2017 Best of Cincinnati

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Final Days!

Vikings: Beyond the Legend is a joint venture between and produced by The Swedish History Museum in Sweden and MuseumsPartner in Austria. The Roskilde 6 display is a joint venture between and produced by The National Museum of Denmark and MuseumsPartner in Austria.

Thank You!

#2 Museum Exhibit: Vikings: Beyond the Legend Open Now through April 23 #VikingsSailCincy

Coming Soon!

Star Wars™ and the Power of Costume Opens May 25 #StarWarsCostumes


Star Wars™ and the Power of Costume was developed by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in partnership with the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and in consultation with Lucasfilm Ltd.


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CONTENTS In t r o d u c t io n   9

F E AT U R E S N o r t h sid e ’ s ‘ L i v in g R o o m ’  11 Fa i t h R e s t o r e d in R a b b i t H a s h   14 J - R o’ s Big Y e a r   19

rea d er & staff p ic ks A r t s & C u lt u r e   23 E at s   4 3 S h o p s & S e r v ic e s   91 M u sic & Nig h t lif e   121 Ci t y L if e   139 S p o r t s   15 3

Project Edi tors Danny Cross and Maija Zummo C r e at i v e D i r e c t o r Jennifer Hoffman Le ad Photogr apher Hailey Bollinger I L L U STRATOR Phil Valois S ta f f W r i t e r s Anne Arenstein, Casey Arnold, Emily Begley, Mike Breen, Brian Cross, Mark Flanigan, Jason Gargano, McKenzie Graham, Nick Grever, Katie Holocher, Jacqueline Kern, Madge Maril, James McNair, Anne Mitchell, Pama Mitchell, Rick Pender, Garin Pirnia, Ilene Ross, Maria Seda-Reeder, Leyla Shokoohe, Steven Rosen, Ilene Ross, Kathy Schwartz, Adam Sievering, Nick Swartsell Photogr aphers Edward Derrico, Scott Dittgen, Jesse Fox,  Zak Handel, Phil Heidenreich, Lindsay McCarty, Khoi Nguyen, Brittany Thornton, Catie Viox Edi tori al Interns Christina Drobney, Lauren Moretto, Monroe Trombly Publisher Tony Frank Advert ising Director Josh Schuler Sales Account Managers Cory Hodge, Ryan Quinlan, Dan Radank, Neil White A d T r a f f i c C o o r d i n at o r Kane Kitchen O f f i c e A d m i n i s t r at o r Sam Johnston

E v e n t & M a r k e t i n g C o o r d i n at o r Chanell Karr E vent & Marketing Te am Alex Albrecht, Briana Crawford, Hannah French, Imani Kerr, DeShae Nelson, Meg Schott C i r c ul at i o n M a n a g e r Steve Ferguson Distribut ion Te am Rick Carrol, Doug Drennan, Jerry Ennis, Terry Evans, Rachel Feldman, Trey Hoover,   Terry Matzner, Thom Meyer, Lori Morgan,   Joan Powers, Tom Sand SOUTHCOMM Chief E xecut i ve Off icer Chris Ferrell Chief F inanci al Off icer Bob Mahoney C h i e f Op e r at i n g O f f i c e r Blair Johnson E xecut i ve V ice President Mark Bartel V ice President of P r o d u c t i o n Op e r at i o n s Curt Pordes V ice President of C o n t e n t/ C o mmu n i c at i o n Patrick Rains D i r e c t o r o f Hum a n R e s o u r c e s Becky Turner C r e at i v e D i r e c t o r Heather Pierce Gr aphic Designers Katy Barrett-Alley, Amy Gomoljak, Abbie Leali, Liz Loewenstein, Melanie Mays 2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  7



Aw shucks! Thank you once again to CityBeat Readers for voting 21c Museum Hotel, Metropole, and Cocktail Terrace top honors in Cincinnati. #1 Best Hotel in Cincinnati #1 Art Gallery in Cincinnati #1 Hotel Bar (Metropole at 21c) in Cincinnati #2 Rooftop Bar in Cincinnati

For events and insider info, stay connected at 21cCincinnati.com/connect facebook.com/21cMuseumHotels | facebook.com/MetropoleOnWalnut Twitter: @21cCincinnati @CocktailTerrace Instagram: @21cHotels @MetropoleOnWalnut

L ast ye ar, Cit yBeat ’s Best of Cincinnati issue turned 20. That’s two decades of recognizing the best people, places, organizations and things happening in our treasured river town — as voted on by readers and pontificated upon by our intrepid team of Cincy-loving staffers. While turning 20 was a big deal, turning 21 is more fun: It means we’re finally old enough to drink at another alt-leaning local mainstay, The Comet, Northside’s Rock & Roll burrito bar (featured on page 11) — which just so happens to also be commemorating two decades this year. Plenty has changed since we launched this project back in 1996, but much has stayed the same. Local creatives are still pushing against our lessening yet ever-present conservative cultural backdrop. Art and cultural institutions, restaurants and retail options continue to make Cincinnati a true gem among its peer cities. And our neighborhoods are changing in dynamic, if often complicated, ways. One thing that hasn’t changed is the format of this humble collection of Cincinnati highlights: a combination of reader picks and staff favorites. Our high-tech readers’ poll is more engaging than ever (mobile access > mail-in ballots), and the hip city we’ve become has made writing up hundreds of staff-chosen picks easier than ever. As we unveil the winners of this year’s readers’ poll and offer up our takes on the best of the past year, we’ll also reflect on the aforementioned Northside bar The Comet, whose staying power can be traced at least in part to the fact that it has barely changed over the years. We also look back on a busy year for acclaimed chef Jean-Robert de Cavel, who has been here since the early 1990s and just opened three eateries in 2016. And we point your attention to the quaint town of Rabbit Hash, established in 1847, whose century-old General Store has been remade after a crippling fire — into exactly what it was before. Becoming a sage adult, we’ve seen the ebbs and flows of the city and rallied behind its people, history, businesses and causes. In this year’s 164-page Best of Cincinnati issue — our biggest yet — we hope you enjoy reflecting on both where Cincinnati has been and where it is going. — DANN Y CROSS AND MA I J A Z UMMO , PRO J ECT ED I TORS 2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  9

Northside’s ‘Living Room’ Burritos, music and a decidedly free spirit have made The Comet endure for two decades Photo: Hailey Bollinger


Cincinnati has changed a lot since 1996. Sure, the Bengals and Reds haven’t won a playoff game or series, respectfully, over that period, and Charlie Winburn is somehow still on City Council. But the city’s core — from Northside to Over-the-Rhine to the riverfront — has never been more vibrant. New and unique businesses and cultural enterprises pop up every day. We’ve even finally introduced something every progressive city needs: enhanced public transit. That’s not to say there haven’t been a few mainstays over that period, local touchstones that have stood the test of time. Enter The Comet. The Northside night spot has changed little in the two decades since owner and operator Dave Cunningham opened its eclectic doors on Hamilton Avenue in 1996, and that’s exactly what has made it such an enduring and vital meeting place for certain kinds of Cincinnatians — from artists and musicians to bikers and burrito lovers. “At the time, the cultural climate of the city was pretty sparse,” Cunningham says. “There weren’t a whole lot of options when it came to great bars, and there just weren’t a lot of options for free-thinking, beer-loving, bar-going individuals.” Cunningham grew up in Mount Adams, long a nightlife hotspot. He comes from a line of bar owners and operators, and he started in the family business at a young age. “I have been behind the bar my whole life,” Cunningham says. “I got my first job working in Mount Adams when I was 12 years old bar-backing at The Blind Lemon. I was as tall as I am now, pretty much, so nobody bothered to ask how old I was. It was a different time, a different era. They knew me as this neighborhood kid, so that was my first adventure into the bar life.” He saw and learned a lot about the business at an early age. As an inevitable baseball fan during the Big Red Machine era, one anecdote really sticks with him from his Blind Lemon days — but, curiously, it came courtesy of the Reds’ dreaded Western Division rivals. 2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  11

Dave Cunningham // Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Swim Team // Photo: Jesse Fox

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Photos: Hailey Bollinger

“I remember when the Dodgers were in town, Tommy Lasorda would come to the bar,” Cunningham says. “I was a big fan of his, and I remember thinking, ‘Holy shit, there’s Tommy Lasorda!’ He would greet the room with a big ‘Hello!’ I remember thinking, ‘This is amazing.’ Hundred-dollar bills crossing the bar, and here I am, this young guy washing dishes. I was like, ‘This is where it’s at.’ ” Cunningham was also a Punk Rock kid who came of age in the 1980s attending shows at The Jockey Club, the dingy Newport venue that hosted national acts like Bad Brains and Black Flag and locals like SS-20 and Human Zoo. “Before that I was just kind of listening to whatever was on the radio, but the first Punk Rock show I went to I was like, ‘Oh my god, these are my people, this is where I’m supposed to be,’ ” Cunningham says. That love of music has infused nearly everything he’s done at The Comet, from the long-running Sunday-night residency of the Comet Bluegrass All-Stars to hosting the occasional touring act to the popular “Basement Reggae Night.” Then there’s Cunningham’s obsession with burritos, something he picked up

while living for a period in San Francisco. In fact, he cites burritos as the main reason he wanted to open his own place. “In San Francisco there were burritos on every corner,” Cunningham says. “And I was like, ‘Man, I really want a burrito.’ ” He casually checked in with a Cincinnati realtor one day in 1995, never thinking that it would lead to what has become a 20-year endeavor. “It was really just a lark to see what was available, just like when you would pick up the classifieds and see what’s going on,” Cunningham says of his search to find a place where he could serve up his favorite food. “I came across this address in Northside, which, at that time, wasn’t on anyone’s radar, but I knew how to get to Hamilton Avenue, and the price was reasonable.” He almost immediately fell in love with the space, which originally opened as a bar in the 1930s. “I walked through, and it was like a time capsule,” Cunningham says. “And I thought, ‘You know, I can get people to drive down Ludlow (Avenue) for an extra two miles and get here. I can give this a try.’ ” The Comet’s discerningly stocked beer case and now-iconic jukebox are but two reasons it has remained

many a Cincinnatian’s go-to spot. Yet Cunningham is as surprised as anyone that The Comet’s patrons now include the children of the bar’s first wave of 1990s twentysomethings. “Through the years things have changed,” Cunningham says. “The internet was invented and the city has blossomed into an amazing place. Now there are probably 30 different options on any given night for entertainment and drinks.” The Comet has endured for a pretty simple reason: “Somebody turns 21 every single day,” Cunningham says, laughing. But it’s more than that, and he knows it. “Our philosophy has always been to be as close to a traditional pub as possible, but there are all kinds of jewels in our crown that make it what it is — everything from the burritos and craft beer to Bluegrass and free-thinking music,” Cunningham says. It’s also been a hub for a certain kind of cultural engagement — The Comet recently hosted benefits for the protestors at Standing Rock and for Planned Parenthood. “It’s an extension of who I think we are,” Cunningham says. “I’ve always been involved with the underground of sorts. I don’t have an official policy or stance on

it, but I feel those things are important. There’s a political element to it — it’s definitely more political than burritos or motorcycles — but we are an extension of the living room here. “We’re a public house in the traditional sense,” he continues. “People have been gathering in pubs for hundreds of years in Ireland and England to discuss things, and to deny a political element — especially in today’s climate — would be irresponsible. The people who gather here have a voice, and the best way to exercise that voice is through events.” Cunningham is well aware that those same people have made The Comet what it is today. “I never really set out with the intentions of this being my life’s work,” Cunningham says. “All of it would be nothing without the people who show up. I’m eternally grateful that this has worked out. I feel like an elected official of sorts. People vote by walking across the threshold to visit The Comet.” T H E C O M E T i s l ocate d at 4 57 9 H am i lton Av e . , N orths i d e . M ore i n f o : 5 1 3 - 5 4 1 - 8 9 0 0 or cometbar . com . 2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  13

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Photos: Hailey Bollinger

Faith Restored

How the Rabbit Hash community rallied to rebuild its iconic general store BY ADAM SIE VERING

Let’s go back to November 2016: a turbulent time for millions of Americans, who fiercely stormed the frontlines of Twitter and Facebook to flex their free-speech muscles, argue politics with estranged relatives and wage hyperlink warfare against their ideological opposition. This was a time we all, perhaps regrettably, remember. But amid the blitzkrieg of alternative facts, incendiary memes and celebrity spitfire, another election was taking place in America. An election that, in many ways, seemed more like the ones we’re used to in the developed world. No flag burning. No angry protests. No damn emails. Just a true-blue demonstration of democracy. This, of course, was Rabbit Hash’s mayoral election — a non-partisan tradition more commonly known as The Indawguration. Yes. Last November, the people of Rabbit Hash, Ky. elected their fourth canine mayor — a 3-year-old pit bull named Brynneth Pawltro. Or Brynn, for those who know her on a first-name basis. Brynn’s victory was announced on Tuesday, Nov. 15. She ran a clean, issue-focused campaign, according to Don Clare, president of the Rabbit Hash Historical Society. “Brynn is the first female mayor to take office here in Rabbit Hash,” he says. “She’s also a rescue, which makes her a minority on multiple levels.” Clare’s reverence for the new mayor is a glowing testament to the eccentric, open-minded and remarkably down-toearth spirit on which Rabbit Hash thrives. Since 1847, this 3.5-acre river town has always risen with the tide — surviving more than a few contentious presidential elections, not to mention a few massive floods and the threat of suburban sprawl. For those yet to take a trip down the Rabbit hole, the town is located approximately 30 miles southwest of Cincinnati in Boone County. New housing developments and construction are part of the landscape along the way. But by the time you see signs for Rabbit Hash Historic District, you’re well en route to a place where time appears to have stood still. 2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  15

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Photos: Hailey Bollinger

“You drive 20 minutes from Cincinnati and you feel like you’ve gone back 200 years,” says Clare, who first took interest in preserving the town’s legacy in the late ’70s with his friend, Louie Scott. Scott halted the seemingly inevitable bulldozer effect by purchasing every property in Rabbit Hash, piece by piece. By 1979, he owned every landmark in town — including the infamous General Store, built in 1831. In Clare’s words, “(Scott) won the Rabbit Hash Monopoly game. And if he hadn’t stepped in when he did, this place wouldn’t be here today.” In essence, Scott was the sole proprietor of Rabbit Hash in its entirety until 2002, when he sold his bundle of properties to the Rabbit Hash Historical Society — a local organization created to ensure long-term preservation of the town and its history. This transaction was made possible by a single donation of $250,000, as stated on the historical society website. It was one of many significant individual contributions aimed at keeping Rabbit Hash alive, just as it was. The old, wooden buildings in town required dedicated upkeep to withstand the elements — most notably floodwater. But on Feb. 13, 2016, the historical society faced an unprecedented crisis. Around 9 p.m., a fire erupted inside the Rabbit Hash General Store, claiming more than a century’s worth of antiques, artifacts and mementos, in addition to causing critical structural damage. According to Clare, the fire started in a Coca-Cola cooler. He called it “ironic,”

given that one of the store’s most iconic features was a huge Coke sign that hung above the entrance. Burning into the early hours of the morning, the fire left only three walls standing and an entire community in mourning. “Ever since it was built, (the General Store) has been the pulse of the community,” Clare says. “It’s where you got your news, socialized and connected with people. It’s kind of like the 19th-century Facebook.” He’s not the only one who thinks so. In fact, hundreds of people were quick to rally on social media as a means to kickstart a crowd-funded restoration effort that continues to gain traction. Terrie Markesbery, current proprietor of the Rabbit Hash General Store, launched a GoFundMe campaign the following day that has received over $65,000 in contributions from more than 1,100 donors. As of today, her campaign has been shared approximately 17,000 times on social media, reminding us all of the internet’s potential to unite communities, not just inflame their divisions. In addition to an overwhelming response online, supporters have organized a number of local fundraisers, including music events, motorcycle rallies and art gatherings. Clare reports that approximately $300,000 has been raised for the General Store’s restoration so far, enabling them to make rapid progress throughout the past year. In accordance with requirements by the U.S. National Register of Historic

Places, restorations were made using materials that date back to around the same time the General Store was originally built. Ed Unterreiner, owner of Rivertown Construction, was contracted for the job soon after the fire. “The boards we used on the interior walls are boards that came off a barge that they floated down river to Rabbit Hash,” Unterreiner says. “Some of these boards still have the original barge lettering printed on them.” Along with the lumber they salvaged from the boat, Unterreiner and his small crew of builders meticulously deconstructed two entire buildings in town to repurpose their materials. Clare was a daily participant in the process, spending countless hours removing nails, cleaning, storing and painting the old wood in preparation for it to finally be used. “It took a lot of extra time, money and labor,” he says. “But that’s how we were able to make it look like it did the day before the fire.” Unterreiner elaborated on the unique challenges of a project like this. In the 25 years he’s been in business, no other restoration effort has required so much attention to preserving the details. “In a typical remodel, you always have something to go by: architectural drawings; homeowners who can tell you exactly what they want,” he says. “With this, we took it down to dirt and the only plans we have were based on photographs. It’s hard to determine dimensions just by looking at a photo. But with

enough of them, we’ve come up with something that’s really, really close to the way it was.” As a Rabbit Hash native himself, Unterreiner even remembers the building’s little imperfections, like the crooked front porch. These, too, were an intentional part of the restoration process. “I want it to be as if nothing happened,” he says. “This is a personal thing. All these little details are important to me.” With the help of volunteers and local business sponsors, the Rabbit Hash General Store is standing once again. To a visitor, the store is indistinguishable from its former self. Even the Coca-Cola sign has been restored — and that’s not all. “This whole thing just restores your faith in humanity,” Clare says. “Especially in this political atmosphere, it’s good to be in a place with decency, love and respect.” As they put on the finishing touches inside the store, which now includes a new fire suppression system, they’re still in need of antiques and novelties that can recreate the old vibe. “If anyone has something laying around in their garage or barn and think it would look good in the General Store, we’d gladly accept it,” Clare says. The store will reopen on April 1 after a 9:30 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony, with live music, wine tastings and other festivities from noon to 8 p.m. T he R A B B I T H A S H G E N E R A L S T O R E i s l ocate d at 1 0 0 2 1 Lo w er R i v er R oa d , R abb i t H ash , K y. rabb i thash . com . 2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  17

The best of the

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J -Ro’s Big Year Cincinnati’s favorite French chef opened restaurants for everyone in 2016 Photo: Hailey Bollinger


C’est l’amour. Everything chef JeanRobert de Cavel does is executed with purposeful, energetic passion, whether he’s perfecting a dish in the kitchen, organizing his annual de Cavel Family SIDS Foundation Friends & Family SIDS Brunch — one of the country’s largest Sudden Infant Death Syndrome fundraisers — or showing off the dozens of eclectic saltshakers he’s collected over the years. His relationship with Cincinnati is an expanding and ardent love letter — but one he never expected to pen. When de Cavel moved to the Queen City from New York in 1993, he never expected to fall in love; at first, he couldn’t even pinpoint Cincinnati on a map. But he was drawn to the position of chef de cuisine at the Maisonette, the city’s lucrative Mobil five-star restaurant — a position he ended up holding until 2002. Twenty-three years after arriving, de Cavel is one of the foremost chefs in the city, as well as a familiar face easily distinguishable by his characteristically unruly salt-and-pepper hair. And his passion for Cincinnati and the opportunities it bears is only burning hotter. Two-thousand-sixteen was one of his biggest years to date, seeing him open three restaurants — L, an expanded French Crust Café and Frenchie Fresh — that have already become staples of Cincinnati’s dining scene. Each offers a unique experience, covering the spectrum all the way from fine dining to grab-and-go. “It wasn’t planned; it just happened,” de Cavel says of the confluence of the three new openings. “This was meant to be.” “The restaurant business is a lifestyle — customers are friends,” he continues. “I’ve gotten so much support from people in Cincinnati, it made me want to do more for the city.” 2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  19

Restaurant L // Photo: Aaron Conway

A Recipe for Success For the past several years, de Cavel’s focus has primarily been on his Vine Street flagship, the elegant French favorite Jean-Robert’s Table. But around 18 months ago, he started to think about expanding. Although he initially looked at a few spaces downtown, he decided against developing anything in the neighborhood that might conflict with Table. But when a space in Findlay Market began undergoing renovations, de Cavel got the chance to tour the gutted shell of the old building, and inspiration struck. “When I see a space, right away I get a vision of what it could become,” he says. That vision would become the home of a new, larger French Crust Café, his already established bistro and bakery that had felt cramped in its small former home on Vine Street. Around the same time, financial group Western & Southern approached him about developing a restaurant on the lobby level of the new Great American Tower skyscraper at Queen City Square. 2 0  CI T Y B E AT.C O M

Once again, he immediately saw potential in the space, which became the home of Restaurant L. Things weren’t slowing down. Not long afterward, a Mexican restaurant at the Rookwood development in Hyde Park closed its doors, freeing up a spot that seemed ideal for an upscale-casual concept that the chef had been mulling over with colleagues. This idea later became Frenchie Fresh.

Restaurant L Helmed by de Cavel and longtime friend and maître d’hôtel Richard Brown, L is a Parisian-style restaurant with “a little New York attitude and an abundance of Cincinnati charm.” The name comes from the fact that both de Cavel and Brown’s daughters’ names — Laeticia (de Cavel) and Lauren (Brown) — begin with the letter L. Of the three new establishments, L required the largest investment and the longest time to bring to fruition; the process started more than three years ago when de Cavel and Brown first looked at

the Western & Southern location on Fourth Street. They spent 2015 in design and much of 2016 in construction, Brown says, before the restaurant opened in August. Investing in an establishment at the very highest level of luxury might seem risky, but David Anthony, L’s manager and sommelier who previously served as wine director at Table, says, “I was 100 percent sure that if Jean-Robert thought it would work, that’s all I needed to know.” What’s on the plate springs from the culinary virtuosity of de Cavel, while everything that surrounds it has been meticulously selected by Brown. This is special-occasion dining, the kind of evening most of us aspire to once or twice a year. Yet with a four-course meal served for $89 per person ($125 for the Menu Gourmand), L is more than fairly priced — the only significant addition to your bill is likely to come from alcohol. L is the culmination of the already distinguished careers of de Cavel and Brown, and it can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with top restaurants in New York and California. It offers the only traditional

caviar service in the region, serving either locally farmed paddlefish eggs or luxurious Osetra sturgeon eggs with blini, poached egg and other classic trimmings. Elsewhere on the dinner menu, you’ll find a delicate lobster salad with mango and avocado; savory roasted quail sweetened with golden raisins and spiced with bits of chorizo sausage; two different preparations of rich foie gras; and fish varieties you won’t see even in the best of local seafood shops.

French Crust Café Although L is where de Cavel spends most of his evenings these days — “chef coat on, knife in hand,” according to manager and sommelier Anthony — the chef seemed particularly excited about the opening of French Crust Café, a cozy “petit Paris” that seats just 26 people. “Everything here is a reflection of (de Cavel’s) personality,” says French Crust co-manager Megan Kelly of the breakfast, lunch and brunch spot, whose prices fall somewhere between L and Frenchie Fresh.

L-R: French Crust Café / Frenchie Fresh // Photos: Hailey Bollinger

The bistro occupies a corner building with expansive windows that let in plenty of light, illuminating warm yellow walls and colorful posters, figurines, sculptures and artworks, all from the chef’s personal collection. De Cavel often drops in during Sunday brunch, and if you catch him out of the kitchen, he’ll probably be happy to show you his collection of a couple hundred salt and pepper shakers that encompass an entire wall or to tell you the provenance of some of his striking wall hangings. Co-manager Dave Kunkemoeller remembers de Cavel once saying that if he hadn’t been a chef, he would have been an interior decorator; you can see how lovingly he has put everything together here. It’s as if a Parisian bistro was transported right onto the streetcar line, facing the entrance to Findlay Market. The food is just as classically Parisian — several varieties of quiche, savory and very rich crepes, sandwiches made on perfect croissants — with an emphasis on delectable French pastries

and custards created by pastry chef/ chocolatier Jean-Philippe Solnom.

Frenchie Fresh On the far end of the spectrum from L, closer in price point to French Crust, is the fast-casual Frenchie Fresh. Brown describes the eatery as a fastfood version of Le Bar a Boeuf, the Walnut Hills upscale burger parlor de Cavel opened in 2014. Emblazoned with a sketch of a panting French bulldog, Frenchie puts a French twist on American classics that can be enjoyed on-site or on the go. “Fast casual” eateries allow patrons to sit and eat at a table, not in a car, but they’re still quick enough to accommodate a busy family looking for a quality meal minus the time commitment of a waitstaffed restaurant because, as de Cavel says, “you shouldn’t have to sacrifice quality or taste because you are short on time.” He has made an addendum to the fast casual term and refers to Frenchie Fresh as “fine, fast casual cuisine.” That’s a fair assessment, and the location in the

Rookwood Exchange perfectly caters to families looking for quality and brevity in the same spot. It has two dining rooms and an outdoor patio in fair weather and is one of a very few independent eateries in a strip-center sea of chain restaurants. Inside, you can choose from among five meats and a vegan option for the middle of the sandwich — everything from Kansas City beef to bison, lamb or ground turkey — and select from more than a dozen toppings. There are other sandwiches, soups, salads and a selection of creative mac & chez — seafood medley & truffle, roasted chicken or simply plain, creamy mac — topped off by a couple of rich desserts sent over from French Crust. “With Frenchie Fresh, it was all about the location,” de Cavel says. “I couldn’t pass up that opportunity in Hyde Park. You also have to find the right people — it’s all about the team.” It’s that mindset that keeps de Cavel going like a lithium battery, leaving the future wide open for anything he dreams up in his mind.

“He’s such an encouragement to everyone else that if he’s willing to do it, people will follow,” says Brown. “I don’t see myself as being successful,” de Cavel adds. “I try my best and do what I love. I see myself as a coach, urging on my people. If the team wins, everyone wins.” The new eateries offer up a little slice of France for all manner of cravings, price points and dining experiences, whether you’re grabbing a sandwich to go on your lunch break or planning a lingering evening with friends complete with the chef’s meticulous concoctions. “Food is important, but how you feel in a place is even more important,” de Cavel says. “To see the joy that people experience in one of my dining rooms, that is the best.” R E S TA U R A N T L : 3 0 1 E . F o urt h S t. , D o w n t o w n , 5 1 3 -7 6 0 - 5 5 2 5 , lc i nc i nnat i . c o m . F R E N C HI E F R E S H : 3 8 3 1 E d w ards R o ad , H y de P ar k , 5 1 3 - 3 6 6 - 3 9 6 0 , frenc h i efres h . c o m . F R E N C H C R U S T C A F É : 1 8 0 1 E l m S t. , O v er -t h e - R h i ne , 5 1 3 - 4 5 5 - 3 7 2 0 , j rc i nc y. c o m / frenc h - crust - café . 2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  21

2017-2018 SEASON Welcome to our 2017-2018 Season! The intoxicating mix of passion, athleticism, elegant refinement, and classic modernity you love on the stage now has an exciting new brand "look and feel" to match. We are delighted to share exhilarating collaborations, world premieres, and thrilling performances with you many times in the months ahead. Join us!

September 14-24, Aronoff Center

THE KAPLAN NEW WORKS SERIES October 26-29, Music Hall


December 14-24, Music Hall FRISCH’S BIG BOY PRESENTS

THE NUTCRACKER February 8-11, Music Hall

CARMINA BURANA + SERENADE March 15-18, Aronoff Center

DIRECTOR’S CUT: MUSICAL MASTERS April 26-29, Aronoff Center


April 6-8, Aronoff Center


Rhonda & Larry Sheakley


RE A DER P ICKS Art Gallery

C h u r ch F e s t i va l

I n s tag r am A cc o u n t

L o ca l A u t h o r

1. 21c Museum Hotel 2. Art Academy of Cincinnati 3. The Pendleton Art Center

1. Panegyri Greek Festival 2. Saint Cecilia Family Festival 3. Immaculate Heart of Mary Festival

1. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden (@cincinnatizoo) 2. Cincinnati Refined (@cincyrefined) 3. CityBeat (@citybeatcincy)

1. Chad Lambert 2. Molly Wellmann 3. Wendy Vogel

F o u n ta i n S q u a r e E v e n t

K i d - F r i e n d ly At t r ac t io n

Art Museum 1. Cincinnati Art Museum 2. Contemporary Arts Center 3. Taft Museum of Art Art works Mur al

1. Taste of Cincinnati 2. Opening Day Rally on the Square 3. Cincy Beerfest F r e e At t r ac t io n

1. “Cincinnati Toy Heritage” 2. “Charley Harper’s Beguiled by the Wild” 3. “Swing Around Rosie”

1. Findlay Market 2. Cincinnati Art Museum 3. Smale Riverfront Park

C ha r i t y F e s t i va l / E v e n t

G allery E xhibit

1. Cincinnati Pride 2. Bockfest 3. The Rusty Ball

1. E is for Edie: An Edith McKee Harper Retrospective (The Carnegie) 2. After Industry (Weston Art Gallery) 3. The Peeled Eye (Wave Pool)

1. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden 2. Smale Riverfront Park 3. Cincinnati Museum Center L o ca l A c t o r /A c t r e s s 1. Annie Fitzpatrick 2. Andrew Maloney 3. David Roth L o ca l A r t i s t 1. C.F. Payne 2. Jesse Fox 3. Pam Kravetz

L o ca l C l a s s ica l M u s ic G r o u p 1. Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra/Pops 2. Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra 3. May Festival Chorus L o ca l C o m e di a n 1. Steve Caminiti 2. Drew Hastings 3. Gary Owen L o ca l Da n c e G r o u p 1. Cincinnati Ballet 2. Cin City Burlesque 3. Pones Inc.

2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  2 3

L o ca l F i l mma k e r

L o ca l V o ca l A r t s G r o u p

1. David Cornelius 2. John Gibson 3. Andy Marko

1. Cincinnati Children’s Choir 2. May Festival Chorus 3. MUSE, Cincinnati’s Women’s Choir

L o ca l Imp r o v/ S k e t ch C o m e dy G r o u p

M o v i e Th e at e r

1. OTRimprov 2. Future Science 3. Highly Improvable L o ca l Th e at e r C o mpa n y 1. Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park 2. Cincinnati Shakespeare Company 3. The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati L o ca l T o u r 1. Cincinnati Brewery District Cincinnati Brewery Tours 2. American Legacy Tours (Queen City Underground) 3. ArtWorks Mural Tours

1. Esquire Theatre 2. Cinemark Oakley Station 3. AMC Newport on the Levee M u s e u m 1. Cincinnati Museum Center 2. Cincinnati Art Museum 3. Contemporary Arts Center Museum E xhibit 1. Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth (Cincinnati Art Museum) 2. Vikings: Beyond the Legend (Cincinnati Museum Center) 3. Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times (Taft Museum of Art)

Opp o r t u n i t i e s f o r L o ca l A r t i s t s 1. ArtWorks 2. The City Flea 3. Cincy Fringe Festival P l ay ( P r o f e s s io n a l ) 1. To Kill a Mockingbird (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park) 2. The Diary of Anne Frank (Cincinnati Shakespeare Company) 3. Elf The Musical JR (Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati) P l ay (S t u d e n t/ C o mm u n i t y ) 1. West Side Story (Cincinnati Young People’s Theatre) 2. American Idiot (Sunset Players) 3. Jesus Christ Superstar (The Footlighters, Inc.) P u b l ic A r t w o r k 1. ArtWorks Murals 2. Mosaic Murals at the Cincinnati Museum Center 3. Roebling Murals

P u mp k i n Pat ch/ Fa r m 1. Burger Farm & Garden Center 2. Shaw Farms 3. Blooms & Berries Farm Market R e g io n a l A r t s Th e at e r 1. Human Race Theatre Company (Dayton) 2. The Yellow Springs Theater Company (Yellow Springs) 3. Victoria Theatre Association (Dayton) R e g io n a l M u s e u m 1. Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum (Ohio State University) 2. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum 3. Indianapolis Museum of Art Wa s h i n g t o n Pa r k E v e n t 1. The City Flea 2. Taste of OTR 3. OTR Beerfest


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B est arc h i tectural A rt w o r k Yo u P r o bably Hav e n ’ t S ee n Y et For almost three years now, the builder/ artist Mark deJong has been transforming a Camp Washington three-floor, shotgunstyle domicile into the Swing House, a large-scale art installation in which the interior has been almost completely opened up — no stairs, no floors, no rooms with walls. But the center attraction is a new 30-foot-long swing with ropes secured to an iron beam across the ceiling. You can swing virtually from end to end, imagining the generations who have lived there previously. It’s a trip through time as well as space. DeJong has been inviting people for special occasions, but envisions a wellattended open house this summer when he’s finally finished. He also promises to get the word out about it through both social and traditional media; until then he’s letting the anticipation grow organically.

B e s t A r t i s t i c S tat e m e n t I n v o lv i n g H o u s e p l a n t s Wave Pool, the Camp Washington art gallery known for unconventional exhibitions with a community-building component, came to the rescue of sick Cincinnati houseplants — and their distraught owners — with a summer project called People via Plants. Richmond, Va.-based artists Valerie Molnar and Matthew Spahr invited people to drop off their ailing friends and then return in a couple weeks to find them (hopefully) magically transformed into jolly, healthy green botanic role models after the artists applied TLC (including 12 hours of plant-appropriate music daily). For closing night, there was a dance party for people while the plants just relaxed and enjoyed their new life. Wave Pool, 2940 Colerain Ave., Camp Washington. wavepoolgallery.org

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True, the 19th-century Creeping Baby doll discovered awhile back at Ohio’s Clinton County History Center looked more like a “creepy baby,” because time had been unkind to the wax originally put on her face to make the automaton/mechanical clockwork doll more lifelike. But because of its rarity and overall good condition, the DASA Museum in Dortmund, Germany, which is devoted to exhibitions related to the working world, borrowed it in 2016 for a show. That museum’s officials photographed Creeping Baby arriving and touring their city to show folks in Clinton County how honored they were to have this visitor 2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  27

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Weddings + fUndraisers + corPorate & generally aWesome events B est Ne w/Ol d De v el o p m e n t i n P h o t o g rap h y After camera shops closed and other institutions dismantled their darkrooms in favor of digital photography, Manifest Drawing Center saw a different trend. In the fall, it opened a community-access darkroom for shutterbugs who wanted to slow down and develop their own black-and-white pictures again. For those who never shot film, it added introductory classes taught by Michael Wilson, the local photographer known for portraits of Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris and other musical acts. It also rounded up some film cameras to lend out. So put the selfie stick and the smartphone down, already. “We’re putting the artifact back in art,” Manifest founder Jason Franz says. Manifest Drawing Center, 4905 Whetsel Ave., Second Floor, Madisonville, 513-861-3638, manifestdrawingcenter.org.

from America. Clinton County History Center, 149 E. Locust St., Wilmington, 937382-4684, clintoncountyhistory.org.

B e s t A r t i s t ic T r i b u t e t o H e n r y Dav i d Th o r e a u Hamilton’s Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum, in a brilliant stroke of innovative programming, invited Minneapolis-based theater company TigerLion Arts to stage Nature, a “walking play,” amid its open space. Actors playing Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson discussed their mutual love of the natural world with the help of an ensemble of other actors, who also played pipes, flutes and drums. It was a play, a concert and a walk in the park all at once — one might even say it was a truly Transcendentalist experience. Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum, 1763 HamiltonCleves Road, Hamilton, 513-868-8336, pyramidhill.org.

B e s t Way t o G e t Yo u r 1 5 M i n u t e s o f I n s ta - fam e Local photographer Louis Rideout shares the Insta-love with his curated Instagram 2 8  CI T Y B E AT.C O M

account Cincishooters. He chooses the best photos that use #cincishooters and reposts them on the popular account. You don’t have to be a pro or use a fancy camera to be featured. You get credit and a shout-out for your compelling capture. But it’s not all about you. The Cincishooters account spotlights all the things that make Cincinnati great. In addition to the typical landmarks and landscapes, you’ll be introduced to people, places and events you didn’t even know existed. Sometimes it feels like you’re looking at an entirely different city. Follow Cincishooters to discover your town, and use the hashtag to show the public what you’ve got. Cincishooters, instagram.com/cincishooters.

B e s t Way t o Eav e s d r o p o n Yo u r Fav o r i t e L o ca l C r e at i v e s If you’ve ever wondered exactly who is behind your favorite local brands, businesses or creative work, look no further than the Creative City podcast. Host Tamia Stinson (of The Style Sample blog) sits down with everyone — from fashion designers and photographers to artists


CONTEMPORARY ARTS CENTER | 6th & Walnut St., Downtown Cincinnati | contemporaryartscenter.org

and entrepreneurs — for casual conversations about how they got started and where they’re going next. We dare you not to be inspired by Stinson’s informal yet informative discussions with Cincinnati’s coolest creatives. It’s like you’re listening to them over your shoulder at dinner or a bar, except that would be creepy. Stop doing that. Creative City Podcast, creativecitypodcast.com.

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The Play Library, a place that felt straight out of the Tom Hanks movie Big, wasn’t kidding around about providing everyone with access to quality toys and games. The all-ages lending and activity space that People’s Liberty grantee Julia Fischer operated last summer in the philanthropy’s Over-the-Rhine storefront returned March 15, 2017, just a few blocks away. And that makes us want to shout — which is totally OK in a library where being quiet is not the idea. Fischer, a former toy designer, will again be stocking hundreds of playthings, as well as planning 21-and-over game nights and family fun times that encourage everyone to make-believe and make new friends. YAY!! The Play Library, 1517 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, playlibrary.org.

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the art of being unique

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Upon renting a 400-square-foot apartment in Over-the-Rhine, Maya Drozdz proclaimed herself mayor of Tinytown and decreed that a seemingly useless “dumb ledge” in her home would become a gallery. She curated friends’ collections of matchbooks and baseball cards, designed and distributed bookmark-sized posters and let strangers in on her joke during Final Fridays. The Ledge Gallery silliness worked, and Drozdz has since opened a more serious enterprise. The gallery now occupies a windowsill at Your Friends & Neighbors, her artsy shop inside Left Coast Modern furniture store in East Walnut Hills. The new Ledge is a third the size of the original, but its impact on the art world remains undiminished. Ledge Gallery and Your Friends & Neighbors, 2803 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut Hills, 513-258-8461, ledgegallery.com.


Amid the “If you grew up in (blank), then you might remember” pages on Facebook where everyone wants to reminisce about favorite teachers, there are two devoted to local history that are incredibly resourceful at finding old photographs and odd stories. At Old Photos of Cincinnati, the guidelines for the public group’s 57,000plus members are straightforward: Stick to historically significant photos from

the late 1800s to the early 1980s and include a caption. Skip the pictures of cheese coneys and nostalgia for favorite songs. Thankfully, most posters seem to follow the rules — which makes the page informative and kind of addictive. Meanwhile, the smaller closed group Historic Cincinnati: Photos, Postcards, Prints and Memorabilia offers up some incredible finds, like postcard photos of the old Hotel Gibson’s luxurious interior or a scanned copy of a 1963 WSAI radio Top 40 countdown — Bobby Darin held the top spot. facebook.com/groups/old.cincinnati; facebook.com/groups/138821179800506.

B e s t P l ac e t o La u n ch a K i d ’ s Th e at e r C a r e e r People might think that the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati is based at downtown’s Taft Theatre, since that’s where its professional productions have entertained thousands of children since 1924. In truth, the company’s cramped offices and limited classrooms for many years were in suburban Fairfax. But in 2016, the company relocated to a renovated warehouse facility with lots more room for creativity — a performing space, costume shop, rehearsal rooms and classrooms. Its robust programs for kids ramped up immediately with more space to accommodate aspiring young performers. The first round of acting classes for children in the new facility expanded enrollment by 340 percent. The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, 4105 Red Bank Road, Madisonville, 513-569-8080, thechildrenstheatre.com.

B e s t D r ag A c t b y E b e n e z e r Sc r o o g e Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati’s production of The Legend of Georgia McBride told the story of an Elvis impersonator required to change over to a drag act to spur attendance at a down-on-its-luck bar. As the title character, Michael Gerard Carr made the unlikely transformation guided by a veteran drag queen named Tracy, played by Bruce Cromer. If his name is familiar, it’s because Cromer — who teaches acting at Wright State University and is one of Greater Cincinnati’s best professional actors — has become known locally for his 13 years as Ebenezer Scrooge every December in A Christmas Carol at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. He totally inhabited this role with emotion and charm — and not a trace of “Bah, humbug.” Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, 1127 Vine St., Over-theRhine, 513-421-3555, ensemblecincy.org.

B e s t K e n t u c k y Di v e Ba r i n O v e r -t h e - Rh i n e Know Theatre’s Underground Bar has played many roles, including as a hip

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B est O T R Ma k e o v er For more than a century, Memorial Hall has stood quite literally in the shadow of Music Hall, just a few steps south of it on Elm Street in Over-the-Rhine. In 1978, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but it wasn’t often used because it lacked air conditioning and had barely minimal amenities (especially restrooms). But after an $11 million renovation, it’s in the shadows no longer. Today it’s a full-fledged player along the Elm Street arts corridor. Its modernized theater has a more accommodating stage for performers and more comfortable seating for 550 audience members (retaining antique chair frames from 1908). There’s new heating and cooling, an upgraded kitchen and catering space, first-floor rooms outfitted for receptions and audiovisual presentations and modern enlarged restrooms. Lots of musical and entertainment events, as well as private gatherings, are on tap. Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-977-8838, memorialhallotr.com.

playground hangout following Fringe Festival performances. But in late 2016 when Know premiered Darkest Night at the Gnarly Stump, a new play by Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin, it transformed into a Kentucky dive bar — The Gnarly Stump — a place where patrons swapped tall tales and ghost stories and musician/storyteller Paul Strickland performed original songs. The result was a trip to Appalachia, right in the heart of deepest, darkest Over-the-Rhine. Theatergoers could get a featured drink, dubbed “Full Moonshine,” giving apple cider a Kentucky tavern bourbon kick. Yee-haw! Know Theatre of Cincinnati, 1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-3005669, knowtheatre.com.

B e s t Pac k ag i n g o f C ham b e r M u s ic i n a H i p F e s t i va l If you think Chamber Music is a snooze fest, that’s because you haven’t attended Summermusik, the Cincinnati Chamber

Orchestra’s varied annual August concert series. There are traditional Saturday evening orchestral concerts at the School for Creative and Performing Arts, but since it’s at a time of year when not much else is happening, it also curates two series for more casual audiences: (A Little) Afternoon Musik, intimate Sunday programs where audiences can sit close to the performers, and Chamber Crawls in bars and restaurants around town, which present offerings like a beer tasting with a brass quintet, or a string quartet and a Rock guitarist joining forces for a program featuring Brian Wilson, David Bowie, Smokey Robinson and Classical tunes. It’s a fine way to finish the summer. Summermusik, ccocincinnati.org.

B e s t p o r t r aya l o f a b a d a s s F e ma l e Sci e n t i s t Know Theatre’s production of Silent Sky back in April 2016 took a compelling look at gender equality in the world of science. Lauren Gunderson’s play portrayed Henrietta Leavitt, a real-life aspiring CityBeat_BestRE_2017_OL.indd 1

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B est C o r n uc o p i a o f Free A rts O f f er i n g s No other Cincinnati entity presents a similar array of imaginative programming as Northside’s Chase Public, a feat made doubly impressive by the fact that each program happens outside any regular funding and is free. The group features poetry readings, some where the only rule is that no original work is allowed; the popular “Response Project,” wherein artists give their interpretations of a chosen work; independent film screenings; intimate concerts; and workshops on important cultural issues such as women’s safety in contemporary social culture — and this is only a portion of what is regularly on offer as Chase Public’s executive director, Scott Holzman, continues to expand and perfect his singular vision of what an ad-free, collaborative art space can be. Chase Public, 1569 Chase Ave., Suite 4, Northside, chasepublic.com.

astronomer from the early 20th century who had to work doubly hard to earn recognition for her scientific insights, surrounded by male scientists who relegated women to supporting roles. Leavitt worked at the Harvard College Observatory and developed a formula to assess the expansive (and expanding) size of the universe — something no man had achieved. Actress Maggie Lou Rader played Leavitt with such luminous energy and commitment that it was easy to see why this pioneer of science and math made a difference. She was considered for a Nobel Prize in 1925 — until it was sadly discovered she had died of ovarian cancer four years earlier (you must be alive at the time of your nomination to receive the prize). Know Theatre of Cincinnati, 1120 Jackson St., Over-theRhine, 513-300-5669, knowtheatre.com.

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Taking on the title role in The Elephant Man, a great play from 1979, is no easy task. But Cincinnati Shakespeare Company had the right veteran actor for the role

when it staged the show in October. In his 17th season with Cincy Shakes, Giles Davies totally inhabited the part of John Merrick, a severely disfigured man in Victorian London whose body made him the object of scorn and morbid fascination in the 1880s. The physically adept actor played the part with his face and body contorted, walking with a painful, limping gait. He also employed a voice that emerged from Merrick’s tortured body, muffled at first, then increasingly clear. Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, 719 Race St., Downtown, 513-381-2273, cincyshakes.org.

Best Art Gallery Inside A S k at e Sh o p If you’ve never been inside The Galaxie Skateshop in Northside, you may have steered clear because teen (and adult) skateboarders can be intimidating if you’re not one. But that would be a big mistake. Not only would you be missing out on a local community of beanied athletes and the nicest guys in town, you’d also miss some of the best gallery openings in the city. Each month, owner Zach

Kincaid selects an artist to feature on the walls of his shop. Sometimes the artist is a prolific wildlife photographer, like Jordan West, but there is much variety in the choices. The Galaxie Skateshop, 4040 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-542-3400, galaxieskateshop.blogspot.com.

B E S T U S E O F U N E M P L OY M E N T A S M AT E R I A L F O R A P L AY After getting laid off from her job in radio, Laila B. Hameen began working on her résumé. Recognizing it as a roadmap of her life, she soon found herself occupied by writing Laid Off: A One Woman Show, a monologue that traces her journey from childhood to adulthood. Serving as writer, actor, director and DIY producer, Hameen brought Laid Off to multiple local venues such as Women Writing for (a) Change and Chase Public, infusing each performance with her evocative storytelling style and exceptional ability to inhabit her character, regardless of age. In the end, Hameen found a new occupation: sharing the solace and strength she garnered from the creative act with anyone lucky enough to have witnessed it. Laid Off: A One Woman Show, laidoffonewomanseries.webs.com.

BEST PODCAST ABOUT A R T T H AT ’ S R E A L LY A B O U T BUSINESS Caroline Creaghead knows your secret. If you’re a freelancer or creative type, she knows you have anxiety about money. She’s been there. As a comedy producer in New York for seven years, her business was helping artists with their business. But as a freelancer in her own right, she experienced the same anxieties as her clients. Now a creative producer and taxpreparer for the crafty based in Covington, her latest creative pursuit is None of Your Business, a podcast about the business side of art. Creaghead talks to area artists, freelancers and creative business people about how they deal with issues like health care, taxes, time management and getting grants. Basically, Creaghead can help you get your shit together. None of Your Business, noybpodcast.com.

Theatre every September. OTRimprov’s cast is becoming legion (26 members and growing); they are also invariably smart, quick-witted and hilarious — the perfect cure for whatever might ail you. OTRimprov, otrimprov.com.

BEST DELIVERIES BY T WO MOTHERS Dos Madres Press has quietly amassed an astonishing catalog of quality books, many of them by Cincinnati literary luminaries such as Ralph LaCharity, Pauletta Hansel, Tyrone Williams and Norman Finkelstein. Founded in 2004 by Robert J. Murphy, with contributions by Vera Murphy and Libbie Hughes (its “two mothers”), the Loveland-based press specializes in books where “the art of the written word is in balance with the visual arts,” a responsibility expertly executed by artist Elizabeth Murphy. December 2016 saw the publication of Realms of the Mother: The First Decade of Dos Madres Press, an anthology edited by poet Richard Hague that features work by 68 poets throughout the United States and beyond. Dos Madres Press, dosmadres.com.

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BEST MIX TURE OF POETRY AND INDUSTRIAL SAFET Y First published in 1994 by Cincinnati transplants Matt Hart and Eric Appleby in an attempt to capture some of the poetry being spilled inside Kaldi’s Coffeehouse, Forklift, Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking, & Light Industrial Safety has come a long way from its modest newsprint beginnings. Utilizing the same adventurous spirit that earmarks his own work, editor-in-chief Hart concocts a stew that seamlessly pairs new blood with established writers, while designer/publisher Appleby delivers a product that improbably conveys both a sense of gravitas and a sense of humor. Inside and out, each issue seems to outdo the last. Whether actual crushed brick adorns its cover or it’s sealed in an evidence bag, you may not know how to open it, but open it you must. forkliftohio.com.



Detecting a lack of improvisational comedy downtown, OTRimprov was formed in 2010 by a group of like-minded individuals with hopes of highlighting and further developing Cincinnati’s scene. Currently co-directed by Kat Smith and Dave Powell, it’s proved a success with shows at Below Zero each Saturday, monthly Improv Jams, where improvisers of all experience levels are invited to participate and, perhaps most impressively, the annual IF Festival, an ever-expanding improv fest featuring both local and national acts held at Know

Let’s face it — Cincinnati has really struggled with film festivals. But in 2016, there was at least one notable success. The Cincinnati Art Museum presented the traveling Internet Cat Video Festival, which offered some 100 videos that were — dare we say it — curated by people who actually feel watching cat videos is a higher calling. (Actually, the super-sophisticated Walker Art Center in Minneapolis organized the event.) With one outdoor and one indoor screening in June, both popular with hipsters and their

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#1 Museum: Cincinnati Museum Center #1 Building: Union Terminal #2 Museum Exhibit: Vikings: Beyond the Legend #2 Public Artwork: Mosaic Murals at Union Terminal #3 Kid Friendly Attraction: Duke Energy Children’s Museum photo by Maria Dehne

#3 Playground: Duke Energy Children’s Museum

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B est A rt o n W h eels POPP=D ART gallery borrowed the food truck concept and hit the road last summer and fall to bring art to overlooked neighborhoods. People’s Liberty grantees Janet Creekmore, Melissa “Mellkat” Mitchell and Ben Jason Neal renovated a cozy 1963 Rainbow camper and filled it from floor to ceiling with locally made pieces measuring no more than a square foot. Prices were small, too, at $100 or less, making POPP=D ART the best deal on wheels since some genius thought up Taco Tuesdays. The three partners say to look for more “art that moves” in 2017, especially as they team exclusively with the Contemporary Arts Center this fall to continue to engage communities. Until then, find the camper at the Cincinnati Art Museum, Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum and other artsy spots. POPP=D ART gallery, poppedart.gallery.

kids alike, this could become an annual event. Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams, 513-721-2787, cincinnatiartmuseum.org.

B e s t Way t o R e l i v e a Childhood Love for Books When Julia Mace — a longtime Cincinnati writer and mother to young twins, Calvin and Max — found herself craving an art project, she bought her 20-montholds some crayons and paper and then watched as they ate the crayons. Soon after, though, she saw them become enamored with children’s books, and was thus reminded of her own love for them. In 2015, she founded her art project I Love Kids Books, a blog ostensibly about “random thoughts connected to children’s books and my kids,” yet behind each informal book review, reading suggestion, childhood anecdote and childhood travail — often shot through the lenses of Calvin and Max — lies something more profound: a renewed appreciation for many of the things we inexplicably leave behind as adults. I Love Kids Books, ilovekidsbooks.com.

B e s t F r e e Th e at e r Opp o r t u n i t y The Know Theatre has established itself as the Queen City’s “theatrical playground,” and The Welcome Experiment on Wednesdays invites everyone to play — for free. That’s right. Guests can watch the current Know mainstage show at no cost. (For each show, 50 free tickets are available and 50 tickets for just $5 are also available.) In an effort to make live theater accessible to everyone, inspired by a similar program in Minneapolis, the Know began The Welcome Experiment in 2014, and it’s quickly caught on as the best way for students, newbies and those on tight budgets to experience the magic of live theater. The Know Theatre, 1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-3005669, knowtheatre.com.

Best Use of a Living Room for Intellectual Refinement Ever wonder what it would have been like to experience Felix Mendelssohn performing in someone’s living room? In the 2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  35

19th century, you could have. Salon 21 endeavors to update the salon, a gathering of people interested in refinement and knowledge, most commonly associated with the French literary and intellectual gatherings of the 17th and 18th centuries. Billed as a “series of intimate piano concerts in unexpected places,” Salon 21 breaks down the barriers between artiste and audience: Here you will find no stages; only wine, food and friends. And, oh yeah, maybe the sounds of world-class pianists, members of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and mezzo-sopranos singing the words of Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal as interpreted by composer Léo Ferré. In short, a Classical revolution. Salon 21, salon21.org.

B e s t B r av e N e w Op e r a Fellow Travelers wasn’t only an opera with legs — it had balls. Cincinnati Opera took a risk staging the world premiere based on Thomas Mallon’s novel of a doomed gay love affair during the 1950s Lavender Scare, and rumors flew about offended patrons withdrawing support. But the opera played to full houses and the international press coverage praised the story, the performers and the production. Gregory Spears’ score skillfully

conveyed unfulfilled longing and more prosaic emotions, and the youthful cast headed by Aaron Blake and University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music alum Joseph Lattanzi delivered compelling performances, thanks to the longoverdue debut of conductor Mark Gibson. Cincinnati Opera, cincinnatiopera.org.

B e s t C o n t e mp o r a r y C h u r ch S t e e p l e s When Crossroads church started its restoration of the fire-damaged and vacant 1873 Old St. George Catholic Church in Clifton Heights near the University of Cincinnati, it knew it needed to somehow replace the two 169-foot-tall steeples that were destroyed in a 2008 blaze. After all, they were landmarks. But how to do it without reverting to Disneylandish imitation of architecture past? The answer was to be true to our times while respecting the past. That was done by building new steeples of the same height and scale as the originals, but made of modern perforated steel panels with a powder-coated paint finish to match the patina of the copper detailing on the church masonry just below. The steeples are internally illuminated with dimmable LED fixtures programmed to light up at

dark. The resulting steeples are satisfying for all people, making the church a truly illuminating place — whether you go inside or want to just watch from a distance in the dark. Crossroads Uptown, 42 Calhoun St., Clifton Heights, 513-7317400, crossroads.net/uptown.

B e s t R e di s c o v e r e d Old Master Charles-François Daubigny, the 19thcentury French landscape painter, isn’t unknown in today’s art world, but neither is he considered a crucial link in the march toward Modernism. For that matter, few would call him “crucial,” period. But in the Taft Museum of Art’s exhibit Daubigny, Monet, Van Gogh: Impressions of Landscape, curator Lynne Ambrosini made a compelling case that Daubigny’s later, freer work influenced some of the great Impressionists and PostImpressionists, and she presented their work with his to prove the point. Taft Museum of Art, 316 Pike St., Downtown, 513-241-0343, taftmuseum.org.

B e s t Sh o w ca s e f o r R o c k Concert Posters The book Show Posters: The Art and Practice of Making Gig Posters was

released in April, offering a great overview of the printing and design effort that goes into making compelling graphics for concert poster art. Written and compiled by Pat Jones and Ben Nunery, the founders of nationally renowned Northern Kentuckybased concert poster shop Powerhouse Factories, it is more than just an interesting read about the processes (and history) behind such artwork. The hardcover book is also visually captivating, showcasing contemporary posters from some of today’s best print shops and designers. Powerhouse’s own work is well represented, as are many posters from shows that took place in our area (including ones for gigs by Cincinnati-affiliated bands like The Greenhornes, The Harlequins and Walk the Moon). Powerhouse Factories, 33 E. Ninth St., Newport, Ky., powerhousefactories.com.

B e s t S o n ic B o o m H e a r d a r o u n d Ci n ci n n at i ’ s C l a s s ica l M u s ic Sc e n e There was a lot of anxiety about how the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra would sound in the Taft Theatre, its temporary home while Music Hall undergoes renovation. The opening notes of the CSO’s season opener with Emanuel Ax dispelled

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any doubts, and it’s been uphill all the way. Thanks to the geniuses at Akustiks, an internationally recognized sound design company, the great CSO performed with the clarity, textures and expression that were all but inaudible in Music Hall. And the even better news is that Akustiks is overseeing Music Hall’s sonic refurbishment. The CSO is scheduled to return to play there for its 2017-18 season and beyond. Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, cincinnatisymphony.org.

B e s t T r i b u t e t o a D e a r ly D e pa r t e d A r ch i t e c t While the Contemporary Arts Center’s exhibit of sculpture by South Koreaborn artist Do Ho Suh was planned and installed before the unexpected death in March of the building’s radical architect, Zaha Hadid, the show, Passage, honored her building in a transcendent way. Two of Suh’s major sculptural installations were soft structures, made of gossamer-like fabric, that you could walk through and felt like they extended into and through Hadid’s building itself. The experience created the illusion of an endless — and endlessly beautiful — interior space, something more profound than mere ceilings and walls. Contemporary Arts Center,

44 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-345-8400, contemporaryartscenter.org.

B e s t M o v i e Sc r e e n i n g f o r A d u lt s Wh o L i k e t h e Th e at e r t o B e R e a l ly, R e a l ly Da r k For British artist Britt Hatzius’ Blind Cinema project, which the Contemporary Arts Center brought to The Carnegie’s auditorium in early fall, the adult audience sat blindfolded while children sitting behind them whispered descriptions of what was occurring on screen. (The movie had no dialogue.) Upending the typical parent-child relationship, Blind Cinema showed how all people need each other to get by regardless of their station in life. Contemporary Arts Center, 44 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-345-8400, contemporaryartscenter.org.

B e s t A r t i s t S tat e m e n t of the Year For their contribution to Aural Latrinalia: The Bathroom Show, the exhibition of sound art installed in six public restrooms around town, the duo Intermedio — Sam Ferris and Justin West — had this to say about their piece “Outdoor Inhouse” at the Weston Art Gallery: ‘‘ ‘Outdoor Inhouse’

engages the controlled, plastic quality of contemporary elimination and its isolation from natural environments while referencing a recently abandoned architectural staple of daily life prior to indoor plumbing.” Basically, a box housed inside a bathroom stall in the Weston Art Gallery featured a motion-activated field recording of nature sounds, captured inside an old rural outhouse, timed to coordinate with the time of day one entered the installation to answer their own call of nature. Weston Art Gallery, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-621-2787, intermedio.io.

B e s t P h o t o g r aph Di s p l ay e d D u r i n g t h e 2 016 FotoFocus Biennial Frank Gohlke’s 1974 black-and-white “Grain Elevators, Cyclone, Minneapolis,” with its fascinating robot-like piece of industrial equipment on the ground outside some rather dreary buildings, became the symbol for the Weston Art Gallery show After Industry, which itself came to remind us of an America — a world — that is past forever, despite the politicians (and presidents) who claim they can revive it. Weston Art Gallery, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-977-4165, cincinnatiarts.org.

B e s t A r t Sh o w H o n o r i n g a G r e at C a ly p s o S i n g e r At Clay Street Press, artists Carmel Buckley and Mark Harris worked together to honor Trinidad’s legendary Mighty Sparrow by recreating the fronts and backs of his many recordings on 228 album-size ceramic tiles, crafting a lively and colorful memorial to the still-alive world ambassador of Calypso, whose first album was issued in 1958. The show, Sparrow Come Back Home (named after a 1962 album), traveled from Cincinnati to the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. Clay Street Press, 1312 Clay St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-241-3232, patsfallgraphics.com.

B e s t C o mm u n i t y Th e at e r Im i tat i n g B r o a d way The idea of seeing the landmark hippie-era Rock musical Hair at a tiny community theater in Newport is uninspiring. But after the last actor took his bow and three hours had flown by at a performance CityBeat witnessed, we walked away asking when the next Footlighters, Inc. show was coming to the Stained Glass Theater. The venue is nestled inside a historic church, with actors as passionate as if they were on Broadway. The sheer joy that



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each performer displayed during the musical renewed faith in community theater as a powerful artistic institution. Stained Glass Theater, 802 York St., Newport, Ky., 859-291-7464, footlighters.org.

Best Museum - Qualit y Art E x h i b i t at a G a l l e r y Galleries in New York have lately been organizing the kind of retrospectives traditionally the provenance of museums, and it’s good to see that trend catch on here with nonprofit The Carnegie’s staging of E is for Edie: An Edith McKee Harper Retrospective. Although a prolific artist in a variety of mediums, her reputation was somewhat obscured by that of her artist husband Charley Harper. No more — amassing hundreds of works from throughout her long career, E is for Edie showed how she took such influences as Surrealism, Abstraction and Modernist design and crafted work consistently colorful and wonderful. The Carnegie, 1028 Scott Blvd., Covington Ky., 859-491-2030, thecarnegie.com.

B e s t R e di s c o v e r e d C i n ci n n at i A r t i s t — If O n ly W e K n e w Wh o o r Wh e r e H e o r Sh e I s For its exhibit Thunder-Snow: Artists Remember the Blizzard of 1978, the gallery Thunder-Sky, Inc. mostly solicited new or recent work from artists known to its managers, Bill Ross and Keith Banner. But one of those artists, Robert McFate, submitted a mysterious, folk art-ish landscape of blizzard-stricken downtown and the Ohio River that he had purchased at an earlier Thunder-Sky show of artworks rescued from Goodwill. The painting, credited to one L.A. Reinhardt, fascinated with its credible perspective and rendering of the urban skyline at odds with a tugboat plowing through the frozen river that looked like a small toy on a table. CityBeat put it on its cover; The Enquirer also prominently displayed it. L.A. Reinhardt, wherever you are, you’re now a Cincinnati art star! Thunder-Sky, Inc., 4573 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513426-0477, raymondthundersky.org.

Best Museum Tour f o r Fam i l i e s On the third Friday of each month, the Cincinnati Art Museum sponsors its popular Baby Tour. Adults can let their infants and toddlers get up close and personal (as long as they don’t touch the art) with masterpieces by Joan Miró, Mark Rothko and Andy Warhol along with antiquities and objects from such collections as African, Asian, Decorative Arts and more. This isn’t just a babysitting service — tour guides explain how 3 8  CI T Y B E AT.C O M

certain works can appeal to judgmentfree children, and in so doing help their parents appreciate art, too. It’s become such a popular event that reservations are required. Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams, 513721-2787, cincinnatiartmuseum.org.

B e s t A r t Sh o w U s i n g L igh t a s a M at e r i a l Into the Ether, an exhibit organized by the Dayton Art Institute, gave visitors a chance to see some visually stimulating and thought-provoking work involving artificial light as a substantial if ephemeral element in the work. It offered work by such top names in the field as James Turrell, Robert Irwin and Erwin Redl. In its review of the show, CityBeat said it could just as well be called Into the Mystic for the intense emotional and spiritual qualities of its best work. Dayton Art Institute, 456 Belmonte Park N., Dayton, 937-223-5277, daytonartinstitute.org.

B e s t R e a s o n T o G e t Yo u r M i n d I n Th e G u t t e r Ever wondered what’s lurking beneath your feet within the city’s massive, twisting sewer system? Know Theatre founder Jay Kalagayan did, and he’s giving Cincinnatians a peek underground into a gooey, alien world. MeSseD, a new comic book series written by Kalagayan and illustrated by local artist and musician Dylan Speeg, descends into the Metropolitan Sewer District, following a filter worker named Lilliput as she braves all manner of creatures and clogs in the depths of the tunnels. From a humansized cockroach to monstrous alligatorcrocodile mash-ups, readers get a glimpse into a surprising ecological area created by the waste that flows through the sewers. MeSseD, messedcomics.com.

Best Harmonies Lovers of A Cappella music in 2016 were well served locally by singers who don’t need anything but great voices to entertain. The holiday season afforded two opportunities to hear polished performances by male singers and beat-boxers. The Cincinnati-based “vocal band” No Promises conducted its Christmas tour of six cities in western Ohio, including its second-annual holiday performance at the New Thought Unity Center in East Walnut Hills. Two days later, Straight No Chaser brought its “I’ll Have Another … 20th Anniversary Tour” to downtown’s Aronoff Center. That group, launched at Indiana University in 1996, has built a national following with great performances and a genuine sense of humor. No Promises, nopromisesvocalband.com; Straight No Chaser, sncmusic.com.

Photo: Lindsay McCarty

B est A m bassa d o r f o r P o etry There are many reasons why when choosing its first Poet Laureate, Cincinnati got it right in bestowing the honor to Pauletta Hansel. A lifelong devotee to poetry in both her teaching and her writing, she has taken an often-honorary position to new heights with a philosophy of inclusion and participation. Making good on her promise to offer writing experiences for both adults and youth to explore the nature of our city and its communities via her Cincinnati Walking Sonnet and Writing the Neighborhood projects, as well as making them easily enjoyed via her website, Hansel has also reminded us that poetry need not be merely a passive act; it can also be a means to unity. Pauletta Hansel, paulettahansel.wordpress.com.

B e s t Ava n t- G a r d e P e r f o r ma n c e How can anyone who attended possibly forget the Contemporary Arts Center’s presentation of Tanya Tagaq, the Canadian/Inuit throat singer whose wild, seemingly trance-induced singing style channels both her native traditions and also Yoko Ono in her prime? With her Jazz-oriented accompanists, she provided a riveting live soundtrack to the 1922 silent film Nanook of the North, which documented (with great liberties) the lives of the Inuits of northern Canada. It was postmodern deconstruction with a streak of reverence. Contemporary Arts Center, 44 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-345-8400, contemporaryartscenter.org.

Best Newcomer to t h e C l a s s ica l M u s ic C o mm u n i t y Cincinnati Song Initiative — devoted to performance of the “art song” — drew a sizeable crowd to its first concert at the Weston Art Gallery, Americana: A Cultural Tapestry, and has big plans for 2017. In so doing, it is extending the local offerings


available for Classical Music aficionados. An art song is poetry set to music by a composer. The performance consists of a vocalist and one musical collaborator, usually a pianist, in recital. The two navigate the layers of poetry and music, giving their own interpretations to both to give audiences a rich experience that is intimate and accessible. Cincinnati Song Initiative, cincinnatisonginitiative.org.

B e s t A l l - G r o w n - Up B i r t h d ay Pa r t y ArtWorks keeps artsy teens employed in the summertime creating cool murals all over town. In 2016, they added eyecatching walls celebrating boxer Ezzard Charles, astronaut Neil Armstrong, sharpshooter Annie Oakley and dynamic singer Rosemary Clooney, to name just a few. (There are currently more than 100 murals around the city.) The program marked its 21st anniversary and celebrated adulthood with a big, sprawling party on Nov. 18, 2016. It was called “21 Candles” and turned out hundreds of supporters for a good time in a hangar at Lunken Airport. It was a night of noisy


2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  39

Semester writing classes workshops specialty classes

Classes & Programs for Girls and Teens Register Now!

womenwriting.org 513-272-1171

Photo: Hailey Bollinger

“It was inspiring to be in a group with such diverse writing, topics, and voices.”

B est R eprese n tat i o n al - R eal i st i c Pa i n ter W o r k i n g t h e S treets This is a little bit of a tricky category because there isn’t really a real-life Mr. Potato Head, so you can’t call a painter’s depiction of him “realistic.” But all you need to have done is watch Jared Queen painstakingly, meticulously and lovingly paint his colorfully detailed renderings of Kenner Products-related toys for a new downtown ArtWorks mural to realize that this is what Johannes Vermeer might be doing were he with us today. If he liked toys. Queen’s “Cincinnati Toy Heritage” mural features beloved nostalgic characters, including Care Bears, C3PO, Strawberry Shortcake, an Easy Bake Oven and Sit N’ Spin. Mural located at 23 W. Court St., Downtown, 513-333-0388 artworkscincinnati.org.

festivities with 21 performers dressed up as candles — including flame-shaped wigs. ArtWorks, 20 E. Central Parkway, Over-the-Rhine, 513-333-0388, artworkscincinnati.org.

B e s t C ha n c e f o r a M o v i e F i l m e d i n Ci n ci n n at i i n 2 016 t o B e G o o d Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos and Colin Farrell, the director and star of the dark, edgy, dystopian comedy (and surprise hit) The Lobster, were in Cincinnati to film the follow-up, the promisingly titled The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Farrell told IndieWire that it makes The Lobster “seem like a kids’ movie” and also called the film “bleak.” Sounds like a cinephile’s delight to us!

B e s t S o u r c e o f N e w Op e r a For the past six years, Opera Fusion: New Works — a collaboration between the University of Cincinnati’s CollegeConservatory of Music and Cincinnati Opera, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation — has been a launching 4 0  CI T Y B E AT.C O M

pad for new operas through intensive 10-day residencies. Six operas have gone on to world premieres, including last summer’s acclaimed Fellow Travelers. Last November, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage and composer Ricky Ian Gordon worked on an operatic version of her play Intimate Apparel. Cincinnati Opera, cincinnatiopera.org.

B e s t A r ch i t e c t u r a l R e c r e at io n o f N o ah ’ s A r k Since — despite what Ken Ham says — nobody knows what Noah’s Ark really looked like or even if it actually existed, forget that humongous “lifesized” behemoth of a recreation at Northern Kentucky’s Ark Encounter and go for something more human-scale and charming. Like the small ark with cartoon-like animal figures parked outside the All Creatures Animal Hospital in Mount Washington. Life-sized? Who knows? But definitely friendly and cute — it’s an ark animals would like. All Creatures Animal Hospital, 5195 Beechmont Ave., Mount Washington, 513231-2345, all-creatures.com.

RE A DER P ICKS O v e r a l l R e s ta u r a n t 1. Sotto 2. Dewey’s Pizza 3. Jeff Ruby’s The Precinct 4. The Eagle 5. Boca 6. Incline Public House 7. Taste of Belgium 8. Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse 9. Mazunte 10. Orchids at Palm Court O v e r a l l R e s ta u r a n t ( No r t h e r n K e n t u c k y ) 1. Pompilios 2. Greyhound Tavern 3. Otto’s 4. Walt’s Hitching Post 5. Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar 6. Anchor Grill 7. Kung Food Chu’s AmerAsia 8. Frida 602 9. Commonwealth Bistro 10. York St. Café

N e ig h b o r h oo d R e s ta u r a n t ( Do w n t o w n/O TR )

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1. Arnold’s Bar and Grill 2. The Eagle 3. Bakersfield

1. Pompilios 2. Greyhound Tavern 3. Hofbräuhaus

N e ig h b o r h oo d R e s ta u r a n t (C e n t r a l )

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1. Melt 2. Taste of Belgium 3. Camp Washington Chili N e ig h b o r h oo d R e s ta u r a n t ( E a s t S i d e )

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1. Eli’s BBQ 2. Zip’s Café 3. Mazunte

1. Bakersfield 2. A Tavola 3. Moerlein Lager House

N e ig h b o r h oo d R e s ta u r a n t ( W e s t S i d e )


1. Incline Public House 2. Price Hill Chili 3. Primavista

1. Bruegger’s Bagels 2. Marx Hot Bagels 3. Panera Bread

B a k e r y ( B r e a d s) 1. Blue Oven Bakery 2. Servatii Pastry Shop & Deli 3. Sixteen Bricks B a k e r y (S w e e t s) 1. The BonBonerie 2. Servatii Pastry Shop & Deli 3. Holtman’s Donuts N e ig h b o r h oo d B a k e r y ( Do w n t o w n/O TR ) 1. Holtman’s Donuts 2. Blue Oven Bakery 3. Servatii Pastry Shop & Deli N e ig h b o r h oo d B a k e r y (C e n t r a l ) 1. North College Hill Bakery 2. 16 Bricks 3. Bonomini Bakery

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N e ig h b o r h oo d B a k e r y (E as t Side)

B e e r S e l e c t io n ( R e s ta u r a n t )

1. The BonBonerie 2. Servatti Pastry Shop & Deli 3. Busken Bakery

1. Yard House 2. Taft’s Ale House 3. Moerlein Lager House

N e ig h b o r h oo d B a k e r y ( W es t Side)

B r e a k fa s t

1. Servatii Pastry Shop & Deli 2. Bizy Bee Bakery 3. St. Lawrence Bakery N e ig h b o r h oo d B a k e r y ( No r t h e r n K e n t u c k y ) 1. Servatii Pastry Shop & Deli 2. Busken Bakery 3. Emerson’s Bakery N e ig h b o r h oo d B a k e r y ( No r t h e r n ‘ B u r b s) 1. Holtman’s Donuts (Loveland) 2. Servatii Pastry Shop & Deli 3. Bluebird Bakery & Café Barbeque 1. Eli’s BBQ 2. Montgomery Inn 3. City Barbeque

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1. First Watch 2. Sleepy Bee Café 3. Taste of Belgium S u n d ay B r u n c h 1. First Watch 2. Taste of Belgium 3. Sleepy Bee Café Burgers 1. Terry’s Turf Club 2. Zip’s Café 3. Flipdaddy’s Burgers & Beers 4. Arthur’s 5. Five Guys Burgers & Fries 6. Quatman Café 7. Krueger’s Tavern 8. Nation Kitchen and Bar 9. Gordo’s Pub & Grill 10. Tickle Pickle

N e ig h b o r h oo d B u r g e r Spo t ( No r t h e r n K e n t u c k y ) 1. Flipdaddy’s Burgers & Beers 2. Mad Mike’s Burgers & Fries 3. Zola Pub and Grill N e ig h b o r h oo d B u r g e r Spo t ( Do w n t o w n/O TR ) 1. Arnold’s Bar and Grill 2. Krueger’s Tavern 3. Nation Kitchen & Bar N e ig h b o r h oo d B u r g e r Spo t (C e n t r a l ) 1. Quatman Café 2. Gordo’s Pub & Grill 3. Tickle Pickle N e ig h b o r h oo d B u r g e r Spo t ( E a s t S i d e ) 1. Zip’s Café 2. Terry’s Turf Club 3. Arthur’s

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C a j u n/ So u l Foo d

C h ic k e n

Co f f e e h o u s e ( N at io n a l )

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C h e e s e S h op

C h i l i (C h a i n )

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1. Coffee Emporium 2. College Hill Coffee Co. 3. Lookout Joe

C h i l i ( No n - C h a i n )

N e ig h b o r h oo d Co f f e e S h op ( Do w n t o w n/O TR )

C h e e s e s t e a k 1. Penn Station 2. Melt 3. Blue Ash Chili C h e f ( w/ R e s ta r a n t a f f i l i at io n ) 1. Jean-Robert de Cavel (Table, L, French Crust Café) 2. Chas Barracato (Bakersfield, The Eagle, Krueger’s Tavern) 3. Jose Salazar (Salazar, Mita’s)

1. Camp Washington Chili 2. Blue Ash Chili 3. Price Hill Chili Chinese 1. Kung Food Chu’s AmerAsia 2. P.F. Chang’s 3. Oriental Wok C h o c o l at e s 1. Aglamesis Bro.’s 2. Graeter’s 3. Esther Price

1. Coffee Emporium 2. 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab 3. Collective Espresso N e ig h b o r h oo d Co f f e e S h op (C e n t r a l ) 1. College Hill Coffee Company 2. Collective Espresso 3. Sidewinder N e ig h b o r h oo d Co f f e e S h op ( E a s t S i d e )

N e ig h b o r h oo d Co f f e e S h op ( W e s t S i d e ) 1. BLOC Coffee Company 2. The Coffee Peddler 3. Java and Gelato N e ig h b o r h oo d Co f f e e S h op ( No r t h e r n K e n t u c k y ) 1. Carabello Coffee 2. Reality Tuesday 3. Left Bank Coffeehouse N e ig h b o r h oo d Co f f e e S h op ( No r t h e r n ‘ B u r b s) 1. Kidd Coffee & Wine Bar 2. The Daily Grind 3. CAVU Coffee T e a S e l e c t io n 1. Churchill’s Fine Teas 2. Coffee Emporium 3. Awakenings Coffee & Wine

1. Coffee Emporium 2. Deeper Roots Coffee 3. Lookout Joe

• Best OVERALL Bakery (Sweets) • Best Neighborhood Bakery (Eastside) • Best Wedding Cakes • Best Desserts (Retail) - 2nd • Best Cupcakes - 3rd • Best Macarons - 3rd

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Cook i n g C l a s s e s

D e s s e r t s ( R e ta i l )

Foo d D e l i v e r y S e r v ic e

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1. UberEATS 2. Green BEAN Delivery 3. OrderUp

Do n u t s

Foo d F e s t i va l o r E v e n t

C r e a m y W h i p/ So f t S e r v e

1. Holtman’s Donuts 2. Busken Bakery 3. Dunkin Donuts

1. Taste of Cincinnati 2. Oktoberfest 3. Cincinnati Food Truck Association Food Festival

New Restaurant (Since March 2016) 1. Maplewood Kitchen and Bar 2. Tickle Pickle 3. Coppin’s at Hotel Covington 4. Pizzeria Locale 5. Commonwealth Bistro 6. French Crust Café 7. Please 8. 27 Bar+Kitchen 9. Frenchie Fresh 10. Restaurant L

Photo: Jesse Fox

1. Putz’s Creamy Whip 2. Dairy Queen 3. The Cone Cupcakes 1. Abby Girl Sweets Cupcakery 2. Gigi’s Cupcakes 3. The BonBonerie D e l ic at e s s e n 1. Izzy’s 2. Avril-Bleh & Sons 3. Carl’s Deli D e s s e r t s ( R e s ta u r a n t ) 1. The Cheesecake Factory 2. Grand Finale 3. Taste of Belgium

Fa r m e r s M a r k e t 1. Findlay Market 2. Hyde Park Farmers Market 3. Northside Farmers Market Fa r m e r s M a r k e t Foo d S ta l l

French Fries 1. Five Guys Burgers and Fries 2. Penn Station 3. Senate

Lo c a l Fa r m

F r oz e n Yo g u r t

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(513) 421-5111

1324 Vine Street, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45202 4 6  CI T Y B E AT.C O M

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Tastes as good as it looks.


