Hello. Welcome to Cincinnati. Chances are you’re here for the 14th-annual MidPoint Music Festival. If you aren’t, you should be, because about 30,000 extra humans have descended on the city for a weekend of live music spread across bars, theaters and parks in downtown and Over-the-Rhine (Cincinnati’s super-hip revived-historic ’hood).
If you in town for the music — Purity Ring, Sylvan Esso, Cathedrals, Sphynx, Iron & Wine — or if you’re a local who just hasn’t been downtown in a while, you’re about to spend quite a bit of time in a walkable 10-block radius of our fine city, hopping from venue to venue.
While there will be vendors in Washington Park for nourishment, you may want to get away from the festival, explore the area and find different places to eat and drink before you blast your eardrums (or maybe just give them a break once you’ve started). Thankfully, there’s a ton of those. Here are some tips to get you started — but basically you can’t really go wrong with any bar, restaurant, store, museum or other building you wander into. For more ideas to pass the time, head to citybeat.com and find the “MPMF Visitor’s Guide” under our “Special Sections” tab.
— Nation Kitchen & Bar (1200 Broadway St., Pendleton, nationkitchenandbar.com) serves bottomless mimosas and an entrée of your choice for $25 on Saturdays and Sundays. Eat in a wooden tepee at Cheapside Café (326 E. Eighth St., Downtown, cheapsidecafe.com). For waffles you won’t forget: Taste of Belgium (1133 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, authenticwaffle.com). Hot, fresh Belgian waffles, crepes, goetta, mussels, steak frites…
— Gourmet grilled cheese and tomato soup shop Tom+Chee (420 Walnut St., Downtown, tomandchee.com) also offers a famous grilled-cheese donut. Get really freaking good rotisserie chicken on pita at Revolution Rotisserie (1106 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, revolutionrotisserie.com). Fusian (600 Vine St., Downtown, fusian.com) is like Chipotle for sushi.
— Ohio’s oldest continuously operating public market. Farm-fresh food stands and cool eateries. Pho Lang Thang (114 W. Elder St., Over-the-Rhine, pholangthang.com) offers authentic Vietnamese; get the banh mi. Eli’s BBQ (133 W. Elder St., Over-the-Rhine, elisbarbeque.com) has a local cult following. Get a pulled-pork sandwich topped with coleslaw to go and eat it in the adjacent biergarten.
— Green general store Park + Vine (1202 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, parkandvine.com) has an all-vegan lunch counter and kombucha on tap. Eat clean at Happy Belly on Vine (1344 Vine St.,Over-the-Rhine,facebook.com/happybellyonvine ), make your own picnic from supplies at Picnic and Pantry ( 1400 Republic St., Over-the-Rhine, picnicandpantry.com ) or skip solids at cold-press juice bar Off the Vine ( 1218 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, otvcincinnati.com ).
— Pontiac (1403 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, pontiacbbq.com) serves Tiki drinks, smoked meats and Red Neck Frito Pie. Nestled inside a retired post office, the Eagle OTR (1342 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/theeagleotr) specializes in free-range fried chicken, killer bloody marys and Southern sides. Kaze (1400 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, kazeotr.com) is a Japanese gastropub with a large outdoor patio and daily happy hour. Krueger’s Tavern (1211 Vine St., kruegerstavern.com) has housemade sausages, burgers (including an excellent veggie burger), beer cocktails and a rooftop patio. Armed with a pizza oven from Naples, Italy, A Tavola (1220 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, atavolapizza.com) has a playful selection of signature pizzas and craft cocktails.
— Peer through the streetside window and watch sensational maple bacon donuts being made at Holtman’s Donuts (1332 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, holtmansdonutshop.com); get there early because they frequently sell out. Macaron Bar (1206 Main St., macaron-bar.com) is dedicated exclusively to the art of the colorful French macaron. Go kid-in-a-candy-store at OTR Candy Bar (1735 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, otrcandybar.com), featuring an old-fashioned soda counter.
— Goodfellas Pizzeria (1211 Main St., goodfellaspizzeria.com) is the place to be when you stumble out of the bar at 2 a.m. for pizza, or Lucy Blue (1126 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/lucybluepizza). Gomez Salsa’s (107 E. 12th St., gomezsalsa.com) walk-up taco window has $3 tacos, housemade salsa, a delicious invention called a Turtle Shell and Mexican coke. And Bakersfield OTR (1213 Vine St., bakersfieldtacos.com), a California-inspired taco joint — tostadas, tortas, tacos, rosé sangria — is basically impossible to get into during normal dinner hours; luckily they serve until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
— 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab (1215 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-429-5745, 1215vine.com) is an eclectic coffee shop by day and wine bar by night (or day; why wait?). Coffee Emporium (110 E. Central Parkway, Downtown, coffee-emporium.com) does barista-prepared drinks along with a lineup of panini, fresh-baked pastries and hearty quiches. Big-city-style espresso and coffee bar Collective Espresso (207 Woodward St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/collectiveespressootr; Contemporary Arts Center, 44 E. Sixth St., Downtown, contemporaryartscenter.org) offers cool blends like cortados and espresso lemonade. Also has a hub in the Contemporary Arts Center with farm-to-table dishes, beer and wine; just look for the building with the 27-foot-tall robot outside of it.
— Oldest tavern in town Arnold’s Bar and Grill (210 E. Eighth St., Downtown, arnoldsbarandgrill.com) is named as one of the best bars in America by Esquire magazine. For gay cabaret, go to Below Zero Lounge (1120 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-9376, belowzerolounge.com). For pre-Prohibition style spirits, visit Japp’s (1134 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-1524, japps1879.com) or the apothecary-themed Sundry & Vice (18 W. 13th St., Over-the-Rhine, sundryandvice.com). The Drinkery (1150 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-549-7417, drinkeryotr.com) and MOTR Pub (1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, motrpub.com) are Rock clubs. Neons (208 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, neons-unplugged.com) has specialty infused spirits and a HUGE patio with bocce ball, giant Jenga and friendly dogs. Get a barrel-aged Manhattan at The Lackman (1237 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, lackmanbar.com) or ride 11 floors up a secret elevator to the 21c Cocktail Terrace (609 Walnut St., Downtown, 21ccocktailterrace.com), housed on the 21c Museum Hotel rooftop, for unparalleled city views. Lachey’s (56 E. 12th St., Downtown, lacheys.com) is a sports bar with tater tots from 98 Degrees boy banders and brothers Nick and Drew Lachey. 16 Bit Bar + Arcade (1331 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, 16-bitbar.com) is on the opposite spectrum — free vintage video game/cabinet game play if you’re drinking. Liberty’s Bar & Bottle (1427 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-429-2461) specializes in European wine and beers, with half-pours and bottles to go. Fill a growler of local beer to go (carry-out window open until 2 a.m.) at HalfCut (1126 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine, halfcut.com).BREWERIES
— Big beer history here. Rhinegeist (1910 Elm St., rhinegeist.com) translates as “ghost of the Rhine” and is built within the remains of an old Christian Moerlein bottling plant from 1895. Down the street, Taft’s Ale House (1429 Race St., taftsalehouse.com), named after President (and Cincinnatian) William Howard Taft, took over an old German church. The Christian Moerlein Malt House Taproom (1621 Moore St., 513-827-6025, christianmoerlein.com) offers free tours into the 19th-century underground caverns used by the building’s former inhabitants — plus $5 fresh-tapped pints and frankfurters.
For more information about MPMF.15, visit these sections of our official guide: