Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Reverend's: Best Bar Food in Bowling Green, OH

When I'm wrong, I admit it.

And I take great pleasure in admitting when I'm wrong.

And after several recent visits to Reverend's in downtown Bowling Green, I happily admit that--unlike my previous posts about the bar/restaurant--I like it. A lot.

In the past two years, Reverend's has changed their name, style, and menu. A VERY smart move on behalf of the owners.

What once was a Mexican/Latin themed joint has become a hip American-fusion joint.

I'm delighted with the fact that Reverend's kept their open layout and exposed brick walls, but they added a more tavern vibe with the tap-handle-trim and microbrew neon signs. The new decor really reflects one of Reverend's strengths--their keen intelligence for fantastic microbrew beers and creatively tasty mix drinks. Also, I'm thrilled to see that Reverend's is just as clean, if not cleaner than, that day it opened, which speaks volumes about how well maintained it is. If the bathrooms are sparkling clean, I can only assume the kitchen is even cleaner.

Most impressive, to me, is the new menu. Previously the menu focused on Latin flavors that many patrons confused with Mexican food expectations. The owners thoughtfully worked out these kinks and changed the menu to reflect the bar; it showcases American pub classics with a flair for Latin spices.

My husband swears by their wings. But for me, it's all about their burgers.

Constantly, I am searching for the perfect burger, and Reverend's has it. Make that several exceptional burgers. Each burger is hand-pattied and ranges from 1/4lb to 1 lb of local meat.

I was hooked instantaneously by the Royale with Cheese, not only for its reference to Pulp Fiction but also for its perfect juiciness and balance of meat with cheese and condiment flavors. On my next visit, our friendly and knowledgeable server recommended the Fajita Burger, which was outstanding. It was a pure meld of my two favorite comfort foods: a burger and fajitas. The Chipolte Mayo is heavenly.

The Black 'N Blue Burger was terrific as well. And I've heard good things about the Double Wide, if you have that big of a stomach. These are some hearty burgers, which are clearly made in house.

I can only assume if the burgers are this good that the rest of the menu has just as much passion, freshness, and local ingredients, which is reassuring to someone who cares about their food and where it comes from.

As I frequent Reverend's I'm looking forward to trying the Southwestern Menu as well as the Mac and Cheese entree, another one of my all-time favorite comfort foods.

What's key here is that Reverend's menu has kept the Latin spices and heat from its conception, but the owners have modified the menu--smartly--to appeal to more Midwestern palates and the Midwest's desire to eat familiar food with a twist. (Imagine cumin and pepper dusted bacon.)

Additionally, the wittiness of dish names--The Everything But the Kitchen Sink Burrito and Texas Ranger Burger--add a hip, pop-culture vibe that creates an upbeat and fun dining experience. Reverend's is definitely a place that appeals to college students AND community members.

My only request is that I would like to see a short wine list--3 reds and 3 whites, as it is now--that has independent wineries and uniqueness. In other words, I'd like to see a wine list as thoughtful as the beer list. I think a better selection of higher quality wines that rotate like the beers would add another hip-yet-sophisticated dimension to bar menu.

I must say, though, a restaurant I had sworn off is now my favorite go-to place in BG. That makes me quite ecstatic.

(Photograph from Reverend's website.)


  1. Glad to see you've had better experiences- we're fans of Reverend's, if only because they have the best draft beers in BG. (Not that I'm enjoying them now. Or their delicious Sangria. Although they will kindly oblige when I request something "non-alcoholic and delicious"). Paul's favorite is their Cuban sandwich.

    Just wondering, if you're on the quest for a great burger, have you tried City Tap's? I think they might have the best in BG... (Not to try to take away business from Reverend's).

  2. I have to say that I am still not won over by Chico's. I have had their burgers and do agree that they are wonderful. However, some of their other dishes have not really been to my taste. I tried the Mac N' Cheese recently, and while I liked the first few bites, the taste of three cheese queso (similar to what you might get at Q-Doba) slathered over pasta sort of lost its appeal as the meal went on. (I can't remember what meals Ian has had, but he has not been overly thrilled and their vegetarian options are rather limited. I think they should offer a veggie burger too). I also like to see not only more local wines, but a dessert menu with more than one option (though their avocado pie does sound intriguing if a little steep at $7 a slice--close to some of their sandwich prices). I also think for a town like BG, there should be reasonable drink specials. City Tap offers a wide range of beers as well, but many can be enjoyed for under $4. And while the decor and look of the place is pretty appealing, the blaring music that picks up in volume as the night advances makes it hard to have a conversation even with the person next to you. I do still go to Reverend's from time to time, but these few things keep it from being my top preference.

  3. Amanda, I always admire how you are willing to give things another shot, and admit you're wrong, neither of which I usually find myself doing. I love how the Reverend's bartenders are willing to experiment and offer you something to your tastes in the drink department, and as I mentioned, I really enjoyed The Reverend sandwich.
    I recently had a really tasty grilled chicken sandwich at Becketts--now that they serve food for real, they had some great options. We actually went there instead of City Tap because their veggie options looked better to Tessa than CT's. We all enjoyed what we had from Beckett's larger menu. BG really seems to be getting into the pub food instead of just bars everywhere.

  4. Plus, they have $1 PBR night on tuesdays :)

  5. I eat a primarily vegetarian diet and often end up at Reverends as it's a good middle ground for my friends, as they are burger fiends. I can think of about 8 things on their menu off the top of my head that are vegetarian, and they even have vegan options. Plus the staff is willing to make special requests for me, and even for my friends and their burgers. Any time I have made a special request they have accommodated what I have asked for. I was there a couple weeks ago on the weekend and ate a really great salmon burger, which I'm not seeing anything like that elsewhere in the area. The few times I have had a burger there I was very impressed with what I had, and not so much anywhere else in town. I can tell that the ingredients are fresh there and are not coming out of a can or a bag like some other places in BG. Just for the record I have tried the burgers at every place in Bowling Green and I have found that burgers at Reverend’s in my, and all my friend’s opinions are the best.

    As for their beers, they do have the best selection in town. Just because they do not have the most doesn't mean it is not the best. Also for a plus their staff is much more knowledgeable about beer compared to any other bar in town. One of the staff that was working there was able to help me pick out a couple different beers depending on what I was going to eat. No one has been able to do that any other place I have been aside for when I ate at Swig. I have had some great beer conversations with some of the staff at Reverend’s, while I generally get blank or confused stares from bartenders at other bars in town. In recent memory I haven’t had better conversation about beer since I was at Ashley’s in Ann Arbor. The prices at Reverend’s are actually very modestly priced for the beers they serve, and if they have the same beer as another bar it's been the same price in my experiences. So if you actually know what you’re talking about when it comes to beer you will realized that Reverend’s does beer the justice that it deserves. If you’re just looking to get drunk on the cheap maybe you should go over to some place like Kamikazis and drink their wonderful Natty Light pitchers. Plus I really do feel Reverend’s has some of the best mixed drinks in the area. I had something the bartender was calling a blueberry julep and it was amazing. I also like the fact that they make a lot of the drinks from scratch using fresh fruits right in front of you.

  6. C, thanks for you mini-review. LOL! Did you recently become vegetarian/vegan? I'm just surprised you know so much about burgers. And I think the other folks who commented and myself would agree that Reverend's have the best beer on tap and best mixed drinks. That was never the issue, so I'm not quite sure what you're defending. I do appreciate your comments, and thanks for visiting my blog.