When things began opening back up, I was a little anxious about it, but also excited to get back out on the Year of Beer trail this month. While getting back into the swing of things, I knew there were plenty of precautions to take, so I made sure to mask up, wash my hands regularly, and keep my distance. Lucky for me, all the bars we chose to visit this month are doing a bang-up job of keeping their customers safe, which is why I’m excited to cover these particular places.
I felt comfortable, safe, and well taken care of at all of them.
Maury’s Tiny Cove
3908 Harrison Ave (45211)
Have you ever walked into a place and felt like you were in the middle of a Scorsese mob movie? Maury’s Tiny Cove is one of those places. The decor is antique and transports you back to a time when men in trenchcoats made shady deals over a glass of Scotch. The place has such an old school feel that the film Carol, which was set in the ‘50s, has a pivotal scene take place in one of its romantic booths.
I was the very first customer Maury’s had as they re-opened, and boy were these people excited. They treated me like I was a king. As other customers arrived, they were sure to sit us a safe distance away and were quick to bring bread, pickles and a delicious beer (this time I went with a Hi-Wire Gose, which was smooth and just slightly sour, light enough for the heavy meal of steak and potatoes I gorged on). My server, Destiny, was fantastic, and on top of everything. Maury’s was the only place on this month’s list that didn’t utilize its patio. Because of how on top of everything and prepared they were, that wasn’t a problem for me at all.
Boomtown Biscuits and Whisky/Nation
1201 Broadway Street (45202)
Tucked neatly between OTR, Mt. Auburn, and the Central Business District, Pendleton is a small but mighty neighborhood with some of the city's best biscuits, barbecue, burgers, and beer. (How’s that for a delicious alliteration?) As part of the re-opening, a portion of 12th street right outside Boomtown Biscuits and Nation closed to car traffic, and numerous tables were added around the area. They were cleaned whenever customers left.
I was sure to order a Yukon (one of my favorite meals in the city) from Boomtown’s carryout window and walk over to Nation and grab a Progress Supreme Pilsner brewed by another neighborhood joint, Three Points. The beer was crisp and refreshing, the food was absolutely delectable and the atmosphere was comfortable and secure.
Cabana on the River
7445 Forbes Road (45233)
This joint is one of the city's hidden gems, in my opinion. Although, calling it hidden isn’t quite fair because it’s always busy. I just think more folks should know about and enjoy Cabana on the River’s unique, chill spot, especially in these trying times. Cabana on the River is set up like a kitschy Florida tourist trap mixed with a yacht club. There are fake, fluorescent palm trees and sand volleyball courts. There isn’t a single sad person in sight whenever you’re there. It’s just a happy, relaxing spot. This is no different as they re-opened.
Lucky for them, they have a huge patio that can easily social distance folks with simplicity and comfort. I took some extra precautions and decided to match the mood by wearing a rainbow tube while walking around to enjoy the space. This helped me keep a little distance and be in the right spirit. I was in the beach mode while hanging at Cabana, so I drank the local favorite Braxton Lo-Cal IPA, which is good and has the deliciousness of all the calories.
My other favorite thing about Cabana on the River is it feels like a family is serving you and you’re being welcomed into a party they’re having. My waitress, Lisa, was fantastic and has worked there for four years even though she no longer needs the job. She just loves it that much. And that's no surprise. The laid back atmosphere lends itself to a loyal community that comes back time and again to have fun and relax.
East Price Hill
Incline Public House
2601 W. 8th Street (45204)
Surely, you’ve heard of the Incline Public House, perched atop the edge of East Price Hill, overlooking the entire city skyline from the West. It’s one of my favorite places to take visitors because the food and service are always top-notch, and the view is fantastic! I checked out the Incline in the evening so I could see the city lit up, and it went perfectly. As with all the places I visited, they were set up and executing all the social distance guidelines really well, and I never felt unsafe or like anything was unclean. For their indoor seating, they spread out the tables a bit but also created tall barriers to allow for more separation between tables. I had some sweet potato tots and ended my night enjoying a Lagunitas Born Yesterday Pale Ale.
I’m crossing my fingers that these good experiences are the norm. Maybe there’s a chance we can continue to slowly reopen the economy in a safe, clean, and cautious way. Time will tell. But if you’re feeling up for getting out and about, and I know a lot of us have been, I’d easily recommend these four places as genuinely good spots to visit.
I sure do miss sitting next to a random stranger at a bar and striking up a fascinating conversation, but I’m willing to wait until we’re ready. This was a good way to dip my toe back in the water. We’ll see how the world changes next month.
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