Foo d T r u c k

G e l at o/ So r b e t t o/ F r oz e n Ic e 1. Dojo Gelato 2. Graeter’s 3. Aglamesis Bro.’s German 1. Hofbräuhaus 2. Mecklenburg Gardens 3. Wunderbar G l u t e n - F r e e S e l e c t io n s 1. Sleepy Bee Café 2. Green Dog Café 3. Melt Eclectic Café Go e t ta 1. Glier’s Goetta 2. Eckerlin Meats 3. Bill Finke and Sons G u a c a mo l e 1. Bakersfield 2. Chipotle Mexican Grill 3. Nada

Ho t Do g / S a u s a g e

Ko r e a n

M e n u ( M o s t I n n o vat i v e )

1. Senate 2. Eli’s BBQ 3. Root Beer Stand

1. Riverside Korean 2. Red Sesame 3. Sung Korean Bistro

1. Tom+Chee 2. Boca 3. Melt

Ic e C r e a m

L at e - N ig h t E at e r y

M e x ic a n

1. Graeter’s 2. Aglamesis Bro.’s 3. United Dairy Farmers

1. Gomez Salsa 2. Skyline Chili 3. Goodfellas Pizzeria

1. Mazunte 2. Bakersfield 3. Cancun Mexican Restaurant

I n di a n

L i v e M u s ic W h i l e Yo u E at

O u t d oo r / Pat io Di n i n g

1. Ambar India Restaurant 2. Baba India Restaurant 3. Dusmesh Indian Restaurant I ta l i a n 1. Sotto 2. Pompilios 3. Maggiano’s Little Italy J a pa n e s e 1. Kaze 2. Fuji Steak House 3. Ichiban

1. Arnold’s Bar and Grill 2. MOTR Pub 3. The Comet Macaron 1. Macaron Bar 2. French Crust Café 3. The BonBonerie M e di t e r r a n e a n/G r e e k 1. Aladdin’s Eatery 2. Andy’s Mediterranean Grill 3. Sebastian’s Gyros

1. Incline Public House 2. Eli’s BBQ 3. Arnold’s Bar and Grill P i z z a ( No n - C h a i n ) 1. Goodfellas Pizzeria 2. A Tavola 3. Adriatico’s Pizza 4. Fireside Pizza 5. Catch-a-Fire Pizza 6. Strong’s Brick Oven Pizzeria 7. Mac’s Pizza Pub 8. Krimmer’s Italianette Pizza 9. Newport Pizza Company 10. Trotta’s


2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  47

P i z z a (C h a i n ) 1. Dewey’s Pizza 2. LaRosa’s Family Pizzeria 3. Jet’s Pizza N e ig h b o r h oo d P i z z a Joi n t ( Do w n t o w n/O TR ) 1. Goodfellas Pizzeria 2. A Tavola 3. Lucy Blue N e ig h b o r h oo d P i z z a Joi n t (C e n t r a l ) 1. Dewey’s Pizza 2. Adriatico’s 3. Fireside Pizza N e ig h b o r h oo d P i z z a Joi n t ( E a s t S i d e )

N e ig h b o r h oo d P i z z a Joi n t ( No r t h e r n K e n t u c k y ) 1. Goodfellas Pizzeria 2. Dewey’s Pizza 3. Strong’s Brick Oven Pizzeria N e ig h b o r h oo d P i z z a Joi n t ( No r t h e r n ‘ B u r b s) 1. Dewey’s Pizza 2. Mellow Mushroom 3. LaRosa’s Family Pizzeria P u b Foo d 1. Incline Public House 2. Zip’s Café 3. Keystone Bar & Grill

R e s ta u r a n t f o r F i n e Di n i n g

R e s ta u r a n t t o Ta k e the Kids

1. Jeff Ruby’s The Precinct 2. Boca 3. Orchids at Palm Court

1. Dewey’s Pizza 2. Chick-fil-A 3. Tom+Chee

R e s ta u r a n t f o r L a r g e Pa r t i e s

R e s ta u r a n t t o Ta k e Visitors

1. Buca di Beppo 2. Montgomery Inn 3. Taft’s Ale House

1. Incline Public House 2. Montgomery Inn Boathouse 3. Eli’s BBQ

R e s ta u r a n t f o r t h e B e s t B a n g Fo r Yo u r B u c k

Rom a n t ic R e s ta u r a n t

1. Eli’s BBQ 2. Skyline Chili 3. Blue Ash Chili

R aw B a r

R e s ta u r a n t f o r Yo u r F i r s t D at e

1. Dewey’s Pizza 2. A Tavola (Maderia) 3. LaRosa’s Family Pizzeria

1. The Anchor-OTR 2. Kaze 3. Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse

1. Incline Public House 2. Sotto 3. Bakersfield

N e ig h b o r h oo d P i z z a Joi n t ( W e s t S i d e )

R e s ta u r a n t D e s ig n

R e s ta u r a n t t o Ta k e a Foo di e

1. Dewey’s Pizza 2. LaRosa’s Family Pizzeria 3. Trotta’s Pizza & Drive Thru

1. Taft’s Ale House 2. Sotto 3. Jeff Ruby’s The Precinct

1. Eli’s BBQ 2. Sotto 3. Jean-Robert’s Table

1. Sotto 2. Primavista 3. Orchids at Palm Court Sal ads 1. Dewey’s Pizza 2. Olive Garden 3. Maplewood Kitchen and Bar S e a f oo d 1. The Anchor-OTR 2. Mitchell’s Fish Market 3. Bonefish

Thank You, Cincinnati Rookwood | Crestview Hills 4 8  CI T Y B E AT.C O M

625 Walnut, Downtown

Smoo t h i e /J u ic e B a r



V i e w F r om Yo u r Ta b l e

1. Smoothie King 2. Rooted Juicery + Kitchen 3. Off the Vine

1. Cloud 9 Sushi 2. Kaze 3. Ichiban 4. Fusian 5. Green Papaya 6. Mr. Sushi 7. Wabi Sabi 8. Wild Ginger 9. E+O Kitchen 10. Izen’s Drunken Bento

1. Green Papaya 2. Thai Express 3. Lemon Grass

1. Incline Public House 2. Primavista 3. Moerlein Lager House

Under the R adar R e s ta u r a n t

Wa i t s ta f f/ S e r v ic e

So u p 1. Pho Lang Thang 2. Tom+Chee 3. Zoup! Sp e ci a lt y Foo d M a r k e t 1. Findlay Market 2. Jungle Jim’s International Market 3. Fresh Thyme S te akhouse 1. Jeff Ruby’s The Precinct 2. Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse 3. Jeff Ruby’s Carlo & Johnny S u b s/ S a n d w ic h e s 1. Penn Station 2. Jersey Mike’s 3. Izzy’s

1. Incline Public House 2. Mazunte 3. Tickle Pickle

Ta c o s

V e g e ta r i a n/ V e g a n S e l e c t io n

1. Bakersfield 2. Mazunte 3. Gomez Salsa

1. Melt 2. Green Dog Café 3. Sleepy Bee Café

Ta k e o u t

Veggie Burger

1. Eli’s BBQ 2. Gomez Salsa 3. Chipotle Mexican Grill

1. Krueger’s Tavern 2. Tickle Pickle 3. Green Dog Café

Ta pa s

Vie tnamese

1. Nada 2. Abigail Street 3. Mita’s

1. Pho Lang Thang 2. Cilantro 3. Quan Hapa

1. Jeff Ruby’s The Precinct 2. Sotto 3. Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse Wat e r f r o n t Di n i n g 1. Montgomery Inn Boathouse 2. Moerlein Lager House 3. Buckhead Mountain Grill W i n e S e l e c t io n 1. Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant 2. 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab 3. 20 Brix Wings 1. Knockback Nat’s 2. Buffalo Wild Wings 3. Buffalo Wings & Rings

BEsT SEAF Fo OD Thank you from the bottom of the sea!

2014 2015 2016 2017

theanchor –otr.com

photos by Gina Weathersby

2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  49

B est N o na - A p p r o v e d S an d w i c h es If you’re looking for a relatively simple menu with locally sourced ingredients and a die-hard dedication to authentic charcuterie, look no further than Panino, OTR’s former food truck turned artisan panini shop. Nino Loreto and Joe Helm are the owners of the fast-casual sandwich and cured-meat restaurant located on Vine Street. Firm believers in the farm-to-table philosophy, the duo sources almost everything from the surrounding area: Tristateraised livestock, veggies grown in a garden down the street and a wine list featuring only OTR’s Skeleton Root wines (the wines also make an appearance in dishes like fennel pollen salami). Farmers deliver entire carcasses to Panino, where upon arrival the meat is butchered, cured and aged in the restaurant’s own aging room to be transformed into elegant prosciutto, sausage, soppressata and other meats. With an Italian lean — the word “panino” is basically Italian for sandwich — and a con la famiglia mission, the menu also features family recipes like Mama’s Grassfed Beefballs, made by Loreto’s mom Patty, desserts made by Loreto’s sister and small entrées and decadent charcuterie trays to share during the tableside dinner service. Loreto still uses the same butcher block his grandfather did when he was a West Side butcher; the bar is made from an old Delhi bowling alley lane; and the deli case is a restored antique. If you seek realism in a time of falsehoods, you’ve found it. Panino, 1313-1315 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513381-0287, findpanino.com.

Best Baking Businesses I n s p i r e d B y M e n ta l H e a lt h A n d ‘ 2 B r ok e G i r l s ’

Photo: Hailey Bollinger


Baking in college helped James Avant IV manage his symptoms of ObsessiveCompulsive Disorder. Inspired by the cupcake Cinderella story in the comedy 2 Broke Girls, Avant took his helpful hobby and turned it into a successful business. OCD Cakes is a bakery with a mental health-awareness mission, based out of Findlay Kitchen, with cake flavors ranging from classic yellow and red velvet to matcha and orange cream. In 2016, Avant applied for the ArtWorks Big Pitch competition and won, using his $15,000 prize to open Bakeologie. Also located in the Findlay Kitchen, the newly opened Bakeologie offers community food-centric events including hands-on cooking classes with a focus on baking sweet and savory dishes to be enjoyed family-style. OCD Cakes and Bakeologie, Findlay Kitchen, 1719 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-3751838, ocdcak.es, bakeologie.co. 2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  51

Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Thank you CinCinnaTi for voting us 1st in Bakery (Central)!

B est H o m a g e T o A m e r i c an C h eese Most people don’t have pleasant associations with the phrase “American cheese.” However, The Rhined, opening soon in Over-the-Rhine, aims to change that. The artisanal cheese store focuses on carrying the very best domestic cheese the United States has to offer, as well as wine, beer, nuts, olives and jams to accompany the dairy of your dreams. You’ll find domestic artisan and farmhouse cheddar, Humboldt fog, Brie, blue and more from Austin, Ky.’s Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese, California’s Cypress Grove Creamery, Indianaoplis’ Tulip Tree Creamery and others — all hand-selected. If you can’t wait for the brick-and-mortar location to open, visit one of their many cheese tasting events held at venues like Rhinegeist or Findlay Market, visit their online shop or inquire about their next-day cheese delivery service. Or get hyped by following their Instagram @therhined. It showcases the cheese boards their team dreams up paired with accouterments from Holtman’s Donuts, Chocolats Latour, Made by Mavis jams and other local culinary stars. The Rhined, 1737 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, therhined.com.

B e s t M o s t- A n t ici pat e d e c l e c t ic E x pa n s io n

noRTh CoLLEGE hiLL BakERy 1807 West galBraith road

52  CI T Y B E AT.C O M



It’s hard to believe Melt Eclectic Café has been holding down its spot next to the Northside Tavern for more than a decade. What began as a uniquely vegan- and vegetarian-friendly café (for Cincinnati) in 2005 added sister locations over the years dedicated to healthy carry-out options, first as Picnic & Pantry in Northside and later as Bottle & Basket in Over-the-Rhine. Each has been marked with Melt’s trademark creativity, utilizing local breads, glutenfree options, any and all vegetarian fare — tempeh, tofu, housemade seitan — and even certified humane meats for the carnivores. After being acquired by Wellmann’s Brands, the café will soon move two blocks south into a 3,000-square-foot space inside the sprawling Gantry Building. And, of course, the expansion will come with a full-service bar offering the type of craft cocktails locals have come to expect from booze queen Molly Wellmann’s Wellmann’s

Brands establishments. Melt Eclectic Café, 1580 Blue Rock St., Northside, 513-6816358, meltcincy.com.

B e s t A c t u a l ly H i d d e n G e m Fo r Di n n e r , D r i n k s A n d Co v e r B a n d J a m s Some might argue that any good restaurant on the West Side is a hidden gem, but Sakura truly takes the cake. Located off I-74, this Japanese steakhouse is really hard to find from the street and must be accessed from Old Rybolt Road past the BP gas station or via Rybolt Road past the Holiday Inn, near the closed (we hope) Imperial House Hotel. The adventure continues inside, where patrons can choose from a seat at a Teppanyaki grill table or a spot at the sushi bar for classic rolls and rice dishes. If the music and lights emanating from the adjacent Hillside Gastropub tempt you, just head next door for drinks, jams and dad dancing. Sakura Steakhouse,



Patriarch of The Camp

Best Non-chain Chili


NER 20


Hopple and Colerain


Made fresh daily

closed sundays


OPEN 24/6

with all natural ingredients


Cincinnati for your vote! Eli’s BBQ #1 Barbeque #1 Takeout #1 Catering #1 Neighborhood Restaurant (East Side) #2 Hot Dog/Sausage #2 Outdoor/Patio Dining #3 Restaurant to Take Visitors Fireside Pizza #3 Neighborhood Pizza Joint (Central) #4 Overall Pizza (Non-Chain) Check out our partners:

Eli’s BBQ Riverside 3313 Riverside Dr. Cincinnati, OH 45226

Fireside Pizza 773 E. McMillan St. Cincinnati, OH 45206

Eli’s BBQ Findlay Market 133 W. Elder St. Cincinnati, OH 45202

513.751.3473 11am–11pm • 7 days a week

513.533.1957 11am–9pm • 7 days a week

You can also find us both online! elisbarbeque.com firesidepizzawalnuthills.com

Have Eli’s BBQ at your next event! We offer buffet-style catering, carryout, and on-site catering. Email catering@elisbarbeque.com

Photo: Brittany Thornton

B est k e g g e d c o f f ee Hyde Park’s third-wave coffee shop M5 Espresso eschews local roasters for specially sourced beans from Seattle, Brooklyn, South Carolina and even Berlin, Germany. The menu is simple: batch brew, manual brew, Aeropress and lattes, plus a variety of Spirit Teas. But they’re one of the only coffee shops in the country to offer complex and creamy kegged iced lattes in the warmer months — espresso and milk rested and chilled in a refrigerated keg overnight. Last year they served a “deconstructed latte,” an immersive experience for true connoisseurs featuring a coffee flight with a shot of milk, a shot of espresso and a full latte, for a tasting trio. The shop also sells an assortment of gourmet chocolate bars, which are sometimes melted into their drinks, and sweets from cult-fave area bakery Brown Bear. The airy, open space is perfect for plugging in a device and zoning out while drinking quality hand-crafted coffee. M5 Espresso, 2717 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, m5espresso.com.

5510 Rybolt Road, Dent, 513-574-9666, searchable on Facebook.

B e s t R e s ta u r a n t Fo r T h e Well-Heeled — And The Rest O f U s No w A n d T h e n Cincinnati’s newest addition to a rarefied level of restaurant — joining Orchids at Palm Court, Boca, Jeff Ruby’s and a couple of others — the Jean-Robert de Cavel/Richard Brown creation known as Restaurant L has its own upper-crust vibe. L is more intimate than Orchids, more contemporary than Ruby’s and, whenever you can swing it, a unique way to spend a pampered evening. The $89-per-person three-course dinner menu — or $125 Menu Gourmand — features a sophisticated seasonal selection blending French soul with contemporary flair (and optional wine pairings). Recently the dining room’s décor was completed with the addition of a spectacular centerpiece: a steel sculpture in the shape of a wintry tree by local

artist Christopher Daniel. Its branches can hold vases of flowers, glass or metal ornaments and a wide variety of other enhancements. Brown enjoys changing its look every couple of weeks, depending on the season. Don’t forget: There’s an à la carte bar menu if you’re not up for the prix fixe dining room extravagance. Restaurant L, 301 E. Fourth St., Suite 450, Downtown, 513-760-5525, lcincinnati.com.

Pork. Belly. Buns. WOW!

Best Artisan Bagels Before Julia Keister of Lil’s Bagels started baking and selling her “made with chutzpah” small-batch bagels at Covington’s farmers market (and Findlay Market, Hotel Covington, Covington Coffee Company, Trailhead Coffee, the Coffee Exchange, Bouquet…), Cincinnati experienced a dearth of these East Coast-style breakfast staples. Using a “sponge” starter (which makes the bagels satisfyingly NYC-chewy), Keister hand-rolls, boils and then bakes every bagel herself with interesting

(513) 898-7991 • kazeotr.com • 1400 Vine Street 2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  55

Coppin’s unique culinary position creates influences from Covington’s Northern and Southern neighbors highlighting on draft. Ideal for social gatherings and intimate experiences.


A LiL’ Bit of New orLeANs iN CiNCiNNAti!

Louisiana Crawfish Boils Every Thursday From 5 - 9pm with Live New Orleans Music

Happy Hour Every Tuesday-Friday from 3-6pm & Saturday-Sunday from 3-5pm Craft Draft Pours are Only $2.95! (Selections $7 & under)

2062 Riverside Dr. • Cincinnati, OH 45202 • (513) 861-2484


5 6  CI T Y B E AT.C O M

Photo: Hailey Bollinger

local craft beers, cider, wine and cocktails

B est Ta r ta r S a u c e A n d Ta l l Ta l es Since 1979, Elmer Ferguson, the owner of the Old Timber Inn in Northside, has injected the restaurant with an air of his snarky personality and sense of fun. Known colloquially as “the fish logs place” because the sign in front of the blue-gray building perpetually advertises fish logs, Elmer is proprietor, chef and on a firstname basis with both regulars and newbies alike. But what are fish logs? According to the menu, “The earliest settlers of the New World would often hear stories from the indigenous peoples making reference to strange creatures inhabiting the wilderness. One such account depicted a creature that resembled a large fishlike animal with an extended thorax covered with a type of ‘bark’ where one would typically find scales.” Elmer’s fish logs, however, feature a thick slice of savory cold-water Atlantic cod, fried to a perfect crisp and served with a sliced lemon and homemade tartar sauce. Add a stiff drink and craic from Elmer and you’re in for a memorable evening. Old Timber Inn, 4330 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, 513-681-8149.

flavors including za’atar, everything and fruit bagels. She makes her own spreads, too, like pimento cheese, muhammara and a beet-based garden variety called Judy Garden. Every month, MainStrasse’s Crafts & Vines hosts a Lil’s bagel bar in which people can make their own bagel sandwiches. Here’s hoping she opens a brick-and-mortar deli soon. Lil’s Bagels, lilsbagels.com.

B e s t R e a s o n To C a r b - Up I n B u t l e r Co u n t y

Chicago donut, an apple-filled donut rolled in cinnamon and sugar at Mimi’s Donuts & Bakery (2267 Millville Ave., Hamilton); and the Fruity Pebbles donut, a white-iced cake donut topped with the popular crunchy cereal at Oxford Doughnut Shoppe (120 S. Locust St., Oxford). With your completed (and sprinkle-speckled) passport in hand, swing by the Butler County Visitors Bureau to claim your official Donut Trail T-shirt. Butler County Visitors Bureau, 8756 Union Centre Blvd., West Chester, 888-462-2282, gettothebc.com/donut-trail.

When the fine folks at the Butler County Visitors Bureau realized they had a wealth of sweets on their hands, they created the official Butler County Donut Trail: a collection of mom-and-pop shops that will render any and all pre-packaged supermarket donuts unacceptable forevermore. Among the highlights are the Red Storm Roll, a raspberry-filled donut with cream cheese frosting at Jupiter Coffee & Donuts (5353 Dixie Highway, Fairfield); the Little

Covington’s House of Grill is the Cincinnati (and Dayton) area’s only bona fide Persian restaurant. Their tea, which is served in a glass teacup, is complimentary with an entrée, and it’s made with strong black tea and cardamom pods and comes with sugar cubes. And refills are free. While you’re there sipping your tea, stay for a kebab, falafel sandwich, saffron ice cream,

Best Free Persian Te a


Clifton 2845 Vine Street

Rookwood 3825 Edwards Road

The Banks 16 W Freedom Way

authenticwaffle.com / 513.396.5800

Thank you for voTing us Top 3 • House made handcrafted sauces & syrups •

Photo: Hailey Bollinger

• all natural (no preservatives, artificial flavors, dyes or sweeteners) • B est B at h r o o m F o r A S e l f i e Chef Ryan Santos’ Please, a new upscale American eatery tucked away on Clay Street in Over-the-Rhine, features fine dining à la carte and creative four-course tasting menus boasting dishes such as honey-brined cod with celery root or pastalike enoki mushrooms cooked in walnut milk. Helmed as a gypsy pop-up concept since 2011, Santos opened his brick and mortar in November after private backing and a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $35,000. Along with the food, one of the perks of eating at Please is the location. With an indigo exterior and a restaurant build-out that was recently featured in architecture magazine Dwell, the cozy space is note-perfect down to the very Instagrammable bathroom. Yes, the bathroom. Please’s bathroom’s colorful hand-painted tile and rounded mirror have sparked the #pleasepotty hashtag on social media. Along with the abstract backdrop, Please’s potent and creative cocktails, named after those who contributed to the Kickstarter, may also inspire taking selfies in strange places. Please, 1405 Clay St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-405-8859, pleasecincinnati.com.

eggplant dip (kashk-o-bademjaan), happy hour-priced local draft beers and monthly belly dancing performances. House of Grill, 14 E. Fifth St., Covington, Ky., 859-2066324, kentuckyhouseofgrill.com.

B e s t Pa r e n t i n g H a c k We have for you the holy trinity of parenting hacks — and yes, it involves sandwiches. Pleasant Ridge’s Red Balloon Café + Play is a one-stop destination for baby care, play time and to grab a quick meal. While the menu has a number of kid-friendly options (cheese sticks, turkey cubes, freeze-dried strawberries), parents are welcome to let the playroom take the kids off their hands for a while and dine solo on scratch-made meals, like avocado toast on Sixteen Bricks rye for breakfast or a curried chicken salad wrap with a side of watermelon gazpacho for lunch. At Red Balloon, your little angels are free to climb, push and pull on

an array of toys and playground staples (slides, ladders, peek-a-boo huts). The entire concept is designed for ages 1 to 6, and the shop also includes a selection of natural family goods for purchase, from postpartum teas and diapers to teething tablets. Having trouble getting the hang of that baby wrap? Stop in for advice or attend one of their classes, where you can try out different types of carriers before you buy. Red Balloon Café + Play, 6200 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, 513-620-8328, redballooncafe.com.

• seasonal drink menu • /cavucoffeeboutique (513) 755-2288 • 7755 Cox Lane West Chester, Ohio



Best Jam Of The Month Club The grape jelly that has been a permanent fixture in your fridge for years just isn’t cutting it anymore. It’s time to get a little frisky with your fruit spreads — like, applejalapeño jelly frisky. Made by Mavis jams are made the old-fashioned way in a French copper pot using the finest ingredients and organic spices to create delectable flavors 2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  59


Photo: Catie Viox


B est A r t i c h o k e S u b Neapolitan pizzeria A Tavola expanded their trattoria menu last year to include pastas — lasagna Bolognese, cacio e pepe and cannelloni — charcuterie and sandwiches. Of the sandwiches there is one vegetarian-friendly option and it’s a really good one: a fried artichoke sub. The sub is served on Sixteen Bricks’ ciabatta and topped with goat cheese, arugula, red onion, aceto balsamico and aioli. The artichoke hearts are lightly breaded and fried to make a delicate crumbly crust and then smooshed together with creamy cheese and aioli and a vinegary balsamic bite. Despite the fry, it feels fresh and light, but still comforting in that way only fried foods can be. A Tavola, 1220 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-246-0192; 7022 Miami Ave., Madeira, 513-272-0192, atavolapizza.com.

like honey, pear and vanilla bean or pomegranate pinot noir. Their jam of the month club is available in periods of six months (a total shipment of nine jars) or a year (18 jars) and features three jars of assorted flavors of jams or jellies every two months. Individual jars are also available at several local farmers markets, retail shops and online. Whether you decide to treat your friends and family to samples or hoard it all in the kitchen is yours to decide. Just remember: With great jam comes great responsibility. Made by Mavis, 859-2500881, made-by-mavis.myshopify.com.

We’ve been spinning dough and serving slices to the Greater Cincinnati area for 5 years now. This community has made us feel like part of the family. Thank you for all the continued love and support. Salute!

603 Main Street, Covington, KY 41011 1211 Main Street, CinCinnati, oH 45202 6 0  CI T Y B E AT.C O M

B e s t Impo r t F r om T h e L e f t Co a s t Fifteen years ago, native Cincinnatian Tali Ovadia opened a food cart in Portland, Ore. serving a single recipe: a bowl of brown rice, beans, black olives, cheese, avocado slices and lemon-garlic Tali Sauce. Within a few years, she had seven brick-and-mortar locations under the name Whole Bowl in and around Portland. In December her brother Micah opened a Whole Bowl on Ludlow Avenue in Clifton, the first location outside of Oregon. It’s a

walk-up window serving two bowl sizes, a couple of drinks and not much else. Micah says the neighborhood has been super welcoming, and with the opening of nearby Clifton Market, foot traffic has increased. The secret to the bowl’s popularity rests with the Tali Sauce. A Google search finds blogger and YouTube video attempts to recreate it, but Ovadia holds her recipe close to the vest. Ask for a little extra spoonful when you order. Whole Bowl, 364 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-7512695, thewholebowl.com/cincinnati.

B e s t E x p e n s i v e R e s ta u r a n t Fo r A n A f f o r d a b l e L u n c h Spending the night out at Sotto is considered special occasion dining — with the candle-lit atmosphere and indulgent Italian pastas — but as of summer 2016, Sotto is also open for lunch. A midday escape from the cubicle drone or a clandestine destination for some bavette pasta con bottarga (pasta topped with salty fish roe), the sensible yet satisfying lunch menu features smaller portions and smaller price points on dinner classics. Featuring about 13 total items, you can still get fan favorites






S pe c ia l Me n u s a vai lable for happy hour and before A r o no ff sho w s 5 8 0 wa l n u t s t r e e t s u i t e # 1 0 0 | C i n c i n n at i , O H 4 5 2 0 2 primeCinCinnati.COm | pH: 513-579-0720

AVRIL-BLEH & SONS MEAT MARKET AND DELI MEAT 33 East Court Street, Cincinnati, oh 45202 DELI 37 east court street, Cincinnati, oh 45202 MEAT 513.241.2433 • DELI 513.241.2333

www.avril-blehmeats.com Butcher Shop

Photo: Hailey Bollinger

2nd delicatessen

B est Late - N i g h t Ma c A n d C h eese Since it opened the doors of its third location at U Square in Clifton, Keystone Bar & Grill has become an instant classic with University of Cincinnati students. Their craft beer selection and extensive macaroni and cheese menu are the stuff of college-kid legends. Inspired by the success, the Keystone team opened the Mac Shack, a retro fast-casual extension to the main restaurant. The Mac Shack offers all nine of Keystone’s classic otherworldly macaroni and cheese dishes — from the Gordon Lightfoot with ham and Swiss to the Fleetwood Mac with pesto, tomato and mozzarella — plus new and inspired daily creations. Bonus add-ons and toppings include locally sourced proteins (chicken, ham, bacon and brisket), crumbled up Flaming Hot Cheetos or Grippo’s, cornbread and healthier options like spinach. The Mac Shack is open until a bleary 4 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, for nights of over-indulgence that must end in noodles topped with bacon, caramelized onion and lots of cheese. The Mac Shack, 249 Calhoun St., Clifton Heights, 513-229-9080, eatmacshack.com.

like short rib cappellacci or cacio e pepe — with gnocci instead of spaghetti — for less than $15. Entrées, including breaded pork loin and a take on their black kale Caesar with chicken, are under $20. Sotto, 118 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-977-6886, sottocincinnati.com.

B e s t T r i p e Bo w l On some level, Chinese food is a foreign flavor to an American tongue, but at Clifton’s Fortune Noodle House, the foreign gets authentic with a big bowl of beef tripe noodles. Conveniently located on the corner of Calhoun and Clifton streets, Fortune is perfectly situated for international students at the University of Cincinnati to get a taste of home and for locals to try something new. Inspired by classic Chinese noodle houses, owners Steven Sun and his wife Rachel serve a La Mian-style of handmade noodles, a practice that dates back to the 1500s. The

noodles are hand-pulled and stretched out into strands, then paired with everything from vegetables, squid and shredded pork to the aforementioned beef stomach. The texture and folds of the tripe, along with the chewy and dense noodles, soak up the complex flavors of the soup. Other uncommon menu items include selections like a marbled tea egg, sliced lotus root, pig ear, beef tendon and even the chef’s special sautéed pig kidney. A caveat: After eating the tripe noodle stew, you may or may not sweat it out in your sleep. Fortune Noodle House, 349 Calhoun St., Clifton Heights, 513-281-1800, fortunenoodles.com.

B e s t I n a u g u r a l Co f f e e F e s t i va l On Nov. 20, CityBeat contributing writer Ilene Ross and her daughter Cami organized the city’s first coffee showcase, Pour Over Cincy/NKY, based on a similar fest from Ann Arbor, Mich., also organized by

whatever the occasion... • Rehearsal Dinners

• Wedding Receptions • Social & Corporate Events

...let us set your table. 19 W. P LEASANT S TREET R EADING , O HIO 45215 WWW . VONDERHAARS . COM 513-554-1969 2017

2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  6 3

Cami. The Northern Kentucky Incubator Kitchen hosted roasteries/coffee shops, such as Deeper Roots and Carabello, which used apparatus like a siphon and V60 to brew samples of coffee. To complement the coffees, Grateful Grahams doled out desserts, and Pizzeria Locale presented their to-die-for budino pudding. The fest demonstrated what a diverse coffee scene Cincy has, and considering it was packed, we’re hoping for an even bigger fest next year. Pour Over Cincy/NKY, facebook.com/pourovercincynky.

B e s t Do n u t A n d Co f f e e Com b o A lot of local breweries have combined the flavors of donuts and beer, but that holy hole-y breakfast staple really belongs paired with and dunked in coffee. At Carabello Coffee’s six-seat Analog Slow Bar — which opened last fall — they soaked Holtman’s glazed donuts in whole milk and then warmed up the donut milk and poured it into a shot of espresso. And it tasted exactly like a donut. The drink wasn’t Carabello’s invention — that honor goes to Fleet Coffee in Austin, Texas — but it felt ideal for Cincinnati’s love of donuts. As Homer Simpson once said, “Mmm… donuts.” (And coffee.) Carabello Coffee,

107 E. Ninth St., Newport, Ky., 859-4151587, carabellocoffee.com.

B e s t R e a s o n To E at O f f T h e F l oo r No, it’s not the five-second rule. Coppin’s restaurant in Hotel Covington is swanky and cool, an amazing eatery in Covington’s up-and-coming city center. And several of their delicious dishes are served on hand-crafted planks that were originally floorboards in the 1910 building. The sweet corn fritters are savory bite-sized delights spiced with smoked togarashi, a Japanese pepper blend — which in this case is made in Kentucky by Bourbon Barrel Foods — and served with buttermilk dressing. Hotel Covington, 638 Madison Ave., Covington, Ky., 859-905-6600, hotelcovington.com.

B e s t E x pa n s io n Fo r L at e - N ig h t Ta c o Lo v e r s If you’ve ever had more than a few drinks in Over-the-Rhine, you’ve probably eaten at Gomez Salsa’s walk-up window. Serving homemade tacos, salsa and their infamous Turtles (a burrito stuffed with everything you could ever want, including a tostada for crunch), the window is open until 2:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Their

new Walnut Hills location Gomez Salsa Cantina also pulls late-ish hours, offering addictive modern Tex-Mex food until 10 p.m. The new location also features a few things the original Gomez doesn’t, such as indoor seating, a liquor license for housemade margaritas and a streamlined menu with four distinct flavor combos. It’s exciting news for owner Andrew Gomez, who began the business as a way to sell authentic food inspired by his grandmother’s cooking. Gomez Salsa Cantina, 2437 Gilbert Ave., Walnut Hills, 513-954-8541, facebook.com/gomezwalnut.

Best Poutine Power Once a gourmet-street-food trend, poutine is becoming a menu staple at area eateries. If you’re not familiar with the FrenchCanadian dish, poutine is a relatively simple combination of french fries, brown gravy and cheese curds. Starting with that foundation, endless variations abound — including these favorites from across the Tristate. Paying tribute to Cincinnati’s threeway, Pleasant Ridge Chili pairs french fries with signature gravy and mild shredded cheddar cheese, served until 4:30 a.m. For a Badger State spin, the Northside Yacht Club tops Kennebec fries (the hip new potato) with duck fat gravy, Wisconsin

cheese curds and scallions. Whereas Incline Public House favors less gravy and more meat with their short rib poutine topped with cheese curds and demi-glace. Revolution Rotisserie puts their own spin on things by topping tater tots — not fries — with chicken, mozzarella and gravy. And one of the first innovators of this indulgent poutine frenzy, Senate hosts a yearly Poutine Week that is very hard to avoid. Pleasant Ridge Chili, 6032 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, 513-531-2365, pleasantridgechili.com; Northside Yacht Club, 4231 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, 513541-0528, northsideyachtclub.com; Incline Public House, 2601 W. Eighth St., Price Hill, 513-251-3000, inclinepublichouse.com; Revolution Rotisserie & Bar, 1106 Race St., 513-381-0009, revolutionrotisserie.com; Senate, 1212 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513421-2020, senatepub.com.

B e s t I n di a n Di n n e r B u f f e t While it might be the only Indian dinner buffet in town, Grill of India’s evening buffet stands in a class of its own. What else could be expected from the team that brought us cult culinary favorite Swad in College Hill? Opened last fall, Grill of India offers not one but two buffet tables and an advertised 36 items, with more than 12

Light up your night

513.984.8090 EmbersRestaurant.com 8170 Montgomery Road 6 4  CI T Y B E AT.C O M

different clearly marked entrées catering to vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. For about $15, stop by and grab a cheap beer and a few plates of tikka masala, saag paneer and fish pakoras before catching an indie flick at the Esquire (or going home to put on sweatpants). Grill of India, 354 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-961-3600, grillofindiacincinnati.com.

seem familiar to you: They’re the friendly folks who ran a stand at Findlay Market serving the same delicious food based on Rose’s recipes. A family of immigrants, the goal of the eatery is to “bridge the gap” by connecting Cincinnati diners with South Asian tastes and spices. Bridges, 4165 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-374-9354, facebook.com/ashchipalu.

pork and cauliflower, and a wine list with organically produced and minimally processed vino. On the weekends, Pleasantry also offers brunch. And while the menu may change with the seasons, you can always get great-tasting simple food nearly any time of the day. Pleasantry, 118 W. 15th St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-1969, pleasantryotr.com.

