Page 1


Best of CincInnati 2018

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  1




B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  3

EXPERIENCE CINCINNATI’S FINEST GUITARS. DHR Guitar Experience specializes in high-end, vintage and rare guitars—both right and left-handed. Whether you are looking for the finest archtop or a one-ofa-kind prototype, DHR is Cincinnati’s point of destination for unique guitars. Our shop is located in Oakley at 3092 Madison Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45209. See our guitar and amp selection at or call 513-832-7571 for more information.

4  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  5


Reader & Staff Picks 16 45 93 129 153 171


CityBeat 183 Stuff To Do 187 Arts & Culture 190 Music Cover illustration by David Wilson

























FC CIIN NN C AT INN 2018 6  |  6B E| S TB EOSFT COI N I AT 2 0 I1 8


























B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  7

Discover why Anderson Township was voted Greater Cincinnati’s ‘Best Suburb’ Six Years in a Row!

Everyone’s Favorite Place for Epic Adventure! Shops, Galleries, Hotels & B&B’s Local Craft Beer & Eateries


on s r e d n A in e n o y r e v e r o f There is something

Cycling On The Little Miami Scenic Trail 2000 Acres Of Hiking Trails & Camping

June 9th • 9am-5pm

250+ Vendors • 65 Shops & Eateries • Endless Fun

The core of township life entails a unique mix of civic events, local festivals, Anderson Center activities, regional attractions, and balanced growth. Anderson continues its long-term commitment to preserving open space and embracing our rich history! 8  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

Find out more at: FB: Anderson Township, Ohio


B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  9



EXPERIENCE THE CUISINE THAT DEFINES THE ART OF DINING IN GREATER CINCINNATI WITH $25 AND $35 THREECOURSE PRIX-FIXE MENUS FROM THE CITY’S BEST RESTAURANTS. Select dining destinations will feature specially curated lunch and dinner menus for one or two guests (excluding tax, gratuity and beverages).


ril 1 6 -2 2, 2018

The Anchor OTR Banana Leaf Modern Thai Bella’s Restaurant Lo veland Boi Na Braza Bonefish Grill Bravo! Cucina Italiana BrewRiver GastroPub Brio Tuscan Grill Brown Dog Cafe Butcher and Barrel The Capital Grille Chart House Cinque Ristorante Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant Court Street Lobster Bar Eddie Merlot’s Embers Restaurant FIRE at RiverCenter Firebirds Wood Fired Grill Golden Lamb Restaura nt & Inn Jag’s Steak & Seafood Kaze OTR Matt The Miller’s Tavern McCormick & Schmick Seafood & Steaks ’s The Melting Pot The Mercer OTR Metropole Mitchell’s Fish Marke t Moerlein Lager House Montgomery Inn Morton’s the Steakhou se The National Exempla r Palomino Parkers Blue Ash Tavern Pompilios The Presidents Room Primavista Prime Cincinnati Ruth’s Chris Steak Ho use Seasons 52 Somm Wine Bar Stone Creek Dining Co mpany TRIO Bistro We Olive & Wine Bar ...and more to be announ ced!



ave you ever sat around ave you ever sat aroundthat wishing there were a publication wishing there a publication would list all ofwere the best things in that would list allasofdetermined the best things Cincinnati, by a in Cincinnati, as determined group of your peers as wellby asaa group peers as well as a local handfulofofyour select staffers at your handful of select at your alt-weekly paper?staffers Well, your wishlocal alt-weekly paper? Well, your wish has been granted. has been granted. CONTINUES ON PAGE 13


B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  11

Schneider’s Schneider’s Sweet Sweet Shop Shop Home Made Candies & ICE CREAM Home Made Candies & ICE CREAM

“Since “Since 1939” 1939”

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

My American vodka beats the giant imports every day. Try American! It’s better.

B e s T TAT T O O s h O p

We created Vodka for Dog People to unite with friends, fans, and partners to support pet prosperity and rescue. Visit to get involved.

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

D A N ATAT T O O . C O M TR-0914_Standard_Full_Cleveland Scene.indd 1 12  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

2/21/18 10:36 AM



CityBeat has been in the business of curating the Best Of Cincinnati for more than two decades, highlighting the city’s most outstanding selections in Food & Drink, Arts & Culture, Shops & Services, Music & Nightlife, Sports & Recreation and City Life. And the responsibility of selecting these exceptional entities is divided between our readers and staff. This year, more than 900,000 votes were tallied to determine our Reader Picks. (Big. Huge. The largest amount of Best Of Cincinnati voters ever, period.) Readers logged on to the ballot site to vote for their favorites in broad categories like Best New Restaurant, Best Bartender and Best Taco, with more niche topics including Best Pumpkin Patch, Best Lawyer and Best Vape Shop. ®

You might not need to know who the Best Used Automotive Dealer is right now, or the Best Realtor, but when you do, we’ve got you covered. For the Staff Picks — selected by a slightly smaller number of humans — we curated an assemblage of and wrote about our favorite Cincinnati people, places and things (and cocktails, and bands, and banh mi, and art exhibits, and activists, and dogs in tattoo parlors…). Stuff we like and want other people to know about. Of course, not everything we want to highlight about the city could fit into this issue — that’s part of the reason we have a weekly paper — but at almost 200 pages, we tried to cram as much in here as we could. So if your favorite chili parlor or FC Cincinnati player or hippo isn’t featured, there’s always next year. Voting starts again in early 2019.

Taft’s Brewpourium: Best New Restaurant winner PHOTO: HAILEY BOLLINGER

I NCCI N I NNNAT AT 13 BBEESSTTOOFFCCI N I I2 2 00 11 8 8   | | 13


APRIL 16-22

JULY 16-22


OCTOBER 22-28 14  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8












B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  15

Arts & Arts & Culture Culture Culture Illustration IllustrationbybyDavid DavidWilson Wilson Illustration by David Wilson

ART ART GALLERY GALLERY 1 121c21c Museum Museum Hotel Hotel 2ART 2ArtGALLERY Art Academy Academy of of Cincinnati Cincinnati 21c Museum Hotel 31 3Contemporary Contemporary Arts Arts Center Center 2 Art Academy of Cincinnati 3 ART Contemporary ART MUSEUM MUSEUM Arts Center 1 1Cincinnati Cincinnati ArtArt Museum Museum MUSEUM 2ART 2Contemporary Contemporary Arts Arts Center Center Cincinnati Art Museum 31 3American American Sign Sign Museum Museum 2 Contemporary Arts Center 3 ARTWORKS AmericanMURAL Sign Museum ARTWORKS MURAL

1 1“Charley “Charley Harper’s Harper’s Beguiled Beguiled ARTWORKS MURAL byby thethe Wild” Wild” “Charley Harper’s Beguiled 21 2“Cincinnati “Cincinnati ToyToy Heritage” Heritage” by the Wild” 3 3“Swing “Swing Around Around Rosie” Rosie” “Cincinnati Toy Heritage” 42 4“Mr. “Mr. Dynamite” Dynamite” “Swing Around Rosie” 53 5“Dream “Dream Big Big and and Fly Fly High” High” 4 “Mr. Dynamite” 6 6“Martha, “Martha, The The Last Last Passenger Passenger Pigeon” Pigeon” “Dream Big and Fly High” 75 7“Homecoming “Homecoming (Blue (Blue Birds)” Birds)” “Martha, The Last Passenger Pigeon” 86 8“Little “Little Sure Sure Shot” Shot” “Homecoming (Blue Birds)” 97 9“Lookin’ “Lookin’ Good” Good” 8 “Little Sure Shot” 10 10 “Ezzard “Ezzard Charles: Charles: The The Cincinnati Cincinnati 9 Cobra” “Lookin’ Cobra”Good” 10 “Ezzard Charles: The Cincinnati Cobra”

16  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

Reader Reader Picks Reader Picks

GALLERY GALLERYEXHIBIT EXHIBIT 1 1 Swoon: Swoon:The TheCanyon: Canyon:1999-2017 1999-2017 GALLERY EXHIBITArts (Contemporary (Contemporary ArtsCenter) Center) Swoon: Canyon: 1999-2017 212 Still StillThey TheyThe Persist: Persist: Protest Protest Art Artof ofthe the (Contemporary Arts Center) 2017 2017Women’s Women’sMarches Marches (Wave (WavePool/ Pool/ 2 Contemporary Still They Persist: Protest Art of the Contemporary Arts Arts Center) Center) 2017 Women’s Marches (Wave Pool/ 3 3 Van VanGogh: Gogh: Into Intothe theUndergrowth Undergrowth Contemporary Arts Center) (Cincinnati (CincinnatiArt ArtMuseum) Museum) 3 Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth (CincinnatiACCOUNT Art Museum) INSTAGRAM INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT

1 1 Cincinnati CincinnatiZoo Zoo&&Botanical BotanicalGarden Garden INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT (@cincinnatizoo) (@cincinnatizoo) Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden 212 Cincinnati CincinnatiArt ArtMuseum Museum (@cincyartmu(@cincyartmu(@cincinnatizoo) seum) seum) Cincinnati Art Museum (@cincyartmu323 Cincinnati CincinnatiRefined Refined (@cincyrefined) (@cincyrefined) seum) 3MUSEUM Cincinnati Refined (@cincyrefined) MUSEUM EXHIBIT EXHIBIT 1 1 Star StarWars Warsand andthe thePower Powerof ofCosCosMUSEUM EXHIBITMuseum tume tume(Cincinnati (Cincinnati MuseumCenter) Center) Star Wars the Power of Cos212 The TheFuture Futureand isisFemale Female (21c (21cMuseum Museum tume Hotel) Hotel)(Cincinnati Museum Center) The Future is Female (21c Museum 323 Iris Irisvan van Herpen: Herpen: Transforming Transforming Fashion Fashion Hotel) (Cincinnati (CincinnatiArt ArtMuseum) Museum) 3 Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion (Cincinnati Art Museum)

PLAY (PROFESSIONAL) (PROFESSIONAL) 1 Beautiful–The Beautiful–The Carole CaroleKing KingMusical Musical PLAY (PROFESSIONAL) (Broadway (Broadway in in Cincinnati) Cincinnati) Beautiful–The Carole King Musical 21 Wicked (Broadway (Broadway in inCincinnati) Cincinnati) (Broadway Cincinnati) 3 The Curious Curious in Incident Incident of ofthe theDog Dogininthe the 2 Night-Time Wicked (Broadway in Cincinnati) Night-Time (Cincinnati (Cincinnati Playhouse Playhouseinin 3 the ThePark) Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Cincinnati Playhouse in the(STUDENT/COMMUNITY) Park) PLAY (STUDENT/COMMUNITY) 1 Seussical (University (Universityof ofCincinnati Cincinnati PLAY (STUDENT/COMMUNITY) College-Conservatory College-Conservatory of ofMusic) Music) Seussical (University Cincinnati 21 Into the Woods Woods (Xavier (Xavierof University University College-Conservatory of Music) Theatre) 2 IntoCivil the Woods (XavierPlayers, University 3 The War War (Showbiz (Showbiz Players, Inc.) Inc.) Theatre) 3 The Civil War (Showbiz Players, Inc.) CHARITY FESTIVAL/EVENT FESTIVAL/EVENT 1 Cincinnati Cincinnati Pride Pride FESTIVAL/EVENT 2CHARITY Cincy Beerfest Beerfest Cincinnati Pride 31 Bockfest 2 Cincy Beerfest 3 Bockfest

CHURCH CHURCHFESTIVAL FESTIVAL 11 Panegyri PanegyriGreek Greek Festival Festival FESTIVAL 22CHURCH Immaculate Immaculate Heart Heart ofof Mary Mary Panegyri Greek Festival 331 CincItalia CincItalia 2 Immaculate Heart of Mary 3 CincItalia FOUNTAIN FOUNTAIN SQUARE SQUAREEVENT EVENT 11 Opening OpeningDay Day Parade Parade SQUARE EVENT 22FOUNTAIN Fountain FountainSquare Square IceIce Rink Rink Opening Day Parade 331 Cincy Cincy Beerfest Beerfest 2 Fountain Square Ice Rink 3 Cincy Beerfest FREE FREE ATTRACTION ATTRACTION 11 BLINK BLINK ATTRACTION 22FREE Cincinnati Cincinnati Art Art Museum Museum 1 BLINK 33 Findlay FindlayMarket Market 2 Cincinnati Art Museum 3 Findlay Market KID-FRIENDLY KID-FRIENDLY ATTRACTION ATTRACTION 11 Cincinnati CincinnatiZoo Zoo && Botanical Botanical Garden Garden ATTRACTION 22KID-FRIENDLY Smale SmaleRiverfront Riverfront Park Park Cincinnati 331 Kings Kings Island IslandZoo & Botanical Garden 2 Smale Riverfront Park 3 Kings Island LOCAL LOCAL ACTOR/ACTRESS ACTOR/ACTRESS 11 Bob BobHerzog Herzog ACTOR/ACTRESS 22LOCAL Andrew Andrew Maloney Maloney Bob Herzog 331 Brooke Brooke Steele Steele 2 Andrew Maloney 3 Brooke Steele


#1 museum in cincinnati B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   | 


LOCAL ARTIST 1 C.F. Payne 2 Brad Thiele 3 Chad Turner LOCAL AUTHOR 1 Molly Wellmann 2 Jillian Kuhlmann 3 Phil Nuxhall LOCAL CLASSICAL MUSIC GROUP 1 Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra 2 Cincinnati Pops 3 Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra LOCAL DANCE GROUP 1 Cincinnati Ballet 2 Cin City Burlesque 3 Elementz LOCAL FILMMAKER 1 Allyson West 2 Hal Carlton-Ford 3 E.C. Holt


LOCAL COMEDIAN 1 Steve Caminiti 2 Gary Owen 3 Josh Sneed

LOCAL THEATER COMPANY 1 Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park 2 Cincinnati Shakespeare Company 3 Know Theatre of Cincinnati

LOCAL IMPROV/SKETCH COMEDY GROUP 1 OTRimprov 2 Improv Cincinnati 3 Future Science

LOCAL TOUR 1 The Brewing Heritage Trail Tour 2 American Legacy Tours (Queen City Underground) 3 ArtWorks Mural Tours

OPPORTUNITIES FOR LOCAL ARTISTS 1 ArtWorks 2 The City Flea 3 Cincy Fringe Festival

LOCAL VOCAL ARTS GROUP 1 MUSE Cincinnati Women’s Choir 2 Cincinnati Children’s Choir 3 May Festival Chorus

PUBLIC ARTWORK 1 ArtWorks Murals 2 BLINK 3 Roebling Murals

MOVIE THEATER 1 Esquire Theatre 2 Cinemark Oakley Station 3 AMC Newport on the Levee

PUMPKIN PATCH/FARM 1 Shaw Farms 2 Burger Farm & Garden Center 3 Niederman Family Farm

MUSEUM 1 Cincinnati Art Museum 2 Cincinnati Museum Center 3 Contemporary Arts Center

REGIONAL ARTS THEATER 1 Human Race Theatre Company (Dayton, Ohio) 2 Actors Theatre of Louisville (Louisville, Ky.) 3 Pioneer Playhouse (Danville, Ky.)

NEW THING 1 BLINK 2 Fiona the Hippo 3 Cincinnati Women’s March OLD THING 1 Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden 2 Findlay Market 3 Music Hall

18  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

BLINK: Best New Thing

REGIONAL MUSEUM 1 COSI (Columbus, Ohio) 2 The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (Indianapolis, Ind.) 3 Dayton Art Institute (Dayton, Ohio) WASHINGTON PARK EVENT 1 The City Flea 2 Taste of OTR 3 Asian Food Fest


Zoe Leonard Thursday, March 29, 2018 at 7:00pm Fath Auditorium, Cincinnati Art Museum

Visiting Artist Lecture & Reception Reservations are not required but early arrival is recommended. Free parking is available. A public reception will be held in the Great Hall immediately following the lecture.

About the Artist Zoe Leonard (b. 1961), an American artist and activist, has made an indelible mark on the way we see the world. She has spent her career challenging assumptions about documentary objectivity, organizing her subjects in a way that emphasizes subjectivity and visual authenticity, often examining the same subject—whether it’s shopfronts, chain link fences, or birds in flight—from multiple viewpoints. This practice transcends photography: Her provocative 1992 poem “I want a president” became a viral sensation in the pre-digital world, and continues to stoke dialogue to this day. Leonard comes to Cincinnati as major surveys of her work are opening at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (MOCA) and the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC. Leonard will be in conversation with FotoFocus Artistic Director Kevin Moore. Zoe Leonard, Roll #11, 2006/2016. C-print, Exhibition print, 55.9 x 47 cm / 22 x 18½ inches. © Zoe Leonard. Courtesy the artist, Hauser & Wirth, New York and Galerie Gisela Capitan, Germany

FotoFocus Biennial 2018: Open Archive 70 museums and galleries. 200-plus artists, curators, and educators. Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, Dayton, and Columbus. The fourth iteration of the FotoFocus Biennial—the largest of its kind in America—is coming this fall. The theme: Open Archive, a wide-ranging exploration of how we organize and care for the unruly abundance inherent in lens-based art. On October 4–7, there will be talks and performances, screenings and intimate receptions with exceptional artists and curators (for example: Teju Cole, Clément Chéroux, and Miranda July). And for the duration, art on view from the likes of Berenice Abbott, Eugène Atget, Chris Engman, Sigrid Viir, and Mamma Andersson—with, for the first time, FotoFocus-curated exhibitions filling the entire Contemporary Arts Center. See for more details, and see you in October.




#FotoFocus2018 #OpenArchive #FotoFocus

Light It Up

October’s BLINK festival transformed 20 blocks of downtown and Over-the-Rhine into one of the largest, most innovative light and art events in the nation, featuring large-scale projection mapping, light-based sculptures, murals, interactive art and performances. During four free fantastical evenings, more than a million people from across the Tristate took to the streets, following glowing beacons — and 22 spectacular projections along the 3.6-mile streetcar route — from one compelling display to another. While “blink” is a simple, straightforward term meaning to shut and open your eyes quickly, that weekend it was a fierce flicker of an event that could grow to be much, much bigger… and brighter. BEST EXCUSE TO BUY GLOW STICKS Yes, the BLINK festival itself was great, but the parade that kicked off the four-day light-show celebration was truly something to behold. Streets overflowed with spectators from all over the city and beyond who came to watch more than 2,000 participants fully embrace their weird and get legit lit on a Thursday night in Over-theRhine. No, really. Lighting up in some capacity was a requirement for the parade entrants. DANCEFIX members dressed like glowing unicorns. Visionaries + Voices contributed larger-than-life fantastical characters; New School Elementary students made lanterns. Marching bands, art collectives, civic groups, choral groups and many, many more participated in the nighttime parade, supported by battery packs and LEDs, with Cincinnati’s favorite funky bassist Bootsy Collins and wife Patti leading the whole crazy, raucous, good-hearted, brightly lit shebang. BLINK, BEST TEMPORARY TOWER OF LIGHT One of the most memorable installations at BLINK was comparably low-tech when looking at the other interactive light art and frenetic projection-mapping installations — although it was itself a marvel of construction. Joe Girandola and Matt Lynch created “Endless Commerce” by piling (and securing) milk crates into a

Staff Picks 20  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

70-foot-high tower on a vacant space along the appropriately named Pleasant Street near Liberty Street in Over-the-Rhine. At night, 30-watt LED bulbs inside each crate illuminated the tower. With the artists, friends and visitors relaxing in the lot at night, the space felt like an intimate backyard get-together with the best party lights ever. The artists conceived the installation in tribute to Constantin Brancusi’s 1918 “Endless Column,” one of the 20th century’s most important public sculptures. They’d like to see theirs have a permanent home somewhere in Cincinnati — what a great public sculpture that would be. BLINK, blinkcincinnati. com. BEST TRIPPY ‘ALICE IN WONDERLAND’ MOMENT Five giant inflatable white rabbits, one over 23 feet tall, invaded the grounds of Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park for about a week in a magical installation called Intrude. Nighttime was the right time to see them, as they glowed against the dark sky like creatures from another world. Artist Amanda Parer created the soft sculptures to call attention to the foreign species’ ecological impact in her native Australia, where the out-of-control animals were introduced centuries ago by European settlers. But, frankly, we just thought they were cute. Taking a page from Alice in Wonderland, some fans even went chasing rabbits all the way downtown to BLINK, where two of the bunnies resided next to an animated menagerie projected against artist Charley Harper’s “Homecoming (Blue Birds)” mural. Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum, 1763 Hamilton-Cleves Road, Hamilton, BEST MOVING MURAL ArtWorks’ mural “Swing Around Rosie” is a hypercolor tribute to the iconic singer and actress Rosemary Clooney, who — dressed in her black scalloped sweetheart gown and white gloves from White Christmas (designed by the legendary costumer Edith Head) — rests mid-croon on a background of multicolored chevron. During BLINK, Clooney got an animated makeover as a looping projection of classic scenes from her films like “Red Garters” were screened on top of her painted image. The effect was mesmerizing as scenes changed, choreographed to a remix of Clooney belting out “Sway,” but her mouth stayed in almost the exact same spot, giving the illusion that the mural itself was alive and singing. “Swing Around Rosie,” 1606 Pleasant St., Over-the-Rhine, BEST VISION OF THE FUTURE BLINK was about the artworks, yes — the murals, the light projections on buildings, the sculptures and phantasmagorical special installations. But it was also about the people. And on Pleasant Street, where thousands walked late into the night to take in the sights (and each other) between Findlay Market and Washington Park, it seemed like you had been transported to one of the world’s great pedestrian thoroughfares — Barcelona’s La Rambla or Chicago’s Miracle Mile. That Pleasant Street on other nights isn’t always that pleasant for a late-night stroll was evidence of just how transformative an experience BLINK was for the city. It provided a vision of what Cincinnati could yet become. BLINK, B E SPhoto T O F C Iby N C IHailey N N AT I 2Bollinger 0 1 8   |  21


BEST BIT OF THE BERLIN WALL IN CINCINNATI The Queen City is famous for its proud German heritage. And in 1989, Cincinnati became sister cities with Germany’s Bavarian capitol of Munich — the same year the Berlin Wall fell. It’s been over 28 years, and since that time, Cincinnati’s National Underground Railroad Freedom Center has managed to pick up a chunk of that history in the form of a chunk of the wall itself. Gifted by the city of Berlin in 2010, it was brought here to reflect upon those who “through courage, cooperation and perseverance worked collectively to demolish a modern barrier to freedom.” This piece of Cold War history is on permanent display outside the Freedom Center and facing the Ohio River — itself a former barrier. The wall is a symbolic reminder of past struggles and a message not to take freedom for granted. And with a new president, the Freedom Center is approaching its 15th anniversary with reinvigorated commitment to that mission. National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, 50 E. Freedom Way, Downtown,


(513) 281-8750


Movie Theatre

Follow Us On Facebook & Twitter 22 22  ||  BBEESSTT O OFF C CIIN NC CIIN NN NAT ATII 22001188

BEST BRIGHT IDEA THAT WASN’T BLINK Those missing the glow of BLINK can look forward to one building shining more brightly this fall. Just a couple weeks after October’s huge light festival called attention to the architectural features of Over-the-Rhine, the Woodward Theater announced that it won a $150,000 grant from the Partners in Preservation: Main Street campaign to recreate its 1913 electric marquee. The money will allow a team to fashion 52 rosettes like those that housed light bulbs outside the old movie house 105 years ago and make other upgrades. The Woodward finished eighth in online voting among 25 sites vying for a share of $1.5 million. On Nov. 2, 11 winners were announced, proving that good things

can happen in just a blink. Woodward Theater, 1404 Main St., Over-theRhine, BEST FLEET OF FLEETFOOTED FEMALES The 2017 edition of Cincinnati Ballet’s Kaplan New Works program featured all female choreographers, which is still a very rare feat. (For reference: According to The New York Times, of the 58 ballets performed by New York City Ballet in 2015, not a single one was by a woman.) The company’s artistic director, Victoria Morgan, and resident choreographer, Jennifer Archibald, both contributed new works, as did frequent contributor Heather Britt and first-time Cincinnati Ballet choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. So great

Welcome to our spectacular 2018-2019 Season – celebrating Carmon DeLeone’s 50th Anniversary - with more performances than ever before! Are you looking for the perfect blend of passion and athleticism, and of elegant refinement and classic modernity? How about a season that offers sophisticated and adventurous new works in tandem with expanded fun for the whole family?  If so, look no further.  You've found it.   We welcome you - or welcome you back - to what will undoubtedly be one of Cincinnati Ballet's finest seasons yet, complete with engaging premieres, returning favorites and world class dance.


NEW WORKS SERIES September 13-23 | Aronoff Center


October 25-28 | Music Hall

THE NUTCRACKER December 13-24 | Music Hall

THE SLEEPING BEAUTY February 14-17 | Music Hall


FIREBIRD + RITE OF SPRING March 21-24 | Music Hall

FAMILY SERIES ALADDIN March 30 - April 7 | Aronoff Center


SECHS TÄNZE + DANCING TO OZ April 25-28 | Aronoff Center



BEST ACOUSTIC UPGRADE Music Hall reopened its doors after a 16-month renovation for a community-wide free open house last October, sponsored by ArtsWave’s resident arts organizations, including the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Ballet, May Festival and Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. The arts organizations put on the ol’ razzle-dazzle for the thousands of visitors who poured in to pore over the reimagined space, including the beautiful new Corbett Tower, now free from awful drop ceilings. After so many months of constant updates, 3CDC renderings and hungrily consumed peeks behind the scene, it was pretty rad for community members to check out not only the fresh space and all its new facets but to also get reacquainted with (or first encounter) the truly singular experience of watching live performances in such an awe-inducing space. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-theRhine,

is Morgan’s dedication to advancing female choreographers, she was recently featured in an article titled “Cincinnati Ballet Bets on Women Choreographers” by Dance Magazine, a leading industry publication. At a time when women are calling for equality and encouraged to speak their truths, it’s nice to have our art reflect that sea change. New Works is known for pushing choreographic boundaries, and now it can add gender parity to its list of accomplishments. Cincinnati Ballet, BEST RESTORED MEDIUM-SIZED VENUE FOR CULTURAL EVENTS Memorial Hall started as a gathering venue for veterans of the Civil and Spanish-American wars back in 1908, adjacent to Music Hall and Washington Park. The Beaux Art structure fell into 24 |  | B BEESSTT O OFF C CIIN NC CIIN NN NAT ATII 22001188 24 

disuse as its antiquated physical layout — no air-conditioning, almost no restroom facilities and a stage designed for speakers, not performers — simply didn’t keep up with contemporary standards. But that’s no longer the case. Thanks to an $11 million renovation completed just as 2017 began, those shortcomings are history: Modern technology is now available throughout. On the second floor, the gorgeously refurbished jewel-box theater (seating 556) with Tiffany chandeliers is the perfect spot for intimate musical and spoken-word performances and movies; the spacious meeting rooms on the first floor are ideal for celebrations, exhibitions and receptions; and the basement studio has become a space for everything from business events to contemporary entertainment, including improv comedy. Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine,




513.761.7500 • MAYERSONJCC.ORG

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  25

and meticulous garments inspired by nature and science. Her soft fabrics and nontraditional materials — like acrylic sheets, metal gauze or umbrella ribs — are laser cut, molded, 3-D printed and modified to create totally transportive sculptures that look more like writhing snakes, splashing water droplets or clouds of smoke than traditional pieces of clothing. The names of van Herpen’s collections — for instance, Mummification, Crystallization and Radiation Invasion — convey whatever phenomenon influenced her. Along with garments displayed on forms, the exhibit also included video of interviews and runway shows, accessories and a textural display where you could touch some of the tantalizing dimensional materials, plastics and hand-pleated steel mesh that van Herpen used in her creations — something you literally had to stop yourself from doing the entire time you were looking at her tactile works of art. Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams,


BEST NEWSLETTER FOR BIBLIOPHILES WHO WANT TO MAKE A CHANGE IN THE WORLD If ever a newsletter could galvanize society for the better, it would be Hillary Copsey’s Make America Read newsletter. In each bi-monthly installment, Copsey — a Norwood resident and freelance writer — provides choice picks and thoughtful ruminations on not only books but also the act of reading, itself. By reading books, Copsey believes that Americans can grow more compassionate and think more critically. 26  26 |  | BBEESSTT O OFF C CIIN NC CIIN NN NAT ATII 22001188

She provides links to essays about books, author interviews, tips on helping kids pick the right books, books she’s reading, books her kids are currently reading and much more. (Her “Like This, Read That” section is beyond helpful for selective readers.) Copsey’s love of the written word is so infectious and her newsletter so positive and downright undeniable in the truth it speaks, you can’t help but feel re-energized to pick up a book and, possibly, change the world. Make America Read,

BEST MELDING OF TEXTILE AND TECHNOLOGY Cincinnati Art Museum Chief Curator Cynthia Amneus brought Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion to town last fall. The touring exhibit, which originated in van Herpen’s homeland of the Netherlands in 2012, featured 44 visionary outfits and nine pairs of fierce-looking shoes. As the first designer to send a 3-D-printed garment down a runway, her clothing on display blended technology and traditional handwork to create futuristic

BEST NAME FOR A CITY PROCLAMATION Face it: “Doris Day Day” is simply fun

Photo by Mark Lyons

BEST CONTEMPORARY ART CLOWNS This past summer, the Contemporary Arts Center caught the zeitgeist with its presentation of Ugo Rondinone’s let’s start this day again exhibit, in which life-size clown sculptures posed within a gallery to emphasize their introspection and melancholy. In a world that seems increasingly divided between scary clowns and jovial ones, Rondinone provided a third choice: silently contemplative clowns. His exhibition saw 45 of these unsettlingly life-like sculptures — with closed eyes, red noses and Pierrot-white faces, dressed in a riot of neon, sequins, tulle and teeny, tiny black hats — lost in a surrounding world of color so intensely alive it should make them want to jump and dance… but they didn’t. To accommodate Rondinone’s pensive and passive clowns, the CAC’s walls, floors and ceilings were painted the most intense hues this side of a mountain range of boulder-sized gumballs. It made for a weird contrast as you wandered through the kneeling, seated, reclining sculptures, which were almost constantly having their photos taken by a human counterpart mimicking their action for Instagram. If you didn›t take a selfie with a Rondinone clown, did the exhibit really happen? Contemporary Arts Center, 44 E. Sixth St., Downtown,

BEST PEACEKEEPING FORCE Though each stood barely two inches tall, thousands of little green Army men kept visitors in line during Badge of Honor, an exhibit at Kennedy Heights Arts Center. As he arranged the plastic figures in tidy formations on the floors and shelves of the center, local artist Francis Hollenkamp used the power of scale to put the observer in the simultaneous role of the protected and the protector — or the conqueror and the conquered. Opting to sit before the fireplace in one gallery meant taking the risk of knocking over the very figures that were there to guard us. Once inside the safety zone, one still had the unsettling feeling of being watched. Hollenkamp’s “Security” installation was a brilliant reminder of how people desiring a sense of calm and routine will give up privacy and freedom of movement to achieve it. Medals, please, for the artist, exhibit curator Jonathan Sears of PAR-Projects and KHAC. Kennedy Heights Arts Center, 6546 Montgomery Road, Kennedy Heights,


CCM Season Presenting Sponsor

Mainstage Season Production Sponsor






Oct. 4-7, 2018


Oct. 19-21 and 26-27, 2018


Nov. 15-18, 2018


Dec. 6-9, 2018


Feb. 14-17, 2019 Photo by Mark Lyons


March 7-10, 2019


April 12-14, 2019


April 26-28, 2019 Titles and dates subject to change.

Guarantee your seats and your savings with one of our new streamlined SUBSCRIPTION PACKAGES! Simply choose the number of shows you want and select whether you want seats in Section A (the best views) or Section B (the lowest prices). RENEWAL SUBSCRIPTIONS ON SALE NOW. NEW SUBSCRIPTIONS

ON SALE MAY 2, 2018.


B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  27


27 Years of Live Stand-Up Comedy in Cincinnati!

BEST MUSEUM RECREATED IN LIVING COLOR Kathy Y. Wilson, known to CityBeat readers as “Your Negro Tour Guide,” ended her column in early 2016 because of illness. But she returned to the public eye late last year at the Weston Art Gallery to lead visitors through Sanctuary: Kathy Y. Wilson Living in a Colored Museum. Complete with sofas, mantels and curtained windows, the exhibit recreated the feeling of Wilson’s apartment in East Walnut Hills, where she has amassed a collection of Afrocentric works by local artists along with unapologetic displays of mammies, watermelon eaters and other racist figurines she has liberated. Positive and negative, all of it has informed her writing. “This is what I will say to white America: If you want us to shut up about this shit, stop showing it to us,” Wilson says. “I am not afraid of anything America thought I looked like.” Weston Art Gallery, 650 Walnut St., Downtown,

Show Times

Wed / Thur / Sun 8:00 - 18+ Friday 7:30 & 10:00 - 18+ Saturday 7:30 & 10:00 - 21+ Caleb Synan

Ryan Stout

March 29 - 31

April 5 - 8

Just 15 minutes from downtown in Mongtomery! 3 Pool Tables • Large Patio

Next Door to Go Bananas

Cheap Drinks Fridays - DJ Diamond Saturdays - Live Band



Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter


to say. Then consider the actress’ phenomenal box office success, memorable songs like “Que Sera Sera” and her work for animal welfare, and naming a street in honor of the hometown gal becomes a no-brainer. At the urging of longtime fan Dr. Bob Maltz and Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, city leaders agreed to add Day’s name to the section of Walnut Street in front of the Aronoff Center for the Arts and proclaim Sept. 27, 2017, as a day to recognize the former Doris Kappelhoff. The onetime Evanston resident and WLW performer didn’t make it to town for the proclamation, but she sent a note of appreciation and appeared on movie screens that week at the Esquire Theatre and Video Archive as her fans took a sentimental journey. Honorary Doris Day Way, Walnut Street between Sixth and Seventh streets, Downtown.

BEST OVER-THE-TOP UNDERPASS Emily Wolff’s ARTeries project has turned an underpass between two of Covington’s popular entertainment districts into a destination itself. The restaurateur found it unacceptable that after dining at her establishments Otto’s and Frida 602 in MainStrasse, customers were taking an Uber rather than walking the few blocks to the goings-on at Braxton Brewing Company or the Madison Theater. They said they were too creeped out to venture through the dim, deteriorating CSX railroad underpass at Sixth Street on foot. Backed by a grant from People’s Liberty and her design degree, Wolff painted a bold graphic of black and white stripes, pink triangles and gold stars on the crumbling concrete, and she replaced dim tube lighting with modern-looking chandeliers. “Challenging people on what we perceive as normal, that’s


SWOONing OVER CINCINNATI Thanks to all of you for visiting Swoon: The Canyon!

6th & Walnut • 513.345.8400 • B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  29

exciting to me,” Wolff says. Next, she’d like to see artists adopt underpasses all over the city so its east and west sides are no longer divided by a railway. Sixth Street, Covington, emilywolff. BEST ALL-SEEING RETROSPECTIVE OF AN ARTIST Prominent in so many of Michael Scheurer’s works, eyes seemed to follow visitors all around Signature Scheurer, the Weston Art Gallery’s nearly 50-year retrospective of his drawings, paintings, paper collages and multimedia assemblages. The largely self-taught (and, unfortunately, still largely unknown) Cincinnati artist and antiques dealer has long seen possibilities others miss as he acquires damaged books, discarded photos, stray beads, junked toys, Bollywood posters, handwritten letters, scientific illustrations, maps and bits of fabric. Once Scheurer has his treasures in his apartment, his keen eye then zeroes in on the disparate pieces that, somehow, were always meant to share the same canvas. Kudos go to curator Kelly O’Donnell for including Scheurer’s childhood drawings from the 1970s in the retrospective. They were a sweet reminder that too many of us lose our creative vision as adults. But not him. Weston Art Gallery, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, BEST EXHIBIT FOR ART FREAKS AND SCIENCE GEEKS The wondrous Ana England: Kinship exhibit at the Cincinnati Art Museum bolstered the argument that STEM education (focused on science, technology, engineering and math) can be broadened to include the arts and be referred to as STEAM. England, who led the ceramics program at Northern Kentucky University for three decades, has long been inspired by conversations with her physicist father. For Kinship, she repeatedly drew upon patterns present throughout the universe, asking us to notice that the whorl of a fingerprint resembles the cross-section of a tree, which looks like the spiral of a galaxy, which looks like the whirl of a hurricane. The show not only connected the land, sea and sky, it also brought fans of art and science together. Cincinnati Art Museum, 935 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams, 30  EE SS T TOO F FCC I NI N CC I NI N NN AT I I2 2 00 11 88 30 | | B B AT

inside Cincinnati: the city has never looked better on the silver screen.


BEST QUEEN CITY QUEENS MURAL It’s fitting that you have to go to some effort to see “Wall of Queens,” a tribute to scratching and surviving that hangs in an upper level of the Duke Energy Convention Center. The mural was installed in the fall of 2017 after artist James Pate and a team of ArtWorks apprentices spent months etching away at 280 scratchboard panels to create a stunning panorama of seven African-American females. Their number is a reference to the seven hills of the Queen City, and the rippling layout of the tiles evokes the Ohio River, a symbol of freedom dividing the North and the South. Pate calls the black-and-white work “another wing of humanity” inside the convention center. ArtWorks CEO Tamara Harkavy names it “one of the favorite things I’ve ever seen.” Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., Downtown, public-art-tour.

BEST BLEND OF SATIRE, SKETCH AND ‘SCIENCE’ Local comedy troupe Future Science performs its brand of multimedia sketch comedy the last Sunday of every month at MOTR Pub. The general concept amounts to having “scientists” deliver presentations that will be of little to no use to anyone, save — for example — those curious as to what size pot is best for cooking a human head. The shows start at 10:30 p.m., when most people are going to bed in preparation of starting their workweek. “That should give you an idea of what kind of people our demographic is,” says Logan Lautzenheiser, a core member of the troupe. Along with Lautzenheiser, the Future Science crew features Andy Gasper, Wayne Memmott, Karl Spaeth and Chris Weir, with regular appearances and video contributions by local playwright Ben Dudley. When the whole gang is working seamlessly together, their performance style is heightened by the straight-faced dedication to absurdity. All shows are

free. Future Science, futurescienceshow. BEST MOVIE ABOUT CINCINNATI, EVEN IF IT DOESN’T SPECIFICALLY MENTION CINCINNATI IN ITS NARRATIVE In the past several years, Cincinnati’s film commission has killed it in bringing quality movies to shoot in town. Carol, The Fits and last year’s festival favorite The Killing of a Sacred Deer have put Cincy on the map as a viable filming destination. Sacred Deer stars Colin Farrell as a cardiac surgeon working at a hospital whose life begins to unravel when he becomes chummy with a former patient — a teenage boy with a dark secret. The two hang out on the Covington side of the Roebling Bridge. They dine at Blue Jay Restaurant in Northside. Though the locations may look familiar to Cincinnatians, at no point in the film is the name of the city mentioned — it could be Anywhere, U.S.A. But to us this all takes place

BEST NEW ARTS FAIR FOR LUDDITES With an abundance of local artists, printmakers, poets and collectors, the Cincinnati Art Book Fair surprised everyone with its quality and turnout when it was held for two days in December at Hoffner Lodge in Northside. Organized by Anytime Dept., an artist-run curatorial and event programming collaborative, the event featured poetry readings, film screenings and a separate-but-related art exhibition organized by Donald Kelley. It also served as an art-forward excuse to do some holiday shopping for those less inclined to find things for loved ones on their list at the local mall. Anytime Dept. curator Lydia Rosenberg explains that although next year’s location is still TBD, the two-day affair will be an annual event. Cincinnati Art Book Fair, BEST EXAMPLE OF A DESERVING LOCAL ARTIST GETTING NATIONAL ATTENTION Using scrap paper gathered and glued together from his day job at Kroger, Cincinnati-based artist Courttney Cooper makes complex, large-scale drawings in ballpoint pen of aerial views of the local landscape, informed by an intimate knowledge of his hometown. He has been heralded in Cincinnati and shown at the Cincinnati Art Museum and other local galleries. But his work recently made a trip a few hours north to Chicago’s prestigious Western Exhibitions, which hosted its first Cooper solo show in late 2016. The show was so well received that Cooper is now officially represented by the gallery, but he remains a vital participant of the local arts scene. BEST WORKING STUDIO AND EXHIBITION SPACE Operating out of its current location for less than a year, Bunk Spot has benefited immensely from the exhibitions that manager Ben Brown sets up on Final Fridays in what otherwise is a working studio in the Pendleton Arts District. It’s a continuation of a music/arts venue that Brown and former collaborator Chris Adams began in 2009 in a

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  31

commitment and urgency that it merits. Vocal Arts Ensemble, vaecinci. org.


BEST PRESERVED POLICE DOG One frigid evening in 1898, Cincinnati patrolman Jim O’Neill was on his downtown beat when he discovered an abandoned puppy along the riverfront. O’Neill scooped up the whimpering pup and brought him back to the station, where he quickly became a furry fixture. Handsome, as the pugnacious little dog became known, soon joined daily patrols, chasing down thieves

warehouse near Carl Solway Gallery in the West End. This current iteration also serves as the headquarters for Brown’s ongoing collaborative project Bunk News, as well as a workspace for others. “We keep a loose aesthetic by not being confined to pristine white walls and a conventional gallery ethic,” he says. Bunk Spot, 544 E. 12th St., Pendleton, BEST RECOVERY FROM A BAD HAIR DAY Artists routinely let their hair down — metaphorically, anyway — but the Danish String Quartet’s concert appearance in October gave a new, specific meaning to the term. Midway through the concert opener, Bartok’s 32  32 |  | B BEESSTT O OFF C CIIN NC CIIN NN NAT ATII 22001188

and murderers and joining the ranks as Cincinnati’s first-ever police dog; it’s reported that he assisted in hundreds of arrests over the course of his career. And when the ever-loyal Handsome died in 1912, the station had him stuffed and placed on display in a glass case to honor his contributions. Now on public view at the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum, the beloved white mutt had a bit of a journey before

Quartet No. 1, violist Asbjørn Nørgaard’s face suddenly disappeared behind a curtain of dark blond hair. Clearly unfazed, Nørgaard kept up with his colleagues, delivering a terrific performance. When the quartet emerged after intermission, Nørgaard’s ponytail was securely in place and the quartet’s performance of Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 in C# minor, Opus 131, was breathtaking. These guys are so in sync with each other that a bad-hair moment doesn’t get in their way. Chamber Music Cincinnati, BEST CHORAL PERFORMANCE The Vocal Arts Ensemble delivered a stunning performance of Considering

reaching his new home, spending time on display in a park, in a police hall and eventually in a closet. Today you can visit Handsome at the museum along with thousands of local law enforcement artifacts and a memorial wall to fallen local, state and federal officers. Greater Cincinnati Police Museum, 308 Reading Road, Pendleton,

Matthew Shepard, composed by VAE artistic director Craig Hella Johnson. In 1998, Shepard was a college student at the University of Wyoming when he was brutally beaten and tied to a fence outside of Laramie. He died six days later, and became an icon for the LGBTQ+ community. Using Bach’s passion oratorios as a model, Johnson set texts by Shepard and his parents, Hildegard von Bingen, Michael Dennis Browne, Lesléa Newman, Hafiz and Johnson himself. Scored for piano, string ensemble, percussion, clarinet and guitar, the musical styles range from a cowboy’s high lonesome yodel to church chorales and a concluding gospel-infused chorus. The VAE is never less than excellent but it gave this extraordinary work the sense of

BEST OPERA ADVENTURE Song from the Uproar by Missy Mazzoli was the highlight of last summer’s opera season, thanks to Abigail Fischer’s powerful performance as Isabelle Eberhardt, the Russian-born Swiss adventurer and writer. Although there is a small vocal ensemble, Uproar is a one-woman show and Fischer took on Eberhardt’s complexities with a gorgeously burnished mezzo and balletic grace. Royce Vavrek’s libretto incorporates texts by him and Mazzoli with Eberhardt’s words, which Mazzoli’s score brilliantly projects. Presented at the intimate Fifth Third Bank Theater at the Aronoff Center, in collaboration with concert:nova, Uproar is the latest success in Cincinnati Opera’s commitment to new works. Let’s hope they’ll present Breaking the Waves (based on the Lars von Trier film) and Proving Up, Mazzoli and Vavrek’s most recent works, both of which have won critical and audience acclaim. Cincinnati Opera, BEST CINCINNATI ARTS LEADER MAKING AN IMPRESSION ELSEWHERE Know Theatre’s producing artistic director Andrew Hungerford also happens to be a scenic and lighting designer, and his imaginative work repeatedly enhances productions at the Over-the-Rhine theater. He spends time in other cities (his wife, a writer, is based in Los Angeles), but it was pleasing to read a favorable notice of his work in a December issue of The New Yorker for an evolving production of Hundred Days, an unconventional Indie Rock opera by the husband-and-wife team of Abigail and Shaun Bengson about a marriage accelerated by awareness of a fatal illness. It hit a home run with local audiences during the 2011 Cincy Fringe and again in a full-fledged staging in the summer of 2015. The New Yorker’s kind words were for the New York Theatre Workshop’s 2017 production and praised Hungerford’s “inventive lighting.” Nice for New Yorkers to get a taste of what’s a regular occurrence in Cincinnati. Know Theatre, 1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine,

HALF-PRICE SUSHI (every Wednesday, in the bar)

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 •

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  33


BEST MINI MOVIE THEATER Besides the Esquire and Mariemont movie theaters, Cincinnati is rather bereft of serious art-house cinemas. But when C. Jacqueline Wood brought her nonprofit People’s Liberty Globe Grant-winning Mini Microcinema to Over-the-Rhine, she made an immediate impact on the local film scene. Every week, the tiny storefront, located on Main Street, screens outside-the-box films/videos/media from the hard-to-find to the more mainstream (like Get Out). Every film has some sort of legitimate “art” link — you will not be able to see blockbuster fare like Jurassic World here. It has premiered programs from local filmmakers as well as shorts from the Nashville Film Festival. For a small donation of $5 (or a membership), visitors are not only treated to the films but also complimentary popcorn and snacks. (You can bring your own booze.) The Mini entertains and educates, and has turned its location into one of the brightest, hippest spots on Main Street. The Mini Microcinema, 1329 Main St., Over-the-Rhine,

BEST REINTERPRETATION OF THE PHRASE ‘CAR WASH’ Wave Pool celebrated summer in a big way with its annual fundraiser and block party. The theme? Car Wash. Guests were invited to come to Car Wash: Wave Pool Pool Party and Car Bed Show in their swimsuits to view an interactive art show, organized by locally based conceptual and tongue-in-cheek fashion brand Working Girls Co. A reinvention of a traditional car show, artists and collectives — like Peggy Noland of Los Angeles and locals including Able Projects, Pull Club, Ladyfest Cincinnati and Cryptogram — were asked to turn popular childhood car beds into a usable sculpture. Results ranged from fuzzy green monsters and skateboarding ramps to ball pits and a lady bed with a face, 34 34  ||  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

arms, spread legs and water-filled belly for lounging. The gallery’s fundraisers are always fun, with a sense of wild and whimsy, but Car Wash was especially on-brand and out of this world for Wave Pool. Wave Pool, 2940 Colerain Ave., Camp Washington, wavepoolgallery. org. BEST BOOK FOR BOOKERS Tamia Stinson knows the image-making community — photographers, stylists, creative directors, makeup artists, fashion designers, models and more. She also knows the advertising agencies, branding companies and design firms that hire them. These two sides of the creativity equation can’t always find each other and, as a result, local talent frequently travels to get top assign-

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  35

BEST ART GALLERY TO REALLY UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT Cincinnati has its share of art galleries, but Wave Pool, situated in the post-industrial, onetime blue-collar neighborhood of Camp Washington, has a different approach than any other. It’s not like a commercial gallery with a stable of artists. Instead, founders Skip and Cal Cullen created a dynamic nonprofit in 2015, where art intersects with community and acts as a catalyst for social engagement and artistic development. Their goal is to integrate contemporary art into the neighborhood’s daily life — so they do projects with food equity, events to help artists get seen and a lot of endeavors in which artists go out and work with various groups to create. They were the first venue to feature Still They Persist, FemFour’s collection of protest art from the historic 2017 women’s marches; they operate The Welcome Project, a social enterprise that blends a café with a boutique to empower immigrants and refugees; and they transformed the gallery into a “Gathering Space” in August that functioned as a temporary bookstore, tea shop and living room for events including Poetry and Pie, The Sleep Show slumber party and conversations about creativity. Cal is now the art center’s executive director while Skip is exhibitions director for Visionaries + Voices. Cal continues to see art as a change-maker, engaging with artists whether or not they have studios nearby. Wave Pool, 2940 Colerain Ave., Camp Washington,

ments and local firms often bring in talent from out of town. To help solve this problem, Stinson invented Tether, a community resource for creatives to connect to each other and opportunities so they can not only work but also thrive in Cincinnati. Stinson received a $100,000 fellowship grant from People’s Liberty philanthropic lab to launch her vision and Tether has manifested as a glossy photographic and editorial sourcebook — the “Tether Directory” — that, as Stinson says, “shows the breadth of what Cincinnati’s image makers can do,” from commercial and lifestyle shoots to beauty and fashion photography. “If you’re a photographer tasked with pulling together a shoot for a client, you’ll be able to build the team you need — the stylists, the models, the hair and makeup artists — from our book.” Tether, BEST PAYOFF FOR PERSEVERANCE IN A CLASSICAL MUSIC SETTING C’est fini! Three years ago, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s music director Louis Langrée introduced the three-year Pelléas Project devoted to music inspired by Maurice Maeterlinck’s Symbolist play Pelléas et Mélisande, with staging by James Darrah. While the first two installments were musically superb, Darrah’s visual ideas were blasted by 36  EE ST F FCC I NI N CC I NI N NN AT I I2 0 36 |  | B B S TOO AT 21 08 18

audiences and critics. But the CSO and Darrah hit it out of the park last October with Debussy’s ethereal opera Pelléas et Mélisande. Langrée’s devotion to this piece was conveyed in the beautifully detailed performances by vocal and instrumental forces; Darrah’s staging literally surrounded the orchestra with lighting. Music Hall’s vastly improved acoustics added to the pleasure of fully appreciating the subtle textures of this masterpiece. Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, BEST SPECTRAL PICNIC SPOT The Loveland Castle, or Chateau Laroche, is a slice of medieval Europe on the banks of the Little Miami River. Modeled after classic castles, the structure features towers, a dry moat, hand-tiled ceilings, murder holes (it was a real thing; look it up) and a collection of period weaponry. Hand built over the course of 50 years by a slightly obsessive former World War I army medic and Boy Scout troop leader, Harry Delos Andrews used handmade bricks — formed with quart-sized paper milk cartons — and stones from the Little Miami to craft his dream. It’s a pretty bizarre and impressive sight that is a “reminder of the simple strength and rugged grandeur of the mighty men who lived when Knighthood was in flower,” the website reads. Currently


overseen by the Knights of the Golden Trail (also a real thing; look it up), the grounds are available for picnics, overnights, private parties and host “Castle Days,” mini-Renaissance festivals the third Saturday of the month April-August. And, like any self-respecting castle, it’s also rumored to be haunted by a variety of ghosts — including the phantom of Andrews himself. Loveland Castle, 12025 Shore Road, Loveland, BEST WORLD’S ONLY CARDBOARD BOAT MUSEUM Cardboard and water are not the most perfect pair. Their union tends to end up creating a soggy, pulpy brownish mess. But the Cardboard Boat Museum in New Richmond, Ohio flies in the face of that logic. The city is home to the International Cardboard Boat Regatta and the 26th annual competition takes place in August 2018. Teams of one to 10 intrepid humans build boats out of cardboard and assorted other supplies and race down the Ohio River to win awards in categories like fastest boat, most creative design, peoples’ choice and the Titanic Award for the most dramatic sinking. The Cardboard Boat Museum chronicles the history of this unusual race through photos and displays. See replicas of a Delta Queen steamboat, a John Deere tractor, a

Viking ship and other cardboard creations or take a class on building a vessel to orchestrate your own spectacular sinking. Cardboard Boat Museum, 102 Willow St., New Richmond, Ohio, BEST PORCH REFRESH The porch at Washington Park has always been a pretty cool place to hang out — anywhere with outdoor seating and a full bar is good in our book. But when Southwest Airlines took over and rebranded the space as the Southwest Porch at Washington Park last year, this almost 3,000-square-foot porch got a real upgrade. With a Southwest-inspired blue-and-white color scheme, the company added new carnival-style string lights, patio chairs, a giant chess set, ping-pong tables and new cornhole sets. Add those public party games to the selection of local beer from breweries like Taft’s Ale House, Rhinegeist and Christian Moerlein and you’ve got a space for happy-hour-goers, families and competitive gamers alike. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, BEST COFFEE TABLE ADDITION FOR MURAL MANIACS You can’t walk a hundred feet in downtown Cincinnati without seeing a mural


Bleu Ar tisan Handcraf ts

Saturday April 21, 2018 from 6pm - 10pm Contemporary Arts Center

SAVE THE DATE! 390 Loveland Madeira Rd Loveland, OH 45140 (513) 677-1234

MAY 23RD, 5:30-8:30 PM NEWPORT ON THE LEVEE Tickets On Sale Now!









