A small, mostly well-executed menu of vegan dishes and inexpensive drinks is available in the delightful “headquarters” of a renowned local book publishing company
With the September addition of Two Dollar Radio publishing house's South Side headquarters, the nationally renowned independent press branched out into the hospitality business. Offering an ambience that reflects the excellent taste prevalent in the books the little company puts out, Two Dollar Radio Headquarters is a multi-function space that's as much cafe, bar and restaurant as it is book shop, meeting place and art gallery.
Local artwork, handsome books and mismatched stout wooden furniture with a glossy finish contribute a liberal dose of charm to an inviting room with stark white walls and exposed brick accents. A soundtrack of smart contemporary bands — I heard Parquet Courts and Foxygen on multiple visits — is a perfect fit for Two Dollar's casual-but-stylish digs.
Locally roasted One Line coffee beans are used in good caffeinated drinks such as the seasonally appropriate cold brew ($3). Among the beverages available with a different kind of kick are four Ohio-sourced draft beers ($5 to $6) and a few inexpensive liquor options.
Boilermaker fans can score a 16-ounce can of Hamm's plus a generous Wild Turkey pour for $6 by ordering the Parsons & Cline. Cocktails are only $7 and include the crisp South Side Pool Party (Espolon tequila with grapefruit and lime juices). Another winner is a short drink with a long name made with local gin and lemon: the “Sarah Silverman in I Smile Back, the Movie.” Like its eponymous comedian, it packs a potent and deliciously acidic punch.
Two Dollar's tiny food menu is entirely vegan. It doesn't push the envelope like the company's literary fiction does, but it's sealed with a kiss of good flavors developed through some local sourcing, scratch cooking and “creamy” ingredients made with nuts.
The warm-and-tangy Spinach & Artichoke Dip ($6) is as good as or better than many restaurant versions that don't feature a “cheese” sauce fashioned from cashews, tofu and white beans. The sizable, pleasant snack arrives in a cute little iron skillet and with a side of chili-dusted tortilla chips.
Another hearty highlight with south-of-the-border accents is the “Sought-After Mexican Lasagna” ($12). The flavorful crust of the hefty slab is created from crisped corn tortillas. Above this is a rib-sticking melange of quinoa, refried beans, corn, textured vegetable protein and more tortillas. Add red peppers, pickled jalapenos, so-so enchilada sauce and garlicky aioli drizzles, and you have a vegan casserole that many avowed meat lovers will enjoy. Bonus: It's served with a nice, fresh salad with a zippy “vegan Caesar” dressing brightened by capers and citrus.
Pizzas are the Friday evening special. The Coach Taylor pie ($12), apparently named for a “Friday Night Lights” character, tops the house-made, bready, whole-wheat crust with a simple tomato sauce, pseudo ground beef, onions, Daiya brand mozzarella-style shreds, lettuce and house “superhero” sauce (think creamy French dressing with smoky notes). This might stretch the definition of pizza, but the Mexican-American taco flavors on the heavy, shareable entree are pretty likable.
Seitan is the base of the house-made “fried chick'n” pieces that go into a burrito bound in a big locally produced flour tortilla (Barbecue Chick'n Wrap, $9) and that are tucked into a locally baked Lucky Cat ciabatta bun for the “Notable Fried Chick'n Sammy” ($9). Both sandwiches are boosted by numerous appealing garnishes and, although I'd steer you toward the “Sammy,” I wouldn't dissuade you from the wrap.
In fact the only item I might caution you against is the Breakfast Sammy ($8, served with sauteed diced sweet potatoes). The big and thick chickpea patty in my sandwich was dry and gummy, but like most everything here, the flavorful combo was conceived and fashioned with good taste.