Best of the City 2010

Photograph by Jonathan Willis, Illustration by Raymond Biesinger

Best Mustache: Mike Firesheets  

AGE: 30
OCCUPATION: Web programmer
MUSTACHE AGE: 4  months
NICKNAME: “My wife sometimes calls it ‘The Thing’ or ‘Mr. Mustachio.’”

Trivia Night: Oakley Pub & Grill  

Last Call Trivia runs trivia nights all over Cincinnati. Their league has a grand prize of $2,500 and whiz kids can win nightly gift certificates from $10 to $50. The best in town is Oakley Pub & Grill (Tuesdays at 8 p.m.). The place fills up fast, so show up early and get a stool at the front corner of the bar. It’s the best place to order an Anchor Steam and hand in your answers without ever getting up.; 

Views From a River: The Little Miami  

Of all the spectacular sections of river in the area, the Little Miami from the Middletown Road covered bridge to Ft. Ancient may be the most scenic. The river winds through field and forest for roughly seven hours. Paddlers can break near the halfway point in Oregonia (Little Miami Canoe has a shop there—and restrooms). Some sections see heavy traffic, but go on a chilly spring or fall morning and you’ll miss the crowds. Little Miami Canoe Rental, (513) 899-3616; Morgan’s Canoes (canoes and kayaks), (513) 932-7658

Glass Class: Brazee Street Studio  

Just off Madison Road in Oakley sits Brazee Street Studio, an airy, LEED-certified building that hosts more than 20 artist studios and is the permanent home of Brazee Street School of Glass. Owner and instructor Sandy Gross is passionate about bringing glass art to the neighborhood, offering affordable classes for every interest and skill level—even for children. Gross also focuses on the serious artist by regularly holding open studio sessions on kilnforming and other high-level techniques. Check out the schedules at

Ice Rink: Twin Lakes  

Indoor ice rinks are all well and good, but when the weather turns cold, nothing beats a turn on a frozen pond at Eden Park. Twin Lakes sits on the edge of a scenic overlook and makes a pretty picture with its stone footbridges and bronze sculptures. And the Park’s spacious Mirror Lake is great for smaller kids. The Park notifies skaters of safe conditions by displaying blue flags when the ice reaches at least three inches.

Downtown Indoor Golf Facility: Cinci-City Links

You wouldn’t expect to be able to work on your short game on the second floor of the Mill End Drapery Building, but downtown is full of little surprises like that. Greg Sumner, manager of the Mill End, has spent the last year creating Cinci-City Links, an indoor practice area with four hitting bays, a pneumatically adjusted putting green, a sand trap (with real sand), and a vault for club storage. It’s a little more expensive than an outdoor range ($10 for a bag of balls, $5 more for the sand trap), but where else can you work out the kinks in your swing on your lunch hour during winter? (513) 421-1225

Broomball: Cincinnati Broomball Association  

Never heard of broomball? Here’s a primer: it’s like hockey, but without skates or checking. And it’s wildly addictive if you can handle taking a spill on occasion. The best way to start is the Cincinnati Broomball Association, which runs leagues year-round (the next starts in 2011). Each co-ed team plays Sunday night games in skill-specific leagues at Cincinnati Gardens or Sports Plus. To help newcomers, the CBA provides sticks and helmets for beginners. 

New Sports Freak: Jonny Gomes  

There were many new things to like about the Reds this year: Aroldis Chapman’s arm, Joey Votto’s grace under pressure, their first post-season appearance in yonks. But perhaps the best thing was the iconoclastic style of Jonny Gomes. With his helmet tugging ritual in the batter’s box, his public displays of sartorial splendor (e.g., the loud plaid suit he wore on Fountain Square for the big division series send-off), and that mohawk, Gomes injected a healthy dose of mysterious quirk into a team that not so long ago still banned facial hair. He may be a freak—but  he’s  our  freak.

