If you don’t typically barhop around the Hyde Park/Mount Lookout area, you might have some preconceptions about this part of town. Sure, the East Side is home to some ritzy bars and restaurants, but don’t sweat it: You don’t need to rush out to Snooty Fox for a Lily Pulitzer dress. Don’t go rent an Escalade for the night. Leave your yo-pro stereotypes at home, because having fun is universal across social classes. Just don’t forget to bring some running shoes. Everyone here jogs, and you will too…
Park in Rookwood Commons and head over to The Rusty Bucket Corner Tavern (2692 Madison Road). It’s kind of Applebees-ish, but it’s a convenient spot to meet up and get the night started. Check out their daily drink specials and surprisingly extensive beer selection and order some Spinach Con Queso. Coating your stomach in cheese before a night of drinking can really amp up your tolerance.
Walk .2 miles north to The Edge Inn Tavern (3935 Edwards Road). As you enter this hole-in-the-wall, scope out the diverse crowd and glance at the Christmas decorations that are still twinkling. You might think to yourself, “I’m not in Hyde Park anymore.” Sure, you might have technically ventured into Norwood territory, but this is the cheapest bar you’ll visit all night, so stop being a snob and order a seasonal Sam Adams.
It’s time to whip out your Sketchers Shape Ups and start jogging south on Edwards Road. Turn left on Wasson Road and keep your heart rate up for .4 miles until you reach R.P. McMurphy’s (2910 Wasson Road). If the doorman greets you with a friendly “One in, one out,” it means they’re either at capacity or you aren’t attractive enough to get in.
Head next door to The Establishment (2900 Wasson Road), where you’re sure to get in to consume some liquid sex appeal. Drink a Blue Moon and keep an eye on the crowd over at R.P.’s. If live music starts playing there and the shoulder-to-shoulder atmosphere at “The E” is making you anxious, give it another shot.
So you make it into R.P.’s for a drink, but after the band plays one too many Michael Jackson covers it’s time to change shoes again and start walking west on Wasson. Pick up the pace as you turn left on Edwards Road. After .3 miles, Arthur’s (3516 Edwards) will be on your left. It’s reasonably priced for being a stone’s throw away from the square, so go crazy! Arthur’s has redefined burgers ‘n’ beers with microbrews like Dogfish Head and tasty burgers such as their Boursin cheeseburger. For dessert, top it off with a $2 shot of Jagermeister.
All that beer and cheese starting to make you feel a little … “irregular?” Just kidding, but you do look at little bloated at this point. A nice walk around Hyde Park Square will burn some cals and give you a chance to admire the quaint little shop(pe)s and restaurants. After a lap, continue south on Edwards Road and turn left on Observatory. Take a slight right at Linwood Avenue and keep in mind the stretch to the next bar is .7 miles. If you push yourself too hard, that queso dip will make a reappearance. Pace yourself.
Once you see a large, painted question mark, you’ve reached Muz’s (3152 Linwood Ave.). This unsuspecting dive is your first stop in Mount Lookout territory. Welcome. Ask for a Bomb Pop, one of Muz’s favorite concoctions. This red, white and blue, pineapple-flavored shot will make you feel like a true American. Word to the wise: If the jukebox calls your name, be sure to play something that will please the bartender or prepare to drink in silence. Sorry, Ice-T fans, this means you.
Head south on Linwood Avenue toward the crowd of dudes. They’re probably going to Mt. Lookout Tavern (3209 Linwood Ave.), and so are you! Five bucks will get you in here and its sister bar, Million’s (3212 Linwood Ave.). Be patient in line at the bar, then order an MLT LIT. It’s worth it, and no one will make fun of you. Go to the patio, conveniently covered in tarp for the winter, and bum a cig from someone. It’s that kind of night! Compliment this generous smoker on her “jeggins” — they’re like jeans and leggings!
Walk back north up Linwood to The Stand (3195 Linwood Ave.). Hopefully it’s late enough for you to avoid the $5 cover charge but early enough to catch the DJ spinning ’90s gangsta jams. Time to grind up on the swanky leather couches, the giant vault in the center of the bar and the gang of fist-pumping Xavier grads eyeing you.
It’s late. You’re drunk. You just watched someone nicely dressed do something unsavory. Screw walking back to the car — you’re in a prime cab-catching spot. Head back to Rookwood, but once you see the heavenly glow from the 24-hour Busken Bakery (2675 Madison Road), demand a pit stop. After all the physical activity you’ve had, you can afford a fresh donut … or five.