B e s t N e w R e s ta u r a n t I n A Fa m i l i a r Spo t

BES t R e s ta u r a n t To Pa r k Yo u r s e l f Fo r T h r e e Sq u a r e M e a l s

Best West Side Mac And Cheese

Northside favorite Melt is moving down the road into bigger digs, but luckily, something just as good has come along to satiate the lunch crowd and neighboring Northside Tavern’s evening congregants. Bridges offers up fresh, invigorating Nepalese food from the Hamilton Avenue hangout, their first brick-and-mortar restaurant. Think Indian food, but lighter in texture and spice level. Their dal — hearty spiced lentil soup — is a must-try, and they offer a creative twist on samosas, filling the doughy potato dumplings with chicken or cheese and bacon. Bridges can bring the heat, too — ask for the hot peppers and spicy salsa. Wash it all down with their hot milk chai or a lassi, a tasty, semi-sweet yogurt shake. Don’t forget to say hi to restaurant owner Ashak Chipalu and his mom, Rose, who may

Pleasantry is named after a street — the building sits at the corner of West 15th and Pleasant — but it’s also the perfect description of this polished-yet-easygoing gem of a restaurant. Their motto — “Sip slow. Drink easy. Eat right.” — feels so doable in this calm, inviting space that a person could return to for breakfast, lunch and dinner… all in the same day. Pleasantry opens at 8 a.m. Tuesday through Friday to serve what they describe as “Midwestern food:” granola, quiche and classic scrambled eggs for breakfast, with lunch options including a butternut squash and rapini sandwich and a pimento cheese burger that will knock your socks off. Dinner service is from 5 to 10 p.m., featuring proteins like ocean trout,

For some unfair and ungodly reason, Price Hill Chili only serves its homemade macaroni and cheese on Fridays, available from 4 p.m. until they run out. Simply listed as “Macaroni & Cheese” in the Extras section of the menu, the down-home dish has a crusty baked top and creamy interior that makes it worthy of top billing. But, as they say, “You don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone,” and in this case, this mac is gone all too quickly. Price Hill Chili, 4920 Glenway Ave., Price Hill, 513-471-9507, pricehillchili.com.

B e s t C h i l i Pa r l o r Up g r a d e The recently renovated Covington Chili parlor is a smoke-free gasp of fresh air is Northern Kentucky. The restaurant’s new owners updated the space with a non-smoking mandate and authentic

Greek cuisine, while still keeping the divebar atmosphere that those who grew up slurping down its spaghetti know and love. The family-friendly casual vibe is typified in their motto: “Serving working people since 1936.” While the more things change, the more they stay the same, patrons can thankfully still find coneys, fries and three-, four- and five-ways topped with the same chili recipe the parlor was founded on 80 years ago. And just in case you’re one of the few rare people who don’t know exactly what they’re going to order at a chili place, the revamped website also has an up-to-date daily specials landing page. Bonus: Covington Chili also offers free food delivery to nearby Braxton Brewing Company and Hotel Covington. Covington Chili, 707 Madison Ave., Covington, Ky., 859-261-6066, historiccovingtonchili.com.

B e s t I n c u b at o r Fo r Foo d I n n o vat o r s With fresh produce and affordable eats from around the world, Findlay Market is a melting pot of global cultures, right in the heart of Cincinnati. And expanding on those core values of community, inclusivity and social interaction is the marketadjacent nonprofit organization Findlay Kitchen. The community space aims to

Thank you CinCinnaTi & Northern Kentucky for voting us Best Korean 6 years in a row



512 Madison ave. Covington KY 41011 | 859-291-1484

www.riversidekoreanrestaurant.com 2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  65


Photo: Phil Heidenreich

Serving Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner Box Lunches and Catering available 421 Monmouth St Newport Ky

B est A d u lt P o p -Ta r t Very few things beat waking up in the morning as a kid and sliding twin Pop-Tarts into the toaster for a morning jolt of sugar. Benjamin Arington, owner, creator and chef of Fat Ben’s Bakery, has taken that childhood nostalgia and updated it for 2017 (and for grown-ups) with the creation of his pastry pockets. The pockets are rectangular crusty pastries filled with classy flavor combos like strawberry cheesecake, blackberry thyme and pineapple rosemary. And if you don’t feel like adulting quite yet, Arington also offers flavors like milk and cereal, chocolate PB fudge and Girl Scout Cookie. While you can only order the addictive pastry pockets online for now, a Fat Ben’s storefront is coming soon. Fat Ben’s Bakery, 917-628-8202, fatbensbakery.com.

give new food entrepreneurs a chance to flex their muscles in a commercial kitchen setting. Complete with commercial-grade kitchen equipment in a licensed facility, the affordable shared space allows for a more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem. Membership in the 8,000-squarefoot kitchen also features assistance to help entrepreneurs develop business plans through “incubation services,” whether they’re just looking to increase production or start their own restaurant. Current members include Em’s Sourdough Bread, Jenn’s Hot Tamale, Brewhaus Dog Bones and Gadabout Doughnuts. Findlay Kitchen, 1719 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, findlaykitchen.org.

Voted Top Ten Best OVERALL Burger Top Three Best Neighborhood Burger Joint 3516 Edwards Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45208 - Hyde Park - 513-871-5543 8221 Beechmont Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45255 - Anderson - 513-388-0152 6 6  CI T Y B E AT.C O M

B e s t C h ic k e n S h a c k Fo r L i v e r Lo v e r s If you’re starting to experience occasional bouts of light-headedness, chances are you’re suffering from an iron deficiency. What better way to address that than to add some iron-rich liver to your diet, and what better place to get that liver than at Ron’s Roost? A West Side institution since 1960, Ron’s Roost is known for its famous

fried chicken, authentic sauerbraten and the giant fiberglass rooster that stands sentry on the roof. But diners also flock to Ron’s for the restaurant’s chicken livers and gravy appetizer and entire chicken livers dinner, with gravy and two sides (like German potato salad and hot bacon coleslaw). If you’d prefer calves liver, Ron’s has that on the dinner menu, too — pan fried and slathered in sautéed onions, of course. Ron’s Roost, 3853 Race Road, Bridgetown, 513-574-0222, ronsroost.net.

B e s t S h o r t- O r d e r Go e t ta Ho a g i e There’s not much in the way of dining pleasure in the corridor of Hamilton Avenue beyond Pit to Plate, but plan a trip to Brotherton’s Family Restaurant in downtown Mount Healthy for a cozy atmosphere and friendly service. The breakfast menu is loaded with big omelets, home fries, pancakes, goetta, corned beef hash and sausage biscuits and gravy. The lunch and dinner menu is as patriotic as it gets: burgers, BLTs, grilled cheese, mac and cheese, country fried steak and a goetta hoagie! Brotherton’s goetta hoagie features

Thanks to Cincinnati’s

Best Customers

We’re flattered to be voted Best Chili Chain in Cincinnati for 21 straight years. This honor just makes us want to work harder to be the best we can be for loyal customers like you.

thin-sliced crispy goetta on a six-inch roll, topped with two fried eggs, sausage gravy and melted cheese. Brotherton’s Family Restaurant, 7517 Hamilton Ave., Mount Healthy, 513-522-1595.

B e s t P r i vat e I s l a n d Island Frydays is the definitive restaurant to break out of culinary monotony, featuring authentic Caribbean cuisine made by former University of Cincinnati football captain and Jamaican native Leo Morgan. The place has been in Corryville for seven years but has somehow remained one of the city’s best-kept secrets, despite an appearance on Guy Fieri’s Diner’s, DriveIns and Dives in 2014. You really owe it to yourself to stop by and taste its curry and jerk dishes or go all the way Jamaican with escovitch snapper, oxtail dinner or curried goat with a side of plantains. There is nothing like it in this part of the country. Island Frydays, 2826 Vine St., Corryville, 513498-0680, islandfrydays.com.

B e s t R e a s o n To Wa i t I n L i n e At 9 A . M . T h e T h i r d S u n d ay O f t h e M o n t h Originally a coffee shop and bistro, Newberry Brothers Coffee is now primarily a speakeasy nestled in the

Mansion Hill neighborhood of Newport. But on “Third Sundays,” Newberry’s opens from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to serve its famous handmade pastries, like ham and cheese and goetta and cheddar croissants, cinnamon rolls, scones and more — all baked fresh Sunday morning and available while supplies last. Complement your carbs with a house-roasted coffee. You’ll need it: Lines of hungry pastry patrons are always out the door, so be prepared to wait. For night owls, the inhouse Prohibition Bourbon Bar, featuring more than 1,000 brands of bourbon, rye whiskey, Scotch and Irish and Japanese whiskey, is open until 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Newberry Brothers Coffee, 530 Washington Ave., Newport, Ky., 859-261-9463, newberrybroscoffee.com.

B e s t T w i s t O n Ta p io c a And Tea Essencha Tea House in Oakley is a haven for tea lovers. With an extensive menu of green, black, white, oolong, herbal and rooibos teas, plus a line of infusions from local Lola’s Botanicals, the tea selection (which you can sample for free) is about as vast as the café menu, which features edibles like kimchi crepes, a cold smokedsalmon sandwich and a matcha goddess

salad. For bubble tea lovers — or those looking to try the Asian treat for the first time — Essencha offers a customizable selection. Choose your freshly brewed tea base and fruit syrup, shaken and poured over sweet tapioca pearls. Or order from the signature bubble tea menu. The favorite Chai Hizzie features their excellent housemade chai — an authentic tea taste with the right blend of sweet and spice — chilled and poured over sweet pearls. Essencha Tea House, 3212 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-533-4832, essenchatea.com.

B e s t R e va mp e d R a m e n Ho u s e Formerly known as Maki Express, this itty, bitty izakaya (sans booze) has been a mainstay in Clifton Heights for more than a decade. And after a recent modern makeover, the eatery has reopened with a new name — Maki Express Ramen House — a new look and a new menu. Brightly colored Pop art murals with swirling geishas, tigers and dragons cover the walls, and the left side of the dining room has been converted into traditional seating, with sleek black tables on a raised platform for diners to sit cross-legged while enjoying their meals. Where the old menu offered a range of sushi and noodle dishes, the

new streamlined edition features traditional ramen with pork belly, spinach, bamboo, sweet corn and a soft boiled egg in tonkotsu, miso or shoyu broth (the friendly young chef will also make vegetarian ramen upon request). Maki Express Ramen House, 209 W. McMillan St., Clifton Heights, 513-721-6999.

B e s t Way To A d d W i d t h With A Gir th Raise a Rhinegeist to Zip’s Café, the dark-paneled Delta Avenue burger joint that celebrated its 90th birthday last year. Settle into a booth and ponder your order as you watch a nostalgia-inducing model train glide across a track that runs along the ceiling. If you’re feeling like a light meal, order a classic Zip burger, with fresh, flame-broiled meat from local butcher Avril-Bleh & Sons, nestled in a toasted honey-egg bun from Klosterman Bakery, and a side of super crispy onion rings. Or go big with the Girth Burger, a Zip burger topped with a split Avril-Bleh mettwurst. Or even bigger with the Train Wreck, a Zip burger topped with shaved ham, the aforementioned split grilled mettwurst and three types of cheese — just in case you thought the standard Girth burger wasn’t enough on its own and you don’t feel like


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fitting into your pants tomorrow. Zip’s Café, 1036 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-8719876, zipscafe.com.

B e s t G u at e m a l a n Ta m a l e s A burgeoning community of Guatemalan refugees are beginning to call Price Hill home. And establishments like the Maranata Store are offering both a taste of Central America and an authentic cultural experience for outsiders. The tienda stocks ethnic groceries while the modest restaurant serves colorful cilantro-infused ceviche, pork pupusas, fried plantains and three-milk cake. The Guatemalan-style tamales alone are worth a trip. Bigger than their Mexican counterparts and cooked inside banana leaves, these homemade tamales are only available on Saturday and Sunday and come filled with chicken, beef or pork. Maranata Store, 1215 Rulison Ave., Price Hill, 513244-2494, marantastore.com.

B e s t Way To T u r n P e op l e O n To F e r m e n t e d Foo d The world doesn’t give proper respect to fermented vegetables, but fortunately chef Gary Leybman does. As a Jewish immigrant from Belarus who settled in Cincinnati with his family, Leybman

draws on his Eastern European cultural legacy and history as a private chef for the ferments he makes for artisan pickling business The Pickled Pig, which he co-owns with wife Libby. After learning how to make kimchee (fermented Korean cabbage), Leybman fell in love with the process and began pickling his back garden, eventually landing on recipes for garlic beets, sauerkraut, curried cauliflower and lots and lots of pickles. His bestseller? His Napa Kimchee, which blends ginger, garlic and Korean chili with the classic fermented taste — not too sweet, not too sour. Currently The Pickled Pig thrives at farmers markets, bouncing between Northside, Madeira, Anderson and Findlay all year long, but Leybman has a brick-and-mortar location in Walnut Hills in the works that will eventually be a storefront and deli. The Pickled Pig, 513748-7114, smokedandpickled.com.

B e s t Go u r m e t E g g S a l a d S a n d w ic h If you’re a vegetarian, eating a sandwich can be a relatively uneventful experience. There’s no Reuben or club or BLT; there’s just cheese, tomatoes and assorted greenery stuffed between two slabs of bread. But Bottle & Basket, a Wellmann’s

Brands gourmand grab-and-go near Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine, offers an excellent alternative: a fennel shallot egg salad sandwich. Piled on a perfectly plush and crusty ciabatta roll, the salad is peppered with fennel and topped with red cabbage and pesto. If you’re feeling so bold, add some tomato and pickles and a bag of local Hen of the Woods Touch of Smoke kettle chips. It’s a perfect lunch or picnic for one. Bottle & Basket will also soon be opening a second location in the lobby of the Contemporary Arts Center. Bottle & Basket, 1400 Republic St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-3816325, wellmannsbrands.com.

Best Eggless Egg Sal ad S a n d w ic h For those of you who enjoy the thought of an egg salad sandwich but don’t want to eat the crushed up ovum of a chicken, Fresh Table at Findlay Market has a clever and flavorful alternative. The seasonally focused chef-owned and -operated prepared-food vendor makes a remarkable vegan eggless egg salad with perfectly mushy and perfectly yellow crumbled up tofu. It’s been a cult favorite since Polly Campbell declared it one of the best dishes of the year in 2011. It’s

so popular that chefs/owners Meredith Trombly and Louis Snowden hold the recipe a closely guarded secret. You could try to recreate it at home with different tofu techniques, but we recommend leaving it up to the experts. Fresh Table at Findlay Market, 1801 Race St., Over-theRhine, 513-381-FRSH, freshtable.biz.

Best Deli- St yle Egg Sal ad S a n d w ic h For more than 25 years, Fred & Gari’s has been a bustling favorite of the downtown lunch crowd, with its ’80s-throwback neon sign, house-roasted meats and homemade dessert. The deli also specializes in a damn-good $8 soup-and-sandwich combo. Daily soup flavors are listed on a whiteboard outside the standingroom-only take-out (and on Facebook), and customers can build their own sandwich or order options like a turkey club or roast beef with horseradish from the menu. The meats are smoked inhouse, and their egg salad is a nostalgic throwback, full of mayonnaise-y goodness and topped with lettuce, tomato and onion. While you wait for your sandwich to arrive in its Styrofoam container, enjoy the lighthearted banter between Fred, Gari and the slew of regulars. Fred &

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Zoup! Stetson Sq 260 Stetson St MON - FRI: 10:30am - 8pm SAT: Closed ∙ SUN: Closed

MON - SAT 10:30am - 9pm SUN: 11am - 8pm


Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Zoup! Mason-Montgomery 9343 Mason Montgomery Rd B est $ 2 5 S tea k f o r $ 2 4 We write these words not to encourage the fine proprietors of Over-the-Rhine staple Senate to raise their prices but to acknowledge that without such a deal many of us would not often indulge in such fare. The “$25 wood-grilled, dry-aged ribeye” — which costs just $24 — with marrow butter and truffle fries is kind of like getting half-off a badass fancy meal. You can spend the other 20 bucks on the restaurant’s excellent beer, wine and cocktail lists. Or, if you’re one of those people who uses a budget app to make yourself feel guilty about how often you eat out, go with the $17 seared scallops or slum it with a $10 award-winning street dog until you’re deserving of the full steak treatment. Senate, 1212 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-2020, senatepub.com.

Gari’s, 629 Vine St., Downtown, 513-7849000, facebook.com/fredgaris.

B e s t Ta c o T u e s d ay

Located in Clifton’s Historic Gaslight District

Right out of the garden soups, salads and sandwiches We compost and recycle everything Artisan food in a comfortable vibe • Live Jazz Sunday Brunch! Located in Clifton’s Historic Gaslight District 329 Ludlow Ave • Cincinnati, OH 45220 513.381.3436 • www.LydiasOnLudlow.com

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Covington’s mezcal bar and taqueria Frida 602 is the second MainStrasse eatery for owners Paul Weckman and his wife Emily Wolff, who also run Otto’s down the street. Named after colorful painter Frida Kahlo, the restaurant mirrors her work with cerulean bar stools, bright-orange chairs, a floral banquette and Day of the Dead artwork, including decorative calaveras everywhere, and candles in the fireplace, which illuminate the upstairs dining room. But you’re not necessarily here for the Mexico City décor; you’re more likely here for the tacos. The restaurant offers five different tacos à la carte, served on corn tortillas with pickled red onion, radish and cilantro, the most delicious of which are the fish tacos, thick slices of mild mahi mahi, seared or tempura fried with pineapple slaw; the chicken tacos, stuffed with spit-roasted and spiced chicken, honey poblano slaw and black beanmango salsa; and the incredibly interesting vegetarian Brussels sprout tacos. The

slightly caramelized sprouts are sautéed and topped with a rich peanut salsa to produce an unexpected flavor explosion. On Tuesdays, the chicken tacos are only $2 (instead of $4), so you can double up while you sip on one of the complexly layered mezcal-laced house cocktails. Mezcal adds a smoky flavor to drinks like the Oaxacan mule and spicy Paloma, a palate pleaser with bitter grapefruit and spicy jalapeño simple syrup. Frida 602, 602 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-815-8736, facebook.com/frida602.

B e s t C u lt u r a l E xc h a n g e Clifton’s Elephant Walk Injera & Curry House offers diners a real bang for their buck with a double-sided menu, featuring Northern Indian cuisine on one side and Ethiopian on the other. If you’ve never eaten Ethiopian food, it’s similar to Indian — stew-style dishes made with ingredients like chicken, lentils, cabbage and lamb (and beef, which you won’t see in Indian cuisine) that you scoop with bread. Instead of naan, however, Ethiopian food is served with injera, a sourdough-risen flatbread with a spongy texture and

Best of Cincinnati Awards View From Your Table #1 Pub Food #1 Restaurant For Your First date #1 Restaurant to Take Visitors #1 Under the Radar Restaurant #1 Outdoor Patio/Dining #1 Neighborhood Burger Spot (West Side) #1 Bar/Club (West Side) #1 Business Lunch #3 Overall Restaurant #6

2601 West 8th Street Cincinnati, Ohio 45204 513-251-3000 WWW.iNCLiNePUBLiChOUSe.COm

Try our 8 great Reubens! ANDERSON


7625 Beechmont Ave • 513-231-5550

5098B Glen Crossing Way • 513-347-9699

800 Elm St • 513-721-4241 612 Main St • 513-241-6246

4766 Red Bank Expressway • 513-376-6008




7905 Mall Road (Next to Starbucks) • 859-525-2333


1965 highland Pike • 859-331-4999

1198 Smiley Ave (At Winton Rd) • 513-825-3888 8179 Princeton-Glendale Rd • 513-942-7800 Across from Beckett Ridge Kroger

Ft. WRiGht

Thanks Cincinnati for Voting us Best Delicatessen in 2017!

Photo: Hailey Bollinger


B est Way T o Ma k e Yo u r H o m e S m e l l L i k e A B a k e r y W i t h o u t B A KI N G A n y t h i n g Yo u r se l f There are plenty of reasons to visit O’Bryonville’s The BonBonerie bakery and café — owners Mary Pat Pace and Sharon Butler have been creating artful, delicious pastries and treating customers, staff and community like family for 33 years. The resulting excellence is evident both inside the bakery’s glistening glass cases and in the aroma emanating from one of BonBonerie’s pink carry-out boxes filled with homemade pastries, chocolates and torts. Such a box, once opened, will fill your kitchen and probably your dining room with the smells of a time when grocery stores didn’t mass-produce birthday cakes and people had time to bake things for themselves. Over three-plus decades, Pace and Butler have consistently refined and reworked their recipes, trying new things and booting the rare concepts that go out of taste. Visit their website for seasonal menus including the likes of chocolate eclairs, black bottom banana toffee torts, French macarons, honey vanilla pound cake, etc. The café also offers coffee and breakfast sandwiches, and you can always order the wedding cake or cupcake spread to show everyone that your union will never be threatened by weak pastry consumption. The BonBonerie, 2030 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, 513-321-3399, bonbonerie.com.

slightly tart taste you will either love or hate. The best part of such expansive offerings is it allows contrasting couples to order from whichever country they prefer. Elephant Walk also offers a daily lunch buffet with both styles of cuisine for customers to mix, match and try a bit of both. Other menu highlights include traditional Ethiopian coffee and naan wraps, stuffed with chicken tikka, lamb or paneer and veggies. Elephant Walk Injera & Curry House, 170 W. McMillan St., Clifton, 513526-1555, elephantwalkcincy.com.

B e s t S t opp e d - I n -T i m e Steakhouse Step back in time to the 1950s at Maury’s Tiny Cove, a retro steakhouse with low lights, red vinyl and dark wood. Since 1949, they’ve been serving damn-good steak, Atomic Age sides (shredded lettuce salads;



a complimentary ramekin of pickles on every table) and a perfect martini. Ask for the Carol booth — the restaurant appears in the locally filmed, Oscar-nominated movie starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara — or take a photo with the Maury’s sign, featuring a kitschy cartoon steer holding a cocktail. Maury’s Tiny Cove, 3908 Harrison Ave., Cheviot, 513-6622683, maurys-steakhouse.com.

B e s t C h e a p Do l s o t Bibimbap Dolsot bibimbap is a Korean dish served in a hot stone bowl with rice, assorted veggies, a sunny-side-up egg and some type of protein — usually tofu, pork or beef. It’s served to you steaming hot and then you mush up all the ingredients with gochujang chili pepper paste, toasting the ingredients on the side of the stone bowl in the process.

4335 Glendale-Milford Rd. Cincinnati, OH 45242 (513) 794-1610 browndogcafe.com 2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  73

• • • • •

Live entertainment neighborhood gem notabLe beer & wine List great for outdoor dining inventive american cuisine

Come see our new renovation!

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Go Where the Locals Go!

B est Resta u r ant T h at Has L i te r a l ly R i sen F r o m T h e A s h es It took more than a year of fundraising, elbow grease and community involvement for this Over-the-Rhine landmark to reopen after a devastating fire, but the renovated Tucker’s Restaurant was back in business in mid-September. The unassuming little diner had been an OTR mainstay for an astonishingly long run, almost 60 years, when a grease fire in the kitchen caused extensive flame and smoke damage. Owners Carla and Joe Tucker held fundraisers around town and got more help from local professionals and neighborhood workers than they could have dreamed of. Now they are once again serving breakfast, brunch and lunch to locals and suburbanites who love not only the anything-goes urban hospitality but also basic comfort food and all-day breakfast standards. Tucker’s Restaurant, 1637 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-954-8920, facebook.com/tuckersrestaurantotr.

In Cincinnati we’re lucky to have multiple Asian eateries that serve delicious bibimbap — Riverside Korean, Sung Korean Bistro, Stone Bowl, etc. — but Izen’s Drunken Bento stands out from the crowd for its unassuming façade and collegefriendly price point. Nestled in the student area of Clifton Heights, Izen’s casual décor (there’s a wall of exposed textured 2-by-4 beams you can graffiti) complements its selection of fresh sushi, $6 ramen and more than a dozen Korean entrées at less than $15, including dolsot bibimbap for $11 — a big hot bowl of rice, carrots, soybean sprouts, shiitake mushroom, zucchini, spinach and protein. Izen’s Drunken Bento, 212 W. McMillan St., Clifton Heights, 513381-5905, searchable on Facebook.

B e s t R e a s o n To Wo r k o u t At T h e Y w c a

6818 Wooster Pk. MarieMont, oH 45227 513-561-5233 | Call for reservations 74  C I T Y B E AT. C O M

Having a membership to downtown’s YWCA means you have access to a hot tub and a salt water pool. But it also means you’re within walking distance of Lalo, the

new Asian-Latin fusion restaurant from the Neuf (formerly Huit) folks, located in the former location of Huit. Confused? Don’t be. After working out, treat yourself to Lalo’s fish tacos, wonton chips, ceviche, rice bowls, drunken brisket stew, a cauliflower burrito and rice bowls. Don’t worry — it is somewhat healthy, and, well, you worked out so you deserve it. Lalo, 29 E. Court St., Downtown, 513-381-4848, lalocincinnati.com.

B e s t C l a s s ic Co b b S a l a d Many origin stories exist for the creation of the Cobb salad, the most popular of which is that it was created for Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant owner Robert Howard Cobb in the 1930s. Traditionally served with romaine lettuce, hardboiled egg, avocado, tomato, chicken, onion, bacon and blue cheese dressing — use the mnemonic device EAT COBB to remember the ingredients — restaurants will vary their take on the timeless chop with “Southwestern” options or by adding unique

Thanks for voting us the


Best Bakery (Breads) • Best Findlay Market Vendor • Best Findlay Market Food Stand • 2nd Neighborhood Bakery (Downtown/OTR)


Jungle Jim’s Eastgate & Fairfield | Delivered by 3pm | Year Round Liberty Center | 3-7 | June 6-September 26 Loveland | 3-7 | May-November


Blue Ash | 3:30-7 | May-October Fort Thomas | 3-6 | May-November Jungle Jim’s Eastgate & Fairfield | Delivered by 3pm | Year Round Northside | 4-7 | May-November

THURSDAYS Jungle Jim’s Eastgate & Fairfield | Delivered by 3pm | Year Round Madeira | 3:30-7 | May-September


Findlay Market | 9-4 | Year Round


Findlay Market | 8-4 | Year Round Jungle Jim’s Eastgate | Delivered by 8am | Year Round Jungle Jim’s Fairfield | Delivered by 12pm | Year Round Yellow Springs Market | 7-12 | May-October


Findlay Market | 10-4 | Year Round Hyde Park | 9:30-1 | May-November Jungle Jim’s Eastgate | Delivered by 8am | Year Round Jungle Jim’s Fairfield | Delivered by 12pm | Year Round Yellow Springs Market | 7-12 | May-October

For our market schedule and full bread list please visit us online www.blueovenbakery.com

Photo: Hailey Bollinger

B est Une x p e c te d C o ne y T o p p e r People underplay the role shredded lettuce has as a condiment — it’s crunchy and chilled and green and it’s showing up more and more as a trendy topping on dishes like salad pizza and the Chili Hut’s slaw dog. The Chili Hut food truck offers a simple menu of street-food dishes centered around Cincinnati-style chili. Go basic with a simple cheese coney — an all-beef hot dog topped with signature chili and handshredded cheese — or get on board the leafy train with the Hut’s signature slaw dog, a cheese coney piled high with housemade coleslaw. You can even add coleslaw to any two-, three-, four- and five-way for a buck. And yeah, we know coleslaw is made with cabbage, but it’s the same idea. The Chili Hut, 513-253-7356, thechilihut.com.

cheese. But Trio Bistro in Kenwood sticks to tradition — kind of. One of the most popular items on the menu, the salad is topped with a garlicky house ranch instead of Roquefort dressing. To get the muchmissed flavorful profile of blue cheese, order a house martini with stuffed blue cheese olives to accompany your meal. It’s strong and cold and harkens back to those Brown Derby days, especially since you’ll most likely be dining with early birds and the classy blue-hair broads that frequent the joint. Trio Bistro, 7565 Kenwood Road, Kenwood, 513-984-1905, triobistro.com.

BEST VEAL VARIETY Family-run for more than a century, Scotti’s Italian Restaurant is the kind of historic gem that diners need to patronize so it’s not lost to the sands of time or expansion of Olive Gardens. Multiple generations of the DiMarco and Scoleri families have made this eatery a Vine Street mainstay, with its quirky interior and slew of pasta options. The walls are covered in a schizophrenic pattern of broken tiles, old paintings and photos of Italian landmarks hung askew, red-and-white checkered

tablecloths and colorfully dripping candles in old Chianti bottles. The old-school menu lists Scotti’s specialties, build-your-own pastas (with helpful definitions) and more than 20 different veal dishes — from scallopini ala Romano and osso buco to veal stuffed with shrimp and served in a provolone cheese and wine sauce. You’ve never seen so much veal. And the sounds that will serenade you as you ingest your calves’ meat? Opera. Scotti’s is named after early 20th-century opera star Antonio Scotti, so the sounds pumping through the speakers isn’t Muzak or clichéd Sinatra tunes, it’s Rossini and Puccini and Pavaratti — just another aspect that sets this landmark apart from the pack. Scotti’s, 919 Vine St., Downtown, 513-7219484, scottiscincinnati.com.

SWEET SUCCESS Thanks for Voting

Best Candy Store Best Chocolate Award Winning Ice Cream

B e s t mo b - a pp r o v e d Ho t B r o w n Established in 1947, Newport’s landmark Green Derby is one of the granddaddies of local eateries. It got its name from the original owner, Helen Cummins, as both a reference to a famous California restaurant of the time (the Brown Derby) and

Oakley Square • Montgomery Sq. Shopping Center www.aglamesis.com 2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  77

a nod to her Irish heritage. She and her husband ran the place until it briefly went out of business in 2009. After an interim ownership for a few years, the Brauninger family bought the Derby almost two years ago with the ambition of making it what it used to be in the 20th century: a haven of home-cooking, a family-oriented community center and a place where the mobsters of Newport’s “Sin City” days met in the kitchen to set the gambling lines. The new Derby definitely sticks with a comfort food menu, and it relives the mob era by displaying dozens of framed, vintage photographs from those days in its main dining room. Although the menu includes pasta and options from land and sea, stick with the “Classics” section and order a traditional Kentucky Bourbon Burgoo or the restaurant’s version of a hot brown, thickcut bread topped with turkey breast, fresh tomato, a cheesy housemade mornay sauce and plenty of applewood-smoked bacon — broiled to perfection. The Green Derby, 846 York St., Newport, Ky., 859-4318740, greenderbykentucky.com.

B e s t R e b r a n di n g O f A P e r f e c t ly Goo d R e s ta u r a n t When chef Mark Bodenstein opened NuVo in Covington in 2014, it became the

area’s first tasting-menu-only restaurant. Apparently Cincinnatians gave the avant-garde eatery tepid reception, so Bodenstein began offering an à la carte menu along with the original. When that didn’t gel, he and his team decided to change the name and concept to a neighborhood red sauce joint called Piccolo Casa. It’s a reintroduction to his adventurous style, but this time in a more familiar culinary milieu: pasta-centric Italian and a more casual dining room. Bodenstein’s flavor combinations are both pleasing and a little surprising — like in the bruschetta with pickled beet, parsley pesto, chive and burrata cheese — but the pasta skews classic with cacio e pepe, pasta alfredo and hard-to-find-locally spaghetti amatrice, made new with shishito peppers and meaty local bacon. Piccolo Casa, 308 Greenup St., Covington, Ky., 859-415-1308, piccolocovington.com.

B e s t H i p H a pp y Ho u r Japanese gastropub Kaze is smartly divided into a restaurant side and a bar side, complete with its own entrance. The bar connects to a giant urban patio and is the perfect place to head for daily happy hour, even on weekends. Specialty cocktails start at $5, with discounted

sushi rolls and small bites. The Kato roll is a vegetarian favorite with vegetable fritter, avocado and chimichurri. And there are also wagyu sliders, house-smoked Korean wings and a $4.50 bowl of pork belly ramen. It’s a great deal considering their full-price counterparts are basically double the cost. It’s also a very cool space to lounge after work in either the modernist dimly lit red-hued lounge or on the seasonal patio, which has its own bar, perfect for not moving too far when you want a refill of house rosé for $4. Kaze, 1400 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-8987991, kazeotr.com.

Best Wispy Thin Anniversary Huge, fluffy omelets and “wispy-thin” pancakes — plus a kitschy neon pink exterior and retro Cadillac-teal booths — have made Sugar n’ Spice a bona fide breakfast institution for 75 years. The story about the restaurant, opened by barber Mort Keller in 1941, goes that Keller was on a trip to California and happened to stop at a restaurant for breakfast. He was so impressed with the pancakes that he ended up purchasing the batter recipe and opened Sugar n’ Spice a couple years later, serving its secret recipe “wispy

thin” pancakes. One of the city’s most popular places for people of all ages and socio-economic groups to dine and socialize, new owner Steve Frankel has made updates to the menu, digging some old favorites from the basement archives and improving ingredients, moving from canned veggies to fresh. Frankel is also the guy behind the genius marketing plan of giving patrons little rubber ducks from Ace Toys on Reading — and passing out fried macaroni and cheese bites during long waits. It’s a charming quirk that keeps people coming back. Sugar n’ Spice, 4381 Reading Road, Avondale, 513-242-3521, sugar-n-spice-restaurant.com.

B e s t Fa m i ly- S t y l e C h ic k e n Di n n e r The Greyhound Tavern has been serving classic fried chicken in Fort Mitchell since the 1920s. The exterior of the building looks like a big, old white house with forest-green shutters, and the interior has the same down-home feel, with round tables, wood paneling, checkerboard curtains and carpeting in one of the main dining rooms. The restaurant offers plenty of Northern Kentucky tavern classics, like a hot brown, meat loaf and pan-fried chicken liver, but the big deal

Best of Cincy 2017.qxp 3/8/17 2:48 PM Page 1



Us again? Careful, you’ll make us blush. Come and enjoy our authentic Italian cuisine . .. or just have a drink at Colonel Pomp’s, Northern Kentucky’s original bourbon bar. Live entertainment on weekends u Delivery via UberEats

600 WASHINGTON AVE . v N EWPORT, K Y. 41071 v (859) 581-3065 v 78  CI T Y B E AT.C O M


here — in terms of low cost and high excitement — is family-style fried chicken night every Monday and Tuesday. For less than $16, get half a chicken, cut in house and dredged and fried with the tavern’s secret-recipe herbed flour, and multiserving sides of mashed potatoes, country-style green beans with ham, buttermilk biscuits, creamy coleslaw and a boat of gravy. If you run out of mashed potatoes or beans, just ask for more. There are free refills. The Greyhound Tavern, 2500 Dixie Highway, Fort Mitchell, Ky., 859-331-3767, greyhoundtavern.com.

B e s t Goo e y B r e a k fa s t S a n d w ic h Nothing says “rise and shine” quite like a golden, creamy egg nestled between layers of warm toast and gooey cheese; it’s like sunshine on a sandwich. And of Cheapside Café’s six breakfast options — served all day — the restaurant’s indulgent soft-yolk fried egg sandwich, topped with thick, crispy bacon and housemade pimento cheese on Sixteen Bricks multigrain bread, is probably the best, here and in the city. Wash the sandwich down with an espresso chinotto, a sweet and bitter iced blend of cinchonabark tonic syrup, housemade soda and

Deeper Roots espresso — co-owner Rom Wells’ invention. It’s a high-end hangover cure. Look for Cheapside’s second location, Cheapside Corner, set to open in Over-the-Rhine. The café will apparently make and serve its own inventive ice cream. Cheapside Café, 326 E. Eighth St., Downtown, 513-345-6618, cheapsidecafe.com.

B e s t S u p e r f oo d - I n f u s e d Brunch Drink Implementing a fresh menu that focuses on healthier foods, Thunderdome Restaurant Group’s latest venture, Maplewood Kitchen and Bar, serves up dishes and ingredients that would be right at home on the West Coast: coldpressed juices, superfood salads, eggwhite omelets and somewhat nutritious cocktails, one of the most thirst-inducing of which is the roasted tomatillo bloody mary. Made with Tito’s vodka, houseroasted tomatillo bloody mary mix and cold-pressed Super Green juice (a blend of kale, celery, spinach, romaine and pineapple), it’s topped off by a purple cabbage accouterment, like an antioxidant-packed hangover cure or a healthy boozy brunch. Who needs to chew your kale when you can drink it? If bloody marys aren’t your

thing, Maplewood also specializes in coffee, with staff concocting specialty coffee drinks at the restaurant’s espresso bar using beans from local roaster La Terza. Ask for a cup of Brainstorm Coffee, the café’s take on the popular Bulletproof Coffee (coffee blended with grass-fed butter), a foamy drink that’s said to boost your brainpower and metabolism. Maplewood Kitchen and Bar, 525 Race St., Downtown, 513-421-2100, maplewoodkitchenandbar.com.

farms, gardens and bakeries from which ingredients were sourced, including Carriage House Farm, local hydroponics company Waterfields LLC and many others. Although Nectar closed in early 2017 after more than a decade, we look forward to what chef Francis does next. Nectar Restaurant, 1000 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-929-0525, dineatnectar.com.

B e s t Di n n e r C l u b WE ’ LL M ISS

Fried chicken, cornmeal waffle, spicy maple glacé, buttermilk ice cream: Has there ever been a better combination of ingredients? Although there are plenty of mouth-watering menu items at MainStrasse’s Commonwealth Bistro (a hardboiled egg wrapped in goetta, salsa verde pork on a bed of grits), the definitive star is their dreamy chicken and waffle dish. Like most of their dishes, it’s a marriage of Southern soul food and upscale culinary technique. The chicken is fried in a way so that the crispy exterior is more flakey than coagulated, and the coating falls off easily to expose the juicy dark meat inside. The waffles aren’t too fluffy and add just the right amount of carby sweetness. But the ice cream is what truly

Every month in 2016, the farm-to-table connoisseurs at Nectar Restaurant hosted a five-course themed dinner club built around a single country or geographical location; recent installments have revolved around India, Vietnam, Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean. Part of the goal was to connect diners with local farmers, producers and growers, who attended the events and shared backgrounds and expertise. Nectar’s daily menus offered up creative dishes crafted by chef Julie Francis and sous chef Amanda Bowman, each of which was concocted with as many local ingredients as possible. The menu even listed area

B e s t C h ic k e n A n d Wa f f l e s Yo u C a n ’ t S t op Thinking About

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OPEN DAILY 11AM - 11PM DAILY 513-751-FIRE (3473) | 773 E McMillan St, Cincinnati, OH 45206

Best Hot Brown - USA Today Kelsey Ky Brown

“Best sandwicH” - Restaurant Hospitality PoP’s PoPPin’ egg salad sandwich

“sandwicH of- tHe Year” Restaurant News

WILDEGGS.COM | Follow us on DOWNTOWN 301 E 4th Street Cincinnati, OH 513-345-7014 8 0  CI T Y B E AT.C O M

OAKLEY 3240 Vandercar Way Cincinnati, OH 513-285-8802

KENWOOD 7677 Montgomery Rd. Cincinnati, OH

Photo: Khoi Nguyen

Thank you For Voting us #4 in the Top Ten Overall Pizza in Cincinnati!

