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Creative

Secret Cincinnati: What to Eat, Where to Go and What to Do

We spoke to creatives at Barefoot Proximity, Rockfish, POSSIBLE and gyro to draft this list of the best things to do, see, eat and enjoy in this Midwestern haven

Secret Cincinnati: What to Eat, Where to Go and What to Do

Cincinnati has grown quickly from a steadfast, hardworking Midwestern town to become one of America’s most productive business and cultural hubs. It’s home to both America’s first ever major league baseball team - the Red Stockings, and Proctor & Gamble, one of the biggest and most successful American corporations of all time. Yet despite the city’s prominence on the American national stage in the arenas of business and culture, it has not lost its local values and cultural traditions. The original settlers were farmers and humorously called the city, ‘Porkopolis’. This self-effacing nickname may jokingly translate their love of burgers and hot dogs, but also reveals a sense of humility and friendliness which are still notable and well-regarded traits of its citizens today. 

Every city steeped in Germany history tends to have a strong relationship with beer and Cincinnati is no different. Everyone there knows at least a little about beer and a few of the original German craft breweries built in the 18th century are still brewing beer to this day.  

Cincinnati has the right combination of attractive new, cool, modern features for young creatives, professionals and families combined with a strong sense of history, natural points of beauty and areas of culture significance that inspires every Americophile. To learn more we spoke to creatives at Rockfish, POSSIBLE, Gyro and Barefoot Proximity CCO  to draft this list of the best things to do, see, eat and enjoy in this Midwestern haven and how you can find them too. 


Cincinnati – Places to Eat and Drink


Cheap Meals

“Gomez, Cheapside, Joella’s Chicken, Eli’s BBQ (best in the city)” - Michael Orzali, Senior Director of Business Innovations, Rockfish 


Quick Meals

“I like Currito a lot, 'Globally Inspired, Locally Sourced.' But I think i am legally obligated to mention Skyline Chili when talking about Cincinnati food. (It’s a bi-law or something)” - David Schlosser, Creative Director, Barefoot Proximity. 

Maplewood Kitchen for Breakfast and Lunch.” - Nate Carney, Senior Vice President, Business Innovations, Rockfish

“Cincinnati has a ton of awesome food trucks that are perfect if you’re looking for a quick and cheap meal. I’m addicted to Red Sesame. And it’s always a bonus when a food truck sets up shop at the neighbourhood brewery — in my case, that’s Brink Brewing Co.” - Tess Eger – Writer, gyro Cincinnati

Salazar, Quan Happa, Kruegers, Nation Kitchen (named after Carrie Nation – famous prohibitionist), Brew River Gastro Pub.” - Michael Orzali, Senior Director of Business Innovations, Rockfish 

Local Delicacies 

Zips Cafe. In Mt. Lookout. It’s been there as long as I can remember. Tons of character, you could describe it as nostalgic, or throw-back, but it's neither really, because it’s just honestly been the way it is for as long as I can remember. I love the skinny fries and the Double Girth Burger (That’s a double Zip burger with a split Mettwurst on top)” - David Schlosser, Creative Director, Barefoot Proximity.

“The Anchor Grill (not to be confused with the Anchor in the Over the Rhine district) has been a staple for me since my teenage years. With a quirky nautical theme, and food that may only be suitable after a long night of binge drinking, the Anchor feels like another world, but familiar at the same time.” - Ray Elfers, Creative Director, POSSIBLE Cincinnati.

High End Delicacies

“Boca, Abigail Street, Coppins, Frida 602 and Ottos Rockfish.” - Michael Orzali, Senior Director of Business Innovations, Rockfish

“I’d be remiss not to mention Sotto for their candle-lit, underground atmosphere, good wines and ridiculously delicious ricotta doughnuts.” - Tess Eger, Writer, gyro Cincinnati

“Red Feather, Precinct.” - Nate Carney, Senior Vice President, Business Innovations, Rockfish

Desserts

Graeter’s. As ice cream goes, it’s pretty expensive but I think it is better - by far - than any other ice cream in the known universe so, it’s worth it.” - David Schlosser, Creative Director, Barefoot Proximity.

Bars

Queen City Radio. A 1920s Over-the-Rhine gas station that’s been renovated. It has a very industrial aesthetic, but with lots of windows, plants and an open patio. Also, they host trivia on Wednesday nights and I’m a dork.” - David Schlosser, Creative Director

“If you’re a bourbon lover, you’re in luck because Kentucky is right across the river. You have to make it out to Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar in Covington or Newberry Bros. Coffee in Newport. For wine, I love getting a flight at 1215 Wine Bar and Coffee Lab and quizzing my senses to guess the order of the pours. For apothecary feels and pre-Prohibition cocktails, Sundry and Vice rules.”  - Tess Eger, Writer, gyro Cincinnati

The Blind Lemon in Mt. Adams. Named after bluesman Blind Lemon Jefferson, it’s like a secret little grotto with live music. And I feel like you have to climb through something like a hobbit tunnel to find it. That’s probably not super accurate, but it does feel that way.” - David Schlosser, Creative Director

Keystone Bar & Grill, MadTree and Braxton Breweries.” - Nate Carney, Senior Vice President, Business Innovations, Rockfish

“16-Bit Bar and Arcade. I don’t know if it’s exactly a “Cincinnati” thing but it IS a bar and arcade.” - David Schlosser, Creative Director

