Best of the City 2007

DEC botc nightlifeRadio Show: Mr. Rhythm Man


Saturday 6–9 pm, 89.7 WNKU
Tune up 89.7 WNKU on your FM dial at 6 p.m. Saturday night, and you’ll find Mr. Rhythm Man, with his backup dancers, daddio-on-the-radio vocabulary, and stack o’ shellacs ready to put a blister on your transistor. Ahem. For three hours, MRM (a.k.a. Bob Beemon) serves up a wild mix of music that he calls “rhythm and blues, roll and soul,” during which you might hear anyone from Memphis Minnie to the Squirrel Nut Zippers. “My favorite thing is a cool segue between songs,” he says. “It’s like found poetry.” We can dig it, man.

Neighborhood Bar: Doc’s Place


12 W. Mulberry, Lebanon, (513) 932-0287
When it comes to neighborhood pubs, you won’t find a more convivial atmosphere than atop a barstool at Doc’s Place. A group of regulars is happy to include you in the conversations, and the bartender likely will remember your drink of choice after one visit. Regional bands play Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, but there’s an adjacent dining room if you prefer your music in the background. Pub grub gets a dinner upgrade Tuesday through Saturday with filet mignon, rib eye, crab, shrimp, and gussied up chicken entrees. The portions are substantial, and the wine pours generous. Start with a pub favorite, the deep-fried green beans, a country staple that gets a makeover with onion batter and ranch dressing. Which is to say, these are not your grandma’s green beans.

Patio: The Gypsy Hut


4321 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, (513) 541-0999
French Quarter bars are famous for their brick-paved, open-air courtyards, where decades of exposure to the humidity of New Orleans has produced a well-worn patina. Fans of the Crescent City will find themselves at home on the Big Easy–esque patio of The Gypsy Hut in Northside, the heart of the business, with multiple arteries branching off to the indoor poolroom and the stage area, two separate bars, and stairs that lead to a second-floor patio. When the live music is thumping from the music room, you’d swear Jackson Square is just around the corner.

DJ: DJ Pillo


(513) 374-8654,
True to his “cool on both sides” maxim, DJ Pillo is as well known for his “Let’s get this party started!” prowess as he is for his service to the community. A former teacher of the art of turntablism at Elementz Hip Hop Youth Arts Center, Pillo also spins for the Listen to This! Hip Hop forums sponsored by the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, adding musical flourishes to the conversation and dropping beats for the now notorious freestyle competitions that punctuate the forums. If that’s too staid, catch Pillo manning the decks at Aqua in Mt. Lookout on Saturday nights. He paints soundscapes that so appropriately soundtrack the night you’d swear he was plugged into the mix tape on an infinite loop in your own head. Look around and you’ll notice everybody’s noddin’ along.

Photo Booth: The Comet


4579 Hamilton Ave., Northside, (513) 541-8900
OK, the photo booth at The Comet might be a little finicky (yes, it breaks down from time to time), but it is definitely the real deal. The 1950s black and white Photo-Me machine prints a strip of four photos for $3. The images are sometimes fuzzy, but it’s those imperfections that enhance the booth’s vintage appeal. Friends, lovers, and even loners have been squeezing in for snaps since 2002. Owner Dave Cunningham acquired the machine from the owner of God Save the Queen when it closed. “As soon as that curtain closes, it’s as if your inhibitions are let down. You want to make a great picture and there’s something to be said for the anonymity that having a machine photograph you affords,” says Cunningham. Add alcohol to the equation and you can imagine what might happen.

Bloody Mary: The Cricket Lounge


601 Vine St., downtown, (513) 381-3000
Convenience foods make life easier for all of us, so we don’t blame bartenders for taking advantage of bottled mixers. But those ready-mix Bloody Marys are, well, anemic. Boost your red blood cell count at The Cricket Lounge. Bartender Joni whips up the mix herself, and it’s a dandy—rich and tomato-y, with a blend of Cajun spices to add just the right amount of kick. You’ll feel a kick in your wallet, too, as these are definitely not bargain drinks, but like the commercial says, you’re worth it.

Table Shuffleboard: Salem Gardens


6396 Salem Rd., Anderson Twp., (513) 231-9666
Cornhole aficionados who haven’t the space to move their games indoors for the winter should cultivate a new old-school pastime: table shuffleboard. Each side (teams or a single player) gets four pucks. Using your hands, scoot the pucks down the table. Farthest puck down gets the most points, but beware, your opponents will try to knock your pucks off the butcher-block board and into the gutter. Start practicing at Salem Gardens. The vintage American Shuffleboard table has been in its corner between the bar and the dining room for years (one of our friends thinks his dad probably played a few games on it in his youth). Don’t worry if you don’t pick up on all the game’s quirks the first time—you can play as much as you want for free.

Mojito: Palomino Restaurant, Rotisseria & Bar


505 Vine St., downtown, (513) 381-1300
By the variety of recipes we encountered in our “research,” the classic Cuban mojito has many interpretations. But the winner was clear—and properly muddled—thanks to the abundant use of fresh mint sprigs and the perfect ratio of rum to simple syrup to lime, served rightly in a cool, tall, thin glass. Cheers, Palomino! Your dedication to cocktail quality is positively smashing.

Late-Night Bowling: Western Bowl


6383 Glenway Ave., Western Hills, (513) 574-2222
Urges strike us at the weirdest times. Late-night food cravings are easily satisfied; so is the need to watch back-to-back episodes of Law & Order. And thanks to Western Bowl, you can get your bowl on at 1 a.m. if you want. The place is open 24 hours a day on Fridays and Saturdays for those who just need to hear the crack of bowling pins against synthetic pine. Western Bowl may be the home of the Hoinke Classic, but that doesn’t mean it’s just for professionals. For an especially trippy time, head over on a Saturday night and try Thunder Alley Glow Bowling. You can throw a ball or two to the sounds of Kanye West or Maroon 5, though those black lights won’t make it any easier to pick up that 7-10 split.

Best Bar Atmosphere


Whether you want sporty or cozy, rocking or laid-back, belly up and find your spot.

Habits Café
3036 Madison Rd., Oakley, (513) 631-8367
This Oakley Square mainstay draws a steady crowd all week long. Try the potato rags (shredded spuds topped with cheese, bacon, onion, tomato, and ranch dressing) and one of their American craft beers while you chat up your neighbor. Recent renovations to the dining room gave the main barroom the ambiance of a crowded subway car, but things are back to normal now.

Below Zero Lounge
1122 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 421-ZERO (9376)
Vodka lovers, this is your spot. With more than 60 labels available—and a handful served through a special machine that chills the spirit to below 0 degrees (get it?)—you can martini it up with the best of them. Get cozy with your date on the cushy couches, or check out the Sunday night cabaret with Terry LaBolt. You’ll leave shaken and stirred (sorry, Mr. Bond).

Longnecks Sports Grill
1009 Town Dr., Wilder, (859) 291-5664
When it’s game time, head to this new sports bar near the Town & Country Sports & Health Club, just off I-275. Pick a spot wherever you like—you’ll be able to see at least a few of the dozen flat-screen TVs that line the walls. If you’d rather get up a game of your own, there are two pool tables, plus golf and bowling video games.

Knotty Pine Sportsman’s Club
6947 Cheviot Rd., White Oak, (513) 741-3900
Rock and roll lives at this West Side haunt, where you can catch up with Dallas Moore and his bedevilingly named band, the Snatch Wranglers, every Wednesday. When it’s quiet, snag some popcorn and talk Colerain football with the regulars at the bar. For a roadhouse, it’s surprisingly civilized

Illustration by Sasha Barr

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