B est B u r g e r D i v e Open in 1939 as Heine’s Café by Henry Boehmker, Herb & Thelma’s Tavern (the name comes from Henry’s son, who took over the enterprise) is situated on a bend in the road along Pike Street in Covington. The small drop-ceilinged dining room is what some may call a “hole in the wall,” but the simple and delectable burgers are made to order, served by an incredibly friendly staff and grilled by new owner Joe Fessler. The burgers are basic — a juicy meat patty topped with cheese, onions and pickles — and a short list of sides includes chili, soup or Husman’s chips. The joint recently added craft beer to its program of PBR, Bavarian’s and Budweiser. One note: Herb & Thelma’s is cash only, but burgers ring in at less than $5 (as does the fried bologna sandwich with cheese), so you only need about $10 for dinner and a drink. Herb & Thelma’s Tavern, 718 Pike St., Covington, Ky., 859-491-6984, facebook.com/herbnthelmastavern.

makes it stand out — it’s a rich and silky scoop no bigger than a bon bon that blends sweet and salty. For a true Kentucky experience, add an Ale-8-One soda, a fizzy cult-favorite citrus ginger drink bottled in Winchester, Ky. Commonwealth Bistro, 621 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-916-6719, commonwealthbistro.com.

B e s t S l ic e O f P i z z a H e av e n Within a one-block radius on MainStrasse’s Main Street, you’ll wander across something plucked right from a pizza-lover’s dream: Mac’s Pizza Pub, Goodfellas and Pizza Tower all within walking distance. All three opened in 2015, and each offers a different dine-in experience: Mac’s establishes a sports-bar vibe; Goodfellas has its own bar, Wise Guys, right upstairs; and Pizza Tower is more of a family-friendly atmosphere. Basically, it’s the place to go for any type of pizza night imaginable, whether you’re just in the mood for a slice or craving some good, local beer. Mac’s Pizza Pub, 604 Main St., Covington,

Ky., 859-431-6227, macspizzapub.com; Goodfellas, 603 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-916-5209, goodfellaspizzeria.com; Pizza Tower, 611 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-292-8200, pizzatower.com.

Best Thai With A Side Of P i n e a pp l e F r i e d R ic e There’s nothing quite like a restaurant staff knowing your name and order the second you walk in the door. And that’s exactly what you get at Lemon Grass Thai, a cozy, family-owned eatery nestled near Rookwood Pavilion. Their crispy meatless spring rolls are the perfect way to start off a meal before delving into entrées like Crab Crispies — crab, shrimp and cream cheese tucked inside a crunchy wrap — and yellow curry flavored with lemon grass, turmeric and coriander. Lemon Grass also has a ton of vegetarian options like stir-fried mixed vegetables and Swimming Angel With Tofu, deep-fried tofu squares on a bed of sautéed broccoli and spinach. No matter how much you






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13 2 6 V I N E S T | C I N C I N N AT I , O H 4 5 2 0 2

Proud to be Cincy’s oldest functioning brewpub.

LoCaL BeeR. SCRatCh kitChen. Right on Fountain SquaRe. Celebrating 20 years of Rock Bottom

Paxton’s Grill

Located in the Historic Loveland District on the Little Miami Scenic Bike Trail 126 W. Loveland Ave. • (513) 583-1717 • www.PaxtonsGrill.com

...Featuring Our Famous Big Paxton Lunch & Dinner Specials • Breakfast Saturday & Sunday 8am Happy Hour 3-7pm Monday thru Friday… 1/2 Price Appetizers “No Whine” Wednesdays… All Bottled Wine 1/2 Price 5pm - 10pm New Wine List • Sign Up Now for Cancer Free Kids Golf Outing


It’s easy… go to our website at paxtonsgrill.com and click ORDER ONLINE

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Voted BEST INDIAN for 15 Years

350 Ludlow • 513-281-7000

Photo: Khoi Nguyen

Additional Parking Available in Clifton Business Lot (next to IGA)

B E S T VODK A PI Z Z A Strong’s Brick Oven Pizzeria is not just another pizza joint. Although the houselike exterior doesn’t necessarily stand out of the Newport on the Levee crowd with screaming colorful signs or a decked-out front entrance, the inside is equipped with a state of the art pizza-making machine hailing from Italy — one big brick oven. The eatery’s signature Pizza Alla Vodka is a must-order every time you go. The dough is thin, with beautiful crisp air pockets that bulge out of the golden, charred and chewy crust. The toppings are tossed on top, deliberately, but asymmetrically, rustic in every sense. This goldmine of flavors combines creamy sauce with mushrooms, spinach and the salty-sweet prosciutto di Parma. The thin slices of meat provide the extra salty flavor to give your mouth a break from the creamy sauce and bitter greens. While there are other specialty pizzas to try at Strong’s — a Diavolo Dolce with spicy sauce, mozzarella, pineapple, banana peppers and bacon, for instance — there is no such thing as leftovers with this pizza. Strong’s Brick Oven Pizzeria, 336 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859-291-6836, strongsbrickovenpizza.com.

end up ordering, make sure to top things off with a side of pineapple fried rice: You won’t be sorry. Lemon Grass Thai, 2666 Madison Road, Hyde Park, 513-321-2882, lemongrasscincy.com.

BEST D O WNT O WN F O O D DELIVERY Whether it’s raining, sleeting, snowing or hailing — or you just don’t feel like walking to get your lunch — 53T Courier has your back. Between jaunts to the CityBeat office (seriously, these guys bring us food pretty much every day), one of 53T’s friendly cyclists/staffers will hop on a bike and deliver food from some of the best eateries in the city. Just go online, click on the restaurant you want and place your order. Their list of participating clients has grown substantially this year and includes the likes of Taft’s Ale House (tots!), Cheapside Café, Pho Lang Thang and Nation Kitchen & Bar. Fun fact:

The correct way to pronounce their name is “Fifty-Three-Tee Courier,” a reference to the number of teeth — hence the T — on a typical bike’s fast gear. 53T Courier, 513-549-7053, 53tcourier.com. Go online for delivery time estimates and a map of serviceable areas.

Voted BEST INDIAN #2 in 2016

3120 Madison Rd • 513-321-1600

Visit our new Catch-a-Fire Cafe at MadTree Brewing in Oakley! Private event catering available onsite or let us bring our FOOD TRUCK to YOU!

B e s t M u s ic a l M e n u S e r i e s High-end steak, seafood and pasta restaurant Boca marked its 15th anniversary this year, and to celebrate, it set out to push the limits of its already high standards. Enter Boca Cadenza, a dining experience inspired by Classical music and short, intense instrumental solos. The three cadenza-themed dining performances are held for approximately four weeks each — Performance 1 was titled Arc en Ciel, Performance 2 was La Truffe and Performance 3 has yet to come. Each installment includes exceptional food and wine pairings consciously and

Serving our beer inspired, wood-fired specialties for lunch and dinner

Tuesday-Sunday at 3301 Madison Rd.

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See our exhibit, A Day in the Life: As the Betts Family Lived in the Mid-19th Century, April 1-June 30. Visit us Wed, Fri, & Sat 12-5. Special events every Saturday. Visit us at

www.thebettshouse.org or call 513-651-0734

Photo: Khoi Nguyen

for more information.

(859) 206-6324

14 E 5th St Covington, KY 41011

Live Music Mon-Wed, Fri-Sat 7 PM - 9 PM Carry Out Specials

Kebab Platters


B est C r o i ssan d w i c h The expanded French Crust Café is the first full-service brunch and dinner bistro in Findlay Market, and its offerings are as delicious as ever. With expansive windows and golden yellow walls festooned with colorful posters and ceramics from chef Jean-Robert de Cavel’s vast personal collection of très French memorabilia, it’s a Francophile’s dream — a Parisian café in Over-the-Rhine. And its menu is just as jaunty: note-perfect versions of dishes you’d expect for breakfast, brunch or lunch — a variety of quiches, sandwiches on croissant or baguette, omelets and, of course, a croque monsieur. As the “Crust” in the name suggests, there are many pastry-based options created by in-house pastry chef Jean Philippe Solnom, who clearly knows how to handle butter and flour. The les flat croissants are simple and Provençal, with three tempting options: chicken, apple and mushroom with sheep’s milk cheese; ham, Swiss and béchamel; and the quintessentially French tomato, avocado and brie — buttery, flaky, indulgent and just the right portion with a light frisée salad or soup of the day. The bakery also offers an inthe-pastry-case but off-the-menu pistachio croissant; think a nutty croissant aux amandes, but with pistachio cream instead of almond. French Crust Café, Findlay Market, 1801 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-455-3720, jrcincy.com.

simultaneously matched by chef/owner David Falk and his team. The cadenza performances take place on the more fluid and relaxed second floor of the restaurant. With limited seating and required reservations, everything appears intimate yet inviting, encapsulating the expectation of the evening: relaxed yet indulgent. Diners can choose from a standard four-, six- or eightprix fixe menus boasting intricate and seasonal dishes designed to leave patrons in awe. Go online for more theme details. Boca, 114 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-5422022, bocacincinati.com/cadenza.


kentuckyhouseofgrill.com 8 6  CI T Y B E AT.C O M

It didn’t take long for the sustainabilityfocused Sleepy Bee Café to become a booming breakfast nook in Oakley, where it opened its doors back in December 2013. Thankfully for ’burb-dwellers,

owners Sandy Gross and John Hutton expanded upon that success, opening a second, larger location in Blue Ash right off of Kenwood Road. At 5,000 square feet, the eatery is nearly twice the size of its counterpart, seating 180 inside and even more on their spacious outdoor patio. You’ll find many of the same menu items no matter which location you choose — omelets made with local free-range eggs; gluten-free pancakes made with almond, quinoa and buckwheat flour; a local pasture-raised beef burger and vegetarianfriendly cauliflower falafel veggie burger. But the Blue Ash Smash is an exclusive homage to the neighborhood: scrambled eggs, potatoes, candied bacon, nectar sauce, pesto and pickled onions piled high on sourdough bread. Sleepy Bee Blue Ash, 9514 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash, 513-2412339, sleepybeecafe.com.


CityBeat’s 2017 Best of Cincinnati Awards #1 overall pizza (chain)

#2 OVERALL restaurant

#1 salads

#1 restaurant to take the kids

#1 Neighborhood Pizza Joint (Central)

#1 Neighborhood Pizza Joint (Northern ‘burbs)

#1 Neighborhood Pizza Joint (Westside)

#2 Neighborhood Pizza Joint (Northern Kentucky)



evening programs and events @ findlaymarket.org/groceries-and-grilling.


TUES-FRI: 9am–6pm SAT: 8am–6pm SUN: 10am–4pm MON: Closed

Your home for the BEST, FRESHEST, and most UNIQUE foods in Cincinnati since 1852.

Debbie’s Kitchen

One dish or an entire meal... Delicious & Nutritious!

Come and see our full selection. You’re sure to find something for everyone at your table! Buffalo Mac and Cheese

Vegan Chili

Chicken Wings

Like us on

513-421-GRAM (4726) | gramma.debbie@zoomtown.com | findlaymarket.org Located inside Findlay Market at 1801 Race St, Cincinnati, OH 45202



www.findlaymarket.org 1801 Race Street - Cincinnati, OH - 45202


EVENING HOURS @ FINDLAY MARKET! From May–September, Findlay Market will extend its hours until 8pm every Wednesday. Stay tuned for evening programs and events @ findlaymarket.org/groceries-and-grilling.


curated cookware collection

Try our award winning Goetta! REVOL


Exceptional cookware and creative cooking classes | Over-the-Rhine’s Historic Findlay Market

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8 8  CI T Y B E AT.C O M

Historic Findlay Market 513-721-5743 • www.eckerlinmeats.com

Full Service Butcher Shop. Quality Steaks, Fresh Poultry, Bison, Lamb, Pork and Veal. Homemade Sausages and Smoked Bacon.

Join our mailing list by texting “gotspice”to 22828

(513) 421-4800


10796 Montgomery Rd. Cincinnati, OH 45242 513.489.9600 www.donnasgourmetcookies.com info@donnasgourmetcookies.com 2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  89

RE A DER P ICKS Ov e r a l l B o u t iq u e (Lo ca l) 1. Cincy Shirts 2. HOMAGE 3. MiCA 12/v 4. Rose & Remington 5. Downtown Girl 6. Black Owned Outerwear 7. Durham Dept. 8. Kismet 9. Article (TIE) 9. Continuum (TIE)

N e ig h bo r h oo d B o u t iq u e (E as t Side) 1. Kismet 2. Soho 3. Pomegranate & Lime N e ig h bo r h oo d B o u t iq u e ( W es t Side) 1. Metallic Giraffe 2. LouLou’s 3. Edie’s Vintage Rose Room

N e ig h bo r h oo d B o u t iq u e ( Do w n t o w n/O TR )

N e ig h bo r h oo d B o u t iq u e (Nor thern Ken t uck y )

1. Cincy Shirts 2. HOMAGE 3. MiCA 12/v

1. Grainwell 2. Handzy Shop + Studio 3. Urban Chick Boutique

N e ig h bo r h oo d B o u t iq u e (C e n t r a l )

N e ig h bo r h oo d B o u t iq u e ( N o r t h e r n ’ B u r bs)

1. Chicken Lays an EGG 2. Casablanca Vintage 3. Pangaea Trading Company

1. Busy Bee Boutique 2. Rose & Remington 3. Art On/Off Symmes

Men’s Clothing Store

An t iq u e S t o r e

1. Jos. A. Bank 2. HOMAGE 3. Article

1. Ohio Valley Antique Mall 2. Wooden Nickel Antiques 3. Florence Antique Mall

Wom e n ’ s C l o t h i n g Store

A r t s & C r a f t s S u p p l i e s

1. Macy’s 2. Kismet 3. Idlewild Woman Children’s Clothing Store 1. Once Upon a Child 2. The Spotted Goose Co. 3. Carter’s A c u p u n c t u r e P r a c t ic e 1. Diane Kloecker 2. Alliance Integrative Medicine 3. Arwa Atwan, Future Life Now

1. Hobby Lobby 2. Michaels 3. Indigo Hippo A r t s & C r a f t s C l a ss e s 1. Cheers to Art 2. Baker Hunt Art & Cultural Center 3. Brazee Street Studios Auto De aler ( N e w V e h ic l e s) 1. Jake Sweeney Automotive 2. Kings Toyota 3. Joseph Toyota

2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  91

Auto De aler ( Us e d V e h ic l e s)

Barber Shop

Cr af t Beer Store

1. Jake Sweeney 2. CarMax 3. Beechmont Subaru

1. Spanky & Co Barber Shop 2. Bang Bang Salon 3. Northside Chop Shop (TIE) 3. Sports Clips (TIE)

1. Jungle Jim’s International Market 2. The Party Source 3. Dutch’s

A u t o R e pa i r S e r v ic e

B ic yc l e S t o r e

Camer a Store

1. Tire Discounters 2. AAA | Bob Sumerel Tire & Service 3. Donovan’s Auto & Tire Center

1. Montgomery Cyclery 2. Reser Bicycle Outfitters 3. Spun Bicycles

1. Dodd Camera 2. Best Buy 3. Western Hills Photo & Hobby

A u t o/C a r Wa s h

B ooks t o r e (C h a i n )

1. Mike’s Carwash 2. Johnny’s Car Wash 3. AAA Auto Wash

1. Joseph-Beth Booksellers 2. Half Price Books 3. Barnes & Noble B ooks t o r e ( N on - C h a i n )

B a nk 1. Fifth Third Bank 2. PNC Bank 3. U.S. Bank C r e di t Un ion 1. General Electric Credit Union 2. Kemba Credit Union 3. AurGroup Credit Union

C at e r i n g S e r v ic e 1. Eli’s BBQ 2. Vonderhaar’s Catering 3. Funky’s Catering

B o t t l e d B e e r S e l e c t ion ( R e ta i l )

CD/ R e c o r d S t o r e ( N on - C h a i n )

1. Jungle Jim’s International Market 2. The Party Source 3. Dutch’s

1. Shake It Records 2. Everybody’s Records 3. Black Plastic

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㄀㐀㌀㔀 䴀䄀䤀一 匀吀 䌀䤀一䌀䤀一一䄀吀䤀Ⰰ 伀䠀 㐀㔀㈀ ㈀ 92  CI T Y B E AT.C O M

1. Aglamesis Bros. 2. OTR Candy Bar 3. Supreme Nut & Candy Co.

1. Blue Manatee Children’s Bookstore 2. Roebling Point Books & Coffee 3. Blue Marble Books

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C a n dy S t o r e

C h i r o p r a c t ic P r a c t ic e /C l i n ic 1. Norwood Chiropractic & Sports Injury Center 2. Dr. Eric Eiselt 3. Mt. Lookout Chiropractic & Sports Injury Center Com ic B ook S t o r e 1. Comic Book World 2. Queen City Comic and Card Co. 3. Everybody’s Records Cos t u m e S h o p 1. Cappel’s 2. Costume Gallery 3. Costume Castle D a n c e C l a ss e s 1. Cincinnati Ballet Academy 2. DANCEFIX 3. Arthur Murray Dance Studio D ay S pa 1. Woodhouse Day Spa 2. Mitchell’s Salon & Day Spa 3. Massage Envy

伀䘀䘀䤀䌀䤀䄀䰀 䄀倀倀䄀刀䔀䰀 䄀嘀䄀䤀䰀䄀䈀䰀䔀 一伀圀℀

D e n ta l P r a c t ic e /C l i n ic 1. Vita Dental 2. Cincinnati Dental Services 3. Advance Dentistry D r i v e -T h r u M a r k e t 1. Trotta’s Pizza & Drive-Thru 2. Big Daddy’s Liquor Store 3. City Beverage of Hyde Park Dry Cle aner 1. Widmer’s Cleaners 2. Springdale Cleaners 3. Atlas Dry Cleaners E l e c t r on ic s S t o r e

F i n a n ci a l P l a nn i n g S e r v ic e 1. Fidelity Investments 2. Fifth Third Bank Corp. 3. Charles Schwab F i n d l ay M a r k e t V e n d o r 1. Blue Oven Bakery 2. Eli’s BBQ 3. Colonel De Gourmet Herbs & Spices Florist 1. Adrian Durban Florist 2. Robin Wood Flowers 3. Oberer’s Flowers

Furniture Store

H a i r S a l on

1. IKEA 2. Furniture Fair 3. Elm & Iron

1. Mitchell’s Salon & Day Spa 2. Parlour 3. Salon Lofts

Gif t shop

H a r d wa r e S t o r e

1. MiCA 12/v 2. Ten Thousand Villages 3. Cincinnati Art Museum Shop

1. Ace Hardware 2. The Home Depot 3. Lowe’s

G r e e n/ S u s ta i n a b l e Goo d s S t o r e

H e a lt h Foo d S t o r e

1. Findlay Market 2. Park + Vine 3. Clifton Natural Foods

1. Fresh Thyme 2. Whole Foods Market 3. Clifton Natural Foods

1. Best Buy 2. Micro Center Computers & Electronics 3. Apple Store

Fr ame Shop

Grocery Store

Hom e A c c e sso r i e s Store

1. frameshop (TIE) 1. Michaels (TIE) 3. Hobby Lobby

1. Kroger 2. Jungle Jim’s International Market 3. Fresh Thyme

1. HomeGoods 2. Elm & Iron 3. Bed Bath & Beyond

E ye we ar Store

F r e s h S e a f oo d S t o r e

H a i r R e mo va l S e r v ic e

Hos p i ta l

1. LensCrafters 2. Frameri 3. Wing Eyecare

1. Jungle Jim’s International Market 2. Keegan’s Specialty Seafood Market 3. Lobsta Bakes of Maine

1. European Wax Center 2. The Woodhouse Day Spa 3. Mitchell’s Salon & Day Spa

1. The Christ Hospital 2. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center 3. Good Samaritan Hospital

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P h y s ici a n/ H e a lt h c a r e P r a c t ic e 1. The Christ Hospital 2. Group Health Associates 3. Mercy Health Physicians B i r t h i n g / M at e r n i t y Center

Je weler

L iq u o r S t o r e

1. Tiffany & Co. 2. The Richter & Phillips Co. 3. Faigle & Sons Jewelers

1. The Party Source 2. DEP’s Fine Wine & Spirits 3. Hyde Park Wine & Spirits

L asik Surgery Center

Lo c a l In di e C r a f t Marke t

1. Cincinnati Eye Institute 2. LasikPlus Vision Center 3. Dr. Robert Benza, ApexEye

1. Good Samaritan Hospital 2. The Christ Hospital 3. Bethesda North Hospital

L aw F i r m/ L aw y e r 1. Frost Brown Todd Attorneys 2. Dinsmore & Shohl 3. O’Connor, Acciani & Levy

Ho t e l 1. 21c Museum Hotel 2. Hotel Covington 3. Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza

L ig h t i n g S t o r e

B e d a n d B r e a k fa s t 1. Gaslight Bed & Breakfast 2. The Clifton House Bed & Breakfast 3. Symphony Hotel

1. IKEA 2. Elm & Iron 3. Switch Lighting & Design Lingerie Store 1. Victoria’s Secret 2. Knickers of Hyde Park 3. Hustler Hollywood

HVAC Com pa n y 1. Gallagher Heating & Cooling 2. Apollo Home 3. Arlinghaus Heating & Air Conditioning

N e ig h bo r h oo d S h o p p i n g Di s t r ic t 1. Rookwood Pavilion/Commons 2. Over-the-Rhine 3. Hyde Park Square M a n ic u r e / P e dic u r e

1. The City Flea 2. Crafty Supermarket 3. The O.F.F. Market (Oakley Fancy Flea)

1. Ambiance Nail Salon & Spa 2. Deluxe Nails & Apa on Camargo 3. The Woodhouse Day Spa

Lo c a l In di e C r a f t Marke t Vendor

1. Club MMA 2. Cincinnati Taekwondo Center 3. Cincinnati Martial Arts Club

M a r t i a l A r t s S t u dio

1. Keep Your Shirt On Covington 2. Brown Bear Bakery 3. Cityscape Tiles M a g a z i n e / N e w s pa p e r S e l e c t ion

M a ss a g e T h e r a p y P r a c t ic e /C l i n ic 1. The Woodhouse Day Spa 2. Massage Envy 3. Norwood Chiropractic & Sports Injury Center

1. Joseph-Beth Booksellers 2. Barnes & Noble 3. Half Price Books Mall/Shopping Center

M ob i l e P h on e S e r v ic e Provider

1. Kenwood Towne Centre 2. Liberty Center 3. Rookwood Commons & Pavilion

1. Verizon 2. AT&T 3. Sprint

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5440 Dixie Hwy., Fairreld

4450 Eastgate South Drive, Cincinnati

M o t o r c yc l e / Motorspor t s De aler 1. Harley-Davidson of Cincinnati 2. Cycle Specialties 3. Beechmont Motorsports M o v i n g Com pa n y

Pa i n t S t o r e

P e t G r oom i n g

P i e r ci n g S t u dio

1. Sherwin-Williams 2. The Home Depot 3. Lowe’s

1. Animal Care Centers of Cincinnati 2. PetSmart 3. Bow Wow Boutique

1. Beelistic Tattoo & Piercing 2. Skincraft Piercing-Tattoo 3. Hybrid Image Tattoo and Piercing

P e t R e s c u e / S h e lt e r 1. SPCA Cincinnati 2. Stray Animal Adoption Program (SAAP) 3. Adore-A-Bull Rescue

1. Mandell-Brown Plastic Surgery Center 2. The Plastic Surgery Group 3. Cincinnati Institute of Plastic Surgery

P e t S u p p ly S t o r e

P l u mb i n g Com pa n y

1. PetSmart 2. Argos All-Natural Pet Food & Supply 3. Petco

1. Zins Plumbing   2. Apollo Home 3. Jolly Plumbing

Pa p e r g oo d S t o r e 1. M. Hopple & Co. 2. Papyrus 3. Handzy Shop + Studio

1. Two Men and a Truck 2. All My Sons Moving & Storage 3. Big John Movers

Paw n S h o p

M u s ic a l Ins t r u m e n t Store

1. Ted’s Pawn 2. Facet Jewelry, Music & Pawn 3. American Trading Company

1. Guitar Center 2. Willis Music 3. Baroque Violin Shop

P e t A d o p t ion S e r v ic e

N u r s e r y/ P l a n t S t o r e 1. Natorp’s Nursery 2. Burger Farm and Garden Center 3. Delhi Flower & Garden Center O u t d oo r /O u t f i t t e r s Shop

1. SPCA Cincinnati 2. Stray Animal Adoption Program (SAAP) 3. PAWS Adoption Center P e t B o a r di n g / D ayc a r e 1. Animal Care Centers of Cincinnati 2. The Pet Spot 3. Red Dog Pet Resort & Spa

1. REI 2. Bass Pro Shops 3. Cabela’s

P l a s t ic S u r g e r y

Ve terinary Care 1. Animal Care Centers of Cincinnati 2. Noah’s Ark Animal Clinic 3. Four Paws Animal Hospital

R e a l Es tat e / R e a lt o r O f f ic e 1. Sibcy Cline Realtors 2. Comey & Shepherd Realtors 3. Coldwell Banker West Shell Shoe Store 1. DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse 2. Bob Roncker’s Running Spot 3. Nordstrom

MontgoMery CyClery L o w e s t P r i c e s G ua r a n t e e d • F u L L s e rv i c e s h o P / F r e e r e Pa i r e s t i m at e s

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8483 Beechmont Ave. (513) 474-5888


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S k i n C a r e S e r v ic e

T e a S h o p/ S e l e c t ion

Toy S t o r e

1. Woodhouse Day Spa 2. Aveda Fredric’s Institute 3. Mitchell’s Salon & Day Spa

1. Churchill’s Fine Teas 2. Coffee Emporium 3. Essencha Tea House

1. King Arthur’s Court 2. Toys R Us 3. Blue Manatee

S mok e / Tob a c c o S h o p

Thrif t Shop

T r e e S e r v ic e

1. Jungle Jim’s International Market 2. Hemptations 3. Strauss Tobacconist

1. Goodwill 2. Valley Thrift Store 3. Saint Vincent de Paul

1. Beaver Tree Services (TIE) 1. Gregory Forrest Lester (TIE) 3. Little Miami Tree Service

Cons ig nm e n t S h o p

Va p e S h o p

S p o r t i n g Goo d s

1. Snooty Fox 2. Once Upon A Child 3. Clothes Mentor

1. Cincy Vapors 2. Cloud 9 Vapor Lounge 3. Bluegrass Vape

V i n ta g e C l o t h i n g S t o r e

W e d di n g C a k e s

1. Casablanca 2. Talk of the Town 3. Chicken Lays An Egg

1. The BonBonerie 2. A Spoon Fulla Sugar 3. Happy Chicks Bakery

Tire Store

W e d di n g D r e ss e s

1. Tire Discounters 2. AAA | Bob Sumerel Tire and Service 3. Costco

1. Bridal & Formal 2. David’s Bridal 3. Amanda’s Hyde Park Bridal

1. Dick’s Sporting Goods 2. REI 3. Bass Pro Shop Ta nn i n g S a l on 1. Palm Beach Tan 2. Planet Fitness 3. Envy Tan Tat t oo S h o p 1. Designs by Dana 2. Beelistic 3. Hybrid Image Tattoo & Piercing

9 6  CI T Y B E AT.C O M

W e d di n g P h o t o g r a p h y S e r v ic e 1. Megan Noll Photography 2. Eleven:11 3. Best Day Ever W e d di n g R e c e p t ion H a l l 1. The Madison 2. Ault Park Pavilion 3. Receptions P l a c e t o B u y Yo u r En g a g e m e n t R i n g 1. Tiffany & Co. 2. Richter & Phillips 3. Faigle & Sons Wine Shop 1. 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab 2. Oakley Wines 3. Marty’s Hops and Vines (TIE) 3. The Wine Merchant (TIE)

Thank yoU

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ambiance Nail Salon & Spa is an award winning luxury nail salon and spa with over fifteen years of experience. our goal is to provide the highest level of client service and satisfaction. We are staffed by qualified and knowledgeable professionals dedicated to perfecting the art of nail and skin care. With the highest standards of services and sanitation, we pride ourselves in offering you a relaxing and rejuvenating experience.

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Improving the Quality of Our Members’ Financial Lives Evendale/Reading Road Office 10485 Reading Road Cincinnati, OH 45241

Loveland/Symmes Twp Office 10501 Loveland-Madeira Road Loveland, OH 45140

Eastgate Office 4450 Eastgate Blvd, Suite 255 Cincinnati, OH 45245

Mason/West Chester Office 6960 Tylersville Road Mason, OH 45040

Fairfield Office 5370 Dixie Highway (Route 4) Fairfield, OH 45014

Additional offices located inside TriHealth & Mercy Hospitals

BEST STORE IN A BAR Helmed by Cheapside Café co-owners Joe and Robin Creighton and Jon Mouch, Mecca OTR is a cool new bar reminiscent of a place you’d stumble upon in Alphabet City in the 1970s. With a giant patio area and hidden entrance, the bar gets its name from the former Cincy saloon where Boss Cox had his office. Along with an odd but entertaining cocktail menu of tiny booze bottles stuffed into cans of San Pellegrino and absinthe shots, the interior has multiple single-person bathrooms designed by different artists and its own vintage shop. Mecca is home to the only storefront location for DJ and collector Matt Joy’s highly prized vintage finds. Joy’s shop — which appears to be but is not the window-lined front entrance to the bar — features a handful of his treasures with an emphasis on Americana, including Pendleton blankets, denim vests, buffalo check jackets, leather boots and interesting estate sale artwork. Joy’s shop is open 4-8 p.m. on days when the bar is open. Mecca OTR, 1429 Walnut St., Downtown, facebook.com/meccaotr.

B E S T T R IO P U L L I N G F O R GIRL POWER After graduating from the Art Academy of Cincinnati, friends Amy Scarpello, Chelsey Hughes and Linda Winder founded Pull Club, a girl-powered design and printmaking studio. Today, the three use the printing process to transfer hand-drawn images and designs — including whimsical rabbits, crisp yellow peaches and cute (but tomato-devouring) hornworms — to paper prints and items like T-shirts, pillows, fabrics and bags. The trio frequently works with local artists and organizations like the Art Academy and Wave Pool gallery, and their colorful products are available online and at local events like Crafty Supermarket. Pull Club, pullclubstudio. com, instagram.com/pull_club.


Photo: Hailey Bollinger


Interested in 3-D printing but don’t have $1,000 to blow? The main branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County has a solution. The library’s MakerSpace aims to foster creativity, learning and collaboration by providing upscale equipment like 3-D printers, Canon DSLR cameras, laser engravers, sewing stations and an audio conversion booth. The best part? Machines are completely free to use, and additional materials like acrylic, printing resin and flash drives are available onsite for minimal fees. Print anything you can imagine and 2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I


Photo: Hailey Bollinger

B E S T V I N TA G E K I M O N O M E R C H A N T Inside the womb-like interior of lingerie store Swoon OTR, shoppers will find a selection of ethical intimates in earthy nudes and pale pastels, plus pasties, phallic geode chakra rubs, personal grooming products and musky-scented South American Palo Santo wood to burn to cleanse your energy, enhance creativity and bring good fortune. Owner Melissa Lieb is committed to the exploration and exaltation of all things feminine and believes in worshipping your body with slow fashion and meaningful objects. This is why she scours the physical and digital world for beautiful vintage silk kimonos. Her hand-picked collection of both long and short printed robes can be worn in the bedroom, boardroom or out to eat in OTR, and will help you tap into your eccentric yet impeccable sense of fashion or give you something glamorous to wear while casting nature spells for the sacred feminine. Swoon OTR, 1421 Vine St., Overthe-Rhine, 513-404-8541, facebook.com/swoon.otr.

design, from toys and piggy banks to coat hooks and a citrus juicer. If you have a library card, book a station in advance to ensure your creative endeavors go unhindered. 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Wednesday. Free to use. Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Main Branch, 800 Vine St., Downtown, cincinnatilibrary.org.

B E S T T H R I F T Y C R A F T S E S S IO N Indigo Hippo founder and executive director Alisha Budkie describes her Over-the-Rhine shop as a “creative reuse center” — kind of like a thrift store for art supplies. Offering a wide range of traditional and eccentric materials, Indigo Hippo’s stock is entirely donationbased, coming largely from area artists, students and makers. Inside, you’ll find everything from charcoal, paints and brushes to buttons, yarn and natural materials like feathers and stone, and prices are always set as low as possible. No matter what project you’re tackling, Indigo Hippo has the supplies you’ll need 100


— and plenty of other offerings for a bout of inspiration. Indigo Hippo, 1301 Main St., 513-918-4917, facebook.com/indigohippo.

B E S T C L A S S IC CI N CY S H I R T C R E AT IO N S Cincy Shirts is a “vintage” T-shirt brand helmed by local stand-up comic Josh Sneed that mines both the past and present to create apparel showcasing Cincinnati’s unique institutions and idiosyncratic culture. Some screenprinted creations feature staples like three-way chili and Pete Rose, but dig deeper and you’ll find distinctive and so-Cincy tees advertising everything from The Uncle Al Show and Caddy’s nightclub to Little Kings, FC Cincinnati and Shillito’s department store. They also have headwear, jackets, pins, patches and stickers to outfit yourself from head to toe. Our personal favorite designs include a T-shirt commemorating the historic Limp Bizkit concert that never was at a Sunoco gas station in Dayton and a logo tee for the now-defunct

T h a n k yo u

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B es t B ooks t ore Maki n g K i d s Wa n t To R ea d Between cellphones, computers and tablets, getting your kids to reach for a book is getting harder and harder. But Blue Manatee Bookstore changes up that equation, fostering a cozy and colorful space that promotes creativity and offers an expansive selection of titles alongside a friendly and knowledgeable staff. Frequently held activities — ranging from arts and crafts to meet-and-greets with popular authors — add extra dimensions to kids’ favorite titles. Later this spring, the store is moving to a new, more intimate space up the road at 3094 Madison Ave., promising “a truly unique, magical space for children and their grownups.” The Blue Manatee, 3054 Madison Ave., Oakley, 513-731-2665, bluemanateebooks.com.

Phantom Theater at Kings Island. Cincy Shirts, 1435 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-510-5774, cincyshirts.com.

B e s t C l o t h e s Fo r T i n y H u m a ns W i t h An Ins ta g r a m Account Offering dozens of clothing brands for babies and toddlers, Oakley’s The Spotted Goose helps your kids unleash their inner Rock stars by mixing and matching whimsically printed onesies with hipster hoodies and quirky graphic T-shirts. Complement outfits with items like snuggly beanies, floofy tutus, colorful moccasins or a pair of cat-eye sunglasses and snap a picture for Instagram (#youvebeenspotted). You’ll also find cuddly plush toys and accessories like wands, crowns, backpacks and locally made bibs. The Spotted Goose, 3048 Madison Road, Oakley, 513351-9600, thespottedgoose.com.

B e s t B e a u t i f ic at ion O f Fo u r - L e t t e r Wo r d s Looking for a way display your hatred of people or your foul vocabulary? Look no further than Northside’s The Hoop

& Needle, where owner Sarah Fisher offers a modern line of cross-stitching patterns, kits and completed pieces. Although designs featuring four-letter words are the store’s best-sellers — popular phrases include “nature is bullshit” and “Thomas Kinkade can suck my dick” — you’ll also find an array of pop culture references like “treat yo self” and “riding dirty.” The Hoop & Needle also holds classes for crafters of all skill levels, including a Color Wheel Sampler that covers the basics of cross-stitching. The Hoop & Needle, 4019 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 330-715-6064, thehoopandneedle.com.

Voted Best Pawn Shop! Family Owned & Operated Since 1970

B e s t Es c a p e F r om T h e P e r i l s O f A d u lt i n g There’s nothing quite like getting lost among the shelves at King Arthur’s Court Toys, a purveyor of beloved classic toys for more than 25 years. Rediscover old favorites like LEGO, Playmobil, Calico Critters and Breyer horses and ride back home on a purple micro scooter for a little additional online shopping; shipping on orders over $99 are always free. King Arthur’s

Monday-Friday 9-6 | Saturday 9-3 | Sunday Closed 2026 Delaware Avenue | Norwood

www.tedspawn.com | 513-631-2112 Like us on Facebook!

PB #100101.000

2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  10 3

Court Toys, 3040 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-531-4600, kingarthurstoys.com.

B e s t In - Ho u s e B r a n d E x pa ns ion Article, Over-the-Rhine’s flagship menswear store, professes quality over quantity. The shop is highly curated and designed solely with guys in mind, providing access to brands that combine style with durability — no more clothes that fall apart after a couple of washes. Featured brands include Mollusk, Tanner Goods, Deus Ex Machina, Bill Reid, 3sixteen and local Noble Denim, to name just a few. And Article recently expanded its offerings with a house line of classic button-downs, ties, belts and beanies. With a focus on defining a polished-but-casual aesthetic without forsaking quality material, Article the store and Article the brand are a one-stop shop for dressing yourself from the shoes up. Article, 1150 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-721-1150, articlemenswear.com.