Cincinnati – Things to Do


Festivals

"The newest cultural experience here in Cincinnati is one to make waves all over the world. BLINK is expected to be one of the largest light, art and projection mapping events in the US. This four-day event in October features large scale projection mapping installations, murals, urban artscapes, media light and interactive art for 20 city blocks in the heart of downtown Cincinnati." - Ray Elfers, Creative Director, POSSIBLE Cincinnati

“Cincinnati hosts two major music festivals that draw some really big name performers: Bunbury Music Festival and the Midpoint Music Fest.” - David Schlosser, Creative Director, Barefoot Proximity

“24 Hour Film Festival every year.” - Nate Carney, Senior Vice President, Business Innovations, Rockfish

"New to the Cincinnati scene is a new music festival called Ubahn Fest. A celebration of music and art, this hip-hop/EMD music festival is held underground in the abandoned railway system of downtown Cincinnati. With interactive art installations, skateboard and graffiti demonstrations, apparel vendors and more, this festival is everything right and cool with the city." - Ray Elfers, Creative Director, POSSIBLE Cincinnati

Theatres

“One of my favorite things is Know Theatre. Know Theatre of Cincinnati is a non-profit theatre company in OTR that produces edgy, challenging, and thought-provoking works. The theatre and the performances remind me of the kind of thing I would see in Lincoln Park when I lived in Chicago. It’s low-budget, imaginative and authentic.” - David Schlosser, Creative Director, Barefoot Proximity


Galleries

The Contemporary Art Museum. I think it’s one of one of the first contemporary art institutions in the United States. It’s a beautiful Post Modern/Deconstructionist style building that hosts a variety of events and art shows. (And lunch — it’s a great place to go for lunch if you’re downtown).” - David Schlosser, Creative Director, Barefoot Proximity

“The Cincinnati Parks are absolutely beautiful, whether you want to have a picnic or go for a hike. The Krohn Conservatory is a must-see/every plant lover’s dream. There are also a bunch of museums in the area — the Contemporary Arts Centre offers free admission!” - Tess Eger, Writer, gyro Cincinnati

“The Art Museum — which is free as hell. It’s in Mt. Adams near Eden Park. I love the building, the location and especially the art,” David Schlosser, Creative Director, Barefoot Proximity


Sport

“Definitely FC Soccer (a United Soccer League club that began play in 2016). Cincinnati is losing its mind over this team. Attendance is averaging around 20K fans per game.” - David Schlosser, Creative Director


Craft Beer

“If Cincinnati has a heart it probably pumps beer. Looking out the window to my right I can see the Hudepohl buildings and smokestack that were once part of Cincinnati's brewery district. The brewery is the former home of Hudy Delight and Hudepohl 14-K beers.” - David Schlosser, Creative Director, Barefoot Proximity

"I’m no beer connoisseur but I do have some German heritage in me. Some breweries are still going strong, like Christian Moerlein Brewing Company. It was started by a German immigrant back in the 1800s and still creates great brews today. Mecklenburg Gardens, though not a brewery, has been around for a while, too, serving authentic German cuisine. Plus, they have a pretty rad (and highly acclaimed) outdoor beer garden." - Tess Eger, Writer, gyro Cincinnati

“Today, Rhinegeist and Bockfest are great examples that our brewing heritage is still alive. Local brewery Rhinegeist (which translates to "Ghost of the Rhine”) was built within the skeleton of the old Christian Moerlein bottling plant. The name refers to their location in the Over-the-Rhine Brewery District. Bockfest is the annual celebration of bock beer, Cincinnati's brewing heritage, and the Coming of Spring. It just celebrated its 25th anniversary this past March. It’s a weekend event that takes place in the Brewing District and about five years ago they added a 5k run to the festivities.” - David Schlosser, Creative Director, Barefoot Proximity


City Tours

"If you’re anything like me and geek out over old buildings, The Cincinnati Preservation Society hosts events and walking tours to help advocate for, and protect, all the beautiful, historic buildings, places and things that make up Cincinnati. Plus, if you need to get around and explore the town, there’s a streetcar that can take you around downtown and a shuttle that can take you from Newport to Fountain Square. Or you can always hop on a Red Bike!” - Tess Eger, Writer, gyro Cincinnati


Culture

"The Contemporary Art Center offers free 'Drink and Draw' classes so you can get buzzed and create stuff. Women of Cincy is a new group I’ve been following that interviews local women doing amazing things. Urban Artifact, a Northside brewery, is starting their own music radio station. The loveliest plant shop, Fern, hosts artists to teach classes on things like flower arrangements, watercolour and calligraphy. And The City Flea is a huge urban flea market made up of local vendors, located in the heart of OTR." - Tess Eger, Writer, gyro Cincinnati

The Lodge KY is One of the coolest places on earth: a 100 year old Mason Lodge turned into an all-in-one respite for touring bands. Studio, performance space, guitar tech centre, screen-printing facility for merch and a crash pad.” - Troy Hitch, Barefoot Proximity CCO

Shake It Records is the best record store this side of the Mississippi, and probably the whole country. Ahead of the game, they were record shopping before record shopping was cool again, and with a huge selection of vinyl, music and music related things, this is a place to spend a ton of time and a ton of money if you are looking for some serious inspiration." - Ray Elfers, Creative Director, POSSIBLE Cincinnati


Local Landmarks

“If you need to get around and explore the town, there’s a streetcar that can take you around downtown and a shuttle that can take you from Newport to Fountain Square. Or you can always hop on a Red Bike!" - Tess Eger, Writer, gyro Cincinnati

“Nature: Little Miami, The Conservatory, Eden Park, Alms and Ault Parks” - David Schlosser, Creative Director, Barefoot Proximity