Cincinnati Makes 'Top 10 Best Of' List Again. I'm Sold!
Huffington Post just rated one of my most recent traveled to cities as one of the 10 Up-&-Coming U.S. Cities To Visit Now, and I agree. Just last year, the same source gave nods to Cincinnati as one of The 10 Best Cities To Relocate To In The U.S. I've traveled all over and I have to agree with HuffPost on both accounts.
My first impression of Cincinnati was a little tarnished by trying to find the baggage claim at the airport, but once I figured out you had to take the train, I was ready to restart my journey. I as welcomed to Cincy by my driver from Drivr, which I talked about in Drivr: Better Than Taxi And Uber? What a way to get into the city!
Pulling up to 21C Museum Hotel in my Tesla chariot, I was impressed immediately with the service and professionalism of the staff. I can see why it was rated "#1 Hotel in the Midwest Readers’ Choice Awards 2014 by Condé Nast Traveler." My room was perfectly appointed and they even had a tea option for this non-coffee drinker. My friend Miles Griffis, who works for ManAboutWorld, created this cute little highlight video about the 156-room Cincinnati hotel, contemporary art museum and cultural civic center.
Just outside the front door of 21C is downtown Cincinnati. There was no better location to stay. We would tour downtown proper later but first we were off to Over the Rhine, a working-class neighborhood believed to be the largest, most intact urban historic district in the United States (wikipedia). We were told that this part of town has gone through a major revitalization and it wasn't done yet. New businesses, condos, restaurants were finding a new home and making this part of town desirable again.
We had a great tour of the Over the Rhine led by Destinee and Theresa. Their main focus was the Artworks project which started in 1996, now in its 21st summer. The Group assists youths from 14 to 21, this year the youth collaborative totaled 143 youths from the greater Cincinnati area. There are currently 102 murals around town and Artworks will be adding about 23 new murals this summer. The Group feels that the murals are a deterrent to graffiti, which may be true since I didn’t see much graffiti around town. Artworks does tours of the murals around town and provides info for self-guided tours. Those funds add to the $3 million annual budget. Some other funds come from the Taft family, grants, city support, as well as corporations like Sam Adams and Kroger.
In addition to the Artworks tour, we went out in search of local places we would like as haunts if we moved to Cincinnati and visited OTR. One of the bars we popped into was Sundry and Vice. As soon as you walk in, you can see that it was apothecary / pharmacy inspired, which I absolutely love. A new menu each season is generated in house. What else is created in house is the Old Fashions served on draft. A 5 gallon batch is made and easily poured to the customers, sounds like a challenge. What also sounds amazing is the Sundry Brunch where there have been “boozy ice cream floats” in the past. The bar is a little hot spot for LGBTers and the owners said they’ve seen many a Tinder date happen here. Thanks for your time Sundry and Vice and thank you for the home made ginger beer. I am a ginger beer whore and this was the best ever, a must have.
For lunch, we were blessed with a meal at Salazar Restaurant & Bar ( . Almost all the food is from local, about 90% from farmers the restaurant owners know by name. “Chef Salazar celebrates the changing of the seasons with a farm inspired menu that’s, creative and refined, yet, playful and approachable. Salazar is the kind of restaurant that you could pop in, grab a seat at our comfortable bar, a drink and a quick bite, or you could hang out and sample the diversity offered up by our kitchen.” Chef Salazar wanted to create a Colombian restaurant, but this isn’t it. That would be his other restaurant Mita’s, named after his Colombian grandmother. Thanks bar manager Steven for stopping by our table, chatting, and for the Pedro Piper drink, a must try.
Another stop our afternoon OTR tour was at Japps, a great cocktail bar that has found its home in an old wig / toupee store. The visuals in the place are just as epic as the drinks. The furniture, walls, alcohol cases are from the old days. One of the freshest thing in the bar is the cocktail menu that changes weekly, not monthly, or seasonally. Jeremy, our phenom of a bartender said he enjoys the challenge of mastering a new drink set each week. It’s an older space, but the libations are new. Japps was supposedly the 1st to make craft cocktails in Cincinnati. Jeremy says Molly the owner and her vision are great to work for and great to be a part of. I look forward to my next visit and maybe I can meet this great Molly and learn her secret about her tobacco bitters.
We made our way down to the waterfront area for some drinks and apps at Top of the Park. Experience our new rooftop terrace at the Residence Inn Cincinnati Downtown. This spectacular venue has unparalleled views of Lytle Park, Downtown Cincinnati, the Ohio River, and Mt. Adams, all from two rooftop decks perched above the Residence Inn Marriott, 506 East 4th Street. It was a great place to run into more young professionals, just like every other place we had visited so far.
The next day, we enjoyed other parts of the city, had some relaxation time and ended with an excellent dinner at Boca. We definitely picked the right spot for a classy enjoyable environment and meal. We sampled just about everything on the appetizer menu. The staff was right on top of some of our food allergies and offered some of us great options from a separate menu. It's always nice to be able to treat yourself a little with great quality and wonderful service, both were present at Boca.
I fell in love with Cincinnati, which I truly did not think would happen. I'm a coastal boy, mainly East Coast, so for a Midwest city to get my attention, to offer me a great time, to feel like it could be a new home, I was astonished. A future trip back to Cincinnati is in the works.
Here are some other pics from my travels around the city.