Staff Picks

Learn about our picks for everything from the best Old-School Chinese to the best Vegan Baked Goods. These great Cincinnati businesses were chosen by our staff of hip and economically-brilliant writers.

Best Spay/Neuter Clinic


CAN, the

United Coalition for Animals

’ spay and neuter clinic, wants you to “imagine a world without euthanasia” by taking action and removing your pet’s sex organs. Because it’s a nonprofit, even people on an editor’s salary can afford to prevent Fifi or Fido from any pregnancy scares by handing them over to UCAN’s caring staff. It has a clean, calm and friendly atmosphere. I got my cat spayed there and now she doesn’t try to back it up on my guests’ feet when she’s in heat! You can just get the surgery for cheap, or you can check optional services like shots and flea treatment for really reasonable prices. They also sell animal clothing in various sizes in the lobby. 1230 W. Eighth St., Downtown, 513-721-7387, (Jac Kern)

Best Place to DisCover “Handpicked Vintage Clothing, Accessories and Housewares”
Atomic Number Ten, one of Cincinnati’s assorted vintage gems, is a clothing/accessories/housewares store run by local design graduate Katie Garber. The 1,100-square-foot store focuses on vintage clothing and treasures from the 1950s to the 1980s (and there’s usually a really cute dog in there, too). 1306 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-226-0252,

Best New Women’s Clothing Boutique That Benefits Service Agencies
Mannequin Boutique is a hip women’s clothing store that features upscale and vintage merchandise as well as accessories, art, antiques and gifts. Labels range from Ferragamo and Prada to Banana Republic and Coach, and even at these bargain prices you aren’t only treating yourself, you’re helping seven local service agencies: FreeStore Foodbank, First Step Home, Lighthouse Youth Services, One Way Farm for Abused Children, Stop Aids, Tender Mercies and UCAN Spay/Neuter Clinic. 1405 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine,

Best Urban Fashion Boutique 4U
The mission of 4U Urban Fashion Boutique is to provide a fresh alternative for fashion and clothing expression in Cincinnati. It carries unique quality clothing in hundreds of different styles, but in small quantities, so you won’t be out wearing the same thing as the person next to you at the bar. And it’s right by the Art Academy. That’s cool. 16 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-407-8059,

Best “Ohio” Shirt
Floyd From Ohio, purveyor of the “OHIO AGAINST THE WORLD” shirts and sweatshirts (printed by Able Projects:, definitely wins this year’s “Best Ohio Shirt,” not that we’ve had this category before. You can see Floyd’s guerrilla model marketing pasted in black-and-white posters all over the city, and look for the shirt at OTR (Original Thought Required), a store that sells “the dopest up-and-coming streetwear brands from all over the country.” 1307 Main St., Over-the-Rhine,

Best Place to Get Your Kombucha On
OK, so Park Vine doesn’t yet have a kombucha keg, but it offers the bottled kind and on March 17 hosted a sampling party/fundraiser for new drink equipment at the eco-friendly general store that included sampling of kombucha straight out the tap. Part of the reason Dan Korman moved the store from Vine Street to Main Street was to take advantage of the bigger space, which now includes a drink bar that could soon offer fresh-pressed juice, a locally designed and manufactured Hario pour-over bar and, hopefully, a kombucha keg. 1202 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-721-7275,

Best Place to Buy Funny Reds-Themed T-Shirts
Unheardof isn’t just another sneaker/clothing boutique. OK, it kind of is, but it carries a lot of cool T-shirts with Reds players on them such as Pete Rose grabbing his nuts with a caption reading “I never bet on baseball,” a Jay Bruce T-shirt inspired by the time he gave fans the middle finger, which reads “F@#K OFF,” and also a collaborative shirt created with Jonny Gomes. Sportz shirtz. 323 W. Fourth St., Downtown, 513-744-9444,

Best Way to get Wood (on your iPhone)



is a local company that creates laser cut and etched wood iPhone backs, handcrafted to work perfectly with the iPhone 4. Plain wooden backs start at $89, laser etched ones start at $99, and you can even choose a “Fat Jack,” which is a thicker, rounder back to “bring back that old 3G feelin’.” Wood choices include natural bamboo, amber bamboo, mahogany, walnut, cherry, maple and wallichiana. Custom etching is available by downloading and following the instructions on the JackBacks etching template. Get your initials, your dog’s face, your boyfriend’s face, whatever. Well-reviewed by a variety of tech blogs, there’s a three-to-five day production time and each back is delivered with two little screwdrivers to make installation a snap. (Maija Zummo)

