Staff Picks

CityBeat staff tip you off to the area's best lingerie store, best sneaker boutique, best pet grooming, best West Side sugar rushes, best walk-up wine merchant and much, much more.

Best Friends for Your Naughty Bits:
Some say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but I say a well-fitting, beautiful bra does so much more. For the most sumptuous, luxurious lingerie around — from fabulously functional to drop-dead sexy (or both!) — look no further than La Silhouette (pictured). Owner Britt Cruikshank prides herself on expert fittings and personalized service in her tastefully chandeliered, boudoir-inspired boutique. Her hand-selected merchandise is mostly European-made, with several French and Italian lines featured alongside the owner’s favorite: Wolford’s haute Austrian hosiery, bodysuits and more. High quality doesn’t come cheap, but with proper care these exquisite unmentionables are built to last and fit like a dream. Even if no one sees what you’re wearing underneath, proper undergarments can help you look better in your clothes — your silhouette, right? 6914 Miami Ave., Madeira, 513-272-8100

Best Place to Buy Meat to Impress Your Party Guests:
Have you ever had a sausage with sauerkraut, mustard and ketchup on a bun? Have you had one made out of camel? Debbie and Matt at Kroeger and Sons Sausage in Findlay Market make about 40 varieties of handmade sausage. No binders, colors, extenders or artificial preservatives, and it all comes wrapped in a natural casing. Top quality fresh pork is the main ingredient in most Kroeger recipes, but you can also find chicken sausage, duck sausage, lamb sausage and, yes, camel sausage. 117 W. Elder St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-651-5543,

Best Place to Get a Root Beer Float:
Sharonville’s Root Beer Stand opened in 1957 as an A&W Root Beer Stand with a secret, an on-site 280-foot-deep well. Water from this well contributes to the unique and delicious flavor of the Stand’s frothy, cold beverage. The family operation continues serving their original special secret recipe root beer along with their secret-recipe chili to this day, along with an assortment of hot dogs, hamburgers and sandwiches. Root Beer Stand season is now, ending the last week in September. 11566 Reading Road, Sharonville,

Best Sneaker Boutique:

Corporate is by far the hottest sneaker boutique in Cincinnati, maybe even the Midwest. They carry popular clothing brands like Play Cloths and 10.Deep, but their sneaker selection is absolutely amazing: all of the latest Nikes and Jordans, often with midnight releases for the highly sought-after items. They also released their own New Era hat and beanie. Customer service is second to none, including their service to the community: They’re involved in the Cincinnati Sneaker Showcase, which donated money to the Shining Star Youth Sports Program, and took part in the Sneakerheads for Haiti program. Owner Matt Tomamichel does a monthly blog to showcase the new sneakers, clothing and accessories in the shop ( and on 11578 Springfield Pike, Springdale, 513-771-0432

Best Magnanimous Web Site:
Started by a damn nice Cincinnatian, lets you ask around the neighborhood in case you need to borrow, say, a snow blower or a 12-foot ladder or anything, really. And it’ll become even more useful the more people hop on it and get all selfless-like.

Best Spay/Neuter Clinic:
Ohio Alleycat Rescue (O.A.R.) is a mostly volunteer organization that offers low cost spay/neuter services for cats of all kinds. Efficient, affordable and they treat your cats like royalty, which clearly your cat already thinks it is. 5619 Orlando Place, Madisonville,

Best Book Selection for Aesthetes:

Over the past year, the Contemporary Arts Center has phased out most of their book section in the gift shop in lieu of well-designed gifts, jewelry and limited edition art objects. That leaves the art-inclined bibliophile two options apart from the Web: drive to Columbus and spend as much time in the Wexner’s book store as you do the galleries or take advantage of the remarkable book selection at HighStreet Cincinnati. The home wares store offers tea when you arrive, carries the same brand wallpaper the Queen of England decorates with and features local artists and designers in its product lines. But the back wall of the shop is lined with shelving full of gorgeous books about art, design, travel architecture and lifestyles. Just browsing through them helps to make Cincinnati feel a little more global and “on the map.” 1401 Reading Road, Downtown, 513-723-1901

Best Place to Act Like a Kid with Your Kid:
Playtime can be enriching as well as fun. Happen Inc., run by the folks who operate Toy Lab, is a nonprofit creative play organization that encourages children and adults to explore art together. The classes are free and provide opportunities for kids to learn about visual and performing arts in the heart of the city’s hippest hood. 4201 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-751-2345

