At Local's Sports Bar & Grill, the food options are numerous and appealing, but it might be the party room that's most appetizing. In that private space, guests who reserve it can lounge back in leather recliners and watch one of five flat-screen TVs. They can even enjoy it catered, as servers can tote in plates of New York strip steak or shallot-encrusted salmon, quite exquisite options at a bar scene. Local ingredients make up a significant amount of the restaurant's culinary roster, and when they're not busy making burgers, the staff celebrates sports by airing NFL Sunday Ticket, ESPN Full Court, and MLB Extra Innings.
The first Funny Bone location opened in 1982 and has spread infectious laughter ever since. Established stars such as Drew Carey and Jerry Seinfeld have graced the stage, as well as up-and-coming talents with fresh faces, fresh routines, and that fresh pine scent. The venue also plays host to a full-service bar, where patrons may steep their sorrows in calming brews, then ingest them triumphantly.
Each day, from the lunch hour until 10 p.m., the chefs at Zazou Grill & Pub keep the ovens hot. Preparing a menu of pub-style food, they plate up pairs of soft, warm pretzel pillows with a zesty queso blanco sauce for dipping?or dress half-pound cheeseburgers with bacon and a fried egg and serve them alongside tater tots, sweet potato fries, and other sides. The bar is also home to a handful of games, such as bar bowling and Golden Tee, and frequently hosts karaoke night, during which visitors can belt out their best renditions of "Ave Maria."
The independently-owned Mayday offers a variety of unique burgers, made from turkey, black bean, or beef patties with toppings such as Korea-style kimchi and cilantro chili sauce. Patrons pair the burgers with oven-baked fries and draft beer at this hub of the Northside neighborhood, along with trivia, comedy, and live rock and roll, and a two-tiered patio provides a fun atmosphere for the whole family.
The boldness of burgers isn't all Mayday specializes in, however. The subtle flavors of fine whiskey and charcuterie reward more ambitious palates, while a full array of hotdogs?served on homemade pretzel buns?add an upscale spin to comfort food. To top it off, customers can add a fried egg to anything on the menu, just like when we were kids, frying eggs on the sidewalk to top off our summer ice cream cones.
Don't worry: there's no actual swamp water to be found inside Swampwater Grill. The restaurant's name instead alludes to the fact that it serves mostly seafood-centric Cajun cuisine, including everything from oyster po' boys to fried gator bites.
Cincinnati Magazine describes both of the above as "casual classics done right," but that's not to say Swampwater's culinary team doesn't ever get inventive. Their spicy Swamp Pasta, to name only one example of their creativity, brings together crab, crawfish, shrimp, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, and penne pasta. And they aren't afraid to look toward the land for inspiration, smoking pulled pork and ribs over premium hardwoods. Swampwater's dining room is a perfect setting for these Southern meals, thanks to its rustic vibe, decorative crab cages, and tables reserved for brooding sailors.
You can still spot founder Bill “Mr. Goodies” Dickerson strolling around the Goodies Barbecue kitchen, testing sauces and ensuring the pork, ribs, and chicken are slowly pit-smoked just right. His daughter Creola Robinson has now taken over his business, overseeing the chefs as they dry-rub meats, fry up fish, and bake peach cobbler and chess pie.
They season a tangy tomato base with dashes of brown sugar and vinegar, resulting in the hot and mild barbecue sauces that reporters from City Beat lauded as “legendary.” The barbecue artists have been perfecting these recipes since the restaurant's founding in 1986, and today, their sauce can be found on the shelves of local grocery stores and flowing out of the water fountains of select community parks.