, beer and cocktails.
The building in which the Swire Inn is located was constructed in 1861. Owner John Langhorne renovated the restaurant’s formerly run-down interior, adding a brick and wood decor aimed at evoking a sense of cozy, comfortable warmth.
Bourbon’s Craft Kitchen & Bar
Located next to Spinning Fork, 2231 N. Verity Parkway, Bourbon’s features “gourmet street food” such as steak burgers, broasted boneless wings, hot dogs and fresh guacamole.
Among the eight different hot dogs, is a “Grippo’s Dog” that comes in a Stout bun and is topped by Muenster cheese, bourbon-smoked hickory bacon, homemade cole slaw, a malt vinegar sauce and crushed Grippo’s potato chips.
There’s also “endless bourbon of all kinds” — 40, by our count — plus wine, craft beer and a full bar complete with craft cocktails.
Cooked in stone ovens, pizza is available by the slice or by the pie. Located at 1300 Central Ave., The Slice is a full restaurant and bar. On the menu are pizza, chicken wings, Italian sausage hoagies, steak hoagies, chicken hoagies and salads and appetizers like garlic knots, french bread pizza and cheese sticks.
Combs Bar-B-Q Central
Voted as the “Best Hidden Gem” in Middletown, this barbecue is one of the favorite lunch spots for locals.
The business is owned by Keith Combs and managed by his son, Chris.
The interior of the 1,500-square-foot building resembles a restaurant you may see in Nashville. Musical memorabilia hangs on the walls and about every inch of the place is covered with items that Keith Combs has collected over the years. A phone booth sits in the corner and the sign reads, “Cell phone booth.”
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