Mission Report: Your LUC 2017 Guide to Cincinnati – Over-the-Rhine (OTR)

cincinnati over the rhine otr header

The 2017 Lectora® User Conference will be here before we know it. To give you some ideas of what to do when you’re not engrossed in eLearning breakout sessions, networking, and checking out new products and tools from our exhibitors, we’ve been highlighting Cincinnati favorite restaurants and more here on the blog. I’ve already walked you through central downtown and The Banks, so now let’s talk about Over-the-Rhine.

First, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that the locals call this neighborhood “OTR.” Saying “How do I get to Over-the-Rhine?” to someone from Cincinnati is a dead giveaway that you’re not from around here.

OTR is an architectural treasure, packed full of 19th century brick Italianate and German Revival buildings. The area ranks as one of the largest historic districts in the United States. It was built by German immigrants and located on one side of a canal (now Central Parkway). Visitors referred to crossing the canal as going “over the Rhine” to get to the German neighborhood, and the name stuck. The neighborhood has had its struggles in the past, but today shines as an example of rebirth and revitalization. OTR is the place to be and shows no signs of slowing down.

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Getting There

You no longer have to cross a canal to get to OTR, and technology has brought several new options:

  • Uber/Lyft—It’s about a $5 ride from the Hyatt Regency to the heart of OTR. Have your driver drop you off around 12th and Vine and just start walking up Vine Street until you see something you like (or check out my recommendations below).
  • The Cincinnati Bell Connector—The recently completed streetcar will take you there for $1 (two hour pass) or $2 (all day pass). You’ll need to walk a few blocks to get on at Fountain Square or 6th and Main.
  • Walk/Bike—Want to burn off a few calories before you indulge in the culinary delights of OTR? It will take you about 15 minutes to walk there from the Hyatt Regency. You can also get a 24-hour Red Bike rental for $8 and bike all over downtown! There’s a Red Bike Station right across from the Hyatt Regency, outside the Duke Energy Convention Center on 5th

Things to Do

There are tons of unique little boutiques in OTR. Check out Elm & Iron, HOMAGE, Article Menswear, Idlewild Woman, MiCA12/V, and more. These are also great for browsing while you’re waiting for a table at one of the nearby restaurants.

Visit The Rook board game bar with a few of your new eLearning friends and choose from a floor to ceiling wall of games. (They don’t have Cards Against eLearning, but if you ask nicely, we’ll bring it to the Networking Reception!)

Pamper yourself with a manicure at Spruce Natural Nail Salon or create your own custom bath scrub, candle, soap, and more at The Candle Lab.

Workout on the green at Washington Park! From 6 – 8:30 pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, free workout classes are held outside at the park. Classes vary from yoga and Pilates to boot camp or Zumba.

yoga at washington part otr image

Staying the weekend? American Legacy Tours offers several great Saturday walking tours of OTR, as well as a brewery bus tour and a Newport Gangster tour. I’ve taken their Queen City Underground tour, and it was really interesting.

Food & Drink

I could devote an entire blog just to food in OTR, then one on drinks in OTR, and probably another for dessert in OTR. But we have so many helpful Lectora and eLearning-focused blogs coming up that I had to limit myself to just one blog about OTR. So here is a highly curated list of great places to grab a bite and a beverage.

Pizza

A Tavola Bar + Trattoria1220 Vine Street

Wood-fired Neapolitan style pizzas and pasta—you can’t go wrong! My favorite is the Fig + Prosciutto pizza. My fellow blog author, Christie Wroten, insists that I also mention the asparagus salad.

Goodfellas Pizzeria1211 Main Street

For a different pizza experience, head over to Main Street for New York style pizza from Goodfellas. Slices are giant, cheesy, and delicious.

Tacos and Small Bites

Bakersfield1213 Vine Street

Bakersfield was one of the first places a local friend took me when I moved to Cincinnati. Just snacking? The queso plus chorizo is great. Need more? Go for a selection of tacos. Bakersfield has good vegetarian options. The margaritas will get you in trouble though…

Award winning.

A photo posted by Bakersfield OTR (@bakersfieldotr) on

Abigail Street1214 Vine Street

This Mediterranean style tapas restaurant is a fun place to go with a few friends. Order a ton of items and share them around the table. Great place for vegetarians and carnivores alike.

