Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01



TRAVEL Cincinnati, northern Kentucky: Good times, A (art) to Z (Zula)
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

This article shared 6916 times since Wed Dec 2, 2015
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

It was interesting: When I told several people I'd be headed to Cincinnati, Ohio, and neighboring northern Kentucky, I pretty much received a collective shrug as well as comments like, "You'll probably run out of things to do within a day."

Well, I'm here to tell people near and far that Cincinnati and Kentucky have a LOT to offer—primarily with ( courtesy of revitalization ) some pretty unique spots that make the area memorable.

Very contemporary

After arriving at CVG Airport—which has a humdinger of a trip to baggage claim—I checked into Cincinnati's 21c Museum Hotel ( 609 Walnut St.; ), a 156-room establishment that's truly different ( and that's a good thing ).

In the hotel is the exhibition "Pop Stars! Popular Culture and Contemporary Art," which has all types of intriguing artwork. For example, Robert Wilson's "Lady Gaga: Mademoiselle Caroline Riviere" has the singer in a hi-definition video while Brian Knep's "Healing Tiles" uses custom software algorithms to create glowing patterns that visitors "tear apart" whenever they walk over them—although the patterns "heal," but in a different variation each time.

The rooms are also pretty artsy—and mine constantly had me pondering. My room seemed to have a chicken theme, but there was also a rubber duck in a structure that was strictly a shower ( irony? ). However, the most interesting ( and initially startling ) items were the bathroom tiles featuring body parts, courtesy of the Rookwood Pottery Company.

The hotel restaurant Metropole is a must-see ( or must-taste ). From the broccoli "beignets" to the eatery's signature cheeseburger to the Hudson Valley foie gras, there's something for everyone.

Later that day, I crossed one of several bridges to Covington, Kentucky's, MainStrasse Village ( ) neighborhood. It's a charming, diverse ( including several LGBT owners ) and ever-evolving area that reminded me of Evanston—down to the various small shops and quaint restaurants. Just one of the restaurants is Frida, a Mexican spot that's basically a tribute to Frida Kahlo.

What is Kentucky known for ( besides a great college basketball team )? Bourbon! So it was on to Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar ( 629 Main St.; ), a paean to U.S. whiskeys. And thanks to vivacious local celebrity/bartender Molly Wellmann ( who owns several businesses in Cincinnati and northern Kentucky ), there are several delicious cocktails at the spot as well.

I was told that one of the best and popular restaurants in MainStrasse is Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar ( 519 Main St.; ). Thanks to an entertaining conversation with the Cincinnati tourism bureau's Dave Ziegler and some tasty fare such as the pork chop, I had a wonderful time.

Getting schooled

The following day started with a visit to Cincinnati's Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art ( 44 E. 6th St.; )—which happens to be right around the corner from the 21c Hotel.

After a very fun and informative talk with Communications Chief Regina Carswell Russo in the center's cafe, curator Steven Matijcio took me to see three interesting, yet diverse, exhibits: "After the Moment: Reflections on Robert Mapplethorpe," Mark Mothersbaugh's "Myopia" and Pia Camil's "Skins." "After the Moment" ( which runs through March 13, like the Camil exhibit ) marks the 25th anniversary of the art center's landmark presentation of Mapplethorpe's survey exhibition "The Perfect Moment" in Cincinnati—and the controversy it engendered. It also shows Mapplethorpe's legacy through the eyes of current artists.

As much fun as the center proved to be ( even singing along with Mothersbaugh's "orchestrions" in an exhibit that runs through Jan. 9 ), it was time to go—to school. I requested to see the University of Cincinnati ( ) and, despite the wind ( which some thought I brought with me from Chicago ), it was very fun and eye-opening. ( Even for guide Tyler Minton, who graduated in 2011, there were lots of changes he was seeing for the first time. ) University President Santa J. Ono is probably one of the most revered college heads in the country, and he was constantly waving to people as I saw him stroll across the grounds.

Skyline Chili ( several locations; ) is something of an institution in the area, so I had to try it. I had been warned ( by Ziegler ) that the chili is not the traditional type—and it certainly isn't, as it's thinner and more sugary. To be honest, I liked it ( although I didn't love it )—but it is fun to go to a place and say you'd like a three-way ( and can get up to a five-way ). We later walked through the area and ended up at the charming ( and refreshingly roomy ) French restaurant La Poste ( 3410 Telford St.; ).

