This is something new that I’ve never done before on the blog but I think it’ll be a lot of fun. All credit goes to Julie over at Julia Goolia (check out her blog, it’s awesome!). This was all her idea. But I think it’s a great way to learn more about a fellow blogger and get a glimpse into the city she lives in. And now if you ever find yourself visiting Cincinnati/Northern Kentucy you can check out this post to get some advice from someone who actually lives there. Here’s my Q&A with Julie about where she lives:
Have you lived in Cincinnati your whole life? Did you grow up there?
I actually do not live in Cincinnati, I live in Northern Kentucky (basically Cincinnati but with more free parking opportunities). I consider myself a Cincinnatian because I currently live about five minutes away from downtown. I can see downtown from my window and I can hear the fireworks from the Reds Stadium every Friday. I have always lived in Northern Kentucky (NKY) but I didn’t venture downtown until I was in college. Cincinnati used to be a somewhat scary place, and while it still has its moments, the city really has taken a turn for the better. I love downtown; I spend most of my spare time in Over the Rhine (OTR).
What would you say is the best thing about living there? What is the worst thing?
The best thing about Cincinnati/NKY is how you can still have a taste of downtown life. I’ve been to Chicago, and while Cincinnati is definitely not Chicago, I would say that Cincinnati is a pretend “large city” packed into a small space. There’s entertainment, bars and restaurants that are amazing but they’re not around every corner like New York or Chicago.
The worst thing about living in Cincinnati is what I mentioned above. I hate that we’re not really a “large city”. We only have so many options sometimes so you tend to frequent the same places and get burned out rather quickly. Hence why we sometimes go to NKY for bars/restaurants, you have to change it up once in a while and while smelling like smoke (since NKY still permits smoking in bars) is annoying, having free parking all the time is fabulous. Plus there’s this bar called The Crazy Fox Saloon which isn’t far from my house, so my friends and I like to hang there if we want a low key night.
Are you happy living in Cincinnati or is there somewhere else that you’d like to live?
I do love Cincinnati. When I was in grade school Cincinnati was dangerous, but now I’m proud to live in the area because of how much it has grown in the last five years. We recently had the All Star Game here and it really united the city. It was a great site to see. Plus, I’m in a city where beer and local breweries are aplenty, that’s kind of awesome. If I could live anywhere I’d probably choose London, England because I’m obsessed with their culture but I’d love to live in NYC for a year as well (even though I’ve never there before).
This is a personal thing but anytime I visit a new place I look for two things: a cupcake shop and a bookstore. What’s the best used bookstore and where’s the best place to get cupcakes in Cincinnati?
Oh this is a hard one. I’m a big library user, since I used to work at one for seven years, so I tend to not buy books as much since we have such a good supply. However, I do shop at Half Price Books a lot, it’s a chain place but each store is different. They have a myriad of DVDs, books, video games, comics and music. I noticed you don’t have one in New York, you are missing out! Sadly, independent bookstores are hard to come by downtown, though apparently there’s an Ohio Book Store and Duttenhofer’s Books that I still need to check out.
My favorite cupcake place is Abby Girl Sweets Cupcakery or Bon Bonnerie. Abby’s is right by Fountain Square (which is like the central icon of Cincinnati) so it’s easy to pick up and they switch their flavors a lot which is fun, but Bon Bonnerie is an overall bakery that will make you salivate upon entering their store. Both are good, but Bon Bonnerie would be my absolute top pick. Bon Bonnerie isn’t downtown though, which is unfortunate.
What is one of the most unique things to do in Cincinnati?
Ah, good question. That would definitely be our festivals. Our most notable celebration is our Oktoberfest festival which is held on Fountain Square. It’s the second largest Oktoberfest (Germany has the largest one) in the world! Also we have a Taste of Cincinnati festival, where all local restaurants have booths and you can try local food and drink and be merry!
What’s a food that Cincinnati is famous for and where’s the best place to get it?
We are known mainly for our chili, goetta and ice cream. I’m a weird “Cincinnatian” because I don’t like chili or goetta. However, people can have fights about what restaurant is better, Skyline Chili or Gold Star Chili. I personally don’t like chili or goetta. However, ice cream is like a second religion here. It’s incredible! We’re mostly known for our Graeter’s Ice Cream. It’s pretty much the best ice cream in the world. Yes, I am biased.
If someone wanted to relocate to Cincinnati, what are some things they should know before making the move?
If you’re moving to Cincinnati and you’re from a large city, you will either be relieved or completely distraught. We don’t have the best transportation system here, we are working on a streetcar right now, but we’re not the savviest with bus service. However, if you’re tired of big city life and want a tame taste of city life you are in business. The city is still a bit conservative (in the open to new ideas sense), but we’re working on that.
How bad are the winters?
It really depends. The last two were atrocious but three years ago there was no snow and it was the best! I hate winter so much that I try to pretend it doesn’t exist. It doesn’t work well, we had a lot of power outages, a lot of car wrecks and there were some days where we just stayed put for a weekend or so. However, many other states have it worse than us, I think we’re just terrible about organizing everything.
What are your top three favorite bars and restaurants?
Wow this is seriously tougher than I thought it would be. My top three in downtown Cincinnati (so this will be easier) are Shanghi Mama’s, because they are open ridiculously late and have good pad thai, Taste of Belgium has the best fried chicken and waffles and one of the best salad dressings I have ever tasted, and A Tavola has a yummy pizza (ask for the sea salt afterbake, you won’t be disappointed). Taste of Belgium and A Tavola can act as bars and all are reasonably priced.