8:34 PM

Read us on your phone when you’re at the bar by yourself. PHOTO: HAILEY BOLLINGER


BEST EXPANSION OF A PERFORMING ARTS FACILITY When others were abandoning ship in Over-the-Rhine in the early 2000s, Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati — already a decade into occupying an old bank building on Vine Street — chose to stick it out. Nearly two decades later, it’s a neighborhood anchor and recently became even more substantial because of the organization’s growth into three more spaces south of its original performance venue. It now has a spacious bar, an elevator, a rehearsal hall and commodious offices and shop space for employees. Even better, the expansion preserved the historical flavor of the 19th-century buildings — exposed brick, old window frames and more. For a theater that’s all about new plays, it’s showing genuine affection for the past. Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, 1127 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine,




the all-new


38  ||  B BE ES ST T O OF F C C II N NC C II N NN N AT AT II 2 20 01 18 8 38

plastered on a nearby building. And, chances are, you have ArtWorks to thank for that. Every summer the award-winning nonprofit works with local youth to create public murals across the Greater Cincinnati area, ranging from historic-photo-based renderings of men on a barge in the Erie Canal to vibrant recreations of Charley Harper wildlife masterpieces to homages to the city’s icons like Rosemary Clooney. ArtWorks is documenting those 132 public murals in a 192-page hardback edition begging to be displayed on your coffee table. Transforming Cincinnati features over 100 images of the large-scale artworks from the program’s humble beginnings in 2007 through 2017, and you can follow along by reading about favorites like “The Cincinnati Strong Man: Henry Holtgrewe,” “Armstrong ” and “Mr. Dynamite.” One-hundred percent of the proceeds from the $49.99 book go straight to ArtWorks, and you can pick it

up from 11 different retailers in the Tristate or from a link on ArtWorks’ website. ArtWorks, 20 E. Central Parkway, Downtown, artworkscincinnati. org. BEST WORST NIGHTMARE Last year, the USS Nightmare — one of the Tristate’s scariest and possibly literally haunted attractions — cast its anchor on the banks of the Ohio River in Newport for its 25th season. Boasting a slew of ghastly bilge rats, guests walked the galleys of this ship to encounter vampires, zombies, clowns and more spine-chilling creatures in a voyage across the treacherous dredge. In honor of its 25 years on the water, the crew offered up a new, interactive $40 “RIP Experience” option for guests, where the ghostly gang would whisk you away on a quest to find the boat’s long-dead Captain Phillips and solve an


MOST POPULAR BREWERY TOUR Cincinnati's Original & Premier Craft Brewery Tours Book your next outing or event with us!

513-258-7909 or 844-Beer-Fun (233-7386) Public and Private Tours Monday-Sunday Follow us


Beer, pretzels, souvenir glasses, and transportation are always included.

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  39

ages-old mystery. To top off the spookiness, the crew could actually touch you… and they had very cold hands. USS Nightmare, 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, BEST PHOTOGRAPHIC TRIBUTE TO A LOST NEIGHBORHOOD Kenyon-Barr was a densely urban section of the West End where thousands of buildings were demolished in the late 1950s for “urban renewal” and the creation of I-75. But before that happened, the city took 2,800 photos documenting what would be gone — often with an employee standing in front holding a sign while curious residents watched. In the exhibit Finding Kenyon Barr, University of Cincinnati doctoral student Anne Steinert and volunteers selected and enlarged 39 of those. Besides being a sobering history lesson, the exhibit took on a surreal, artful dimension as you watched the blasé employees with their signs interrupt everyday life as if stepping onto the stage during a play. And soon, everything photographed would be no more. Finding Kenyon Barr, BEST LITERARY READING AND Q&A SESSION Wallace Shawn is beloved by children for his role in The Princess Bride, a perennial favorite, and by Boomers for the 1981 film My Dinner with Andre, an amusing but serious discourse on the meaning of life. Appearing at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in September to read from Night Thoughts, an essay on how humankind is destroying earth, he patiently followed that with a long Q&A that revealed him to be vulnerable and worried about his financial security and his legacy, but also as funny and droll as a New Yorker cartoon. (His father was the longtime New Yorker editor William Shawn.) And he revealed that he and co-star Andre Gregory have been thinking about an Andre sequel. The audience cheered him, which comforted him. Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 2692 Madison Road, Rookwood Pavilion, Norwood, BEST GIFT TO THE CINCINNATI ART MUSEUM Because the late Marcel Duchamp married a woman from Cincinnati in 40  40 | | BBEESSTTOOFFCCI N I NCCI N I NNNAT ATI I22001188

tive USCO (especially member Gerd Stern). As art history has evolved, Psychedelic art hasn’t fared as well as such rival contemporary movements as Pop, Minimalism and Conceptual. But there’s a revival/rediscovery going on nationally now, and the Solway exhibit showed why — the works had fascinating colors and design, a sense of humor (sometimes) and a sense of awe at the beauty of life and the power of expanded consciousness. Carl Solway Gallery, 424 Findlay St., West End,


BEST HISTORIC PRESERVATION WITHOUT A PAINTBRUSH Sometimes what you don’t paint is as important as what you do. As they designed the poignant “Faces of Homelessness” mural last summer on Vine Street, artists ICY + SOT and ArtWorks apprentices left uncovered a ghost sign for Barr’s Loans pawn shop. These faded advertisements have been disappearing across the country because of redevelopment, despite cries from historic preservationists. Megan Rahill, ArtWorks’ manager of programs, says respecting the significance of this particular sign on the side of the Recovery Hotel for homeless addicts “reminds viewers now and in the future of this community’s historical fight against displacement, and the many years that family and individuals lived down here but are now no longer able to.” “Faces of Homelessness,” 1225 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine,

1954, the Cincinnati Art Museum was gifted with a copy of one of the great conceptual artist’s “Boîte-en-Valise (Box in a Valise),” consisting of miniature reproductions of his preWorld War II work. In 1964, Duchamp gave it to his wife’s sister and husband in Cincinnati, complete with a personal inscription. The family in 2015 gave it to the museum, and this year it has gone on display (temporarily) in a gallery devoted to the artist and his indirect but beneficial (for us) relationship to the city. Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams, BEST REGIONAL-MOVIE SUCCESS STORY Writer-director Kogonada’s Columbus, an unsentimental, spare drama set in the Modernist architectural haven that is Columbus, Ind., is intellectual stuff even for an art movie. A cynical Korean-born man is stranded there

after his father becomes ill, and he begins a probing, testy relationship with a young woman that centers on the relationship of architecture to her hopes and dreams of life in small-town America. But the acting was great — especially Haley Lu Richardson, and also other stars Parker Posey, John Cho and Rory Culkin — and the film felt truthful enough and important enough to resonate with an audience. It played the Esquire Theatre for seven weeks, far better than many commercial movies. Watch for the spin-off TV series. Columbus, BEST ARTISTIC ARGUMENT FOR LSD Michael Solway, director of the Carl Solway Gallery in the West End, revisited the 1960s and found it still mind-blowingly trippy with his Distant Horizons: Pioneers of Psychedelic Art show, featuring work by Isaac Abrams, Tony Martin, Ira Cohen and the collec-

BEST NEW CONCERT VENUE THAT’S ALSO A LIBRARY Remember watching Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez and the rest of The Breakfast Club philosophizing and rocking out in a library? Now there’s a chance to do that in real life. The 183-year-old Mercantile Library hasn’t been as quiet since former Enquirer writer John Faherty became executive director in 2015 with the goal of adding innovative programming to draw a diverse crowd. Nearly three years later, the number of members is now the highest in a century, and the institution is making more noise with the Words and Music lecture/concert series. Singer/songwriter Josh Ritter kicked off the program with a sold-out talk and performance in January 2017, followed in March of this year by Grammy winning singer/songwriter, novelist and actor Steve Earle. Events are open to members and nonmembers alike, so read and rock on. Mercantile Library, 414 Walnut St., 11th Floor, Downtown, BEST LOCAL SHOT AT ANOTHER ‘HAMILTON’ PHENONEMON Historian Ron Chernow, author of an Alexander Hamilton biography that inspired actor/composer Lin-Manuel Miranda to write a little Broadway musical you might have heard of, chose a Clermont County boy for his latest book. Grant argues that good ol’ Ulysses S. of Point Pleasant, Ohio, wasn’t the so-called “butcher general” (because critics thought his military tactics brought high casualties), hapless and corrupt president and roaring drunk that history has made him out to be. Even so, Chernow told reporters last fall that Miranda is passing on a “Grant-a-go-go” project

New Exhibition

THE FUTURE IS FEMALE Through September 2018

WANDERERS WELCOME Immerse yourself in the art of today at Cincinnati’s award-winning hotel.

OPEN AND FREE 24/7/365 Saya Woolfalk (Japanese), ChimaCloud Crystal Body B, 2017. Mixed media.


BEST OVERSTUFFED ART First, stir up the imagination of artist Bill Ross. Then, layer four carloads of stuffed animals over an 8-foot-high frame. Fill the inside with video featuring creepy birthday celebrations and clips from Night of the Living Dead. Top it off with 3-foot electric candles, and you have the recipe for “Dead Souls Cake.” The soft sculpture from Ross and photographer Bob Scheadler served as the centerpiece of The Art of Food at The Carnegie in Covington in February. Attendees who stepped inside were as googly-eyed as the bears and bunnies that made up the frosting. The one-night-only event left fans wondering what would become of the leftover dessert, but thankfully Felsenhaus242 gallery in the former Felsenbrau brewery building has literally taken the cake, putting it on permanent display. Sweeeet! Felsenhaus242, 242 W. McMicken Ave., Over-the-Rhine,

Read us on your phone instead of talking to your friends at brunch. the all-new

.com 42  ||  BBEESSTT O OFF C CIIN NC CIIN NN NAT ATII 22001188 42

for now. But did Grant back down during the Civil War? Did he not serve two terms in the White House? Is that not his face on the $50 bill? We’re still going to dream about a Tony Award for a local hero’s tale. BEST MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S REALITY William Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream focuses on the power of transformation, which made it an especially timely choice to debut the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s sparkling new Otto M. Budig Theater in Over-the-Rhine in September. A show written to engage and delight Shakespeare’s public when first performed in 1605, Midsummer was just right for this modern theater’s inaugural production. As directed by

Brian Isaac Phillips, it showed off all the impressive technical capabilities of the new building as well as all the energy of its actors. The play-within-a-play used every inch of the thrust stage — and Cincy Shakes’ actors’ fast wit, adept physical comedy and nuanced storytelling — to create a sense of visual and dramatic depth. It was also a grand (if slightly overdone) display of the theater’s special effects, with flying rigs and modern lighting and projection. The end goal was to make theatergoers feel engaged, and it worked. But every experience at the Otto M. Budig Theater will be up close and personal: With six rows of seats horseshoed around a thrust stage, plus a single row of 47 seats on the balcony, no person is more than 20 feet from the stage. Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, 1195 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine,

44  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

Eats Eats

Illustration by David Wilson Illustration by David Wilson

NEW RESTAURANT (SINCE MARCH 2017) NEW RESTAURANT 1 Taft’s Brewpourium (SINCE 2017)Bar 2 CourtMARCH Street Lobster 1 Taft’s Brewpourium 3 Camporosso 2 4 Court Sartre Street OTR Lobster Bar 3 5 Camporosso Kitchen 1883 4 6 Sartre Dope!OTR Noodle and Dumpling Shop 5 1883 7 Kitchen Sweets & Meats BBQ 6 and Dumpling Shop 8 Dope! BuddhaNoodle Barn Thai 7 & Restaurant Meats BBQ/ 9 Sweets CWC the 8 Buddha Barn Thai Harvest Pizzeria (TIE) 9 CWC the Restaurant / 10 Casa Figueroa Harvest Pizzeria (TIE) 10 Casa Figueroa OVERALL RESTAURANT 1 Sotto OVERALL RESTAURANT 2 Jeff Ruby’s The Precinct 1 3 Sotto Boca 2 Ruby’s The Precinct 4 Jeff Dewey’s Pizza 3 5 Boca Incline Public House 4 Pizza 6 Dewey’s Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse 5 Public House 7 Incline The Eagle 6 Steakhouse 8 Jeff TasteRuby’s of Belgium 7 Eagle 9 The Please 8 of Belgium 10 Taste Mazunte 9 Please 10 Mazunte

Reader Picks Reader Picks

OVERALL RESTAURANT (NORTHERN KENTUCKY) OVERALL RESTAURANT (NORTHERN 1 Pompilios KENTUCKY) 2 Hofbräuhaus 1 3 Pompilios Bouquet Restaurant & Wine Bar 2 4 Hofbräuhaus Walt’s Hitching Post 3 Restaurant 5 Bouquet Greyhound Tavern & Wine Bar 4 Hitching Post 6 Walt’s Kung Food Chu’s AmerAsia 5 Greyhound Tavern 7 Otto’s 6 Food Chu’s AmerAsia 8 Kung Kitchen 1883 7 9 Otto’s Frida 602 8 1883 10 Kitchen Anchor Grill 9 Frida 602 10 Anchor Grill NEIGHBORHOOD RESTAURANT (DOWNTOWN/OTR) NEIGHBORHOOD RESTAURANT 1 Bakersfield (DOWNTOWN/OTR) 2 Arnold’s Bar and Grill 1 3 Bakersfield The Eagle 2 Arnold’s Bar and Grill 3 The Eagle

NEIGHBORHOOD RESTAURANT (CENTRAL) NEIGHBORHOOD RESTAURANT 1 Adriatico’s (CENTRAL) 2 Camp Washington Chili 1 3 Adriatico’s Hang Over Easy 2 Camp Washington Chili 3 Hang Over Easy RESTAURANT NEIGHBORHOOD (NORTHERN KENTUCKY) NEIGHBORHOOD 1 Dewey’s Pizza RESTAURANT (NORTHERN 2 Pompilios KENTUCKY) 1 Pizza 3 Dewey’s Goodfellas Pizzeria 2 Pompilios 3 Goodfellas Pizzeria NEIGHBORHOOD RESTAURANT (EAST SIDE) NEIGHBORHOOD RESTAURANT 1 Eli’s BBQ (EAST SIDE) 2 Arthur’s / Zip’s Café (TIE) 1 3 Eli’s SilverBBQ Spring House 2 Arthur’s / Zip’s Café (TIE) 3 Silver Spring House

NEIGHBORHOOD RESTAURANT (WEST SIDE) NEIGHBORHOOD RESTAURANT 1 Incline Public House (WEST 2 PriceSIDE) Hill Chili 1 Public House 3 Incline Primavista 2 Price Hill Chili 3 Primavista NEIGHBORHOOD RESTAURANT (NORTHERN ’BURBS) NEIGHBORHOOD 1 Blue Ash Chili RESTAURANT (NORTHERN ’BURBS) 2 Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant 1 Ash Chili 3 Blue Sleepy Bee Café (Blue Ash) 2 Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant 3 Sleepy Bee Café (Blue Ash) MENU (MOST INNOVATIVE) 1 Boca MENU (MOST INNOVATIVE) 2 Tom+Chee 1 3 Boca Sotto 2 Tom+Chee 3 Sotto APPETIZERS 1 Bakersfield APPETIZERS 2 A Tavola 1 3 Bakersfield Sotto 2 A Tavola 3 Sotto BAGELS 1 Bruegger’s Bagels BAGELS 2 Marx Hot Bagels 1 Bagels 3 Bruegger’s Panera Bread 2 Marx Hot Bagels 3 Panera Bread B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 018 | 45 B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  45 B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 018



CHICKEN 1 The Eagle 2 Chick-fil-A 3 Silver Spring House

Blue Ash Chili: Best Chili (Non-Chain)

CHILI (CHAIN) 1 Skyline Chili 2 Gold Star Chili 3 Dixie Chili CHILI (NON-CHAIN) 1 Blue Ash Chili 2 Camp Washington Chili 3 Price Hill Chili


BARBECUE 1 Eli’s BBQ 2 City Barbeque 3 Montgomery Inn 4 Pontiac 5 Pickles and Bones 6 Just Q’in 7 Sweets & Meats BBQ 8 Big Art’s BBQ Grill 9 Alabama Que/SmoQ (TIE) 10 Bee’s Barbecue BEER SELECTION (RESTAURANT) 1 Yard House 2 Moerlein Lager House 3 Flipdaddy’s Burgers & Beers WINE SELECTION (RESTAURANT) 1 Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant 2 20 Brix 3 Boca BREAKFAST 1 First Watch 2 Sleepy Bee Café 3 Maplewood Kitchen and Bar BRUNCH 1 First Watch 2 Sleepy Bee Café 3 Taste of Belgium 4 Grand Finale 5 Maplewood Kitchen and Bar 6 Greyhound Tavern 7 Orchids at Palm Court 8 Hang Over Easy 9 Keystone Bar & Grill 10 Nation Kitchen & Bar BUSINESS LUNCH 1 Maplewood Kitchen and Bar 2 Arnold’s Bar and Grill 3 Skyline Chili 46  46 |  | B BEESSTT O OFF C CIIN NC CIIN NN NAT ATII 22001188

BUTCHER SHOP 1 Avril-Bleh & Sons 2 Eckerlin Meats 3 Bridgetown Finer Meats OVERALL BURGERS (CHAIN) 1 Five Guys 2 Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews 3 Smashburger OVERALL BURGERS (NON-CHAIN) 1 Zip’s Café 2 Terry’s Turf Club 3 Flipdaddy’s Burgers & Beers 4 Arthur’s 5 Chandler’s Burger Bistro 6 Bard’s Burgers & Chili 7 Nation Kitchen & Bar 8 Krueger’s Tavern 9 Gordo’s Pub & Grill 10 Tickle Pickle NEIGHBORHOOD BURGER SPOT (DOWNTOWN/OTR) 1 Krueger’s Tavern 2 Arnold’s Bar and Grill 3 Nation Kitchen & Bar NEIGHBORHOOD BURGER SPOT (CENTRAL) 1 Quatman Café 2 Tickle Pickle 3 Gordo’s Pub & Grill NEIGHBORHOOD BURGER SPOT (NORTHERN KENTUCKY) 1 Flipdaddy’s Burgers & Beers 2 Bard’s Burgers & Chili 3 Barleycorn’s

COFFEEHOUSE (NATIONAL) 1 Starbucks 2 Dunkin’ Donuts 3 Panera Bread

NEIGHBORHOOD BURGER SPOT (WEST SIDE) 1 Incline Public House 2 Chandler’s Burger Bistro 3 Mad Mike’s Burgers

COFFEEHOUSE (LOCAL) 1 Coffee Emporium 2 College Hill Coffee Company 3 Carabello Coffee 4 Deeper Roots Coffee 5 Collective Espresso 6 Lookout Joe 7 Reality Tuesday Café 8 Sidewinder Coffee 9 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab 10 Luckman Coffee Company

NEIGHBORHOOD BURGER SPOT (NORTHERN ’BURBS) 1 Flipdaddy’s Burgers & Beers 2 Quatman Café (Mason) 3 Sammy’s Craft Burgers & Beers

NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE SHOP (DOWNTOWN/OTR) 1 Coffee Emporium 2 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab 3 Collective Espresso

CAJUN/SOUL FOOD 1 Knotty Pine on the Bayou 2 Allyn’s Café 3 J. Gumbo’s

NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE SHOP (CENTRAL) 1 College Hill Coffee Company 2 Collective Espresso (Northside) 3 Sidewinder Coffee

NEIGHBORHOOD BURGER SPOT (EAST SIDE) 1 Zip’s Café 2 Terry’s Turf Club 3 Arthur’s

CHEESE SHOP 1 Jungle Jim’s International Market 2 The Rhined 3 Murray’s Cheese CHEESESTEAK 1 Penn Station 2 Cincy Steak & Lemonade 3 Incline Public House CHEF (W/RESTAURANT AFFILIATION) 1 Jean-Robert de Cavel (Table, L, French Crust) 2 Danny Combs (Sotto) 3 Jose Salazar (Salazar, Mita’s)

NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE SHOP (NORTHERN KENTUCKY) 1 Carabello Coffee 2 Braxton Brewing Company 3 Reality Tuesday Café NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE SHOP (EAST SIDE) 1 Coffee Emporium (Hyde Park) 2 Deeper Roots Coffee 3 Awakenings Coffee & Wine NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE SHOP (WEST SIDE) 1 The Coffee Peddlar 2 BLOC Coffee Company 3 Aroma’s Java and Gelato







B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  47

NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE SHOP (NORTHERN ’BURBS) 1 The Kidd Coffee Company 2 The Daily Grind & Slice 3 Coffee Beans & Brew


Voted Best Ice Cream

Thank you! Try our new


Ice Cream flavor!

Dinner 5 OFF 2ndEntree

$ 00

$5 Off Carryout Entree. Good Only at Ambar India. Only 2 Coupons Per Party, Per Table. Expires 4/28/18

Lunch 3 OFF 2ndEntree

$ 00 Voted BEST INDIAN for 17 Years

350 Ludlow Ave • 513-281-7000

Someone You Know May Need a Birthday Cake 48 | B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8 48  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

$3 Off Carryout Entree. Good Only at Ambar India. Only 2 Coupons Per Party, Per Table. Expires 4/28/18

NEIGHBORHOOD BAKERY (WEST SIDE) 1 Servatii Pastry Shop & Deli 2 Busken Bakery 3 Graeter’s

TEA SELECTION 1 Churchill’s Fine Teas 2 Coffee Emporium 3 Teavana

NEIGHBORHOOD BAKERY (NORTHERN ’BURBS) 1 Holtman’s Donuts (Loveland) 2 Servatii Pastry Shop & Deli 3 Wyoming Pastry Shop

COOKING CLASSES 1 Jungle Jim’s International Market 2 Findlay Kitchen 3 Sur La Table

CUPCAKES 1 Abby Girl Sweets Cupcakery 2 Gigi’s Cupcakes 3 The BonBonerie

DELICATESSEN 1 Izzy’s 2 Avril-Bleh & Sons 3 Carl’s Deli

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

DESSERTS (RESTAURANT) 1 The Cheesecake Factory 2 Grand Finale 3 O Pie O

MACARON 1 Macaron Bar 2 The BonBonerie 3 Taste of Belgium

DESSERTS (RETAIL) 1 Graeter’s 2 The BonBonerie 3 Servatii Pastry Shop & Deli

CHOCOLATES 1 Aglamesis Bros. 2 Esther Price 3 Maverick Chocolate

OVERALL BAKERY (BREADS) 1 Blue Oven Bakery 2 Servatii Pastry Shop & Deli 3 Sixteen Bricks

ICE CREAM 1 Graeter’s 2 Aglamesis Bros. 3 United Dairy Farmers

OVERALL BAKERY (SWEETS) 1 The BonBonerie 2 Servatii Pastry Shop & Deli 3 Holtman’s Donuts

FROZEN YOGURT 1 Orange Leaf 2 Yagööt 3 United Dairy Farmers

NEIGHBORHOOD BAKERY (DOWNTOWN/OTR) 1 Holtman’s Donuts 2 Brown Bear Bakery 3 Blue Oven Bakery (Findlay Market)

GELATO/SORBETTO/FROZEN ICE 1 Dojo Gelato 2 Graeter’s 3 Aglamesis Bros.

NEIGHBORHOOD BAKERY (CENTRAL) 1 The BonBonerie 2 Graeter’s 3 North College Hill Bakery NEIGHBORHOOD BAKERY (NORTHERN KENTUCKY) 1 Emerson’s Bakery 2 The Buttercream Boutique 3 Cookie Jar Bakery NEIGHBORHOOD BAKERY (EAST SIDE) 1 Servatti Pastry Shop & Deli 2 Busken Bakery 3 Graeter’s

CREAMY WHIP/SOFT SERVE 1 Putz’s Creamy Whip 2 Dairy Queen 3 Mt. Washington Creamy Whip & Bakery FARMERS MARKET 1 Findlay Market 2 Hyde Park Farmers Market 3 Blue Ash Farmers Market FARMERS MARKET FOOD STALL 1 Blue Oven Bakery 2 Taste of Belgium 3 Pho Lang Thang




O P E N M - S U 11A .M.- 9P.M.


Carry Out Only

BBQ, Catering Service, Restaurant for the Bang for your Buck, Neighborhood Restaurant East Side


Outdoor Patio Dining, Takeout

3 Hotdog/Sausage B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  49

LOCAL FARM 1 Blooms & Berries Farm Market 2 Burger Farm & Garden Center 3 Gorman Heritage Farm

GLUTEN-FREE SELECTIONS 1 Sleepy Bee Café 2 Green Dog Café 3 Melt

SPECIALTY FOOD MARKET 1 Findlay Market 2 Jungle Jim’s International Market 3 Fresh Thyme Farmers Market

GOETTA 1 Glier’s Goetta 2 Eckerlin Meats 3 Avril-Bleh & Sons

FOOD DELIVERY SERVICE 1 UberEATS 2 DoorDash 3 Green Bean Delivery

GUACAMOLE 1 Bakersfield 2 Chipotle 3 Mazunte

FOOD FESTIVAL OR EVENT 1 Taste of Cincinnati 2 Oktoberfest 3 Cincinnati Food Truck Association Food Festival

HOT DOG/SAUSAGE 1 Senate 2 Queen City Sausage 3 Eli’s BBQ


FOOD TRUCK 1 Red Sesame Korean BBQ 2 C’est Cheese 3 Hungry Bros. FRENCH FRIES 1 Five Guys 2 Penn Station 3 Senate

CHINESE 1 Kung Food Chu’s AmerAsia 2 P.F. Chang’s 3 Oriental Wok GERMAN 1 Hofbräuhaus 2 Mecklenburg Gardens 3 Wunderbar!

INDIAN 1 Ambar India Restaurant 2 Baba India Restaurant 3 Amol India Restaurant ITALIAN 1 Sotto 2 Pompilios 3 Maggiano’s Little Italy JAPANESE 1 Kaze 2 Fuji Steak House 3 Ichiban KOREAN 1 Riverside Korean 2 Red Sesame BBQ 3 Bibibop

Terry’s Turf Club 4618 Eastern Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45226 513.533.4222

SUSHI 1 Cloud 9 Sushi 2 Ichiban 3 Kaze 4 Green Papaya 5 Fusian 6 E+O Kitchen 7 Mr. Sushi 8 Ando Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar 9 Wabi Sabi 10 Wild Ginger LATE-NIGHT EATERY 1 Gomez Salsa 2 Goodfellas Pizzeria 3 Anchor Grill TAKEOUT 1 Chipotle 2 Eli’s BBQ 3 Gomez Salsa TAPAS 1 Abigail Street 2 Mita’s 3 Ché

There is a reason to be Particular. Terry’s Turf Club Serving the Best For the Best You, Our Customers For 11 years we have been serving Great Burgers, Filet Mignon Chili, Fish, specialty apps & sauces. Thank you for voting us Top 3 Overall Burger in Cincinnati! See our full menu & hour on Fb

50  50 |  | B B EE SS T TOO F FCCI N I NCCI N I NNNAT ATI I22001188

MEDITERRANEAN/GREEK 1 Aladdin’s Eatery 2 Andy’s Mediterranean Grille 3 Sebastian’s Gyros

THAI 1 Green Papaya 2 Bangkok Bistro 3 Lemon Grass

MEXICAN 1 Mazunte 2 Cancun Mexican Restaurant 3 Bakersfield

VIETNAMESE 1 Pho Lang Thang 2 Le’s Pho & Sandwiches 3 Cilantro

BURRITOS 1 Chipotle 2 Gomez Salsa 3 Mazunte

OVERALL PIZZA (CHAIN) 1 Dewey’s Pizza 2 LaRosa’s Family Pizzeria 3 Goodfellas

TACOS 1 Bakersfield 2 Mazunte 3 Gomez Salsa 4 Nada 5 La Mexicana Restaurante Cantina & Tienda 6 Cancun Mexican Restaurant 7 Frida 602 8 Chuy’s 9 Django Western Taco 10 Taco Casa

OVERALL PIZZA (NON-CHAIN) 1 A Tavola 2 Adriatico’s 3 Catch-A-Fire Pizza 4 Fireside Pizza 5 Strong’s Brick Oven Pizzeria 6 Camporosso 7 Mac’s Pizza Pub 8 Trotta’s Pizza & Drive Thru 9 Two Cities Pizza Co. 10 Newport Pizza Company

NEIGHBORHOOD PIZZA JOINT (DOWNTOWN/OTR) 1 Goodfellas Pizzeria 2 A Tavola 3 Pies and Pints

NEIGHBORHOOD PIZZA JOINT (NORTHERN ’BURBS) 1 LaRosa’s Family Pizzeria 2 Mellow Mushroom 3 Pies and Pints

NEIGHBORHOOD PIZZA JOINT (CENTRAL) 1 Dewey’s Pizza 2 Adriatico’s 3 Fireside Pizza

OUTDOOR/PATIO DINING 1 Incline Public House 2 Eli’s BBQ 3 Cabana on the River

NEIGHBORHOOD PIZZA JOINT (NORTHERN KENTUCKY) 1 Goodfellas Pizzeria 2 Dewey’s Pizza 3 Strong’s Brick Oven Pizzeria NEIGHBORHOOD PIZZA JOINT (EAST SIDE) 1 Dewey’s Pizza 2 LaRosa’s Family Pizzeria 3 A Tavola (Maderia) NEIGHBORHOOD PIZZA JOINT (WEST SIDE) 1 Dewey’s Pizza 2 LaRosa’s Family Pizzeria 3 Trotta’s Pizza & Drive Thru

PUB FOOD 1 Incline Public House 2 Arthur’s 3 Arnold’s Bar and Grill STEAKHOUSE 1 Jeff Ruby’s The Precinct 2 Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse 3 Jeff Ruby’s Carlo & Johnny RAW BAR 1 Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse 2 The Anchor-OTR 3 Kaze SEAFOOD 1 Bonefish Grill 2 The Anchor-OTR 3 Mitchell’s Fish Market

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8 | 51 B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  51

RESTAURANT DESIGN 1 Boca 2 Taft’s Ale House 3 Sotto

VIEW FROM YOUR TABLE 1 Incline Public House 2 Primavista 3 Moerlein Lager House

RESTAURANT FOR A FIRST DATE 1 Sotto 2 Incline Public House 3 Bakersfield

WATERFRONT DINING 1 Montgomery Inn Boathouse 2 Moerlein Lager House 3 Cabana on the River

RESTAURANT FOR FINE DINING 1 Jeff Ruby’s The Precinct 2 Boca 3 Orchids at Palm Court 4 Primavista 5 Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse 6 Nicola’s 7 Restaurant L 8 Jean-Robert’s Table 9 Sotto 10 Jeff Ruby’s Carlo & Johnny

LIVE MUSIC WHILE YOU EAT 1 Arnold’s Bar and Grill 2 Dee Felice Café 3 Hofbräuhaus

RESTAURANT FOR LARGE PARTIES 1 Buca di Beppo 2 Montgomery Inn 3 Moerlein Lager House RESTAURANT FOR THE BEST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK 1 Eli’s BBQ 2 Skyline Chili 3 Le’s Pho & Sandwiches RESTAURANT TO TAKE A FOODIE 1 Boca 2 Eagle OTR 3 Sotto RESTAURANT TO TAKE THE KIDS 1 Chick-fil-A 2 Dewey’s Pizza 3 Skyline Chili RESTAURANT TO TAKE VISITORS 1 Montgomery Inn Boathouse 2 Incline Public House 3 Skyline Chili ROMANTIC RESTAURANT 1 Sotto 2 Primavista 3 Jeff Ruby’s The Precinct WAITSTAFF/SERVICE 1 Jeff Ruby’s The Precinct 2 Sotto 3 Boca

52 | B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8 52  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

UNDER THE RADAR RESTAURANT 1 Mazunte 2 Incline Public House 3 Cheapside Café VEGETARIAN/VEGAN SELECTION 1 Melt 2 Green Dog Café 3 Loving Hut VEGGIE BURGER 1 Krueger’s Tavern 2 Arthur’s 3 Arnold’s Bar and Grill SALADS 1 Dewey’s Pizza 2 Olive Garden 3 Maplewood Kitchen and Bar SMOOTHIE/JUICE BAR 1 Smoothie King 2 Rooted Juicery + Kitchen 3 Off the Vine SOUP 1 Pho Lang Thang 2 Zoup! 3 Tom+Chee SUBS/SANDWICHES 1 Penn Station 2 Jersey Mike’s 3 Firehouse Subs WINGS 1 Buffalo Wild Wings 2 Knockback Nat’s 3 Buffalo Wings & Rings

Open for Dinner Only Tues-Thurs 5p-9p • Fri & Sat 5p-10p Sun 4p-8p • Closed Monday

Reservations Recommended • Patio Dining Voted Best Soul Food!

6302 Licking Pike • Cold Springs, KY 859-781-2200

Authentic Irish Pub Outdoor Dining Live Music NFL Sunday Ticket FREE Shuttle to Reds & Bengals Games EPL Soccer

Catch-a-Fire pizza @ madtree brewing 3301 madison road cincinnati, ohio 513.441.8565



(859) 491-6659

mobile events taproom

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  53

Best Night of the Week

Staff Picks 54  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

Want to make a weekday a little more special? Give it a theme. And we’re not just talking about the same old Thirsty Thursday. Restaurants around town have upped the ante in their offerings by making one-off “nights,” with unique menu options ranging from creative gourmet burgers to ramen that tastes like Cincinnati chili. It’s a fun way to indulge in some experimental, chef-driven cuisine — and/or get high-end eats on the cheap. BEST RAMEN ROUNDUP Steamy, savory and filled with noodles, ramen is as much of a food for the soul as a bowl of chicken soup on a cold day (or a hot one). Chef Hideki Harada’s weekly ramen pop-up, held every Monday from December through March at Northside Yacht Club, provided a warm escape from the winter chill, dishing out an array of concoctions from traditional tonkotsu ramen to a vegetarian mushroom ramen and a Mighty Duck blend (Peking-style roasted duck, bok choy, tea-marinated egg and red mayu). This was all to hype Harada’s forthcoming Japanese gastropub in College Hill, Kiki. OTR’s Please also threw its hat into the weekly ramen game with its Tuesday night ramen menu. Chef Ryan Santos blended classic with creative to make three options each week: a veggie bowl, a traditional bowl and a wildcard. The big fan favorite? His vegetarian take on Cincinnati-style chili, which eerily resembles something you’d slurp up at Skyline — complete with cheese. Both nights were so popular for each establishment that they were selling out a couple hours into the evening each week. Thankfully, they both upped their rations and bowl counts. Northside Yacht Club, 4227 Spring Grove Ave., Northside,; Please, 1405 Clay St., Over-theRhine, BEST CHEESE PULL We all know that food commercials set unrealistic expectations. Your Papa John’s pizza will never look like the one on TV because the one on TV was concocted by a food stylist and Photoshop magic. Take, for instance, the “cheese pull,” when someone grabs a slice in an ad and the impossibly gooey cheese stretches from the pie to your mouth. If you want melty, cheesy goodness you can actually eat, head to OTR cheese shop The Rhined. Every Wednesday from 5-8 p.m. this neighborhood artisan cheese shop hosts Raclette Night (at least through spring). They take a giant halved cheese wheel, heat the side until it’s golden and bubbly, then scrape off that liquid gold — and crusty cheese rinds! — with a knife. This glorious puddle of cheese is accompanied by boiled fingerling potatoes, ham, housemade pickles, whole-grain mustard and some dressed arugula — so you can tell yourself it’s a salad. If you can’t make it to the shop (or are just dairy free), follow @therhined on Instagram for some drool-worthy food porn. Cheesus crust! The Rhined, 1737 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine,

Photo by Hailey Bollinger

BEST BURGER AND BOCCE BALL Venturing to Hyde Park on a Thursday evening means Burger Night at Dutch’s. The artisan larder/bar/eatery doesn’t hold back on their one-night-only specialties — these ain’t no American-cheese-and-mayonnaise-topped meat patties. Dutch’s burgers start out with a base of mouthwatering beef cuts, like 30-day dry-age prime ribeye, an all-natural grass-fed

strip or a shoulder from a local butcher. After being seasoned with just good ol’ salt and pepper, the burgers are thrown on the grill and brought out promptly at 6 p.m. Get them while you can, because the 70-or-so burgers they prepare each Thursday sell out quickly. They’ve tried more than 150 different burger variations, ranging from the Cordon Bleu, with crispy chicken skin, house-smoked ham, housemade dijonaise and grated Gruyere cheese to a burger topped with shaved asparagus salad, manchego cheese and clam dip. Similar to a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get — and that’s one of the many reasons why these creations offer sheer perfection with each bite. As a bonus, Dutch’s also recently started offering burgers on Fridays during lunch. And, if the weather’s nice, hanging on the back patio and bocce court are an easygoing way to spend happy hour. Dutch’s, 3378 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, BEST DOSE OF WEEKEND DUMPLINGS Several years ago, Ashak Chipalu, his mother Rose and his father Manoj starting serving Nepalese cuisine out of a food cart at Findlay Market and other local venues. Bridges, as the pop-up was called, was a big enough hit that at the end of February 2017, Ashak opened the eatery as a brick-and-mortar in Northside. The authentic recipes come from Rose, a former restaurateur in Kathmandu, and include options like grilled chicken tikka masala, haku chuala (smoked chicken) or chilled, vegan aloo wala. Add those to a base of lentils and rice and your delicious meal is made. Initially formed as more of a grab-and-go, fast-casual spot, Bridges has expanded their offerings to include more dinner-friendly shareable fare, including a weekend momo service. The momos, a sort of Tibetan dumpling or potsticker, are filled with chicken or veggies and then steamed and served with a roasted sesame sauce. They make perfect pre-cocktail snacks on Friday and Saturday nights, especially because Bridges is BYOB. Bridges, 4165 Hamilton Ave., Northside, BEST BOLO NIGHT Monday nights at Nicola’s mean it’s time to get saucy. “Bolo Monday” at the Italian eatery starts at 5:30 p.m. and features a real meal deal: a salad, an entrée-sized portion of housemade tagliatelle noodles covered in Nicola’s famous meaty Bolognese sauce and a bread basket for $16. The Bolognese is a long-held family recipe of proprietor Nicola Pietoso and, while the recipe itself is a secret, at least one of the ingredients is not: the meat. A mix of ground beef and veal from Eckerlin Meats in Findlay Market is slow simmered for hours with some other choice additions, and each batch of sauce is personally tasted by chef Aaron Owen. If veal isn’t your thing, there’s a veggie Bolo option as well. Ask for this tomato-based sauce “spicy” to kick things up a notch. Nicola’s, 1420 Sycamore St., Over-the-Rhine,

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  55

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

BEST BARBIE JUKEBOX It’s verifiable: the more surreal the atmosphere, the better diner food tastes. Three cups of coffee and a plate full of home fries deep into the witching hour, no local hole-in-the wall can compare to the Anchor Grill’s dream-like coziness. Its wood-paneled walls are festooned with lovably hokey knick-knacks and nautical memorabilia. Dim lighting fixtures and ferns form swirls of chiaroscuro color among black leather booths. To top it all off, your jukebox quarters yield a live show for you and your fellow diners: as your ’70s Soft Rock single of choice crackles to life over the Anchor’s speakers, a curtain opens in a small box attached to the ceiling, revealing an animatronic Jazz band comprised of nine handmade puppets and a Barbie doll. The stage, held behind glass, bears an uncanny resemblance to Twin Peaks’ “Red Room,” which is appropriate considering the diner’s Lynchian ambiance. Anchor Grill, 438 W. Pike St, Covington, 859-431-9498.