Best Haute Couture Shoe Store
Morrison & Me is the only exclusively haute couture shoe store in Cincinnati. It carries a ton of brands including Faryl Robin, Frye, Jeffrey Campbell, Franco Sarto and more. Yummy. 1979 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, 513-232-7463,

Best Sneaker Boutique
Corporate is a sneaker boutique that carries a large quantity of limited designs, and it has a deal with New Era to design its own fitted hats. 11578 Springfield Pike, Springdale, 513-771-0432,

Best Quirky Personality For a Vintage Resale Shop


ocated in Northside,

Chicken Lays an Egg

is more than a stop on the circuit for thrift shoppers and vintage enthusiasts. It is a wonderland of good taste, acidic hues and campy lifestyling. There is a mod bend to the looks the shop carries, with appropriate attire to conjure Twiggy, Bea Arthur and Ziggy Stardust (all at once if you so choose). Chicken is more than a boutique; it’s a movement. They have even made dance videos that have circulated the web and planned clothing swaps, fashion shows and outrageous appearances in local parades. 1608 Chase Ave., Northside, 513-265-6386. (Matt Morris)

Best CinCinnati-Based Bridal and Evening Wear Designer
Lindsey Lusignolo is an independent bridal and evening wear designer who made her debut at Cincy Fashion Week 2010. Her “theatrically inspired aesthetic infuses beloved design elements from the roaring ‘20s and the glamorous ‘30s with cutting-edge modernism and unconventional chic wearability.” Rumor is she’s also in the process of opening a couture design gallery in Over-the-Rhine.

Best Easy Way to Help End Human Trafficking
Stop Traffick Fashion directly helps the survivors and organizations rescuing and providing rehabilitation to human trafficking survivors. Survivors make nearly all of the store’s accessories, and by shopping here you provide income for these workers. In addition to the direct impact, a portion of all sales revenue is donated back to organizations that rescue victims and provide rehabilitation and training. 2692 Madison Road, Suite N1-185, Hyde Park,

Best Way to Figure Out Your Yoga Personality


nterested in sampling some yoga before committing to a practice?

Yoga Row

on Main Street encompasses a variety of Yoga studios, which offer a smattering of everything from Hatha Yoga, Yin Yoga, Ashtanga/Vinyasa, fundamentals, pilates and more. Head to Park Vine to buy a passport — you get two for $40 to use for any class at any participating studio — and visit any of the four east-facing studios: Main Street Yoga, 1201 Main St., Third Floor, Over-the-Rhine, 513-703-4175,; You Do Yoga, 1319 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-258-2002,; Joyful Life Yoga, 1601 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-861-9642,; The Yoga Bar, 825 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 970-274-4402, (Maija Zummo)

Best Place to Buy Gifts
Madison Road in O’Bryonville. Try to name someone you couldn’t find a present for on that street! Stores include 10,000 Villages, which creates opportunities for artisans around the globe to earn a fair wage; Indigenous Gallery, which features a cool mix of handmade items; Kismet, the eclectic women’s clothing store; Treadway Gallery, an auction house focused on 20th Century Decorative Art; Hemptations, the one-stop shop for the world’s greatest renewable resource, hemp; Bob Roncker’s largest and widest selection of running shoes in the Tristate area; and more. 513-871-5170,

Best Coffee Shop/Gift Shop

The College Hill Coffee Co. and Casual Gourmet is a great place to go for coffee, but it’s also a great place to go for gifts. Homemade soaps, knitted socks, handmade heart pins — too many things to name. And at Christmas, so much candy. Right now they have authentic burlap coffee bags made by someone in College Hill for children for Know Hope ( 6128 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, 513-542-2739,

Best Other Part of the Forest
Another Part of the Forest, named for and decorated with murals from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, is the used record store/Siamese twin of Iris BookCafe. The store takes its place alongside Everybody’s Records, Mole’s Record Exchange and Shake It Records by specializing in used vinyl, featuring some 8,000 LPs on display (with some 15,000 more titles in stock). But there’s more: comic books, pulp fiction and a collection of DVDs for rent and for sale, plus VHS titles and even a tabletop of CDs. 1333 Main St., Over-the-Rhine,

Best Use of the Color Teal In a Store Windowfront
Fabricate does it all. Featuring local handmade/upcycled goods and art, it’s a clothing boutique, art gallery and craft supply store. And it has an adorable window display that showcases not only great teal vintage furniture but also hand-printed greeting cards, children’s clothing, furry little monsters and more, all of which you can buy inside. Shop local. 4037 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-407-6057.

