Themed Bars and Restaurants in Greater Cincinnati Everyone Needs to Try
We all need to cosplay a little bit to keep life interesting, even if that doesn't necessarily look like dressing up in costume. In Greater Cincinnati, that could, however, look like checking out one of the really cool themed bars and restaurants in the area.
From the over-the-top experience that immerses you in your favorite movie to the subtler themes that come out through the menu, Cincinnati has a number of bars and restaurants ready for you to have a good time and fuel your imagination a little bit.
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Photo: Brittany Thornton
322 Elm St., Ludlow; 39 W. Pike St., Covington
Ludlow, Kentucky's nonexistent craft beer scene sent in the clowns, leading to the launch of Bircus Brewing Co., a branch of an original concept from Ghent, Belgium. Pronounce it like 'beer-cuss,' a hybrid of beer and circus, as the brew shares the limelight with carnival performances at the taproom. Performers can do everything from breathing fire to flying on the trapeze. The brewery’s Covington location also offers up popular wood-fired pizza and weekly drink specials.
1834 Race St., Over-the-Rhine
Cosmic Gorilla is a comic book shop with a menu of comic-book drinks, like the Deadpool (Tito’s vodka, spicy bloody Mary mix, dill pickle brine and celery bitters) and the Dark Knight (espresso vodka, cold-brew coffee, almond milk, peanut butter fluff and Cocoa Puffs). Behind the shop, you’ll find their pop-up bar, which is now sporting a Star Wars theme as Galactic Cantina
6083 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge
Luckily this Overlook is much more fun than the hotel and isn’t haunted…that we know of. The Overlook Lodge is a rustic, neighborhood bar based on The Shining
that features a seasonal cocktail menu along with a list of domestic, imported and craft beers; rotating taps; and wine you can order from the non-ghostly bartender. You can listen to live music here on Friday and Saturday nights to keep Jack from becoming a dull boy, and hopefully you won’t spot any creepy twins at the end of a hallway.
Photo: Aparna Avasarala
1314 Republic St., Over-the-Rhine
This subterranean nightclub/music venue is located several stories below Vine Street in a 170-year-old lagering tunnel formerly used by Champion Brewing (beer was aged and cooled in lagering tunnels before the advent of refrigeration). The historic, dimly-lit space, which has been vacant since the 1850s, features soaring ceilings with stone archways and decor that is adorned with "crushed velvet and unpredictability," according to the bar. Guests can expect an immersive experience with art, design, cocktails and live music.
Photo: Provided by 3CDC
1331 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine
Time to level up, Cincinnati. Level One Bar + Arcade features a lineup of pinball machines and old-school arcade games, some of which come from owner Paul Burkhart’s original collection that he’s been curating for 25 years. You’ll find over 50 games, a dozen pinball machines, multiplayer games and two skeeball lanes, plus a rotating list of rare titles. At the bar, there are two dozen local beers on tap along with themed cocktails – including drinks named after Pong and Frogger. Food isn’t served at Level One, but Burkhart encourages guests to order takeout from local restaurants and vendors.
8031 Glendale Milford Road, Camp Dennison
Built in the 1860s, this former Hamilton County schoolhouse was bought and saved from demolition by Donald and Phyllis Miller, who turned it into the Schoolhouse Restaurant. Keeping the schoolhouse theme, the restaurant features windows, yellow oak floors and blackboards, on which the menu is written, from the late 1800s. The menu features American comfort food like fried chicken, mashed potatoes, smoked ham, country-fried steak and homemade meatloaf.
Photo: Provided by Sundry & Vice
18 W 13th St., Over-the-Rhine
This apothecary-themed cocktail bar has drinks that lend more textures, colors and flavors than a classic list of libations in a warm, vintage-vibes atmosphere. The list of “tinctures, tonics and remedies” includes the Magical Mystery (rye whiskey, strawberry, amaro, lemon, egg white and bitters), the Night Cure (bourbon, honey, lemon and grapefruit oil) and Penicillin (blended scotch, honey, ginger and lemon), among a menu of other crafty cocktails, beer and wine.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
965 E. McMillan St., Walnut Hills
Take a trip to the tropics at this hidden gem in the heart of Walnut Hills. Tiki Tiki Bang Bang is the only bar in Cincinnati that will take you on an island exploration without leaving the Ohio River Valley via the Discovery Rum Club. Ask your bartender about it to buy the super secret book ($25 with a special flight of rum to get you started), choose your faction (are you Team Prof. McCaw or Team Capt. Dory?) and get to sipping on some rum. If exploring isn’t your game, you can kick back with one of Tiki Tiki Bang Bang’s punch bowls or island-themed cocktails.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
2835 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut Hills
Sporting a relaxed, Hemingway cafe-style atmosphere, wine bar and cafe Symposium features three bars, a main dining room with a lounge known as The Nest, a private dining and event space and a small outdoor patio for early birds and night owls alike. Each bar serves something different: one is drinks, another is coffee and the final has food. Owners J. Matt Nickels and chef Aaron Owens told CityBeat
they want Symposium to also embody the stories of old Italy told to them by family. The drinks menu places a focus on avian-inspired cocktails, called “Birdtails,” like the mojito Macaw; the Meadowlark, their take on a Moscow Mule; or the gin and tonic Magpie.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
575 Race St., Downtown
Sing your heart out at this Japanese-style karaoke bar. You can enjoy some sake or a seasonal cocktail featuring Japanese liquor in the lounge before dancing or singing. Or, rent a private room where you can sing “My Heart Will Go On” among people who won’t judge you too harshly. The private rooms also come with a special drink-delivery robot to help you get that liquid courage going before your big performance.