Three community-centric Cincinnati theaters ? all locally owned and managed, serving local and national beer, premium wines, and a mix of the best indie and commercial films. These efforts led to the Esquire receiving recognition from USA Today and CityBeat, which named it Cincinnati's "Best Movie Theatre" for the past seven years. At the Esquire, guests stop by for a diverse lineup of independent features, occasional live musical performances, and special events, including Q & A sessions. During films, guests top off their acclaimed popcorn with real butter.
The Mariemont Theatre is historic in its own right, dating back more than 75 years, also showing today's indie gems. The Kenwood Theatre, on the other hand, changes up the movie-going experience by serving sushi during mainstream flicks. Movie-goers can also dine on Frieda's Desserts and Graeter's Ice Cream as they kick back in the digital state-of-the-art contemporary theater.
If you're not paying attention as you walk down Elder Street, a big pink ice-cream cone will stop you in your tracks. This cone stands sentinel in front of the bright-blue façade of Swirly Bears, an old-fashioned ice-cream and candy shop. Customers can duck into the friendly space to peruse its candy offerings or satisfy their sweet teeth with a classic ice-cream treat, such as a float, shake, or banana split loaded with three scoops of ice cream and as many toppings as the customer wants. Even the parlor's candy-making classes and parties begin with a round of ice-cream sundaes, much like wrestling matches of old.
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.
Craig and Laura Decker seem to have a difficult time making up their minds. They also seem to have a knack for turning this indecisiveness into an advantage at every turn. When it came to opening their new business, for example, they briefly wondered whether it should feature a wine shop, a wine bar, or a gourmet bistro. Their solution? All three.
This spirit of inclusivity pervades The W.G. Kitchen & Bar, where the Deckers pair seasonal wine varietals with globally inspired cuisine. Rather than choose between European elegance and New-American pizzazz, they settled on a compromise they describe as “Old World chic.” This label suits a menu that features small plates of housemade meatballs and bruschetta alongside assorted cheeses from around the world. The focus on small plates is in keeping with the Deckers’ have-it-all mentality and gives diners the option to sample several dishes without having to barter with adjacent tables.
A Cincinnati-staple since the early 70's, Uncle Woody's Pub has built a dedicated crew of regulars with its old fashioned bar feel, classic American pub fare, and entertainment-focused atmosphere. The menu tempts guests with half-pound specialty burgers like the BBQ Bearcat or the Ragin' Cajun and guilty-pleasure appetizers such as loaded fries with cheese and bacon, and the full bar boasts daily and weekly specials. Seven flat-screen TVs and a 92-inch projection screen thrill patrons with basketball and football games, and darts and karaoke keep patrons busy on various nights throughout the week while their outside deck accommodates fair-weather revelry.
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.