Best Place to Drop Off the Kids:
Want your boys to get along with the ladies when they become men? Teach them to dance. Grown women don’t want to play catch that often, but the hot ones do want to dance. Cincinnati Ballet Academy will give your kids the confidence it takes to conquer the dance floor as well as the stage of life. 11444 Deerfield Road, Cincinnati, 513-530-5218

Best Place to Make Yourself Feel Better:
Want to feel rich for a couple of hours without going broke? Visit the Inner Peace Center for a rubdown or oil treatment and find out what pampering means. A great atmosphere and friendly service make for a great escape from this hectic world. And for a small place they sure do provide a ton of services. 708 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-784-0403

Best Reuse of Building Materials:

Looking for an affordable, truly green way to renovate your home? Head to Building Value, a nonprofit social enterprise that salvages reusable materials from other people’s renovations and tear-outs. Materials in good condition are reused in their original form for their original purpose, and with an ever-changing selection of merchandise shoppers will find vintage architectural elements rescued by Building Value’s professional deconstruction crew: good-condition doors, windows, sinks and cabinets donated by remodelers; a nice selection of funky fixtures, tiles and stained glass; and any variety of other treasures. And by shopping at Building Value you’re also supporting Easter Seals WRC, which empowers individuals with disabilities and disadvantages to achieve a higher quality of life through work. Look for socially-responsible items like Adirondack chairs and rockers, benches and chess sets made by members of Easter Seals’ work force in the store, too. 4040 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, 513-475-6783

Best Gas Station Beer Selection:
Although Clifton boasts some pretty serious beer-itition with the Riddle Road Market and Stop’n’Go, Northside holds its own in the gas station beer game. The neighborhood’s Marathon station has a huge selection of microbrews, imports and domestic beers along with Strongbow, that British cider. The owner will even order your favorite type of beer if he doesn’t have it on hand. 4200 Kirby Ave., Northside, 513-681-3812

Best Walk-Up Wine Merchant:
Dutch’s Wine Merchant and Beer Dock is that open European- looking storefront you’ve probably driven by a million times on Erie Avenue but never stopped to check out. It’s actually a place to buy alcohol, and a good one at that. By supporting small production, hand-crafted artisan beer and wine with affordable pricing (all wine is under $20), Dutch’s goal is to provide libations as an everyday luxury. It’s also cool that you can just walk up and ask for what you want from the sidewalk without having to go inside. There’s a reason they’ve been open for 60 years. 3378 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-871-1446

Best Store/Pub in College Hill:
Marty’s Hops & Vines in College Hill is more than a place to pick up a six-pack. With a love of British pubs, the owners reclaimed this 1920s building and turned it into a relaxing place to shop for more than 150 upscale wines and craft and import beer choices. Not only that, they offer a small plates menu and live music for customers to enjoy while seated at their charming antique bar, along with wine tastings and other special events. 6110 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, 513-681-4222

Best Vintage Store and Reupholsterer in One:
One of the downfalls of buying vintage furniture is the fact that even though the design is cool sometimes the upholstery can be just plain gross. Red Polly Space Outfitters has you covered … or re-covered. They have a great rotating selection of fabulous vintage finds from couches to desks to appliances as well as an in-house reupholstery team led by Helen Smith. Check out her work online or visit Northside Tavern and look at their stools. She redid them. 4016 Hamilton Ave., Northside,

Best Recycling for Furniture:
Adaptique, a two-year-old consignment shop in Bellevue, features furniture, lighting and accessories with an emphasis on the re-use of existing items. Owner Joseph Miller has a knack for helping you find the right affordable item to fit into your home without breaking your budget. He encourages customers to think outside the box and get a fresh perspective by reusing, reworking or refinishing pieces for an interesting new look. 712 Fairfield Ave., Bellevue, 859-360-1800

Best Boot Repair by a Guy With a Weird Mustache:
Timmy Willig at Casablanca is a master boot-repairer with a passion for the craft. Rumor is he even posts photos of his great boot repairs and restorations on his Facebook page. If you think your favorite pair is done for, don’t give up on them until you see Dr. Timmy. And if you don’t know who he is, it’s hard to miss him: He’s the guy sporting a pretty sweet, actually unironic handlebar mustache. 3944 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, 513-541-6999

Best Recycling for Clothes:
The Fourth Street Boutique is a high-end thrift shop associated with Dress For Success Cincinnati, a nonprofit that provides interview suits and career development to low-income women to help them re-enter the work force. Instead of suits, the nonprofit Fourth Street sells surplus and everyday items at affordable costs. 135 W. Fourth St., Downtown, 513-651-3372