B e s t B l ooms Fo r A C a u s e Gia and the Blooms owner Yuliya Bui’s love for animals goes beyond the name of her shop, which refers to her pitbull Gia: A portion of the store’s proceeds are

donated to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, from which Gia was adopted. Burlap-wrapped bouquets begin at $35, and delivery is free within the Cincinnati metro area. Gia and the Blooms, 114 E. 13th St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-487-0915, giablooms.com.

B e s t V e t Yo u r P e t s M ig h t A c t u a l ly Look Fo r wa r d To S e e i n g With more than 20 years of veterinary experience, Dr. Robert Biederman — better known as Dr. Bob — has brought genuine affection to his doctoral duties, making visits to the vet a little less painless for both pets and their people. His Plum Street Pet Clinic provides everything from surgery, dental care and endocrinology services to alternative therapies like veterinary acupuncture. (Yes, seriously.) Plum Street Pet Clinic, 427 Plum St., Downtown, 513-961-1110, plumstreetpet.com.

B e s t F e a s t Fo r F u r B a b i e s Argos, All-Natural Pet Food and Supply is an independently owned and operated shop dedicated to providing personalized service and products of superior quality. It stocks a wide variety of food for dogs and cats — dry, wet, treats and beyond

— as well as health products like probiotics, calming chews and senior formulas. Their in-house signature pet food is made fresh each month without fillers (aka corn, soy, wheat or animal by-products), preservatives or artificial flavors and is certified by the Association Of American Feed Control Officials. Stop in and chat with knowledgeable staff or order online to have products delivered right to your doorstep. Deliveries are made throughout the majority of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky; go online for details. Your pets will thank you. Argos, 2801 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut Hills, 513221-4451; 7713 Camargo Road, Madeira, 513-561-7966, argospet.com.

Best Hitchhiker’s Guide To T h e G r e at O u t d oo r s Founded in 1974, friendly outdoor mecca Benchmark Outfitters stocks everything you need to tackle the wilderness, from footwear, clothing and hiking gear to tools, luggage and electronics. The shop’s knowledgeable staff even hosts classes and events to help explorers of all ages thrive in the wild, including canoe nights and scout badge classes. Benchmark Outfitters, 9525 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash, 513-791-9453, benchmarkoutfitter.com.

Best Lit tle Shop Of K n ic kkn a c ks Stocking everything from greeting cards to jewelry to Vera Bradley purses, The Village Junction is a great stop to cure any gift-giving slump. Tucked behind a Shell station and situated beside a butcher shop, it’s a slightly hidden treasure trove overflowing with finds. Head upstairs to sift through piles of discounted items. The Village Junction, 10827 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, 513-489-4990, facebook.com/ villagejunction.

B e s t S u s ta i n a b l e Shopping Spree Boutique retailer Deerhaus Décor places an emphasis on small-batch manufacturing while pursuing a passion for sustainable design. Deerhaus provides a brickand-mortar location for local craftsmen and artisans to display their work, which ranges from soaps and ceramics to jewelry and woodwork. There are also unique maker-made items from across the United States — laser-cut suede jewelry from Oregon, handmade wood rolling pins from Vermont and apothecary items from Northern Ohio. New items come into the store every week, and the inventory

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Bundled wellness services and supplies allow us to offer the very best veterinary care at deep discounts, saving you hundreds of dollars each year. Ask us how prices compare for the same individual services.

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also features hand-picked vintage furniture. Deerhaus Décor, 135 W. Elder St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-808-0442, facebook. com/deerhausdecor.

B e s t Way To Av oi d P e o p l e At T h e G r o c e r y S t o r e It never fails: Grocery stores are a cesspool of long-lost coworkers, high school classmates and exes. But an ingenious new way to shop allows you pick up everything you need without leaving your vehicle. Kroger Clicklist gives shoppers access to more than 40,000 items online — confirm your order, select a pick-up date and time and drive to the store, where an employee runs out to your car with your groceries. Kroger Clicklist, kroger.com.

B e s t P l a c e To A d o p t, Not Shop Rescue organization League for Animal Welfare was established in 1949 by a small group of people concerned about the care of stray and unwanted pets. Today, it finds homes for more than 1,000 animals per year with the help of its trained adoption counselors, who work with potential adopters to match them with the dog or cat most appropriate

for their lifestyle and family. The League is entirely no kill and commits itself to reducing the number of homeless cats and dogs while promoting responsible pet care. Its None Left Behind program encourages the adoption of specialneeds pets with waived adoption fees, free behavioral consultations with the League’s in-house animal trainer and even provisions for ongoing medical treatments. Find a list of adoptable pets online and stop by during business hours to meet them. League for Animal Welfare, 4193 Taylor Road, Batavia, 513-7352299, lfaw.org.

B e s t B r e w s/ B ooks Ta g t e a m Roebling Point Books & Coffee doesn’t skimp on either of its namesakes. Its brews are some of the best Cincinnati has to offer, and its extensive collection of titles is enough to keep caffeinated customers browsing for hours. Owner Richard Hunt hand-picks titles ranging from best-sellers to pieces by local authors. With a bit of a bohemian spirit, its exterior chalkboard wall on Greenup Street boasts constantly rotating quotes from authors and philosophers. Bonus: It’s dog-friendly. Roebling Point Books & Coffee, 306 Greenup St., Covington,

Ky., 859-815-7204, facebook.com/ roeblingpointbooksandcoffee.

B e s t E xc u s e To K e e p Yo u r S h i r t O n The brainchild of local duo Kysoc — a Covington, Ky.-based comedy writer and artist — Keep Your Shirt on Covington celebrates the quirky side of the Tristate. From “Straight Outta Covington” mugs to “I Wish I Knew How to Quit You” Bengals tees, there’s no shortage of ways to express your local pride (or, in some cases, shame). They are also the makers of the infamous Cincinnati Against All Sanity cards, a locally inspired add-on pack for your Cards Against Humanity deck. Stay tuned for upcoming scavenger crawls: Frankensteined pubcrawls meet scavenger hunts. Keep Your Shirt on Covington, 10 Pike St., Covington, Ky., keepyourshirtoncovington.com.

Best Urban Jungle Formerly an appointment-only florist and flower shop, Eden Floral Boutique recently opened their Walnut Street storefront to the public. Step inside to purchase a curated line of houseplants, succulents, containers and grab-and-go bouquets or just peruse the fresh flower

bar for inspiration. Shop owners Kelly Murphy and Kelly Dragoo studied floral design in Boston and London, and their on-trend, unique arrangements are hand built from flowers selected daily at the flower market. They also have excellent taste in wallpaper; their back wall is covered in a bold green-and-white leaf print paper. Eden Floral Boutique, 1129 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-281-3336, edenfloralboutique.com.

B e s t P l a c e To F i n d A C l aw f oo t T u b Remodelers donate used or leftover building materials to the nonprofit Building Value, which resells these materials to the public at a deeply discounted rate; prices are often a third the cost of new, and inventory includes a lot of architectural salvage you can’t find anywhere else. The constantly changing merchandise selection includes antique doors and windows, funky Atomic Agecolored sinks and toilets, vintage ranges and even authentic clawfoot tubs — like real period-piece tubs removed from historic homes. And besides doing good by reusing and recycling old materials, Building Value is also a funnel to benefit the Easterseals, which is committed to

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Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Voted Best Wedding Venue in 2016 444 Reading Rd • (513) 852-2787


Your local PPG Paints store is here for you.


free, exclusive RSVP to the coming to a color events store near you: PPG Paints the Designer ◆ ◆ Meet April 19th 4:00-7:00 PM

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◆ Hamilton Color Show ◆ April 26th 6:00-8:00PM 91 N Brookwood Ave Hamilton, OH 45013

RSVP: Susanne Leiman (sleiman@ppg.com) Ask your local PPG Paints store when the next show is coming to your town, or request more information from Susanne. ©2017 PPG Industries, Inc. The PPG Paints Logo is a trademark of PPG Industries Ohio, Inc. The Voice of Color is a registered trademark of PPG Architectural Coatings, Inc.

10 6  CI T Y B E AT.C O M

in-store for:

B es t B ir d I n A F ra m e S hop Helmed by a rag-tag collection of good-looking dudes and craftsmen, frameshop specializes in modern framing applications for unique artwork and prints to display your favorite pieces to their best effects. With multiple locations full of wallhanging oddities and a new Hyde Park storefront, the custom framery’s unofficial head of customer service is Yellow-Naped Amazon parrot Jamie. Re-homed after her previous owners became ill, the more than 30-year-old Jamie was adopted by the folks at frameshop through the Northern Kentucky Parrot Rescue. Generally manning her station at the OTR location, Jamie’s wings aren’t clipped — she has full flight capabilities, which means her customer service role sometimes expands into crime fighter, like during a comical incident where she flew after a police officer who was giving chase to a suspect down Main Street. “There I was chasing a bird, who was chasing a police officer, who was chasing a suspect,” says frameshop co-owner Jake Gerth. frameshop, 1317 Main St., Over-the-Rhine; 2707 Observatory Ave., Hyde Park; 1275 Budd St., Queensgate, frameshopusa.com.

breaking down barriers to employment for people with disabilities. Building Value, 4040 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, 513475-6783, buildingvalue.org.

Brew Crew member who packaged them. brewhousedogbones.com.

B e s t Do - Goo d Do g T r e at s

Retailer of all things modern from the 1950s through the 1970s, Leftcoast Modern has a changing inventory of design-geek favorite finds from furniture makers Milo Baughman, Herman Miller, Knoll and Raymor, plus new mod pieces inspired by the originals. While you’re browsing for Mad Men dresser sets and Scandinavian seating, peep next door at the attached Your Friends & Neighbors shop. Owner and designer Maya Drozdz lovingly selects a collection of homegoods created by her talented friends from the design world and local makers. There are ceramics, candles, cards, textiles, artwork, giftables and other quirky but well-crafted finds. Leftcoast Modern and Your Friends & Neighbors, 2808

Each dog bone purchase at Brewhaus Dog Bones goes to benefit the parent not-for-profit Brewhaus Bakery Company, which provides vocational training for young adults with disabilities, dubbed the Brew Crew, who participate in all aspects of the program: baking bones, calculating costs, processing orders and making bank deposits. The organization produces handcrafted small-batch dog treats using spent whole grains from local breweries, including participating drinkeries Rhinegeist, Braxton, Taft’s Ale House, Nine Giant and Blank Slate. Each Brewhaus Dog Bone bag includes the name of the brewery from which the grains were sourced to make the treats, as well as the name of the

B e s t T w o - Fo r - O n e Hom e g oo d s Ho t S p o t

and 2809 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut Hills, 513-288-2364, facebook.com/leftcoastmoderncincinnati, facebook.com/ weareyourfriendsandneighbors.

B e s t R u m R u nn e r Get ready to sample a slew of rum — unbarreled, spiced and bourbon barrelaged — at Second Sight Spirits artisan distillery. Built by former Cirque de Soleil prop masters and engineers/booze pirates Rick Couch and Carus Waggoner, the distillery’s moniker is inspired by a vaudevillian swami. Free tours of the facility take visitors past their on-theme steampunk-esque copper still. Tours and tastings run Thursday through Sunday, and they also have a fun bottle-recycling program. Bring in your empty bottle, feel good about “drinking green” and get $2 off your next bottle of spirits. Second Sights Spirits, 301 B. Elm St., Ludlow, Ky., secondsightspirits.com.

B e s t Way To P r e p Fo r O p e n i n g D ay Baseball season is a big deal in Cincinnati. Opening Day is basically an unofficial holiday because everyone either leaves work to get drunk at the parade or go to the first Reds game of the year. To capture that excitement all the time — and on your wrist — Game Day Feels sells bracelets and accessories made from baseball glove laces. The locally owned company was founded by two sisters and now employs three other women in a full-time mission to capture and spread the feeling of game day. Their best-selling rawhide gender-inclusive wrist wraps are handmade from genuine tanned baseball glove lace leather and secured with a buckle. Shoppers can customize their bracelets with engraved coordinates of their favorite baseball stadium, a special saying or someone’s name, icons like baseball hats and home plate or choose from a selection of provided inspirational quotes. Game Day Feels studio, 529 Main St., Loveland, 513-609-1170, gamedayfeels.com.

B e s t R e n ta b l e Po t t e r y Wheel Queen City Clay offers pottery classes, demonstrations and goods for sale to nurture the human impulse to create. And in this day and age, when handthrown ceramics are all the rage in functional design, why not try to make your own? The studio offers intensive eightand 12-week classes to teach novices and increasingly advanced artists how to hand-build, wheel-throw, sculpt and fire their own clay creations. If you’re feeling less motivated, you can rent Queen City Clay for private parties or attend an

Open Wheel Session — no experience required. During Open Wheel nights, the second and fourth Saturday of the month, skip pre-dinner cocktails and get your hands dirty with some exploratory clay play. Feel free to bring drinks and snacks, too. Queen City Clay, 3130 Wasson Road, Hyde Park, 513-871-2529, queencityclay.com.

B e s t W e d di n g D r e ss S h o p Fo r T h e Dig i ta l A g e LUXEredux Bridal is a high-end consignment boutique that offers gently used designer wedding gown without the big price tags. Designers like Vera Wang, Pronovias, Badgley Mischka and more are all represented and affordable — tons of options under $1,000. The gowns are boutique samples or once-worn garments — all of which are available online. If you don’t feel like doing the traditional wedding dress reveal in-store, you can opt for LUXE in a BOX, a revolutionary service where brides-to-be can order three gowns to try on at home. Then you send back what doesn’t work. Search and sort gowns by price and designer online; just be sure to double-check the listed sizing. Because this is a one-loved situation, not all gowns come in all sizes. LUXEredux Bridal, 203 W. Benson St. Reading, 513550-3531, luxereduxbridal.com.

Family Owned & Operated since 1890 • early veggie plants • herbs • cabbage

• broccoli • cauliflower • lettuce

• collards

open year round Thanks for voting us the BEST Plant Store/Nursery in Cincinnati!

4944 Gray Road Cincinnati, OH 45232 (513) 541-0672 ● ajrahn.com

B e s t P l a c e To F i n d A B r u s h Fo r An y J ob Hayes Shanesy and Rosie Kovacs are the duo behind Brush Factory, a contemporary furniture maker and storefront with a focus on beauty and simplicity inspired by fashion, art and the natural world. The new Brush Factory shop on Main Street in Over-the-Rhine is 2,300 square feet of space that accommodates both the house bff line of solid-wood residential furniture, and a collection of modern, minimal and well-crafted local, national and international brands of artisanal homegoods. Brush Factory started in 2009 when Kovacs and Shanesy combined their backgrounds — she studied fashion design and he studied industrial design, both at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning — by opening a working studio in a former brush factory in Brighton. Then in 2015, Kovacs and Shanesy won a $20,000 ArtWorks Big Pitch grant to expand their business into its current iteration. In line with their name and mission, Brush Factory does in fact carry a variety of handcrafted, beautiful brushes for very specific tasks, like dusting, swiping, scrubbing, etc. Brush Factory, 1417 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-278-7435, brushmanufactory.com. 2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  107

C E l E B R AT IN g 5 y E A R s

Photo: Hailey Bollinger

T H A N k y O U f O R y O U R s U p p O R T, C I N C I N N AT I .

B es t Nat u ra l Ge l Ma n ic u re When Spruce Natural Nail Salon opened last year on Vine Street, their mission was to provide “five-free” nail services, using nail polishes free of the five most common toxins found in most other polishes: formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, camphor, DDT and toluene. All of their products, including their Columbus-made Sprucebrand lotions, scrubs and cuticle oils, are also vegan and cruelty-free. The eco nail options offered the good, clean fun promised in their slogan for both clients and nail technicians — the Occupational Safety and Health Administration guide warns that exposure to typical nail salon chemicals can cause a range of illnesses from cancer to birth defects — but while the salon’s initial stance was to not offer gel nail polishes, they soon realized customers have a love affair with long-wearing gel polish. So Spruce found a Sprucey solution: BioSeaweed Gel. BioSeaweed Gel is still a five-free product, but it magically ensures a long chip-free wear and won’t damage the natural nail like traditional gel polishes can. It’s a nail polish miracle. Spruce Natural Nail Shop, 1235 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-818-8749, sprucenailshop.com.

Best Baby Bump A light bulb went off for entrepreneur and owner of OTR’s Sloane boutique, Duru Armagan, when she was navigating the waters of pregnancy, approaching motherhood and celebrating five years in business. Inspired by her infant daughter (and outfitting her in cute clothes) she undertook new venture sloanebaby. With borrowed square footage from the existing Sloane space, Armagan created a one-stop shop for fashionable mamas and their chic mini-mes. Her adorable new inventory includes onesies, T-shirts, moccasins and teethers, all in a surprisingly affordable price range. However, if you really feel like splurging on mommyand-me matching outfits, Sloane does carry the cutest baby leather jacket from Veda for a hair over $500. (Unfortunately, mommy’s is a little more expensive.) Sloane Boutique, 1216 Vine St., Over-theRhine, sloaneboutique.com.

Best Deco Décor Throwback Founded in 1880 by Maria Longworth Nichols, the Rookwood Pottery Company was the first female-owned manufacturing company in the nation. Taking inspiration from Japanese designs she saw at Philadelphia’s Centennial Exhibition, Nichols built her company in a renovated schoolhouse with a team of potters, craftspeople, students and glaze chemists, encouraging them to exchange ideas, innovations and creative concepts in a sort of artists’ colony. More than a century later, Rookwood returns to its roots by reissuing classic molds, like its Abel Bear figurine or the 1920 Shirayamadani candlestick set. Designed by Tokyo-born Rookwood artist Kataro Shirayamandani, the holder is a simple elongated polyhedron with feet and a rounded cap — like a truncated base of the Eiffel Tower — decorated with almost

26 0 0 W O O D BURN AV ENUE | CIN CINN ATI, O HIO 452 0 6 s A lO NpA RlO UR.C O m | 513.9 61.H A IR | @ pA RlO UR CIN CINN AT I

2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  109

Thank you CinCinnaTi/nky for voTing us BesT LoCaL CrafT MarkeT vendor! artists, Comedians, pranksters makers of CinCinnati against all sanity

(cards against cincinnati) and mOre! upComing adult sCavenger Crawls:

the cOvingtOn crawl 2 (4/7) Bill & ted’s excellent adventure (5/6)! the cOv aBides (fall 17)

Our Our prOduc Our shirts ts are are scaven are sO funny, f leg enda ger cra t, and wls ry.

Use code BESTOF17 at keepyourshirtoncovington.com for 15% off your purchase!

urbanbeekeepers beekeepers providing WeWeareareurban providinglocal localhoney, honey, beeswax candles and gifts from the beeswax candles and gifts from thehive. hive. Visit us weekends at Findlay Market.

Visit us weekends at Findlay Market.




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Come Celebrate our loCal Community’s twisted sense of humor.

B es t R eso u rce F or E t hica l K n i t t ers Silk Road Textiles in College Hill is the area’s premier stop for ethically sourced fibers from fine fabrics to yarn. With an emphasis on eclectic, exotic and globally sourced textiles, their expert staff can recommend materials for almost any knitting, quilting, felting, crocheting, dyeing or sewing project. In store you’ll find better-than-craftstore brands like Leilani Arts, a natural yarn produced by women’s collectives, or Tibetan Reywa Fibers yak-down yarn, both of which you can use with Lantern Moon handcrafted knitting needles. When you’re taking the time to knit a gift for yourself or someone else, the option to go ethical and ethnic adds a new dimension to your art. And if you don’t want to knit alone? Head to one of Silk Road’s stitching social events, like the last Tuesday of the month Sip & Stitch, where you can bring your favorite beverage and any type of stitching project to work on with friends. Silk Road Textiles, 6106 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, 513-541-3700, silkroadcincinnati.com.

royal natural markings. Is the relief a scepter? Or a budding tree branch? Either way, it recalls a golden design era in America and the Japanese influence of classic Rookwood. Rookwood Pottery retail store, 1209 Jackson St., Over-theRhine, 513-579-1209, rookwood.com.

B e s t R e c o r d S t o r e Yo u H av e n ’ t H e a r d O f

thank you

for your continued support, cincinnati!

We truly appreciate being recognized as one of the Best Manicure/Pedicure salons, and look forward to seeing you soon! 110  CI T Y B E AT.C O M

Venture past Covington and into Latonia, Ky. where you will find a record store by the name of Phil’s Music & Memories, a no-frills musical paradise selling records, CDs (someone please remind us what those are again), artwork and more. In the heyday of the ’90s before streaming, Tidal and artists dropping albums two weeks in a row, Phil’s Music & Memories operated in six different locations around the Kentucky area. Despite setbacks, owner Phil Breen has remained a steadfast and firm believer in operating a business where “people can hold and touch records.” Breen, in

his 37 years of business, brags that he still carries more CDs than Wal-Mart and Target put together. Only 15 minutes from downtown, take a break from the usual suspects and explore Phil’s. On the way there or back, you can make an additional musical pit stop at Sugarcube Records in Covington (422 W. Sixth St., sugarcuberecords.com), which has new and old releases on vinyl and cassette tape. Yes, tape. What a time to be alive. Phil’s Music & Memories, 3914 Winston Ave., Latonia, Ky., philsrecords.com.

B e s t Us e O f A W h i ms ic a l Y e l l o w Doo r A bright yellow door with a high-five handprint marks the opening to Handzy Shop + Studio, a purveyor of cheerful cards, art prints and calendars in Covington. Helmed by best friends who met at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, the colorful shop offers a wide assortment of watercolor invites and cards for

weddings, holidays, announcements and beyond, complete with modern, eyecatching lettering and plenty of watercolor cacti. If you don’t see something that quite suites your fancy, the pair will whip up a design just for you. You can also peruse a very fun collection of pins, patches and local giftables. Handzy Shop + Studio, 15 W. Pike St., Covington, Ky., 859-261-0493, hellohandzy.com.

B e s t Hon e s t C a r d L i n e “No one wants to hear it will happen when it’s supposed to — people hate that.” That’s what the hand-drawn black and white script reads on the front of one of ap loves design’s fertility cards. Already a successful local card line with whimsical and cute sentiments for birthdays, babies and big events, designer Andi Ploehs says she realized there wasn’t a way to let someone struggling with infertility know that you care — a personal and painful issue she herself has battled. “I wanted to do something to encourage women and their families that they don’t need to be embarrassed or ashamed,” Ploehs says of her #infertilitywontsilenceme card line. “And then it came to me, I need to create a fertility card line. Not an overly sappy one, but one that

was honest, cute of course, and one that came from my own personal experience.” ap loves design, aplovesdesign.com.

B e s t Way To S ay Goo d b y e The worst part of owning a pet is having to say goodbye. (Really, it’s cruel and unusual they don’t live as long as humans.) Thankfully, Angel Paws is there to help, offering complete end-of-life services for pets including hospice care, home euthanasia, private cremation and more — all available 24 hours, seven days a week. The organization also offers an AARF group for parents of aging pets, which is designed to help you extend your pet’s life through education and a likeminded community. Angel Paws, 11341 Grooms Road, Blue Ash, 513-489-7297, angelspaws.com.

B e s t L e t t e r p r e ss Lo v e L e t t e r s A little snarky and a little sweet, Pistachio Press founder Rachael Hetzel designs letterpress prints and stationery for every station in life, from birthdays (“Happy Birthday. Let’s Get Fucked Up”) and babies (“Welcome to the flock”) to congrats cards (“You’re killin it like a fucking boss”) and, of course, wedding invitations. Wedding

options run the gamut from Art Deco designs and botanical lace to quirky Marriage Telegrams, but where Hetzel stands out is her pricing. Not that it’s cheap — wedding invites never are — but her system of customizable options is easily accessed on her website with several readymade pricing options. If you’re a bride or know someone who is, you know how important “letterpress” is in the invite world. The quality, content and 100-percent tree-free cotton paper will make it look like you paid a fortune for a personalized package. But you didn’t because Hetzel has your bridal back. Pistachio Press, pistachiopress.com.

Best Sock Game Working Girls Co. is a locally based purveyor of feminist and satirical fashion and accessories. Founded in 2015 by designer Shailah Maynard, the product scope includes everything from a sheer aprontop dress and mock turtleneck dickie with the words “nip slip” hand-embroidered on it to a pool float that looks like a boob. Working Girls Co. also specializes in socks — plain white crew socks made magical with screen-printed femme film titles on the ankle: Fatal Attraction, Mystic Pizza, Sister Act, Beaches, Mystic Pizza and, of

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course, Working Girl. It makes the act of getting dressed that much more exciting. Find the line stocked in stores across the globe — hip spots in Los Angeles and New York, boutiques in Japan, Australia and the U.K. and the local Continuum (1407 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine). Working Girls Co., workinggirlsco.com.

B e s t M omm y D e a r e s t S l e e p M a sk Harkening back to the Hollywood of yore, full of marabou slippers and gold cigarette holders, Donna Salyers’ Fabulous Furs’ faux fur sleep mask — in snuggly blush, cream, brown or cheetah print faux mink — has all the panache of Joan Crawford and none of the cruelty. Crawford once said, “I never go outside unless I look like Joan Crawford the movie star.” And this plush accessory will certainly help you get your beauty sleep. For sale at Hotel Covington, 638 Madison Ave., Covington, Ky., or fabulousfurs.com.

B e s t J e w e l r y L i n e Fo r Lo c a l s In t o B d sm Mainstream vanilla culture got sucked into the world of BDSM when the Fifty Shades of Grey book series became a runaway bestseller and then a film

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franchise. Although not her direct intention, local maker and metalsmith Suzanne Applebaum Jewelry crafts a tantalizing line of leather and bullet casing choker necklaces, bolo ties and forged metal collars for ladies who like to look like they’re in control. Each powerful and edgy piece is handmade with carefully sourced leather, fringe, brass, vintage chain and sometimes casings from bullets that Applebaum fired off at the gun range herself. The unique look feels like a blend of motorcycle culture and Western wear with a dash of dainty femme thrown in. So if your safe word is “powerbitch” or you’re looking for something to wear with your cowboy boots and nothing else, Applebaum’s your girl. Suzanne Applebaum Jewelry, sapplebaumjewelry.com.

B E S T C U R AT E D C O O K WA R E C O L L E C T IO N Husband-and-wife team Brad and Karen Hughes opened their Artichoke OTR storefront down the street from Findlay Market in order to offer marketgoers a convenient destination for cookware. From basics to unique pieces not available anywhere else — like the reissued Midcentury Modern Kobenstyle enamel

cookware line from Dansk — you’ll find the tools you need to throw down in the kitchen like you’re an Iron Chef. And if you’re looking to enhance your skills, take a class in Artichoke’s demonstration kitchen — just make sure you don’t step on lazy shop greyhound Gus. Artichoke OTR, 1824 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, 513263-1002, artichokeotr.com.

B E S T WAY T O P U T YO U R M O N E Y W H E R E YO U R REPRODUCTIVE ORGANS ARE Not to get toooooo political, but since taking office (and before), Donald Trump and extreme Republicans have done a few things to freak women out, like reinstating a “Global Gag Rule” that prohibits the United States from issuing funding to international aid groups which in any way engage with abortion or telling Planned Parenthood it can keep its federal funding if it stops providing abortions (NB: current federal funding only goes to Planned Parenthood healthcare services, not abortions). Without even going into it too much, last time we checked, women had a constitutional right to choose and, along with helping women manifest that right with access to safe and legal abortions, Planned Parenthood also provides a

slew of affordable health care options for anyone and everyone, including birth control, general health care, HIV testing, LGBTQ services, men’s health care, pregnancy testing and services, STD testing, vaccines… So if you’re looking to give some of your money away, standing with and donating to Planned Parenthood is an excellent way to help fight to keep access to reproductive and health rights in America. You can also volunteer your time, share you story, call Republican leaders and more. Oh, and if you are giving some of your money away, why not throw some at the ACLU, too? Planned Parenthood, 2314 Auburn Ave., Mount Auburn, plannedparenthood.org.

B E S T T IC K E R F I X E R S At Cleves & Lonnemann Jewelers, the seconds, minutes and hours passing beneath the face of your watch have been the focus of a family art spanning three generations. Established in 1932, the shop is now headed by Charlie Cleves, a Certified Master Watchmaker 21st Century (CMW21). Over the years, Cleves & Lonnemann has continued in their specialty of the sale and repair of high-grade vintage wristwatches. With a state-ofthe-art repair facility featuring a laser

welder for metalwork and other tools at their disposal, a dependable watch from Cleves & Lonnemann ensures you won’t be able to depend on “I didn’t know what time it was” as an excuse next time you’re late. Cleves & Lonnemann Jewelers, 319 Fairfield Ave., Bellevue, Ky., 859-261-3636, clevesandlonnemann.com.

B E S T A N T IQ U I N G I N BURLINGTON The antiques and vintage-only collectibles Burlington Antique Market features more than 200 dealers hawking everything from giant metal letters and vintage postcards to industrial lighting, old globes, 1960s Fiestaware and more. Held third Sundays from April to October, the first fair of the season signals the approach of spring. It’s generally pretty crowded, so if you’re a real hunter, aim for early-bird admission. Burlington Fairgrounds, 5819 Idlewild Road, Burlington, Ky., 513-9226847, burlingtonantiqueshow.com.

BEST WROUGHT IRON R AILER According to the city code, exterior stairs with more than four risers require a handrail. And for a lot of homes in Cincinnati, that means a hideous pipe and flange railing with flaking paint. With a collection

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Goodwill has 34 locations throughout Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Visit our website at: www.cincinnatigoodwill.org for the nearest location to you.

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B E S T I M I TAT I O N O F B O R G I N A N D B U R K E S While the Harry Potter reference to Borgin and Burkes may seem a bit outdated (#harrypotterforver, nerds), Hail, Dark Aesthetics is definitely the place you’d go locally if you were in the market for a vanishing cabinet. Or a dark wizard. With a home base in East Nashville, the second location of oddities and record shop Hail is in MainStrasse, where the storefront is stuffed with taxidermy from local artists Meddling with Nature, tarot cards, religious ephemera, Black Metal-style jewelry, branded Ouija boards and a bunch of dead snakes. For good or bad, there aren’t too many other stores where you can buy a pig fetus and the Twin Peaks soundtrack on vinyl in the same transaction. Hail, Dark Aesthetics, 720 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859261-0107, facebook.com/hailcincinnati.

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of historic homes in neighborhoods like Northside, Mount Lookout, Clifton and Columbia Tusculum, the choices for finding a replacement railing that matches the character of your home are limited to Google and praying that Home Depot’s online inventory has a pre-fab selection that doesn’t look like it came from Nana’s 1970s ranch. Enter Elsmere Ironworks, a family-run business in operation since 1958. These expert iron fabricators blend old-world techniques with modern materials to weld custom gates, fencing, balconies, security doors and, yes, exterior railings. The team has a lookbook and gallery of styles you can replicate for your home, or you can request a custom design. Up your curb appeal; Elsmere provides free estimates. Elsmere Ironworks, 600 Lytle Ave., Elsmere, Ky., 859-727-2505, elsmereironworks.com.

BEST ALL- PURPOSE GIF T SHOP Fresh out of gift ideas? Pomegranate & Lime has you covered. The cozy Mariemont boutique is overflowing with unique finds for basically anyone in your life: men, women, babies, significant

others, parents — the list goes on. Throw rugs, stuffed animals, dessert toppings, jewelry, silverware sets, picture frames… It might actually be impossible to leave this place empty-handed. 6804 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, 513-271-1012, facebook. com/pomegranateandlime.

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B E S T W E A R A B L E E X E R CI S E ENHANCER Whether you’re practicing yoga, barre or Pilates, AVA Yoga Bodywear has a revolutionizing wearable solution to enhance your exercise. Designed by University of Cincinnati industrial design student Laura Koven and friend/Yale graduate student Melinda Agron, this colorful accessory is a lightweight wearable you attach to your hands and feet to help streamline your yoga practice and eliminate the need for the jumbly collection of mats, straps and blocks you typically have to carry to the studio. Put the pink, purple, teal or orange gloves and foot grips on to help with alignment and assistance — there are arrows on the gloves so you can properly align your stance and yoga straps on both the hands and feet that can be wrapped for

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B E S T P L A C E T O O U T F I T YO U R S E L F I F YO U R FAV O R I T E M O V I E I S ‘ E A S Y R I D E R ’ Whether you identify with the traditional 1960s West Coast outlaw biker gangs or simply like the culture and look of motorcycle wear, Camino Motor Co. has got you covered. As described on their website, “Camino Motor Co. is a retail representation of our motorcycle community … focusing on the lifestyle and culture that surrounds riding and building motorcycles.” The shop features both new and curated vintage goods ranging from T-shirts, jean jackets and biker boots to Daft-Punk-like Bell-brand helmets, handcrafted knives from Indiana and actual vintage motorcycles on rotation. The tasteful collection of denim, leather and flannel pops against wood floors, well-worn rugs and framed art prints. It’s a stress-free shopping experience for dudes, especially when black lab Pearl is on duty. Camino Motor Co., 1212 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, caminomotorco.com.

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Try our delicious Opera Creams, our most popular candy, a Greater Cincinnati specialty! Made with pure rich cream to tantalize the tastebuds and to create the ultimate of creams. Other specialties include Fudges, Caramels, Cordial Cherries, Pecan Caramelettes, and so much more. phone - 859.431.3545 www.schneiderscandies.com 420 FairFIeld ave. bellevue, ky 41073 116


Cincinnati (513) 681-8871 YYY Covington (859) 292-8871


wrist and ankle support or used to deepen your stretch. Graduates of local business accelerator First Batch, Koven and her team are currently looking to expand the impact and scale of the company. AVA Yoga Bodywear, avayogabodywear.com.

at Kenwood Towne Center: Get your 10,000 steps here. Ohio Valley Antique Mall, 7285 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, 513874-7855, ohiovalleyantiques.com.


Neighborhood women’s clothing store Leeli + Lou is known for its fashionable and wallet-friendly styles from washand-wear basics to cocktail dresses and beach-ready rompers. After fashioning yourself, check out their new line of Hipstapatch stickers, adhesive patches that stick to pretty much anything and everything. Basically, they’re wearable emojis. Want to express your love of wine by slapping a bottle on your phone? Done. How ’bout a heart-surrounded “UGH” to share your discontentment with the world? We could all use one of those right about now. Leeli + Lou, 2732 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-873-2892; 7803 Laurel Ave., Madeira, 513-906-7035, facebook. com/leeliandlou.

Ohio Valley Antique Mall is the definitive place to go in Greater Cincinnati for collectors of old stuff, almost all of which is interesting if not destined for your home. Take our word for it: You could spend an entire day here. More than 550 dealers and an endless number of aisles will send you into a deep nostalgic trance. Even if you’re not a diehard antiquer or collector, there are a lot of things here great for decorating your home, room, store or work cubicle — sports memorabilia, bottles, rare toys, license plates, coins and vintage postcards, plus lots of Cincinnati memorabilia on these tables and in these display cases. To heck with walking laps


Schaeper’s Pharmacy

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RE A DER P ICKS O v e r a l l B a r /C l u b

N e ig h bo r h oo d B a r /C l u b ( Do w n t o w n/O TR )

N e ig h bo r h oo d B a r /C l u b ( N o r t h e r n K e n t u ck y )

B a r /C l u b f o r L i v e M u s ic ( N at ion a l Ac t s)

1. Sundry and Vice 2. 16-Bit Bar+Arcade 3. Arnold’s Bar and Grill

1. Molly Malone’s 2. Crazy Fox Saloon 3. Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar

1. Bogart’s 2. Southgate House Revival 3. Madison Theater Bar tender (Male)

1. Sundry and Vice 2. 16-Bit Bar+Arcade 3. Arcade Legacy: Bar Edition 4. Below Zero Lounge 5. Arnold’s Bar and Grill 6. Japp’s 7. Queen City Exchange 8. MOTR Pub 9. The Blind Lemon 10. Queen City Radio

N e ig h bo r h oo d B a r /C l u b (C e n t r a l )

N e ig h bo r h oo d B a r /C l u b ( N o r t h e r n ’ B u r bs)

1. The Blind Lemon 2. Northside Yacht Club 3. Northside Tavern

1. The Village Tavern 2. Paxton’s Grill 3. Fox & Hound Sports Tavern

N e w B a r /C l u b (S i nc e M a r c h 2 016)

N e ig h bo r h oo d B a r /C l u b (E as t Side)

B a r /C l u b S ta f f

1. Queen City Radio 2. The Rook OTR 3. Mecca OTR 4. The Video Archive 5. Queen City Exchange 6. Molly Malone’s (Pleasant Ridge) 7. The Mockbee 8. The Hannaford 9. Crafts & Vines 10. Smoke Justis

1. Overlook Lodge 2. Dutch’s 3. Cock & Bull Public House (Hyde Park) N e ig h bo r h oo d B a r /C l u b (West Side) 1. Incline Public House 2. Knotty Pine 3. The Crow’s Nest

1. Sundry and Vice 2. 16-Bit Bar+Arcade 3. Arnold’s Bar and Grill B a r /C l u b f o r L i v e M u s ic ( Loc a l B a n d s) 1. MOTR Pub 2. Southgate House Revival 3. Arnold’s Bar and Grill

1. Giacomo Ciminello (Sundry and Vice) 2. Justin Simmons (Sundry and Vice) 3. Bennett Cooper (16-Bit Bar+Arcade) Bar tender (Female) 1. Julia Petiprin (Sundry and Vice) 2. Molly Wellmann (Japp’s) 3. Nonta Perkins (MOTR Pub) B e e r S e l e c t ion ( D r a f t ) 1. Yard House 2. 16-Bit Bar+Arcade 3. Arnold’s Bar and Grill

2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  121

B e e r S e l e c t ion ( B o t t l e s & C a ns) 1. Dutch’s 2. The Comet 3. 16-Bit Bar+Arcade B l oo dy M a r y 1. Crazy Fox Saloon 2. Arnold’s Bar and Grill 3. Sundry and Vice B o u r bon S e l e c t ion ( B a r ) 1. Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar 2. Wiseguy Lounge 3. The Littlefield B o u r bon S e l e c t ion ( R e ta i l ) 1. The Party Source 2. Cork ’N Bottle 3. DEP’s Fine Wine & Spirits B o u r bon C ock ta i l 1. Sundry and Vice 2. Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar 3. Wiseguy Lounge

12 2  CI T Y B E AT.C O M

Bowling Alle y

C onc e r t V e n u e

H a pp y Ho u r ( D r i nks)

1. Madison Bowl 2. Western Bowl Strike & Spare 3. Stone Lanes

1. Riverbend Music Center 2. Bogart’s 3. Woodward Theater

1. Sundry and Vice 2. Righteous Room 3. Bar Louie

C a s i no

C ock ta i l B a r / Lo u n g e

H a pp y Ho u r ( Foo d)

1. JACK Casino 2. Hollywood Casino 3. Belterra Park Gaming

1. Sundry and Vice 2. Japp’s 3. Wiseguy Lounge

1. Bakersfield 2. Kaze 3. Palomino

C e lt ic/ B r i t i s h P u b

College- Crowd Bar

Ho t e l B a r

1. Molly Malone’s (Covington) 2. Nicholson’s 3. The Pub at Rookwood Mews

1. 16-Bit Bar+Arcade 2. Murphy’s Pub 3. Uncle Woody’s Pub

1. Metropole (21c Museum Hotel) 2. Coppin’s (Hotel Covington) 3. Orchids at Palm Court

C l u b/ Pa r t y D J

C om e dy C l u b

J u k e box

1. DJ Mowgli 2. DJ ETrayn 3. DJ Chinn Chilla

1. Go Bananas 2. Funny Bone (Liberty Township) 3. MOTR Pub

1. The Comet 2. Anchor Grill 3. MOTR Pub

C onc e r t i n 2 016

D a nc e C l u b

K a r a ok e

1. Dolly Parton 2. The Killers at Bunbury 3. Dixie Chicks

1. Below Zero Lounge 2. Japp’s 3. Boogie Nights (Hollywood Casino)

1. Tostado’s Grill 2. Below Zero Lounge 3. Northside Tavern

LG B T Q B a r

Loc a l Di s t i l l e r y


P l a c e t o S h oo t P oo l

1. Below Zero Lounge 2. Crazy Fox Saloon 3. Rosie’s Tavern

1. New Riff Distillery 2. Northside Distilling Company 3. Woodstone Creek Winery and Distillery

1. Sundry and Vice 2. Japp’s 3. Below Zero Lounge

1. Northside Tavern 2. Mainstrasse Village Pub 3. Crazy Fox Saloon

M u s ic F e s t i va l / E v e n t

Loc a l M u s ic P r omo t e r

1. Bunbury Music Festival 2. Lumenocity 3. MidPoint Music Festival

Pl ace to Dr ink W hil e Yo u Wa i t f o r a Ta b l e i n O TR

Loc a l B a n d (C o v e r s) 1. The Rusty Griswolds 2. The Naked Karate Girls 3. The Comet Bluegrass All-Stars Loc a l B a n d (O r ig i n a l s) 1. Walk the Moon 2. Over the Rhine 3. Blue Wisp Big Band Loc a l B r e w e r y/ Ta p Room 1. Rhinegeist 2. MadTree Brewing Company 3. Braxton Brewing Company 4. Taft’s Ale House 5. Fifty West Brewing Company 6. Listermann Brewing Company 7. Urban Artifact 8. Blank Slate Brewing Company 9. Woodburn Brewery 10. Christian Moerlein Brewing Co.