BEST $8 OKONOMIYAKI A mouthful to say on top of being a mouthful to taste, Quan Hapa’s okonomiyaki are far and away worth the added labor behind the tongue twister. Dubbed an “oki” for the faint of heart, the Japanese-style pancake comes three ways: pork lovers can stick to the house oki, featuring tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlets), bacon and a fried egg; the ahi tuna oki suits seafood savants with its seared ahi tuna, pickled red onions and bonito flakes; and for veg fans, the cauliflower oki features fried cauliflower tossed in a housemade honey-Sriracha sauce. Keeping things fresh, chef Mapi De Veyra tests his talents on new oki recipes every Monday after 5 p.m. and serves them at the discounted price of $8. Quan Hapa, 1331 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 56  56 |  | B BEESSTT O OFF C CIIN NC CIIN NN NAT ATII 22001188

BEST REASON TO VENTURE OUTSIDE OF CLIFTON FOR INDIAN Uptown has long been a mecca for tasty Indian fare, but different cuisines are making their way to other Cincy neighborhoods. Now there’s even Indian food on the West Side! Located in a refurbished Taco Bell, Aap India fills a gap in the Bridgetown/Cheviot-area’s restaurant offerings, with a daily lunch buffet and full menu featuring tandoori, biryani and bharta plus familiar go-tos like chicken tikka masala, saag paneer and savory naan. The cozy spot boasts a nice little bar with wine and local and Indian beers and super friendly service. The buffet never disappoints — there’s always a nice mix of dishes (with plenty of veggie options) that the kitchen replenishes until the very end — so swing by for lunch for a sampling of everything. In an

Try our 8 great Reubens! Try Reubens! ANDERSON ANDERSON

7625 Beechmont Ave • 513-231-5550 7625 Beechmont Ave • 513-231-5550

DOWNTOWN DOWNTOWN 800 Elm St • 513-721-4241 800 St St • 513-721-4241 612Elm Main • 513-241-6246 612 Main St • 513-241-6246 FOREST PARK PARK 1198 SmileyFOREST Ave (At Winton Rd) • 513-825-3888 1198 Smiley Ave (At Winton Rd) • 513-825-3888 WEST CHESTER WEST CHESTER 8179 Princeton-Glendale Rd • 513-942-7800 Across from BeckettRd Ridge Kroger 8179 Princeton-Glendale • 513-942-7800 Across from Beckett Ridge Kroger


5098B Glen Crossing Way • 513-347-9699 5098B Glen Crossing Way • 513-347-9699

MAdiSonvillE MAdiSonvillE 4766 Red Bank Expressway • 513-376-6008 4766 Red Bank Expressway • 513-376-6008 FLORENCE 7905 Mall Road FLORENCE (Next to Starbucks) • 859-525-2333 7905 Mall Road (Next Starbucks) • 859-525-2333 Ft.toWRiGht Ft. WRiGht 1965 highland Pike • 859-331-4999 1965 highland Pike • 859-331-4999

Thanks ThanksCincinnati Cincinnatifor forVoting Votingus us Best Delicatessen in 2018! Best Delicatessen in 2018! B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  57

area dominated by fast food and chain restaurants, Aap is a breath of fresh air and a bite of spicy curry. Aap India, 6430 Glenway Ave., Bridgetown, BEST SPRING CINCY TRADITION THAT ISN’T BASEBALL Every year, as the weather warms and daylight savings starts, there are a few traditions we observe in the Queen City: Opening Day, Bockfest and the start of a new season at the Root Beer Stand. This little slice of Americana is open March through September, serving homemade root beer, footlongs and burgers out of a tiny, retro former A&W stand. Fun Fact: The unique flavor of this “flat” root beer comes from the well water it’s made with, sourced from an on-site reservoir. The Root Beer Stand celebrated its 60th birthday in 2017, and to commemorate the decades, it’s getting a facelift during the off season. We’re talking new windows, doors and flooring and some other structural updates — all while keeping its awesome throwback vibe. Check it out when the family-owned landmark opens back up to the masses this spring. The Root Beer Stand, 11566 Reading Road, Sharonville, BEST NEON STEAK DIVE There’s nothing more beautiful than the neon lights of Cincy Steak & Lemonade illuminating the sidewalk on Short Vine. It’s a Styrofoam-container-in-a-togo-bag sort of deal, but you can get tasty classics like hamburgers, chicken wings, Philly cheesesteaks or gyros with a side of fries for an unbelievably cheap price. The best part? Their frozen lemonade drinks, which are topped with an orange slice and a cherry. You can even add fruit flavors like strawberry, orange and grape for personalized sipping. Cincy Steak & Lemonade, 2607 Vine St., Corryville, 513-221-0800 and searchable on Facebook. BEST RESTAURANT THAT SOUNDS LIKE A CONVENIENCE STORE No, Kennings Circle K is not a gas station with hot dogs and nachos. This family-owned restaurant actually serves prime rib, barbecue and other homestyle classics. It’s part old-school steakhouse, part your dad’s favorite bar 58  58 | | BBEESSTT OOFF CCI N I NCCI N I NNNAT ATI I 22001188


BEST MATCHA BEER DRINKS In 2017, matcha — the fine green-tea powder — hit a fever pitch when it appeared in everything from lattes to cookies and even beer. Covington’s AmerAsia offers a drink in which matcha is hand mixed into a lager or pilsner and then served in a pint glass. Greenish beer foam floats to the top, adding a carbonated iteration to green tea. They got the idea for the green-hued beer from Japan, where it is a specialty. The concoction tastes

and part 1970s small-town event hall. If you’re of a certain age, you might recognize some nostalgic dishes like hot slaw, steaks with frizzled onions, a Kentucky hot brown and mock turtle soup (garnished with chopped hardboiled egg). It really feels like you’re stepping back in time, in the best way. They specialize in private events and catering, making it the perfect no-frills spot to host a family gathering. It’s filled to the brim on holidays, so make reservations accordingly — a recent Christmas Eve menu included filet mignon, lasagna and German sauerbraten. Kennings Circle K, 6166 Bridgetown Road, Bridgetown,

slightly bitter — much like matcha itself — but it also makes for a great Saint Patrick’s Day beer replacement (no more watered-down green Bud Light). Just a neighborhood away in Bellevue, Braxton Labs introduced a Matcha Blonde ale brewed with matcha tea. The beer is more of a golden color, but like AmerAsia’s, it also has a bitterness to it. AmerAsia, 521 Madison Ave., Covington,; Braxton Labs, 95 Riviera Drive, Bellevue,

BEST STEAMED SANDWICH OVERHAUL Formerly Gilpin’s steamed sandwich shop, Losantivill3 opened in the fall. Owner Brad Gilpin decided to rebrand the lunch and late-night downtown stop with a healthier angle (no more Doritos bagel sandwiches) and the eatery now makes its own seitan, offers quinoa bowls and has an entire vegan/ vegetarian menu. There are still steamed sandwiches, but they come topped with gourmet ingredients like veggie meatballs or shredded curry-peanut chicken. Losantivill3 even makes its own Thai coffee and horchata. Like Gilpin’s, Losantivill3 is open for lunch and closes at 3 a.m., giving

downtowners an alternative to the late-night Taco Bell Cantina — though Losantivill3 is more than just drunk food. Losantivill3, 37 E. Seventh St., Downtown, BEST BAJA BLAST Speaking of Taco Bells, downtown’s Taco Bell Cantina is an amped-up version of the late-night fast-food favorite because they serve alcohol. Along with beer and wine, they also have freezes — which are essentially ICEEs — that you can “twist” by adding your choice of vodka, rum or tequila. A twisted Baja Blast tastes like the soda,

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  59


BEST ALTERNATIVE TO FRIES A burger joint without fries may sound like sacrilege to fast-food fry-hards: the holy union between crispy potatoes and grilled beef is as solidly devised as the balance of nature itself. Where the earth meets the water, so too do sesame seed buns meet cheese. Where the wind stokes the fires, salt tinges the fry’s oily jacket. It’s a classic American tradition, but one that Tickle Pickle is here to disrupt. Eschewing fast food’s favorite side from their menu, the Northside stop dishes out mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, mac and cheese, Grippo’s and potato salad; each adding its own textural contrast to sandwiches crafted from locally grown ingredients. It’s enough to make you fall in love with the potato all over again. Classic Rock-inspired burger creations crafted with locally sourced ingredients keep things fresh, yet still familiar: the pepper-laden Rob Zomwich and the sauerkraut-topped Hammstein are worth dropping the needle on. Tickle Pickle, 4176 Hamilton Ave., Northside,

2 Best Pub Food #2 best Veggie Burger # 2 Best Neighborhood Restaurant (East) # 3 Best Neighborhood Burger spot (east)


Top Ten Best OVERALL Burger

3516 Edwards Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45208 - Hyde Park - 513-871-5543 8221 Beechmont Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45255 - Anderson - 513-388-0152 60  60 |  | B BEESSTT O OFF C CIIN NC CIIN NN NAT ATII 22001188

but what does Baja Blast soda taste like? Teal-ish? Like a melted Popsicle? Apparently it’s “tropical lime” flavored, whatever that means. But as an icy slush with added alcohol, it becomes an extra-credit Baja Blast. You get some bubbly carbonation flavor, caffeine and a ton of sugar. Also, it pairs well with a seven-layer burrito or Crunchwrap Supreme. Also, also it might make you feel like a garbage person who hates their body and health, but in a FUN way. Bonus: The Cantina has a streetside patio for outdoor drinking because it’s classy like that. Taco Bell Cantina, 580 Walnut St., Downtown, tacobell. com. BEST KOREAN SPAM STEW Inspired by the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, people were feeling

Korean food this February — even the non-adventurous eaters. And instead of focusing on typical favorites (hi, dolsot bibimbap), or “weird” seafood stuff, people were talking about Spam. Yes: that blue tin of processed, canned, gelled ham. During the Korean War, Spam was introduced to the country by the United States army. When post-war rations ran low, the country sought out the meat and other canned food items, and by the 1980s, Spam became a popular part of the Korean diet (you can even buy special Spam gift sets around the holidays). One of the most wellknown Spam dishes is called Budae Jjigae, or Army Stew. It’s a fusion hot pot dish made with Korean and processed American ingredients including kimchi, Spam and other pork products, ramen noodles and even baked beans. One of the best local






Spec ial M enus available for happy h our an d be fo r e Aro n o ff s h ows 5 8 0 w a 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 P R I M E C I N C I N N AT I . C O M | P H : 5 1 3 - 5 7 9 - 0 7 2 0

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  61


GREAT FOOD, MOER BEER America’s world-class Brewpub featuring awardwinning, freshly brewed Moerlein beers, and delectable fare featuring spent grain breads, hand carved sandwiches and smoked rotisserie meats.

Make your reservation today.

115 Joe Nuxhall Way, Cincinnati, OH | 513.421.2337 62  ||  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8 62

BEST CUP OF HOT CHOCOLATE ACROSS THE RIVER The recently expanded Carabello Coffee serves “coffee and compassion in tandem.” Their philanthropic business model gives a portion of profits back to underdeveloped coffee-bean growing communities, including through Carabello’s direct relationship with an orphanage in Nicaragua (as well as a farm there). Visit their six-seater Analog Coffee Bar, where you can choose from more complicated, experimental concoctions, opt for a fresh and classic drip brew or warm up with a host of more mainstream offerings, which include everything from lattes and cappuccinos to Americanos. Not in the mood for the bitter bean? Sip on a cozy and creamy London Fog or a sweet and Instagram-worthy hot chocolate, complete with latte art. Carabello Coffee, 107 E. Ninth St., Newport,

versions is at Riverside Korean Restaurant. Their Bu Dae Zhi Gae hot pot dinner for two is a spicy kimchi mix with pork, hot dog, Spam, tofu, rice cake, zucchini, mushroom, hot pepper, onion and ramen noodles. You can even add extra Spam, hot dogs or noodles for just $3! Riverside Korean Restaurant, 512 Madison Ave., Covington, BEST FINE-DINING DOWNTOWN KOREAN RESTAURANT In Cincinnati, Korean joints and many other ethnic restaurants seem to be relegated to strip malls in the suburbs. But when Haru, Korean for “spring,” opened last summer in the old Istanbul Café space, downtown finally had a fine-dining Korean option. (Sadly, nearby Sung Korean Bistro closed in May.) White tablecloths might not be synonymous with Korean dining, but Haru still offers the same authentic tactics of other eateries, serving

banchan (small bowls of appetizers like kimchi and potato salad) before the meal and a wide variety of entrées such as kimchi fried rice, sweet potato noodles (jap chae) and vegetarian-friendly tofu dishes. To drink, you can try plum tea, soju and Korean beers. They also offer lunch specials and a kids’ menu, so there’s no excuse not to have an authentic Korean experience in your future. Haru, 628 Vine St., Downtown, BEST (MOSTLY) GUILT-FREE PIZZA Pizza, in all its cheesy, carby goodness, is pretty much always a guilty pleasure. And the pies at Harvest Pizzeria are super binge-worthy. Their pizzas have a magically crunchy-yet-chewy and light-but-substantial crust with gourmet toppings like fennel sausage, almond pesto and vegan chorizo; the menu is rounded out by yummy small plates, salads and burgers — the whipped cheese, cherry tomato and candied



CityBeat’s 2018 Best of Cincinnati Awards #1 Salads

#1 Neighborhood Pizza Joint (Central)

#1 Neighborhood Pizza Joint (West Side)

#2 Restaurant to Take the Kids

#1 Neighborhood Restaurant (Northern Kentucky)

#1 Neighborhood Pizza Joint (East Side)

#2 Neighborhood Pizza Joint (Northern Kentucky)

#4 Overall Restaurant in Cincinnati

#1 Overall Pizza (Chain)


B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  63

prosciutto bruschetta is almost good enough to fight over. Unlike your average delivery hut, you can actually feel good about eating this pizza: Ingredients are sourced from Ohio bakeries, producers and dairy farms, like Mushroom Harvest in Athens and Bluescreek Farm in Columbus. And, if you do want to feel a little bad, splurge on the buttermilk-fried pickles with zesty remoulade. They’re addictive. Harvest Pizzeria, 1739 Elm St., Overthe-Rhine, BEST REASON TO LOOK FORWARD TO FRIDAYS Hisako “Chako” Okawa grew up in Japan but emigrated to Covington in 2015. Thankfully, she brought along her culinary skills and opened the sunny Chako Bakery Café on Pike Street. Her pastries, like the matcha cake roll, infused with whipped cream and azuki beans, wrapped in a spongy green cake, are to die for. On Fridays, she also offers Japanese curry soup. It’s slightly spicy and made with a medley of veggies and bits of chicken. The soup comes with a side salad and a choice of bread (shoku-pan). Add a cup of warm Japanese tea to the meal and hold out for some to-go pastries. Besides the soup, Chako offers katsu sando, a fried pork sandwich, daily. If you’re lucky enough to arrive at the café by the end of the day, Chako might throw in some freebies — day-old pastries and breads. But you’ll be remiss to leave without trying a slice — or a whole roll — of that

matcha cake. Chako, 212 Pike St., Covington, BEST COFFEE POP-UP Adopting the moniker Felix Coffee, which channels the Latin phrase felix culpa, or “a happy fault,” couple Logan Peele and Jessica Ufkes started serving third wave craft coffee at their church in Loveland as a way to simplify the beverage. Last year, they branched out and started pop-ups and residencies around town, bringing their coffee and coffee wares to places like Idlewild women’s clothing boutique in OTR and The Frock event space in Covington. Using a Chemex, they slowly brew the coffee, which is roasted by Monroe-based Yield Coffee Roasters. The pop-up concept allows them to come directly to people and offices and test out the market for possibly opening a brick-and-mortar location in the future. Branding is an integral part of their image. Check out their Instagram page (@felixcoffeeco), which is filled with coffee porn. Felix understands that everybody should drink good coffee, and do it with some pizzazz. Felix Coffee Co., BEST RESTAURANT TO ENTICE ACTION BRONSON TO VISIT CINCY With its chill vibe and a focus on understated, approachable food, natural wine and craft coffee, it doesn’t


BEST RIFF ON A DELI CLASSIC Of course, you can’t go wrong with pretty much anything they dish out at Jose Salazar’s cozy, eponymous Salazar OTR, but it’s almost impossible to resist the salmon entrée, an elevated take on a bagel with smoked salmon. You get a perfectly cooked piece of king salmon with an “everything” crust (poppy seeds, sesame seeds, etc.) plated with cream cheese dumplings, pickled Fresno chilies, crispy and thin bagel chips, tangy caper berries and a bit of dill sauce. Salazar OTR, 1401 Republic St., Over-the-Rhine,

BEST UNEXPECTED ICE CREAM FLAVORS Cincinnati has an almost gratuitous amount of gourmet ice cream and gelato options in which to indulge: Graeter’s, Aglamesis Bros., Dojo Gelato, Madisono’s. But one of them really takes the cake (or the cream): Hello Honey. This downtown gem scoops from-scratch sweets made by husband-and-wife team Nitima and Brian Nicely. Not only is the small-batch ice cream crafted with fresh ingredients, free from artificial flavors and coloring, but so are the waffle cones, caramel, cookies and gourmet marshmallows. The ice cream flavors rotate based on seasonal availability and have included amazingly interesting and decadent options like banana honeycomb (so good), charcoal black sesame (great), earl grey blackberry (yeah!), brown butter caramel (yas) and basic but delicious stuff like Dutch chocolate (sure). The menu also offers homemade green tea cakes, banoffi pie, affogato and take-home pints. Every item in Hello Honey’s sugary portfolio is worth every single calorie. Pro tip: always ask to top your ice cream with a homemade marshmallow. Nitima uses a cute little brûlée torch to caramelize each fluffy square by hand. Hello Honey, 633 Vine St., Downtown, PHOTO: HAILEY BOLLINGER


An upscAle tAvern experience now open in the Kenwood collection and the streets of West chester!

Voted BEST INDIAN for 17 Years

350 Ludlow • 513-281-7000 Additional Parking Available in Clifton Business Lot

Happy Hour | Wine DoWn WeDnesDay LaDies’ nigHt | sunDay BruncH Featuring a chef-driven menu, craft & local beers, and premium wines by the glass from our enoline Wine system. Kenwood 5901 e. gaLBraitH rD. cincinnati west Chester 9558 civic centre BLvD. West cHester MtMtavern.coM

Voted #2 BEST INDIAN 2018

3120 Madison Rd • 513-321-1600 B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  65


BEST HAWAIIAN-INSPIRED INSTAGRAMMABLE BOWL After opening in November, Poke Hut Fish & Tea Bar brought a much-needed poke presence to the city. Serving variations of proteins, sauces and toppings in both bowls and “Pokirritos,” Poke Hut lets customers tap into their creative side when crafting an ideal poke dish. There’s a smattering of raw fish favorites (spicy tuna, scallops, salmon) in addition to cooked chicken, pork, beef and shrimp, with tofu and veggies for vegetarians. Start with a base for your bowl or burrito, like sushi rice or zucchini noodles, then add a protein, pick a sauce (sweet miso, spicy yuzu, shoyu sesame, etc.) and top it with items ranging from radish and pineapple to hot Cheetos and masago. “In its most traditional form, poke is just fish, usually tuna, simply marinated in scallions, onions and soy sauce, served over a bed of rice,” says co-owner Sally Lin. “The way we’re doing it is more of a fusion poke, similar to what you see in California.” For a full build-your-own experience, you can also customize your milk tea with flavors like rose, jasmine and taro and toppings from chia seeds and boba to red bean. Poke Hut Fish & Tea Bar, 1509 Race St., Over-the-Rhine,

get any cooler than Pleasantry. Whether for a nice dinner date or brunch with friends, the menu lets the ingredients shine — think avocado toast, fried olives and steak frites (a weekly special). That’s why we think this would be the perfect spot for chefturned-rapper Action Bronson to visit. The host of cooking/food-related shows on VICELAND, Action has visited fine dining by establishments and dives alike across the world, and we’re pretty sure he’d vibe with the Pleasantry crowd. From the music that fills the kitchen and dining room to the menu and natural wines — Action’s beverage of choice — he’d feel right at home. Pleasantry, 118 W. 15th St., Over-theRhine, 66  66 |  | B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

BEST MOTHER’S DAY BRUNCH CROWD-PLEASER Planning a Mother’s Day get-together can bring on a lot of pressure. We just want to celebrate the ladies in our lives! Moms, grandmas, in-laws, mother figures and any picky personalities can all enjoy the annual brunch buffet at Mecklenburg Gardens. A menu fit for queens regularly includes items like French toast and Belgian waffles, an array of breakfast meats, biscuits and gravy, plus a hot carving station, build-your-own sandwich bar and dessert spread. Treat Mama to bottomless mimosas or a build-your-own bloody bar while dining in the picturesque biergarten that’s cozy and

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  67

intimate, yet spacious enough for big families. If you don’t want to wait to visit, the restaurant does authentic German-inspired fare for lunch and dinner, like schnitzel, sauerbraten and all sorts of wursts. Covered with 100-year-old grape vines, Mecklenburg Gardens dates back to 1865 — a true historic Cincinnati setting. Mecklenburg Gardens, 302 E. University Ave., Corryville, BEST TOFU BANH MI The refreshingly minimal Saigon Subs & Rolls is an underrated and often overlooked hidden-gem destination that serves some of the best tofu in town. As avid pho consumers, we can testify Saigon has the perfect ratio of noodles to cilantro, bean sprouts, onions, basil, lime and jalapeños. Their banh mi sandwiches are a true work of art; between slices of baguette smeared in creamy homemade butter sit pickled carrots and daikon and your choice of seasoned grilled beef, chicken, pork or seasoned fresh tofu. Their rice bowls are just as fulfilling, and leveraged by pure freshness. Splurge and order a side of spring rolls and a slurp-worthy bubble tea. Saigon Subs & Rolls, 151 W. Fourth St, Downtown, BEST FUSION OF EASTMEETS-WEST EATS A collaboration between Eli’s BBQ and the Lang Thang Group, The Hi-Mark offers meals that appeal to diners with diverse palates. Whether you’re a staple bar food purist or a lover of simple Vietnamese cooking, this relatively new spot can dish out whatever you desire. The pulled pork banh mi showcases the best of both worlds, while the Lang Thang Chili is the perfect bó kho solution to the Hanoi Homesick Blues. The Hi-Mark is also a great spot for chicken wings with plenty of saucy options (including Eli’s famous barbecue) and calorically dense loaded crinkle-cut fries; opt for a topper of chili or Psychobeer cheese, made with MadTree’s PsycHOPathy IPA. The drink menu is effectively straightforward and the bar/restaurant’s atmosphere is comfortable and fortified with charming vintage kitsch. The Hi-Mark, 3229 Riverside Drive, East End, thehimark. com. 68  68 | | BBEESSTT OOFF CCI N I NCCI N I NNNAT ATI I 22001188

BEST PLACE TO GO ON A GROCERY SHOPPING DATE BECAUSE, HEY, FOOD IS GOOD Clifton Market, a full-service co-op grocer, is a quick stroll across the street from The Esquire movie theater, making it an ideal date location — after catching a flick, check out the just-as-hip-asTrader-Joe’s local market. Stock up on freshly baked bread, grab a bottle from their large selection of wine, impress your date with your knowledge of artisan cheeses and indulge in a bag of Hen of Wood chips along with anything else your locally sourced heart desires. It is charming, neighborhood-focused and feels likes the perfect set for an indie romcom. Be an adult: Go on a date and get some chores done. Clifton Market, 319 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, BEST POCKET PANTRY People’s Pantry has utilized out-of-use newspaper boxes (donated by The Cincinnati Enquirer and others) throughout the city for a new purpose: to provide accessible food to low-income folks. Similar to the community lending libraries popping up in cities nationwide, anyone can donate canned food, boxed pasta, non-perishables or toiletries with ease. Just drop it in the box so someone in need can take it. The come-and-go format makes the model accessible and is an easy way to extend some love to the vulnerable in our city. Multiple locations, facebook. com/peoplespantrycincy. BEST EAT-IN CREAMY WHIP Most creamy whips conjure up summertime scenes of sweaty little leaguers and families standing in a patient line, waiting to be called to the window to place their order. Not so at the Mt. Washington Creamy Whip. Through it’s only been in the soft-serve business for 11 years, the creamy whip has served as a bakery for decades (family-owned since 1957), and the history shows. Its brick walls are festooned with retro Coney Island memorabilia, ’70s décor and other vintage items like 1950s ovens, library card catalogs and vinyl barstools. Grab blueberry soft serve topped with crunch coat, a peanut butter sundae or chocolate malt and dine inside. Though they’re only open seasonally, the owners’ son runs Old Milford Parlor, a more contemporary


BEST RAINBOW LATTES Rooted Juicery + Kitchen teamed up with Urbana Café in 2017 to offer what the smoothie shop has lacked: a good cup of joe. In this case, it’s a superfood latte meets ROYGBIV, and the ingredients may surprise you. The downtown location on Sixth and Walnut — the newest of the three Rooted spots — offers up three of these caffeinated beauties: the Charcoal Latte (espresso, activated charcoal, rose water), the Cacao Ceremony (espresso, cacao, matcha, vanilla) and the Aztec Blend (espresso, cacao, cinnamon, cayenne pepper). All come with your choice of almond, cashew or coconut milk. These kaleidoscopic libations won’t just make you look good — you’ll feel good, too, with the organic superfood ingredients Rooted makes its name with. Rooted Juicery + Kitchen, 17 E. Sixth St., Downtown,

and year-round take on a classic creamy whip with soft serve, sundaes, affogatos and a topping list that runs the gamut between rainbow sprinkles, Raisin Bran and chocolate-covered espresso beans. Keep an eye out for their upcoming Pendleton-based ice cream parlor. Mt. Washington Creamy Whip & Bakery, 2069 Beechmont Ave., Mount Washington,; Old Milford Parlor, 119 Main St., Milford, BEST WINTERFEST NOSTALGIA DRINK After a 12-year hiatus, Kings Island WinterFest returned in November, even bigger and better than before. Over five million lights twinkled throughout the park, including on the 314-foot Eiffel Tower. In various cafés, like Blitzen’s Hot Beverage Bar, a curious blue hot chocolate drink was offered. The blue-hued drink was an homage to

the park’s famous blueberry soft serve ice cream, which complemented the long-gone Smurf ride, The Enchanted Voyage. According to Kings Island, the park sells hundreds of blue soft serves a day during the regular season, so it made sense to transform it into a wintertime delight. The non-alcoholic blue hot chocolate used white chocolate instead of dark — it tasted like warm Fruity Pebbles — and came topped with a fluff of whip cream and nostalgia. Kings Island hasn’t announced if WinterFest will return in 2018, but at least there’s blue ice cream to look forward to when the park reopens in April. Kings Island, 6300 Kings Island Drive, Mason, BEST ADULT ALTERNATIVE TO CHUCK E. CHEESE The animatronic band is certainly rad, but there’s something about Chuck E.


BEST BEER AND PIZZA PAIRING Beer and pizza combos range from the standard delivery box and six-pack to coal-fired slices and craft pints. If you’re interested in the latter, Taft’s Brewpourium is the go-to spot. An extension of Over-theRhine’s Taft’s Ale House, the Brewpourium is fitted with all of Taft’s top beers, New Haven-style “apizza” and enough televisions to satisfy all of Cincinnati’s sports fans. Apizza is a crispy, coal-fired version of Neapolitan pizza that originated in Connecticut, which the Brewpourium opted to serve over other styles (e.g. New York, Chicago) because William Howard Taft — former president, Cincinnati native and brewery namesake — went to Yale in New Haven. The dough is made with filtered water and flour imported from Italy, and toppings range from classic white clam to a BBQ Pork Pie. Whether paired with Taft’s Gavel Banger or the seasonal special, the pork pie will have even the most avid beer drinker opting for slices over sips. Featuring a barbecue sauce made with Taft’s Cherrywood amber ale, the pizza includes pulled pork, red onion, jalapeño and smoked cheddar. Taft’s Brewpourium, 4831 Spring Grove Ave., Spring Grove Village,

Cheese’s appeal that fails to hold up once you’ve made it to adulthood. While the trip may keep your kids occupied, it’s not as fun for adults to sit surrounded by the wafting smell of sub-standard pizza, screeching toddlers and loud arcade games with buttons that stick. Rivertown Brewery and Barrel House has the solution to this generational gap, hosting weekly Family Fundays. Monday evenings, keep the kids occupied with old-school arcade games and free food (with the purchase of an adult dinner) while you work your way through Rivertown’s beer and barbecue menus. Say sayonara to Skee-Ball and germy tokens: this fun night covers everyone’s bases. River70  70 |  | B BE ES ST T O OF F C C II N NC C II N NN N AT AT II 2 20 01 18 8

town Brewery and Barrel House, 6550 Hamilton Lebanon Road, Middletown, BEST BAKERY FOR NIGHT OWLS Donuts aren’t just for breakfast anymore. Open evenings from 5 or 6 p.m. until the donuts sell out, Latonia’s Moonrise Doughnuts bakes its confections as the sun sets, serving classic flavors and seasonal surprises while they’re still hot. The blueberry donut is a local favorite, but don’t miss out on fun creations like the Homer Simpson, pineapple bacon and banana chocolate donut, plus classics like glazed yeast, powdered and cinnamon sugar twists. Moonrise

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  71



BEST USE OF CHICKPEAS The phrase “deli” strikes boredom into the heart of every vegetarian. Sliced salami? Don’t care. Smoked turkey? Pass. If you’re sick of egg salad or cheese-and-mustard sandwich creations, head to Grand Central Delicatessen in Pleasant Ridge. The Art Deco-inspired deli takes its name from the historic New York City train terminal and comes complete with jaunty 1920s menu names like The Flapper veggie sandwich and The Remus roast beef and horseradish cheddar. But along with its smattering of Boar’s Head meat and cheese offerings on bread — plus soups, prepared salads and light bites — is a grand selection of vegetarian and vegan offerings. There are portobello and hummus sandwiches and standard cheese pleasers, an interesting vegan Cat’s Meow with faux cream cheese and fig and then, the pièce de résistance, a vegan “tuna” salad sandwich. It doesn’t taste like tuna (thank god) but it does taste awesome. Made with smashed up chickpeas, vegan mayo, celery, nutritional yeast, onion, lemon and kelp, it’s served on wholewheat batard and makes you feel like you’re indulging in a true NYC deli experience. The “meat” salad texture is there and so is the heft. The flavor is absolutely indulgent, even though it’s vegan. Grand Central Deli, 6085 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge,

BEST BAGEL WITH BIG FLAVOR FOR BEING SO LIL’ Made with chutzpah, Lil’s Bagels is a tasty and twee experience nestled beside Roebling Point Books in Covington. A sign sits out front of a stone pathway, lit by twinkly lights, which leads to the best lil’ bagels in Greater Cincinnati. Order through a walk-up window (windough) like a champ and pair your bagel and smear with a local Smooth Nitro Coffee. The menu includes sweet and savory spreads — options like plain cream cheese, Dolly’s Caviar pimento cheese and Judy Garden, with beet, roasted veggies and goat cheese — and a whole buncha bagels. Lil’s are hand-rolled, boiled and then baked and come in flavors ranging from sesame and salt to Old Bay and cranberry cardamom. The bagels and menu choices change frequently (based on how quickly they sell out), but expect to see creative sandwiches that turn deli staples into gourmet mashups. The Gawd Father comes with schmaltzy pastrami bacon, pimento, pickled green tomato and lettuce; you can add chopped liver for $2. And the famous egg salad lives up to the hype on the delicious Notorious RBE, with perfectly portioned egg-to-mayo salad, pickled beet and wasabi-roe cream cheese on a sesame bagel. Lil’s Bagels, 308 Greenup St., Covington,

Doughnuts, 3718 Winston Ave., Latonia, BEST BREAD-THEMED INSTAGRAM As if blessing your timeline with aesthetically pleasing photos of fresh bread wasn’t enough to warrant a follow, Allez Bakery’s Instagram account (@allezbakery) is peppered with well-chosen emojis, poetic odes to meatballs, half-baked wordplay and topical Muppet Show screencaps. Frequent scrollers might even catch the occasional outtake bake, posted under the #ShowUsYourFuckedLoaves hashtag. Allez’s feed is the perfect polygamous marriage of social media’s 72  72 | | BBEESSTT OOFF CCI N I NCCI N I NNNAT ATI I 22001188

oldest standbys: food photos, dad jokes and pop cultural nostalgia. If that’s not enough to make you a repeat customer, then the chicken salad sandwich on ciabatta paired with a spicy-carrot pickle and Hen of the Woods chips will keep you coming back for more. Each order appropriately comes with the beverage world’s most Instagrammable vessel — a can of LaCroix water. Allez Bakery, 1208 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, BEST UPSCALE TOTS You’d be hard-pressed to find homemade tots in this town — most of the time they’re of the frozen variety.

However, Coppin’s takes their tots to a new level. Listed as a side item on the dinner menu and surrounded by quotation marks, “tots” aren’t what you’d expect. Somehow the chef figured out a way to layer rectangular potato slices and insert cheese between them. The bite-sized snacks are super crunchy and come with a spicy Duke’s mayo dipping sauce. They’re so good, you’ll want to ask for another round. Get one and add on an order of Pimentadew Cheese, blistered pimento and aged cheddar spread served with Sixteen Bricks bread, to snack your way into carb coma. Coppin’s at Hotel Covington, 638 Madison Ave., Covington,

BEST SASSY GRILLED CHEESE “Not Your Mama’s” grilled cheese at Em’s Sourdough in Findlay Market combines garlic cheddar and sharp cheddar cheeses on Em’s signature sourdough bread, grilled on a panini press. You can add tomato and avocado or a side of housemade soup for a few dollars more. Or sub in honey-sweetened whole wheat bread as your base. When grilled, the seeds and nuts in the bread add a welcome element of crunch. During the workweek you can also get Em’s delivered, if you’re downtown, via CityBeat’s favorite bike delivery team, 53t Courier (, so you can eat your sassy grilled cheese without ever

Stay. Sit. Savor.

4335 Glendale-Milford Rd. Cincinnati, OH 45242 (513) 794-1610

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  73


BEST PLACE TO EAT NOODLES AND FRIED RICE WHILE ’90S HIP HOP BLARES In October — and in an act of restaurant musical chairs — Dope! Noodle and Dumpling Shop opened in the old Lalo spot, which replaced Asian-fusion restaurant Huit (both eateries are from the same owners). Like its blood relatives, Dope! serves ramen bowls, dumplings and lighter fare like green papaya salad. The big difference is the theme — the music, artwork and names of some dishes are a paean to the 1990s, the era when owners Kam Siu, Trang Vo and Toby Harris (co-owner of Huit) came of age. Noodle bowls are graced with names like Baby Got Beef or Wu-Tangy chicken noodle, and rice bowls have punny names like Ice Ice Baby chicken. To complement the ’90s dishes, iconic movie posters of Mrs. Doubtfire and Boomerang hang on the walls and old-school Hip Hop blasts while customers slurp their noodles. The 36-seat restaurant also offers carry out and delivery, but those methods don’t come with as much ’90s dopeness as dining in. Dope! Noodle and Dumpling Shop, 29 E. Court St., Downtown,

leaving your desk. Em’s Sourdough, 1801 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, BEST VEGAN DONUTS Just because they’re gluten-free, dairy-free and grain-free doesn’t mean these healthy delicacies are flavor free. Charnee’s Mindful Donuts utilizes what they call “baking therapy” to make their donuts as full of nourishment as possible. Year-round, they offer eclectic flavors like super matcha, chocolate beet, orange tumeric and samoa cookie — available in full-size or mini. Follow Charnee’s on Instagram (@ charnees_donuts) and DM your order requests; mix and match as desired. If you’re in the mood to celebrate, 74  74 |  | B BE E SS T T O O FF C C II N NC C II N NN N AT AT II 22 00 11 88

Charnee’s can hook you up with various shareable cakes as well. Find these colorful, small-batch treats during pop-ups at Off the Vine juice bar in OTR and other local businesses. Charnee’s Mindful Donuts, BEST CONEY-MEETS-3-WAY MEAL The first splattering of Cincinnati chili can be traced back to two brothers: Tom and John Kiradjieff, immigrants from Argos, Orestiko, a town in the now-Northwestern region of Macedonia-Greece. One brother immigrated to Cincinnati and then brought the other over in 1921. A year later, they served the first bowl of Cincinnati chili as Empress Chili. In addition to the usual


Cincinnati Headquartered Since 1984 OUR LOCATIONS BEECHMONT: Ohio Pike Near I-275

KINGS MILLS: Kings Center Dr. Near Kings Island

CRESTVIEW HILLS: Dixie Hwy @ Crestview Hills Twn Ctr

LIBERTY TOWNSHIP: Near Cinti Children’s Liberty Campus

FAIRFIELD: Rt 4 Near Jungle Jim’s

MONROE: RT 63 Near Yankee

FINNEYTOWN: Winton Rd. @ Cross Cty Hwy

OAKLEY: Oakley Station Near Cinemark

GREENDALE: Rt 50 @ IN 1 Near Greendale Cinema

WEST CHESTER: Plum Square @ Princeton Glendale


B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  75

crop of double-decker sandwiches and ways, Empress offers some zany takes on old favorites: individual chili pizzas with cheesy, saucy fare on dough, and the tough-to-pronounce “spagoney,” a coney that swaps out a hot dog for noodles. The spagoney features a pillowy bun, filled with spaghetti and topped with Empress’ smooth chili and flossy golden cheese. It’s a bit of a novelty, especially in the combo of mustard and noodles, but a fun way to switch up your chili routine. Empress Chili, 3670 Werk Road, Bridgetown, empress-chili. com. BEST CARROT SANDWICH The Wheel is an Italian takeaway restaurant housed on a well-hidden residential block in Oakley. A spinning wheel hangs above the door; inside, concert posters adorn pale blue walls, joined by personal iconography curated by owner Chrissy Antenucci. The food provides evidence that cooking is an act of love and creativity for Antenucci, who named The Wheel after a Grateful Dead song. Though the ingredients seem simple in the rosemary roasted carrot sandwich, the first bite alone is enough to convert a Punk into a Deadhead. The carrots are tender and hearty. Within the dish, they are a vegetable transformed — the taste is more exploratory and creative than most other vegetarian sandwiches. Kale peeks through between bites of carrot and both are covered in the perfect amount of romesco sauce and garlic yogurt, the latter of which adds a surprisingly creamy touch. The bread, which Antenucci makes fresh daily, is thick — almost like foccacia — and cradles the ingredients within. Visually the sandwich is also a work of art: the colors are as bright and balanced as the flavor inside. The Wheel, 3805 Brotherton Road, Oakley, BEST NEW AGE ALTERNATIVE TO LA CROIX As the LaCroix craze continues, food and beverage experts have predicted an upswing in the production and sales of any and all new carbonated waters. People love to hydrate with those fizzy flavors, man! And local CBD Seltzer is offering a novel alternative: canned seltzer water laced with the “rejuvenating effects of hemp.” From the Queen City Hemp company, CBD harnesses 76  EE ST F FCC I NI N CC I NI N NN AT I I2 0 76 | | B B S TOO AT 21 08 18

the power of cannabidiol — an (unfortunately?) non-psychoactive compound of cannabis that has been reported to assist with inflammation, anxiety, pain, depression and other ailments. CBD Seltzer, while being full of CBD, is free from THC, GMOs, artificial flavors, caffeine, sugar and sodium. It’s non-alcoholic but does make a great mixer, and comes in flavors that include blood orange, passion fruit and the just-released guava. It claims to be the first of its kind to use CBD in this way, so it’s the perfect drink for the hydrating #selfcare millennial in all of us. CBD Seltzer, BEST BAR TO FIND LANDJUNGE FRUHSTUCK “Like at most brunches, everyone’s pretty much hungover,” says owner Nathan Chambers of the typical Wunderbar! brunch crowd. A German-inspired bar and eatery, it provides a safe haven to those interested in hangover remedies who can’t quite remember their karaoke performance from the night before. With $3 mimosas and $4 bloody marys alongside a rotating brunch menu — which ranges from classics like omelets and eggs benedict to their hard-shell breakfast tacos — the real hero is landjunge fruhstuck, a killer plate of two poached eggs, bacon, housemade sausage, goetta, corned-beef hash and a biscuit that will keep you sated all damn day. It’s basically every breakfast meat you could imagine, all piled onto a plate. Wunderbar!, 1132 Lee St., Covington, covington.3. BEST REASON NOT TO GET CHICKEN AT A CHICKEN RESTAURANT The Eagle is decently well known for its addictive brined, dredged and custom-fried chicken. But the cage-free fowl takes a backseat to the restaurant’s pork sandwich. With roasted pork shoulder, broccoli rabe, super-sharp asiago cheese and housemade hot peppers on a toasted hoagie, it’s one of the best things you’ll put in your mouth (and least until you pop a forkful of the Eagle’s five-cheese mac and cheese in there). It’s reminiscent of the roast pork sandwich from DiNic’s in Philadelphia — the other iconic Philly melt and named “America’s Best Sandwich” by


BEST BRUNCH BLINTZES Weekend brunch at CWC the Restaurant features a slew of tasty creations — breakfast nachos with fried egg and homemade queso, Skyline-soaked flank steak with sharp cheddar grits and a Brussels sprout omelet — but their insanely delicious blintzes are a favorite. Blintzes are an old-world Eastern European Jewish dish — the ultimate comfort food — consisting of a thin crepe that’s folded around a sweet cheese filling, which is then sautéed and served with a cooked fruit sauce and sour cream. In the case of CWC, the blintzes are filled with sweetened ricotta and topped with blueberry sauce. Adding to the feeling of warmth is the very nature of CWC itself. Owned and operated by gregarious sisters Kelly Trush and Caitlin Steininger, you’ll feel at home and like part of the family in no time. If their hospitality doesn’t warm you up, try the Hot Black Russian: Tito’s vodka, Kahlua, La Terza coffee and homemade orange-chocolate marshmallows. CWC The Restaurant, 1517 Springfield Pike, Wyoming,

some guy on Travel Channel. The Eagle, 1342 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, BEST PLACE FOR FELINES AND FRAPS This year marks the 20th anniversary for a niche industry to delight the cat person and coffee snob in all of us: the cat café. It all started in Taipei, Taiwan at the Cat Flower Garden, where the concept of snuggling kitties while sipping on a cappuccino first came to fruition. Fortunately for the die-hard cat person, there’s such a venue right in Cincinnati’s own backyard — Kitty Brew Café in Mason, Ohio. As for the experience, it’s pretty self-explanatory: It’s a coffee shop with free-range felines vying for your love and affection — or,

in some cases, straight-up ignoring you in typical cat demeanor. Grab a cat-themed drink like the Tuxedo, a blended coffee frap with cookies and cream, then slip inside the Cat Lounge next door, where you’ll be greeted by up to 30 eager animals. (It’s best to make a reservation in advance to view the kitties.) They have free rein of the space so feel free to roam around their dwelling to find the most playful kitty. Luckily, a staple of cat cafés is the ability to adopt. If you find a cat you want to keep, you can apply to adopt the animal right there through Animal Friends Humane Society. Since opening its doors in April 2017, Kitty Brew has found homes for 454 cats and counting — which tallies to roughly 1.6 cats per day. Kitty Brew Café, 6011 Tylersville Road, Mason,




Come to Pompilio’s and celebrate with us. (859) 581-3065

600 Washington Ave • Newport KY 41071


B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  77

BEST PLACE TO SCORE A GREAT VEGETARIAN (OR VEGAN) MEAL Yes, eating vegetarian has gotten a lot easier in Cincinnati in recent years, but it can still be a struggle when you’re tired of veggie burgers and entrée salads. That’s what makes Amma’s Kitchen so clutch. Order literally anything off their extensive menu of South Indian cuisine without any worries — no animal parts are involved in the making of this delicious food. Even voracious meat-eaters are known to trek to the tucked-away Roselawn storefront for Amma’s Ghobi Manchurian — savory fried cauliflower nuggets in a spicy sauce — and big-as-your-head dosas (think a giant crepe with potatoes and other goodies inside). Many dishes are vegan as well, offering maximum relief for your animal-rights conscience and/or lactose intolerance. Amma’s Kitchen, 7633 Reading Road, Roselawn, BEST GIRLBOSS BARBECUE There are a lot of secret ingredients that go into good barbecue, but Sweets & Meats founder Kristen Bailey’s are pretty simple: a fold-up table borrowed from a neighboring ice cream stand, a smoker and a tent in a parking lot and a lot of hard work. Sprinkle on some help from business accelerator MORTAR and a new brick-and-mortar location in Mt. Washington, and now you’re cooking. Bailey’s ascendancy in the often male-dominated world of barbecue is

no surprise: Sweets & Meats hits all the barbecue fundamentals with ribs, brisket, pulled pork and the fan-favorite pulled chicken sandwich. The store and food truck also sometimes offer more unique fare, including smoked meatloaf and a strawberry crunch cake that makes the trip to Cincinnati’s eastern-most neighborhood worth it all by itself. Sweets & Meats, 2249 Beechmont Ave., Mt. Washington,


BEST TALE OF TWO TOMATO SAUCES New York City and Chicago are well-known for several things. But most importantly, each city is known for a particular style of pizza. New York pizza is hand-tossed with thin, wide slices and deliciously greasy cheese. Chicago style? You’re talking deep dish — a super thick round pie covered in chunky tomato sauce with a crunchy, flaky pan crust. Now, you don’t have to travel further than Mason to get a taste of both. Two Cities Pizza Company, a dining destination housed in Mason’s former city hall — with a bit of an Art Deco nightclub rebrand — closes the chasm between the dueling pizza metropolises. Go classic and grab a Windy City with sausage, onion, green pepper and chunky tomato; and the Marathoner NYC-style margherita. In addition to pizza, they offer tempting best-of-both-worlds street food from each city, like a Chicago dog with all the fixings (no ketchup; add celery salt) or a New York dog with brown mustard and sauerkraut. Two Cities Pizza Company, 202 W. Main St., Mason,

BEST VALUE BANH MI LUNCH SPOT Primarily catering to the lunch rush of nearby courthouse and office workers, Le’s Pho & Sandwiches is tragically overlooked by many due to its minimalistic façade and restrictive hours. The restaurant’s titular noodle soup is always served hot, refreshing yet comforting, but the banh mi is the true gem of the small, family-run establishment. The allure of the sandwich comes from the marriage of savory and salty in the filling, with the crisp cleanliness of fresh cilantro and jalapeño alongside the crunch of pickled vegetables inside a fluffy yet crusty French baguette. The protein options for the sandwich range from grilled beef, pork and chicken to tofu and a pork paté mixture called dac biet — all of which are quite accessible, even to newcomers to the banh mi game. No better deal in the city, this is a legitimately satisfying lunch date that usually runs less than $15. Le’s Pho & Sandwiches, 3 E. Court St., Downtown, 513-721-9700 and searchable on Facebook. PHOTO: HAILEY BOLLINGER


BEST BOWL TAKING THE STRESS OUT OF ORDERING When native Cincinnatian Tali Ovadia opened a food cart in Portland, Ore. 15 years ago, she had a novel idea: streamline the menu and serve a single dish. Her titular Whole Bowl is brown rice, beans, black olives, Tillamook cheddar, avocado slices, salsa, sour cream and a lemon-garlic sauce. It’s simple, wholesome, delicious and comes in two sizes — big or bambino (smaller). And that’s the only choice you need to make. A year ago, Ovadia’s brother Micah opened the first Whole Bowl outside of Oregon on Ludlow Avenue in Clifton. It’s a walk-up window catering to Gaslight’s foot traffic and people who are sick and tired of having to build their own goddamn bowls. Give me less choices! The secret to the super, duper flavor rests with the bright and lemony Tali Sauce. You can find a slew of bloggers and Pinterest-ers trying to recreate the recipe, but you don’t have to make it at home: you just need to find a parking space on Ludlow. Whole Bowl, 364 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, BEST MAXIMUM MEAT SWEATS Do you like your dinner with a side of competition? Want to test the limit of your beef consumption? Bard’s Burgers’ Bardzilla Challenge is back and bigger than ever. When Bard’s Burgers reopened after a two-year closure in October 2015, owner Jordan Stephenson resurrected the previous iteration’s Bardzilla, but with a twist: Instead of 10 patties, you now have to eat 11, plus a pound of fries and a 16-ounce shake in less than an hour to champion this endeavor. Each weighing a third of a pound, the burgers come topped with extra cheese, lettuce and pickles. Featured on the

CINCINNATI’S Best Donuts 2018

Thank you!

Donut know what we would do without you! Loveland

1399 St. rt. 28 | Loveland, OH (513) 575-1077

Over the Rhine

1332 Vine St.| Cincinnati, OH (513) 381-0903

West Chester

9558 Civic Centre Blvd | West Chester, OH COMING SOON!


214 W Main St. | Williamsburg, OH (513)724-3865 B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  79


for unique dining and memorable ambiance with new way of experiencing authentic Korean cuisine.