Best Made-to-Fit Men’s Pants:
Brighton’s new fashion destination, The Brush Factory, is more than just a studio and retail space that designs and produces “high quality hand crafted goods with a focus on textiles and woodworking.” It also happens to be a tailor and a great place to find made-to-fit men’s pants. Brittany “Rosie” Kovacs is the owner and seamstress extraordinaire who’ll make you a pair of pants specific to your measurements quicker than you can say “pants.” 2019 Central Ave., Brighton, 513-381-5222

Best Stationery Store on the Move:
For a stationery store, Poeme doesn’t sit still very well. If you haven’t been in yet, do yourself a favor and stop in this groovy paper boutique and design shop next time you need a funky gift or custom-designed invitations. It’s headquartered in Hyde Park with a new location in Covington. 3446 Michigan Ave., Hyde Park, 513-321-4999

Best Place to Get a Gift for Somebody Cool:
If you can’t go into Shake It Records and find a gift for someone in under 12.5 minutes, you probably shouldn’t be friends. Because not only is this place chock full of records, it also carries books, collectibles, DVDs, Japanese toys and other rare finds. The staff is cool and helpful. And just when you think you have everything you need, you might find a gift for yourself as well. 4156 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-591-0123

Best New Supermarket:
Founded by local D.I.Y. divas Grace Dobush and Alisha Budkie, Crafty Supermarket is a conglomeration of creative craft vendors from Cincinnati and beyond all stuffed into one place to exhibit and sell their goods, which include everything from stationary and stuffed animals to jewelry and soap. It’s like all your favorite etsy stores in one place! Get details about upcoming markets at

Best Coin Dealer/Coin Shop:
Whether you’re a coin collector or just a magpie-human hybrid who enjoys looking at shiny things, Hyde Park Rare Coin is a perfect place for lifetime collectors, beginners, browsers and sellers to come together over coins. Numismatists and collectors of all types will thrill at their selection of U.S. Coins, Confederate Currency, Military Payment Certificates, tokens, medals, coin books and more. 3920 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, 513-731-1700

Best Organic Pest Control:
Want to kill pests but not you or your pets? Marvin’s Organic Gardens offers up a variety of organic ways to control pesky critters like mosquitos, Japanese beetles, deer, grubs and more without damaging you or the earth. As one of the only USDA certified organic nurseries in the Midwest, they follow eco-friendly growing methods and never use synthetics or chemicals. Marvin’s also offers organic gardening classes and eco-friendly landscape and construction services. 2055 U.S. Route 42 South, Lebanon,

Best Way to Turn a Lawn into a Beautiful Emerald Carpet:
A great looking lawn is impossible to guarantee. There are so many variables. The on-sight turf management technicians of Wimberg Landscaping will do everything in their power to make your lawn look like a major league outfield. You can tell these guys have fun and take pride in doing what they do. 5401 Hetzell St., Madisonville, 513-271-2332,

Best Place to Top Yourself:

No hat shop in the country rivals Batsakes Hat Shop. As a balding man who hates to wear ball caps, I take buying a hat seriously — it’s like getting a new face. Spend the extra cash and you won’t bump into some jerk at a party with the same hat. Stars from Luciano Pavarotti to Jack White have shopped here, and proprietor Gus Miller even has a letter from President Bush congratulating him on his shop’s 100th year in business. 1 W. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-721-9345

Best Earth-Friendly Home Supply Store:
Park Vine carries more than just washable diapers and Kleen Kanteens. Did you know they also sell eco-friendly household items, including paint? The first store in Cincinnati to carry Mythic Paint, a non-toxic, ultra low-odor paint with an adorable, vintagey logo, P V mixes the colors right on site. And it’s not all earth tones. Mythic offers bright greens, yellows and purples, perfect for children’s rooms, and varying color collections by HGTV star/designer David Bromstad. Park Vine is really a one-stop lifestyle shop. 1109 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine,

Best Place to Learn How to Service Your Own Bike:
Why pay someone else to fix your bike when you can fix it yourself with the help of MoBo Bicycle Co-op? Once you become a MoBo member (for a measly $20 a year), a staff of volunteer mechanics will help guide you along in the process of understanding and servicing your two wheels. You’ll also be involved with a collective that promotes bicycle advocacy, organizes rides and social events, and empowers people to get on bikes. They also offer workshops on various biking repair, fitness and safety topics. 1415 Knowlton Ave., Northside,

