On Saturday, I took a day trip to Cincinnati from Southern Indiana, where I was spending the weekend visiting family. Just a 90-minute drive away, Cincy promised to offer plenty of culinary and artistic options to explore.
Our first stop was lunch at Skyline Chili so we could try the city's specialty. At first I was reluctant to go to Skyline because it's a chain, but then I read the Chowhound boards (an excellent resource for restaurant recommendations for foodies) and I felt convinced it was the right place to go.
My husband and father-in-law, who had eaten there before, really enjoyed the famous chili, but as for me… Well, I'm not a big fan of red meat, so what was I doing eating chili anyway? OK, I do like red meat in small doses, but Cincinnati-style has meat in large doses. We had the classic three-way (pictured at top), which is cinnamon-flavored ground beef, cheese and spaghetti. No onions, no beans, unless you ask (and make it a four-way or a five-way). They also ate the other classic: the Cheese Coney. Pictured left, it's a hot dog on a steamed bun, topped with chili, onions, mustard and cheese.
I ended up ordering the Greek salad wrap, which I liked. While that might seem a sacrilegious choice at a place called Skyline Chili, it actually goes back to its roots as the chain's founder hails from Kastoria, Greece.
After lunch, we walked to the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) (pictured right). It was a gorgeous day — blue skies with an unseasonably warm temperature of nearly 70 degrees — but the city was empty. When we arrived at the museum, we had it entirely to ourselves, which made us feel like VIPs. (The crowds may have been at the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, a complex on the edge of Downtown that houses three museums and an OMNIMAX theater.)
Walking around its impressive Zaha Hadid—designed building is worth the price of admission itself. The museum doesn't have a permanent collection; instead it houses traveling exhibits.They had three main exhibitions and all were of good quality: photography by Marilyn Minter and multimedia exhibits by the Albanian artist Anri Sala and C. Spencer Yeh, a Cincinnati resident.
The top floor is devoted to the UnMuseum, and while it's clearly targeted toward children, the ticket-seller suggested we take a look because "adults like it too." She was right, we did like it, and it was nice way to round out the museum experience.The highlight was The Hypar Room (pictured left), which featured tables and chairs on a curved, sloping floor. Walking around on it was pretty fun, and it reminded me of an article I read last year in the New York Times about a house in East Hampton, NY, that had no flat surfaces because the owners believed that would help them live longer.
After the Contemporary Arts Center, we went to another Cincinnati instition: Graeter's. I had sampled their ice cream in NYC when a friend's family got a shipment as a holiday gift, and I was eager to try it straight from the source. I'm pleased to tell you that it did not disappoint. A "single" is two scoops, and I had the Buckeye Blitz (chocolate ice cream with chocolate chunks and peanut butter cookie dough) and Peanut Butter Chip (peanut butter ice cream with milk chocolate chips). Both were outstanding. If you're in Ohio or Kentucky and have the chance to try Graeter's ice cream, do not pass it up.
We then continued on to the riverfront and decided to walk across Roebling Bridge (pictured below), which was built in 1867. Across the Ohio River is Covington, KY. This was my first time setting foot in Kentucky, so now I can check off another state. Although I'm not sure this really counts, as I only spent about 10 minutes in Kentucky, checking out the Legacy Murals that line the riverfront. (Hopefully the next time I'm in that state, I will be at Mammoth Cave National Park, as that's somewhere I've been hoping to visit for a while.) After our little Kentucky jaunt, we walked back to the car and congratulated ourselves on a successful day trip.