DOLSOT BISTRO New additioN iN Blue ash 5893 Pfeiffer rd (513) 832-1907 NOW AVAILABLE FOR DELIVERY ON FOODKRAVE.COM & DOORDASH.COM Now availaBle for delivery oN 80  80 |  | BBEESSTT O OFF C CIIN NC CIIN NN NAT ATII 22001188

BEST ARTISAN S’MORES SPOT Meggie Kraus doesn’t like marshmallows. This isn’t too strange, until you consider the fact that she is the owner and proprietor of a gourmet marshmallow business and newly opened s’mores bar, Quaintrelle Confections. Kraus makes all her own marshmallows in house — she says her perfectionism keeps her from letting anyone else take the reins. Each small batch is made with simple ingredients: water, sugar, gelatin, some salt and natural flavoring. The s’mores offerings on the hand-written blackboard change every month but include fillings like white chocolate, caramel, pecans and the classic, with mallow, graham cracker and chocolate. In addition, Kraus offers “crispies,” which are variations on Rice Krispies treats, subbing in ingredients like Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, Oreos or Ruffles potato chips for the puffed rice cereal. Bags of marshmallows — in flavors including snickerdoodle, chocolate chip, peanut-butter-and-jelly and more — are available in the store as are a boozy variation (marshmallows infused with alcohol, like bourbon). For purists, you can also buy à la carte marshmallows for 50 cents. Quaintrelle Confections, 1210 Main St., Over-the-Rhine,

Food Network’s Ginormous Foods, more than 100 people have attempted to tackle the Bardzilla, but only a handful have been successful. Think you can do it? Think you want to? Bard’s Burgers & Chili, 3620 Decoursey Ave., Covington, bardsburgers1. BEST MUSHROOM SOUP The National Exemplar in the Mariemont Inn is a restaurant for those who like a reliable meal. Open since 1983, it’s not necessarily known for its edgy or au courant cuisine — it’s a solid stalwart with a handful of favorite menu items that keep patrons coming back again and again (and again) like prime rib, liver and onions and Hungarian

mushroom soup. The soup doesn’t have that typical cream base you see with other mushroom broths; it’s more velvety, with added paprika, celery and plenty of chunky fungi. Previously made with a chicken stock, the kitchen now claims the locally famous dish is vegetarian — a fact that’s hard to believe based on the amount of flavor packed into each spoonful. But we’re not complaining. With direction from chef Jeremy Luers, the menu has also added some fun and foodie flair, like taco and tequila night on Wednesdays, veg-friendly black truffle fettuccine, chicken liver toast, charcuterie and a hearty burger served on Sixteen Bricks bread. The National Exemplar, 6880 Wooster Pike, Mariemont,



NER 20

Patriarch of The Camp

OP EN 24/6


Hopple and Colerain

closed sundays



Made fresh daily

with all natural ingredients

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  81

sweet: they’re puffy, yet filling and served in a bowl with a swipe of delicious harissa sauce that honestly looks a little bit like it belongs on a Big Mac. Even though they’re listed as shareable, you’ll want to keep them all to yourself. Sartre, 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine,


BEST PIGGY PLATTER With Cincinnati’s distinctive German heritage, it’s surprising that there aren’t more German-influenced restaurants here. There’s Clifton’s perennial favorite Mecklenburg Gardens and Covington’s casual crowd-pleaser Wunderbar!, but there’s been nothing like Bauer Farm Kitchen, a truly unique exploration of German cuisine with French accents — a farm-to-table, Alsatian-influenced eatery that no one has done here before. “Bauer” means “farm” or “farmer” in German, and the emphasis on farm-fresh ingredients is great, but really it’s chef Jackson Rouse (formerly of The Rookwood) that makes Bauer a must-visit. Seriously, his skills

BEST SWEET POTATO BEIGNETS The Cincinnati foodie world buzzed this past summer in anticipation of the opening of what promised to be an exceptional new venture in OTR. Word first came in August in the form of a cryptic, free-verse poem delivered by managing partner Jim Cornwell to a handful of media types. Headlined by a chef most recently at a Michelin-starred San Francisco restaurant and top staff from our city’s best dining spots, 82  ES F FCC I NI N CC I NI N NN AT I I2 0 82 |  | B B ET S TOO AT 21 08 18

make even a winter salad exciting. Sexier still is the sous vide sauerbraten short rib and spaetzle that’s as light as a baby’s kiss. The sausage, charcuterie, steaks and chops are all dry-aged in house. And along with expected meat offerings (jaeger schnitzel, choucroute garnie, oxtail stew), Bauer also offers “tete du cochon:” half of a piggy’s head cooked sous vide for three days and crisped before serving. It’s full snout-to-tail cuisine and not as gruesome as it sounds — especially for pork lovers. The pig head is served on a board accompanied by housemade mustard, pickled vegetables, sauerkraut, potato salad and Sixteen Bricks bread. Bauer Farm Kitchen, 435 Elm St., Downtown,

Cornwell soon provided a few more details. The new place would be a brasserie style, French-accented eatery at street level in the Rhinegeist building on Elm Street. At the end of September, Sartre OTR made its debut. The French-ish restaurant may be named for the gloomy French philosopher, but there’s nothing gloomy about its interiors. Warmly lit and cozy, with a beyond-gorgeous bar, the well-designed space is plenty inviting, creating

an ambiance that is at once majestic and intimate. While people have been raving about the décor itself, the food ain’t too shabby either. Entrées range from buckwheat crepes with raclette to steak frites and seared sea scallops, but a big hit under the shareable à partager section are the sweet potato beignets. Now, the word “beignet” conjures up images of deep-fried delicate pastry covered in a sprinkling of powdered sugar, but these potato balls aren’t

BEST SPOT TO GET A UNIQUE, NON-CINCINNATI-STYLE CHILIDOG We love our classic cheese coneys with the Queen City’s signature meat sauce, but occasionally you need to eat something a little different. If that’s the mood you’re in next time you’re out getting a lil’ tipsy, try The Royal in Over-the-Rhine. The late-night spot has a few different choices when it comes to delicious meat cylinders topped with other kinds of meat. There’s the Deep South, which features Andouille sausage from local butchers Avril-Bleh topped with pork étouffée, pepper jack cheese and onions. Or go West, my hungry drunkard, and try the Tex-Mex — a chorizo dog from Avril covered in Texas chili, smoked cheddar and onions. The chill lunch counter-like location on Main Street also has a classic Cincinnati coney, of course, as well as healthier fare like killer salads and grain bowls. The Royal, 200 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, BEST PLACE TO GO WHEN YOU NEED TO GET SCONED Let’s be honest. Scones can be hard for bakers to get right — the dense little dough triangles can be too dry sometimes, too crumbly others. Luckily, Brown Bear Bakery has studied some scone science, or maybe magic, and comes up with winners every time. Their turmeric and ginger scone — with delicious, crystalline ginger chunks and just the right amount of sweetness — is amazing. Brown Bear baker Blair Fornshell even ventures into that most dangerous of territory — the savory scone zone — and nails it with offerings like her cheddar, pepper and chive scone. Brown Bear offers up a variety of desserts and baked goods, all madefrom-scratch from locally sourced ingredients. If you’re not in a scone mood, try their cinnamon rolls, which are cloud-fluffy and wear a crown of citrus zest icing. Brown Bear Bakery, 116 E. 13th St., Over-the-Rhine,

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  83


BEST LOBSTER ROLLS, DUH At Court Street Lobster Bar, there is nary a bright-red shell in sight. Instead, there are several ways to enjoy tender, buttery lobster meat — in a creamy bisque or as an ingredient in poutine; as part of the decadent lobster mac and cheese; or in one of two styles of lobster rolls. The prices may not be as affordable as those along the north Atlantic coast, but for Cincinnati: this is lobstah heaven. The Lobster Bar menu lists two styles of roll: “Maine Style” and “Connecticut Style.” So what’s the difference? The Maine roll is a chilled lobster salad with mayonnaise, while the Connecticut roll has warm lobster meat drizzled with hot butter and pea tendrils on the best-damned buttered Sixteen Bricks challah roll you’ve ever tasted. If you want to forgo the roll, opt for a Lobster Pop. This fun finger food features buttermilk-poached, deep-fried lobster tails, served in a basket with a side of lemon aioli. Court Street Lobster Bar, 28 W. Court St., Downtown,

Specialty and traditional pizzas, salads, hoagies, appetizers and a large selection of beer and wine! 601 MONMOUTH ST. NEWPORT, KY 41071 859-261-4900 NEWPORTPIZZACOMPANY.COM

84 |  | B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8 84 

BEST SWEET STROLL As evidenced in the praise recently heaped upon the neighborhood by Food & Wine magazine, Over-theRhine has one of the Midwest’s most promising food scenes. And, as we all know, there can’t really be dinner without dessert, which is where the Sweet Stroll through Over-the-Rhine comes in. This two-and-a-half-hour walking tour is sure to satisfy the sweetest of teeth with six samples throughout the trip, plus a glass of beer, wine or specialty coffee or tea. Tours kick off at Findlay Market and snake their way through the historic neighborhood. Sample stops change, but the tour always explores the indie shops and bakeries that make up the OTR community. Try a waffle at Taste of Belgium, a pretzel at Bretzel and a glass of wine at 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab. Or grab a snack from Brown Bear Bakery, Macaron Bar or Holtman’s. In

addition to the edibles, there’s also a light history lesson woven throughout the relaxing Saturday morning stroll. Cincinnati Food Tours, 1801 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatifoodtours. com.. BEST SHUCKING DEAL Eighth & English — the seafood-centric, Italian-flavored eatery which goes by the nickname 8 & E — has established a nice niche in O’Bryonville’s business strip. A selection of excellent homemade pasta dishes — including a popular black spaghetti with poached lobster — anchors the dinner menu along with several fish dishes. But in terms of eating creatures of the sea, the restaurant’s Tuesday night oyster special is a must. Each Tuesday, the team shucks oysters from both the East and West coasts, all night, in the bar and in the dining room. At just $1 a

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  85

shell, it’s a heck of a deal. So if you’re the type of person who salivates at the thought of briny bivalves, 8 & E is where you want to be. And if you’re the type of person who likes other super fresh fishies, the recently added raw bar is second to none with cold and classy options like yellowfin poke, ceviche specials, King Crab legs with drawn butter and cold-boiled prawns. Eighth & English, 2038 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, BEST STRIP MALL THAI There’s a battle waging on the West Side between fans of Thai Taste and fans of Lin’s Pad Thai. While the atmosphere may be slightly lacking at both, the authenticity is not. Thai Taste offers traditional recipes with a family-run vibe. Yes, they do cater to a wide audience: there are some Amer-Asian options like General Tso’s Chicken to satisfy picky eaters and take-out orders that need to feed full families. People also tend to rave about the large sushi selection, which has everything from octopus and eel to a deep-fried Bangkok roll with crabmeat. But the actual Thai-inspired food is as fresh and flavorful as a trip to Phuket. The Basil Drunken Noodles are a favorite, as are any of the assorted curries and pineapple fried rice. Grab a Thai iced tea, and it’s a vacation in a carry-out container. Lin’s menu is also a people pleaser with big portions, big flavors and big personality — the staff tries to get to know each regular and their order. From the pad Thai, Tom Yum Goong, curry and dumplings to crab rangoon and other rice and noodle specialties, Lin’s prides itself using locally sourced ingredients, free-range meats and organic produce whenever possible. They also offer a complimentary cucumber salad when dining in, a fiery spice scale and a really indulgent mango sticky rice, topped with coconut milk. Thai Taste, 5120 Crookshank Road, Western Hills, thaitastecincinnati. com; Lin’s Pad Thai, 6137 Glenway Ave., Westwood, 513-661-8080. BEST BAKLAVA The search for the best baklava in Cincinnati starts and ends at Areti’s Gyros. Areti’s dessert follows a triedand-true recipe of filo dough and nuts with a healthy portion of honey to hold it together. The flakiness is second to 86  86 | | BBEESSTT O OFF C CIIN NC CIIN NN NAT ATII 22001188

none, but the ratio of honey to filo is what keeps people coming back. Areti and George Papastergiou have also created “Chokolava.” Coined “the Cadillac of all baklava” by Areti, the chocolate-dipped sweet pushes baklava purists to kick tradition to the curb. Areti’s Gyros, 1509 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, merchants/aretis-gyros. BEST BITE ON A SINGLE PLATE Mild chili spices a hefty portion of shredded chicken as a centerpiece in the Guajillo Chicken Bowl at Maplewood Kitchen and Bar, but along with it comes a farro/quinoa blend, smoked black beans, roasted corn, sliced avocado, pickled onions and a few other treats to perk up your taste buds. With a beer or a nice glass of pinot noir, it’s a super supper. Maplewood Kitchen and Bar, 525 Race St., Downtown, BEST CHARCUTERIE AT THE BAR Nino Loreto is producing the finest handcrafted cured meats in the region, and his charcuterie platters are the perfect way to introduce yourself to this culinary art. Panino is a self-proclaimed specialty sandwich shop where Loreto turns out salumi, mortadella, capicola and more from his underground curing chamber, all without the use of chemical agents. The restaurant offers phenomenal sandwiches at lunch — the Reuben is outstanding — and full plates at dinner, but we highly recommend an evening at the bar enjoying the charcuterie platter (a selection of meats with local cheeses and accouterments) with a glass of wine. Panino, 1313-1315 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, findpanino. com. BEST PLACE TO PLAY CONNECT FOUR AND EAT PANCAKES Breakfast and board games: The combination you never knew you needed and now can’t live without. Sugar n’ Spice is a Pepto-Bismol pink restaurant near the Xavier University campus. Its colorful interior is brimming with odds and ends, including a collection of rubber ducks. Their wispy thin pancakes, fluffy omelets and lunch dishes are best enjoyed while playing one of the board games stowed away behind the main counter. It’s a wacky


BEST PINT-SIZED PIE PARTY It’s a fact backed by years of scientific research: Miniature food is irresistibly adorable. And so are the sweets at Teeny Pies. The moniker for this pastry haven is taken from owner Teeny Morris, who traversed the U.S. to learn about female-owned bakeries (she even wrote a book about it: Teeny’s Tour of Pies) and in 2017 brought from-scratch smallscale (and full-size) pies made of in-season ingredients to the Queen City. Her cute crustables play with flavor and design — specialty pre-orders can even incorporate a range of whimsical crust designs, such as a cutout of Hillary Clinton’s face or the Cincinnati skyline. Both 4-inch mini and 9-inch pies are available at Morris’ weekly Findlay Market and Northside Farmers Market stands (though pre-ordering online is encouraged for the latter), as well as at her kitchen in Covington, which she shares with Lil’s Bagels. Starting at just $6, the little pies pack a punch. While flavors change somewhat seasonally, her bourbon pecan pie — perfectly proportioned and nutty in a whole wheat crust — is a constant favorite, as is her apple crumb, with diced sweet and tart apples topped with a crumbly mixture of sugar and spices. Teeny Pies, 308 Greenup St., Covington,

atmosphere that’s endearing and one of a kind. Sugar n’ Spice, 4381 Reading Road, Paddock Hills, BEST AFTER-HOURS BRASSERIE Our historic city market is becoming a dining destination. Starting when Jean-Robert de Cavel opened his tres chic bistro French Crust in 2016, a few other restaurants also have made it possible to enjoy meals even when the market is not open. French Crust serves breakfast, lunch and very popular weekend brunches along with Parisian-style dinners Thursday through Saturday and rings all the bells for Francophiles. The corner location at

Elm and Elder streets faces Findlay Market’s beer garden and main entrance, sits right on the streetcar line and will brighten anyone’s day thanks to expansive windows and Provence-yellow walls festooned with colorful posters and ceramics from de Cavel’s vast personal collection of French memorabilia. The effect is as jaunty and friendly as its owner. Patrons sit at booths, tables or at a 20-seat bar and soak up the bonhomie of a lively bistro ambiance. The food matches the surroundings and delivers 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. At dinner, more bistro

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  87


BEST LOADED TOAST AND LATTE STOP Looking out over Race Street and facing Findlay Market, there’s plenty of good people watching to be done at the second branch of Deeper Roots Coffee (their flagship café is located in Oakley). With gorgeous, wide windows, it’s a great space to sip on a Honey Bear latte, made with local honey and cinnamon, and sink your teeth into one of Deeper Roots’ incredible loaded toast options. The Eton is a particular fave, with creamy ricotta, honey and toasted pepitas loaded onto a thick slice of 11-grain bread. And the Findlay is a spin on the millennial favorite: avocado toast, but offered on quinoa bread. There are coffee and toast options for everyone, including vegans. With a small selection of pastries and scones and a solid array of straight-up coffee to choose from, there isn’t a better morning treat — unless it’s sleeping in. But if you did that, you’d miss out on that sweet toast. Deeper Roots Findlay, 1814 Race St., Over-the-Rhine,

classics tempt diners, from appetizers of snails and beef tartare to mains ranging from duck leg confit to steak frites. French Crust, 1801 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine,

At the heArt of LoveLAnd StAtion ( 5 13) 5 8 3-124 8 | 1 1 0 S o ut h 2 n d St r e et | LoveLa nd, o h 4 5 14 0 88  88 |  | B BEESSTT O OFF C CIIN NC CIIN NN NAT ATII 22001188

BEST MUCH-ANTICIPATED MEXICAN DESTINATION Almost two years ago, there were rumors that an important addition to the foodie world was coming to an out-of-the-way corner of the metro area. A Mexican/Latin restaurant with an ambitious chef and design-conscious owner would open in Pleasant Ridge, probably by the end of last summer. As it happened, though, the chef went elsewhere and Casa Figueroa took almost another year to open its doors. But the end result is worth the wait. The food offers more

than tacos — although those are delicious — and drinks that range from low-alcohol refreshment to complex, boozy spirits. (The mezcal old fashioned made with mole bitters is the stuff that dreams are made of.) All this in colorful, comfortable, varied surroundings both indoors and out. If you can resist the tacos, try the scrumptious sea scallops entrée. General manager Zach Zuke told us that owner Heather Byer was willing to put in time so that the restaurant was exactly what she wanted it to be.“We wanted to be a destination,” he said. Mission accomplished. It seems evident that folks from around the metro area will find their way down Montgomery Road to spend a fun, appetite-satisfying evening. Casa Figueroa, 6112 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge,

HANDCRAFTED SEASONAL BEVERAGES Small Batch Sauces and Syrups Made In-house 7 7 5 5 C O X LA N E

| W. C H E S TE R , O H 4 5 0 6 9 | 51 3 - 7 5 5 - 2 2 8 8 COM E FOLLOW US

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  89


BEST COFFEE SHOP TO FINALLY WRITE THAT NOVEL We have yet to encounter a more charming and affable coffeehouse than Landlocked Social House, and as writers, we know our way around a coffee shop. The drinks are made well and are well priced, and the vibe inside is *insert 100% and praise hands emojis*. It just has that all-around good coffee shop feel. Landlocked opened in mid-2017 and has added plenty of enticing offerings to keep patrons coming back since. What started with third wave coffee and craft beer on draft expanded into a small selection of cocktails (a negroni, old fashioned and aperol spritz make the menu a real winner) with draft wine and cider, followed by the introduction of a food menu. There are stacked sandwiches on Allez ciabatta, various pastries and shareables like warm olives. The eatery also hosts cool local food pop-ups; chefs from OTR bar Longfellow and restaurant Please recently made an appearance for a curry night, burrito night and Chinese takeout night. Last but not least, Landlocked is now open until midnight Monday through Saturday. Perfect for when late-night inspiration hits. Landlocked Social House, 648 E. McMillan, Walnut Hills, 90  90 | | BBEESSTT OOFF CCI N I NCCI N I NNNAT ATI I 22001188

BEST PLACE FOR A LATTE AND A HAIRCUT Ferrari Barber & Coffee Co. is an homage to the shop Tony and Austin Ferrari’s grandfather and great uncle ran for decades. At this combination old-school barbershop/Italian espresso bar, barber Aaron Mucha runs the chair, Austin and his mom Theresa man the espresso machine and Sinatra is on the iTunes. Time seems to slow down a bit as customers enjoy Deeper Roots coffee while getting a classic haircut and hot-towel shave. Which means that you can “Keep it handsome,” as the Ferrari’s say, while sipping on a great latte. Ferrari Barber & Coffee Co., 5 Garfield Place, Downtown, BEST SUPER SEASONAL SUPPER A pillar of Covington’s MainStrasse dining strip, Bouquet Restaurant & Wine Bar merits a visit whenever the seasons change. Chef Stephen Williams leads a kitchen that epitomizes farm-to-table cooking, and Bouquet’s website lists more than two-dozen local purveyors of produce, fish, dairy products and meats. Williams takes the finest local ingredients — Greensleeves Farm produce and Sheltowee mushrooms are favorites

BEST FRESH SUSHI STOP These days, it’s easy to find sushi in virtually any retail situation, be it a grocery store or large gas station, and in some of the higher-end joints, it can actually be quite palatable. But if you’ve always wanted to know what the best stuff is supposed to look and taste like, you owe it to yourself to experience sushi prepared by a master. Chef Ken Ando and his wife Keiko have been welcoming guests to Ando Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Blue Ash since 1998, where Ando prepares traditional Japanese cuisine accompanied by the couple’s daughter, Chiaki. The dining room includes a 10-seat sushi bar, which is the perfect place to watch chef Ando work his magic on the freshest of fish, sourced directly from Japan and Taiwan. Ando Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar, 5889 Pfeiffer Road, Blue Ash,

— and puts a modern spin on classic dishes like sirloin steak with pickled rutabaga or paddlefish with black rice. Vegans will love the fact that you can substitute tofu for any protein, but don’t miss The Motherboard, one of the best housemade charcuterie platters in town and a perennial favorite of visiting chefs. Bouquet Restaurant & Wine Bar, 519 Main St., Covington, BEST FONDUE FOR TWO Cheese: the quickest way to anyone’s heart; it’s lactic ambrosia. Share a melted pot of dairy’s greatest gift with a loved one at Share: Cheesebar during Wednesday’s fondue night, dipping into Gruyere, Swiss and emmental cheese, dosed with sauvignon blanc, garlic, lemon and fresh thyme. Pick from a vegetarian or meaty option and receive a wood cutting board loaded with tiny potatoes, broccoli, apples, bread and a rotating sausage selection for the carnivores. Extra exciting? Bottles of wine are half price with the purchase of fondue. And if you don’t want to dip, there’s an entire menu of cheesy experiences curated by owner Emily Frank, from cheeseboards with accouterments to a presentation of burrata. Share: Cheese-

bar, 6105 Ridge Road, Pleasant Ridge, BEST DINER TO VISIT TO GET A DOCUMENT NOTARIZED Frequent diners at Blue Jay Restaurant in Northside may notice some uncharacteristic paperwork happening at the lunch counter from time to time. Longtime Blue Jay employee Dianne Oppenheimer is also a notary public, making her a very useful woman to know. Oppenheimer has helped many people in sudden need of a document’s legally binding notarization throughout the years, all between bussing tables at the neighborhood’s greasy spoon fixture. Ground rules for soliciting her service: order something off the menu (it’s only courteous to the establishment), and don’t expect any preferential treatment if it’s a busy breakfast or lunch rush. There’s no middle ground here; you’ve got to respect the diner and Oppenheimer’s obligations before anything else, so, be cool. Blue Jay’s menu is known for its straightforward breakfast offerings, Greek-inspired bites and damn good chili. Blue Jay Restaurant, 4154 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-541-0847 and searchable on Facebook.

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  91

92  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

Shops & Services BEST NEW STORE (SINCE MARCH 2017) 1 Rose & Remington 2 Wild Things Antiques 3 Burlap & Birch OVERALL BOUTIQUE (LOCAL) 1 Cincy Shirts 2 Elm & Iron 3 Rose & Remington 4 Rookwood Pottery 5 MiCA 12/v 6 Homage 7 Black Owned 8 Kismet 9 Downtown Girl 10 Handzy Shop + Studio BOUTIQUE (DOWNTOWN/OTR) 1 Cincy Shirts 2 Elm & Iron 3 MiCA 12/v BOUTIQUE (CENTRAL) 1 The Chocolate Bee 2 Casablanca Vintage 3 Pangaea Trading Company

Illustration by David Wilson

Reader Picks BOUTIQUE (NORTHERN KENTUCKY) 1 Urban Chick Boutique 2 Coda Co. 3 Handzy Shop + Studio

MEN’S CLOTHING STORE 1 JoS. A. Bank 2 Homage 3 Black Owned

BOUTIQUE (EAST SIDE) 1 Kismet 2 indigenous, a handcrafted gallery 3 Soho

WOMEN’S CLOTHING STORE 1 Macy’s 2 The Pink Box 3 Kismet

BOUTIQUE (WEST SIDE) 1 Metallic Giraffe 2 LouLou’s 3 Treasure Alley: Yesterday Revisited

CHILDREN’S CLOTHING STORE 1 Once Upon A Child 2 The Spotted Goose 3 Justice

BOUTIQUE (NORTHERN ‘BURBS) 1 Rose & Remington 2 Busy Bee Boutique 3 A Village Gift Shop at the Century House

ACUPUNCTURE PRACTICE 1 TriHealth Fitness & Health Pavilion 2 Alliance Integrative Medicine 3 Carole Paine

ANTIQUE STORE 1 Ohio Valley Antique Mall 2 Wooden Nickel Antiques 3 Florence Antique Mall ARTS & CRAFTS SUPPLIES 1 Hobby Lobby 2 Michaels 3 Indigo Hippo ARTS & CRAFTS CLASSES 1 Cheers to Art 2 Baker Hunt Art & Cultural Center 3 Silk Road Textiles AUTO DEALER (NEW VEHICLES) 1 Jake Sweeney Automotive 2 Jeff Wyler Honda 3 Kings Toyota AUTO DEALER (USED VEHICLES) 1 Jake Sweeney Automotive 2 CarMax 3 Jeff Wyler Honda

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  93

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 018



Bertha G. Helmick attorney at law


Dissolution: An amicable end to Dissolution: An amicable end to marriage. onyour yourheart. heart. marriage.Easier Easier on Easier on your wallet. Easier on your wallet. Starting at $500 plus court costs. 12 Hour Turnaround.

$500 OH 45202 810 SycamoreStarting St. 4th Fl,at Cincinnati, plus court costs. 12 Hour Turnaround.


810 Sycamore St. 4th Fl,

Cincinnati, OH 45202


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

CATERING SERVICE 1 Eli’s BBQ 2 Vonderhaar’s Catering 3 Funky’s Catering

DRIVE-THRU MARKET 1 Trotta’s Pizza & Drive Thru 2 Big Daddy’s 3 City Beverage of Hyde Park

AUTO/CAR WASH 1 Mike’s Carwash 2 Johnny’s Car Wash 3 AAA Auto Wash

CD/RECORD STORE (NON-CHAIN) 1 Shake It Records 2 Everybody’s Records 3 Plaid Room Records

DRY CLEANER 1 Widmer’s Cleaners 2 Springdale Cleaners 3 Tide Dry Cleaners

BANK 1 Fifth Third Bank 2 PNC Bank 3 U.S. Bank


ELECTRONICS STORE 1 Best Buy 2 Micro Center 3 Apple Store

CREDIT UNION 1 Kemba Credit Union 2 General Electric Credit Union 3 Cinfed Credit Union

CHIROPRACTIC PRACTICE/CLINIC 1 Mount Lookout Chiropractic & Sports Injury Center 2 Norwood Chiropractic & Sports Injury Center 3 Baker Chiropractic and Wellness

EYEWEAR STORE 1 LensCrafters 2 Wing Eyecare 3 Eyemart Express

BARBER SHOP 1 Clifton Barbers 2 Spanky & Co. Barber Shop 3 Kings Court Master Barber & Shoe Shine Service BICYCLE STORE 1 Montgomery Cyclery 2 Reser Bicycle Outfitters 3 Spun Bicycles BOOKSTORE (CHAIN) 1 Joseph-Beth Booksellers 2 Barnes & Noble 3 Half Price Books BOOKSTORE (NON-CHAIN) 1 Blue Manatee 2 Ohio Book Store 3 The Booksellers on Fountain Square BOTTLED BEER SELECTION (RETAIL) 1 Jungle Jim’s International Market 2 The Party Source 3 DEP’s Fine Wine & Spirits WINE SHOP 1 Jungle Jim’s International Market 2 DEP’s Fine Wine & Spirits 3 The Party Source CAMERA STORE 1 Dodd Camera 2 Best Buy 3 Western Hills Photo & Hobby CANDY STORE 1 Aglamesis Bros. 2 Supreme Nut & Candy 3 Graeter’s


LOCAL INDIE CRAFT MARKET 1 The City Flea 2 O.F.F. Market 3 Art on Vine LOCAL INDIE CRAFT MARKET VENDOR 1 Handzy Shop + Studio 2 Keep Your Shirt On Covington 3 Cityscape Tiles CRAFT BEER STORE 1 Jungle Jim’s International Market 2 The Party Source 3 Dutch’s COMIC BOOK STORE 1 Queen City Comics and Card Company 2 Comic Book World 3 Everybody’s Records COSTUME SHOP 1 Cappel’s 2 Costume Gallery 3 Talk of the Town DANCE CLASSES 1 Cincinnati Ballet Academy 2 DANCEFIX 3 Arthur Murray DENTAL PRACTICE/CLINIC 1 Vita Dental 2 Cincinnati Dental Services 3 Advance Dentistry

FINANCIAL PLANNING SERVICE 1 Fidelity Investments 2 Edward Jones 3 Charles Schwab FLORIST 1 Adrian Durban Florist 2 Kroger 3 Oberer’s Flowers FRAME SHOP 1 Michaels 2 Frameshop 3 Hobby Lobby FRESH SEAFOOD STORE 1 Jungle Jim’s International Market 2 Keegan’s Seafood 3 Luken’s Poultry, Fish & Seafood FINDLAY MARKET VENDOR 1 Blue Oven Bakery 2 Eli’s BBQ 3 Colonel De Gourmet Herbs & Spices FURNITURE STORE 1 IKEA 2 Furniture Fair 3 Bargains and Buyouts HOME ACCESSORIES STORE 1 HomeGoods 2 Bed Bath & Beyond 3 Elm & Iron LIGHTING STORE 1 IKEA 2 Home Depot 3 Elm & Iron

Best of Cincinnati Awards #1 Outdoor/Patio Dining #1 Pub Food #1 Restaurant for a First Date #1 View From Your Table #1 Neighborhood Restaurant #1 Neighborhood Bar #1 Neighborhood Burger Spot And One of Cincinnati’s Best Restaurants!

2601 West 8th Street Cincinnati, Ohio 45204 513-251-3000 B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  WWW.INCLINEPUBLICHOUSE.COM


GIFTSHOP 1 MiCA 12/v 2 Cincinnati Art Museum 3 Elm & Iron

HOSPITAL 1 Christ Hospital 2 Cincinnati Children’s Hospital 3 Good Samaritan Hospital

PAPERGOOD STORE 1 M. Hopple & Co. 2 Handzy Shop + Studio 3 Poeme

BIRTHING/MATERNITY CENTER 1 Good Samaritan Hospital 2 Christ Hospital 3 Bethesda North Hospital

GROCERY STORE 1 Kroger 2 Jungle Jim’s International Market 3 Findlay Market

HOTEL 1 21c Museum Hotel 2 Hotel Covington 3 Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza

HAIR REMOVAL SERVICE 1 European Wax Center 2 Mitchell’s Salon & Day Spa 3 Woodhouse Day Spa

BED AND BREAKFAST 1 The Clifton House 2 Gaslight Bed & Breakfast 3 Symphony Hotel

HAIR SALON 1 Mitchell’s Salon & Day Spa 2 Salon Lofts 3 Tanya’s Image & Wellness Salon

HVAC COMPANY 1 Apollo Home 2 HELP Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electric 3 Hauser Air

DAY SPA 1 Woodhouse Day Spa 2 Mitchell’s Salon & Day Spa 3 Tanya’s Image & Wellness Salon MANICURE/PEDICURE 1 Deluxe Nails and Spa 2 Ambiance Nail Salon & Spa 3 Katy’s Nails SKIN CARE SERVICE 1 Woodhouse Day Spa 2 Mitchell’s Salon & Day Spa 3 Tanya’s Image & Wellness Salon GREEN/SUSTAINABLE GOODS STORE 1 Findlay Market 2 Jungle Jim’s International Market 3 Clifton Natural Foods

96 | B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8 96  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

CARPET CLEANING 1 Widmer’s Cleaners 2 Stanley Steemer 3 Braxton’s Cleaners CARPET STORE 1 McSwain Carpets & Floors 2 Lowe’s 3 JP Flooring Systems JEWELER 1 Schwartz Jewelers 2 Genesis Diamonds 3 Richter & Phillips LASIK SURGERY CENTER 1 Cincinnati Eye Institute 2 LasikPlus Vision Center 3 Midwest Eye Center

HARDWARE STORE 1 Home Depot 2 Lowe’s 3 Ace Hardware Clifton

LAW FIRM 1 Dinsmore & Shohl 2 Frost, Brown, Todd 3 O’Connor Acciani & Levy

HEALTH FOOD STORE 1 Whole Foods Market 2 Findlay Market 3 Fresh Thyme Farmers Market

LAWYER (INDIVIDUAL) 1 Scott Knox 2 Mike Allan 3 Cara Stewart

PHYSICIAN/HEALTHCARE PRACTICE 1 Christ Hospital 2 Mercy Health Physicians 3 University of Cincinnati Physicians

LINGERIE STORE 1 Victoria’s Secret 2 Knickers of Hyde Park 3 Hustler Hollywood

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  97



Carry Out Only

O P E N M - S U 11A .M.- 9P.M.

1 BBQ, Catering Service, Restaurant for the Bang for your Buck, Neighborhood Restaurant East Side

2 OutdooPatio Dining, Takeout

Cookware Bakeware Kitchen Tools Barware Specializing in US, European, Japanese, and locally made cookware, cutlery, and goods, including: Bosch mixers Bamix hand blenders Cristel cookware system Dansk Købenstyle De Buyer Emile Henry Finex cast iron Fletchers’ Mill JK Adams Joseph Joseph Garnier-Thiebaut linens Global knives Grainwell wood L’Equip RPM Blender Lucca Laser Workshop Mason Cash bowls Messermeister knives Myabi knives Peugeot Mills & Barware Revol porcelain Shun knives Staub enamel cast iron T-B Furtif Evercut knives Wüsthof knives

1824 Elm Street, OTR Cincinnati, OH 45202 513.263.1002

98  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

curated cookware collection

3 Hotdog/Sausage

Gramma Debbie’s Kitchen

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

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.

Great choices for your grill or oven: • Chicken, Turkey, or Lamb Burgers • Marinated Chicken Breasts

Pre-cooked options for quick weekday meals:

• Chicken Meatballs, Chicken Wings, Mac & Cheese

Tasty VEGAN options:

• Vegan Burgers, Vegan Goetta, Vegan Grain Bowls

Think of us for CATERING!

513-421-GRAM (4726)

Located inside Findlay Market at 1801 Race St, Cincinnati, OH 45202




Like us on


Stay tuned for evening programs and events @

Try our award winning Goetta!

Historic Findlay Market 513-721-5743 •

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

We are urban beekeepers providing local honey, beeswax candles and gifts from the hive. Visit us at Findlay Market and at The Chocolate Bee. B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  99

LIQUOR STORE 1 The Party Source 2 Jungle Jim’s International Market 3 DEP’s Fine Wine & Spirits MAGAZINE/NEWSPAPER SELECTION 1 Joseph-Beth Booksellers 2 The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County 3 Barnes & Noble

MASSAGE THERAPY PRACTICE/ CLINIC 1 Woodhouse Day Spa 2 Massage Envy 3 Mitchell’s Salon & Day Spa MOTORCYCLE/MOTORSPORTS DEALER 1 Harley-Davidson of Cincinnati 2 Cycle Specialties 3 Eastgate Harley-Davidson

MALL/SHOPPING CENTER 1 Kenwood Towne Centre 2 Liberty Center 3 Rookwood Commons/Pavilion

MOVING COMPANY 1 Two Men and a Truck 2 All My Sons Moving & Storage 3 D & R Movers

NEIGHBORHOOD SHOPPING DISTRICT 1 Over-the-Rhine 2 Hyde Park Square 3 Ludlow Avenue (Clifton)

MUSICAL INSTRUMENT STORE 1 Willis Music 2 Guitar Center 3 Mike’s Music NURSERY/PLANT STORE 1 Natorp’s 2 White Oak Gardens 3 A.J. Rahn Greenhouses

MARTIAL ARTS STUDIO 1 Club MMA 2 Cincinnati Martial Arts Club 3 Cincinnati Taekwondo Center

OUTDOOR/OUTFITTERS SHOP 1 REI 2 Bass Pro Shops 3 Cabela’s

PET GROOMING 1 Animal Care Centers of Cincinnati 2 PetSmart 3 Bow-Wow Boutique

PAINT STORE 1 Sherwin Williams 2 Home Depot 3 Lowe’s

PET RESCUE/SHELTER 1 Stray Animal Adoption Program (SAAP) 2 SPCA 3 Animal Friends Humane Society

PAWN SHOP 1 Ted’s Pawn 2 American Trading Company 3 Facet Jewelry, Music & Pawn PET ADOPTION SERVICE 1 SPCA 2 Stray Animal Adoption Program (SAAP) 3 Adore-A-Bull Rescue PET BOARDING/DAYCARE 1 Animal Care Centers of Cincinnati 2 PetSuites 3 Red Dog Pet Resort & Spa

PET SUPPLY STORE 1 PetSmart 2 Pet Wants 3 Pet Supplies Plus VETERINARY CARE 1 Animal Care Centers of Cincinnati 2 Noah’s Ark Animal Clinic 3 Grady Veterinary Hospital PIERCING STUDIO 1 Beelistic Tattoo & Piercing 2 Skincraft Piercing & Tattoo 3 Cincinnati Tattoo & Piercing



Thank You CityBeat Readers for voting us

Best Bicycle Shop 18 years in a row!

West Chester

8483 Beechmont Ave. (513) 474-5888


Western Hills

3708 Dixie Hwy. (859) 342-7300

The Bicycle for me is at Montgomery Cyclery! 100 | B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8 100  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8


8975 Cincinnati-Columbus Rd. (513) 779-6767

3301 Westbourne Dr. 513-574-1305


9449 Montgomery Rd. (513) 793-3855


116 Karl Brown Way (513) 583-8600

t Larges f on o selecti the n bikes i st midwe

PLASTIC SURGERY 1 Mandell-Brown Plastic Surgery Center 2 The Plastic Surgery Group 3 Cincinnati Institute of Plastic Surgery PLUMBING COMPANY 1 Zins Plumbing 2 Apollo Home 3 Jolly Plumbing REAL ESTATE/REALTOR OFFICE 1 Sibcy Cline 2 Coldwell Banker/West Shell 3 Comey & Shepherd REALTOR (INDIVIDUAL) 1 Erin Fay 2 Shelby Neumann 3 Molly Eynon and Sara Limper, CBWS SHOE STORE 1 DSW 2 Bob Roncker’s Running Spot 3 Nordstrom

SMOKE/TOBACCO SHOP 1 Hemptations 2 Jungle Jim’s International Market 3 Straus Tobacconist

CONSIGNMENT SHOP 1 Snooty Fox 2 Once Upon A Child 3 Clothes Mentor

SPORTING GOODS 1 Dick’s Sporting Goods 2 Bass Pro Shop 3 REI

VINTAGE CLOTHING STORE 1 Casablanca Vintage 2 Talk of the Town 3 Chicken Lays An Egg

TANNING SALON 1 Palm Beach Tan 2 Planet Fitness 3 Envy Tan

TIRE STORE 1 Tire Discounters 2 AAA | Bob Sumerel Tire & Service 3 Costco

TATTOO SHOP 1 Designs by Dana 2 Beelistic Tattoo & Piercing 3 White Whale Tattoo

TOY STORE 1 King Arthur’s Court Toys 2 Toys R Us 3 Coolest Toys on Earth

TEA SHOP/SELECTION 1 Churchill’s Fine Teas 2 Coffee Emporium 3 Essencha Tea House

TREE SERVICE 1 Acme Tree & Landscape Service 2 Beaver Tree Services 3 Madison Tree Care and Landscaping

THRIFT SHOP 1 Saint Vincent de Paul 2 Valley Thrift Store 3 Goodwill

VAPE SHOP 1 Cincy Vapors 2 Cloud 9 Vapor Lounge 3 Bluegrass Vape

PLACE TO BUY YOUR ENGAGEMENT RING 1 Genesis Diamonds 2 Schwartz Jewelers 3 Richter & Phillips WEDDING CAKES 1 The BonBonerie 2 A Spoon Fulla Sugar 3 Servatii Pastry Shop & Deli WEDDING DRESSES 1 Bridal & Formal 2 David’s Bridal 3 Amanda’s Hyde Park Bridal WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY SERVICE 1 Jessica Wiggins Photography 2 Best Day Ever 3 Eleven:11 WEDDING RECEPTION HALL 1 Receptions 2 Bell Event Centre 3 Drees Pavilion/ The Madison (TIE)


! s u o t e s n e s s e k Ma

6805 Houston Road, Florence, KY 41042 |


drakescomeplay B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8 | 101 B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  101

All Hail the Hippo

After being born six weeks premature on Jan. 24, 2017, Fiona the hippo has become a bona fide celebrity, and not just locally. (Do you know any other hippos with their own Facebook TV shows?) Initially weighing just 29 pounds, the tiny baby who wouldn’t give up inspired the hashtag #TeamFiona — and tons of themed merchandise. After surviving and thriving, the now more than 600-pound, 1-year-old hippo is a media darling, and we still aren’t sick of buying anything and everything with her sassy little face on it. BEST SASSY SPANDEX Comparing your backside to that of a hippo’s is not always a flattering formula, but Cincy Shirts’ “feeling hip” leggings are a cute way to display your #TeamFiona pride. It’s no secret that women have basically stopped wearing real pants — the dressing down of American fashion and the upgrading of yoga pants to normcore “athleisure wear” means ladies just aren’t messing with zippers anymore. Not only are these Fiona leggings comfortable (with 85 percent poly and 15 percent Lycra, they stretch just enough), they’re cute because they’ve got the hippo’s smiling cartoon face and roly, poly body printed all over them. It’s like a local LuLaRoe creation and people can’t get enough. If you tried purchasing a pair around the holidays, you were basically out of luck. The leggings are back in stock and a portion of all proceeds directly benefits the Cincinnati Zoo. They also come in toddler sizes, which are even more adorable. If you aren’t into spandex, there are plenty of other Fiona-focused items for sale including T-shirts, hats, stickers, key chains and a “Totes Adorbs” tote bag. Cincy Shirts, 1435 Main St., Over-the-Rhine; 2709 Observatory Ave., Hyde Park, BEST BIRTHDAY BEER Listermann Brewing Company had the very smart idea of combining two of Cincinnati’s favorite things: local beer and Fiona. Since last summer, Listermann has released several limited-edition brews named after the photogenic cutie including Team Fiona and variants Team Fiona: Bifi, DDH Team Fiona and Team Fiona: Birthday, for her first birthday. The first release of Team Fiona New En-

Photo by 102  |  B E S Mesa T O F C ISerikali N C I N N AT I


gland-style IPA in 2017 had people lining up to grab a coveted four-pack, and the beer did more than give people a buzz: up to 25 percent of Team Fiona beer proceeds went to the Cincinnati Zoo to assist with Fiona’s care. For Fiona’s first birthday, the brewery went bigger with variants Team Fiona: Birthday Edition, a New England-style IPA with citra and centennial hops; DDH Team Fiona, a New England-style IPA with galaxy hops (because “Fiona is out of this world”); and Team Fiona: Bifi, a New England-style IPA brewed with apricot and peaches. Fiona’s face is on each super collectible can — she’s even donning a party hat on the Birthday packaging (there’s an empty can going for $23 on eBay). The zoo series isn’t limited to just Fiona, though — Listermann also brewed a black IPA named after Kendi, the zoo’s new black rhino calf. Listermann Brewing Company, 1621 Dana Ave., Evanston, BEST COVETED KISS To celebrate Fiona’s first birthday, the Cincinnati Zoo gave away a one-of-a-kind painting: Fiona’s kiss. Caretakers gave the hippo some purple paint and helped her plant one on a canvas to create a very unique work of art. The winner grabbed her prize after participating in the zoo’s A.D.O.P.T. program, where you can make a dollar donation that goes to provide food, housing, toys and enrichment activities for your selected animal. Fiona’s kiss was a special gift, but you can A.D.O.P.T. many other animals starting at just $30, from Winsol the baby aardvark to Moe the sloth or Sugar the river otter. Each adopter receives a personalized certificate, coupons for behind-the-scenes experiences and a color photo. If you’re

more interested in the art, the zoo has a solution for that, too. The organization’s elephants and rhinos are particularly gifted in creating custom paintings. Rhino Rembrandts and Brush in Trunk packages include individually painted canvases featuring the colors of your choice (for the elephant experience, you can even opt to watch the animals create your work) and proceeds from sales go directly to the animals’ conservation efforts. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, BEST ORNAMENT THAT GIVES BACK Fun fact: Rookwood Pottery was the first female-owned manufacturing company in the United States (#girlboss). And since the 1880s, it has been producing heritage ceramics, designed and crafted by world-class artisans. The heirloom-minded legacy continues with their Fiona ornament. Designed by Rookwood Art Director Mary Guanciale, this disc features the happily swimming fat, little hippo on the front and the story of her birth and struggle to survive on the back. Twenty percent of each ornament’s proceeds are donated to the Cincinnati Zoo Conservation Fund; a great reason to keep your holiday display up year round. Rookwood also created a limited-edition #TeamFiona mug (only 1,000 were made). In the Rookwood’s classic ceramic-stein style, each was “Fiona approved” and sold out super quickly. Sorry. Rookwood Pottery, 1209 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine,

Staff Picks

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  103

BEST SKATE SHOP WE’LL MISS THAT IS ALSO STILL HERE It was a huge bummer to hear that Galaxie Skateshop was closing its Hamilton Avenue location in Northside this winter — the neighborhood just doesn’t feel complete without a place to scoop up that perfect Thrasher hoodie, some Dennis Busenitz Adidas or a new deck from Cincinnati-based Instrument Skateboards. Luckily, Galaxie’s Northern Kentucky location is still going strong, buttressed by the DIY skatepark underneath an I-471 overpass in nearby Newport that shop owner Gary Collins helped create with the local skateboarding community. Good to know everything Cincinnati’s skaters need is a just a quick kick, push across the Purple People Bridge. Galaxie Skateshop, 625 Monmouth St., Newport,


E AT. SHOP. PL AY! Check out this week’s deals at: CINCINNATI. ALTPERKS.COM Facebook/ T wiT Ter:

@ p e r ko p o l is 104  104 |  | B BE E SS T T O O FF C C II N NC C II N NN N AT AT II 22 00 11 88

BEST UNDER-THE-RADAR LOCAL T-SHIRTS Hard-to-find streetwear is often about rarity as a status symbol — showing you’re hip enough (or willing to pay enough money) for that limited-edition product. But Cincinnati artist Doug Korfhagen’s limited-run, hyper-local shirts are all about love. Korfhagen has immortalized neighborhood landmarks like Clifton Heights’ Thai Express, Northside’s now-closed Autobahn Motorwerks BMW motorcycle shop and others via his beautifully rendered illustrations screenprinted on high-quality tees. And Korfhagen doesn’t just do buildings — we’ve seen a couple shirts floating around featuring Fiona the Hippo drawn in his distinctive style. If you time it right, you can grab a shirt featuring beloved vintage bookstore Duttenhoffer’s from the Clifton Heights store itself. Where can you get the others? You’re on your own there. BEST PLACE TO SEARCH FOR YOUR SNEAKER HOLY GRAIL Cincinnati is blessed with multiple great places to get new kicks — downtown’s Unheardof and Hyde Park/Over-theRhine’s Corporate come to mind. But if you’re looking for those rarest of the rare Yeezys and couldn’t jump in line at 6 a.m. at the shop in Chicago where they were released, The Cure in Walnut Hills is where you need to go. The sneaker reseller caters to hardcore


BEST HANK Nate Hudak, co-owner and artist at Crying Heart Tattoo in Over-theRhine, is incredibly well known for his American Traditional tattoo style, traveling to conventions and doing guest spots at parlors around the world — places like Detroit, Denver, New York City, Barcelona and Cape Town, South Africa. But possibly more well-known than Hudak is his dog, Hank. Hank is a white Dogo Argentino (a sort of mastiff) with a black spot over one eye, adorably droopy jowls and a talent for being extremely laid back. A frequent guest at Crying Heart, the gentle giant (and very good boy) is very much at home lounging on the shop’s vintage velvet settee and admiring works of art — both the Royal Tenenbaums-esque collection of framed finds on the walls or the pieces being inked on customers by his dad and the rest of the Crying Heart team, Dave Halsey and Tyler Abner. If you want a permanent piece of bold, classic flash, this is your parlor. If you want a therapy dog to help you deal with the pain of needles jabbing into your skin, Hank is your dude. And if you want to design your own tattoo, the team excels at working with clients to create a perfect piece of skin art. Well, everyone except Hank. Don’t trust him to do your tattoo, no matter what he says. Crying Heart Tattoo, 1425 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-832-1756.

collectors looking to scoop up scores like the elusive Jordan 6 Pinnacle in blinging gold or Supreme’s T-shirt collaboration with Louis Vuitton. Visit their McMillan Street location for a glimpse at streetwear unobtainium — but bring your credit card if you want to take some home. Prices go into the four figures on some items. The Cure, 961 E. McMillan St., Walnut Hills, facebook. com/thecurecincinnati. BEST MOST ECLECTIC RECORD COLLECTION Though crammed into a snug space, Torn Light Records’ offering of oddities

spans an impressively diverse range of tastes and formats. You’re best heading into the store without a specific purchase in mind — perusing shelves stocked with obscure cassette tapes and shoeboxes of ’90s Emo records is enough to pique any music nerd’s curiosity. Whether you find a Black Metal demo with an impossible-to-read title, an old LP dedicated to recordings of heartbeats, an angsty teenager’s homemade poetry chapbook or an HP Lovecraft paperback, you’ll always leave Torn Light with something unexpected. Make sure to check out the shop’s back room, which boasts a ’zine library and a smattering of risqué

337 Ludlow Ave

Cincinnati, OH 45220


B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  105

Voted Best P awn Shop!

Read us on your phone when you’re at the Family Owned & Operated Sincebar 1970 by yourself. PHOTO: HAILEY BOLLINGER

Monday-Friday 9-6 | Saturday 9-3 | Sunday Closed 2026 Delaware Avenue | Norwood, OH | 513-631-2112 Like us on Facebook!

PB #100101.000



Cincinnati’s Only Hemp Spa, Tea House, and Boutique Massage • Facials • Waxing • detox Sauna Mani/pedi • tea House • Smoothie Bar • Hemp Boutique

942 HatcH St. • Mt adaMS 513-421-8644 • toHiSpa.coM

the all-new


106  106 |  | B BE ES ST T O OF F C C II N NC C II N NN N AT AT II 2 20 01 18 8

BEST PLACE TO FIND VINTAGE LEVIS Reunion Clothiers on Main Street has a classic Americana vibe, with bourbon in the shop’s “living room” area and old-school pennants and stuffed stag heads adorning the walls. The owners themselves, Cale Darrell and Frank Welling, have a similar energy. Between their rugged facial hair, stylishly cuffed jeans and joggers and artistic stick-and-pokestyle tattoos, the store and the duo are completely in sync. The merchandise spans the 1930s to the 1980s, with a large focus on blue-collar workwear and World War II items, made to be indestructible. Find camo jackets, utility shirts, saddlebags, coveralls and plenty of leather, plus covetable goods like Hudson Bay jackets, classic Pendleton pieces and great leather boots. The guys have also created an entire, dreamy wall of perfectly worn-in vintage Levi’s. Find different sizes and finishes to fit fans of 501s, 512s and other classic styles. Reunion Clothiers, 1212 Main St., Over-the-Rhine,

B movies on VHS. Torn Light Records, 406 Fairfield Ave., Bellevue, BEST WAY TO FIND THAT MIDCENTURY MODERN HOME IN CINCINNATI Husband-and-wife team Susan and Arlen Rissover first bonded over something they would eventually go into business in together: their matching Midcentury Modern dorms at the University of Cincinnati. Now, they have a thriving realty business — Cincinnati Modern — based around buying and selling houses that exemplify Midcentury architecture. The realty dream-team boasts a list of credentials, including Susan having co-authored 50 from the 50s: Modern Architecture and Interiors in Cincinnati, and Arlen’s 20 years of experience in the mortgage industry.