In 2001, Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine ( OTR ) neighborhood was rocked in a series of riots when a city policeman was acquitted after he shot and killed a teenaged African-American. More than 100 businesses were attacked, causing millions of dollars of damage. Today, the area is definitely making a comeback, as a walk with OTR Chamber of Commerce's Emilie Johnson made clear.

OTR is a colorful ( partially courtesy of numerous murals ) site full of diverse businesses, encompassing everything from the wine bar Zula to Switch Lighting and Design ( very cool—just walk through it ) to Lachey's Bar ( started by, yep, Nick and Drew Lachey ) to the sports-apparel place Homage. Park + Vine, a store established by onetime Chicagoan Dan Korman, is about as green ( as in eco-friendly ) as an establishment can get. And no visit is complete to the OTR without visiting Macaron Bar ( 1206 Main St.; ), an gay-owned shop that has wondrous varieties of the dessert.

Then it was back to downtown, with my day ( or evening ) concluding with the acclaimed eatery Sotto ( 118 E. 6th St.; ), an underground site that's the very antithesis of the bright, festival Boca above it. The chicken-liver mousse with pistachio ( served with bruschetta ) is one of the best I've had in the past few years, and the dark atmosphere is perfect for a date ( although I mainly saw families and groups of friends during my visit ).

Go North, young man

After exploring OTR, it was time the following day to a neighborhood that's been described as progressive and alternative: Northside. Openly gay and candid Northside Community Council member James Heller-Jackson ( who, at one point, told a story about being called the "f—kin' Mayor of Northside" ) was the guide during an extremely informative tour. While he sang the praises of most of the businesses in the area, he also pointed out a few that he felt should not be there.

Indeed, Northside is full of treasures of all types. When I return to Cincinnati, I'm hitting up The Littlefield ( 3934 Spring Grove Ave.; ), a bourbon bar with eats such as cilantro-and-lime duck wings and chewy chocolate-chip cookies with ginger, molasses—and bacon. Spun Bicycles ( 4122 Hamilton Ave.; ) is a full-service shop that specializes in restoration and custom fabrication ( and it helps, from an aesthetic standpoint, that muscular co-owner Dominic LoPresti is there ). There's also Tillie's Lounge ( 4042 Hamilton Ave.; ), a relatively new gay bar from the team behind the popular LGBT nightspot Below Zero Lounge; the opulent Tillie's is named for Tillie the elephant, part of a popular traveling show in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Shake It Records ( 4156 Hamilton Ave.; ) has stacks of vinyl and other music-related items

Lunch was at Ruth's Parkside Cafe ( 1551 Blue Rock St.; ), which has everything from the delicious red beans and rice to the tempeh Reuben. And the visit concluded with a stop at craft brewery Urban Artifact ( 1660 Blue Rock St.; ), built in the lower level of the historic St. Patrick's church; it was actually cool trying the beer, which I normally don't drink.

( Side note: One concept Heller-Jackson mentioned during the walk was the Northside Yacht Club's "slurring bees"—which are, basically, drunken spelling bees. Everyone I mentioned this to in Chicago used the word "awesome" at least once when responding. )

On the way back to downtown, we stopped at OTR's Findlay Market ( 1801 Race St.; ). I honestly didn't want to leave this spot, either, which has dozens of vendors, including Maverick Chocolate, Ida Candles, Pho Lang Thang and Dojo Gelato.

The evening involved a visit to Sundry and Vice ( 18 W. 13th St.; ) to meet up with openly gay City Council member Chris Seelbach. Besides talking with him about the city and his own life ( including the fact that he's been vegetarian since age 5 ), I had a most delicious drink called Son of Man ( with Appleton, apricot liqueur, ginger, lemon, apple, cardamon bitters and egg white ). I had a ( Sundry and Vice, as well as Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar, signify a trend of newer places that are strictly bars—meaning there are no bites to be had. )

I didn't want to end my visit to the city, but you know what they say about all good things. And finishing the visit with a visit to Salazar New American Restaurant ( 1401 Republic St.; ) was absolutely perfect. Given the quality of the dishes—including a sinful grilled pork-jowl appetizer—it wasn't surprising the place was bustling.