Best Place to Recycle Homegoods Without Wasting Energy
Need doors, cabinets, fixtures? Items to restore an old home to its former glory? A cornhole set? At Building Value, materials in good condition are reused in their original form for their original purpose. Better than energy-wasting recycling, this process preserves architectural treasures, provides quality materials at a bargain, gives donors tax deductions/LEED credits and creates jobs. 4040 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, 513-475-6783,

Best Collective Studio Workshop and Retail Space


n 1789, three dudes purchased a plot of land along the Ohio River at the Licking River’s mouth and named it “Losantiville,” which eventually became “Cincinnati.” The design collective/workshop/studio/retail space

Losantiville Ltd.

is not claiming to be this historic land, but its members do admire the retail and design practices of the 18th century: interacting with the human who makes the wares you purchase and using local resources, natural materials and non-toxic finishes. Losantiville is battling mass production, outsourcing, energy costs and a withering homeland economy by focusing on design, quality, authenticity and sourcing/building/selling local. Whether you own your own space inside the workshop, engage in a range of hands-on classes from urban farming to furniture making or just come to buy goods from the guys who made them, Losantiville will engage and inspire. 1311 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, (Maija Zummo)

Best Greener Products for Home or Business
Greener Stock is a “building products showroom and design resource center specializing in non-toxic, recycled and renewable products.” They make sure each product they sell has third party certifications, proven market performance and longevity, maximum recycled content, competitive pricing, LEED points and the manufacturer’s environmental commitment. 3528 Columbia Pkwy., Columbia-Tusculum, 513-321-0567,

Best Consignment Furniture for a Cause
High-end decorators, along with normal customers, can search for deals on furniture, lamps, accessories, art and jewelry anywhere from 50 to 75 percent below retail price. The shop’s managers maintain high standards for consignments and donations. All proceeds benefit The Wellness Community, an organization that provides free support services to cancer patients and their families. 3854 Paxton Ave., Hyde Park, 513-871-8899,

Best Independent Reupholsterer of Vintage/Thrift Store Furniture
Helen Smith Upholstery. Helen can return any piece of furniture you pick up at a thrift store, Red Polly, NVision or your grandma’s basement to its original state (or better). She can make furniture look authentic to its time period, make it match your decor or just recover it so you won’t be grossed out to sit on your vintage couch. 513-263-0204,

Best Office Furniture Supply Store to Get Lost In
Algin Office Equipment offers seven floors of new and used furniture and office supplies. The entire fifth floor, called “chair world,” is full of … chairs, and one floor down, in “heavy metal,” the fourth floor is crammed full of metal desks, stands and tables. Get all Don Draper in there and buy yourself a Mad Men-style desk and chair set. 810 Main St., Downtown, 513-621-1616,

Best Place to Find Antique Light Fixtures
Wooden Nickel Antiques features a wide range of quality antique light fixtures from chandeliers to sconses and styles ranging from Art Deco and Arts and Crafts to Victorian and even 1970s tiered crystal fixtures. Especially practical if you own an older home or Studio 54. 1410 Central Pkwy., Downtown, 513-241-2985,

Best Place to Find Modern Light Fixtures
Switch Collection sells international, modern and unique lighting for your desk, apartment and more. Who needs Ikea? 1207 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-721-8100,

Best Place to Play and Learn, Even if You Aren’t a Kid
Happen Inc., a nonprofit arts organization, brings children and adults together to share creative art experiences. According to its Web site, “Happen’s classes and projects build art awareness, sharpen basic art skills and ignite the creative energy between you and a special child.” Happen’s Toy Lab, where you can use parts and pieces of old toys to recreate your own, is now attached to Happen’s Northside space, doubling the fun. 4201 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-751-2345,