And, in 2017, it paid off: they made over $13 million in sales and sold 100 percent of their listings within the original listing periods. Their website also has a “Moderns on the Market” tab where you can peruse the duo’s unique and Midcentury listings — if you’re in the market, looking for design ideas or just bored at work. Cincinnati Modern, BEST WAY TO BRING HOME A PIECE OF THE 21C MUSEUM HOTEL It’s the best way to adorn the inside of your shower with what it’s always been missing — a random tile with a nose protruding from it, of course. Since 2012, Cincinnati’s 21c Museum Hotel has dazzled guests with eclectic contemporary art — both in and outside of the 156 hotel rooms. 21c’s online shop offers a menagerie of












5440 Dixie Hwy., Fairfield



4450 Eastgate South Drive, Cincinnati

the art of being unique

Mon: Closed Tue-Fri: 10-6, Sat: 10-4 and Sun: 12-3 w w w. y o r k v i s i o n k e n w o o d . c o m B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  107


BEST RECLAIMED WOOD WORK Coda Co. home décor shop was started by husband-and-wife duo Tanner and Kelti Ziese as a date-night hobby. Kelti is the softer side of the business, hand weaving macramé wall hangings out of cotton rope — organically attached to driftwood collected from the banks of the Ohio River — while Tanner works with reclaimed bourbon barrels to create a variety of wood furniture and accessories. The boho weavings come in natural cream and fun colors like blue, forest green and pink; while some are purely decorative, there are also functional works of art like plant hangers. Tanner’s regionally sourced barrel lids, staves and ribs make an appearance in bar tables, bottle openers, serving trays and candles holders. Playing on the upcycling commitment, Kelti also makes dog beds, pillows and poofs from reused burlap coffee bean bags. Coda Co., 400 Fairfield Ave., Bellevue,

eclectic home goods, but one stands out from the rest: the infamous Body Part Tiles. Featuring the artisan craftsmanship of Rookwood Pottery, you can now remodel your home to high-art standards with 21c’s very own custom tiles. Available in 3-D nose, lip and eye shapes, each ceramic tile measures 4-inches-by-4-inches, so plan your Home Depot trip accordingly. 21c Museum Hotel, 609 Walnut St., Downtown, cincinnati. BEST CUSTOM T-SHIRTS BATTLING HUMAN TRAFFICKING If you live in extreme poverty, falling into the human trafficking trade is easy; escaping is not. India-based apparel company Freeset is breaking the cycle of generational poverty and sexual exploitation by offering survivors a way 108  ||  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8 108

out through employment. Along with providing counseling, childcare and financial planning services, Freeset trains workers to sew (with 100 percent organic cotton) and screen print (with eco-friendly inks). Cincinnati-based nonprofit Freeset USA distributes these fair-trade products to individuals and organizations throughout the U.S. If you’re out of closet space, they also accept grants and donations. Freeset USA, BEST COLLEGE DROPOUT STORY Despite the popular notion that English majors usually take up permanent residence in their parents’ basements, Katie Trauth Taylor achieved the closest thing to financial stability one can hope for these days: a tenure-track professorship. But she quit! In the name of public intellectualism, Trauth Taylor

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  109

launched Untold Content, a writing consultancy firm that offers expert research and technical and marketing content writing services to innovators across all fields. At a time when the POTUS has made discrediting information a top priority, the Untold team is writing for common ground and bridging the gap between expert knowledge and public accessibility. Untold Content, 3716 Montgomery Road, Norwood, BEST APPAREL APP TO HELP YOU GET DRESSED Getting dressed in a consumer culture isn’t easy. Fashion has become more about signaling that we can afford to keep up with trends than expressing personal style. Cincinnatian Blake Smith put these pieces together a few years back, wasn’t having it and eventually created Cladwell, a stylist app that spits out daily outfits based on what’s in your closet. The idea is to use Cladwell as a tool to create more space and time in your life for authenticity and things that matter — which aren’t “things.” Bonus: The app never misses on the day’s weather. Cladwell, 120 E. Eighth St., Downtown, BEST STREETWEAR STORE Corporate’s OTR location stocks tasteful streetwear, specializing in pastel-toned shoes and a range of fits that bridge skate fashion with Hip Hop. Liven up your own visual palette just in time for spring with Golf La Fleur x Converse collabs, Saucony sneakers and the store’s in-house creations like their pink and maroon “Go-Corporate” T-shirts. Brave souls will grab a pair of heavily insulated tangerine slippers made by Publish and The North Face. Follow @corporategotem on Instagram for frequent updates on shoes arriving in store. Corporate, 2643 Erie Ave., Hyde Park; 1323 Vine St., Over-theRhine, BEST BFF EXPANSION Designer Rosie Kovacs and woodworker Hayes Shanesy started the Brush Factory in 2009 as a way to create well-crafted and high-quality goods. Since then, the duo has amplified their mission to include building modern furniture and other items with care and precision using “traditional joinery and 110  110 | | BBEESSTT OOFF CCI N I NCCI N I NNNAT ATI I 22001188

solid wood construction.” They have their own line of sustainably harvested wood furniture — bff tables and desks, named after their own BFFs — and have created custom solutions for restaurants, boutiques and start-ups across the city. Their OTR storefront opened in 2016 as part of a brand expansion after winning a $20,000 ArtWorks Big Pitch grant in 2015. The shop carries items from hip design houses and traditional makers, both local and not. There are vintage Kilim rugs, local CG Ceramics dishware, Redecker household brushes and small goods like the Brush Factory’s handturned wooden candlesticks. Brush Factory, 1417 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, PHOTO: HAILEY BOLLINGER

BEST PLACE TO FIND WILD PANTS AND WARM SMILES The art of thrifting demands patience, but a little less so at Julie’s Inspiration Consignment Shoppe, where you’ll find a wide selection of vintage items dating from the 1920s-1980s, along with modern men’s and women’s apparel, jewelry, art, collectibles and fair-trade soaps. The fabulous coats and bold jewelry are reason enough to stop by, but the at-home feel Julie and her husband bring to the space is as rare as their collections. Located in the heart of Covington’s historic MainStrasse Village, Julie’s is surrounded by independent eateries, bars, a yoga studio that offers classes with cats (aka The Flying Cat) and beyond. Julie’s Inspiration Consignment Shoppe, 608 Main St., Covington, juliesinspiration. com. BEST CANDLE-MAKING CLASSES Manitou Candle Co. crafts small-batch and hand-poured candles made from soy wax with packaging that’s classic yet distinctly modern. Scents are broad and ever-changing, whether you want hints of lemon cedarwood musk, lavender or a floral scent, they strive to help you find what makes you feel at home and at rest. Grab a friend or two (or a whole handful), book a DIY workshop, slip on an apron and make the candle of your dreams. Workshops and classes are held Wednesdays through Sundays (and are BYOB). It’s a perfect place to host a bridal or baby shower. Manitou Candle Co., 4015 Eastern Ave., Columbia Tusculum,

BEST PLACE TO BUY THE ODD AND THE CURIOUS Local design/lifestyle store and studio HighStreet set up shop at the intersection of Over-the-Rhine, Pendleton and Mount Auburn in 2006. In the past 10-plus years, the design hub has doubled in size, incorporating a furniture store and studio for commercial and residential design projects. While the shop boasts an impressive selection of eclectic interiors, hard-to-find books and magazines, men’s and women’s apparel and bath and body goods, its charm also comes from the owners’ ability to collect and curate exceptional oddities and artful curiosities. Spending time exploring the nooks and crannies of the shop is extremely rewarding. You may discover a bowl of antique prosthetic teeth, a stuffed jackalope head, vintage locks, 18th-century French mouthwash, an existential coloring book, beetle paperweights and other magical and macabre magnificence. HighStreet, 1401 Reading Road, Downtown, 513-723-1901,

BEST ANYWHERE, ANYTHING, EVERYDAY SOCKS Jumper — a locally based company founded by a former Army Ranger and an outdoor apparel designer — specializes in functional and fashionable apparel; clothing that works for you and looks good. The venture started with their signature undershirt, which never comes untucked and eliminates “underfrump.” Then they expanded into hoodies, sweatpants (the most crowdfunded athletic jogger production ever) and gear like the Jumper Labs action jacket. Where they also kill it? Accessories. Particularly their performance socks, described as a “work, play, do everything sock.” These comfy toe-coverers come in funky and laid-back colors to fit any personality. Want stand-out socks? Get ’em striped in bright reds, oranges and blues. Not feeling a statement? They have grey,

white and black stripes that are low-key enough for workwear. Either way, the socks are suited for long hikes (made from breathable material), biking (they’re moisture-wicking), bar-crawling (lose your shoes? No slip grip) and just chillin’ on the couch. Jumper Threads, BEST REFLECTION PERFECTION Designer Shailah Maynard, the mind behind the locally based Working Girls Co. art and design brand, specializes in creating tongue-in-cheek modern products with a feminist lean, from “Femme” muscle tanks and Murder She Wrote shirts to crew socks with film titles like 9 to 5 screen-printed on them and pool floats that look like boobs. Working Girls has also started making a line of really fun mirrors. The shapes play with the concept of “voguing,” the

Citadel_BestOfCincy Ad_alt.pdf

Entertain, Educate and Inspire w w w. e v e n t e n t e r p r i s e s . c o m



1:19 PM

Working with the Best of the Best of Cincinnati.

w w w. e v e n te n te r p r i s e s . c o m

Working with the Best of the Best of Cincinnati.

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  111

dance movement that originated in the LGBTQ community in Harlem, N.Y. in the 1980s (chronicled in the iconic documentary Paris Is Burning) and was made mainstream by 1990s Madonna. The mirrors feature a face with hands in different vogue positions to give you an extra dose of fierce as you check your look before you leave the house. “We don’t have any specific requirements on what type of products we make, as long as we have fun designing/making them,” Maynard says. “I’m not that serious of a person and neither is my company. ...Have some humility, have fun and make me laugh.” Working Girls Co., BEST OLD SKOOL KICKBACKS FOR ’90S KIDS Revel in nostalgia that you may or may not have experienced at RAD OTR, a vintage shop that — as the word “rad” suggests — specializes in items from the 1970s to the 1990s, with a focus on street style, fluorescents and anything the characters in Space Jam might have worn. Grab an ironic windbreaker and pair it with a T-shirt of your fave throwback sitcom; shout-out to Seinfeld. With RAD, you can dress like a hipster doofus as much as your Kramer-esque instincts desire. They also carry brands like Supreme and Bape and have a collection of retro Jordans, Nikes and Adidas for all you sneaker freaks out there. RAD OTR, 1315 Main St., Over-the-Rhine,

BEST ECLECTIC ADORNMENTS Rustic meets modern with Suzanne Applebaum Jewelry’s collection of ever-growing contemporary work. Inspired by Art Deco symmetry, ancient Egyptian jewelry and Western wear, she doesn’t necessarily follow trends as much as make them. All of her jewelry is made by hand and incorporates elements ranging from metal, rope and leather to horsehair, bullet casings and vintage chains. Metal items and accents are handcut and formed from sheet, then hammered, polished, soldered and stamped accordingly. Other items, like horsehair earrings, are handwrapped so shoppers can pick different color combos. She even offers exclusive items made from antique and vintage discoveries. Suzanne Applebaum Jewerlry, 112 | | BBEESSTT OOFF CCI INNCCI INNNNAT ATI I 22001188 112 

BEST PLACE FOR SELFCARE AND SKINCARE Nix your facewash and makeup with harsh chemicals and opt for Cypress Skin & Beauty’s line of clay-based treatments. Founded by Nia Baucke to promote skincare as self-care, Cypress offers a line of all natural elixirs, masks and exfoliants meant to help you take control of your “me time.” In addition to her small-batch products, Baucke hosts DIY beauty classes, offers tips and tricks on Cypress’ social media and provides a “clean beauty swap” service. For $15, you can learn how to transition to a non-toxic, cruelty-free and environmentally friendly skincare routine based on your specific beauty goals. Cypress Skin & Beauty, BEST LINGERIE THAT’S BOTH CLASSY AND SEXY Knickers of Hyde Park is a haven for lingerie lovers. Since 1999, the boutique has made it its mission to make women feel confident and beautiful. Some selections are more sensual and simple, others more risqué and XXX sexy — be it a cute bralette, some “afterdark” props, classy af robes or bra-sized swimwear (a godsend for busty babes). Either way, they’re designed for women of all kinds, whatever their desires may be. Bonus: there’s a plus-size section so every woman can feel sexy, as we all deserve. Knicker’s of Hyde Park, 2726 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, BEST PLACE TO GET YOUR NERD ON If you’re like us, there’s nothing quite as intoxicating as the smell of old books — especially when those books are about our favorite city in the world. Downtown’s five-floor Ohio Book Store is a great place to peruse old city planning documents or publications about Cincinnati’s original streetcars. While its selection of historic local books is second-to-none, the store’s charms don’t stop there. Take a trip up to the top floor of the Main Street building and scope out the truly enormous wall of National Geographic magazines, or go down into the basement and browse sci-fi novels and obscure books about industry. As you leave, shed a tear for another piece of Cincinnati history — the now-demolished Denni-



B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  113



Thank you,

we are honored to be named #1 HVAC #2 For Plumbling Fo Cincinnati Our customers and associates are the key to our success! Every minute of the day, every day of the week, every week of the year our associates deliver a winning experience for our customers.

A Win Win!

son Hotel used to sit right next door. Ohio Book Store, 726 Main St., Downtown,

513-299-7955 HEATING



114 114  ||  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8


BEST NEW MUSIC HUB With the rebirth of Over-the-Rhine and downtown, it seemed likely that the city’s central districts would finally get a music store that sold instruments and gear. But few could imagine it would be as cool/great as Herzog Music, a truly multi-dimensional shop that offers much more than guitars, strings and amps. Along with those supplies (provided by longtime area favorite Mike’s Music), Herzog has a nice selection of used vinyl records, offers repairs and lessons and also presents a wide array of events, from in-store performances by local and touring artists to workshops (Heartless Bastards’ Erika Wennerstrom hosted a songwriting clinic, for example) and other special presentations. The more-than-a-store was the brainchild of a collective of local music lovers with an appreciation for Cincinnati’s music history. They partnered with the Cincinnati Music Heritage Foundation, which is headquartered in the same building on the floor where the historic Herzog recording studio operated decades ago — a place where Hank Williams, Bull Moose Jackson and Flatt & Scruggs once recorded seminal music. Herzog Music, 811 Race St., Downtown,


BEST SUBURBAN BOOK STORE It’s good to see a suburban bookshop, period. But it’s especially good to see one with a literary bent that isn’t solely dedicated to children’s books, religious books, business books and knickknacks. The Book Shelf in Madeira is that kind of store. Though not large, it’s big enough (and takes its mission seriously enough) to display the most important fiction and non-fiction new releases and has attractive, wellstocked shelves for older books. It does

an especially good job at remembering to carry local authors with national publishers, like Leah Stewart (What You Don’t Know About Charlie Outlaw) or RJ Smith (American Witness), and hosts a book club. It is, in short, the kind of quality neighborhood independent bookshop you figured disappeared amid big-box retailers and Amazon. It hasn’t. The Bookshelf, 7754 Camargo Road, Madeira, cincybookshelf. BEST FAMILY CLOTHING STORE Mike & Carol Trotta’s bright, cheerful custom clothing and ladies’ fine apparel business (which also has tailoring

20713 Rivercenter_BestOfCincy.pdf



1:18 PM


50 E. RiverCenter Blvd, Covington, KY 41011 B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  115

services) is the kind of independently owned establishment that gives downtown its personality and soul. It is also a living link to the city’s history. Mike Trotta started it in 1936; his son Mike works there today and is a superb tailor. Mike’s sister, Carol, joined in 1991 after a career at Gidding Jenny, bringing her knowledge of classy, stylish women’s apparel with her. It’s a vital modern business but also in touch with its (and our) past — a clock from the old WSAI radio station, where the store once advertised, is on a wall. Mike & Carol Trotta, 406 Walnut St., Downtown,

the cost of new. The constantly changing merchandise selection includes antique doors and windows, funky Atomic Age-colored sinks and toilets, vintage ranges and even authentic clawfoot tubs. If you want to retrofit your bathroom with all millennial pink accessories, this is the place to do it. And besides doing good by reusing and recycling old materials, Building Value is also a funnel to benefit the Easterseals, which is committed to breaking down barriers to employment for people with disabilities. Building Value, 4040 Spring Grove Ave., Northside,

BEST BEHIND-THE-SCENES STRINGS OF FEMALE ENTREPRENEURSHIP The female-centered business incubator Bad Girl Ventures underwent a makeover last year, changing its name to Aviatra Accelerators, but they haven’t strayed far from their mission of helping female entrepreneurs succeed in the commercial arena. From bridal shops to architecture firms to fitness centers, the Aviatra team utilizes their business backgrounds to connect startup dreamers with low-interest loans and nurture the development of some of Cincinnati’s most beloved and unique women-owned shops. The warm and fuzzies we feel exploring independent storefronts are due in part to services like Aviatra, so thanks! Aviatra Headquarters, 114 West Pike St., Covington,

BEST SMALL-BATCH BOURBON In early November, Northside Distilling Co. released a limited 500-bottle run of its debut white label bourbon whiskey. Already well known for its award-winning corn-based vodka, this first batch of bourbon was aged for about two years in the company’s Northside rickhouse (a 100-year-old former horse barn) in small, charred-oak barrels to produce a faster maturation of the spirit. This high-rye blend has a soft, rounded taste with a spicy, nutty finish, says master distiller Chris Courts, and is reportedly one of the first whiskeys distilled and barreled in downtown Cincinnati since Prohibition. Visit the distillery’s tasting room for drinks and tours and stay tuned for a single barrel black label bourbon release. Northside Distilling Co., 922 Race St., Downtown,

BEST SUBSTITUTE FOR COMMUNITY NEWSLETTERS While the selection of inspirational reads, fair-trade coffee and reliable WiFi (not to mention the cushy couches) are hard to beat at Roebling Point Books & Coffee in Covington, you can rest assured that each visit comes with lingering conversations about someone’s education initiative, creative frustrations or even pregnancy news. Of course, there are quiet nooks to drown out the neighborhood happenings and focus, but in an age of relentlessly plugging into our headphones and Instagram feeds, isn’t it refreshing to order our espressos with a side of local hopes, dreams and gossip? Roebling Point Books & Coffee, 306 Greenup St., Covington, 116  116 | | BBEESSTT OOFF CCI N I NCCI N I NNNAT ATI I 22001188


BEST OFFICE CHAIR OASIS Over the past 70 years, Algin Office has transitioned from a typewriter, gun and resale shop to a seven-floor warehouse that sells used office and residential furniture. The street-level first floor has a display of new and contemporary desks and seating for sale, but if you dare to explore the upper floors, that’s when things take an exciting turn. Maintaining its bare-bones industrial appeal, the wide-open warehouse has floors dedicated to chairs, desks and other supplies, including a filing cabinet fantasy land in the basement. Law firms, Hamilton County Courts and other businesses have sourced from the well-priced inventory, but if you’re looking for a special industrial-vintage flair for your own home office, it’s a perfect place to dig. Things aren’t displayed like at a typical store, so it’s best to wander and peek into every corner to see what treasure you can uncover. There are desks and chairs in styles that range from Danish Modern to ’80s executive and fake architecture firm to suburban1970s high school. There are old metal card catalogs, horizontal filing cabinets to store art and posters and a randomly placed Urban Timber workshop on the third or fourth floor that creates custom and live-edge wood tables and countertops. Algin Retro Furniture next door is an extension of the shop with vintage- and Midcentury-inspired new home furnishings. Algin Office, 800 Main St., Downtown, alginoffice. com.

BEST CHANCE OF UNLOCKING CHILDHOOD MEMORIES Wander around Findlay Market long enough and you’ll probably wind up in Karen and Bill Buss’ storefront, Ida Candles. Filled with scents that take you back to Grandma’s breakfasts and Saturday morning chores, they also carry handmade soaps and graphic-print aprons and totes. The couple started experimenting with candle making near the end of their stint living in northern California, but eventually brought the smells of banana nut bread, fresh linen and jasmine orchid back to Northern Kentucky. Psycholo-

gists believe smell is more closely linked with memory than sight, taste, touch or sound, which makes it extra nifty that the Buss’ candles (user-tested) burn strong from first hour to last. Sigh, the joy of holding on. Ida Candles, 124 W. Elder, Over-the-Rhine, idacandles. com. BEST PLACE TO FIND A PINK SINK At Building Value, remodelers donate used or leftover building materials to the nonprofit, which resells these materials to the public at a deeply discounted rate; prices are often a third

BEST SQUIGGLY CERAMICS CK_TC Ceramics is a local design studio that offers peculiarly shaped pottery, including signature pieces like patterned pots and vessels adorned with color-gradient squiggles. Owners and ceramicists Colin Klimesh and Taylor Carter merge digital methods with traditional tools, using state-of-theart 3-D modeling programs while handcrafting clays and glazes in-house — a process Klimesh says creates unique and high-quality pieces that will stand the test of time. Clay from items that don’t meet quality standards is reclaimed and reused for future creations and all by-products are recycled. And the ceramics that make the grade become excellent and eclectic home décor. CK_TC Ceramics,




#1 in Veterinary Care #1 in GroominG serViCes #1 in BoardinG & dayCare serViCes Family Operated • established in 1980

Create Something Amazing Today!

• Global & Ethically Traded • Fine Fabric • Beautiful Yarn • Hand-crafted Gifts • Beginner & Advanced Classes THANK YOU CINCINNATI AND OUR CREATIVE COMMUNITY FOR VOTING US ONE OF THE BEST

ARTS & CRAFTS CLASSES! 6106 Hamilton Avenue Cincinnati, OH 45224

513.541.3700 •


B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  117

P H O T O : B R I T TA N Y T H O R N T O N

BEST ARTFUL COOKWARE SHOP Brad and Karen Hughes opened their Artichoke storefront down the street from Findlay Market in order to offer marketgoers a convenient destination to purchase cookware. From basics and classics to unique and colorful pieces, a stroll through the shop feels as special as a stop at Paris’ E.Dehillerin (except Artichoke is infinitely more organized). With a light display wall and a curated collection of Mason Cash mixing bowls (as seen on The Great British Baking Show), Dansk Kobenstyle Midcentury pots, the whimsical REVOL French chicken roaster… in the shape of a chicken, exclusive trivets from Rookwood Pottery and more, you’ll find all the tools you need to throw down in the kitchen like you’re an Iron Chef. The shop’s artful feel was enhanced in October when their building was painted with a Lichtenstein-looking Pop Art mural by street artist D*Face as part of BLINK. Artichoke, 1824 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine,

BEST POP-UP WE WISH WAS PERMANENT University of Cincinnati environmental studies student Lindsey Zinno founded The Northern Market when she was just 17. Now, she juggles her rapidly expanding fiber art and homegoods business with her college courses, and recently oversaw a short-term collaboration with The Native One clothing shop. The pop-up took over the former Indigo Hippo space on Main Street from early December to March with a collection of budget-friendly new and vintage fashion-forward clothing, as well as Zinno’s curated line of simple, structural and functional pieces made from natural cotton rope — everything from trivets, baskets and cat beds to yoga bags and backpacks. The Northern Market has caught the attention of stockists across the U.S. and in Europe, including locals like Deerhaus Decor 118  ||  B BE ES ST T O OF F C C II N NC C II N NN N AT AT II 2 20 01 18 8 118

and Brush Factory. Pieces are machine sewn from a single, continuous piece of rope and manipulated into different shapes and forms. A favorite? Her sustainably and naturally dyed backpacks, which feature a single-rope body with two adjustable straps and handles to create a durable carry-all. An influencer in the reemergence of the rope-sewing trend, Zinno recently filmed a two-part series called Rope Sewing Reinvented for PBS’ Sewing with Nancy. The Northern Market, BEST APPALACHIAN ALCHEMY Emily Little first launched her line of soaps and body products as “Little Organics,” with a focus on herbal medicine, informed and filtered through her Appalachian heritage. Now, almost a decade old, Little

Clifton • Harpers Blue Ash

513-221-ROSE Thank You CityBeat Readers for Voting Us Best Florist in Cincinnati!

Visit Our Website: Earn Points Online! Cincinnati gift Baskets, too!

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  119

Organics is Queen City Alchemy, a high-end locally made holistic skincare line featuring soaps, serums, balms, deodorants and other botanicals crafted using non-toxic, compassionate and therapeutic ingredients. There are no dyes, no fillers, no parabens and no sulfates. The line is certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny and part of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics from the Breast Cancer Prevention Partners. Find Little’s 40-some-odd products in her new community-focused Fort Thomas storefront, Vitae Viride, which also carries a curated collection of pieces from other local makers. Vitae Viride, 118 N. Fort Thomas Ave., Fort Thomas, BEST REASON TO FLY OUT OF CVG Cincinnati’s airport doesn’t always offer the least expensive flights, prompting some locals to drive as far as Columbus or Louisville to save some dough. But the airport’s low-cost carriers like Allegiant Air, Frontier Airlines and now Southwest have been driving down the average prices at CVG. And soon, if you want to get to Reykjavik for less than the cost of a nice pair of shoes, you can with WOW air. The Icelandic airline will start service in Cincy in May, connecting us to about a dozen destinations in Europe — London, Paris, Amsterdam and Dublin — for less than $150 each way. Currently, the only direct flight to Europe out of CVG is a (generally pretty expensive) Delta flight to Paris. Most budget airlines keep costs low by cutting certain perks like free snacks, baggage and seat selection and WOW is no exception: It’s a no-frills carrier that allows one small personal item (purse, laptop, etc.), and charges for other carry-ons and checked bags. So if you’re traveling alone with zero luggage to London, WOW can save you some money…and a drive. With all the cash you’re saving, you can just buy clothes when you get to your destination. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, 3087 Terminal Drive, Hebron, BEST REASON TO FLY OUT OF LUNKEN AIRPORT Lunken Airport is a pretty cool place. The private/corporate/charter aviation hub is housed in a historic Art Deco building and has its own restaurant, the Sky Galley, where patrons can grab a 120  120 | | BBEESSTT OOFF CCI N I NCCI N I NNNAT ATI I 22001188

responsible” sewn products. The Sew Valley studio, housed in the National Flag Co. building in the West End, provides the equipment, space and other services — ranging from contracted small-batch production and assembling to fittings and sourcing — to turn an idea into a reality. That means you can make a prototype in Cincinnati, without outsourcing overseas. The not-for-profit operates on a membership basis, with two options: you can pay to have Sew Valley make your product for you or you can rent their machines by the hour and make them yourself. The team is also hiring sewers, pattern makers and technicians on a contract basis if you want to help entrepreneurs bring their dreams to life. Sew Valley, 1010 Hulbert Ave., West End, PHOTO: HAILEY BOLLINGER

BEST BESPOKE MENSWEAR (FOR WOMEN, TOO) Romualdo bespoke tailoring has been offering handcrafted menswear since 1968. With the mission of delivering one-of-a-kind, quality garments, Romualdo Pelle, an Italian immigrant now in his 80s, became a go-to designer and tailor for the local elite. The store, which has a bit of a men’s club vibe, has a library of more than 10,000 fabrics from luxury and world-renowned mills from which to build a custom suit. Garments are made from scratch, patterned, cut and sewn to your exact measurements. Pelle’s legacy is carried on by new owners Tim Brock and Chris Berre (Berre is a founder of local Artfully Disheveled fanciful mens’ accessories company), who have added a focus on crafting menswear for women. Now, ladies can have the same suiting experience, going to the store to design bespoke jackets, shirts and pants. Get measured, pick out your favorite fabric, liner and details and then wait four to eight weeks for your perfectly proportioned outfit arrive. Romualdo, 7121 Miami Ave., Madeira,

burger and a beer while watching planes take off and land. It’s also where Charles Lindbergh landed the Spirit of St. Louis for a visit, three months after his famous flight to Paris, and The Beatles disembarked before their 1964 show at Cincinnati Gardens. The airport has seen plenty of presidents and dignitaries (including President Trump in February) and if you want to feel that fancy, book a flight on Ultimate Air Shuttle, a public charter flight that seems like a private jet. The shuttle service runs between Cincy and New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C. It’s basically balling on a budget with VIP amenities, no baggage fees, no long security lines and free food, drinks and alcohol, including beers from Rhinegeist and Braxton.

Ultimate Air Shuttle, Lunken Airport, 262 Wilmer Ave., East End, BEST FRIEND TO THE FASHION COMMUNITY Sew Valley is a new enterprise created by two local entrepreneurs: Rosie Kovacs, co-founder of Brush Factory furniture and homegoods boutique, and Shailah Maynard, owner/designer of Working Girls Co. clothing and accessories brand. As professionals with experience in the fashion industry, they saw a gap in the local production scene and decided to fill it with a community workshop that provides the resources and technology for members to build “scalable, sustainable and

BEST HUMAN-APPROVED SHAKEAND-BAKE DOG TREATS These days people tend to feed their pets better than themselves — a trend that has expanded into high-end dog treats. Human-grade beef jerky! Iced cookies! Freeze-dried fish! Pupcakes! Whisk & Wag is a local, family-owned company that combines humans’ need to nurture with their obsession with buying fancy treats by offering dog bone baking mixes — think Bisquick but for pups — that come in flavors like cheddar and herb, honey and oats and apple and cinnamon. Just add water, oil and bake. You feel like you made homemade biscuits (because you did) and your dog feels like you’re sneaking them table scraps. While these are not actually for human consumption, we baked the cheddar and herb mix (very easy) and made our interns try them. Their report: two thumbs up. Our favorite review? “It tastes like Italy — what I imagine Italy tastes like.” Whisk & Wag: the treat mix for pups with a sophisticated palate. Whisk & Wag, BEST SHOP CAT EarthWise Pet all-natural pet nutrition market and spa has food, supplies, grooming and accessories for green-leaning furry family members and their humans. Part of a national 40-year-old chain but independently owned, EarthWise frequently works with local cat rescues — specifically Cincinnati Cats, a special needs and

VOTED BEST SMOKE SHOP! NORTHSIDE 4179 Hamilton Ave. 513-569-0420 O’BRYONVILLE 2034 Madison Rd. 513-871-HEMP SHARONVILLE 11353 Lebanon Rd. 513-524-HEMP DAYTON 548 Wilmington Ave. 937-991-1015

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  121


BEST CHILI PASSPORT 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 overseen by designers/co-owner Suzy King and Brittney Braemer. The two best friends met in design school and opened their Covington storefront in July 2016, offering the cutest darn assortment of greeting cards, T-shirts, totes, lapel pins, patches and local giftables, including the Cincinnati Chili Passport. Created by designer Lindsey Gauggel, with the help of Brittney and her husband Sean. The passport is adorable and informative, with deconstructed illustrations of coneys and ways, the history of Cincinnati chili, tips and tricks to eat “chili like a local” and details about 11 must-visit parlors. Take notes about the taste, experience and how it made you feel right after you ate it… and how it made you feel later. Each passport is printed and hand-stamped and available to ship or for pick up at Handzy. Handzy, 15 W. Pike St., Covington,,

AVRIL-BLEH & SONS MEAT MARKET 33 East Court Street, Cincinnati, oh 45202 513.241.2433 •

voted best butcher shop

122  122 |  | B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

at-risk shelter — to house and socialize adoptable felines in their Cat Room. One of the cats not up for adoption? Gary. Gary was rescued in 2014 by the Ohio Alleycat Resource & Spay/Neuter Clinic and came to EarthWise to spend time in the Cat Room while he looked for his forever home — but it was quickly apparent he was already there. Gary has Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, or FIV: an incurable, slow-acting disease that weakens the immune system and makes a cat particularly susceptible to illnesses. But Gary is living his best life, eating (too many) treats, advocating the “adopt-don’tshop” mentality and proving that FIV-positive cats are capable of leading a completely normal and happy life. Come say hi to Gary — and his fashionable collection of bow ties — while

stocking up on raw and organic eats, eco cleaning supplies and localish products like Canine Correct Table Food for Dogs. EarthWise Pet, 11328 Montgomery Road, Haper’s Point, BEST BLOCK FOR MUSIC MAKERS The resurgence and mainstream popularity of vinyl records has led to an influx of independent record stores in Cincinnati, including MetaModern Music, one of the latest additions to the city’s growing vinyl scene. It offers new and used records from all genres and for all levels of collectors, plus bootleg cassettes, slip mats, T-shirts, incense and plenty of Grateful Dead merch. If you’re interested in making your own music, just down the block DHR Guitar





COME IN FOR A TEST RIDE 5 1 3 -6 4 1 -1 1 8 8 1 7 9 9 TENNESSEE AVENUE CINCINNATI OH 4 5 2 2 9


|  123

Experience sells high-end American-made equipment: vintage guitars for both lefties and right-handed players, archtop and flattop solid body guitars, amps and more. MetaModern Music, 2942 Markbreit Ave., Oakley,; DHR Guitar Experience, 3092 Madison Road, Oakley, BEST PLACE TO BUY A PLANTER Located in a converted gas station, Fern offers minimal, modern and nature-inspired items. Find a carefully curated selection of unique handthrown pottery, apothecary items, P.F. Candle Co. goodies, artsy plant publications and more, along with a curated assortment of beautiful, thriving plants — including shop-made kokedamas (Japanese-style moss balls), air plants and the hippest plant of the moment: pilea peperomioides. The “design and flora” shop was also the only independent shop listed on the TODAY Show’s list of the “7 best places to buy planters for your home.” The list-making planters include those from local ceramicists, Uashmama bags and bowls with wood stands. In addition to buying, you can also do some learning: Recurring classes cover pursuits like floral arranging, calligraphy and watercolors. Fern, 6040 Hamilton Ave., North College Hill,







*9AM-11AM for 12 & younger only

Read us on your phone when you’re at the bar by yourself. the all-new


124 |  | BBEESSTT O OFF C CIIN NC CIIN NN NAT ATII 22001188 124 

BEST HIP HOSTESS GIFT DESTINATION Over-the-Rhine boutique MiCA 12/v has been holding down the city’s hippest corner at 12th and Vine streets since before it was cool. Mike and Carolyn Deininger first started selling as MiCA in a small space in O’Bryonville in 2003 before presciently moving into their current location in OTR in 2007. The indie boutique and art gallery features an awesomely extensive collection of locally made goods, plus design-forward homegoods, accessories, clothing, cards and toys. Find Charley Harper glassware, wooden animal clocks, Matt & Nat vegan leather bags, Cincy-themed T-shirts, printed pillows, funny metal flasks, goetta pig prints and so much more. It’s the one-stop-shop to find a gift for anyone on your list. Going to a baby shower? Grab a printed kerchief bib. Birthday party? How about an area code necklace? Dinner party? Almost

anything in the store is an acceptable and amazing hostess gift. Really. MiCA 12/v, 1201 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, BEST STORE WITH A REALLY LONG NAME TMBTITWI, aka The Most Beautiful Thing in the World Is, is a concept boutique in OTR, helmed by a world-traveler with an eye for form and a passion for fashion. Carrington Warner Broerman, a former art buyer in New York City, has created an intimate and exciting shop with a collection of storied clothing, jewelry and homegoods inspired by her globe-trotting. Curated like a modern and thoughtful interactive gallery, you can expect something new each time you stop to shop. Statement jewelry pieces run the gamut between geometric resin earrings and sculptural metal bracelets with faces on them to simple mixed-metal hair clips. Clothing isn’t geared to just one size or age group. You’ll find an Opening Ceremony trench next to white Reike Nen mules next to a geometric silk kimono top next to a red macramé handbag. TMBTITWI sells creations that can act as a visual way to manifest your personality. Each item feels special and specific and imparts a very real sense of style. TMBTITWI, 6 W. 12th St., Overthe-Rhine, BEST PLACE TO PREVENT HEART FAILURE Did you know the cardiovascular system of a person in distress looks identical to that of a lifelong smoker? Considering that it’s normal to lead a hectic life, we should be more stressed about our stress! While there are many avenues for slowing down and smelling the roses, Troy Bronsink has set out to make it a community affair by founding The Hive, a social nonprofit seeking to “develop creative, compassionate and mindfully engaged citizens in the Cincinnati region” through classes like Reclaiming Your Voice: Yoga, Mediation, and Writing and Creating a Trauma-Informed Classroom. The Hive also offers retreats, events and personal sessions in their efforts to protect the pleasures in life. The Hive, 1662 Blue Rock St., Northside,

WE SPECIALIZE IN: All Types of Nail Enhancements Manicure/Pedicure • Shellac Gel Polish WE ALSO OFFER: Facials • Waxing


10% Discount for Groups of 6 or More



LARGE PRIVATE AREA FOR GROUP PARTIES Corporate Events • Bridal Parties • Birthday Parties


$5 OFF
















Good only with coupon. Not good with other offers or discounts.







ANY $25 OR MORE SERVICE Expires 5/25/2018

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  125

BEST LITERARY-MINDED MIGRATION Longtime children’s bookstore Blue Manatee made the move from its flagship Oakley location, where it’s been since 1989, to a more streamlined space down the street, taking with it its famous wall of artwork and autographs from visiting authors and illustrators. The new, intimate space promises “a truly unique, magical space for children and their grownups,” with a renewed focus on younger children’s books, Montessori-style learning and publishing. The cozy and colorful space promotes creativity with frequently held activities ranging from arts and crafts to meet-and-greets with popular authors and story times for babies, tots and Spanish speakers/learners. It’s a great way to show kiddos how to support local the right way as they take a tour through their imaginations in a space brushed with wonder and a lot of heart. Blue Manatee, 3094 Madison Road, Oakley, BEST SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORTING SMALL BUSINESS Situated next to Eli’s BBQ in Findlay Market stands Deerhaus Décor, a transparent, small-batch and environmentally conscious boutique where you can find everything from refurbished homegoods and unique cookbooks to cactus greeting cards, organic deodorant and glass jewelry. And the softest huskies you’ll encounter in life, Nala and Kona. Cincinnati natives and Deerhaus co-founders Sonja Thams and Benjamin Deering started brainstorming ideas for the storefront as undergraduates — she at the Columbus College of Art and Design while pursuing a degree in interior architecture and design, and he as an entrepreneurial economics student at the College of Wooster. Deerhaus, which officially opened in November 2016, blends Sonja’s interest in sustainable products with Ben’s interest in entrepreneurship by offering locally made goods from names like Queen City Alchemy, The Northern Market, Orange Fuzz, Volcano Goods and Ecoraw, Sonja’s own line. The shop also has a small selection of unique items the duo has found on their travels and special products from other small-batch and eco manufacturers, like reusable Bee’s Wrap, letterpress notecards, Neck & Tie 126  EE SS T TOO F FCC I NI N CC I NI N NN AT I I2 2 00 11 88 126 | | B B AT

complimentary artisan cocktail, if you need that extra push to try something new. Parlour, 2600 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut Hills,


BEST HANDMADE HAT SHOP Gus Miller is the owner, proprietor and hat maker behind downtown mainstay Batsakes. In business for more than 100 years, Miller’s uncles opened Batsakes in 1907 in its original location on Sixth and Walnut streets. In 1951, Miller immigrated to Cincinnati from Greece and started working at the shop, first cleaning, then moving up in the business to eventually complete an apprenticeship with a hat maker, learning how to make everything from fedoras to straw hats by hand. The store doesn’t have a digital footprint, but when the quality of your work speaks for itself, you don’t really need one. Miller has committed clients from across the world, and stars from Luciano Pavarotti to Jack White, Bob Dylan and Snoop Dogg have shopped here. Located on the ground floor of the iconic Modernist Terrace Plaza Hotel building, it’s one of the finest classic hat shops in the nation. Batsakes, 1 W. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-721-9345.

men’s accessories and free-form flamework glass necklaces. A stop into Deerhaus is a great way to extend your Findlay Market shopping experience. Deerhaus Décor, 135 W. Elder St., Over-the-Rhine, deerhausdecor. BEST SYMMETRY WITH SCISSORS Parlour salon in East Walnut Hills specializes in creative cuts and color, bringing aspirational runway looks to the sidewalks of Cincinnati. Award-winning colorists can achieve everything from natural balayage blondes to

neon-yellow art-Punk pixies — and anything in between — with the finesse of highly trained painter. Whether you want to step out of your comfort zone or hold onto your Type A personality for “just a trim,” you’re in the best hands in the city with this team of hip, professional stylists. If you do hand over creative control, the results are worth it. The team at Parlour can create a cutting-edge look that fits your style, whether that means a sculptural blunt bob, Mia Farrow-mini or modern shag. Using eco-friendly (and delicious-smelling) Davines products — including color — your hair will feel as good as it looks. And each service comes with a

BEST COMMUNITY CLASSROOM Founded by Nzingha Byrd and Daphney Thomas in 2012, Sweet Sistah Splash in Over-the-Rhine is a multicultural boutique that doubles as a community program space where, on any given day, there may be a Kemetic yoga session, a couple’s date night, an entrepreneurship course, a class about going vegetarian or a children’s reading circle. With a female-centric focus on independence, health, beauty and spiritualism, it’s a place to learn and connect — with the community and with yourself. The holistic and celebratory approach is also harnessed through ongoing workshops, like the Sacred Woman Sister Circle Support Group, a 10-week wellness program, or Unleash Your Power - Soul Sistah Boot Camp, a four-week mini retreat that gives participants “heart-centered, spirit-led, high-level coaching” to live a life full of health, healing and happiness. It’s all about deepening your experience as you make your way through this thing called life. Sweet Sistah Splash, 1218 Sycamore St., Over-the-Rhine, sweetsistahsplash. BEST SEAWEED GEL MANICURE Spruce Natural Nail Salon provides “five-free” manicures and pedicures, using polishes free from common toxins like formaldehyde, DDT and toluene. This means the salon doesn’t smell like a paint factory and no one has to wear a face mask while applying your polish. The eco options don’t sacrifice on style or creativity, either. Brands, including RGB and Deborah Lippmann, come in the latest colors and finishes, and you can opt to personalize your experience with nail wraps and custom nail art. Spruce also offers an alternative to the harsh gel manicures you’ll find at other traditional salons. Their BioSeaweed Gel is a five-free product that magically ensures a long, chip-free wear. It won’t damage or dry out your natural nails like traditional gel — in fact, the nourishing seaweed makes them healthier. Spruce Natural Nail Shop, 1235 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine,

TasTe like

New OrleaNs, CrafT like CiNCy!

louisiana Crawfish Boils Every Thursday From 5 - 9pm Craft Draft Tap Takeover & Pint Glass Giveaway

Happy Hour Every Tuesday-Friday from 4-6pm & Saturday-Sunday from 3-5pm Select Craft Draft Pours for $2.95

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

Family Owned & Operated since 1890

2034 Anderson Ferry Rd Cincinnati, OH 45238 513-922-SHOP (7467)

SWEET SUCCESS SWEET SUCCESS Thanks for Voting Thanks for Voting

• Veggie plants for beds & containers • • flower combos • porch pots • • color, color, color! •

open year round Thanks for voting us a top 3 Nursery/Plant Store in Cincinnati!

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

Best Candy Store Store Best Candy Best Chocolate Best Chocolate Award Ice Cream Cream Award Winning Winning Ice

Oakley Sq. Shopping Shopping Center Center Oakley Square Square • • Montgomery Montgomery Sq. B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  127

Summer’s Best Music at Fraze Pavilion

Alison Krauss

Tony Bennett

Neal McCoy




O.A.R. with Matt Nathanson

Jim Gaffigan JULY 27


Southern Uprising JULY 28

Roger Daltrey performs The Who’s ‘Tommy’

Dave Koz & Friends




Happy Together Tour 2018




Kettering, Ohio

Roots & Boots Tour

The Avett Brothers



Culture Club with Thompson Twins’ Earth, Wind & Fire Tom Bailey AUGUST 23

Buy tickets online at or by phone 1-800-514-3849 128  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8



SEASON SPONSORS: Kettering Health Network, Mid USA Credit Union, Pepsi Beverage Company

Visit FRAZE.COM for more information

music & nightlife Illustration by David Wilson Illustration by David Wilson NEW BAR/CLUB (SINCE MARCH 2017) NEW BAR/CLUB 1 Longfellow (SINCE MARCH 2017) 2 Longfellow Revel OTR Urban Winery 1 3 Revel Octave 2 OTR Urban Winery 4 3 Bourbon Octave Haus 1841 5 Bourbon The Hi-Mark 4 Haus 1841 6 The Mixwells Northside 5 Hi-Mark 7 Mixwells The PonyNorthside OTR 6 8 Gravity 7 Higher The Pony OTR 9 Higher Bay Horse Café 8 Gravity 10 Bay The Horse Hub OTR 9 Café 10 The Hub OTR CONCERT VENUE 1 Riverbend Music Center CONCERT VENUE 2 Riverbend Bogart’s Music Center 1 3 Bogart’s Music Hall 2 3 Music Hall LOCAL BAND (ORIGINALS) 1 OverBAND the Rhine LOCAL (ORIGINALS) 2 Over The Cliftones 1 the Rhine 3 Heirlooms 2 Young The Cliftones 3 Young Heirlooms LOCAL BAND (COVERS) 1 The Rusty LOCAL BANDGriswolds (COVERS) 2 Karate Girls 1 Naked The Rusty Griswolds 3 Naked The Menus 2 Karate Girls 3 The Menus

Reader Reader Picks Picks

LOCAL MUSIC PROMOTER 1 Dan McCabe/Chris Schadler LOCAL MUSIC PROMOTER 2 Dan Nederlander Entertainment 1 McCabe/Chris Schadler 3 Nederlander Self Diploma Entertainment 2 3 Self Diploma LOCAL MUSICIAN 1 Bootsy Collins LOCAL MUSICIAN 2 Bootsy Kevin Fox 1 Collins 3 Kevin Ricky Nye 2 Fox 3 Ricky Nye MUSIC FESTIVAL/EVENT 1 Bunbury Music Festival MUSIC FESTIVAL/EVENT 2 Bunbury NorthsideMusic Rock ‘n Roll Carnival 1 Festival 3 Festival 2 MidPoint NorthsideMusic Rock ‘n Roll Carnival 3 MidPoint Music Festival CONCERT IN 2017 1 Garth Brooks @ U.S. Bank Arena CONCERT IN 2017 2 Fighters Arena 1 Foo Garth Brooks@@U.S. U.S.Bank Bank Arena 3 Foo Tom Fighters Petty and 2 @The U.S.Heartbreakers Bank Arena @ U.S. Bank 3 Tom PettyArena and The Heartbreakers @ U.S. Bank Arena

BAR/CLUB STAFF 1 16-Bit Bar+Arcade BAR/CLUB STAFF 2 16-Bit Arnold’s Bar and Grill 1 Bar+Arcade 3 Arnold’s Below Zero 2 BarLounge and Grill 3 Below Zero Lounge BARTENDER (FEMALE) 1 Molly Wellmann (Japp’s Since 1879, BARTENDER (FEMALE) Myrtle’s Punch House) 1 Molly Wellmann (Japp’s Since 1879, 2 Myrtle’s Valerie Diehl (Old Kentucky Bourbon Punch House) Bar) Diehl (Old Kentucky Bourbon 2 Valerie 3 Bar) Nonta Perkins (MOTR Pub) 3 Nonta Perkins (MOTR Pub) BARTENDER (MALE) 1 Nick Squeri(MALE) (Queen City Exchange) BARTENDER 2 Nick Chris Squeri Stokley(Queen (MadTree Brewing) 1 City Exchange) 3 Chris Bennett Cooper (16-Bit Brewing) Bar+Arcade) 2 Stokley (MadTree 3 Bennett Cooper (16-Bit Bar+Arcade)

OVERALL BAR/CLUB 1 16-Bit Bar+Arcade OVERALL BAR/CLUB 2 16-Bit QueenBar+Arcade City Exchange 1 3 Queen Arnold’sCity BarExchange and Grill 2 4 Arnold’s Queen City 3 BarRadio and Grill 5 Queen Below Zero 4 City Radio 6 Below Japp’s Zero Since 1879 5 7 Japp’s MOTR Since Pub 1879 6 8 MOTR Northside 7 PubYacht Club 9 Northside Sundry andYacht Vice Club 8 10 Sundry Longfellow 9 and Vice 10 Longfellow BAR/CLUB (DOWNTOWN/OTR) 1 16-Bit Bar+Arcade BAR/CLUB (DOWNTOWN/OTR) 2 16-Bit MOTR Bar+Arcade Pub 1 3 MOTR Queen Pub City Exchange 2 3 Queen City Exchange BAR/CLUB (CENTRAL) 1 Blind Lemon BAR/CLUB (CENTRAL) 2 Blind Northside Yacht Club 1 Lemon 3 Northside The Video Yacht Archive 2 Club 3 The Video Archive BAR/CLUB (NORTHERN KENTUCKY) 1 Hotel Covington BAR/CLUB (NORTHERN KENTUCKY) 2 Hotel Molly Malone’s Irish Pub & Restaurant 1 Covington 3 Molly Old Kentucky 2 Malone’sBourbon Irish PubBar & Restaurant 3 Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar BBEES S T O F C I N C I N N AT ATII 22018 0 1 8   ||  129 129 B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 018



Rhinegeist: Best Local Brewery PHOTO: HAILEY BOLLINGER

BAR/CLUB (EAST SIDE) 1 Mount Lookout Tavern 2 Overlook Lodge 3 Dutch’s

LOCAL DISTILLERY 1 New Riff Distillery 2 Northside Distilling Co. 3 Boone County Distilling Co.