Gomez Salsa – 107 E 12th Street

Get the turtle! This delightful dish from Gomez Salsa is described on their website as a “hybrid burrito” that’s “flat out awesome.” Note: Gomez is a walk-up taco window. If you prefer a more leisurely dining experience, take your tasty bundle of Mexican food into Halfcut, the craft beer bar that Gomez shares space with, and order a beer to accompany your meal.

Sandwiches

Senate1214 Vine Street

Pictured below, Senate serves gourmet hot dogs with creative toppings and funny names.

senate restaurant otr image

The Eagle – 1342 Vine Street

This Amish farm-sourced chicken is moist, flavorful, and comes with a side of spicy honey, as if the chicken weren’t the star of the show. My go-to order? I almost always get a quarter chicken, dark meat, plus a side of fries (or spoonbread if I’m feeling really hungry).

Belly filling, heart warming, soul healing supper time.

A photo posted by The Eagle OTR (@theeagleotr) on

Pontiac Bourbon & BBQ1403 Vine Street

I often end up at Pontiac when I can’t get a table at the Eagle and don’t want to wait—but Pontiac’s brisket sandwich deserves better than that from me. The BBQ here is on point, and they turn tables over quickly, so you’ll usually have a shorter wait here than other places.

Asian

Kaze1400 Vine Street

Sushi and other delicious Asian selections. Good cocktails. If the weather is nice, ask to sit on the patio.

This weather calls for soup. Don’t ya think?

A photo posted by KAZE OTR (@kazeotr) on

Quan Hapa1331 Vine Street

I recommend the “okonomiyaki” aka Japanese pancake. You can also create your own ramen bowl.

Places to Splurge

Please1405 Clay Street

Chef-driven fixed price tasting menu that varies each day. And a crazy bathroom.

The Mercer1324 Vine Street

American/European bistro. Also just a lovely place for a glass of wine and dessert.

Nicola’s1420 Sycamore Street

The finest Italian. If you need to impress clients or have a classy date night, you go here.

Butternut Squash Tortelloni / speck / fregolotta #NicolasOTR

A photo posted by Nicola’s Restaurant (@nicolasotr) on

Findlay Market – 1801 Race Street

Ohio’s oldest continuously operated public market, Findlay Market is a foodie’s paradise. The market is best experienced on a leisurely weekend morning, so check it out if you’re staying around after the LUC. Findlay Market offers a combination of gourmet grocery items, fresh produce, and food you can enjoy on the spot. Local favorites like Taste of Belgium, Pho Lang Thang, and Eli’s Barbeque are all here to tickle your taste buds. For dessert, indulge in Dojo Gelato or Maverick Chocolate, a bean-to-bar chocolate shop. Findlay Market is a bit farther than some of the other stuff in OTR, so I’d recommend taking a cab/Uber/Lyft or the streetcar here.

findlay market otr

For Craft Beer Lovers

Cincinnati is a brewing town—we can thank our German ancestors for that! Pretty much any restaurant you go to will have at least a couple local brews available. And in OTR, you’ll find Rhinegeist Brewery (a bit north of the main entertainment district, just past Findlay Market, but easily accessible by streetcar) and Taft’s Ale House. Rhinegeist offers cornhole (bean bag toss for anyone outside the Midwest) and ping-pong tables, plus a fantastic rooftop patio and tons of space to hang out and relax.

Rhinegeist has a long draft list of their own brews, plus two hard ciders to appeal to non-beer drinkers. If you have a group with a mix of tastes, Taft’s Ale House is a better choice. Taft’s has 8-10 of their own beers on tap at any given moment, plus two full bars that can make any cocktail your heart desires.

For Cocktail Aficionados

Sundry & Vice18 W 13th Street

A stylish speakeasy with craft cocktails and a vintage vibe.

Japp’s since 18791134 Main Street

Jazz bar lounge atmosphere with expertly trained mixologists. Special offerings crafted by award-winning bartender and local entrepreneur, Molly Wellmann.

Wiseguy Lounge1211 Main Street

This is actually above Goodfellas Pizzeria, but has a sleeker vibe and an extensive cocktail menu with a focus on bourbon.

Queen City Radio22 West 12th Street

Outdoor beer garden, cocktails, bourbon slushies, and milkshakes from a permanent food truck.

There are honestly many more boutiques, restaurants, and bars in OTR, so I encourage you to grab another LUC 2017 attendee and check it out in the evenings, or stay the weekend and explore all Cincinnati has to offer!

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