Best Practical Eco Classes
We know this is “Best” Of, but we’re calling this one a tie between Park Vine and the Civic Garden Center. The incredible Dan Korman and the team at P V offer information on home weatherization, mushroom cultivation, cloth diapering and more (including lots of green merchandise). The Civic Garden Center takes you back to basics by teaching organic vegetable gardening, how to build a rain barrel and how to graft a fruit tree (or learn what that means). Park Vine, 1202 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-721-7275,; Civic Garden Center, 2715 Reading Road, Avondale, 513-221-0981,

Best Design Fundamentals Class Outside of DAAP
Enroll in the Brush Factory’s Vorkurs Workshop Series and learn how to turn inspirational ideas into garments that fit. Learn design fundamentals, how to choose fabric, create a silhouette, drape and apply appropriate finishing and technique. Or start at the very beginning with Vokurs I to become acquainted with your sewing machine. As an added bonus, you get to hang out in the actual Brush Factory. (They also offer custom tailoring.) 2019 Central Ave., Brighton, 513-321-9500,

Best Bookbinder and Bookstore in One
The Ohio Bookstore has been in operation since 1940. That’s a long time, and with 300,000 books and magazines on five floors, in all fields, you’re bound to find something to read (e-readers suck!). Their bookbinding department also offers restoration services for vintage books and custom binding. As an added bonus, they also publish books about Cincinnati history. 726 Main St., Downtown, 513-621-5142,

Best New/Only Women’s Magazine in Cincinnati
A-Line is Cincinnati’s newest women’s magazine and community focused on fashion trends, smart features, DIY projects, craft cocktail recipes and more. Even though the first issue doesn’t come out until May, it’s the best. And we’re not just saying that because it’s published by our umbrella company, Lightborne.

Best Skate Zine
Maximumrocknroll, the over 25-year-old international DIY Punk fanzine, had this to say about Kevin Bruce’s local zine deadramones: “Definitely one of the better music/personal zines (we’ve) read in a while. … Kevin is a great writer that … includes all the details that make you empathize with things like subsisting off bagels and exhilaration in spite of exhaustion that comes with thirteen hour bus rides to fests.” Find it at Shake It and shows around town.

Best Group Encouraging Women to Write
Founded in 1991 by a former English teacher and practicing poet, Women Writing for (a) Change aims to empower individuals and celebrate voices through the art of writing and creation of community. This supportive and creative tradition continues today through WWF(a)C’s classes and retreats for women (and even their co-ed classes) and in their programs for girls designed to “strengthen girls’ authentic voices, develop their ability to speak out through writing and direct interaction and deepen their belief in their own creative intelligence.” 6906 Plainfield Road, Blue Ash, 513-272-1171,

Best Way to Launch Your Female-Owned Startup Company
Bad Girl Ventures is “intended to be a highly localized micro-lending organization focused on woman-owned startups.” Individuals can donate money and then watch that money fuel startup companies. Along with micro-lending, BGV trains up to 10 women at a time in areas like legal, finance and more and, in the end, provides them access to financing for their startup.

Best Music Photographer
Michael Wilson, a Cincinnati-based photographer, born and raised, does work for bands Over the Rhine, Lyle Lovett, The Replacements, BB King and more. And he has photographed the likes of Doc Watson and Andy Warhol. 513-289-3855,

Best Pet Photographer
Love Mutt Photography photographs cats, dogs and other furry friends (including rats) in studio or on location. Their clean, candid and fun pet portraits capture the spirit of your best friend in a relaxed atmosphere, with oodles of treats. 513-508-4667,

Best Innovative Design and Media Team
Topic Design does brand positioning, strategically meaningful marketing, graphic design, public relations, app development and web programming. Remember the cool twitter feed at MPMF? They did that. Innovation. 1216 Central Pkwy., Downtown, 800-869-9989,

Best Gig Poster Design
Powerhouse Factories is a group of designers, printmakers and multi-disciplinary artists whose goal is to bring art to the masses. Functioning as a design firm and print shop, Powerhouse began in 2004. Band posters include national prints for Best Coast, Chromeo, Passion Pit and more. Buy ‘em for cheap. They also sell screened T-shirts and art. 33 E. Ninth St., Newport, 859-491-0444,

Best Way to Electrify Your General Motors Vehicle
AMP makes electric cars by taking existing GM brands and converting them into 100-percent electric. AMP was a finalist in the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE, a global competition that awarded $10 million to all-electric cars achieving at least 100 miles-per-gallon in real world driving. Their hope is that you will “become a proponent of green technology and show that anyone can make a difference without sacrificing their driving experience.” 4540 Alpine Ave., Blue Ash, 513-360-4704,

Best Auto Detailer
Sullivan Auto Spa takes car detailing above and beyond by nixing the phrase “car wash” and offering the ultimate in customer service. Owner Patrick Sullivan not only offers comparably priced detailing choices ranging from a full detail to a “signature detail,” which takes your car beyond like-new into show car condition, and also offers fully insured pick-up and drop-off. Screw waiting around in a car detail shop. Just stay at home and watch a couple episodes of Criminal Minds while he does all the work! 4128 Glenway Ave., Western Hills, 513-313-5364.