Best Place to Take Your German Car:
If you’re looking for expert repair and service on fine automobiles like BMW, Mercedes Benz and Minis, Bavarian Motors is the place. They have the latest factory tools and technology to make sure your vehicle is fixed the very first time. If success is derived from the trust and loyalty of repeat customers, mission accomplished. 1635 Reading Road, Downtown, 513-784-9700,

Best Place to Take Anything Else:
Let’s say you’re new to the Cincinnati area or just moving across town — University Auto Service is the kind of friendly place that could double as a hospitality center. Community minded and honest, Randy and his workers are more like helpful neighbors with a ton of cool tools than a business. Yes, they provide all services from oil changes and tire rotations to transmission and engines. Stop by and enjoy a cup of coffee while they service your vehicle and you’ll see why they’ve been in business for 35 years. 2218 Clifton Ave., Clifton, 513-961-8818

Best Pet Grooming:

The Pet Spot calls their grooming service a “grooming spa,” and it really is, especially for high-strung dogs. The friendly staff greets you and your pet when you come in for your appointment to discuss any issues —like flaky skin, sensitive paws, overwhelming fear of baths — and then casually leads them into a kennel-free grooming area. Unlike the stressful stow-and-wash mentality of major pet chains, The Pet Spot gets your pet in and out quickly, with individual attention and without the day-long kennel stay. Each grooming includes a bath and conditioning along with nail trim, ear cleaning, various body shaving, fluff dry and a brush out. The affordable pricing is based on the breed and size of the dog. 2503 Norwood Ave., Norwood,

Best Place to Get Your Taxes Done Downtown:
So you’re downtown anyway, and if you’re not, you’re 10 minutes away. Why not stop in The Tax Place on Main? You can get your taxes done here for less than it would cost you to drive to a mall for one of those mass-produced tax software kits. What if you have questions? Try getting through to that customer service rep number with the store-bought kit! 1335 Main St., Over-the-Rhine,

Best Place for Sports Nuts to Get Geared Up:
If you don’t buy your gear from Koch’s Sporting Goods, you’re cheating yourself out of an experience. If they don’t have it, you don’t need it. The service is top notch. You can feel their will to make you happy oozing out of the doors. When you buy a jump rope here, you’re treated like you’re buying uniforms for an entire football team. 131 W. Fourth St., Downtown, 513-621-2352

Best Way to Commune With the Dead:
If your nightlife is looking a little dead, it might be time to check out the spooky spin-off of the popular Newport Gangster Tour: Gangsters, Gamblers & Ghosts, a walking tour of haunted neighborhood spots. The tours are based in lurid, historical lore and peppered with the experiences of psychics and the living who’ve seen more than they wanted.

Best Reason to Wield a Knife in Cincinnati:
Creations Cooking Classes at the Midwest Culinary Institute are hands-on culinary school classes led by professional chefs in state-of-the-art kitchens. For foodies, what’s not to like? Even cooler, classes are designed for kids or adults at different experience levels. Get your grub on. 3520 Central Parkway, Cincinnati State Campus, Clifton,

Best West Side Sweet Tooth:

Did you realize the West Side is home to four of the area’s best sugar rushes? Coincidence or just another reason why West is best? Fawn Confectionery has been producing quality chocolates and confections in their Harrison candy kitchen since 1946. Specialties include Carmellows (amazing caramel covered marshmallows), homemade fudge, Savannah Creams (melt-in-your-mouth buttercreams), Almond Bark and Chocolate Covered Pretzels. 4271 Harrison Ave., Harrison; 2692 Madison Road, Hyde Park, … Aroma’s Java and Gelato (pictured) is casual and as friendly as can be. Owners Gretta and Rick Blankenship store their specialized gelato at 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit so it melts in your mouth. With more than 100 flavors and counting, they make a new batch fresh every week. 6407 Bridgetown Road, Bridgetown, 513-574-3000 … Zip Dip is the best old-fashioned creamy whip in the area, bar none. They still boast the original 1950s era neon sign, with a lightning bolt streaking across an ice cream cone. Top the weekly flavor with Jimmies (sprinkles for all you East Siders) or try one of their shakes, parfaits, ice cream sandwiches or hot dogs for a change of pace. 4050 Drew Ave., Harrison, … Piece of Cake Pastry Shop sits unassumingly on Glenway Avenue but offers the greatest desserts this city has devoured. Owner George Moustakis specializes in wedding cakes and the like, but long before the cupcake craze hit Cincinnati he was making individual cheesecakes to die for. 5008 Glenway Ave., Western Hills, 513-244-7888

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