Black Cold Forest Cake at Son of a Butcher Steakhouse in Liberty Township (photo by RVP Photography)

8 Reasons to Make a Food Road Trip to Butler County

From pulled-pork grilled cheese to a lineup of incredible college-town bagel creations to otherworldly desserts, here’s why these spots should be on your must-visit list. 

Son of a Butcher Steakhouse 
Son of a Butcher takes all the trappings of a classic steakhouse and amps them up a notch — or two. Its decadent menu is matched by the detailed and eclectic decor, with every square inch of wall space covered in murals and giant blueprints. A mix of sculptures fill the corners, an old bathtub sits to one side and sparkling, mismatched chandeliers illuminate the space. The menu ranges from rich pastas to seafood to Waygu and ribeye steaks. And what better way to finish off a decadent meal than a slice of Black Cold Forest cake? It features wonderfully moist black magic cake, candied Luxardo cherries, a velvety chocolate mousse and crispy chocolate feuilletine flakes. To finish it off, it’s topped with a puff of cherry cotton candy and served tableside with a bit of dry ice for a theatrical finish to a delightful dinner. 7630 Gibson St. Suite 110, Liberty Township 45069, 513/597-8325,

Pulled pork grilled cheese at Brent’s Smokin’ Butts and Grill in Middletown (photo by RVP Photography)
Brent’s Smokin’ Butts and Grill 
The Dalton family started Brent’s Smokin’ Butts and Grill as a food truck in 2016, earning accolades from across the region for their delicious barbecue and sides before opening a brick-and-mortar spot located in the heart of Middletown. Now, customers just follow their noses to the enticing smells of the Daltons’ smoked meats, which the whole family helps prepare. Brent’s Smokin’ Butts and Grill does the basics extremely well, from perfectly smoked wings and homemade sausages to baby back ribs that fall right off the bone and crispy pork belly burnt ends. But the restaurant also excels with its lineup of creative dishes featuring house-made sauces, including nachos piled high with brisket and quesadillas loaded with tender chicken. A must-try is the grilled cheese sandwich on slices of buttery garlic toast and generously loaded with the restaurant’s delicious pulled pork. 640 N. University Blvd., Middletown 45052, 513/464-9199,

Mofongo City
Mofongo City in Fairfield is a fun and welcoming spot that serves a variety of colorful dishes inspired by the cuisine of the Caribbean. True to its name, the house specialty is mofongo, a Puerto Rican dish consisting of plantains mashed and fried with seasonings and served on a platter with a mix of meats, cheese or yuca. Mofongo City offers different versions of its namesake dish, but you can’t go wrong with the Trifongo served with a choice of chicharrón, cheese, chicken or longaniza sausages. They’re paired with casaba and green and yellow plantains mashed with garlic. It’s a standout on a menu filled with great eats that include tender steak preparations, goat stew and smoked pork chops. Can’t quite decide what to eat? Try the Parrillon City, an everything’s-included board with loads of meats, plantains, tostones and other sides. 7373 Dixie Highway, Fairfield 45014, 859/628-8424,

Cookie sandwiches, brownies and muffins at Chubby Bunny Bakery in Hamilton (photo by Twin Spire Photography)
Chubby Bunny Bakery
Located in downtown Hamilton, Chubby Bunny Bakery makes something for everyone. Everything the bakery crafts is gluten-, egg-, dairy- and nut-free and is certified vegan. The spot specializes in wholesale goods, but it opens to the public on Fridays and Saturdays. The bakery was born out of necessity for owner and baker Allyson Moore, who found herself looking for allergen-friendly goodies before deciding to create her own. There is no wrong choice when deciding what to order, from delicious cupcakes to classic cookies like chocolate chip or raspberry thumbprint. Don’t miss the pumpkin doughnuts, oatmeal cookie sandwiches and jumbo muffins. If it’s not the weekend and you need to get your Chubby Bunny fix, the baked goods can be found at stores in the area like Jungle Jim’s, Kofenya coffee shop in Oxford, Crimson Cup Coffee in West Chester and State Street Coffee in Trenton. 216 Main St., Hamilton 45013, 513/939-4791,

Bagel & Deli Shop  
You don’t have to be a hungry Miami University student to appreciate the draw of Oxford’s Bagel & Deli Shop. The downtown spot has been a favorite here since 1975. It opens around 8 a.m. and often keeps its light on past the closing time of most local bars. So, whether you’re in the mood for breakfast, need a quick lunch or are jonesing for some late-night eats, Bagel & Deli is the place to go. For those who can’t decide what to order, the wall behind the counter is helpfully lined with frames highlighting popular menu choices for inspiration. You can build your own creation or peruse the dozens of options for steamed bagel sandwiches. Try the Hungry Heifer with roast beef and smoked cheddar or the Ozzie’s Favorite with corned beef, double Swiss cheese and horseradish, both served on an onion bagel. 119 E. High St., Oxford 45056, 513/523-2131,

Korean corn dogs at Paris Banh Mi Cafe & Bakery in West Chester Township (photo courtesy of Travel Butler County)

Paris Banh Mi Cafe & Bakery
West Chester’s Paris Banh Mi Cafe & Bakery features modern takes on traditional Vietnamese fare. The spot is known for its banh mi sandwiches, beautiful golden pastries, decadent slices of cake and giant selection of teas. The banh mi (a sandwich that originated in Vietnam) is loaded with varieties of pork and crisp veggies on French bread. There are also towering burgers with shredded chicken or pork patties served on croissants. Don’t miss the specialty Korean corn dogs. Order a mozzarella cheese stick or classic hot dog that is placed on a stick, rolled in batter and fried before it’s coated in creative toppings like diced potatoes or even Hot Cheetos. The dishes here pair well with the cooling selection of drinks, like flavored teas, slushies and iced coffee. Try the signature Paris By Night, a refreshing concoction of tea, whole milk, tapioca-based boba pearls and brown sugar. 7659 Tylersville Rd., West Chester Township 45069, 513/847/1612,

State Street Coffee 
Trenton’s State Street Coffee offers a calming space to relax, study, meet with friends or fuel up for a busy day. It specializes in bringing some of the best coffees and teas in the world to the town of Trenton. The shop’s bright and open space is filled with natural light and includes a collection of comfortable couches and booths along with beautiful wood tables perfect for those working on the go. State Street Coffee features espresso drinks, cold brew, specialty lattes, frappes, smoothies and cream sodas — all complemented by a selection of sweets from local bakeries. On weekends, stop in to sample a little bit of everything with the flight options. Try a coffee flight with different roasts, a cold brew flight with a variety of sweet additions or an espresso flight featuring a shot of espresso, a macchiato, an Americano and a flat white. 938 W. State St., Trenton 45067, 513/468-0026,

Ice cream nachos at Swaffy’s Ice Cream in Monroe (photo by RVP Photography)
Swaffy’s Ice Cream 
Everyone loves ice cream, and nachos have long been a favorite food. Swaffy’s Ice Cream in Monroe features the genius combination of ice cream nachos. It’s not cheesy chips covered with soft serve, but it’s the same idea. Available only on select days, ice cream nachos take the form of classic nachos, but on the sweet side. Waffle cone chips are layered with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with hot fudge or caramel, then topped with whipped cream and sprinkles. Open in the spring and summer, the family-run Swaffy’s Ice Cream is a favorite for soft serve, sundaes, shakes and floats. With its front awning and picnic tables, it has all the charm of an old school ice cream shop. Travelers and locals alike flock here to cool off during the warmer months with twist cones, turtle sundaes and banana splits. 646 S. Main St., Monroe 45050, 513/402-7310,