Best and Only Bicycle Co-op
MOBO bicycle coop will teach you how to fix up your old bike, on your own, so you can actually ride it and service it in the future, turning you into a self-sufficient bike rider. This nonprofit offers workshops, events and plenty of open shop time. And, if you’re not riding your old bike cause you grew a few inches or you got a new one, feel free to donate. 1415 Knowlton Ave., Northside,

Best Yoga South of the Border
Covington Yoga offers a peaceful, sunny place to spread your mat, along with expert instruction. 440 Scott Blvd., Covington, 859-307-3435,

Best Personal Trainer
FITNEXT is a personal training and group fitness studio designed to assist you in “accomplishing your state of optimum wellness.” They provide innovative, fun and intense training to help you reach your personal goals. 803 Sycamore St., Downtown, 513-721-0055,

Best Dance Teachers
Missy Lay-Zimmer and Andrew Hubbard are the owners of Planet Dance and the founders of the Exhale Dance Tribe, resident dance troupe at the Aronoff. Not only are Lay-Zimmer and Hubbard Broadway veterans of Cats, Footloose and Jesus Christ Superstar, among others, they’re also the nicest and they’ll teach you everything from ballet and jazz to hip hop and modern dance. 2230 Gilbert Ave., Downtown; 9536 Cincinnati Columbus Road, Mason, 513-505-6340,

Best Place to Have a Party
The Art of Entertaining and Uncorked at The Art of Entertaining. The names say it all. Not only does the Art of Entertaining offer up cookware, party decorations and cooking classes, but, combined with the next-door wine shop at Uncorked, these two join forces to create interactive culinary, wine and/or beer tasting events. They also have an expert party planning team. 2019 Madison Road, O’Bryonvile, 513-871-5170,

Best Floral Designer
Denis Buttlewerth of Buttelwerth’s Florist is a nationally recognized floral designer and event planner who has been creating breathtaking floral pieces for more than 35 years. And although he retains the feeling of a small neighborhood florist, Buttlewerth has orchestrated events in New York, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Sante Fe and ha been featured in the Washington Post. 2012 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, 513-321-3611,

Best Smelling Haircut
The Aveda Fredric’s Institute offers affordable, fun and great-smelling haircuts that include a consultation, aroma sensory experience, neck and shoulder massage, relaxing shampoo, mini facial, blow-dry finish and makeup touch up, all by Aveda students. It’s a bit like playing Russian roulette because you don’t know which fashionable student will be cutting your hair every time, but rest assured if they screw up, their instructor will fix it. 3654 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, 513-533-0700,

Best Ayurvedic Massage
SIA Spa (Southern Indian Ayurveda Spa) combines modern treatments with ancient Ayurvedic techniques to create a holistic and potent blend of therapies for the whole body. Ayurveda incorporates massage, meditation, yoga, herbs and oils to help you achieve a perfect balance of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. They also offer traditional massage and a medi-spa. 8127 Montgomery Road, Kenwood, 513-985-0777,

Best Tattoo Parlour
Dana, of Designs by Dana, has been inking people up since 1971. And this is a family affair. Not only does Dana tattoo, but so do his wife, Dot, and son, Jason; there’s even another husband-and-wife duo on the tattoo team. Click on each artist on Dana’s Web site to see their portfolio and credentials (many of which include art degrees and extensive apprenticeships) and explore some of the shop’s museum, featuring tattoo memorabilia from 1905 to the 1960s. 4167 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-681-8871; 631 Main St., Covington, 859-292-8871,

Best Way to Honor World War II Veterans
The Honor Flight, a national organization, operates a hub here and takes World War II veterans to visit the World War II Memorial for free through donations. 8627 Calumet Way, Loveland, 513-277-9626,

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