Thanks certainly go to Debbie Pappadakes of the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau for arranging the trip and ( literally ) steering me around this vibrant area.

This article shared 6916 times since Wed Dec 2, 2015
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

COVID California, Puerto Rico off Chicago's travel advisory list; others return 2021-09-21
- On Sept. 22, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) took one state and one territory—California and Puerto Rico—off its weekly COVID-19 Travel Advisory, while Connecticut and the District of Columbia returned to the advisory. The ...

Gay News

Gay Games XI postponed because of pandemic 2021-09-16
- Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the upcoming Gay Games XI have been moved from November 2022 to November 2023, Outsports reported. "Given the ongoing uncertainty regarding the state of travel restrictions internationally and in Hong Kong, ...

Gay News

COVID Connecticut, D.C., removed from Chicago's travel advisory 2021-09-14
- On Sept. 14, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) took one state—Connecticut—and the District of Columbia off its weekly COVID-19 travel advisory. The advisory now includes 48 states and three territories, as daily COVID case ...

Gay News

TRAVEL Local hotels make Travel + Leisure's 'Best' lists 2021-09-12
- Hotels in Chicago were among those honored in Travel + Leisure's annual best-of lists, with readers serving as voters. ...

Gay News

COVID Chicago's travel advisory now includes all states outside Illinois 2021-09-08
- The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), on Sept. 8, added one state—Vermont—to its weekly COVID-19 travel advisory. The advisory now includes every state and territory in the country, as COVID continues to surge across the ...

Gay News

Get Out! LGBTQ travelers show how to travel safely this fall 2021-09-01
By Ed Salvato, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association - Just when we thought it was safe to hit the road, we were walloped by the Delta variant, the latest plot twist in the 18-month-and-counting pandemic story. The surprising data that fully vaccinated people could transmit ...

Gay News

Pride Journey: Colorado Springs 2021-09-01
- Did you know that Colorado Springs is also known as Olympic City U.S.A.? Neither did I. Not only is the city home to the U.S. Olympic Training Center, but Colorado Springs recently celebrated the grand opening ...

Gay News

The U.S. of Gay 2021-09-01
Must sees and dos for out-and-proud wanderlusters - 51 ab-fab road-trip destinations and pit stops—one in each state and the District of Columbia—that are must sees and dos for out-and-proud wanderlusters There are a million things to love about traveling the United States—from our ...

Gay News

Chicago now has 48 states in travel advisory 2021-09-01
- On Aug. 31, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) added five states — Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan and New Hampshire, as well as the District of Columbia and Guam—to its weekly COVID-19 travel advisory. Vermont ...

Gay News

COVID Chicago adds four states to travel advisory 2021-08-25
- The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) most recently added four states—Colorado, Maryland, Nebraska and South Dakota—to its weekly COVID-19 Travel Advisory. There are now 43 states and two territories ...

Gay News

COVID Chicago adds 12 states to travel advisory 2021-08-11
- Chicago added 12 states to its travel advisory on Aug. 10, recommending that unvaccinated people entering the city from those areas test negative for COVID-19 or quarantine upon arrival, according to NBC Chicago. The 12 new ...

Gay News

ATTRACTIONS Chicago's First Lady offers a premium architectural tour 2021-08-05
- Recently, USA Today selected the Chicago Architecture Foundation's Chicago's First Lady cruise as the best boat tour in the country—and it's easy to see why. (By the way, it also was voted the top boat tour ...

Gay News

Chicago adds five states, Puerto Rico to COVID travel advisory 2021-08-04
- On Aug. 3, Chicago added five states and Puerto Rico to its travel advisory, recommending that unvaccinated people entering the city from those areas test negative for COVID-19 or quarantine upon arrival, according to NBC Chicago. ...

Gay News

Passenger claims rainbow mask was banned; airline responds 2021-07-29
- On his flight out of Los Angeles International Airport earlier this month for a 46th birthday vacation in Greece, gay West Hollywood resident Scott Schmidt donned a rainbow-colored surgical mask in order to adhere to the ...

Gay News

Soapbox travels to Chicago to raise hand-hygiene awareness 2021-07-21
- Clean beauty company Soapbox unveiled the world's biggest bottle of soap in New York City's Times Square on July 15, marking the launch of a multi-city tour aimed at raising awareness for the importance of hand ...


Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.