If there's one thing you should know about Cincinnati, it's that the city is German, through and through. From Oktoberfest to Bockfest, from Over-the-Rhine to MainStrasse, and from Moerlein to Hudepohl, the heritage can be seen everywhere. Of course, the main event for German pride in Cincinnati is Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, held every September. At the weekend festival, the beer flows like wine, the kraut-topped sausages are a-plenty, and doing the chicken dance isn't that weird.
Whether you're looking to turn your Octoberfest weekend into a German bacchanalia of beer and brats, or you just want to keep the party going all year long, here's our guide to getting German in Zinzinnati all year long.
The first order of business is to get the appropriate outfit. Wiesnkoenig, the official supplier of lederhosen and other tradition German garments for Munich's Oktoberfest, has an outpost here in Cincinnati... right inside the Moerlein taproom. Grab a few pints and then browse the wares at their shop. Their clothes are well-made and the aesthetic is a unique blend of traditional and modern... meaning that anything you buy from them can be pared with other pieces in your wardrobe are worn whenever!
Once you're dressed appropriately, you'll probably be excited to dive right into the German heritage. The Queen City Underground Tour is the best historic walking tour of Over-the-Rhine. From the iconic buildings to the underground crypts and beer tunnels below the streets, you'll learn the craziest stories and most interesting historic tidbits from the neighborhood's legendary past. And, it ends at the Moerlein Taproom, where you can, again, grab a pint.
Mecklenburg Gardens has been keeping Cincinnatians boozed up since 1865. Not only is it supremely iconic, but the atmosphere can't be beat: the beer garden is shaded by lush grape vines and is the perfect environment for an authentic German lager. Plus, they have a menu of German staples like sauerbraten, wursts, mock turtle soup, and potato pancakes.
You can find some more German fun across the river. Enormous pretzels with housemade mustard, tons of sausages, cheap beer, and incredible brussels sprouts, plus a nice patio and occasional open mic nights make this a fun place to get your German on.
Oktoberfest this year is taking place closer to the Banks instead of near Fountain Square, which is great, because you're not too far away from a nice, sit-down meal at the Moerlein Lager House. Take a break from prowling the street fest and enjoy the views of the river and the Cincinnati brewery-themed decor here. They have a ridiculous amount of beers on tap, a huge menu featuring everything from fish tacos to BBQ, and a late night menu in case you need something to soak up all of the beer you've been drinking all day.
End your adventure with a cream puff or some strudel from Servatii's. This local deli and bakery is the best place to grab traditional German sweets, as well as some American takes on classics... their massive stuffed soft pretzel is a great, crowd-pleasing appetizer.
After all of that booze and grub, you might be loosening the straps on your lederhosen, but hey... it's not a day through Cincinnati's German heritage unless you've consumed copious amounts of beer!