Bridge Club: Cincinnati Bridge Association  

The last time the Cincinnati Bridge Association appeared in this magazine was 1979. We’re happy to report that, 31 years later, the CBA is still going strong. There are 11 games per week, on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday (for newbies) nights, and Friday mornings. They offer lessons for beginners and arrange all games by level. The CBA’s website has all the info you need and more, including recipes for goodies people have brought to games. Banana Split Cake, anyone? (513) 563-2218

Cooking Classes: Jungle Jim’s International Market Cooking School  

For the past 15 years, students at Jungle Jim’s International Market Cooking School have learned how to make everything from basic Italian dishes to homemade holiday gifts to “cold weather salads”—even an entire Indian meal. There are classes for beginners, too—think knife skills and roasting meat. Steven Geddes of Local 127, Sherry McKenney and Joanne Drilling of Murphin Ridge Inn, and Jean-Robert de Cavel have all taught here. Local cooking celeb Rita Heikenfeld is a regular, too. A couple of courses here and you’ll find your dinner parties—and your weeknight meals—a lot more popular. (513) 674-6000

Climbing Lessons: Rock Quest Climbing Center  

Yes, the kids will be crawling the walls during Christmas break. So make it a learning experience. Rock Quest Climbing Center offers a winter camp (indoor, of course) where 7- to 13-year-olds can learn to climb, rappel, and test their mettle on the gym’s high-ropes apparatus. It’s $100 per week. Savings to your frayed nerves? Priceless. (513) 733-0123

Ticket Bargain: College-Conservatory of Music  

What would you have paid to see diva Kathleen Battle in a plum role back in the day? That’s right: plenty. But at the College-Conservatory of Music you can watch the next Kathleen Battle perform right now. And it’ll cost you peanuts. From classical to jazz, there’s always something going on and—depending on the venue—it’ll be reasonable, cheap, or free. Consider, for example, the school’s annual Feast of Carols on December 4 and December 5. Eight conductors, eight choirs, 300 voices, all for $10. A steal. (513) 556-4183

Adult Soccer League: Indoor Soccer City  

You ran laps around Fountain Square when Andres Iniesta and Spain beat Netherlands for the World Cup. Now, it’s time to actually play. While running through the mud may seem heroic, it can be miserable. Indoor Soccer City runs leagues year-round on one of three indoor fields. They offer co-ed or single gender leagues based on age—whether it’s your first time wearing cleats or you’ve played since you were 5 years old.  (513) 741-8480

Gay Bingo: Gay Bingo Cincinnati  

Cincinnati’s own Gay Bingo is a lot less like bingo and a lot more like Rocky Horror Picture Show with some bingo on the side. Drag shows! Themed musical numbers! Prizes! Booze! As they say, “This ain’t your grandma’s bingo.” So get your friends together, buy tickets (proceeds benefit Stop Aids Cincinnati) and pick out a costume. The next event is Ugly Holiday Sweater Bingo on Dec. 5. 

Laser Tag: Lazer Kraze  

Kids and adults alike have been flocking to Lazer Kraze in Maineville since it opened six years ago. It’s the only arena in the area with three levels, and its maze-like layout offers the most places to hide. The guns are easier to use, say “the experts,” not as big and bulky as competitors’, plus the vests have bigger targets so it’s easier to rack up points. Birthday parties on weekends and college discounts on weeknights keep this place humming. (513) 339-1030

Urban Picnic Spot: Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park  

Head east along the Ohio River and just beyond the view of downtown’s high-rises you’ll find the Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park. The impeccably landscaped park is named for Cincinnati’s first African-American mayor and stretches along the river with intertwining walking trails and bike paths. Its distinctive design celebrates the idea of global unity with gardens, trees, and original sculpture representing five different continents. Think Bio-Dome meets world peace. 

* Please note that the information listed in this section was accurate at the time the issue went to print in 2010 and that addresses, menu items, company status, etc., may have changed. Please contact the companies to confirm details.

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