BAR/CLUB (WEST SIDE) 1 Incline Public House 2 Knotty Pine Rock Club & Tiki Bar 3 The Crow’s Nest

LOCAL TAP ROOM 1 MadTree Brewing 2 Rhinegeist 3 Braxton Brewing Company

BAR/CLUB (NORTHERN ‘BURBS) 1 The Village Tavern 2 Back Porch Saloon 3 Fox & Hound

LOCAL BREWERY 1 Rhinegeist 2 MadTree Brewing 3 Braxton Brewing Company 4 Listermann Brewing Company 5 Brink Brewing Company 6 Mt. Carmel Brewing Company 7 Taft’s Ale House 8 Urban Artifact 9 Fifty West Brewing Company 10 Nine Giant Brewing

BAR/CLUB FOR LIVE MUSIC (NATIONAL ACTS) 1 Bogart’s 2 Madison Theater 3 Woodward Theater BAR/CLUB FOR LIVE MUSIC (LOCAL BANDS) 1 MOTR Pub 2 Bogart’s 3 Southgate House Revival

MARGARITA 1 Bakersfield 2 Cancun Mexican Restaurant 3 Nada

BEER SELECTION (DRAFT) 1 Yard House 2 Queen City Exchange 3 16-Bit Bar+Arcade

MARTINI 1 Hotel Covington 2 Japp’s Since 1879 3 Bonefish Grill

BEER SELECTION (BOTTLES & CANS) 1 Dutch’s 2 16-Bit Bar+Arcade/ The Comet (TIE) 3 Higher Gravity

BLOODY MARY 1 Hang Over Easy 2 The Eagle 3 Crazy Fox Saloon

LOCAL WINERY 1 Revel OTR Urban Winery 2 Vinoklet Winery 3 Elk Creek Winery 130 | B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8 130  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

BOURBON SELECTION (BAR) 1 Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar 2 Wiseguy Lounge 3 Newberry Bros. Coffee & Prohibition Bourbon Bar

BOURBON SELECTION (RETAIL) 1 The Party Source 2 Jungle Jim’s International Market 3 DEP’s Fine Wine & Spirits

DANCE CLUB 1 Below Zero Lounge 2 Boogie Nights 3 Mount Adams Pavilion

BOURBON COCKTAIL 1 Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar 2 Wiseguy Lounge 3 Japp’s Since 1879

ROOFTOP BAR 1 Rhinegeist 2 21c Cocktail Terrace 3 Top of the Park at The Phelps

BOWLING ALLEY 1 Madison Bowl 2 Western Bowl 3 Axis alley

OPEN MIC NIGHT 1 Go Bananas Comedy Club 2 MOTR Pub 3 Molly Malone’s Irish Pub & Restaurant

CASINO 1 JACK Cincinnati Casino 2 Hollywood Casino 3 Belterra Casino Resort & Spa

PLACE TO THROW DARTS 1 Hap’s Irish Pub 2 Murphy’s Pub 3 Crazy Fox Saloon

CELTIC/BRITISH PUB 1 Molly Malone’s Irish Pub & Restaurant 2 Nicholson’s 3 The Pub at Rookwood Mews

KARAOKE 1 Northside Tavern 2 Tostados Grill 3 Below Zero Lounge

COCKTAIL BAR/LOUNGE 1 Sundry and Vice 2 Japp’s Since 1879 3 Wiseguy Lounge COLLEGE-CROWD BAR 1 16-Bit Bar+Arcade 2 Uncle Woody’s Pub 3 Murphy’s Pub

PLACE TO SHOOT POOL 1 Animations 2 MainStrasse Village Pub 3 Northside Tavern TRIVIA NIGHT 1 Mount Lookout Tavern 2 Queen City Exchange 3 Northside Yacht Club

LGBTQ+ BAR 1 Below Zero Lounge 2 Crazy Fox Saloon 3 Rosie’s Tavern

HOTEL BAR 1 Coppin’s (Hotel Covington) 2 Metropole (21c Museum Hotel) 3 Orchids at Palm Court (Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza)

COMEDY CLUB 1 Go Bananas Comedy Club 2 Liberty Funny Bone 3 MOTR Pub

WINE BAR 1 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab 2 Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant 3 Revel OTR Urban Winery

CLUB/PARTY DJ 1 DJ Mowgli 2 DJ Etrayn 3 DJ Chinn Chilla

JUKEBOX 1 The Comet 2 Anchor Grill 3 MOTR Pub

HAPPY HOUR (FOOD) 1 Bar Louie 2 Bakersfield 3 Kaze

NO-FRILLS WATERING HOLE 1 Arnold’s Bar and Grill 2 Blind Lemon 3 The Comet

HAPPY HOUR (DRINKS) 1 Queen City Exchange 2 Bar Louie 3 16-Bit Bar+Arcade

PLACE TO DRINK WHILE YOU WAIT FOR A TABLE 1 Taft’s Ale House 2 16-Bit Bar+Arcade 3 The Lackman





B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  131

Staff Picks BEST PLACE TO SING ‘BRASS IN POCKET’ IN A PINK WIG The karaoke scene in Sofia Coppola’s wandering indie romcom Lost in Translation is a titillating examination of the chemistry between actors Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray and also the awesome karaoke culture of Japan. One local bar has harnessed that magic: Tokyo Kitty, the most recent hotly anticipated film-meets-fun bar from the team behind Gorilla Cinema, which also owns the Tarantino-themed Video Archive in Walnut Hills and The Shininginspired Overlook Lodge in Pleasant Ridge. The neon-lit and uber kawaii Japanese karaoke bar plays off of Lost in Translation by offering seven themed 132  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

private rental rooms — with high-tech in-room robot drink delivery via Bbot — a karaoke mainstage, a dance floor and Tiki-style cocktails. Private karaoke rooms go for between $20 and $50 an hour and singers can choose from around 500 popular party hits. It’s a futuristic fantasy land full of “happy fun song time” and shelves of pink wigs. Tokyo Kitty, 575 Race St., Downtown, BEST WAY TO FULFILL YOUR BROADWAY FANTASY LGBTQ+ nightclub Below Zero Lounge is nestled snuggly between the nightlife action on Vine and Main streets in OTR

and plenty of trendy theater destinations — Know Theatre, Ensemble Theatre, Cincy Shakes and the Aronoff. These two facts are specifically important during Thursday night karaoke when the Patty and Matty Karaoke Show takes over the lounge. With a splash of panache, hosts Patrick Carnes and Matthew Pappert lead increasingly inebriated singers through everything from ’80s hits and radio-friendly Pop to favorite showtunes and plenty of Celine Dion. Because of the proximity to those theaters, it’s not uncommon for local talent or actors from traveling Broadway shows — or even a drag queen or two from upstairs’ The Cabaret — to hop onstage to belt their own takes on karaoke classics. If you’ve

ever dreamt of sharing the stage with a star, this may be your chance. Or become a star yourself: It’s a known fact that confidence increases with alcohol consumption, and with affably heavy pours and a selection of more than 100 vodkas, the math is in your favor. Below Zero Lounge, 1120 Walnut St., Over-theRhine, BEST WAY TO FULFILL YOUR ROCK STAR FANTASY A novel approach to the sing-along staple, Sexy Time Live Band Karaoke exchanges backing tracks for a full band of veteran Cincinnati rockers who are missing just one thing: a lead singer.

Killer Karaoke

The word karaoke is a portmanteau of two Japanese words, roughly translating to “empty orchestra.” And while the orchestra may be empty, the vocals are not. Here are some of our favorite drinking and singing destinations for you to belt your heart out while lyrics bop along a TV screen.

During their karaoke “concerts,” you take the microphone and bring all the pomp, swagger and drunken falsetto to the stage while they play your song selection live. With a working catalog of more than 300 tunes ranging from Bowie to Beyoncé (they even know a little Country), the Sexy Time band offers up their expertise and insane internal library of songs for you to “use as a vehicle to drive on the Autobahn of your musical fame and fortune.” Singing The Cranberries’ “Zombie” in the back room of the Northside Tavern (usually on the first Saturday of the month) may not directly translate to fame, fortune and a record deal, but it’s certainly one of the more indulgent ways to live your egocentric

Rock star fantasies in the real world. And all for no cover charge. You can also book the band for private events in need of some karaoke sexing up, like weddings. Sexy Time Live Band Karaoke, BEST SONG AND SPOKE TWO-FER Celebrating Cincinnati’s urban bike culture and cycling activism, The Hub OTR services bikes by day and slings beer and cocktails at night. Opened in 2017, come to the shop to buy a new bike, have someone tune up your existing one or go on a Hub-organized group ride. At night, trade your fixie for a $5 shot-and-beer special when the Hub

transforms into a dog-friendly drinking destination with entertaining events (Krampuscon, Festivus, etc.) and live music, including karaoke on Monday nights hosted by Hot Wheels Entertainment. Hot Wheels is the brainchild of karaoke jockey Bree, one of the city’s most notoriously engaging karaoke hosts — and a musician herself — whose business name reflects one of her other passions: advocating for those with disabilities, especially those in wheelchairs. It’s a perfect marriage of booze and tunes for singers who care about wheels of all types. The Hub, 1209 Main St., Over-the-Rhine,

Photo by Hailey Bollinger B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  133



BEST MUSIC FESTIVAL FACELIFT Skepticism seems to follow the MidPoint Music Festival every year, particularly since local promoters MEMI took it off of CityBeat’s hands a couple of years ago. When it was announced that the 2017 event was to be centralized around MEMI’s Taft Theatre, eyebrows raised, but the fully indoor two-day fest smartly used the theater’s main space and ballroom, as well as the gorgeous rooms in the Masonic Temple building next door. The two buildings were connected by maze-like tunnels/hallways, creating a surrealistic experience that was a little David-Lynch-meetsThe Shining. The lineup was solid, as well, with bands like Broken Social Scene, Valerie June, Noname, Pile, BADBADNOTGOOD and Cincinnati’s Walk the Moon, whose

BEST FOND FAREWELL Hardcore music lovers can get territorial about their passion, and they’ll celebrate and stand up for the outlets they love through thick or thin — even more fervently than sports fans fight for their favorite team. There was widespread outrage when longtime radio station WNKU was sold to a religious broadcaster in a budget-slashing move by Northern Kentucky University (thank then-new governor Matt Bevin for that). 134  134 |  | BBEESSTT O OFF C CIIN NC CIIN NN NAT ATII 22001188

performance was both a triumphant homecoming after their global success and a new album preview as the band geared up for the release of its anticipated What If Nothing album a couple of months later. No, MidPoint isn’t what it used to be (an annual go-to grievance since approximately the second year), but its previous configuration was nearly impossible to replicate with the constantly shifting bar scene in Over-the-Rhine, which includes numerous prior and potential venues that balked at participating for a variety of reasons. MEMI has reimagined MidPoint as something new for Greater Cincinnati music fans; hopefully it expands on the concept (both music and non-music programming) in 2018. MidPoint Music Festival,

But the anger turned to tears when the station, one of the few outlets for “Alternative” music on Greater Cincinnati’s airwaves, signed off in September after 33 years. The station regularly — and loudly — supported local original music-makers, so its loss was also deeply felt by the region’s musicians. Two months after the sign-off, the station’s Aaron Sharpe and Liz Felix were surprised with a special “Best Cincinnati Music Ambassador”


award at CityBeat’s 2017 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, a fitting salute in front a room full of artists who greatly appreciated having such dedicated, higher-profile supporters in their corner. BEST NEW RADIO STATION DISTRACTING US FROM OUR GRIEF OVER THE LOSS OF WNKU Pretty much everyone was crestfallen when Northern Kentucky University




|  135

P H O T O : B R I T TA N Y T H O R N T O N

BEST SIX-BUCK MULE In the past couple of years, cities big and small have resurrected the Moscow Mule — vodka, ginger beer and lime juice served in a copper mug. Other international iterations have popped up, like a Kentucky mule (replace bourbon with vodka) and a Mexican mule (tequila instead of vodka, of course). But Mules don’t need the copper mug to be good. Liberty’s Bar and Bottle, a neighborhood bar located at the end of Main Street in OTR, serves the stripped-of-pretention Liberty Mule. It’s concocted with their housemade on-tap ginger beer and a choice of well spirit (try gin). Then it’s poured into a pint glass, not a mug. The drink costs $6, and during happy hour it’s only $5. The bartenders don’t hold back on the booze, either. While you’re there, make sure to sample half- and full-pours of beers and wines or other cocktails. Liberty’s Bar and Bottle, 1427 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-429-2461 and searchable on Facebook.

IPA + Whiskey


O c to b e r 201 8 5:30-8:30 p.m.

New Riff Distillery // Newport Ky. '

136  136 | | BBEESSTT OOFF CCI N I NCCI N I NNNAT ATI I 22001188

sold WNKU. But when one door to hip new music closes, the sonic gods open a window. That window is Urban Artifact’s Radio Artifact, which broadcasts from the Northside brewery. The station, launched in 2017, is focused on local and independent music, art and entertainment. Radio Artifact is live on 1660 AM and streaming free online. It also offers an eclectic array of content via its podcasts. It’s just what we need to drown our sorrows in sound. Radio Artifact, Urban Artifact, 1660 Blue Rock St., Northside, BEST WEST SIDE BREWERY OK, so West Side Brewing may be the only brewery on the West Side — for now. But since opening in spring 2017, this spot has brought a lot of life to its little corner of Westwood. Not only is West Side Brewing a great

neighborhood watering hole, it’s also a community hub that’s seen a chili cook-off, dog-friendly nights, pop-up workout classes, live music, fundraisers and countless big-game watch parties in its first year. And it makes sense — more than 400 people supported WSB’s efforts on Kickstarter, and many of their names appear on the brewery’s backer wall. Originally pegged as a craft brewery for the everyman, WSB is inviting enough for the casual beer drinker, spacious enough for groups and families and legit enough to impress the most discerning local brewpub frequent flyers. WSB also has smart taps — all beer is tracked and displayed on digital menus, kind of like a phone battery, so you can see what’s freshly tapped (you’ll see a green, full keg icon) or what’s most popular (red, empty keg icon). Not a big beer drinker? They also have ciders, wine


you're gonna love what's rollin' in next.



B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  137

and cocktails, a few standby snacks and a solid lineup of food trucks outside or vendors in the taproom. West Side Brewing, 3044 Harrison Ave., Westwood, BEST BAR HALLOWEEN COSTUME A couple years ago, Northsiders lost their damn minds when rumors spread about an Applebee’s infiltrating their hip local digs. Of course, it was just a prank (actual fake news, one might argue), but no one quite got past it. So when folks in the neighborhood saw a bus bench ad on Hamilton Avenue promoting a Northside Applebee’s Bar & Grill “coming soon” to Spring Grove Avenue in late October, the buzz began again. Of course, this was yet another joke, perfectly executed by the Northside Yacht Club on Halloween weekend. NSYC transformed into the neighborhood-friendly chain restaurant — the best Halloween costume ever, by our estimation — complete with authentic signage, a host stand, new website and a menu of Appleteasers (including mozzarella sticks), ’Bee’s-inspired craft cocktails and desserts. Patrons could check out the temporarily transformed bar that Friday and Saturday, but by Sunday brunch, the Yacht Club was back in its original form, as if it was all a dream. Northside Yacht Club, 4227 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, BEST MUSEUM WITH A LIQUOR LICENSE The historic Bay Horse Café, with roots dating back to 1817, reopened last summer after co-owners and partners Fred Berger and Lori Meeker spent two and half years restoring the building (and its vintage neon sign featuring a trotting horse). The $4, 25-ounce Hudepohl schooners, $6 cocktails and draft beer mark it as an affordable, laid-back hangout. Known for being a stag bar in the past, it should be noted that Meeker once visited and was told she couldn’t sit at the bar. Now, she co-owns and runs the back-in-the-day watering hole (complete with a walllength urinal). Browse historic news clippings that act as décor, play a classic card game or lounge on the 13-foot couch in the back — all while sipping on reasonably priced booze or snacking on Derby-themed panini. Bay Horse Café, 625 Main St., Downtown, 138  138 | | BBEESSTT OOFF CCI INNCCI INNNNAT ATI I 22001188


BEST SOCIAL SIPPERY Aster happened by mistake. When the owners of Sleepy Bee Café were renovating their new restaurant space on Fourth Street downtown, they discovered something unexpected — a third floor with expansive ceilings and beautiful wooden beams. After uncovering this special space, the team decided to turn it into a social sippery, a casual cocktail space above the café where friends can gather and relax while enjoying chef-inspired drinks. Beverage director Giacomo Ciminello — known as much for his distinctive handlebar mustache as the boozy milkshakes he has made a staple at Sundry and BEST BOOZY FLASHBACK TO THE ’90S The ’90s are back in a very big way: From mom jeans and chokers to Roseanne and the Spice Girls, all of our favorite pre-millennium trends are rearing their ugly heads once again. And when it comes to adult beverages,

Vice cocktail bar in Over-the-Rhine — worked with chef Frannie Kroner and sous Emma Cotter to create a menu that brought “the farm to the cocktail world.” Standouts include the Fig Dandy, a fig syrup, bourbon and dandelion tea concoction, and the Voodoo Lily, a carrot-orange coconut milk and rum cocktail with a kick of curry. Tapping into the latest trend in mixology, there’s also a smattering of non-alcoholic and low ABV cocktails that go beyond soda and virgin mixed drinks to accommodate everyone in your party. Coming soon? Socials — carafes of drinks for sharing with friends old and new. Aster, 8 E. Fourth St., Downtown,

it doesn’t get any more ’90s than Zima. The colorless malt beverage — or “clear beer” — almost exclusively consumed by underage drinkers during the Clinton era made a comeback in the Queen City (and beyond) last summer. MillerCoors released a limited run of the sweet stuff and suddenly, as if it were 1993, Zima was on the shelves of area liquor and convenience stores and being served at local bars — with Jolly Ranchers, of

course! By now you’d be hard pressed to find a sixer of this “truly unique alcohol beverage” (that was really one of their original taglines), but we’ll always have the summer of ’17. BEST RADIO SHOW RECORD COLLECTION Tuning in to WAIF (88.3 FM; waif883. org) on Saturdays between 3-5 p.m.

Many “Savoir Faire” but one dedication to please our guests. My team and I,

Jean-Robert Cincinnati B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  139


Queen City Comics Pleasant Ridge 6101 Montgomery Rd 513.351.5674 Queen City Comics Fairfield 6600 Dixie Highway Suite V 513.860.5805

Store Hours: Weekdays 11am-7pm Closed Tuesday Saturday 11am-6pm Sunday 12pm-5pm

BEST BREWERY FOR DOGS TO MIX AND MINGLE Braxton Brewing Company prides itself on loving beer and innovation, but their real soft spot is for dogs, even the rambunctious ones. Employees dole out treats and lots of belly scratches for any pup that visits the taproom. Cross the river for the Revamp India Pale Ale, stay for the canine haven. It’s what all the cool dogs do. And if you’re looking for beer with more attitude, stop by Braxton Labs. While the original Braxton has the feeling of a Midwestern garage — a place that holds memories, nuts, bolts and beer — Braxton’s second “lab” location has opened the doors to innovation. Located in the Party Source mega liquor store, the lab features 40 taps dedicated to the brand’s most unique offerings, as well as brews from across the U.S. and around the world. It’s a place for curious craft enthusiasts and anyone excited to try something new. Experimental beers include a cucumber wit, cherry saison and coffee-vanilla milk stout. The outdoor AstroTurf beirgarten is a place to spark conversation, make friends and play giant Connect Four. Braxton Brewery, 27 W. Seventh St., Covington; Braxton Labs, 95 Riviera Drive, Bellevue,

Thank You Cincinnati! for voting us best

comic book store

140  140 |  | B BEESSTT O OFF C CIIN NC CIIN NN NAT ATII 22001188

feels like a trip back in time. Trash Flow Radio, the current project of broadcasting veteran and Northern Kentucky University Chase College of Law professor Ken Katkin, is the product of its host’s 35 years of DJ experience. Katkin began spinning tracks on the air while attending Princeton in the early ’80s, inspired by the era’s explosion of fuzzed-out Punk Rock. Today, he still brings his crates of vinyl to the studio, fusing Indie Rock classics with fresh faces in his weekly setlists. Katkin’s collection covers a wide range of geographical and temporal ground, ranging from retro Post Punk innovators like Cabaret Voltaire and Beat Happening to local upstarts like Swim Team and

Mardou. Trash Flow Radio, facebook. com/trashflow. BEST LOCAL MUSIC TO REKINDLE YOUR GOTH PHASE Coupling New Order’s chugging New Wave instrumentation with The Cure’s baroque melodrama, Cincinnati’s Skeleton Hands tinge their songcraft with bruise-colored flush. The duo’s latest effort, Wake, dropped 10 days ahead of Halloween, the perfect time to wallow in repurposed Reagan-era angst while taking a neighborhood stroll, and admiring your neighbors’ ghastly holiday decor. Hop onto Skeleton Hands’ Bandcamp page, give “Gar-

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  141

dens” a spin and guard yourself against the urge to apply embarrassing amounts of eyeliner. Skeleton Hands, BEST POWDER ROOM FOR A #BATHROOMSELFIE We here at 811 Race Street love our neighbors. We may not ask to borrow a cup of sugar, but we do work with businesses around us all the time, like The Phoenix. Our buds across the street know how to party. Home to the Best of Cincinnati celebration for the second year in a row, The Phoenix boasts beautiful event spaces and excellent drinks and dining in its Presidents Room restaurant. But it’s the adorable, vintage-inspired ladies powder room that we’d like to shout out. It’s wallpapered in pastel stripes, floral print and lots of pink, plus illustrated women that look like the artwork on a pack of 1940s sewing patterns. Vanity lighting makes it the perfect spot to check your makeup or pose for a shameless bathroom selfie. We won’t tell. The Phoenix, 812 Race St., Downtown, BEST ARCADE AND DRINK CURATION INSIDE A BAR Cincinnati is lucky to have two solid arcade bars, about which sweeping generalizations can be made. Arcade Legacy: Bar Edition is the nerdier, more nuanced arcade-first, bar-second destination in the city that presents a carefully selected array of arcade cabinets for a discerning crowd of old-school connoisseurs. 16-Bit Bar+Arcade, however, is a more drinks-driven business that utilizes nostalgia and video games as a means to differentiate itself from other bars in OTR, leaning on the popular opinion of patrons who relish the novelty. Both arcade bars serve their functions with gusto. 16-Bit is more likely to innovate cocktail trends with their industry-savvy staff (their bartender Mike Hamer is one of the best mixologists in the neighborhood), but the owner/operator of Arcade Legacy, Jesse Baker, is an omnipresent force in his multiple Arcade Legacy locations, thus making him a cultural leader for local video gamers. His influence dictates the available games, which include classics from yesteryear, like Arkanoid and Tem142  142 | | BBEESSTT OOFF CCI INNCCI INNNNAT ATI I 22001188


BEST RECORDING STUDIO REBORN Brian Olive has built up a reputation for being an ace musician, performer and songwriter with his projects over the years, ranging from his time in The Greenhornes and Soledad Brothers to his solo recordings and bands to his Grammy-winning work with Dr. John. He also is a go-to recording specialist for many, particularly in Cincinnati, where he had hosted artists like The Tillers, Ohio Knife and The Perfect Children in his Northside studio, The Diamonds. But after a series of issues at the space, culminating with an extensive water leak that seriously damaged a piano and other equipment while Olive was working on his Living on Top album, Olive extricated himself from the building and got to work on a new space in the woods of Mount Airy. The all-analog Mount Saturn Studio reopened in early 2018; internationally acclaimed hard rockers Electric Citizen and Daniel Wayne were among the first projects in the space and Olive is taking bookings for later in the year now. Mount Saturn Studio,

pest, and the cutting edge of arcade culture, like Killer Queen, which can accommodate 10 players in one game. Visit both arcade bars to see what you think, but know that children are only allowed on scheduled days during specific hours at both locations, so check their respective calendars before you load up the family wagon. Arcade Legacy: Bar Edition, 3929 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, arcadelegacyohio. com/bar-edition; 16-Bit Bar+Arcade,

1331 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, BEST DRINK AND DESSERT IN ONE In a city where brewing beer is an integral part of our history, it should be no surprise that craft breweries are popping up in every single neighborhood, which means some smaller endeavors can get overshadowed by

the bigger cats in town. From their taproom/brewery along Eastern Avenue in Columbia Tusculum, which frequently hosts food trucks and programmed events, Streetside Brewery’s coffee-blonde beer, Return of the Mac, recently received a silver medal by RateBeer, a crowd-sourced global site for craft beer enthusiasts. With beers like the New England Style IPA #blessed; the milkshake blonde Cereal Milk; a red velvet donut stout collaboration

NOVEMBER 5 - 11, 2018

WE’RE BRINGING YOU $8 PIZZAS FROM SOME OF CINCINNATI’S MOST POPULAR PIZZA JOINTS! Cincinnati Pizza Week will be serving up signature pies, to secret menu specialties, and more all week long all while paying homage to all things Za! From flyers to screamers to hammers to flippers - each restaurant will bake up their own spin on the wheel.



25TH, 2018 at Memorial Hall

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  143

with Holtman’s donuts called Robe; and a Key Lime Gose that tastes like buttery graham cracker crust, this brewery has developed a niche for having your cake and drinking it, too. Streetside Brewery, 4003 Eastern Ave., Columbia Tusculum, BEST HOLIDAY-THEMED POP-UP BARS The holidays are typically the most festive time of year, and no one understands that more than The Video Archive/Overlook Lodge owners Gorilla Cinema. Their mission is all about bringing pop culture to life, whether it’s opening Quentin Tarantino-themed bar/video store The Video Archive or having The Shining scare people at Overlook Lodge. During the six-week long holiday period at the end of the year, the owners transformed both spots into a yin/yang concept. Walnut Hills’ Video Archive became a The Nightmare Before Christmas pop-up, replete with dry-ice skull cocktails and holiday horror films like Gremlins screening on TV. Pleasant Ridge’s Overlook briefly remodeled as Miracle, a brighter play on the holidays. They offered a Die Hard cocktail called Yippee-Kay-Yay Motherfucker, Bad Santa mulled wine and greenish eggnog. Let’s hope the tradition continues in 2018, alongside Gorilla Cinema’s new karaoke/Lost in Translation-themed bar, Tokyo Kitty. Maybe Christmastime karaoke? The Video Archive, 965 E. McMillan St., Walnut Hills,; Overlook Lodge, 6083 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, BEST BEER MADE WITH REAL FRUIT Breweries love to make fruit beers. However, not all of them use real fruit — a lot of them are just fruit flavored — and there’s a gulf of difference between artificial flavoring and the real thing. Urban Artifact’s Midwest Fruit Tart series is brewed using only real fruit, like blackberries, key limes and peaches. Love Letter is one of the best because it’s brewed with 3,000 pounds of peaches, which means each can contains about half a peach. It tastes just like fresh peach juice, except carbonated and with booze — imagine a brunch-time bellini in a can or a glass. It’s tart, but with a nice mouthfeel. The 144  144 | | BBEESSTT OOFF CCI N I NCCI N I NNNAT ATI I 22001188


BEST BAR BLUE PLATE SPECIAL Longfellow is Over-the-Rhine’s coolest neighborhood “dive” — a comfy Cheers with a U-shaped center bar, easygoing bartenders and great music (you’ll hear everything from classic Punk to ’80s Pop and Hip Hop). The cocktails are killer and so is the food menu. Both showcase the life of the owner, Mike Stankovich, who has a Southern and Italian background — he grew up eating cornbread and rolling out homemade ravioli. Combine that with his experience traveling through Europe and Japan and his stint in New York bartending, and there you have it. For cocktails, there’s the super popular Spruce Goose, a wicked mix of barrel-aged gin, honey, lime, bitters and tonic — a recipe Stankovich brought with him from Brooklyn; and the Shiso Painkiller, an islandy combination of navy rum, shiso, orange, coconut and nutmeg. There’s also a nice selection of sake, cider, wine and beer from across the globe. And we haven’t even gotten to the food. The menu is subject to change but offers late-night Babushka Pierogies, peanut butter and tahini sandwiches, cottage cheese (great!), Francophile radishes with scoopable butter and a Blue Plate Special during happy hour Tuesday through Friday: a 16-ounce tall boy beer with your choice of a scrap sandwich or liverwurst with potato chips. If you want more white collar than blue plate, do the caviar service for $10 with bowfin roe. Longfellow, 1233 Clay St., Over-the-Rhine,

hand-drawn art on the can features a quill and ink jar with a peach-colored background that resembles the stone fruit. Both the can design and the beer are works of delicious art. Urban Artifact, 1660 Blue Rock St., Northside, 513-620-4729, BEST BAR BINGO If you’re feeling like trivia and karaoke are played out, go grandma-style with

bar bingo at Queen City Exchange. Every Thursday night — aka Thirsty Thursday — they host a very friendly bingo session, with prizes given out at the end of each round. If that’s not enough gaming for you, the bar itself is interactive. Inspired by a stock market theme, “dynamically priced” beers are available for anywhere from $3.50 to $9, all based on customer demand — making it one of the few places in which people are actually hoping for a stock

market crash. Queen City Exchange, 32 W. Court St., Downtown, BEST BILLY-JOEL THEMED COCKTAIL MENU Nothing says “night at the bar” like the sweet sounds of the Piano Man, Billy Joel. The appeal of his sing-along Soft Rock spans human archetypes and generations — you’re just as likely to


Best BLoody


•Breakfast •Brunch •Lunch •happy hour •39 craft Beers on tap •Large outdoor patio

One block from UC’s campus 13 W Charlton • Cincinnati, OH 45219 • 513-221-5400 Mon - Fri : 7aM - 4pM • Sat & Sun : 8aM - 4pM

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  145

find a suburban mom belting to the bar closer as you are an ironic hipster. And as the tunes of Billy Joel appeal to many a human, so does the Lackman’s Joel-themed cocktail menu. There’s the Real Estate Novelist, with bourbon, lemon, blackberry purée, Cardamaro Amaro and bubbly. The Old Man Sitting Next to Me, with Beefeater gin, housemade tonic, lemon-ginger ice and lime. And the John at the Bar, Del Maguey mezcal, agave, lemon, smoked hot sauce and a beer sidecar — with a bonus joke etched on the menu: “Sorry, he didn’t get you this one for free.” Will these themed craft cocktails be here forever? Will Billy Joel? The Lackman, 1237 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, BEST NO-NONSENSE NEGRONI The negroni is a classic Italian aperitif — a before-dinner drink made of gin, red vermouth and Campari, garnished with an orange peel. It has a wonderful bitter bite, paired with citrus aromatics to stimulate the appetite and a comforting weight provided by the Campari and semi-sweet fortified wine. It’s a splash of hot Mediterranean summer café society with a refreshing chill. And, because it’s made entirely of booze, no mixers, it’s a nice lil tipple to prime you for pasta and conversation. Nowhere does a straight-up negroni better than A Tavola. As a Florentine/ Neapolitan-inspired trattoria, this makes sense (the drink was invented in Florence, Italy), as do the ingredients. The bar blends Carpano Antica Italian red vermouth with dark red, herbal Campari (also Italian) and Columbus, Ohio’s Watershed Distillery Four Peel Gin. The smooth and aromatic local-ish gin gives a modern twist to the classic. Grab one and an Aperol spritz at the bar while you and a friend share an antipasti. Perfetto! A Tavola, 1220 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine; 7022 Miami Ave., Madeira, BEST JAMMING NEW LIVE MUSIC VENUE Last summer, after some booking shuffling, the Covington space that turned into Octave started to become a touring destination for artists in the so-called Jam band scene (a terrible name that hints at open-ended, improvisational elements of the acts, but fails to encapsulate the very broad 146  146 | | BBEESSTT OOFF CCI N I NCCI N I NNNAT ATI I 22001188


BEST COCKTAIL FOR SPLIT PERSONALITIES It’s no secret that the Bar at Palm Court is one of the best places in the city to grab a cocktail, blending artful alcohol creations with awe-inspiring Art Deco décor. Sidle up to the bar — if you’re lucky enough to find a stool — and peruse the drink menu, which offers classic cocktails like the Chef’s Old Fashioned, with Four Roses private selection single barrel, a sweetened bitters-infused ice ball, a twist of orange and Amarena cherry, and a Hemingway Daiquiri, with light rum, grapefruit and lime juice and Luxardo. If you can’t pick a color for your liquor, go with The NP, a best-of-both-worlds cocktail

range of styles within the community), while also hosting numerous local and regional acts that possess the same spirit. It has also helped the emerging entertainment district around Madison Avenue solidify its place as one of the top areas in Greater Cincinnati for original, high-quality live music, located just a block away from music venues Madison Theater and Madison Live. In 2017, the club hosted fan-favorite national acts like the Ben Miller Band, Moon Hooch, Twiddle and Consider the Source, plus locals like Strange

that pairs bourbon with something bubbly. Named after the Netherland Plaza (the hotel which houses the bar), the cocktail features Four Roses yellow label bourbon, lemon, ginger, bitters and sparkling wine. It’s light, refreshing and still packs a boozy kick. Go during happy hour 4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday and grab a plate of discounted light bites — lamb belly sliders, ricotta tortellini or chicken wings with smoked butter-Cholula sauce — to accompany your cocktail, or Friday and Saturday night for live Jazz. The Bar at Palm Court, Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, 35 W. Fifth St., Downtown,

Mechanics, Ernie Johnson from Detroit and Peridoni, among many other shows and events (musical or otherwise). As word has spread, the bookings for 2018 have kept up the streak and look to continue Octave’s upward swing. Octave, 611 Madison Ave., Covington, BEST REPURPOSING OF THE OLD NEONS SPACE When Neons closed in 2016, people were devastated to lose “OTR’s

backyard,” an intimate drinking destination that harnessed the power of warm weather via its gigantic patio, yard games and outdoor bar (with multiple big-ass TVs). Then, 4EG — the entertainment group behind Lackman, Mount Adams Pavilion, Igby’s and more — announced they’d be taking over the space in May. After some upscale renovations, they reopened as Rosedale in January 2018. They’ve added industrial-farmhouse chandeliers, bold floral wallpaper (perfect for an instagram backdrop), leveled out the

Braxton Brewing Company was born out of a garage on Braxton Drive in Union, Kentucky. It’s there where a passion was born, sparked and ignited. The creativity and craft of brewing became a entrepreneurial obsession and now we thrive to create the ultimate experience by celebrating the life, family and communities that build our history. Dreams are born and fermented at Braxton Brewing Company.


BORN IN A GARAGE. Brewed at 27 W. 7th St., Covington, KY 41011 B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  147

first floor and added lounge seating. It’s a little more classed up than comfy-old Neons but has retained the former’s focus on craft cocktails… and the giant, dog-friendly patio (now with brand new seating). Try a Settler’s Trail with bourbon, Amaro Montenegro, Luxardo and bitters; or the Oh, Ida! with Watershed bourbon-barrel-aged gin, mezcal, yellow chartreuse, Earl Grey syrup and lemon. Rosedale, 208 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, BEST RECORD LABEL WITH A POWERHOUSE LOCAL MUSIC ROSTER The concept of and uses for a record label have changed in the digital music era. But for a while now, several indie labels in Greater Cincinnati have been succeeding in different ways by becoming cultural curators of the local music scene, presenting some of the city’s top artists to the rest of the world in nice packaging (many put out releases by artists not from Cincinnati, too). One of the best right now is Dayton, Ky.-based SofaBurn Records, which — with the help of a national press house — has helped releases by the likes of Jeremy Pinnell, Buffalo Killers, The Light Wires and Ampline garner wider national attention through premieres and coverage on some of the biggest music sites in the biz. The label’s latest release, the much-anticipated new LP by Folk heroes The Tillers, indicates that SofaBurn’s winning streak will continue well into 2018 and beyond. SofaBurn, BEST INSTRUMENTAL MESSAGE One of the best music releases of 2017 was the brilliant “comeback” album by instrumental Cincinnati Post Rock/Indie Rock ensemble johnnytwentythree. The Bridge is a fantastically evocative album on its own, but knowing the context makes it all the more genius, and often a more devastating listening experience. The band and its multimedia live show (with a vital film component) was a big club draw in the ’00s, before everything stopped in 2012 when bassist Joe Maier (whose wife and brother are also in J23) committed suicide. The album was written to show the far-reaching effects suicide has on the people around those who reach that ultimate point of desperation, something oftentimes not fully consid148  EE ST F FCC I NI N CC I NI N NN AT I I2 0 148 |  | B B S TOO AT 21 08 18

ered by those in that state. It succeeds brilliantly, from the emotive compositional movements to sampled voices of children and poetry. Besides helping people through its art, the band also donated proceeds from the album to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. johnnytwentyhree, johnnytwentythree. BEST JAZZ CLUB LEGACY CONTINUED Pianist Ed Moss is a Cincinnati Jazz legend for his musical achievements, but he was also beloved for his low-key venue, Schwartz’s Point, which was written about as one of the area’s “Best Kept Secrets” so often, it wasn’t really a secret anymore, particularly among the city’s Jazz players. When Moss passed away in 2016, his daughter, Zarleen Watts, decided to honor her father by keeping his passion project going. The club — fittingly located at a “pointed” building arrowed into the five-way intersection at Vine Street and McMicken Avenue — reopened in October, retaining the eccentric character and regular Jazz performances (by a who’s who of the Cincinnati scene) that were a part of Moss’ vision, but modernizing it a bit and adding a new drink menu. The club has even hosted a Tuesday night tribute to Moss’ music under his old “Society Jazz Orchestra” banner. Schwartz’s Point Jazz & Acoustic Club, 1901 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, BEST COLLABORATIVE HIP HOP LABEL In 2017, five of Cincinnati’s best and most imaginative Hip Hop producers — Homage (CVG), Waldo from Cincinnati, Samuel Steezmore, Phonophage and Dren AD — decided to pool their talents and create Fort Ancient Records. The label has served as a showcase not only for their own estimable talents for crafting engaging beats and tracks (the instrumental releases are some of Fort Ancient’s most compelling), but also for a variety of Cincinnati’s top MCs. Last year, Fort Ancient Records’ two superb compilations — Gatsby (a five-way collaboration between the label founders) and the more vocal-heavy First Team — offered time-capsule-worthy snapshots of Cincinnati Hip Hop circa 2017, with features from Speed Walton, Monty C.


BEST PLACE FOR A FUN FIRST DATE Finding the right place for a solid first date is tricky. Screaming over the music and chatter at a bar isn’t really conducive to getting to know a new person. A fancy restaurant can be too stuffy and sets the expectations kind of high from the get-go. Enter The Rook. Nestled into a cozy storefront in OTR, it offers everything two heart-eyed strangers need for a proper introduction. Good food? The Mediterranean pizza rolls and their sausage and sage tots offer a big ol’ checkmark. Something to loosen those lips? Their signature cocktails are all amazing — and frequently come with charming accoutrement like a candy necklace. When it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty, the best way to do it is over one of The Rook’s hundreds of on-hand board games. Is he dense? Does she cheat? Are they a sore loser? There’s nothing you can’t learn about a potential mate over a round of Scrabble. The Rook, 1115 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine,

Benjamin, CJ the Cynic, Devin Burgess, D-Eight and more. Fort Ancient Records, BEST EXCUSE TO DANCE WITH A PINEAPPLE What is it about drinks in pineapples that make people want to dance? Here’s a hint: it’s the rum. In the case of Tiki Night at Japp’s, music could also have something to do with it as well, as the event draws loyal patrons monthly with its deft mix of ’80s New Wave/ Punk Rock and surf-ready drink staples. Jeremy Harrison, bartender, musician and one of Tiki Night’s founders, spins dance jams throughout the night to keep the fun vibe alive and proves that serving traditional Tiki beverages doesn’t mean the rest of the presenta-

tion has to follow all the rules. Head down the first Wednesday of every month, knock a few back and hit the dance floor, but be careful — pineapple spines are deceptively sharp. Japp’s Since 1879, 1136 Main St., Over-theRhine, japps1879. BEST CURE FOR A MADTREE HANGOVER Some visitors to MadTree Brewing’s newly revamped taproom have undoubtedly woken up the next day with a souvenir that assuredly isn’t a commemorative pint glass. But never fear, dear hangover-sufferer, there’s an easy way to relieve this hellish existence: go back to MadTree! The local brewery has begun offering brunch on

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  149


BEST NEW WINERY WITH A GROOVE Revel OTR Urban Winery opened last spring, offering small-batch and other locally made wine (as well as craft beer and other drinks) in a laid-back but groovy setting. This ain’t your mama’s stuffy wine-snob bar — Revel’s funky, intimate atmosphere (including artwork by students from the nearby Art Academy and other locals) is regularly matched by a fantastic soundtrack of acoustic, Hip Hop, Jazz and Soul/R&B music provided by live musicians and DJs. The excellent, unique music programming has included a tribute to legendary Hip Hop producer J Dilla by local DJ squad Selectas Choice, sets by Speed Walton, popular vocalist Jess Lamb, nationally acclaimed singer K’Valentine and frequent DJing appearances by Hip Hop icon Talib Kweli — the Brooklyn native got his start in the mid-’90s with appearances on recordings by Cincinnati Hip Hop group MOOD and has been spotted around town regularly in recent months. Revel OTR Urban Winery, 111 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine,

Saturday and Sunday mornings, with Catch-a-Fire Café providing the eats and MadTree bartenders stretching their drink-mixing muscles by providing beermosas. Brunch staples like biscuits and gravy, eggs and bacon, frittatas and more adorn the menu, so no matter what’s needed to stop the jackhammer in your skull, MadTree’s got your back. Maybe this time you can buy a pint glass to say thanks. MadTree Brewing, 3301 Madison Road, Oakley, BEST LOCAL HIP HOP COVERAGE Cincinnati music in general gets some cursory coverage from the local media, but one specific genre of music in the Queen City has an entire magazine (and website) dedicated it. DBLCIN 150  150 |  | B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

Magazine is released quarterly, while its site keeps the coverage going between issues, regularly posting new songs, videos, events and news updates for some of the best in the Cincy Hip Hop scene. Both are high quality, from top to bottom — from the writing to the photography to the layout. In 2017, the magazine’s eye-grabbing double covers (on the front and back of each issue) featured local artists like Monty C. Benjamin, Aprina Johnson, JAYAL, Santino Corleon, Trademark Aaron and DATNATIKID, the gifted graphic designer who founded the publication. DBLCIN gives the local Hip Hop community a pretty face, but it’s also a sounding board and opportunity for exposure beyond the superficial that area artists are lucky to have. DBLCIN Magazine,

The best of the

502 513 for the

best of the

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  151

TWENTY YEARS STR NG Proud to be selected BEST LIQUOR STORE 22 Consecutive Years.

“25th Anniversary” 1993 - 2018 95 Riviera Drive • Bellevue, KY 41073 • (859) 291-4007 152  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

City Life

Illustration by David Wilson APARTMENT COMMUNITY 1 The Lofts at Shillito Place 2 American Can Lofts 3 Alumni Lofts DEVELOPER 1 3CDC 2 Model Group 3 Urban Sites BUILDER 1 Drees Homes 2 Fischer Homes 3 Zicka Homes BUILDING 1 Music Hall 2 Union Terminal 3 Carew Tower CINCINNATI NEIGHBORHOOD 1 Over-the-Rhine 2 Northside 3 Hyde Park

Reader Picks NORTHERN KENTUCKY NEIGHBORHOOD 1 Covington 2 Newport 3 Bellevue SUBURBAN NEIGHBORHOOD 1 Anderson Township 2 Mariemont 3 Blue Ash COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY 1 University of Cincinnati 2 Xavier University 3 Northern Kentucky University MBA PROGRAM 1 University of Cincinnati 2 Xavier University 3 Miami University

PLAYGROUND 1 Smale Riverfront Park 2 Washington Park 3 Summit Park

PARK (CITY) 1 Washington Park 2 Ault Park 3 Eden Park

PRIVATE SCHOOL 1 Saint Xavier High School 2 Elder High School 3 Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy

PARK (COUNTY) 1 Cincinnati Nature Center 2 Miami Whitewater Forest 3 Sharon Woods

PUBLIC SCHOOL 1 Walnut Hills High School 2 Oak Hills High School 3 Anderson High School

PLACE TO TAKE A VISITOR 1 Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden 2 Findlay Market 3 Over-the-Rhine 4 Jungle Jim’s International Market 5 Smale Riverfront Park 6 Cincinnati Reds game 7 Carew Tower Observation Deck 8 Cincinnati Museum Center 9 The Banks 10 FC Cincinnati game

SCENIC OVERLOOK 1 Eden Park 2 Devou Park 3 Ault Park 4 Mount Echo Park 5 Smale Riverfront Park 6 Bellevue Park 7 Alms Park 8 Shawnee Lookout 9 Mount Storm Park 10 Fairview Park B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  153

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 018



LOCAL CAUSE 1 Freestore Foodbank 2 Matthew 25: Ministries 3 Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIAL 1 Todd Portune 2 Aftab Pureval 3 P.G. Sittenfeld

Live Music no cover

Wednesday 3/28

LOCAL NEWS STORY OF 2017 1 Fiona the Hippo 2 FC Cincinnati stadium push 3 BLINK

Burning Caravan 8-11

Thursday 3/29

PHILANTHROPIST 1 Anthony Muñoz 2 Otto M. Budig Jr. 3 The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation

Todd Hepburn & Friends 8-11

Friday 3/30 April Aloisio Sings! 8-12

saTurday 3/31

RADIO SHOW 1 Jeff and Jenn (Q102) 2 Scott Sloan (WLW) 3 Cincinnati Edition (WVXU)

Burning Caravan 8-12 cocktaiLs


Wed. - Fri. open @ 4pm | Sat. open @ 6pm 125 West Fourth st. | CinCinnati, ohio 45202

A sustainable family farm specializing in Coturnix Quail & Quail Eggs. We raise high quality produce and happy livestock in the sunshine without the use of commercial herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics, or growth hormones.