1. Dan McCabe 2. Nederlander Entertainment 3. Jeremy Moore Loc a l M u s ici a n

N o - F r i l l s Wat e r i n g Ho l e

1. Bootsy Collins 2. Sonny Moorman 3. Tracy Walker

1. Arnold’s Bar and Grill 2. City View Tavern 3. Crazy Fox Saloon

Loc a l W i n e r y

O p e n M ic N ig h t

1. Elk Creek Vineyards 2. Valley Vineyards 3. The Skeleton Root

1. MOTR Pub 2. Go Bananas 3. Wunderbar! Covington

M a r g a r i ta

Pl ace to Throw Darts

1. Bakersfield 2. Nada 3. Cactus Pear

1. Murphy’s Pub 2. Crazy Fox Saloon 3. Hap’s Irish Pub

1. Sundry and Vice 2. 16-Bit Bar+Arcade 3. Taft’s Ale House Roo f t op B a r 1. Rhinegeist 2. The Cocktail Terrace at 21c Museum Hotel 3. Top of the Park/The Phelps Bar T r i v i a N ig h t 1. Northside Yacht Club 2. Overlook Lodge 3. Molly Malone’s (Covington) Wine Bar 1. 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab 2. Unwind Wine Bar 3. Liberty’s Bar & Bottle

THANK YOU, CINCINNATI “Best Brewery/Taproom” “Best Rooftop Bar” (Check out rhinegeist.com/rooftop for opening status)

2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  12 3

B est Ta r a ntin o T r ibute Yo u C a n D r in k T o Named in honor of the video rental store where director Quentin Tarantino once worked, The Video Archive is a video store that doubles as a speakeasy, like a Blockbuster with a back-alley bar. Brought to you by Gorilla Cinema Presents, the same team behind Overlook Lodge, the Shining-themed bar in Pleasant Ridge, the front 100 square feet of Video Archive is dedicated to rentable grindhouse, indie and cult-classic films, from Disney’s Fantasia to Heathers, all stacked in bookcases. The first hint that things are not as they seem is the man who checks your ID at the door — and then recommends checking out a particular title on the wall. We won’t tell you which videotape opens the secret door into the 1,500-square-foot Tarantino-themed bar; you need to go to Video Archive and figure it out yourself. But once inside, the dark rooms, movies projected behind the bartenders, shattered mirrors and framed photos of Mia Wallace impersonators create something that is delightfully magical. The drinks have names like Mr. Pink, the Texas to Tokyo and Five Dollar Shake, which is ≠≠surprisingly actually just $5, full of alcohol and topped with whipped cream. The Video Archive, 965 E. McMillan St., Walnut Hills, thatgrindhousebar.com.

B e s t Loc a l B e e r / Loc a l M u s ic S y n e r gy

Photo: Hailey Bollinger


Soul Step Records, a Cincinnati-based record label specializing in pressing vinyl releases, hatched an ingenious idea that brought two hometown specialties together in its Cincy Brewers Series. The label curated the pairing of a local music act and a local brewery, releasing a 45 rpm single from the artist and hosting a free release party at the brewery. In turn, the brewery created a special beer in honor of the release and show. The first installment of the series (from September 2016) paired Soul/Funk squad Krystal Peterson & the Queen City Band’s “I Ain’t Cryin’” single with Madtree Brewing; in December, the series brought together Indie Rock newcomers Sylmar with Listermann Brewing Company. Tasty! Cincy Brewers Series, soulsteprecords. com/cincinnati-brewers-series.

B e s t O h io P r i d e An t h e m When the Cleveland Cavaliers became NBA champions in 2016, legendary Cincinnati Hip Hop producer/DJ Hi-Tek (who has worked with greats from Talib Kweli to Snoop Dogg to 2017 Grammy nominee Anderson .Paak) showed that Cincinnati’s 2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  125

101 E Freedom Way • JeffersonSocial.com

Indian Creek Distillery 6 generations of whiskey making on the historic Staley Mill Farm. Uniquely Small Batch,

Award Winning Whiskey Crafted thoughtfully and slowly in small batches in the oldest working stills in America , our frontier whiskey has true character. Visit our unique distillery for tours, history and a special tasting experience in our Tasting Tavern.

Tue-Wed 12:00 - 5:00 • Thu-Fri 12:00 - 7:00 • Sat 11:00 - 7:00 7095 Staley Road • New Carlisle, OH 45344 • 937-846-1443 Check us out on Facebook & Instagram

www.staleymillfarmanddistillery.com 12 6  CI T Y B E AT.C O M

Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Drink Local, Get Social

B E S T H E A L I N G V I B RAT I O N S Jennifer Simone classifies her music as Soul — as in real soul, from her soul to yours. A self-described blend of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, whale calls, Gregorian chants, Nina Simone, Paul Simon, Erykah Badu, Elvis and “a ton of Jazz and Blues,” each musical performance is an improvised healing process. At her shows, emotions run high. People openly cry and she often invites crowd members to sit on the ground with her. People tell Simone about their problems before she plays. And after listening to what those around her are thinking, she incorporates those feelings into her music. She believes in the healing frequencies of music — that in the vibrations of noise, there can be comfort. Known for her use of looping sounds, her visceral and etheric layering transitions from a noisemaker to instrument to wind chime or her own voice, and she begins looping sound over sound, voice over voice, until her music falls like water into your lap. Jennifer Simone, facebook.com/jennifersimonemusic.

rivalry with Cleveland can be put aside in the name of Ohio love. Tek released the celebratory song and music video “Ain’t No Place Like This,” which featured footage of the Cavs’ championship-drought-ending run, but also served as a reminder of Ohio’s musical importance as the birthplace of everyone from Bootsy Collins and The O’Jays to John Legend and Levert. Tek said he had the song stored away for a few years and was waiting for the right time to release it. After the Cavs came back from a 3-1 game deficit in the series (just as Tek predicted), the time had come.

are comprised of small “contemporary bites,” including deviled egg yolk mousse, citrus-serrano pickled shrimp and dark chocolate truffles. The snacks come from another of Wellmann’s Brands’ establishments, a more recent venture on Republic Street called Bottle & Basket, which offers freshly prepared grab-and-go food and essential groceries. If you’re all set to spend the better part of $10 on a carefully crafted cocktail, what’s another $4 for some corn nuts and roasted kale dust? Japp’s, 1136 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-1524, wellmannsbrands.com.

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Visiting OTR cocktail lounge Japp’s is already a bit like walking into an era gone by, the space’s sprawling, high ceilings reflecting the low light back down upon your friendly, hip server. So when proprietor Molly Wellmann added a snack menu last year, it was expected to be crafted with as much care as her historically inspired cocktail lists. The food offerings

Many fans of the late, internationally renowned Oxford, Ohio Alternative radio station WOXY (aka 97X) were in heaven when they discovered WNKU on their radio dials after a programming change away from folkier Americana music to current and classic Alternative and Indie sounds (while retaining its longstanding attention

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B est C h a - C hun k e r Outside Of N yc Mecca OTR, a new no-frills, local-artist-decorated bar in Over-the-Rhine, specializes in a cocktail called a Chunker. Basically, the drink involves taking a tiny airplane bottle of liquor and placing it upside down in the mouth of a full can of San Pellegrino sparkling water. A machine called an arbor press widens the mouth of a can so the bottle can slowly drip into it, allowing you to mix rum, gin, vodka or bourbon with flavored San Pellegrino. The idea came from Genuine Liquorette in New York City, which does a similar thing called a Cha-Chunker. Mecca OTR, 1429 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/meccaotr.

to local music). But the story of the station on Northern Kentucky University’s campus took a turn that was a little too close to 97X’s eventually disappearing act when it was announced it had been sold off to another company. As was the case with WOXY’s second life (albeit as an online outlet), it even looked as if there would be a last-minute savior (Louisville Public Media) to rescue the station. But, despite the ensuing community outcry, the college’s original deal with a religious broadcasting company was already too far along to reverse course. Making things even sadder, the sale was initiated by cuts to the state’s higher-education funding budget forced by Kentucky’s new over-reaching governor, Matt Bevin.

B e s t K e n t u ck y B e e r L i n e u p Crafts & Vines, a great new wine and beer store, opened in Covington’s MainStrasse last fall. The shop has more than a dozen different beers and wines on draft, and all of the beer is from Kentucky and Cincinnati. It also features Mash Cult beers, making it one of the only places in the area to pour their drafts, plus beers from Paducah’s Dry Ground, Louisville’s

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Apocalypse Brew Works and Lexington’s Ethereal Brewing. Crafts & Vines, 642 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-360-0476, facebook.com/craftsandVines.

B e s t C onc e r t C a nc e l at ion M a k e - Up G e s t u r e Just a few weeks before it was to occur, the Buckle Up Festival — a sister festival to the Alt-music-oriented Bunbury Music Festival that was also acquired in the purchase of Bunbury by Columbus, Ohio’s PromoWest — was canceled. The event had been put on hold for one year and slated to return to a new venue in Blue Ash in early August last year. PromoWest said the cancelation was due to “circumstances beyond our control.” The biggest headliner of the festival did Cincinnati fans a solid — instead of taking a night off, Brad Paisley played a free show at Riverbend (tickets for which “sold out” instantly). Thankfully, Bunbury has stood tall as one of the region’s biggest music festivals.

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B est Re p l a cement F o r N e o n ’ s For several years, Neons Unplugged was the place to be for al fresco drinking in Over-the-Rhine, be you a Friday-night millennial or Sunday-afternoon old-timer watching the Bengals have their asses handed to them in the final moments of some meaningless game. Neighborhood residents and bar-goers were all broken up to hear they were closing their doors for good in 2016. Just in the nick of time, renovations were completed at a nearby defunct auto repair shop, and everyone’s favorite new (therapy-)dog-friendly beer garden and bar was born. Queen City Radio boasts beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces, its own food truck, fire pits and far superior restrooms. There’s no place we’d rather go any time of the week to imbibe while petting other people’s dogs. Queen City Radio, 222 W. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-0918, qcrbar.com.

Company have established themselves within about a five-minute drive from each other. Last fall, Streetside Brewery completed the easternly craft beer triumvirate, opening a mere three-minute walk from Blank Slate and featuring playfully named brews like Raspberry Beret and a Stranger Things-named beer called “011 (EL)” (if you haven’t seen the series… oh my god, why haven’t you seen the series?!). The more breweries the merrier. Hit up all three — no two beers taste alike. Bad Tom Smith Brewing Company, 4720 Eastern Ave., East End, badtomsmithbrewing. com; Blank Slate Brewing Company, 4233 Airport Road, East End, blankslatebeer. com; Streetside Brewery, 4003 Eastern Ave., East End, streetsidebrewery.com.

B e s t N e w Do w n t o w n L i v e J a zz H a n g o u t If you follow the music/pop culture press, Jazz music (particularly in a live setting) has died a million times over. Even if that was true, it must mean Jazz cats have nine million lives. The great American artform has proven its endurance over and over

again. Every time Cincinnati’s Jazz club scene takes a shot (like the Blue Wisp Jazz Club closing or last year’s Schwartz Point end with the passing of local legend/club founder Ed Moss), someone seems to step up. Joining Washington Platform on the downtown live Jazz scene most recently has been the Bromwell’s Härth Lounge, with its classy and romantic but laid-back and welcoming atmosphere and a rotation of local Jazz piano greats, including Steve Schmidt and Phil DeGreg, among other Jazz performers. Bromwell’s Härth Lounge, 125 W. Fourth St., Downtown, 513-6213473, bromwellsharthlounge.com.

B e s t M a ss i v e B r e w e r y E x pa ns ion Cincinnati is exploding with new craft breweries these days, but that doesn’t mean the early entries into the market are resting on their laurels. The latest massive investment by a local brewery was MadTree Brewing’s $18 million expansion in Oakley. After just two years, the company realized the need for MadTree 2.0, presumably due to the high demand for its

growing list of quality brews and the number of patrons rushing across Kennedy Avenue trying to get into the place to drink in person. The new facility, located just down the road, will have no such problems, as it is equipped with additional parking to serve what is sure to be big crowds inside the brand-new brewery, taproom, beer garden and private event space. MadTree unveiled the new digs to the public in February 2017 with a packed-house launch party that included guest breweries, live music and local food vendors. Selling beer is good business. MadTree Brewing, 3301 Madison Road, Oakley, 513386-8733, madtreebrewing.com.

B e s t C o v i n g t on B a r Triangle In case you didn’t notice, Covington is flourishing, especially on Madison Avenue. In September of last year, Hotel Covington and its Coppin’s Restaurant & Bar opened their doors. In November, cocktail bar The Hannaford opened, joining the taproom at nearby Braxton Brewing Company as a cool neighborhood hangout. It’s easy to hit up all three places in a short span of time to work up an appetite for Coppin’s new late-night food window The Walk Up. The Hannaford, 619 Madison Ave., Covington, Ky., thehannaford.com; Coppin’s Restaurant & Bar, 683 Madison Ave., Covington, Ky., hotelcovington.com/dining/coppins; Braxton Brewing Company, 27 W. Seventh St., Covington, Ky., braxtonbrewing.com.

B e s t R e t u r n O f A C l a ss ic Loc a l B e e r Founded in 1958, the story of Little Kings represents only a sliver of Cincinnati’s more than 200-year beer history, but its legacy is a long and complex one. Little Kings and its distinctive 7-ounce green bottle were invented in the ’50s when patrons of Montgomery Inn didn’t want to purchase full-sized beers to pair with shots of whiskey. But by the ’90s cream ale had fallen out of favor, causing the brand to bounce around between owners and production sites for the better part of two decades. Greg Hardman, who owns Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. and other Hudepohl-Schoenling beer brands, ended up with the recipe and last year installed a special bottle-filling machine in the Moerlein brewery to accommodate the 7-ounce bottles, producing the first run of Little Kings locally in more than 15 years. Little Kings, littlekingsbeer.com.

B e s t S e e m i n g ly Doom e d C onc e r t S e r i e s The springtime Tunes & Blooms concerts at the Cincinnati Zoo over the past several years have offered wonderful experiences. Timed to the blooming of flowers in the

beautiful gardens scattered around zoo grounds, the free event has allowed some of the best musical acts in Cincinnati (artists from Walk the Moon to The Cliftones to Jake Speed and the Freddies have participated) to perform in front of new audiences in a family-friendly environment. But increasingly the every-Thursday-in-April concerts have seemed to be cursed — in 2016, inclement weather led to most of the shows being canceled (and even some of the rescheduled shows). But the zoo isn’t giving up on the concept — Tunes & Blooms is slated to return in 2017. Perhaps a preconcert group “no-rain” dance should be worked into the schedule? Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, 513-281-4700, cincinnatizoo.org.

B e s t C h a nc e To H e a r A B on d - M o v i e T h e m e L i v e W i t h F i r e w o r ks In A F i v e - D ay S pa n It was a good summer for music in Greater Cincinnati, particularly if your favorite song was the Paul McCartney/Wings James Bond theme song “Live and Let Die.” In early July of 2016, McCartney and Guns N’ Roses performed along the riverfront within five days of each other, so if you were a super-fan of the tune — as well as punctuating fireworks — you were in heaven. GNR played the song (a longtime centerpiece of the reunited band’s set) at Paul Brown Stadium on July 6, while the former Beatle pulled out his standby jam (which we’re pretty sure he still plays purely for the pyrotechnics) at U.S. Bank Arena on July 10.

Best Strip Club Turned M o d e r n C ock ta i l Lo u n g e Northern Kentucky’s “strip club” scene’s loss was the area’s classy cocktail lounge scene’s gain with the opening of Covington’s The Globe. The former Club Venus sign is still outside, but little else remains from the structure’s days as a non-nude strip joint. Redeveloped relatively quickly (over the course of a year), The Globe is a slick modern bar serving high-end cocktails inspired by Prohibition-era classics, as well as regional craft beers and spirits. Instead of gawking at “shower shows,” visitors can now sip on, say, a Cherry Bourbon Sour (a deceptive cocktail served with an egg white, cherry, lemon and Bulleit bourbon) and socialize with fully clothed fellow citizens in a chic minimalistic space. The Globe, 12 E. Fifth St., Covington, Ky., 859-261-1267, theglobecov.com.

B e s t Loc a l B a d a ss , O r ig i n a l - M u s ic - M a k i n g Machines Mad Anthony’s “Mad Anthology” project made the famously (infamously?) prolific 2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  131

Robert Pollard of Dayton, Ohio’s Guided By Voices (who released his 100th album this year) look like Axl Rose. In late winter 2016, the Cincinnati Rock trio launched the project, for which the band promised to release a new song weekly for 52 weeks. The group accomplished the remarkable feat with a little help from their friends, collaborating with other musicians (including fellow locals like Jess Lamb and members of Alone at 3am, Ohio Knife and The Afghan Whigs), producers, video creators and other artists on the tracks (and sometimes accompanying music videos) over the course of a year. Perhaps the most impressive part of the endurance test? All of the songs are pretty damn good. Mad Anthony, madanthony.bandcamp.com.

B e s t C i nci nn at i - M u s ic History Street Cred Cincinnati has gotten increasingly good about honoring its rich musical history, thanks to increasingly “woke” politicians (including Mayor John Cranley) and organizations like the Cincinnati Music Heritage Foundation. In the past couple of years, the city has helped honor the 11 fans killed before a 1979 Who concert at Riverfront Coliseum with a historical marker and staved off attempts to tear

down the original King Records building in Evanston. At the beginning of 2017, three artists closely associated with King, the revolutionary local label that released seminal Country, Bluegrass, Soul and R&B recordings between 1943-1971, were honored with intersections re-named after them, making it possible for music history buffs to cruise the East Side of Cincinnati and visit Philip Paul Place, Bootsy Collins Way and Otis Williams Place within just a few minutes.

B e s t B ig - B ox - S t o r e B l a ck F r i d ay M u s ic a l A lt e r n at i v e Shopping locally is a great way to avoid those nightmarish day-after-Thanksgiving (aka “Black Friday”) sales at the mall or chain retail outlet stores. And if the person you’re buying a present for is a big music fan, Cincinnati musicians are now regularly providing some cool Black Friday options for your gift list. Timed to Record Store Day’s nationwide Black Friday alternative, local record shops in 2016 offered exclusives from local artists like Country singer/songwriter Jeremy Pinnell (who reissued an expanded vinyl version of his stellar OH/KY album) and Wussy (which put out the rare Funeral Dress II acoustic

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album on vinyl for the first time). Legendary downtown bar Arnold’s Bar and Grill and Neltner Small Batch Records also teamed up for a great local-music holiday compilation (issued on vinyl), featuring Christmasthemed songs by Honey and Houston, The Part-Time Gentlemen, The Tillers and many other superb Roots/Americana acts.

in OTR with minimal intervention, showcasing the terroir of the fruit in bottles of red, white and even rosé wine. The tasting room, with its beautiful illustration of grape harvesters on a Cincinnati hillside, is a perfect backdrop for happy hour and rotating live music, food and yoga events. The Skeleton Root, 38 W. McMicken Ave., Over-the-Rhine, 513-918-3015, skeletonroot.com.


B e s t Y e s Way, Ros é

Over-the-Rhine’s The Skeleton Root winery and tasting room pays homage to Cincy’s wine-making past. Before California’s ubiquitous Napa Valley and even before the state in which it resides existed, the Ohio River Valley was our country’s premier wine region. By the numbers, it was the largest grape-growing area in the United States; inside the city limits during Cincinnati’s prime grape-growing era in the 1850s, there were 2,000 acres of vines. Today, there are that many acres of vines spread across the entire state. But Skeleton Root owner and vintner Kate MacDonald is reinvigorating the city’s deep-rooted heritage by highlighting local grapes — the most well-known of which is the catawba — along with regional (and when necessary, continental) grapes. Skeleton Root wines are produced in-house

Rosé wine has seen a surge in popularity in recent years — a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by one local brewery’s brew masters. Inspired by the feel-good pink vino, Rhinegeist created Bubbles Rosé Cider, a twist on their popular Cidergeist hard ciders, which features cranberry and peach flavors. Sipping on a pint of the effervescent rosy brew on Rhinegeist’s rooftop patio is as refreshing as an icecold lemonade on a summer day. It’s tart and a little sweet, but at 6.2 percent ABV it packs some punch. It recently became available in cans at most stores that stock Rhinegeist beers. For an extra special summer treat, make yourself a rosé float by adding a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream. You can thank us later. Rhinegeist, 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-1367, rhinegeist.com.

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B e s t J o h nn y C a s h Imp r e ss ion While award-winning local Outlaw Country music hero Dallas Moore has certainly been influenced by the Man in Black (not many genuine Country artists haven’t), he’s far from a sound-alike copy of Johnny Cash. But Moore paid more subtle tribute to Cash in 2016 when he ventured to Kentucky’s Bullitt County and performed for prisoners at the Bullitt County Detention Center. The recordings were released as Dallas Moore: Live at the Bullitt County Jail, a nod to Cash’s live At Folsom Prison, which is widely considered one of the best albums ever made. Moore took the Cash comparison one step further by enlisting as executive producer Bill Halverson, who assisted in the engineering of the Folsom record. Dallas Moore, dallasmoore.com.

B e s t Un d e r g r o u n d M u s ic F e s t The unique location of Cincinnati’s Ubahn Fest — an underground “tunnel” between Pete Rose Way and Third Street, near Paul Brown Stadium — instantly made it one of the cooler musical events of 2016. But the lineup last year (featuring mostly Hip Hop, with a little Electronic and Pop sprinkled in) upped the ante even more,

with organizers booking some of their biggest names yet. Alongside local artists like Space Invadaz and Lantana, Ubahn revelers got to catch sets by Hip Hop legend Nas, mash-up king Girl Talk and Indie Rap heroes Murs and Atmosphere. Ubahn Fest, facebook.com/ubahnfest.

B e s t B EER - FUELED Fa m i ly G a m e N ig h t Popular Northside brewery/venue Urban Artifact attracts a crowd with fresh beer and mostly free live music — it even has a Swing dance night on certain Sunday afternoons, and longtime local favorites the Blue Wisp Big Band perform every Wednesday. Its appeal also expands beyond the expected age range for a “bar.” The brewery has a huge selection of board games and allows kids in with accompanying adults, so some evenings can turn into genuine family affairs, especially on warmer nights, with parents letting their kids run around in the yard between the converted church and the rectory buildings. And you thought the only options for “beer-assisted family game night” were at home or at an overcrowded Dave and Buster’s. Urban Artifact, 1660 Blue Rock St., Northside, 513-620-4729, artifactbeer.com.

B e s t Us e O f S i ta r Unique Cincinnati duo Dawg Yawp (Tyler Randall and Rob Keenan) has had quite a year, and things only seem to be looking up from here. Winners of the 2016 Cincinnati Entertainment Award for New Artist of the Year, the twosome’s unique use of electronics and sitar and its imaginative blend of Psychedelia, Folk and Pop (heard on Dawg Yawp’s excellent self-titled debut, released last year on Cincinnati-based Old Flame Records and produced by Cincy music legend Rob Fetters) drew fawning praise from the press and widespread airplay on NPR, including an appearance on the popular syndicated live-music program, World Café. Ride that buzz, dawgs. Dawg Yawp, dawgyawp.com.

Best New Live A/ V M u s ic a l S h o w c a s e In September of last year, WCPO (channel 9 on the TV; wcpo.com on the interwebs) launched WCPO Lounge Acts, a new series in which local and touring bands are invited into the studio to record performances and an interview. Solid production values and a knowledgeable host — veteran music journalist Gil Kaufman — have made the series (named after the Lounge

Acts heard on former Oxford radio favorite WOXY) a must-hear, as has the solid list of guests who’ve appeared. Cincinnati buzz acts like Dawg Yawp, Leggy and Frontier Folk Nebraska have performed on the web show/podcast, as have on-the-rise national artists like Beach Slang, Malcolm London and Banners. WCPO Lounge Acts, wcpo.com/loungeacts.

Best Free-R ange Trivia The Approximate Knowledge Institute of Cincinnati, a local pub-trivia company helmed by Justin Schafer, is one of the only independent trivia creators in the city. Each week, Schafer conceptualizes and writes entire trivia games — including a name-that-tune halftime — for his group to present at multiple area bars, including the Northside Yacht Club, Queen City Radio, Ché and Arcade Legacy: Bar Edition. Teams can wager points based on confidence in their answers, and the top three winners take home prizes. Most Approximate Knowledge Institute nights include two separate games to accommodate all types of quizmasters: an early round for happy-hour bargoers and a late round for normal-bar-hour drinkers. Approximate Knowledge Institute of Cincinnati, facebook.com/nsyctrivia.

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B E S T F E R M E N T E D S U G AR C A N E c o c k ta il Mita’s is chef and owner Jose Salazar’s tribute to his Colombian grandmother’s spirit — his mamita — and to Spanish and Latin American food and drink. Like Latin culture itself, the restaurant is fun, designed with Moroccan-influenced tiles, architectural columns and concrete, plus one-of-a-kind lighting. The atmosphere is lively, especially at the bar — a great place to get familiar with mezcal, the smoky agave spirit-of-the-moment, and cachaça, a Brazilian spirit made with fermented sugarcane. The inventive Mezcal Manhattan is getting lots of buzz, with mole bitters and maraschino, but the Central and South American classics are as close to traditional as you can get. Hemingway’s Papa Doble pays tribute to the author with a take on his favorite Cuban daiquiri recipe, and the Caipirinha, a frothy and citrusy cocktail made with rum-like cachaça, lime and sugar. It’s the national cocktail of Brazil, and what the locals drink as the sun goes down, making it perfect for a postwork happy hour. Mita’s, 501 Race St., Downtown, 513-421-6482, mitas.co.

B e s t C l a ss ic O l d Fa s h ion e d i n C l a ss ic S u r r o u n di n g s Who doesn’t want to drink fancy drinks in a blinging Art-Deco palace? Well, maybe people who don’t drink, which is totally fine. You should still go to Orchids at Palm Court’s bar and get some appetizers concocted by AAA five-diamond chef Todd Kelly and take in one of the most ornate locations in Cincinnati. If you are an imbiber, watching the bartenders assemble their take on the Old Fashioned is an experience in itself. Blending culinary innovation and classic mixology, simple syrup and bitters are frozen inside the Old Fashioned’s ice cubes and blended with chef’s choice bourbon; the flavor changes as the ice melts. Part of Cincinnati history, the bar holds court at the heart of the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza Hotel in Carew Tower, which was constructed in the dawning days of the 1930s. Resplendent in rosewood, marble and angular, crystalline light fixtures, hanging

out under Orchids’ soaring green and silver roof would be worth it even if the drinks weren’t excellent. Luckily, they are. Orchids at Palm Court, 35 W. Fifth St., Downtown, 513-421-9100, orchidsatpalmcourt.com.

B e s t Loc a l E x p e r i m e n ta l M u s ic P ion e e r C om e b a ck Last June, Woodward Theater hosted the first No Response Festival, the brainchild of John Rich and Jon Lorenz, who have helped keep experimental music alive in Cincinnati for the past decade-plus by operating various venues, booking shows and hosting the influential Art Damage radio show. Featuring a broad range of unique styles from Noise Rock to Electronic Ambient music and beyond by some experimental heavy hitters, one of No Response’s coolest bookings was a local enigma, John Bender, who performed publicly for the first time in over 30 years at the event. Bender’s DIY recordings from the late ’70s/early ’80s had

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B est Pa r ty I n A Pa r k ing L o t September’s MidPoint Music Festival got some pre-event guff from longtime fans after it was taken over by local production giant MEMI (it was formerly owned and operated by CityBeat) and moved from a dozen or so indoor music venues (and a couple of outdoor spaces, including Washington Park) to a large parking area in Over-the-Rhine. But the move and new ownership had its perks. With the event’s four stages being so close together, fans no longer had to run — or bike or take a cab or drive — a mile after one showcase to see another band at the other end of the festival “grounds.” And the event stepped up its booking to include big headliners like Band of Horses, Reggie Watts and Future Islands, while also still featuring cutting-edge and/or on-the-verge local acts and national artists like Lucy Dacus, Car Seat Headrest and Kamasi Washington. MidPoint Music Festival, mpmf.com.

circulated among experimental music fans for years, resulting in him being recognized as a pioneer of the lo-fi Electronic music that has been dubbed Minimal Synth, Minimal Wave or Cold Wave.

B e s t P r o t e i n - Pa ck e d Power Shot


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The Northside Yacht Club, Northside’s land-locked nautically themed bar and gastropub — a light homage to the neighborhood’s flood of 1937 — specializes in smoked wings (chicken and/or cauliflower), live music and fresh cocktails of the tiki persuasion. Owners Jon Weiner and Stuart MacKenzie have worked with Cincinnati’s queen of cocktails, Molly Wellmann, and it shows. The well-stocked bar — replete with gigantic Hula-girl punch bowls awaiting the bartender’s mixology magic — features fresh juice mixtures, stacks of fragrant pineapple and bowls of herbal garnishes. But one of the best bar specials is the Peanut Butter Tequila house shot, Weiner’s own personal recipe inspired by, what else, a trip to the Bob Marley Bar in Mexico.

Tastes like peanut butter (and it actually kind of looks like peanut butter in a shot glass), but it packs the punch of tequila. Northside Yacht Club, 4227 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, 513-541-0528, northsideyachtclub.com.

B E S T N EW REA S O N T O WAL K O N W O O D B UR N Woodburn B rewery is one of the city’s newer microbreweries in general and, more specifically, one of the newer highlights of East Walnut Hills’ booming Woodburn Avenue. The brewery and taproom were created by an L.A. Transplant and lifelong Cincinnatian, combining — as the website says — “West Side hustle and West Coast swagger.” Their innovative beer menu features core brews, like the earthy Cedar IPA; limited releases, like the Chocolate Mint Imperial Stout (tastes like a Girl Scout cookie!); seasonals; and a very cool Home Brewer series, where they let accomplished home brewers tap their brews at the bar. Woodburn Brewery, 2800 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut Hills, 513-221-2337, woodburnbrewery.com.

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RE A DER P ICKS Ci n ci n n at i a n 1. Pete Rose 2. Bob Herzog 3. Buddy LaRosa N o r t h e r n K e n t u ck i a n 1. George Clooney 2. Cris Collinsworth 3. Nick Clooney Apa r t m e n t C o m m u n i t y 1. One Lytle Place Apartments 2. The Gramercy on Garfield 3. Machine Flats Builder/De veloper 1. 3CDC 2. Fischer Homes 3. Drees Homes B u i l di n g 1. Union Terminal 2. Music Hall 3. Taft’s Ale House

Cincinnati Neighborhood 1. Over-the-Rhine 2. Hyde Park 3. Northside N o r t h e r n K e n t u ck y N e ig h b o r h o o d 1. Covington 2. Newport 3. Bellevue S u b u rb a n N e ig h b o r h o o d 1. Anderson Township 2. Mariemont 3. Blue Ash C o ll e g e / U n i v e rs i t y 1. University of Cincinnati 2. Xavier University 3. Northern Kentucky University

M B A P r o gr a m 1. Xavier University 2. University of Cincinnati 3. Northern Kentucky University C o n s e r vat i v e 1. Bill Cunningham 2. Rob Portman 3. John Cranley P r o gr e ss i v e 1. Aftab Pureval 2. P.G. Sittenfeld 3. Yvette Simpson Do Gooder 1. Matthew 25: Ministries 2. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden 3. Freestore Foodbank Tr o u bl e m a k e r 1. Tracie Hunter 2. Keep Your Shirt On Covington 3. John Cranley

Friend to the Environment 1. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden 2. Cincinnati Nature Center 3. Great Parks of Hamilton County Journalist 1. Paul Daugherty (Enquirer) 2. Tana Weingartner (WVXU) 3. John Matarese (WCPO) L o c a l Ac t i v i s t 1. Black Lives Matter Cincinnati 2. Jim Obergefell 3. Jim Tarbell L o c a l C a u s e 1. Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio 2. Matthew 25: Ministries 3. SPCA Cincinnati

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L o c a l El e c t e d Off ici a l

Pa rk (C o u n t y )

R a dio S h o w

TV A n c h o r

1. City Councilwoman Yvette Simpson 2. City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld 3. City Councilman Chris Seelbach

1. Cincinnati Nature Center 2. Sharon Woods 3. Miami Whitewater Forest

1. Jeff & Jenn (Q102) 2. Cincinnati Edition (WVXU) 3. Bill Cunningham (WLW)

1. Bob Herzog (WKRC) 2. Sheree Paolello (WLWT) 3. Tanya O’Rourke (WCPO)

1. Otto M. Budig 2. Anthony Muñoz 3. Bootsy Collins

R a dio S tat io n

TV N e w sc a s t

Loca l Ne ws S tory of 2016

1. 91.7 WVXU 2. 89.7 WNKU 3. 101.9 WKRQ (Q102)

1. WKRC (Channel 12) 2. WCPO (Channel 9) 3. WLWT (Channel 5)

R a dio Ta lk S h o w H o s t

TV S p o r t sc a s t e r

1. Maryanne Zeleznik (WVXU) 2. Bill Cunningham (WLW) 3. The Big Dave Show (B-105)

1. Brad Johansen (WKRC) 2. Ken Broo (WCPO) 3. Elise Jesse (WLWT)

R e l ig io u s L e a d e r

TV W e at h e rc a s t e r

1. Brian Tome (Crossroads) 2. Chuck Mingo (Crossroads) 3. Fr. Mike Graham (Xavier)

1. Frank Marzullo (WXIX) 2. Tim Hedrick (WKRC) 3. Randi Rico (WLWT)

S c e n ic O v e rl o o k

W e e k e n d G e taway ( W i t h i n 10 0 M i l e s)

1. FC Cincinnati Record-Breaking Attendance 2. The Great Goebel Goat Escape 3. Cincinnati Streetcar N e w T h i n g 1. Cincinnati Streetcar 2. Carol Ann’s Carousel 3. Hotel Covington

1. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden 2. Findlay Market 3. Jungle Jim’s International Market 1. Smale Riverfront Park 2. Washington Park 3. Duke Energy Children’s Museum

1. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden 2. Findlay Market 3. Union Terminal

1. Smale Riverfront Park 2. Ault Park 3. Washington Park

P l a c e t o Ta k e a V i s i t o r

P l aygr o u n d

Ol d T h i n g

Pa rk (Ci t y )

Phil anthropist

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B e s t h i s t o r ic p r e s e r vati o n fi g h t w o n by a n a ll - p o w e r f u l l o c a l fa m ily w it h p o litic a l c o n n ecti o n s For a moment last year, it seemed as though preservationists would prevail in the fight against the destruction of downtown’s Dennison Hotel, a 125-yearold building designed by the firm of noted architect Samuel Hannaford and sitting in the Main Street Historic District. Last summer, the city’s Historic Conservation Board nixed a demolition request by Columbia REI, the company controlled by powerful auto dealer magnates the Joseph family that owns the building. But the elation of preservationists was short lived: Months later, the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals reversed the conservation board’s ruling, clearing the way for the city to issue a demolition permit.

