Sports, snacks, and suds at Springboro’s
Mr. Boro’s Tavern

Popular favorite grilled cheese with the only fried item on the menu, kettle chips.

By Paula Johnson

No Kidding A sports-themed tavern opened last year on Route 741 in Springboro to a bit of controversy. The space, which once housed wine bar Bella Vino, posted a sign on its door that read, “Must be 21 & over after 3 p.m.” Mr. Boro’s Tavern faced social-media backlash on Facebook which personally targeted co-owner Marci Johannes, herself a parent. (Johannes owns Mr. Boro’s along with partner Rick Baarlaer). I have always been an advocate for taking kids to restaurants and have written articles about how to do it successfully, long maintaining that kids can’t become food literate or learn about restaurant etiquette unless they are taken out to eat. But restaurant is the operative word. I throw in completely with Johannes, and Mr. Boro’s child-free after three policy. Mr. Boro’s is a bar with no separate dining room. The space is one large room dominated by TV screens tuned to multiple sporting events, and a large bar with seat-yourself tables around the perimeter. (There’s also patio seating in good weather). So, bravo to Mr. Boro’s for a sensible policy. Feel free to bring the family for lunch, but adults only in the evening.
So now that Mr. Boro’s controversy has been discussed, let’s discuss their food and drink offerings. A large selection of beers both on tap and in bottles features local Ohio breweries such as Warped Wing, Yellow Springs, and Crooked Handle. (You can also fill your growler here). There’s also wine, with every glass of house wines supporting the Ventana Wildlife Society’s mission to conserve the native wildlife and habitats of California’s Central Coast. So of course this is a place you can get your drink on. But what about munching?

No Fry Zone • What I found really interesting about what’s offered is that, with the exception of kettle chips, nothing on the menu is fried. This is not your typical bar menu—no fries, fried onion rings, or burgers. There are wings, but Mr. Boro’s offers them smoked. A lot of what is on the menu is smoked in a smoker right out back behind the kitchen. A few appetizers including house-made pretzel bites and smoked pulled chicken or pork nachos are offered, along with chili, salads, flatbread pizzas, a few grilled sandwiches—and four iterations of the perennial favorite, grilled cheese. And to pair with grilled cheese, tomato soup of course. Everyone loves tomato soup, and the pairing of such with a crusty, buttery grilled cheese is one of the greatest culinary duets to ever be sung. The tart acidity and sweetness of the soup and the cheesy, crunchy savory of the sandwich makes for a heavenly pairing. Mr. Boro’s tomato bisque is a hearty version, with sprinkled Parmesan cheese and toasty croutons. The grilled cheese we picked was the tasty, gooey Boro Favorite ($9.00) with cheddar, mozzarella, provolone, peppered bacon, and fresh tomato. The crunchy Super Caesar salad, at $6.95, paired well to round out lunch.

Fruit Facts • A little tomato trivia because I’m a food geek and can’t help myself: Actually technically a fruit, the English word tomato comes from the Spanish word, tomate, derived from the Nahuatl (Aztec language) word, tomatl. When this South American native began making its way around the world it was regarded with suspicion. Prized as an ornament and grown in flower gardens for the beauty of its fruit, tomatoes were not eaten. Indeed, the tomato’s nickname was “poison apple” because it was thought that aristocrats got sick and died after eating them. The truth of the matter was that wealthy Europeans used pewter plates, which were high in lead content. Because tomatoes are so high in acidity, the fruit would leach lead from the plate, resulting in death from lead poisoning. No one made this connection between plate and poison at the time; the hapless tomato was picked as the culprit.
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming. PIP and I also tried pulled chicken nachos ($12.00), heaped with tasty chunks of house-smoked chicken, topped with house-made black bean salsa, and one of the four flatbread pizzas offered, the Heavenly Hog ($13.00). The Hog is a good choice for a carnivore, topped with mozzarella and provolone cheese, pepperoni, sausage, shredded pork, and peppered bacon. We found ourselves quite satisfied with everything we tasted.
As we were munching, owner Marci Johannes came by, introduced herself, and chatted with us. She asked if we had tried the wings. When we said we hadn’t, she brought some over for us to try. Remember, no frying here—these were more of the delicious smoked meat Mr. Boro’s concentrates on. Johannes had no idea I was there to review her business (I always review anonymously). She just wanted us to sample something they do well, and wanted to make sure we were having a great experience. Indeed, we did.
PIP (Palate In Progress) summed up his take on Mr. Boro’s this way: “This is bar food you can eat stone cold sober.” True, but you do have the option to have a few while you munch!

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Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at

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