Strangely enough, one of Over-the-Rhine’s best bars—and certainly its most interesting one—is all but hidden from view. That’s Mecca, which when it first opened in 2016, you basically needed a cheat code to find.
I’m exaggerating, of course. Mecca isn’t exactly covert. It’s just not in an area of the neighborhood (Walnut at 15th) that’s very well-trafficked at the moment.
Emphasis on “at the moment,” considering that block is gonna see some big changes soon. Yet for the moment, Mecca has it nearly to itself. And if that weren’t enough, it’s lacking an obvious front. You enter through a minuscule breach in a brick wall on 15th Street, which, if it’s your first time, you’ll likely pass right by. But once you find it, you’ll see what all the hubbub is about.
To say Mecca is a creative use of space is to undersell just how, er, nondescript the space used to be. Imagine a shipping container in a junkyard and you’ll only have overshot it by a bit. But thanks to the folks behind Cheapside, now it’s a real looker, an extravaganza of luscious murals, hanging plants, and ever-changing neon lights.
Those hanging plants, by the way, are something special. Not only are they gorgeous, they also (third-grade science alert!) create oxygen, to noticeable effect. The nights just seem to last longer there. You’ll need that oxygen too, because the art will leave you breathless. (Ba dum chhhhh)
But seriously, it’s great. The bathrooms are Instagram famous, the murals are backlit so they look alive, and the tables are covered in doodles. It’s the sort of place artists and the artistically inclined will feel right at home.
Also great is the outdoor seating area. Throw in some free popcorn at the bar and you've got as close to a sure thing as there is in Over-the-Rhine.
Just gotta find it first.
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Mecca OTR is located at 1429 Walnut Street (45202).