B e s t r e a s o n t o b e t e rr i f i e d a n d c o n f u s e d a b o u t t h e w o rl d Well, it happened. The thing many thought impossible. After a campaign filled with gaffes, scandals, racist rhetoric and nearmeltdowns, reality TV star Donald Trump won the nation’s highest office. The victory of a candidate who just months before was a seeming non-starter and whose campaign looked to be at most a sideshow attraction upended the perceived rulebook on national politics in the United States, casting into full relief the deep dissatisfaction and anger of a big portion — but by no means majority — of the country. It’s going to be a strange four years.

B e s t l o c a l p o l i t ic a l shakeup

Photo: Hailey Bollinger


It wasn’t a guaranteed win, and for one of the two Democrats now on Hamilton County Commission, it came down to the wire. But here’s hoping that Commissioner Todd Portune’s re-election and the election of former State Rep. Denise Driehaus bring a new, more forward-looking direction to the county, which has been stuck in neutral thanks to budget cuts and lack of long-term vision. Things are getting off to a quick start, with a new crime lab and coroner’s office in the works, more plans for regional cooperation on the heroin crisis and other big issues.

B e s t i n f u r i at i n g p o l i t ics i n d u c e d t r a ff ic j a m After the election, it was a little hard for our now-president to stop campaigning. It’s understandable: the adulation of the crowds, the bright lights, the pumped-up 2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  14 3

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B e s t l a u n c h o f a n e w m o d e o f p u blic t r a n s it i n C i n ci n n ati Cincinnati’s first streetcar system in more than 65 years launched with great fanfare back in September. The opening weekend for the transit project was a huge hit, with riders hopping on board for more than 50,000 free rides. By the end of October, ridership had reached around 215,000, and even excluding its big debut, the streetcar averaged 3,700 riders a day, far surpassing its goal of 3,000 fares a day. Colder weather, traffic snags and unpredictability in arrival times have cooled the streetcar’s red-hot debut, but boosters and city officials say they expect ridership to pick up again as the weather warms up and more big events draw crowds to downtown and OTR.

soundtracks made up mostly of Billy Joel echoing through the half-full arenas, the occasional violence from your supporters toward peaceful protesters — it’s gotta be a wild ride. The president-elect’s victory lap appearance in Cincinnati didn’t quite fill U.S. Bank Arena (it was about half-full, actually), but did tie up traffic on I-71 and I-75 for hours as cars streamed in from the suburbs to catch the new prez. If you were just trying to get somewhere downtown in a timely manner, the reality star turned politician’s pileup was less than appreciated.

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A century and a half after the end of the Civil War, some folks think it’s still advisable to bandy about the symbol of the side that fought to keep black people enslaved. That seems like a bad idea, and an even worse one if you’re an official like Hamilton County Clerk of Courts bailiff Donald Robinson Jr., who got in hot water for sharing the Confederate flag

unapologetically on Facebook last year. Former University of Cincinnati Police officer Ray Tensing went one worse, however. In an almost unbelievable twist, attorneys revealed during his murder trial that Tensing was wearing a Confederate flag T-shirt under his uniform when he shot unarmed black motorist Samuel DuBose. Seriously. Tensing’s defenders say the shirt was simply advertising the Great Smoky Mountains. That’s well and good, but they didn’t have any shirts at the gift shop without racist symbols?

B e s t u n d e r d o g w i n i n v o lv i n g t h e u s e o f a d u ck Republicans had controlled the Hamilton County clerk of courts office for so long — 113 years — that the place had become a satellite campaign headquarters for the Republican Party. Along came Aftab Pureval, a Procter & Gamble lawyer who won election to the office on the Democratic ticket. He became the first Democrat to run the courts’ backoffice functions since 1903. Not even the Chicago Cubs had to wait that long.

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B E S T B A B Y B OOM It’s been a big year for babies at the Cincinnati Zoo. Since being born six weeks early on Jan. 24, baby hippo Fiona has become a bona fide local celebrity. Initially weighing just 29 pounds, the tiny baby inspired the hashtag #TeamFiona as the city anxiously awaited daily updates on her condition. But the hippo wasn’t the only baby the zoo welcomed this year: African painted dog Imara gave birth to a whopping 11 pups, all of whom were named after cheese, and first-time Malayan tiger mom Cinta also welcomed three female cubs; her maternal instincts, however, failed to kick in. Luckily, six-year-old Australian shepherd Blakely stepped in to fulfill the role of nanny. Blakely’s previous baby-rearing experience includes cheetahs, a takin, a warthog, wallabies, skunks and bat-eared foxes. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, 513-281-4700, cincinnatizoo.org.

B e s t pr e v io u sly s e cr e t a n d a rg u a bly e m b a rr a ss i n g c o rr e sp o n d e n c e b e t w e e n t w o m ayo r a l b u d di e s The best convos between bros should stay between bros, you know what we mean?

So it was kind of embarrassing when a records request for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s emails turned up Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley’s missives bragging about working with the city’s black police union, the Sentinels, on the ouster of then-chief Jeffrey Blackwell. Even more embarrassing: Cranley had previously said he had no role in that firing, officially carried out by City Manager Harry Black. Triple embarrassing: The Sentinels afterward came out saying they didn’t support Blackwell’s firing at all. Oops.

B e s t c o ll e g e sp o r t s fa k e o u t For a beautiful few weeks, it kinda seemed like the University of Cincinnati was about to join the big leagues. But it was all one big tease. After some flexing for one of the country’s top college sports conferences, we found out this past fall that UC won’t be joining the Big 12 any time soon. In fact, no new schools will be hopping on board the high-level collegiate athletic conference, which currently has only 10 members for some reason. The Big 12’s board of directors say the move doesn’t have anything to do with individual schools and that it simply isn’t the right time to expand. That means UC won’t get the chance to join a

Power Five conference or top-tier athletic groups that net much larger TV revenues, better shots at major bowl games and playoff berths. Oh well.

B e s t m o v e b y l o c a l fa i t h gr o u ps g i v i n g u s fa i t h i n h u m a n s Before Cincinnati formally declared itself a sanctuary city, local faith leaders convened by the Amos Project stepped up, offering support for immigrants and others who might be targeted by policies promised by the incoming Trump administration. If mass deportations or Muslim registries become a reality, these mosques, churches and synagogues have pledged to have the backs of some of Cincinnati’s most vulnerable residents. After high-profile court battles over President Trump’s executive orders banning immigration from certain majorityMuslim countries and halting refugee resettlement, that’s looking more and more like it could become a reality.

B e s t n e w i d e a t o f ig h t v io l e n c e i n Ci n ci n n at i ’ s n e ig h b o r h o o d s While overall violent crime in Cincinnati is still well below levels seen in decades

past, the city saw a devastating number of shootings in 2016 — enough to be featured in national media, including a New York Times article on gun violence. While some officials have called for still more police officers on the street, Councilwoman Yvette Simpson has proposed a different idea. Simpson’s proposal would include mental health professionals among first responders heading to crime scenes. Studies show that those exposed to the trauma of violent crime are more likely to be victims or perpetrators of that violence in the future. Working to treat that trauma could be a first step to reducing violence in Cincinnati neighborhoods.

B e s t m o m e n t pr o v i n g p e o pl e s t i ll h av e p o w e r Early November 2016 was a tense time in Cincinnati. Donald Trump had just been elected president and a Hamilton County jury declared it could not reach a verdict in the case of former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing’s shooting of unarmed black motorist Samuel DuBose. That tension was especially high outside the Hamilton County courthouse as the verdict — or lack thereof — came down. The hundreds

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gathered there began to march through the streets of downtown, where they were joined by another large protest against the proposed policies of President Trump. The Black Lives Matter and Trump protesters marching together made a powerful statement — thousands of Cincinnatians marching non-violently for justice and acceptance.

B e s t c o n gr e ss io n a l gl o b e -t r o t t e r Since rebounding from his 2008 loss to Steve Driehaus and returning to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2011, Rep. Steve Chabot has flown to 46 countries on 16 separate excursions, gracing the likes of Mongolia, Myanmar and Moldova with his presence. The tab to taxpayers? Almost $200,000. But it’s unclear exactly what those trips, taken as part of Chabot’s role as the chair of the House’s Small Business Committee, have accomplished. That’s not a question Chabot has been eager to answer.

B e s t Ci t y C o u n ci l m o t io n t h at fa i l e d It seemed like a reasonable idea at the time: Indigenous Peoples’ Day — a city proclamation that celebrated the

indigenous cultures that existed in Ohio and across the country before European settlers arrived. Putting it on the second Tuesday in October — Columbus Day — also didn’t seem like such a huge leap. After all, 22 other cities including Oklahoma City, Lawrence, Kansas and Asheville, N.C., have taken similar steps. But the idea, proposed by the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission, was too much for Cincinnati City Council. While a few council members voted for the motion recognizing America’s first peoples, a majority abstained from the vote, giving no reason for doing so.

B e s t e x a m pl e o f w h y s o c i a l m e di a wa s a bs o l u t e ly i n s a n e i n 2 016 Oh man. We should not even be revisiting this, but here we are. If you needed proof that social media is a terrifying place full of sadness and pain, look no further than the way Twitter trolls handled the tragic death of Harambe, a gorilla living at the Cincinnati Zoo. In May, a 3-year-old boy fell into Harambe’s enclosure, and, when the gorilla began dragging the boy and no other avenue to rescue him was available, zookeepers shot the silverback. That alone was sad enough. Then came the

memes. The threats to the zoo. The insults to the boy’s mother. The bizarre conspiracy theories. The zoo temporarily shut down its Twitter account due to the craziness, which made national news. Twitter trolls aimed fire at zoo director Thane Maynard, hacking his Twitter account in August. Eventually, the tweetstorm died down, and hopefully the mere mention of our sweet, departed simian prince’s name in these pages doesn’t recall the fury.

B e s t a n d m o s t i m p o r ta n t r e m a i n i n g v e s t ig e o f Ci n c i n n at i ’ s r ic h m u s ic a l h e r i ta g e t h at i s s t i ll endangered The past year saw intensified efforts to save the physical remains of one of Cincinnati’s proudest cultural gems. James Brown. Bootsy Collins. Otis Redding. Ike Turner. Philip Paul. The list of local and national legends who recorded for Evanston-based King Records goes on and on, giving Cincinnati some serious credibility when it comes to the roots of America’s Rock, R&B, Soul and Funk music. What’s more, the company, started in 1943 by Cincinnatian Syd Nathan, was one of the country’s first integrated work places. King was decades ahead of its time

and a continuingly pertinent example of what people can do when they transcend racial divides. Today, the label’s former headquarters is in disrepair and its owners want to tear it down. But the city has taken steps to purchase it, using eminent domain if necessary, so the facility can be turned into a museum and educational site. Decades after it closed down, King is still bringing people together.

B e s t s u rpr i s e r e s i s ta n c e t o t h e Tr u m p t r a i n fr o m a n o t h e r w i s e u n a p o l o g e t ic c o n s e r vat i v e Ohio’s staunchly conservative Gov. John Kasich wasn’t the first person we’d have expected to pick a big fight with reality TV star turned presidential candidate turned actual president Donald Trump, but did he ever. Bitter Twitter wars. Talking trash on TV news shows. A continued refusal to back Trump even after his inauguration seemed inevitable. We have to hand it to Kasich — he didn’t dither when it came to his thoughts on The Donald, unlike some other Ohio Republicans (we’re looking at you, Rob Portman). Maybe he was bitter because he knew he wasn’t going to win the GOP presidential nomination. Maybe he thought he could actually sway people


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into backing him if Trump’s chances (or his transition plans) went to pot. Maybe he has some actual convictions somewhere in there. Whatever his reasoning, Kasich has hit Trump hard over and over again, and it’s been fascinating to watch.

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B e s t pr o t r a c t e d e l e c t o r a l H a ll o w e e n c o s t u m e Sometimes, your getup isn’t the most convincing, but it’s still enough to get you into the club. Despite voting for the North American Free Trade Agreement and initial support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, two trade deals that are generally the kiss of death with working class voters these days, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman still managed to turn rhetoric about his credentials with the working class into a resounding re-election victory. It helped that a couple labor unions endorsed Portman, mostly over the issue of pension reform. Portman’s attacks on his opponent Ted Strickland’s economic record as Ohio governor also didn’t hurt his bid. Nevermind that Strickland rejected those same trade deals, which GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump railed on in order to rally working class votes, or that Strickland presided over the state’s economy during the Great Recession and probably wasn’t responsible for the job losses Ohio experienced. Portman’s working-class ruse was enough to net him a Senate win.

B e s t t e rr i bl e u s e o f s tat e l aw e n f o rc e m e n t t i m e t o o ppr e ss i n dig e n o u s p e o pl e It makes total sense to send 36 Ohio State Troopers to North Dakota to protect a pipeline project that the federal government ordered paused, right? And it makes even more sense to tell media in your state that the officers were “undercover” and refuse to release further information about their activities, even when they are shown on video in uniform engaging directly with Native American activists, right? Wait, actually, none of that makes any sense. But Ohio did it anyway. North Dakota will reimburse Ohio taxpayers for the troopers sent to quash protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, but the question remains: Why send them in the first place, especially when law enforcement response to those protests has been controversial and fraught with accusations of unnecessary violence?

B e s t w h at- i n -t h e - h e ll i s - g oi n g - o n - w i t h - l o c a l p o l i t ics m o m e n t In yet another sign of 2016’s topsyturvy political environment, Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil set off minor political shockwaves when he appeared

at a March 13 campaign rally for GOP presidential primary frontrunner Donald Trump in West Chester. Neil, a Democrat, did not speak at the event but was named by Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones during the latter’s remarks introducing Trump. Jones, a Republican, has been a controversial figure for his far-right views on immigration and other issues. Neil and Jones posed for photos together onstage during the event. The first-term Hamilton County sheriff appeared on a stage behind Trump in full uniform. He told reporters at the event that he felt Trump was the best candidate in the field. But in a news conference the next day, presumably after Democratic Party officials gave him a pep talk, he backtracked, saying his appearance was a “huge mistake” and that he was merely curious about Trump’s support for law enforcement. Neil says the campaign asked him to attend the day before the event.

B e s t u s e o f ta xpay e r m o n e y t o wa r d a pr o j e c t t h at w i ll a d m i n i s t e r a r e l ig io u s l i t m u s t e s t f o r i t s e m pl oy e e s , b e c a u s e s e pa r at io n o f c h u rc h a n d s tat e i s f o r d u m m i e s Are you OK with the government chipping in on a tourist attraction developed by a religious group and based on a Bible story where employees have to sign a pledge about their religious beliefs? If you live in Kentucky, you kind of have to be, it seems. Northern Kentucky’s Ark Encounter got $18 million in tax credits from the state after a legal battle, even as parent company Answers in Genesis (which also runs the nearby Creation Museum) says it will select employees for the theme park based upon their belief in the Bible. The state initially promised the credits on the $92 million project in 2010, but walked back on that commitment four years later after worries about lawsuits over regulations on separation of church and state. Answers in Genesis took the state to federal court, winning the right to receive the tax credits on First Amendment grounds in 2016.

B e s t i n t r a - pa r t y sc h i s m , l o c a l di v i s io n The year 2016 witnessed the continued widening of a big split in Cincinnati and Hamilton County politics: a rift between two factions of the local Democratic Party. On one side are established players with mostly moderate policies like Mayor John Cranley. On the other, to varying degrees, are younger, generally more progressive politicians and candidates looking to shake things up. The most obvious example is Councilwoman Yvette

Photo: Scott Dittgen

B e s t p r o m i s i n g c o - o p m a r k et It’s been a long time coming, but the former Keller’s IGA in Clifton is finally a grocery store again. After Keller’s went out of business in 2011 following tax woes, it was an open question whether another grocery store would take its place in Clifton’s once-bustling business district. Six years later, Clifton Market is a reality. Making the store’s opening even more interesting is its structure: The co-op market was financed and owned by 1,500 members of the local community. Those owners get to help make decisions about how the market will run and what it will carry. That’s shopping local.

Simpson, who announced in the summer that she would challenge Cranley in the 2017 mayoral race. Simpson has some allies, including fellow council member Chris Seelbach and various other candidates. The first big skirmish happened over the streetcar during Cranley’s first election four years ago. But the divisions have only intensified since then, and the 2017 mayoral and Council races look likely to turn past skirmishes between old-guard Democrats and the local party’s young urban progressive wing into an all-out war.

B e s t i n t r a - pa r t y sc h i s m : s tat e di v i s io n Things got ugly pretty quick for the Ohio GOP this year. Ohio Gov. John Kasich bucked his party and opposed their nominee for president. Other elected officials like U.S. Sen. Rob Portman hemmed and hawed about their support for Trump, saying no, then yes, then no again to a Trump presidential nomination. Trump’s campaign in Ohio was chaotic — few field offices, few volunteers — and he didn’t exactly play nice with the state party’s establishment. When the dust

settled, Ohio GOP Chair and Kasich ally Matt Borges was out of a job, replaced by Trump loyalist Jane Timken. Despite the tumult, however, the party won big, picking up seats in the State House and Ohio’s electoral college votes for Trump. It was another instance proving that all previously established political rules were out the window in 2016.

B e s t way t o g i v e ta xpay e r m o n e y t o pr i vat e , f o r pr o f i t e n t i t i e s w i t h l i t t l e o r n o o v e rs ig h t Here’s something fun we learned about in 2016: Ohio taxpayers have been paying $100 million a year to send 15,000 students to a school that has no books, no classrooms and, according to recent state efforts to get to the bottom of its attendance records, little proof that it is providing educational opportunities required by the state. Critics, including state lawmakers, say the continuing battle between the Ohio Department of Education and privately run but publicly funded online charter school Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) underscores problems with the state’s lax 2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  149

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B e s t m a j o r b r i d g e t h at n ee d s a b r e a k When the Brent Spence Bridge collapses and sends eight lanes of vehicles into the Ohio River, we will all wonder why construction of a new bridge hadn’t begun in 2016. After all, we had a president who wanted to spend more on infrastructure, a House speaker (John Boehner) from the Ohio side and the Senate majority leader (Mitch McConnell) from the Kentucky side. That perfect storm for success went for naught. Meanwhile, Louisville opened one new Ohio River bridge and is building another. Maybe it’s because that city has a democratic congressman.

oversight of its charter system, especially embattled online schools. After an inquiry into its attendance practices, the state stripped ECOT of millions in funding. It was another blow to the state’s charter school system, which has been rocked by data scandals, a paused federal grant over performance issues and other controversies in recent years.

B e s t r e m i n d e r t h at l aw m a k e rs i n O h io a n d K e n t u ck y a r e s t i ll w e i r d ly a n d i n f u r i at i n gly h u n g u p a b o u t w h at w o m e n d o w i t h t h e i r b o di e s It’s not news that conservative lawmakers have a strange preoccupation with choices women make regarding their reproductive health. But as 2016 ended, conservative legislatures in Ohio and Kentucky prepared to ram home some of the most restrictive anti-abortion legislation in the country, banning access to most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. These restrictions could be just a prelude of coming challenges for prochoice advocates. President Trump has promised, over time, to appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe v.

Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that declares bans on abortion unconstitutional. The most recent legislation isn’t the first attack on access to abortions. The number of clinics in both Ohio and Kentucky has dwindled in recent years after successive waves of regulations on clinics. In 2011, Ohio had 16 providers and Kentucky had three. Now, there are only nine clinics left in Ohio — including one in Cincinnati — and only one in all of Kentucky. As both pregnancy care and abortions become harder to obtain, opponents of abortion restrictions worry low-income women will be the hardest hit.

B e s t h a lf o f a pr o s e c u t o r Hamilton County voters decided in November that part of Joe Deters was better than all of Alan Triggs as county prosecutor. Deters went to part-time status in 2009, something conveniently omitted on all of his campaign signs and advertising. Of all the elected prosecutors in Ohio’s 10 biggest counties, Deters is the only one with a fractional commitment to his public job. Then again, having pocketed more than $2 million with two now-disbarred private lawyers, who can blame Deters for sucking at two teats at once?

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Muske teer

1. A.J. Green 2. Andy Dalton 3. Tyler Eifert

1. Coach Chris Mack 2. Edmond Sumner 3. Trevon Bluiett


NKU N o r s e

1. Joey Votto 2. Brandon Phillips 3. Billy Hamilton

1. Christine Roush (Women’s Basketball) 2. Cole Murray (Men’s Basketball) 3. Jake Giesler (Men’s Basketball)

Cyc l o n e 1. Brandon McNally 2. Dominic Zombo 3. Andrew Yogan B e a rc at 1. Coach Mick Cronin 2. Troy Caupain 3. Gary Clark

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C o a ch/ M a n a g e r ( P r o/C o l l e g e )

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1. Chris Mack (Xavier Basketball) 2. Mick Cronin (UC Basketball) 3. John Harkes (FC Cincinnati)

T e a m (C o l l e g e )

G o l f C o u r s e ( P u b l ic)

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T e a m ( H ig h Sch o o l )

H e a lt h C l u b/Gy m

1. Mitch Hildebrandt 2. Sean Okoli 3. Jimmy McLaughlin

1. St. Xavier Football 2. Elder Football 3. Moeller Football

1. YMCA 2. Planet Fitness 3. Bella Forza Fitness

T e a m ( P r o f e s s io n a l )

C o a ch/ M a n a g e r ( H ig h Sch o o l )

H i k i n g Tr a i l

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1. Cincy 360 Fitness 2. CrossFit Cincinnati 3. CrossFit 513 United

Overall Athlete 1. A.J. Green 2. Brandon Phillips 3. Joey Votto 4. Andy Dalton 5. Billy Hamilton 6. Tyler Eifert 7. Sean Okoli 8. Vontaze Burfict 9. A.J. McCarron 10. Domata Peko

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Photo: Courtesy Cincinnati Bengals

P i l at e s S t u dio 1. Pendleton Pilates 2. Cincinnati Sports Club 3. Modo Yoga P ic k - Up B a s k e t b a l l Cour t 1. Blue Ash Recreation Center 2. Oakley Playground 3. Ft. Thomas Armory

1. Flying Pig Marathon 2. Cincinnati Zoo Cheetah Run 5k 3. Girls on the Run 5k S o cc e r Fa ci l i t y 1. Town & Country 2. Soccer City 3. Wall 2 Wall Sof tball Fields 1. Rumpke Park 2. Expressway 3. Blue Ash Sp o r t s C o v e r a g e 1. WLW (700 AM) 2. FSN Ohio 3. WCPO (Channel 9)

Tennis Cour t s 1. Sawyer Point 2. Cincinnati Tennis Club 3. Cincinnati Sports Club Volle yball Cour t s 1. The Sandbar 2. Cincinnati Sand Volleyball 3. Fifty West Yo g a S t u dio 1. Modo Yoga 2. The Yoga Bar 3. Body Alive

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Best View From a Putting Green There’s no doubt Greater Cincinnati has some of the best parks in the country. Some of our favorites boast captivating views of our picturesque skyline. But if you don’t spend much time on the links, you’ve likely missed out on one of our favorite vantage points — the fifth green at Devou Park Golf Course. An opening in the wooded backdrop of the green frames a view of downtown that regularly has old guys in funny pants snapping selfies even their teenage kids would be proud of. We’re excited about the renovations to the grounds and clubhouse, but we really don’t need an excuse to enjoy this great park. Devou Park Golf Course, 1201 Park Drive, Covginton, Ky., 859-431-8030, devouparkgolf.com.

Best Red Whose Sh e n a n ig a n s W e ’ l l M i s s Brandon Phillips could be a fickle guy sometimes, as demonstrated by his resentful comments about team management after signing a lucrative contract extension in 2012. But for every instance of the somewhat self-conscious BP getting a little too defensive — let us not recall the onbase-percentage flap with The Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans — Reds fans will remember the mile-wide smile and genuine joy the longtime second baseman brought to the game. Not to mention the countless acrobatic defensive plays, behind-the-back and between-the-legs throws, the 2013 “butt slide” tag and the massive brawl with the Cardinals he basically started. Phillips’ 11-year Reds tenure ended this past offseason when he was traded to his hometown Atlanta Braves, where he has continued to demonstrate his trademark charm as @DatDudeBP on Twitter. The three-time All Star ranks among the top 10 Reds all-time in hits, doubles, total bases and games played. He’ll surely be a member of the team’s Hall of Fame someday.

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In 2016, the Reds received special permission to honor iconic hometown baseball star Pete Rose on the field for his induction into the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. Pete wouldn’t see his lifetime ban from baseball officially overturned, however, as new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred denied his latest appeal after Manfred’s staff found “new evidence” of ongoing misconduct. The induction into the Reds Hall of Fame came shortly after Ichiro Suzuki broke Rose’s record for most hits — if you count Ichiro’s 2 017 B ES T O F CIN CINN AT I  157

Photo: Courtesy The Cincinnati Reds


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B e s t F r e a k At h l e t e S t i l l o n t h e R e d s ’ Ros t e r It wasn’t so long ago that the Cincinnati Reds boasted a number of straight-up freaky athletes, from the 105-mph flame-throwing Aroldis Chapman to the quirky windup of Johnny Cueto and the enigma that is star first baseman Joey Votto. With the departures of the two aforementioned pitchers, Votto these days is flanked on the “all-freak” team by center fielder Billy Hamilton, the fastest man in baseball. Hamilton routinely scores tagging up on shallow pop-ups, taking extra bases on passed balls (sometimes two bases) and is the most disruptive baserunner in the game since probably Rickey Henderson. Hamilton has already stolen more than 50 bases three times in his young career, and two of those seasons he played in fewer than 120 games. He’s also an amazing center fielder who often appears to be running faster than a fly ball. Hamilton’s freakishness has gone a long way toward making the rebuilding Reds fun to watch despite the team’s struggles as a whole.

1,000-plus hits when he played pro ball in Japan. Which Pete and all Reds fans most certainly do not, and Ichiro fans most certainly do. Rose told USA Today that Japan was trying to make him “the Hit Queen,” adding “the next thing you know, they’ll be counting (Ichiro’s) high school hits.”

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Nuge, we hardly knew you. Actually, we knew Bengals kicker Mike Nugent quite well going back to his days at Ohio State, where he was an All-American kicker before being drafted by the New York Jets. He became the Bengals’ kicker in 2010 and went on to set a team record for points and field goals the following year. Then came the 2015 rule change moving the point-after attempt from the 2-yard line back to the 15. After making 98 percent of his PATs the first year of the change, Nugent scuffled in 2016, missing six of 29 and another six field goals to boot. With the wheels falling off for both the kicker and

the team in general, the Bengals released Nugent in December. The downfall of the team’s kicker pretty much symbolized the Bengals struggles in 2016, a year when many hoped they would avenge the ugly 2015 playoff loss to the Steelers.

B e s t C u r s e s Th at W o n ’ t Be Broken Kenyon Martin’s broken ankle. The Reds being no-hit in the playoffs or blowing a 2-games-to-0 lead on the Giants. Jeremy Hill and Vontaze Burfict snatching defeat from the jaws of victory against the Steelers. The past 20 years of Cincinnati teams’ playoff appearances have been demoralizing enough to cause even the most optimistic fans to wonder why we put ourselves through it all. This city’s seemingly endless playoff-win drought has manifested itself in a couple of unfortunate streaks for the men who have led the Reds and Bengals through such sorrow. The Bengals’ 2015 playoff loss to Pittsburgh marked head coach Marvin

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Lewis’ seventh-straight playoff loss, the longest-ever streak for a head coach without a win. Former Reds manager Dusty Baker took over the Washington Nationals in 2016 only to extend his own dubious record of losing potential series-clinching games to nine — the longest ever. Marvin will attempt to break his streak leading the Who Deys this coming fall, while Dusty’s Cincinnati karma will undoubtedly remain with him in D.C. should the Nationals again make the playoffs this year.

celebrated the 25-year anniversary of the team that started it all. The Bearcats wore badass 1992 throwback uniforms during a thorough dismantling of UConn in March, with members of the Final Four team Corie Blount, Curtis Bostic, Anthony Buford, Tarrice Gibson, Herb Jones and Terry Nelson in attendance. Huggins, who has since returned to the Final Four with his current program, West Virginia, sent along a video tribute for the dudes.

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The University of Cincinnati 1992 Final Four team put a young Bob Huggins on the college basketball map. Just three years into his tenure at UC, Huggy Bear put together one of the best squads he would ever field at UC, and only a loss against Michigan’s vaunted Fab Five kept the ’Cats from playing in the National Championship game. We all know what happened next: Fourteen straight NCAA Tournament appearances, Kenyon Martin’s broken ankle, a DUI charge and subsequent dismissal that sent the Bearcats program into disarray for more than a year. One-time Huggins protégé Mick Cronin has rebuilt the UC basketball program, and this year the school

University of Cincinnati point guard Troy Caupain this spring wrapped up a tremendous career on the hardwood for the Bearcats. When he showed up in Clifton from Midlothian, Va. four years ago, the then-17-year-old hit the ground running, contributing significant minutes on a good team as a true freshman. He’s been UC’s floor general ever since, knocking in an acrobatic, game-tying layup in an NCAA Tournament game the ’Cats would win in overtime, winning first-team All-American Athletic Conference honors his junior year and entering his senior season AAC co-player of the year. Amid the litany of on-court accolades Caupain has amassed during his four years at UC,

he’s also been a model student. This past year he was honored as a finalist for the NCAA’s Senior CLASS Award, given each year to the outstanding senior student athlete in nine different sports. Caupain’s bio notes various academic achievements, leadership traits, community service and volunteer efforts as well as basketball accomplishments. Caupain’s mother Renee, who was known to drive from Virginia to watch almost all his games throughout his career, is surely proud.

B e s t P r o G u a r d C o m i n g B a c k U n d e r U n f o r t u n at e C i rc u m s ta n c e s Things didn’t go Xavier’s way during the 2016-17 men’s basketball season. After starting the year ranked in the top 10, the Muskies struggled against the better teams in the stacked Big East, failing to separate themselves from the middle of the conference pack. The daunting conference schedule didn’t make things easy — during a five-game stretch in January, Xavier played four games against ranked opponents, including an out-of-conference game against crosstown rival UC, losing all four. Then the really unfortunate happened: Star point guard Edmond Sumner went down with a torn ACL and was lost


for the year. Sumner had been projected by many NBA mock drafts as a potential first-round pick. Instead, the talented junior-to-be will rehab for the next year or so hoping to contribute on the court sometime during 2018. With a medical redshirt season as an option, the lanky point guard will have plenty of time to prove himself worthy of a draft pick in the years to come.

B e s t SEASON TIC KET DEAL Cincinnati’s hottest sports ticket in town last year belonged to Futbol Club Cincinnati, which spread its orange-andblue fandom all across town during its inaugural season. With uber-professional business and marketing efforts led by the deep pockets of Carl Lindner III and former Bengals executive Jeff Berding, the organization asked for — and did receive — the city’s utmost attention. Then it followed through on the pitch, making the United Soccer League playoffs and competing against top European teams in friendlies along the way. The team’s record-setting attendance numbers at UC’s Nippert Stadium piqued the interested of Major League Soccer, which is seriously considering the local club for inclusion during its next round of expansion. The team has already sold out of 2017







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season tickets in “The Bailey” — the end zone section where the rowdiest fans set off flares and chant European-style soccer stuff. But general admission season tickets are still available and only cost $75 — total. FC Cincinnati, fccincinnati.com.

a brewery just 10 miles from downtown Cincinnati. And it’s easy to find your way home — literally just follow U.S. Route 50 west toward the city. Fifty West Brewing Company, 7668 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, 513-834-8789, fiftywestbrew.com.

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Beer and sports go together beautifully. Everyone knows this. The campus of East Side brewery Fifty West has gone way beyond simply providing pints to sip while watching the big game or sixers to chug on the bench during a summer night softball game. The brewery’s Production Works facility is a straight-up adult beerthemed playland: a brewery and taproom adjacent to volleyball courts and a bike shop, with canoe and kayak rentals on the banks of the Little Miami River. This isn’t your typical taproom, though there are plenty of TVs playing sports and a brewpub across the street serving seasonal ingredients alongside a variety of freshly brewed beers. You can stop by and join in a friendly game of sand volleyball or get in a weekly league. Rent bikes to cruise down the the Little Miami Scenic Trail or join cycling and running groups. It’s basically like pretending to be on vacation at

It didn’t take long for Cincinnati native Rose Lavelle to prove herself on the soccer field at the University of Wisconsin. After leaving Mount Notre Dame High School as its all-time leading scorer, Lavelle went on to earn Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors in 2013 and was named to the All-Big Ten team all four years in Madison. She became a first-team AllAmerican and was twice named to the All-American second team, with two Big Ten Midfielder of the Year awards to boot. Lavelle’s high honors continued this past January, when she was selected by the Boston Breakers with the No. 1 overall pick in the National Women’s Soccer League draft. By March she had earned her first appearance in international play, starting and playing all 90 minutes of a tough 1-0 Women’s National Team loss to England. Could World Cup 2019 be her next stop?

B e s t T o p S o cc e r Dr a f t P ic k Pa r t II While all eyes were on FC Cincinnati’s ongoing bid to join Major League Soccer’s expansion efforts, Xavier footballer Jalen Brown was showing scouts why they should add him to an MLS roster. Brown’s efforts paid off — after participating in the 2017 MLS player combine in Los Angeles, the former Musketeer was drafted in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft by New York City FC. Brown led Xavier with six goals his senior year and was named to the Ohio Collegiate Soccer Association All-Ohio NCAA Men’s Division I Team. In New York City, he’ll be united with former FC Cincinnati star Sean Okoli.

B e s t Tw o - W h e e l e d Urb a n C o r e A d v e n t u r e If you’re looking for a fresh way to experience the sights and sounds of downtown, Over-the-Rhine and surrounding areas, pull the old 10-speed or beach cruiser out of the garage and make your way to Fountain Square. Every Tuesday night (in warmer months) the Urban Basin Bicycle Club leads a novice-level group ride around town, stopping to take in the sights and talk a little history. The event is part of the city of Cincinnati’s Bicycle Transportation

Program, whose mission is to make bicycling a bigger part of daily life in Cincinnati. You don’t need a fancy ride to take part, just a desire to have a good time and see new things. Be sure to watch out for those streetcar tracks. cincinnati-oh.gov/bikes/ events/urban-basin-bicycle-club.

B e s t NKU D - I Sp l a s h Pa r t I There are mid-major men’s college basketball programs that wait decades for their first taste of the NCAA Tournament. Others come and go during a single Cinderella season now and then. The Northern Kentucky University men’s basketball team hopes to fall into a third category after winning the Horizon League tournament and advancing to the Big Dance after just a season of eligibility. The Norse ripped through the league tourney as a 4-seed, knocking off Milwaukee’s attempted Cinderella run in the finals and earning a 15 seed against No. 2 Kentucky in the NCAAs. NKU’s first-round game took place the day this magazine went to press, so we don’t know how the dudes fared. Google it!

B e s t NKU D - I Sp l a s h Pa r t II Just across campus, another NKU squad powered through the four-year reclassification process to find success in its first

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Cat on the counter no more! B e s t Q u i e t H a l l of Fa m e C a r e e r i n t h e M a k i n g The Bengals’ offensive stars in recent years have enjoyed much of the team’s limelight — wide receiver A.J. Green is one of the best in the game, and quarterback Andy Dalton and running backs Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill get to score all the touchdowns. But there are some pretty legit dudes on the other side of the ball, too, starting with defensive tackle Geno Atkins. The 29-year-old has made the Pro Bowl in five out of his seven years in the league, the most ever for a Bengals defensive lineman and just one behind the record for any Bengals defensive player. Atkins has twice led the NFL in interior-line sacks and shared the accolade twice. Defensive tackle is one of the toughest gigs in the game, and Atkins’ dominance allows the freaky defensive ends to really get after the quarterback. The team smartly locked up the former fourth-round pick with a five-year, $52 million contract in 2013, retaining his services through 2019. If he stays healthy, he’s likely looking at another extension in the near future and could potentially be a Bengal for life.

year of Division I eligibility. The Northern Kentucky University women’s soccer team wasted little time breaking through with a league championship, also playing in the NCAA Tournament for their first time. The Norse lost in the first round to national runners-up West Virginia, but they’ll be back.

B e s t L at e - S e a s o n R u n The 2016 Xavier men’s baseball team rode a hot late-season streak to Big East regular season and tournament titles, catapulting them to their second NCAA Tournament appearance in three seasons. The Musketeers went 18-4 down the stretch, winning eight of their last 10 and beating Creighton 8-7 in a dramatic championship game. The Musketeers nearly made noise in the NCAA Tournament, too. Though they failed to get out of their region, Xavier whooped No. 1 seed Vanderbilt 15-1 and won a game against Washington but couldn’t quite get past UC Santa Barbara,

losing games 5-4 and 14-5. Catcher Daniel Rizzie was later drafted by the New York Mets, and shortstop Andre Jernigan went to the Minnesota Twins.

B e s t Thr e e - P e at Before last season, no Ohio high school had ever won three consecutive Division II state championships. Standing in La Salle’s way of such a prestigious accomplishment last fall was northern Ohio football powerhouse Massillon Perry, which La Salle had smoked in the 2015 state championship game 42-0. The Lancers again prevailed, this time in a 14-7 squeaker behind a late fourth-quarter touchdown run by senior quarterback TreSean Smith with 3:46 left in the game. The team finished the season ranked No. 32 in the country by high school sports website MaxPreps. Prior to the current three-year winning streak, La Salle had never won a state title. The Lancers will go for four in a row next season.

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