May 12, 2011

wine me, dine me's Guide to UC Eating

I started at UC right at the tail end of a lot of classic UC dining.  In 1999, Inn the Wood was still around, Mr. Jim's was going strong, and the Catskeller was still a dark, dank basement.  Unfortunately, all of those places are gone now-- with the exception of the Catskeller, which lives on in a new incarnation in Tangeman Center.  So you're back on campus, and you want a taste of your college life.  Where do you go?  You can stick to campus if you want-- but if you branch out just a little, you can grab many of the tastes that you're familiar with.

Mr. Jim's:  I can't tell you how many times I had hash browns from Mr. Jim's in the morning, usually out of "the bubbles" that appeared on campus in the early 2000s. Once the "bubbles" disappeared and the Tangeman Center reopened, Mr. Jim's disappeared-- a sad day for every UC student.  If you want that steak fried with dipping cheese or those fabulous hash browns, a quick trip over the border to Indiana will take you to Mr.Jim's in West Harrison, Indiana.  They have an expanded menu, and are open all Alumni Weekend long.

Inn the Wood:  Two words: potato crisp.  I was devastated when Inn the Wood was torn down because I couldn't get my potato crisp-- a staple of "drunk food" for every UC alum of a certain age.  If you party a little too hard this weekend, you can pop by Keystone Bar and Grille in Covington for brunch, which features the Inn the Wood potato crisp (and it's just like you remembered).

Catskeller: The Catskeller, for my money, is one of the best-kept secrets on UC's campus.  No longer just a place to hang out, it features a nearly-unrivaled craft beer menu (most of which run around $3.50-- a steal), solid sports bar-style food, and a great range of activities, including a Bell's Brewery tasting on May 18th and featured acoustic music on Thursdays.  They're open 11-Midnight on Friady and 12-7 on Saturday so you can grab a brew in between activities.

You really want to go someplace that hasn't changed since you graduated.  I know, nostalgia is a powerful thing.  Here are a couple of options:

Christy's: If I had a nickel for every night I played darts (badly) and imbibed (really badly) at Christy's, I'd probably have a lot less student loan debt.  Christy's, the basement portion of Lenhardt's, is still going strong, You can still order from the Lenhardt's menu, drink, and play darts-- and if the weather's nice, head out to the biergarten.  It's pretty much exactly the way you remember it-- the faces may have changed, but yet, they're still the same.

The Mad Frog:  With Sudsy Malone's long gone and Short Vine just starting a resurgence, The Mad Frog hasn't changed much at all.  Still a diverse venue for many local musicians, and still salsa on Sundays.

Sitwell's: Depending on when you graduated, this is either totally different or very much the same.  If you graduated in the mid-to-late 00s and never set foot in the old place, it's still exactly the same: same menu, same drinks, same spotty service.  If you graduated in the late 90s, it moved up a block or so from the dank basement, and lost only a small amount of its charm.  You can still get your Malabar and Mexicoco any day of the week.
Skyline: It's a Cincinnati institution, and it's still there, open late on Ludlow Avenue.  It's had a bit of an exterior facelift, but the friendly, quick service and Cincinnati classic coneys and 3-ways are here to stay.

Tell us, in the comments, about your UC food memories, and for other dining options, check me out at  I'd love to hear from you, and see you around campus during Alumni Weekend.

Julie Niesen Gosdin ('05, A&S) is not only a food blogger, but a member of the McMicken Alumni Board and UCAA YP Board.  She holds an M.Ed. from that other school in town, but she promises her loyalties lie with the Bearcats (at least when they're winning). You'll find her around UC's campus involved-- well, more than she was involved in as a student.  Check out her Cincinnati food writing on wine me, dine me or in The Cincinnati Enquirer.


  1. There's a pretty cool poll happening right now on the Alumni Association's Facebook page: ...You can vote for your favorite campus area restaurant! Funny to see the names of these places... really brings back some hilarious memories!

  2. What about these faves- Zenos (sp?) on short Vine in the old fire station; the Corinthian, the Busy Bee; the greek restaurant at McMillan and Clifton between Starbucks and Chipotle; the Cactus Pear; the Unos on Ludlow

  3. Those are great ones too, Jim! Thanks for posting!

  4. Remember the Stader Room - upscale dining on the second flor of the old TUC and PA Aderly's on Jefferson near the EPA?