513.335.8374 w w w. w oodbo tto m q u a il. c o m INFO@WOODBOTTOMQUAIL.COM

Fiona: Best Cincinnatian and Best Local News Story of 2017 PHOTO: HAILEY BOLLINGER

WEEKEND GETAWAY (WITHIN 100 MILES) 1 Hocking Hills, Ohio 2 Red River Gorge, Ky. 3 Kentucky Bourbon Trail CINCINNATIAN 1 Fiona the Hippo 2 Chris Seelbach 3 Anthony Muñoz 4 Jason Snell 5 Dhani Jones 6 Pete Rose 7 Drew Lachey 8 Nick Lachey 9 Molly Wellmann 10 Bob Herzog NORTHERN KENTUCKIAN 1 George Clooney 2 Cris Collinsworth 3 Nick Clooney 4 Jean-Robert de Cavel 5 Otto M. Budig Jr. 6 Michael Monks 7 Maryanne Zeleznik 8 Tom Browning 9 Colonel De Stewart 10 Eric Deters CONSERVATIVE 1 John Cranley 2 Bill Cunningham 3 Rob Portman

154  154 |  | BBEESSTT O OFF C CIIN NC CIIN NN NAT ATII 22001188

PROGRESSIVE 1 Aftab Pureval 2 Russ Hurley 3 P.G. Sittenfeld DO GOODER 1 Matthew 25: Ministries 2 Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden 3 Chris Seelbach TROUBLEMAKER 1 Larry Flynt 2 Bill Cunningham 3 Adam “Pacman” Jones FRIEND TO THE ENVIRONMENT 1 Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden 2 Cincinnati Nature Center 3 Great Parks of Hamilton County JOURNALIST 1 Bob Herzog (WKRC) 2 Paul Daugherty (The Cincinnati Enquirer) 3 Tana Weingartner (WVXU) LOCAL ACTIVIST 1 Black Lives Matter Cincinnati 2 Jim Tarbell 3 Josh Spring (Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition)

RADIO STATION 1 91.7 (WVXU) 2 101.9 (Q102) 3 700 (WLW) RADIO TALK SHOW HOST 1 Scott Sloan (WLW) 2 Jeff and Jenn (Q102) 3 Bill Cunningham (WLW) RELIGIOUS LEADER 1 Brian Tome (Crossroads) 2 Chuck Mingo (Crossroads) 3 Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr (Archdiocese of Cincinnati) TV 1 2 3

ANCHOR Bob Herzog (WKRC) Sheree Paolello (WLWT) Kathrine Nero (WCPO)

TV 1 2 3

NEWSCAST WKRC (Channel 12) WCPO (Channel 9) WLWT (Channel 5)

TV 1 2 3

SPORTSCASTER Brad Johansen (formerly WKRC) Marty Brennaman (Cincinnati Reds) Ken Broo (WCPO)

TV 1 2 3

WEATHERCASTER Frank Marzullo (WXIX) Randi Rico (WLWT) John Gumm (WKRC)

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  155

Year of the Activist

2017 was the year that Cincinnatians took to the streets — and libraries and buses and apartment buildings — to protest everything from local conditions to national leaders to demand a better future.

BEST PROTEST PROVING THE POWER OF CINCINNATI WOMEN On Jan. 21, 2017, thousands of Cincinnatians joined marches across the country to protest the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Those rallies brought out more than 3 million people, angry at policy proposals and comments Trump had made, including some caught on tape a decade ago where he casually discussed sexually assaulting women. It’s no surprise that women from diverse groups like Black Lives Matter, the Amos Project and Planned Parenthood were leading the way locally. History will likely remember the Women’s Marches nationally as a watershed moment, and the massive crowds marching through the streets of downtown assured that Cincinnati can be proud of its contribution. The march returned in January 2018 as 156  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

women once again took to the streets across the nation to promote the theme, “Hear Our Vote.” Women’s March,

activists with the Our Library, Our Decision Coalition got the news they were waiting to hear: Library trustees have pledged not to sell the north building.

BEST CAMPAIGN TO KEEP A PUBLIC SPACE PUBLIC The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is one of the nation’s most popular and well appointed, and its crown jewel is undeniably its main branch downtown, which stretches over two city blocks along Vine and Walnut streets. So when proposals surfaced from the Library’s Board of Trustees to decommission and potentially sell the north building of the downtown campus, efforts to save the building were swift. After some tense meetings, protests and news conferences,

BEST ACTIVISM AROUND CINCINNATI’S URGENT NEED FOR BETTER BUS SERVICE Due to an aging fleet and budget constraints, it’s a sad fact these days that you can’t always count on the bus showing up on time in Cincinnati. But here’s something you can set your watch by: Cam Hardy and the Better Bus Coalition he founded will be talking about it. Hardy has done tons of social media activism around Metro’s struggles, highlighting aging buses, riders left waiting in the cold and more in daily posts. But the group takes things several steps further.

Photo by Nick Swartsell

Staff Picks

They’ve engaged residents to create their own roadmap to a better Metro. Don’t be surprised to see Hardy and his comrades out pushing for a levy for Metro this year. And if voters approve that money for the bus system, you may even see some of the coalition’s ideas in action. Better Bus Coalition, BEST PUSH TOWARD MORE FUNDING FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING Greater Cincinnati has a reputation as an affordable city, at least compared to the soaring, four-figure average rents in places like New York City and San Francisco. But, that’s deceptive. Hamilton County has a 40,000-unit gap in affordable housing — a huge

deficit that groups in The Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition are working to address. Whether it’s fighting to maintain affordable housing, doing the hard, under-appreciated work of helping tenants stay in their housing or find new places to live or advocating for changes at City Hall, groups in the coalition are on the frontlines of the region’s often-ignored affordability crisis. Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, BEST EFFORT TO REVAMP A VITAL POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY MILESTONE Since the turbulent unrest of 2001, Cincinnati has received national attention for its historic agreement between the police department, city officials and

racial justice advocates on police reform. Now, more than 15 years later, those activists and city officials have committed to an update of the so-called Collaborative Agreement. That ongoing effort includes a review by independent expert Saul Green, new data about community attitudes toward police and beefing up the city’s Citizen Complaint Authority, which investigates reports of police misconduct. There are already signs the vital effort will be difficult: Tension between Cincinnati’s Fraternal Order of Police and the city flared up multiple times last year, causing the union to exit the refresh efforts temporarily. But now they’re back, and the work will hopefully continue.

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  157


BEST CITY COUNCIL CAMPAIGN Every Cincinnati City Council election cycle brings out some interesting efforts to win voters’ attention and hopefully their checkmarks at the ballot. But Tamaya Dennard’s campaign — in which she held kickball games, wine and postcard-writing nights and spoke to residents of Cincinnati neighborhoods at events staged on their neighbors’ porches — was especially unique and, if we dare say so, authentic. Dennard’s enthusiasm for people and her compelling story made the usual campaign fare — flashy ads and ubiquitous parade appearances — seem flat by comparison. The work seems to have paid off. Dennard now sits on City Council.

BEST PLACE TO KEEP IT LOCAL AS YOU DO A LITTLE MID-WEEK SHOPPING AFTER WORK Used to be, if you wanted to get produce or some great meat or spices at Cincinnati’s oldest and best market, you had to scurry out on your lunch break or wait until the weekend. But this past summer, that changed thanks to late night Wednesdays at Findlay Market. Shops at the Over-the-Rhine landmark were open between May and September until 8 p.m. on hump day, giving you the chance to refresh your stock of greens or grab some fresh salmon for dinner. With more and more folks in and around the city’s urban core, it was a needed extension. Here’s hoping it happens again in 2018. Findlay Market, 1801 Race St., Overthe-Rhine, BEST NEWS FOR HUNGRY URBANITES Urbanists and city elected leaders have salivated at the idea of a downtown 158  ||  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8 158

Kroger for years — the city’s last one, a Kroger on Race Street, closed in 1969 — but before now, the pieces had never come together. In 2017, the Cincinnati-based grocer announced it will partner with the city to build a 45,000-square-foot, two-story downtown Kroger location as part of a mixed-used development at the southeast corner of Central Parkway and Walnut Street. That development will also include an 18-story, 139-unit market rate apartment tower and a 550-space parking garage. Kroger says the store is meant to serve customers living in downtown, OTR, the West End and other nearby neighborhoods and will feature a bar, food court and other novel amenities. Kroger, BEST SHOT FOR NORTHSIDE TO GET A GROCERY STORE AGAIN We’ve been waiting patiently for cooperative grocery Apple Street Market to get off the ground, and it seems like the final piece may have

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  159


BEST PLAN TO LINK UP CINCINNATI’S BIKE INFRASTRUCTURE AND MAKE THE CITY MORE ACCESSIBLE TO CYCLISTS AND WALKERS What if you could hop on a bike trail just about anywhere in the city and connect to a network of trails that would take you just about anywhere else in Cincinnati? Queen City Bike, Red Bike, Tri-State Trails and the Urban Basin Bicycle Club joined forces back in September to advocate for just such a proposal. The project, called CROWN (Cincinnati Riding Or Walking Network), would finish the city’s four major in-progress trails and link them with six new connector trails, all while integrating much of the city’s 2010 bicycle transportation plan calling for increased bike lanes throughout the city. The idea has more than recreational merit: It could make it easier for low-income folks without cars to get around safely. CROWN,

fallen into place late in 2017. That’s because the city gave the go-ahead to fund the purchase of the former Save-A-Lot building in the neighborhood where the market wants to locate. The building will be owned by Northside community development corporation NEST, which says it will be easy to find other uses for the property should a grocery store not pan out. But let’s hope it does. Apple Street Market, 4145 Apple St., Northside,

tickets on sale now! 160  160 |  | BBEESSTT O OFF C CIIN NC CIIN NN NAT ATII 22001188

BEST POLITICAL DRAMA, LOCAL DIVISION Phew, y’all. For a minute there, we didn’t think we’d get through the 2017 mayoral race between Mayor John Cranley and Cincinnati City Councilwoman Yvette Simpson. The contest pitted two powerful intellects and

personalities against each other in a knock-down, drag-out brawl over the future of the city. Never before has a hospital expansion been so charged and so debated, and never before have the minutiae of the city’s contracting policies been so interesting and pivotal. Simpson, branding herself as the more progressive candidate, took on an incumbent who presided over a period of rapid growth for Cincinnati. In the end, Cranley prevailed, but not before his challenger gave him the run of his life. BEST POLITICAL DRAMA, STATE DIVISION We’re not even past the primaries yet and already Ohio’s gubernatorial race has gotten bizarre. A Democratic candidate, former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill, made a Facebook





BEST SEAT FOR A GORGEOUS CINCINNATI SKYLINE VIEW If you’re looking for a place to survey the epic expanse of your Queen City kingdom (queendom?), you could do a lot worse than Olden View Park, a small pocket park in East Price Hill sandwiched between the high-rise that’s home to Primavista and the newer Incline Public House. The high perch in one of Cincinnati’s up-and-coming neighborhoods affords a sweeping view of downtown, the hills of Clifton and Mount Adams, the Mill Creek Valley and the snaking Ohio River as it passes Northern Kentucky. It’s a great spot to take a little break while you wait for a table at either of the popular restaurants or a show at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater. Olden View Park, 2610 W. Eighth St., Price Hill, PH OTO: NIC K SWARTSELL

post bragging about how many women he’s slept with as a way to rebut the #MeToo movement. A campaign volunteer for Republican candidate Jim Renacci jumped onto a personal Facebook post in memoriam of a rival campaign staffer’s late relative to slam Jon Husted for being an establishment hack. The dust has settled, somewhat at least, with Renacci now running for U.S. Senate and O’Neill trailing distantly behind other Democratic candidates after apologizing for his social media shenanigans. But please, let’s pull back on the weirdness for the general election, shall we? BEST POLITICAL DRAMA, NATIONAL DIVISION Where to start with the amazing dysfunction at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.? (We’re talkin ’bout Trump here, people). There was his messy move just weeks into his presidency to limit travel from countries that are majority Muslim, a hastily drafted executive order that federal courts quickly slapped down. Then there were the staff squabbles and change-ups in the White House itself, which eventually led to Trump’s 162  162 | | BBEESSTT OOFF CCI N I NCCI N I NNNAT ATI I 22001188

once-trusted advisor Steve Bannon going rogue and badmouthing his former boss to journalists. Oh yeah, don’t forget the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, which has already resulted in indictments of key Trump campaign folks like Paul Manafort. Pop some popcorn: This soap opera looks like it’s got a few more seasons left in it. BEST POLITICAL DRAMA, CORPORATE DIVISION Is activist investor Nelson Peltz a visionary with new ideas to unlock untold profits from one of Cincinnati’s largest companies? Or, as critics might suggest, is he a pirate roaming the corporate seas looking for a bounty on a prominent merchant ship? That’s the crux of the controversy surrounding Peltz’s drive to jump onto the board of Procter & Gamble, and it looks like we’ll get answers eventually. Peltz fought the most expensive proxy fight ever — one that essentially ended in a tie. After that battle, P&G made a seat for him on its board. Some leaders at the company say Peltz is only worried

about short-term gains, while Peltz says he has some ideas for making the consumer-goods behemoth more efficient and delivering more profits to P&G stockholders. Peltz’s Trian Fund Management has major interests in that goal, owning $3.5 billion in P&G shares. BEST INCLUSIVE AND SUPPORTIVE COMMUNITY GROUP FOR WOMEN, BY WOMEN We could all use more good news about female leadership in our lives, especially these days. Enter Women of Cincy, a community group that started in January 2017 to showcase women doing good work and celebrating their achievements via the group’s website and social media accounts. One year later, that much-needed celebration continues. The group has highlighted the work of tons of local women via profiles and interviews, and recently stepped it up a notch with a podcast series exploring the diversity of the female experience called, “What is a Woman?” Here’s to many more years of strong, diverse Cincy women. Women of Cincy,

BEST HUMANITARIAN EFFORTS THAT RESTORE OUR FAITH IN… UH… HUMANITY In January 2017, local faith leaders began signing on to Cincinnati’s new sanctuary movement — an interfaith effort that seeks to provide legal protection, shelter and other aid for undocumented immigrants and vulnerable groups. The movement comes after the election of President Donald Trump, who promised waves of mass deportations of undocumented immigrants, Muslim registries and bans on refugees from countries suffering from terrorism. Organizers with the Amos Project quickly announced a half-dozen congregations representing Islam, Judaism and Christianity were ready to become sanctuary sites— those willing to host undocumented people in their buildings — or solidarity congregations willing to provide other kinds of support to vulnerable people seeking refuge in the United States. BEST REASON TO GET RIGHT WITH THE LORD BEFORE ENTERING KENTUCKY We all know by now that the Brent

Springdale, OH (513) 341-KART | Florence, KY (859) 371-KART



BEST NEW OPTION FOR GROCERIES IN OVER-THE-RHINE Findlay Market’s Fresh Table owners and chefs Meredith Trombly and Louis Snowden want you to cook your own food, too. And you can get the ingredients at their new Epicurean Mercantile Company, which is located just across from the Findlay Market streetcar stop on Race Street. Trombly and Snowden pondered the venture for years, and when developers Model Group offered a space uniquely positioned to complement Findlay Market, they jumped on the opportunity. The name sounds fancy, but Trombly and Snowden say they want to serve the entire community at all price points, stocking items that round out Findlay Market’s offerings from budget brands to boutique treats while participating in SNAP and EBT programs. The urban grocery also has an in-house eatery, The Counter, offering dine-in or carry-out small plates and entrées. Epicurean Mercantile Company, 1818 Race St., Over-the-Rhine,

Spence Bridge needs a replacement. The span linking I-71 and I-75 between the Buckeye and Bluegrass states wasn’t designed to carry nearly as many cars as it does, and it’s 55 years old. Engineers say it’s structurally sound and isn’t about to fall into the river or anything, but that doesn’t necessarily comfort us when we’re sitting stationary in our cars with traffic snarled up on the bridge’s narrow lanes. But other snarl-ups of a political nature have hamstrung work on a new bridge, which will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.6 billion. Will the federal government provide some funds? Unclear. President Donald Trump didn’t mention the bridge when he visited Cincinnati in 2017 to talk infrastructure. Will tolls be part of the picture? A bevy of vocal opponents hope not. In the meantime, here we all are: suspended over the Ohio River at a standstill. BEST REASON TO GET RIGHT WITH THE LORD BEFORE ENTERING THE WEST SIDE If you were 76 years old and thousands of cars drove over you every day, you’d be tired, too. In 2017, motorists snapped pictures of concrete falling from the literally crumbling Western 164  164 | | BBEESSTT OOFF CCI N I NCCI N I NNNAT ATI I 22001188

Hills Viaduct, reminding us that, despite officials’ promises that the bridge is safe, our gateway from the center of the city to Price Hill Chili and Elder High School football games (and, for many of us, our houses) needs some major help. In 2017, elected officials got a little closer to finding enough change under the couch cushions for the bridge’s $335 million replacement. Hamilton County and the City of Cincinnati pledged $33 million each for the project. That just leaves, oh, about $280 million left to scrape together. Easy!



BEST BUILDING WE WISH WAS STILL STANDING IN DOWNTOWN CINCINNATI Gone but not forgotten, the Dennison Hotel came down in 2017, leaving a gaping hole in the fabric of downtown Main Street. The building was demolished after a protracted fight the previous year between preservationists, the city and owners the Joseph Family. It was an obstinate old dude: the demolition was slowed multiple times by complications, including the discovery that the Dennison shared a structural wall with a neighboring building. Should’ve just left it up, y’all. Eventually, the wrecking ball prevailed and now all we have left are memories.

BEST CATCH PHRASES WE’LL MISS IN THE NEW CITY COUNCIL TERM By his own telling, Cincinnati City Councilman Charlie Winburn was Freddie Kruger, and he could always rise to the occasion because he did his homework. Wait, what now? During long legislative debates last council term, the Republican chair of the powerful Budget and Finance Committee could always be counted on for commentary. Some of it was insightful. Some of it was confusing — we still have no idea why he would occasionally compare himself to an ’80s horror movie character. But all of it livened up the sometimes-frustrating proceedings, even when the subject of discussion was the time the FBI seized several cardboard boxes from Winburn’s storage unit in the basement of City Hall. Nothing incriminating came from that investigation, but Winburn got yet another catchphrase — “Box Gate” — out of the incident. BEST EXPLETIVE-LADEN MAGAZINE INTERVIEW Former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, a hometown guy, was never the most taciturn of lawmakers. He was known to tear up on many an occasion during his tenure. But as it turns out, he was really holding back a lot. When he was forced to retire due to a rout by unruly tea partiers in Congress, he unloaded in a very long, very personal Politico story to the amusement and amazement of all but some of his former colleagues, whom he called “assholes,” “legislative terrorists” and worse. He even had some brutally honest words about President Donald Trump, calling situations at the White House at the time “a shitshow.” Tell us how you really feel, John.








513.478.3232 513.478.3232

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  165


BEST MUNICIPAL EFFORTS TO SAVE THE PLANET The City of Cincinnati’s move toward renewable energy is an encouraging, ongoing effort to do our part in avoiding a grim environmental future. The city has achieved an 18.4 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since it started measuring those emissions in 2006, and also recently built one of the country’s first net-zero energy use police stations and greatly increased the use of solar panels and other renewable energy technology. Late in the year, city officials signed a contract that will provide 100 percent renewable energy to many city buildings and functions, saving the equivalent of 650,000 trees or 28 million pounds of coal a year. And the efforts aren’t done yet: Officials have set their sights on making all municipal energy use green-friendly by 2035. BEST HIGH-QUALITY LOCAL PUBLICATION NOW OWNED BY A COMPANY THAT ALSO PUBLISHES A MAGAZINE ABOUT TRUMP’S HOUSE We held our breath when we found out that purveyor of high-quality long-form journalism Cincinnati Magazine was up for sale last year, and breathed a brief sigh of relief when we heard it got new owners in the form of Hour Media. Hour publishes more than 70 titles, including, randomly, Jewel of Palm Beach, which bills itself as “the exclusive publication 166  166 | | BBEESSTT O OFF CCIIN NCCIIN NN NAT ATII 22001188

BEST SURPRISE POLITICAL VICTORY, HOWEVER FLEETING Former Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, the underdog in the 2017 mayoral election, is a tenacious fighter and a tireless public servant. So while we have to admit we weren’t expecting her to pull out a decisive mayoral primary win over incumbent Mayor John Cranley and challenger Rob Richardson, we also weren’t surprised when she did. It was a wakeup call for Cranley, who revised his campaign strategy entirely after the loss. Both candidates would go on to fight tenaciously in the general election, with the incumbent eventually pulling out the win. Hey Yvette, do you have any plans for 2021?

of Donald J. Trump’s spectacular Mar-a-Lago Club.” Sadly, the new owners dumped some of our local monthly’s most talented staffers. But new Editor-in-Chief John Fox (a CityBeat founder) seems to be keeping the mag on the right track in the aftermath. Cincinnati Magazine, BEST USE OF TINY HORSES TO CHEER UP TRAVELERS The Greater Cincinnati area made national headlines back in February 2017 when CVG enlisted the help of very cute miniature horses to soothe air-weary travelers. Think Lil’ Sebastian from Parks and Recreation, only in real life and there when you need him most. The therapy horses from Ross-based nonprofit Seven Oaks Farm helped welcome jet-lagged business flyers and folks coming back from vacations in warmer climes feel good about returning to the Queen City. The horses are used to the attention: they visit everything from hospice homes to police outreach programs. Seven Oaks Farm Miniature Therapy Horses, 2534 Millville Shandon Road, Hamilton, BEST TRUMP IMPRESSION FROM A STATEWIDE CANDIDATE We’ve got a tie in this category. Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel could make a great case for winning this award, what

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  167


New and Expanded Food Menu


Serving Over 80 Different Wines


1/2 price wines specials every Tuesday


Pet Friendly with Paws on the Patio night every Thursday!


Private Party Room Available for Rent



BEST SPACE-INSPIRED, STAR-SPECKLED TRAIL Carl Sagan, the Mr. Rogers of science, would be proud. Liz and Josiah Wolf spent 10 months creating Space Walk, “an immersive visual art installation designed to convey the true scale of our solar system,” which crawls along the Mill Creek Greenway trail in Northside. It’s a self-explanatory three-quarter-mile trail that takes on-lookers on a journey through our galaxy via replicas built to a 3.5 billion:1 scale, all lit by solar power. Encased in special holders, the planets radiate a soft, purple glow at night. Wolf wanted to give back to his neighborhood park, nestled in Northside, through education and exploration of one his favorite pastimes: learning about our galaxy. Grab a few pals and make it a lax night under the stars. Plus, The Littlefield is right down the road, a quaint walk to grab a drink. Space Walk,

with his weird, Trump-esque Twitter presence during his now-scuttled Senate campaign. Who can forget this classic: “Proud to be leading movement in OH to STOP sanctuary cities,” Mandel tweeted last February. “Liberal journalists opposing us & conservative activists supporting us. Charge!” But there’s also U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, who jumped into the Senate race after Mandel bowed out to take care of his wife while she experiences health problems. Renacci has the blessings of The Donald himself, and isn’t above a little Trumpian posturing to boot. Since he’s currently the one seeking elected office, we have to give him the edge. Charge! BEST RADICAL AND COMMUNITYFOCUSED COLLECTIVE SPACE McMicken FreeSpace is a volunteer-led, not-for-profit non-hierarchical 168  168 |  | BBEESSTT O OFF C CIIN NC CIIN NN NAT ATII 22001188

social center located in the Mohawk-Brighton neighborhood of Cincinnati. The inclusive, comfy spot has been operating since 2015, offering regular programming that caters to those in need of a commercial-free sanctuary. Offerings include meetings for Art of Recovery/Alcoholics Anonymous, Cincinnati Allied Transgender Support and Womxn’s Wednesdays. Stephanie Phillips, building owner and volunteer for the collective space, says that the FreeSpace is sober by default. Volunteers have been involved with efforts like Countdown to Conviction Coalition to convict Ray Tensing for murder in the shooting death of Sam DuBose, and Our Library, Our Decision, which has tried to stop the sale of the Main Library’s North Building. McMicken FreeSpace, 527 W. McMicken Ave., West End,

AWARD WINNING WAXING FOR OVER 25 YEARS 3608 Marburg Ave. Hyde Park, Ohio 45208 W W W. C I N C Y S PA . C O M

513-321-8252 Thanks CityBeat Readers for

VOTING US 2018 BEST HOME BUILDER Currently building in over 40 communities throughout Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky CONTACT Amy Schmidt (866) 236-8052

©2017 The Drees Company. All rights reserved. 181784 3/18

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  169

Summer Camp in Ohio The Premier

“Top 10 Camp in the USA” #6 by

“The Coolest Camp in Ohio”

“Program Excellence” Award American Camp Association Ohio

Since 1959 • Unforgettable Camp Experiences • Lifelong Learning 4:1 Camper to Counselor Ratio • Traditional Overnight Camp, plus… Horseback Riding, Sailing, Canoeing, Swimming, Arts, Drama, Archery, Riflery and so much more in our 2, 4, 6, or 8 Week Summer Camp! Boys & girls ages 6-16, Special one week sessions for ages 6-10

www.FalconCamp .com

170  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

Sports &


Illustration by David Wilson Illustration by David Wilson OVERALL LOCAL ATHLETE OVERALL LOCAL ATHLETE 1 Joey Votto 1 Votto 2 Joey A.J. Green 2 3 A.J. AndyGreen Dalton 3 Andy Dalton BENGAL (CURRENT) BENGAL (CURRENT) 1 A.J. Green 1 A.J. Green 2 Andy Dalton 2 Dalton 3 Andy AJ McCarron 3 AJ McCarron CYCLONE (CURRENT) CYCLONE 1 Brandon(CURRENT) McNally 1 McNally 2 Brandon Dominic Zombo 2 Zombo 3 Dominic Arvin Atwal 3 Arvin Atwal RED (CURRENT) RED (CURRENT) 1 Joey Votto 1 Votto 2 Joey Billy Hamilton 2 Hamilton 3 Billy Anthony DeSclafani 3 Anthony DeSclafani FC FC 1 1 2 2 3 3

CINCINNATI PLAYER (CURRENT) CINCINNATI PLAYER (CURRENT) Jimmy McLaughlin Jimmy McLaughlin Danni König Danni König Corben Bone Corben Bone

Reader Reader Picks Picks

BEARCAT (CURRENT) BEARCAT (CURRENT) 1 Gary Clark 1 2 Gary CoachClark Mick Cronin 2 Mick Cronin 3 Coach Kyle Washington 3 Kyle Washington

MUSKETEER (CURRENT) MUSKETEER 1 Coach Chris(CURRENT) Mack 1 2 Coach Trevon Chris BluiettMack 2 Bluiett 3 Trevon J.P. Macura 3 J.P. Macura NKU NORSE (CURRENT) NKU NORSE (CURRENT) 1 Drew McDonald 1 Drew McDonald 2 Carson Williams 2 Williams 3 Carson Jalen Billups 3 Jalen Billups TEAM (PROFESSIONAL) TEAM (PROFESSIONAL) 1 FC Cincinnati 1 Cincinnati 2 FC Reds 2 3 Reds Bengals 3 Bengals TEAM (AMATEUR/SEMI-PRO) TEAM (AMATEUR/SEMI-PRO) 1 Cincinnati Rollergirls 1 Rollergirls 2 Cincinnati Florence Freedom 2 Florence Freedom 3 Cincinnati Steam 3 Cincinnati Steam

TEAM (COLLEGE) TEAM (COLLEGE) 1 University of Cincinnati Men’s 1 University Basketball of Cincinnati Men’s 2 Basketball Xavier University Men’s Basketball 2 University Men’s Football Basketball 3 Xavier University of Cincinnati 3 University of Cincinnati Football

GOLF COURSE (PUBLIC) GOLF COURSE 1 Blue Ash Golf(PUBLIC) Course 1 Golf Course 2 Blue AstonAsh Oaks Golf Club 2 Aston Oaks Golf 3 Avon Fields Golf Club Course 3 Avon Fields Golf Course PICK-UP BASKETBALL COURT PICK-UP BASKETBALL COURT 1 Cincinnati Athletic Club 1 Cincinnati Athletic Club 2 Blue Ash Recreation Center 2 Ash Recreation 3 Blue Corryville RecreationCenter Center 3 Corryville Recreation Center

TEAM (HIGH SCHOOL) TEAM (HIGH 1 Elder High SCHOOL) School Football 1 Elder High School Football 2 Colerain High School Football 2 HighSchool SchoolFootball Football 3 Colerain Milford High 3 Milford High School Football

SOCCER FACILITY SOCCER FACILITY 1 Cincy Sports Nation 1 Cincy Sports 2 Soccer City Nation 2 City Training Center 3 Soccer GameTime 3 GameTime Training Center

COACH/MANAGER PRO/COLLEGE COACH/MANAGER 1 Chris Mack (XavierPRO/COLLEGE University 1 Chris Mack (Xavier University Basketball) 2 Basketball) Mick Cronin (University of Cincinnati 2 Mick Cronin (University of Cincinnati Basketball) Basketball) 3 Alan Koch (FC Cincinnati) 3 Alan Koch (FC Cincinnati)

SOFTBALL FIELD SOFTBALL FIELD 1 Expressway Park Softball Complex 1 Park Softball 2 Expressway Dunham Recreation CenterComplex 2 Center 3 Dunham River CityRecreation West (formerly 3 River City West (formerly Rumpke Park) Rumpke Park)

COACH/MANAGER HIGH SCHOOL COACH/MANAGER HIGH 1 Doug Ramsey (Elder HighSCHOOL School) 1 Doug Ramsey (Elder High School) 2 Adam Lazar (Walnut Hills Women’s 2 Adam Lazar (Walnut Hills Women’s Basketball) 3 Basketball) Steve Specht (Saint Xavier High 3 Steve Specht (Saint Xavier High School) School)

TENNIS COURT TENNIS COURT 1 Cincinnati Sports Club 1 Cincinnati Sports Club 2 Camargo Racquet Club 2 Racquet Club 3 Camargo Blue Ash Tennis Courts 3 Blue Ash Tennis Courts

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 018 | 1 B EBSETSO I 2I021018 8   |  |171 T FOCFI N CC I NI N CN I NAT N AT 1

VOLLEYBALL COURT 1 Cincinnati Sand Volleyball 2 Setters Beach Volleyball & Outdoor Lounge 3 Cabana on the River HEALTH CLUB/GYM 1 Planet Fitness/ YMCA (TIE) 2 Cincinnati Sports Club 3 Mercy HealthPlex PERSONAL TRAINING/ CROSSFIT GYM 1 ProForce 2 Cincy 360 Fitness 3 9Round Fitness PILATES STUDIO 1 Cincinnati Sports Club 2 Club Pilates 3 BodyMind Balance YOGA STUDIO 1 Modo Yoga 2 Body Alive 3 Cincinnati Yoga School HIKING TRAIL 1 Cincinnati Nature Center 2 Loveland Bike Trail 3 Miami Whitewater Forest JOGGING ROUTE 1 Eden Park 2 Cincinnati Parks 3 Loveland Bike Trail RUNNING/BIKING EVENT 1 Flying Pig Marathon 2 Cyclones Frozen 5K/10K 3 Queen Bee Half Marathon SPORTS COVERAGE 1 700 WLW 2 OhVarsity! 3 Fox Sports Ohio SUMMER CAMP 1 Camp Ernst 2 Camp Joy 3 Camp Kern PLACE TO CAMP 1 Red River Gorge 2 Big Bone Lick State Park 3 Hueston Woods State Park

2 | B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8 172  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

The best experiences are

We’re honored to be awarded the best Maternity/Birthing Center in Cincinnati for the 10th year in a row. Congratulations to the team at TriHealth’s Good Samaritan Hospital on being awarded a “Best of” by City Beat for Maternity/Birthing Center. This is the 10th year that Good Samaritan has won this award, and this is only one of many top achievements: • #1 in delivering babies in Greater Cincinnati • #1 in high-risk pregnancy care • 1st Maternal Cardiac Care program • Most fetal medicine specialists in the region

375 Dixmyth Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45220

• Largest Level III NICU in Cincinnati

Learn more at or call 513 475 4500 B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  173

Futbol Fanatics

Are your ready for some futbol? There’s no doubt that Cincinnati bleeds orange and blue for hometown soccer stars Futbol Club Cincinnati. As far as we’re concerned, they’re basically the Arsenal FC or Real Madrid of the Midwest. With big-money backers and record-breaking crowds, everyone’s waiting with bated breath to see what the team does next.

Photo by Hailey Bollinger 174  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

BEST REASON TO PAINT YOURSELF ORANGE AND BLUE The hottest sports ticket in town belongs to FC Cincinnati, which spread its orange-and-blue fandom across Cincy during its inaugural season in 2016. 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 received — 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 and taking down Major League Soccer clubs along the way. As fans became more and more devoted, it was not uncommon to see stripped-down dudes covered in orange and blue body paint and chanting, drum-beating, soccer-scarf-wearing fanatics at the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium, where the team played its 2017 season. European futbol fever plays out on the historic football field and in “The Bailey,” where FCC support clubs get real rowdy, lighting off colored smoke bombs, tossing up tifos and generally enacting flamboyant displays of futbol pride in a spirited section just behind the north goal. Bailey 2018 season tickets sold out almost immediately, so don’t expect to party with the big boys at the game — you’ll have to settle for painting your face and torso in the sideline seats. FC Cincinnati, BEST TIME MITCH SAID NO The 2016 USL Goalkeeper of the Year Mitch Hildebrandt lived up to the high praise in FC Cincinnati’s win over the Chicago Fire in the Round of 16 of the 2017 U.S. Open Cup this past season, keeping the Fire off the scoreboard through 120 minutes and making three key saves in the team’s 3-1 shootout win. Hildebrandt, to put it simply, put together a career performance on national television (ESPN) in front of a home crowd at Nippert Stadium, proving no stage is too big for the 29-year-old keeper. Unfortunately for those in attendance and Cincinnati fans alike, Hildebrandt won’t be in the net at Nippert in 2018, as his efforts propelled him into a contract with Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United. Of course, he will be dearly missed, but his U.S. Open Cup heroism won’t be forgotten. FC Cincinnati, BEST FC CINCINNATI WILDCARD A native to Thiès, Senegal, former FC Cincinnati forward Djiby Fall scored 16 of the club’s 42 goals, including four game-winners, to lead the team last season. However, Fall’s knack for finding the back of the net likely won’t be what keeps him in the minds of the FCC faithful as he suits up for Kazakhstan’s FC Irtysh Pavlodar in 2018, but rather his knack for drawing cards from referees’ pockets. The 32-year-old Fall conceded 58 fouls — the second-highest count on the roster — and a combination of five yellow/red cards through 25 games with FCC in 2017, a testament to his aggressive on-field demeanor. Fall also received a six-game suspension following the club’s draw against Louisville City FC on April 25, 2017 — he was given a one-game suspension for a red card in the 87th minute and an additional five-game suspension for what was deemed “major game misconduct.” The additional five games were believed to be the byproduct of Fall and Louisville midfielder Niall McCabe’s scuffle following the red card, in which Fall was later accused of biting McCabe’s cheek by Louisville coach James O’Connor. Surely, Cincinnati will be chomping at the bit for a player to fill Fall’s tenacious presence in 2018, as will those in attendance. FC Cincinnati,

Staff Picks

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  175

176 | | BBEESSTT OOFF CCI N I NCCI N I NNNAT ATI I 22001188 176 

BEST HIGH SCHOOL ‘SPORTSCENTER’ IMPERSONATORS High school sports coverage is a vital component of local network news during the football and basketball season, and the various local channels’ unwavering commitment to that coverage suggests it’s a big enough ratings-grabber as fans tune in to see how their alma mater or kids’ school or “that high school up the street” fared. The substantial blocks of time dedicated to high school sports can be a little mind-numbing for those not interested in micro-local sports, but on Fox19 the tag-team of Joe Danneman and Jeremy Rauch makes a gallant effort to entertain rather than just read scores. During the station’s Friday night “Final Quarter” chunk, the duo throws out obscure or niche pop culture references over game highlights like a slap-happy SportsCenter team working the overnight shift, whether it’s singing Miguel’s “Luke skywalkin’ on these haters” as a teen pulls up over defenders to make a jump shot, or saying, “Like Bobby Brown in the ’80s, he is good to good to good to go solo,” during a breakaway touchdown run. It can be slightly cringe-y when first tuning in, but give it a few minutes and you’ll appreciate the slightly surrealistic flow, especially if you have a mildly twisted sense of humor (or you’re a little high). Fox19,

BEST SPORTS LOVE AFFAIR In the 2005 film Brokeback Mountain, one of the more moving moments was when Jake Gyllenhaal’s aching character told his secret lover, “I wish I knew how to quit you.” Bengals owner Mike Brown seems to have a similar quandary when it comes to his professional relationship with Marvin Lewis. Sports history is littered with examples of head coaches of good teams being fired for not living up to fan expectations, but — as exemplified by Brown’s threat to leave the city over the stadium-funding debacle of the mid-’90s — fan concerns are not high on Brown’s list. So as the Bengals limped to the end of a disappointing 2017 season (their second losing one in a row) and anyone with a functioning brain seemed certain Lewis — who lifted the team from catastrophe to the upper-echelons of mediocrity by making the first round of the playoffs seven times but winning zero of those games — had coached his last Bengals game, Mike Brown mikebrowned the situation and brought him back for two more seasons. The team likely helped the cause, doing what they often do by winning the final game of the season: They knocked the Ravens out of playoff contention on New Year’s Eve with some exciting last-minute heroics and provided just enough excitement to keep just enough good vibes flowing. Bengals,

BEST JOEY VOTTO MOMENT Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto, a fan favorite among Reds faithful, further entrenched his name in Queen City history this past season, surpassing former Red Jay Bruce as the all-time home-run leader at Great American Ball Park. An 11-year staple of Reds baseball, Votto crushed his 136th home run into the stands at GABP against the San Diego Padres on Aug. 7. He then added another three home runs at the ball park to finish the season and stretch even farther past Bruce with 139. Now, 139 of his 257 career home runs have been driven into home crowds. Votto will continue to flesh out his résumé in 2018 to hopefully hang his plaque in Cooperstown following his MLB career. But even if he doesn’t receive the honor from the Baseball Hall of Fame, he has more than done enough to be remembered forever here in Cincinnati. Reds,

BEST REASON BUFFALO SHOULD LOVE ANDY DALTON Already out of playoff contention, the Bengals seemed to have nothing but pride to play for in their regular season finale against the Baltimore Ravens this past season, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The Buffalo Bills’ first playoff berth in 17 years was dependent on a Cincinnati win over the Ravens, and Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton delivered with a New Year’s Eve miracle. Trailing 27-24 with less than a minute left in regulation, Dalton connected with second-year wide receiver Tyler Boyd for a 49-yard touchdown to secure the comeback win and punch the Bills’ ticket to the postseason. In return for Dalton’s game-winning toss, the Bills’ faithful translated their celebratory efforts into charitable donations of over $340,000 to the Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation that supports seriously ill and physically challenged children and their

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  177

families in Cincinnati and Fort Worth, Texas. Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation,

BEST TRUE MVP While it was obvious that the Reds didn’t have all the right pieces to contend for a pennant in 2017, the team was often fun to watch, especially on the offensive end. Cincinnati sports fans who might normally balk at supporting a team who isn’t going to make the playoffs had one huge reason to pay attention (and ticket prices): Joey Votto. The Reds’ first baseman isn’t just playing well, he’s playing historically well, so much so that even while working for a team whose record was among the five worst in the game, he very nearly won the National League Most Valuable Player Award. Votto led the NL in multiple categories (walks, games played, on-base percentage and slugging, etc.), but his efforts only earned him the distinction of Second Most Valuable Player: Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton (who was later traded to — surprise! — the Yankees) won top honors, but only by a sliver. Votto’s most impressive numbers — the ones that should have every local baseball fan paying attention so their great-grandkids can tell their great-grandkids, “My great grandma was alive when Joey Votto played!” — are the ones he shares with only two other players in history: Babe Ruth and Ted Williams. According to’s Mark Sheldon, Votto and those two titans are the only ones to have 179 hits, 36 homers, 134 walks and less than 83 strikeouts in a season. Reds,

BEST BENGALS ROOKIE EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS While some are quick to chalk up the Bengals’ seven-win season in 2017 solely as a disappointment, the team’s rookie class flashed enough in Year 1 to give reason for fans to look toward a much brighter future. Of course, first-round wide receiver John Ross, who played just 17 offensive snaps this past season, remains a question mark within the class, but his performance — or lack thereof — is an anomaly compared to fellow rookies Joe Mixon, Jordan Willis and, most importantly, Carl Lawson. A fourth-round pick in the 2017 draft, Lawson exceeded expectations during his first year in the NFL, finishing his rookie campaign tied for 25th in the NFL with 8.5 sacks. Bengals, P H O T O : C O U R T E S Y O F T H E C I N N C I N AT I R E D S

BEST CINCY HIGH SCHOOL IRON MAN Mason High School senior running back Matt Sora was highly regarded throughout his Comets career for a number of on-field feats, but no statistic or single-game effort outshines Sora’s 35-game start streak. The 6-foot, 200-pound Sora first took over as Mason’s starting running back as a sophomore in 2015 and proceeded to make 35 consecutive starts, rushing for over 3,000 yards and 39 touchdowns in the process. His production is a feat within itself, but his ability to maintain his hard-hitting, gritty running style for 35 consecutive games without slowing down or suffering injury speaks volumes to his toughness and character. BEST CINCINNATI NATIVE GOING TO THE NFL A graduate of Cincinnati’s Archbishop Moeller High School, Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard officially declared for the 2018 NFL Draft following his junior campaign with the Buckeyes, essentially punching his ticket to the big leagues. Projected as a first-round pick in some of the early circulating mock drafts, Hubbard shined bright along an Ohio State defensive line riddled with stars like Tyquan Lewis, 178  EE ST F FCC I NI N CC I NI N NN AT I I2 0 178 | | B B S TOO AT 21 08 18

Nick Bosa and Jalyn Holmes. Hubbard finished second on the team in sacks (7.0) and total tackles for loss (13.5) in 2017. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound edge product will work to improve his stock prior to the draft April 26-28. BEST REDS RISING STAR Working within a pitching rotation that has undoubtedly seen better days, Cincinnati Reds rookie pitcher Luis Castillo outshined his teammates in his MLB debut in 2017, providing a light at the end of what was a dark, dark tunnel on the mound. Gifted to the Reds via trade, Castillo was sent away from the Miami Marlins to Cincinnati along with two other youngsters (Austin Brice and Isaiah White) in exchange for veteran RHP Dan Straily, a move Miami’s brass surely regrets as of late. Dubbed “La Piedra,” or “The Stone,” Castillo was rock solid in his 15 starts last season, as he recorded a 3.12 ERA, 98 strikeouts and a 1.07 WHIP. He is expected to take over as the Reds’ ace in 2018, a spot he has rightfully earned so early in his MLB career. Reds,

BEST REDS OFF-FIELD PERSONALITY Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton, highly regarded for his strong defense and blazing speed, often won over the crowd not only for his highlight-level play but also his fun-loving, cheery presence in the dugout and clubhouse. Drawing in the limelight for his laconic voice and emphatic on-base celebrations, Hamilton often kept energy high through adverse situations, which Cincinnati actively endured during its 68-94 season. As trade rumors strengthen around his name, Hamilton’s future with the Reds may be in question, but his past should continue to bring a smile to Reds supporters, regardless of where he suits up next. Reds, BEST BEARCATS FOOTBALL SUCCESS STORY A former rodeo athlete turned linebacker, the University of Cincinnati’s Jaylyin Minor took the road less traveled before becoming one of the most productive linebackers in the school’s history. With no offers coming out of

high school as a two-sport athlete (football and rodeo), the Texas native opted to continue his football career in his home state at Tyler Junior College. After just eight games with the Apaches, Minor was considered a two-star recruit as part of the 2014 class and accepted an offer from UC over a handful of Power 5 programs. After taking on a backup role for his first two seasons with Cincinnati, Minor exploded as a senior in 2017, as he led the AAC and ranked ninth nationally in total tackles (125). He also accrued 4.5 tackles for loss. Now moving on from Nippert Stadium to test his talents in the NFL, Minor is training in Atlanta to prepare for Cincinnati’s Pro Day and take his story to the next level in the big leagues. University of Cincinnati, BEST BEARCATS FOOTBALL FRESHMAN Though he played just 376 defensive snaps as a true freshman in 2017, University of Cincinnati linebacker Jarell White still made a worthwhile impact as part of the Bearcats’ defense

The excellence of TriHealth classes and training, in the heart of Downtown Cincinnati. Just 2 Blocks North of the Aronoff Center. Located on the streetcar route at the PubLic Library stoP. 898 Walnut St. 513-361-2116 YWCATriHeAlTHFiTnessCenTer



SUNDAY, APRIL 8TH Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum Same Day Registration opens at 7:30AM, Race begins at 9AM


All proceeds benefit Caracole’s mission of reducing the impact of HIV/AIDS through housing, care and prevention. B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  179

and flashed star-level potential. Dubbed a four-star recruit by Rivals and a three-star by 247Sports, ESPN and Scout coming out of Cincinnati’s LaSalle High School, White turned down offers from a number of Power 5 programs (i.e. Boston College, Iowa, Purdue, Pittsburgh) to represent his hometown as a Bearcat. In his collegiate debut, White recorded 46 combined tackles (29 solo) and 2.5 tackles for loss, revealing just a spark of his bright future with Cincinnati. White will surely receive an increased workload in 2018 because of Jaylyin Minor’s graduation, allowing him to join forces with budding star linebacker Perry Young and continue to pad out his résumé. University of Cincinnati, BEST FRINGE CINCY TEAM TO WATCH IN 2018 First rolled out in 2006, the Cincinnati Rollergirls are the Queen City’s first all-female, amateur, flat-track roller derby team, and for those interested in trading in their mainstream fandom for something more unique, these girls have you covered. All members of the team — including the coaches, referees and skaters — are volunteers, and the team is primarily owned by the skaters themselves as the girls double as roller derby athletes and #girlbosses. The team has also been voted as Cincinnati’s best amateur/semi-pro team by CityBeat readers every year since 2011. To show support, roller derby die-hards can watch either Cincinnati’s varsity team, the Black Sheep, or JV team, the Violent Lambs, live at Schmidt Memorial Fieldhouse at Xavier University for all home games. Tickets start at $10 for adults and can be purchased through the team’s website. Schmidt Memorial Field House, 3824 Winding Way, Evanston, BEST (AND ONLY) LOCAL BASEBALL MUSEUM The Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame & Museum is a shrine to all things Reds and the sport’s most immersive museum outside the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Its 10 full-time galleries include “Glory Days,” a tribute to championship teams like the Big Red Machine; “The Reds Are on the Radio,” where fans can compare their own calls to those of legendary broadcasters in a recreated radio 180  ||  B BE ES ST T O OF F C C II N NC C II N NN N AT AT II 2 20 01 18 8 180

Moët & Chandon and Rhinegeist to get you through the summer heat — perfect for an afternoon watching a ball bounce back and forth on a court, as long as you made sure not to spill any chili on your tennis whites. The Open is back August 11-19, 2018. Lindner Family Tennis Center, 5460 Courseview Drive, Mason,


BEST DOLLAR BEER NIGHT Typically an entertainment option in what we’ll describe as “lesser” cities, minor league sports offer the type of value anyone can appreciate. Skating at the Queen City’s U.S. Bank Arena, the Cincinnati Cyclones satisfy locals’ craving for cheap beer, on-ice brawls and infectious crowds. A chant of “Sucks!” is traditional after the introduction of each opposing player at Cyclones hockey games, and fans can suck down responsible amounts of beer, too, as they watch the twotime ECHL champions play on dollar beer nights. Offering $1 beer nights sporadically throughout the season, Cyclones games have quietly become marquee sporting events for those interested in drinking on a budget as part of a rowdy, high-paced atmosphere. If your tastes are just slightly elevated, the team also introduced $5 Craft Draft night, with pours of Moerlein and MadTree beers on the cheap for all the jerks who are too good for Miller Lite. U.S. Bank Arena, 100 Broadway, Downtown,

booth; and changing exhibits like the super popular Bobbleheads (which closed in February 2017), featuring more than 800 ball-park-giveaway bobblehead figurines from the 1960s to today. Among other plaques and statues surrounding the museum (which is adjacent to Great American Ball Park) stands a dynamic recreation of Pete Rose doing his famous head-first slide. Rose is both a hometown hero and villain — honor and/or disgrace his likeness while taking a picture with the bronzed Charlie Hustle then learn more about his likeness in the exhibit Red to Bronze: The Story of Reds Statues. Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame & Museum, 100 Joe Nuxhall Way, Downtown, BEST TIME TO PROTECT YOUR TENNIS WHITES The Western & Southern Open is the oldest tennis tournament in the U.S., having been established in 1899.

