1. The Penguin Dueling Piano Bar
Piano bars are more than just pianists tickling the ivories for tips. While two musicians “duel” between interfacing baby grand pianos, there’s humor, there’s intrigue, and, yes, they’ll gladly tolerate your off-key sing-a-long contributions. Brush up on the lyrics from Bon Jovi to Tim McGraw—anything goes here!
441 Vine St., downtown, (513) 651-2800
2. Tostado’s Grill
Everything you hope for in a gritty karaoke bar: greasy munchies, a full and lively crowd of varied generations, and plenty of cheap liquid courage on tap. Because karaoke is an attraction here—and not a once-a-month filler like other joints—this is where serious karaokesters come to play. Oh, and if you can’t find the bartender, check the stage. He’s the guy belting “Billie Jean.”
3500 Eastern Ave., Columbia-Tusculum, (513) 871-0212
3. Riverside Korean Restaurant
A refreshing (and more authentic) alternative to the typical booze-infused karaoke rendition of “I Got You Babe” squawked to a roomful of strangers, karaoke here is respected as the intimate tradition that it originated from. Enjoy a private room, just six to eight people, a 41-inch flat-screen TV projecting lyrics in Korean, Japanese, or English…and your dignity still intact.
512 Madison Ave., Covington, (859) 291-1484
4. Hofbräuhaus Newport
Though the copious amounts German beer is what brings people in the doors, most visitors won’t leave without belting a tune or two. Amid the traditional accordion-rich polka tunes, the weekly live bands play just enough everyone-knows-the-words cover songs (think “Sweet Caroline” and “Brown Eyed Girl”) to keep the singing-along quite infectious. So raise your stein, stand on your table bench, and bust it out.
200 E. Third St., Newport, (859) 491-7200
5. Piano Man at Brick Street
In recent years, Paul Otten has become a household name in the world of Queen City cover bands. Every Wednesday night, Paul (a.k.a. “Piano Man”) takes his perch atop the spacious Brick Street bar with his keyboard (seriously, he’s on the bar) and jams out with familiar, good-time favorites. Another round of Journey? Yes, please!
36 E. High St., Oxford, (513) 523-1335