Today, it’s a stop on the U.S. Open Series, a five-week tennis season that culminates in the fourth Grand Slam of the year, the U.S. Open. Each August, Mason’s Lindner Family Tennis Center becomes home to the best players in the world (along with the loudest grunts), and the grounds become inundated with entertainment, bars, local restaurants, original music and shopping options. After fan-favorites like Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Maria Sharapova withdrew, the 2017 tournament was still a show to watch with champions Grigor Dimitrov and Garbiñe Muguruza in men’s and women’s singles, respectively, and Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut and Chan Yung-jan and Martina Hingis in doubles. Outside the game, the food courts were overtaken by Cincy classics like Graeter’s and Skyline (they served more than 10,000 3-ways and coneys last year), and local indies including Fusian, Mazunte and Revolution Rotisserie. And there was plenty of

BEST BEER AND BIKE RENTAL Want a beer? How about a bike? Maybe a canoe? Find all three — and a chef-driven seasonal food menu — at Fifty West. The brewery has expanded its empire to include the great outdoors and taken over a mile-long stretch of Wooster Pike with its Production Works facility — home of a canoe and kayak rental business and sand volleyball courts — and Fifty West Cycling Company, offering bike rentals, fittings, lessons and planned group rides. Volleyball leagues and boat rentals start in spring but Fifty West Cycling, located just off the Little Miami Scenic trail, is open year-round. Social group rides take place Tuesday nights, and every Thursday “beer lovers with a running problem” can run with Fifty West. They’ve also recently started offering a Sunday morning yoga series for beginners. Drink, eat and then burn those calories right off. Fifty West Brewing Company, 7668 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, BEST HOT HOT YOGA DEAL With the new year — and the approaching swimsuit season — many people are making weight-loss resolutions. The practice of yoga claims to connect your health and happiness with some mind-body exercise, but going full yogi isn’t always cheap. Luckily, plenty of local yoga studios offer both free and low-cost community classes for you to get your ohm on. Body Alive’s $5 hot power yoga community class is geared toward everyone from beginners to advanced students looking for a flow class that teaches the foundations of yoga poses and progresses in difficulty. The room is heated to 102 degrees and is kept at 40 percent humidity, so get ready to sweat. Held Fridays and Sundays. Body Alive also opened a second location in Oakley, offering a handful of hot (but full-price) classes. Body Alive, 8110 Montgomery Road, Kenwood,


75 129







75 126








io Oh












13 Area Locations!


B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  181

Thank y you ou for voting us Best Korean Restaurant again! Authentic

Delicious Monday ~ Friday 5PM ~ 6:30PM


Half Price Appetizer Half Price Bottle Wine


RIVERSIDE KOREAN RESTAURANT 512 Madison Ave. Ave. Covington KY 41011

182  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8



LIT: Acclaimed local author Leah Stewart discusses her latest novel, What You Don’t Know About Charlie Outlaw, at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. See an interview with Stewart on page 189.

ART: The FotoFocus Biennial announces its theme and programming for 2018. See feature on page 188. ATTRACTIONS: Ring of Fire: World of the Octopus at the Newport Aquarium When it comes to the world of octopi, the Giant Pacific Octopus tends to rule the day. Not only do they grow bigger and live longer than any other octopus species, they can shift their shape and color to blend in with the environment... and learn to open jars. The Newport Aquarium managed to convince one of these aquatic jar-openers to come visit for a while in its Ring of Fire exhibit, which features special lighting and sound effects to mimic seismic activity along the seafloor. The new display also houses hundreds of brainless Moon Jellyfish and Japanese Spider Crabs that can eventually grow to be 12-feet wide and six-feet tall. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. $25 adult; 18 children. Newport Aquarium, One Aquarium Way, Newport, — MCKENZIE ESKRIDGE ATTRACTIONS: Butterflies of Madagascar at Krohn Conservatory Little, fluttering bits of Madagascar (a huge island off the

southeast coast of Africa) are coming to the Krohn Conservatory during the Butterflies of Madagascar show. Because the island has been geographically isolated for some 88 million years, most of its native wildlife cannot be found anywhere else on earth. To celebrate the island’s flora and fauna, the conservatory has transformed into an exotic biodome with uniquely Madagascan aspects like Baobab trees, stone forests, colorful florals (including orange bidens, red celosia, purple salvia and green ipomoea) and, of course, thousands of bright butterflies! There may even be lemurs swinging over to the Cincinnati exhibit. No wonder Madagascar gets a rap as the “Island of Rainbows.” Through June 17. $7 adults; $4 kids; free 4 and under. Krohn Conservatory, 1501 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams, — MCKENZIE ESKRIDGE


ONSTAGE: Sooner/Later Nora, a single mom, is navigating romance, marriage and motherhood in a story onstage at the Playhouse in the Park; Lexie is her precocious teenaged daughter. She’s reluctantly reentering the dating scene and can’t seem to avoid repeating mistakes in her search for a partner. But things change when she meets Griff. Playwright Allyson Currin’s world premiere contains serious themes, she confesses, but she says humor is her

Ongoing Shows ONSTAGE: Red Velvet Ensemble Theatre, Over-the-Rhine (through March 31) Marie and Rosetta Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Mount Adams (through March 31) VISUAL ART: You’re Invited Thunder-Sky, Inc., Northside (through April 6)


default setting: “I don’t think I can write anything without packing in laughs.” Fate and its unexpected twists and turns play a significant part in this play, the 76th new work to debut at the Playhouse. Through April 22. $30-$85. Playhouse in the Park, 962 Mount Adams Circle, Mount Adams, — RICK PENDER EVENT: Taft’s Season Opener Weekend at Washington Park As the Cincinnati Reds kick off their season, so too does Washington Park’s Southwest Porch Bar by serving beer, wine and mixed drinks and a hefty dose of yard games. Because of this year’s screwy Opening Day game/parade schedule, the porch will be partying from the Reds actual Opening Day (March 29) to Findlay Market’s 99th-annual parade (April 2), providing Cincinnatians the best opportunity to grab fresh air, cold brews and baseball action without paying the price of admission to Great American Ball Park. While you’re throwing cornhole or eating some snacks, multiple TVs will be playing the game to ensure that you won’t miss the Reds’


EVENT: Findlay Market Opening Day Parade Possible sign of the apocalypse: this year’s Findlay Market Opening Day Parade will be held four days after the Reds’ home opener against the Washington Nationals, thanks to MLB scheduling changes that have moved the upcoming season’s start date up a week. Cincinnati traditions are rarely changed without controversy, and local sports fans have been quick to grumble over this breach of baseball heritage. Neil Luken, the chairman of the parade committee, said the decision not to change the event’s date was made in the best interest of Findlay’s food vendors, whose businesses would take a major hit if the market was closed before the Easter holiday. If your love for local business and professional baseball’s most historic franchise trumps an incongruity on the calendar, Findlay Market and the Reds still have plenty of fun planned for Monday’s march. Stretching from Findlay Market to the Taft Theatre, this year’s parade will receive its usual support from the ballclub, including postgame festivities. Former Reds pitchers Danny Graves and Sam LeCure will lead the parade as Grand Marshals — other participants include Madcap Puppets, the Cincinnati Zoo and the Budweiser Clydesdales. The parade will be followed by a match between the Reds and the Chicago Cubs at 4:10 p.m. at Great American Ball Park. Noon Monday. Free. Findlay Market, 1801 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, — JUDE NOEL

skirmish with the Nationals at 4:10 p.m. Thursday. Other events scheduled throughout the weekend — including a buffet-style brunch on Sunday — will prepare you for Parade festivities beginning at 11 a.m. Monday. Arrive early to make sure that you’ll have the perfect view of the floats passing by — sidewalk space can be difficult to come by. After the parade, stick around for music, family-friendly activities, food and cold beverages. Thursday-Monday. Free. Washington Park, 1230 Elm

St., Over-the-Rhine, — JUDE NOEL EVENT: Sheida Soleimani: Medium of Exchange Recontextualizing the relationships between the leaders of OPEC countries and the West, Sheida Soleimani’s Medium of Exchange performance presents corruption in the petroleum industry as an erotic, humorous dreamscape of collagelike visuals and archival footage. Soleimani’s work uses love and sex to illustrate the

root causes of the war that has stemmed from the oil trade, backdropping these intimate exchanges with images of refineries and oil fields. The daughter of Iranian political refugees who came to America in the ‘80s, Soleimani currently lives in Rhode Island. Her colorful and chaotic creations, which blur the lines between sculpture, photography and collage, document human rights violations sanctioned by Iranian Sharia courts, conflating brutality with playful shapes and colors

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  183

to depict the dissemination of information through the disorder of the digital world. 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday. $18; $12 members. Contemporary Arts Center, 44 E. Sixth St., Downtown, — JUDE NOEL EVENT: Opening Day at Rhinegeist Celebrate the 2018 kickoff of America’s favorite pastime as Rhinegeist hosts pregame parties for both the Reds Opening Day game on Thursday as well as the Findlay Market Opening Day Parade on Monday. On Thursday, head to the brewery for brunch, provided by Sartre OTR, and indulge in a lineup of beers and other beverages, including beermosas. Come back on Monday for more great brews and food — this time provided by Nada. DJs will get the party going on both days and a shuttle will be available to and from Rhinegeist and Great American Ball Park. Bonus: The brewery rooftop patio and bar will be open, weather permitting. Doors open at 9 a.m. Thursday and Monday. Free admission. Rhinegeist, 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, — ZACH PERRIN

EVENT: Opening Day Celebration at Fountain Square Head to Fountain Square before the Reds take on the Washington Nationals in the first home game of the season. Things kick off at 11 a.m. on the square with live music all day, plus food from Quite Frankly, Slice Slice Baby and SugarSnap! Truck. The game will be shown on the big screen — first pitch is at 4:10 p.m. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday. Free. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, — MAIJA ZUMMO


ART: Ragnar Kjaransson’s multi-channel video installation The Visitors opens at the Cincinnati Art Museum. See feature on page 187. EVENT: Art After Dark: Dance Like an Egyptian The Cincinnati Art Museum opens after hours once a month for Art After Dark, a themed public party with a focus on food, fun and cultural experiences. Get access to Cagnacci: Painting Beauty and Death, featuring oil-on-canvas works by 17th-century Italian painter Guido Cagnacci, whose painting “Death of Cleopatra” — currently on

loan from the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan — is the centerpiece of the exhibit. In addition to art, there will be a silent disco put on by Headphone DanceParty, a live dance performance by Pones, interactive tours from the Playhouse in the Park and food/booze for purchase. By the entrance, Tesla will have its electric cars on display; visitors can take a look inside the Model X / S. 5-9 p.m. Friday. Free admission. Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams, — ZACH PERRIN EVENT: LM&M Railroad Easter Bunny Express Hop aboard the Easter Bunny Express. The historic Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad will take families on a scenic trip through Warren County’s past. The adventure doesn’t stop when you get off the rails though: When the train arrives at LM&M junction, kids will embark on an exciting Easter egg hunt in which they can win candy and small prizes. They can also expect a visit with the one and only Easter Bunny himself. Concessions will be available for purchase on board the train. Upgrade to Deluxe Coach Class, taking a ride on a passenger train that PHOTO: BRANDON WHEELER


MUSIC: Suck the Honey EP Release Extravaganza Cincinnati Garage-Rock duo Suck The Honey are extra in the best way possible: they’re unveiling their new EP— titled Five More Failures — with a massive release party that spans seven sets and two venues. Suck The Honey headline the Woodward Theater, where they’ll be joined by “Citrus Rock” outfit Lemon Sky, Psych foursome Filthy Beast and Dead Man String Band, who coat their Appalachian Folk music in a layer of Punk-Rock grime. Across the street at MOTR Pub, Mr.Phylzzz bounces its Jazz-inflected Thrash Metal off of sets by the Harlequins and Dinge. All attendees will receive a free copy of Five More Failures. 8 p.m. Friday. $5 presale; $8 door. Woodward Theater, 1404 Main St., Over-the-Rhine; MOTR Pub, 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, — JUDE NOEL

184  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8


was featured in the movie Carol. Through April 7. $18$23 adult; $16-$21 children/ seniors; $10-$15 infants. Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad, 127 S. Mechanic St., Lebanon, — ZACH PERRIN


EVENT: 199C: The Big 5 at BLDG BLDG gallery, Covington’s creative refuge for uncommon contemporary art, is celebrating the fifth anniversary of its annual 199C event — a collaborative exhibition and community block party honoring the Cincinnati Reds— by “showcasing all things inspired by Reds country and the number 5.” From Skyline 5-ways to legendary Reds catcher Johnny “Little General” Bench to the Jackson Five, there’s no limit to capturing the cultural significance the number carries. Partnering with BLDG, Renaissance Covington (an urbanrevitalization nonprofit) has organized opportunities outside the gallery to share cherished Reds memories, creatively battle in a chalk-drawing competition, munch on snacks from local eateries, drink booze from local distilleries and much more to keep the energy from Opening Day flowing through the weekend. 6-10 p.m. Saturday. Free. BLDG, 30 W. Pike St., Covington, — MCKENZIE ESKRIDGE


EVENT: Best Of Cincinnati Celebration Best Of Cincinnati gets bigger every year and 2018 is no exception. Our annual bash to fête our favorite people, places and things — be they bars, restaurants, tattoo parlors, hidden gems, hip hangouts, local bands, urban festivals or national movements that made an impact — is taking over all three floors of The Phoenix with a plethora of local food and drink samples. Try bites from the likes of The Anchor-OTR, Eli’s BBQ, Dewey’s Pizza, Holtman’s Donuts, AmerAsia, Mazunte, The Rhined, Taste of Belgium and Macaron Bar while you sip on cocktails from New Riff, Tito’s and George Remus, wine from Old 502 Winery and local beer from Braxton, MadTree and Rhinegeist. Tickets include a Bogart’s Fanny Pack swag bag, filled with coupons and goods and a chance to discover a Golden Ticket; Golden Ticket prizes include access to the Bunbury Music Festival, concerts at Riverbend Music Center and so much more. 5 p.m. VIP; 5:30 p.m. General Admission Wednesday. $42 General Admission; $100 VIP. The Phoenix, 812 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, — MAIJA ZUMMO


ATTRACTIONS: Zoo Blooms As one of only two accredited botanical gardens in Ohio, the Cincinnati Zoo has much more to offer than sassy hippos and adorable aardvarks. Zoo Blooms takes over the grounds each April with an explosion of color and elaborate floral displays. Dubbed “Tulip Mania,” the zoo has planted more than 100,000 tulips in a rainbow assortment of colors that will bloom throughout the month, in addition to more than 1 million combined yellow and white daffodils, hyacinths and

flowering trees and shrubs. To accompany the event, the zoo hosts after-hours Tunes & Blooms concerts 6-8:30 p.m. every Thursday evening in April. These family-friendly events are free and feature food (and alcohol) sales. Things kick off Thursday with Cecil Jackson and the Dry Ridge Band and the Comet Bluegrass All-Stars, with concerts following weeks from Young Heirlooms, The Tillers and The Cliftones. Through April 30. $19 adults; $13 children. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, — MAIJA ZUMMO


Go Bananas has been bringing in the best stand-up comedians for OVER 20 YEARS!


WWW.GOBANANASCOMEDY.COM The L argesT seLecTion of hemp on The pL aneT

Now opeN iN Northside! norThsiDe 4179 Hamilton Ave. 513-569-0420 o’BrYonViLLe 2034 Madison Rd. 513-871-HEMP sharonViLLe 11353 Lebanon Rd. 513-524-HEMP

DaYTon 548 Wilmington Ave. 937-991-1015

h e m p, Va p e & s m o k e h a B e r D a s h e r Y B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  185

186  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

ARTS & CULTURE Ragnar Kjartansson’s Mesmerizing ‘The Visitors’ The Icelandic artist’s video installation arrives at Cincinnati Art Museum with Rock-star buzz BY L E Y L A S H O KO O H E


celandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson’s nine-screen video installation The Visitors, which will be at Cincinnati Art Museum from March 30 through June 17, is just six years old and already a landmark of contemporary art. It’s both an installation and performance art and has been touring museums constantly. The artist and eight friends repeatedly perform a song refrain in different rooms of an old New York mansion until they slowly come together. As it plays out in real time, museumgoers move from screen to screen to watch. It’s easy to become enchanted by the music and the slow but sure way the participants join up while hauntingly singing, “Once again I fall into my feminine ways.” The Visitors is based on repetition, a concept that Kjartansson finds fundamental to much of his work. In The Visitors, it builds a sense of drama, as each of the nine musicians provides interpretation and meaning to the lyric, taken from a poem by Ásdís Sif Gunnarsdóttir because of its hypnotic effect. “Repetition is ancient, good stuff,” says Kjartansson, in an interview. “It’s the basic fundamental of all our religious practices; Christianity, Islam, Buddhism. Everything is about repetition. Say the same thing again and again and again and somehow it becomes spiritual.” The musicians are united only in song throughout most of the 64-minute piece until the end, when they all exit the house and congregate outside, continuing to sing and play as they head away from the building. (Kjartansson plays the guitar in a bathtub for part of the video.) The repetitive nature of the work, the recurring refrain and the cathartic joining together at the end could be viewed as a metaphor on the nature of life, a potential commentary on existence. Kjartansson doesn’t shy away from this conjecture,

Installation view of Ragnar Kjartansson’s The Visitors P H O T O : F A R Z A D O W R A N G @ R A G N A R K J A R TA N S S O N / C O U R T E S Y O F T H E A R T I S T, L U H R I N G A U G U S T I N E N E W Y O R K A N D 1 8 G A L L E R Y, R E Y K J A V I K

but he doesn’t necessarily subscribe to it, either. “I have no expectations of viewers, never,” he says. “You’re not supposed to feel anything special. It’s there for you, voilà — hope you enjoy. Everyone gets something, hopefully something different, from it. That’s the kick of art in general — to put something out into the world and maybe it matters to people in ways that you have no idea that it was going to do.” This is a sentiment that Stacy Sims agrees with. The Cincinnati-based mindbody educator, author and founder of Mindful Music Moments and City Silence recently saw The Visitors at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She says the way she experienced it might not necessarily be how anyone else does. People move around the darkened room, from screen to screen, at different speeds, she says. “There’s a lot of wonder and curiosity, like you’re figuring out a puzzle,” she explains. “It’s very visually soothing and interesting. The people are beautiful, the rooms are beautiful and then there’s this communion with this beautiful moment in time. You get to become a part of this experience, and you’re also watching other individuals enjoying this experience with you.” Music helps elevate that experience, says Kjartansson, referring not just to The Visitors, but also to many of his pieces. He references the recent The Sky in a Room, a performative exhibition at the National Museum Cardiff in Wales, which takes its

title from an Italian love song and features musicians individually performing it on a 1700s organ. There’s also A Lot of Sorrow, his video that features Rock band The National repeatedly performing their song “Sorrow” for six hours in front of a live audience at the Museum of Modern Art’s PS1 in 2013. A Lot of Sorrow screened at the Contemporary Arts Center here during 2015’s MusicNOW festival, which is organized by The National’s Bryce Dessner. And one of The Visitors’ featured musicians, Kristín Anna Valtýsdóttir, will perform songs from her recent album at the art museum during the upcoming Homecoming/MusicNOW weekend, April 28-29. (She is also one of the headliners at MusicNOW’s April 27 Opening Night Reception at Cincinnati Masonic Center.) “A song makes the experience of living so much deeper and more profound and interesting, and songs are of such importance to me that I want to make portraits of songs,” Kjartansson says. “That has been done a lot in the visual-arts tradition, in abstract paintings, but I was really interested in capturing the essence of a song through repetition. There’s something that happens with repetition that it actually becomes almost distilled, like good bourbon.” If The Visitors and much of Kjartansson’s other performance-based work feel more lighthearted, his Scenes from Western Culture — also being presented at the art

museum — is decidedly more sober. He filmed friends in what he calls “extreme Western situations” in different locales around the world, from a lake in Switzerland to a “super white kind of creepy restaurant” in New York City, creating video portraits. “I’m really happy they are showing (them) together because Scenes from Western Culture is a piece that is very silent, but it’s all kind of ambient noises,” he says, calling it “a very nihilistic” work. “It sort of has the feeling (that) everything is so futile, our Western longings are so futile and melancholic.” The juxtaposition of these two sides of Kjartansson’s work is a tidy summation of his general artistic ethos. “I’m really interested in both — the joy of life, the beauty of life, and also just what a sad condition the human condition is. I think a mix of them both is something that is a string through my work.” Despite his serious ruminations, Kjartansson has playful, tongue-in-cheek advice for visitors of The Visitors’ darkened room, which serves to highlight his sly ironic humor. “You can kiss but you can’t make-out fulltime in the exhibition,” he says. The Visitors and Scenes from Western Culture is on display at the Cincinnati Art Museum March 30-June 17. Admission is free. More info:

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  187



111 E 6th St Newport, KY 41071


WWW. SOU THG A T EH O US E.C O M 188  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8


E AT. SHOP. PL AY! Check out this week’s deals at: CINCINNATI. ALTPERKS.COM Facebook/ T wiT Ter:

@ p e r ko p o l is

FotoFocus 2018 Has a Timely Theme BY S T E V E N R O S E N

“Archive” has become a culturally fashionable word of late, the way “curation” did several years ago. And with good reason — they both speak to our need to save, prioritize and make sense of the vastly growing amounts of available information and visual imagery in our digital age. Open Archive is the theme for the 2018 FotoFocus Biennial of photography and other lens-based art, which will occur at some 70 museums and galleries across the Greater Cincinnati area and feature more than 200 artists, curators and educators. The core event, the Biennial Program, occurs Oct. 4-7, but exhibits will be up longer. “When photography came along, people filed photographs in image libraries and archives and all types of things,” says Kevin Moore, FotoFocus’ artistic director and curator. “More recently, we’ve all gotten Instagram fatigue and all these huge databanks of imagery. “So the question is not only how we store these things and manage them, but also what does it mean to keep stuff,” he continues. “That has something to do with what society values, how we think about history and how we keep memories.” With that in mind, here are some of the bigger shows and events planned for FotoFocus: • A conversation with the artist, filmmaker and writer Miranda July, guest curated by Mini Microcinema’s C. Jacqueline Wood, occurs at the Woodward Theater on Oct. 7. July will talk about her longstanding interest in the Joanie 4 Jackie project, by which she collected, compiled and publicized DIY films sent in from women around the country. It eventually led to a website — — and the recent acquisition of July’s archives of the films and related material by the Getty Research Institute/Getty Trust. • During October, Wood will be programming FotoFocus-related films at the Mini, possibly including a retrospective of 16-millimeter movies by the late Cincinnati filmmaker Steve Gebhardt. • No Two Alike: Karl Blossfeldt, Francis Bruguière, Thomas Ruff, at the Contemporary Arts Center Sept. 21-Jan. 13, 2019, places pioneering 1920s-era photoabstractions by the German Blossfeldt and American-born Bruguière “in dialogue” with contemporary abstractions by German photographer Ruff. This exhibit is guest curated by Ulrike Meyer Stump. “They were both making abstractions, but in different ways,” says FotoFocus’ Moore. “Blossfeldt’s photographs were close-ups of plants that were abstract by the way they’re framed. They’re so weird you don’t know what they are. Bruguière was doing paper cutouts and light effects.” The decision to add Ruff came about because he keeps an archive of historic photographs. “He uses this as source


material for his new work,” Moore says. • Gillian Wearing, a Turner Prizewinning British artist who works with still photography and video, will be the subject of a ticketed exhibition at Cincinnati Art Museum from Oct. 5-Dec. 30. Her lensbased art is greatly varied — still photographs of people holding up signs, a video of police officers posing for her, a Cindy Sherman-esque portrait of herself posing as the American street photographer Weegee. The museum’s photography curator Nathaniel Stein is organizing the show. • Wide Angle: Photography Out of Bounds at the Weston Gallery of Art from Sept. 21-Nov. 11 features 20 artists, including Harry Callahan, Christian Marclay, Marilyn Minter, Laurel Nakadate and John Wesley. FotoFocus deputy director Carissa Barnard is curating. • At the Taft Museum from Oct. 6-Jan. 20, 2019, there will be a show curated by Moore called Paris to New York: Berenice Abbott and Eugène Atget. It concerns the way young American photographer Abbott befriended the elderly Atget in the Paris of the 1920s and was so moved she devoted herself to saving, archiving and promoting his work after his 1927 death, even as she developed her own career. The work on display comes from the Museum of Modern Art and Philadelphia Museum of Art. “He had created a huge catalog of his work in categories defined by different subjects and different parts of the city,” Moore says. “When he died, she saved all that, brought it back to New York and then started photographing New York in almost exactly the same way.” For more information on the FotoFocus Biennial, visit


Leah Stewart’s New ‘Charlie Outlaw’ BY M AC K EN ZI E M A N L E Y

Through vivid and deeply relatable prose, Cincinnatian Leah Stewart’s new novel What You Don’t Know About Charlie Outlaw is a carefully crafted meditation on modern identity and the divisions between our private and public selves. It arrives at bookstores this week. The narrative follows a rising actor, Charlie Outlaw, who leaves the U.S. for a secluded island where something terrible happens: He is kidnapped. The prose leaps seamlessly back to sunny L.A., where Outlaw’s ex-girlfriend Josie Lamar struggles with her decline in Hollywood fame. (Both struggle with their recent breakup.) Charlie and Josie met on set; their characters fell in love, and so did they. On one level, Charlie Outlaw is a suspense novel, but it is multilayered. “As always, what I’m interested in about relationships is that they be complicated,” says Stewart, a creative writing professor and head of the Creative Writing: Fiction department at the University of Cincinnati. Though they’re not together for the majority of the book, Charlie and Josie think of each other. From an omniscient point of view, Stewart draws these thoughts out and reveals notions that the characters themselves may not have yet confronted. Concerns about identity have been a consistent theme in Stewart’s previous novels, such as The History of Us and Body of a Girl (this is her fifth book). But Stewart says that in Charlie Outlaw, fame amplifies those concerns. “(Actors) have all the roles they play,” she says. “They have who they believe themselves to be, and then they have all these variations on who the public believes them to be.” Stewart says that with the emergence of the digital world, celebrities have become more humanized and more accessible to fans than ever. “People have always had a public self and a private self,” she says. “It used to be that when you talked about the public self, it was the self they were at work or at church. We didn’t necessarily mean that someone who lived on the other side of the country could put your name into a (digital) box to see pictures of you and learn a bunch of information about your life. This is a relatively new phenomenon for people in culture — even those of us who are not famous are now accessible to strangers in a much wider way.” Stewart hopes her new novel challenges readers to reflect on their reactions to celebrities and the way we can confuse them with their roles. “We know intellectually that the person is not the character,” she says. She began working on the novel two years ago, travelling to L.A. twice to tour sets and interview a plethora of actors and other staff (even a shuttle driver). She learned methods of acting and what goes into creating television programs. (For the

kidnapping, she read memoirs from those who have experienced it.) “When you’re trying to enter someone’s world imaginatively, it’s not enough to just know what they do. You also have to know what it feels like,” Stewart says. “For instance, something I kept asking the actors was, ‘Do you actually believe yourself to be the other person when you’re acting? Do you actually let go of yourself? Do you become the other person? Or are you aware the whole time that you’re saying the line in a certain way?’ ” Stewart’s omniscient point of view (this is the first time she’s used this approach)

We get you playing live on stage at real rock venues! Private Lessons, Performance Programs, Summer Camps and Workshops Programs for kids and adults, beginners to advanced.

MASON.SCHOOLofROCK.COM (513) 770-1257

1404 MAIN ST (513) 345-7981



allows the reader to intimately know the characters’ innermost thoughts, fears and desires — but from a distance. We may feel like we know Charlie Outlaw from the book, just as we feel we know a celebrity from reading an article or scrolling through an Instagram feed. But, as the book’s title suggests, we really don’t. And that’s the point Stewart wants to drive home — in our tangled, hazy landscape of perceptions about life, there are indeed moments of truth to be recognized. But a full understanding of our reality is ultimately is more complicated than we may think. Leah Stewart will debut What You Don’t Know About Charlie Outlaw at JosephBeth Booksellers (2692 Madison Road, Rookwood Commons) 7 p.m. March 28. For more information, visit

4 /6


4 /12


3/2 8




WED 28


THU 29


FRI 30


S AT 31







MUSIC Slow and Low Cincinnati Doom group Beneath Oblivion goes deeper into the darkness on its bleak masterwork, The Wayward and the Lost BY N I C K G R E V ER


efore you enter Allen Scott’s home, you get a feeling of what has helped the guitarist fashion Beneath Oblivion’s most recent full-length, The Wayward and the Lost. The Cincinnati-based Doom Metal quartet has spent its time between 2011’s From Man to Dust and now constructing an album of sorrow, release, pain and grime — elements that are sometimes knocking at the doorstep of Scott’s city apartment building. Seven years may seem like a long time between releases, but if Doom Metal artists are good at anything, it’s making music their way and on their own time. On both accounts, that’s generally loud and slow. “Doom is a glacial speed; you don’t even get into the ballgame until like 20 years in,” Scott says. And he should know. Beneath Oblivion (rounded out by vocalist/guitarist Scott Simpson, bassist Keith Messerle and drummer James Rose) has been around for 15 years and most of the members have been active for many more. They have seen much of the world and know that it’s not always beautiful, so when the time came for the band to work on The Wayward and the Lost’s desolate, burdened and bleak brand of Funeral Doom, their inspirations were at the forefront of their minds. “If you live in the city, you know it seeps into your bones, it seeps into your skin, you can’t wash it out,” Scott says. “I’m from the city, I’ve been here my whole life; everything in this album is affected by that. Gentrification, everything — it’s all in there.” Where From Man to Dust drew from elements of apocalyptic events and the fallout of human choice and fallacy, The Wayward and the Lost concerns itself with micro level corruption and loss. “The premise for the album title and everything starts with From Man to Dust, a lyric, ‘None of your sadness can save the doomed,’ ” Scott says. “That kept playing in my mind since the (last) album came out. We have the wayward and we have the lost and you can take that literally. Some people are just lost and you can’t save them. Especially with addiction in this country and the way things have gone

190  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

Beyond Oblivion PHOTO: ROB WOLPERT

the past few years with opiates — lots of hopelessness.” The band looked inward as well when time came to flesh out their lyrical themes. “The Wayward and the Lost to me also represents a lot of the things I’ve lost over the past few years or just the things that’ve died, the people who’ve died,” says vocalist/guitarist Simpson. “I can say that 2017 was easily one of the worst years of my life for losing a lot of people, so it’s been a rough ride.” But Simpson also finds solace among the sometimes overwhelmingly austere output. “For me, it’s all about catharsis, because it just feels good to play loud and scream my head off and just force out every ounce of my negativity on everything I hate or hate about myself,” he says. “I can just push that shit out and go back to being a good guy.” Heavy-as-lead lyrics need an underpinning powerful enough to not crush under the weight and Beneath Oblivion accomplished this by following Simpson’s plan: slower and louder. With the shortest of five tracks clocking at over seven minutes and the longest at over 16, The Wayward and the Lost lumbers along like a mythical giant of old. Restraint is not a word often associated with Heavy Metal, but in the sparse compositions of Doom Metal, it

undeniably applies and forces upon bands a unique challenge. How do you craft songs that hold a listener’s interest for long run times while also bringing the BPM’s down to a fifth of what most Metal songs are written in? In a word: carefully. “You may have the best riff in the world and you can only play it once in a song because two measures, three measures is like five minutes. It forces you to be creative,” Scott says. But the plodding course of The Wayward and the Lost, coupled with Simpson’s dynamic mix of dirges, unholy screeches and gutturals, can place its audience on its back and take them to another place. As Scott explains, “It’s supposed to transport you. It’s supposed to take you away from this, transcend this ugliness.” Doom Metal as a genre — and Beneath Oblivion as a band — is not for everyone. It’s a musical style that can envelop the ear in a way that few others can. It’s not the kind of music to listen to on a sunny drive to Kroger and the guys know that. “We wanted to put something out that’s original, that makes a statement. There’s no middle ground. You’re either going to love it or fucking hate it. And I’m OK with that,” Scott says. “I kind of expect it,” Simpson adds. After over a decade of touring, recording,

writing and performing, authenticity is held in the highest regard. Beneath Oblivion knows that good music will earn fans without relying on gimmicks or consolations of character. “We made a decision to strip everything down, make it more minimal. It’s very honest,” Scott says. “I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think I was pushing the genre a little bit. This is something new. The soul is there. It’s very organic.” To paraphrase a moment of drunken clarity once relayed to me, it’s not the notes within a Doom Metal song that matter, but the space between them. As with many PBR-influenced adages, that misses the mark a bit, but Beneath Oblivion’s newest release definitely helps prove the overall point. The band has constructed a suite of songs that are a gateway to the ugliness of the world, while also providing time to contemplate just how messed up the world can be. They’ve done this in a way that only a band with 15 years of struggle and hard work behind them can, with an earnestness and devotion to their art that you can hear between every single guitar lick, cymbal hit and growl. Beneath Oblivion’s The Wayward and the Lost is available now at

b 5 $

m 50+ restau o r f s r e ran urg


July 16-22, 2018 O F F I C I AL C O C KTAI L









SOUND ADVICE Cincinnati Funk Fest

April 27 • U.S. Bank Arena The Cincinnati Funk Fest showcases some big names and up-andcomers in the world of Hip Hop and Hip Hop-flavored R&B. Headlining the event at the U.S. Bank Arena is singer Erykah Badu, queen of the Neo Soul movement since the late ’90s. Talib Kweli The rest of the lineup is PHOTO: PRESS intertwined in Cincinnati PUBLICITY music history. Uniquely talented Cincy Soul artists Lauren Eylise and Kameron Corvet (now based in Atlanta) round out the R&B portion of the CFF lineup. Though they’ve each had successes on their own and are billed separately, the Hip Hop performers all share connections that suggest some exciting crossover performances. Brooklyn MC Talib Kweli and superstar Cincinnati-based producer Hi-Tek got their start working with local Hip Hop greats MOOD on their 1997 debut, Doom. That same year, Kweli formed the hugely acclaimed duo Black Star with CFF performer Yasiin Bey (then known as Mos Def), which featured production from HiTek. Kweli and Tek later formed Reflection Eternal, releasing a pair of well-received full-lengths. Also appearing is Speed Walton, who cut his teeth in the Cincinnati Hip Hop scene as Buggs Tha Rocka. Walton (a perennial Cincinnati Entertainment Award winner) has toured with Kweli and released music through Kweli’s Javotti Media, as did Space Invadaz, Walton’s duo project with Donte from MOOD. Recently working on a full-length project in L.A., Walton has been receiving good press for his latest single “Black Mozart.” For tickets and more show info, visit (Mike Breen)

Homecoming with a different full set each night at Smale Riverfront Park (April 29’s set will include a full-album performance of the band’s 2007 album Boxer). The rest of Homecoming is like a tighter version of Pitchfork’s annual Chicago festival, featuring popular acts like Father John Misty, Future Islands, The Breeders, Julien Baker, Spank Rock, Moses Sumney and Alvvays. Meanwhile, Dessner’s April 27-29 Contemporary HERE music festival MusicNOW also has some alluring artists booked (some that overlap with Homecoming), including Dessner and his twin brother Aaron (who’s also in The National) as Red Bird Hollow, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Mouse on Mars and Eighth Blackbird. Art, dance and other media will also be showcased at MusicNOW. Find full details at (MB)

Bunbury Music Festival June 1-3 • Sawyer Point Park

Created in 2012 by MidPoint Music Festival co-founder Bill Donabedian and then taken over by PromoWest Productions in 2014, out of the many music festivals in Greater Cincinnati, Bunbury Music Festival is the most similar to the big-time events across the country that compete for marquee headliners year after year. The three-day Bunbury Music Festival returns for its seventh year this summer to Cincinnati’s Sawyer Point/Yeatman’s Cove along the riverfront. The top-line acts for the 2018 fest include three amphitheater/arena headliners — Jack White, The Chainsmokers and blink-182. The rest of the lineup is a similar mix of Pop, Electronic, AltRock and Hip Hop. The full roster so far features Post Malone, Incubus (which is the headlining act on June 2),


April 28-29 • Smale Riverfront Park Cincinnati’s newest music festival drawing national attention is Indie Rock superstars The National’s Homecoming music fest, associated with National guitarist Bryce Dessner’s longrunning MusicNOW fest, which happens concurrently (and citywide in a variety of venues) April 27-29. The National, featuring Cincinnati natives who later found success as a band in Brooklyn, N.Y., headline 192  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8



Foster the People, Young the Giant, Royal Blood, GRiZ, Coheed and Cambria, Manchester Orchestra, Fitz and The Tantrums, Lecrae, Third Eye Blind, Lillie Mae and many others. The Cincinnati bands slated to perform at the festival are progressive Hard Rock crew Lift the Medium, Pop Punk/Post Hardcore band Friday Giants and Synth Pop act Moonbeau, winners of the 2017 CEA in the Electronic category. Get more info at (MB)

Outlaw Music Festival June 22 • Riverbend Music Center The Willie Nelson-headlined Outlaw Music Festival Tour began two years ago as a oneoff event in Scranton, Pa. featuring Nelson, Neil Young, Sheryl Crow and others. It became a “tour” in 2017 and included the likes of Bob Dylan, Eric Church and The Avett Brothers. The tour returns this year for a nine-city run that includes a Cincinnati stop. For the local date of this year’s Outlaw Music Festival, Nelson is joined by modern Folk, Americana and Country favorites like The Head and the Heart, Old Crow Medicine Show and Sturgill Simpson. More acts for the Cincinnati date will be announced. Tickets and more details can be found at (MB)

Vans Warped Tour

July 19 • Riverbend Music Center The Vans Warped Tour stood tall for nearly a quarter of a century, as every other big “traveling music festival” (Lollapalooza, Lilith Fair, H.O.R.D.E., OzFest, etc.) either reconfigured to become “destination” fests or collapsed completely. With low-cost tickets and an egalitarian philosophy that de-emphasized the power and prowess typically allotted a festival headliner, Warped Tour remained an anomaly on the summer concert scene, thrilling generations of young music fans (and, certainly, a few older ones). And with its mix of Pop Punk, Metal, Hip Hop, Hardcore and various other styles, it has also served as a breeding ground for some of the biggest

names in music — Paramore, blink-182, No Doubt, Katy Perry, Green Day and Eminem all cut their teeth on the Warped circuit. After this year’s tour, that will come to an end. Founder Kevin Lyman announced last fall that 2018 would be the final summer Warped would travel coast to coast (leaving open the possibility of it sticking around in some form going forward). When Warped returns to Riverbend, a regular stop over the past 24 years, the lineup will include Story Untold, The Amity Affliction, The Interrupters, Bowling For Soup, Less Than Jake, Broadside, Tonight Alive, The Maine, Twiztid, Mayday Parade, Unearth, Motionless In White, We The Kings, Palaye Royale, 3OH!3, Every Time I Die, Real Friends, Reel Big Fish, Four Year Strong and Silverstein, among many others. Get more info at (MB)

Cincinnati Music Festival July 26-28 • Paul Brown Stadium Founded in 1962 by Dino Santangelo and legendary Jazz promoter George Wein as the all-Jazz Ohio Valley Jazz Festival, Cincinnati’s popular “Jazz Fest” has gone through a lot of changes in its 50-plus-year history. It has moved locations from its original Carthage Fairgrounds to Crosley Field and then Riverfront Stadium before shifting to its current home at the Bengals’ Paul Brown Stadium. Before claiming the Cincinnati Music Festival name a few years ago, it had undergone numerous name changes over the years, largely reflecting sponsorships, like Ohio Valley Kool Jazz Festival, Coors Light Riverfront Stadium Festival and the Macy’s Music Festival. Though early on it began to feature a mix of Jazz and R&B — for example, 1972’s event included everyone from Ike & Tina Turner, The Staple Singers and B.B. King to Thelonious Monk, Cannonball Adderley and Nina Simone —Jazz eventually took a backseat to Soul and Funk. Still, to this day, it’s most commonly referred to as simply “Jazz Fest.” This year, Cincinnati Music Festival’s lineup is especially strong. After an opening night that features MC Lyte and DJ Jazzy Jeff, the fest presents the kind of performers that have become the event’s bread and butter, with legacy acts Boyz II Men, Charlie Wilson (of The Gap Band), After 7 and Xscape. Day 2 includes fest favorites like The O’Jays and Keith Sweat, as well as Hip Hop/Neo Soul pals The Roots, Common and Jill Scott. Cincinnati’s own Bootsy Collins also performs on the fest’s second day. Get more info at (MB)



29 Pop Evil 30 Mat Kearney 31 Grits & Biscuits

2 4 5 8 11


Minus The Bear Drake White Jimmy Eat World (Sold Out) Jonathan Davis of Korn WEBN Presents: Mother’s day Pregnant Bikini Contest Sixteen Candles - 80’s Night Blue October CinCity Burlesque (18+) Trixie Mattel Big Ass Rock Show

4 Dashboard Confessional 7 Supertzar: A Tribute to Black Sabbath feat. Vinny Appice 10 Ministry 14 3 Floyd’s Pint Night (21+) 15 Todrick Hall 20 Phish Phriday: Phish Tribute (18+) 21 Pink Droyd: Pink Floyd Tribute 22 X Ambassadors 24 Morbid Angel 27 Vinyl Theater 28 Panic at the Disco vs. Fall Out Boy Tribute




4 Queen & Def Leppard Tribute 7 Band Of Horses 24 Descendents

5 Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls 20 Southern Accents A Tribute to Tom Petty

12 18 19 22 26

2 12 22 24 27

New Found Glory Tech N9ne Thunderstruck - AC/DC Tribute AWOLNATION The Neighbourhood



CityBeat’s weekly music listings return next week and are free to submit. Send info to Mike Breen at Listings are subject to change. See for full music listings and all club locations.


Dashboard Confessional – April 4, Bogart’s Of Montreal – April 6, Woodward Theater Wyclef Jean – April 8, OTR Live The Slackers – April 10, Southgate House Revival

JD McPherson – April 10, 20th Century Theater Ministry – April 10, Bogart’s Buddy Guy – April 11, Taft Theatre The Mountain Goats – April 12, Woodward Theater My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult – April 12, Southgate House Revival

Asleep at the Wheel – April 26, Taft Theatre

Dead to Me – May 25, Northside Yacht Club

Mt. Joy – June 19, Woodward Theater

Calexico – April 26, Woodward Theater

Bulletboys – May 26, The Venue Cincinnati

Erykah Badu/Talib Kweli/ Yasiin Bey – April 27, U.S. Bank Arena

Marcia Ball – May 29, Woodward Theater

Willie Nelson/Sturgill Simpson/The Head and the Heart/Old Crow Medicine Show – June 22, Riverbend Music Center

Pure Prairie League – April 27, Live! at the Ludlow Garage Bully – April 27, Woodward Theater Buckethead – April 28, Madison Theater Homecoming featuring The National and more – April 28/29, Smale Riverfront Park Mushroomhead – April 29, Madison Theater

Marco Benevento – April 13, Octave

The Lillingtons – April 29, Northside Yacht Club

All Time Low – April 13, Madison Theater

Rick Astley – April 29, Taft Theatre

Anderson East – April 15, 20th Century Theater


Walter Trout – April 15, Southgate House Revival The Wood Brothers – April 17, Taft Theatre Ballroom They Might Be Giants – April 17, Madison Theater Durand Jones & the Indications – April 18, Woodward Theater Deer Tick/John Moreland – April 18, 20th Century Theater

Hot Club of Cowtown – May 3, Woodward Theater

Iris DeMent – May 4, Memorial Hall Halestorm/In This Moment – May 4, PNC Pavilion Wussy – May 5, Woodward Theater No Age – May 8, Northside Yacht Club Todd Rundgren’s Utopia – May 10, Taft Theatre

Caitlyn Smith – April 18, Madison Live

Alabama – May 11, BB&T Arena

The Verve Pipe – April 19, Live! at the Ludlow Garage

Ghost – May 11, Taft Theatre

Mavis Staples – April 20, Memorial Hall

Glen Phillips – May 11, Live! at the Ludlow Garage

Escape the Fate – April 20, The Mad Frog

The Devil Makes Three – May 12, Madison Theater

Indigo Girls – April 20, Madison Theater

Tune-Yards – May 13, Taft Theatre Ballroom

Chris Potter – April 21, Gallagher Theater (Xavier)

Squirrel Nut Zippers – May 18, Southgate House Revival

Morbid Angel – April 24, Bogart’s

Blue October – May 18, Bogart’s

Frenship – April 24, Woodward Theater

Afroman – May 18, Blue Note Harrison

Victor Wooten Band – April 24, Memorial Hall

Rhiannon Giddens – May 20, Memorial Hall

The Main Squeeze – April 25, Octave

Saving Abel – May 25, Blue Note Harrison

194  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8

Big Sean – May 30, PNC Pavilion Def Leppard/Journey – May 30, U.S. Bank Arena Parker Millsap – May 31, Southgate House Revival Dierks Bentley – May 31, Riverbend Music Center


Bunbury Music Festival featuring Jack White, blink-182, Chainsmokers and more – June 1-3, Sawyer Point

Barenaked Ladies/Better Than Ezra/KT Tunstall – June 23, PNC Pavilion We Are Scientists – June 23, MOTR Pub Grizzly Bear/Spoon — June 25, PNC Pavilion Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks – June 23, Woodward Theater AWOLNATION – June 24, Bogart’s Foreigner – June 26, Riverbend Music Center

Dead and Company – June 4, Riverbend Music Center

The Neighbourhood – June 27, Bogart’s

Ledisi – June 6, Taft Theatre

Steely Dan/Doobie Brothers – June 27, Riverbend Music Center

Slayer – June 6, Riverbend Music Center Dave Matthews Band – June 7, Riverbend Music Center The Dickies/The Queers – June 8, Southgate House Revival John Prine – June 9, Taft Theatre Poison/Cheap Trick – June 10, Riverbend Music Center Tech N9ne – June 12, Bogart’s Primus/Mastodon – June 12, PNC Pavilion Reverend Horton Heat – June 13, Southgate House Revival Jack Johnson – June 13, Riverbend Music Center Black Moth Super Rainbow – June 14, Urban Artifact John Fogerty/ZZ Top – June 14, Riverbend Music Center Peter Rowan – June 15, Memorial Hall Japanese Breakfast – June 15, Taft Theatre (Ballroom) Luke Bryan – June 16, Great American Ball Park

Logic – June 28, Riverbend Music Center

Jack White headlines Bunbury Music Festival June 3



Pretenders – July 6, Taft Theatre

Kenny Chesney – July 26, Riverbend Music Center

Pedro the Lion – Aug. 18, Southgate House Revival

Weezer/The Pixies – July 6, Riverbend Music Center

Yanni – July 27, PNC Pavilion

Keith Urban – Aug. 19, Riverbend Music Center

Carbon Leaf – July 6, Live! at the Ludlow Garage


Descendents – Aug. 24, Bogart’s

Jimmy Buffett – July 10, Riverbend Music Center Kesha/Macklemore – July 11, Riverbend Music Center Miranda Lambert/Little Big Town – July 13, Riverbend Music Center Evanescence/Lindsey Stirling – July 14, Riverbend Music Center Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – July 18, PNC Pavilion Vans Warped Tour – July 19, Riverbend Music Center

Charlie Puth – Aug. 3, Riverbend Music Center

Avenged Sevenfold/ Prophets of Rage – Aug. 4, Riverbend Music Center Zac Brown Band – Aug. 4, Great American Ball Park

Agent Orange – Aug. 25, Southgate House Revival Trombone Shorty/Galactic/ Preservation Hall Jazz Band – Aug. 25, PNC Pavilion

Rascal Flatts – Aug. 5, Riverbend Music Center

Five Finger Death Punch/ Breaking Benjamin – Aug. 28, Riverbend Music Center

Band of Horses – Aug. 7, Bogart’s

Terry Bozzio – Aug. 29, Southgate House Revival

Jeff Beck & Paul Rodgers/ Ann Wilson – Aug. 8, Riverbend Music Center


Alice Cooper – Sept. 4, Taft Theatre

Fleet Foxes – July 20, Taft Theatre

Chicago/REO Speedwagon – Aug. 10, Riverbend Music Center

Tedeschi Trucks Band – July 22, PNC Pavilion

Taj Mahal & Keb Mo’ – Aug. 11, Taft Theatre

Lady Antebellum/Darius Rucker – Sept. 6, Riverbend

David Byrne – August 12, PNC Pavilion

Jason Aldean – Sept. 13, Riverbend Music Center

Lynyrd Skynyrd/Hank Williams Jr./38 Special – Aug. 17, Riverbend Music Center

Dispatch – Sept. 16, PNC Pavilion

Niall Horan/Maren Morris – July 25, Riverbend Music Center Radiohead – July 25, U.S. Bank Arena

Pentatonix –Sept. 5, Riverbend Music Center

B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8   |  195







196  |  B E S T O F C I N C I N N AT I 2 0 1 8





Profile for Cincinnati CityBeat

Best of Cincinnati® 2018  

Best of Cincinnati® 2018