In our Fourth Annual Best of Cincy Awards, many hometown favorites from chili to ice cream still top the list, but there are also new reasons why we love Cincy.
 
As always, tallying provides its share of chuckles. They really do bleed purple on Cincinnati's West side where one reader in our online survey rated Elder High School as the city's signature attraction "” behind Fountain Square and the Great American Tower. One of our hometown's endearing qualities is the enduring affection for its sports greats. Votes were cast for Oscar Robertson, Johnny Bench and Joe Nuxhall. You'll get no argument here. Editors' picks challenge the staff to move beyond our favorites and explore. Amid these stellar selections, we trust you'll find new reasons to love Cincy.
 


 BEST WORLD CLASS SOCCER STAR

When Heather Mitts reached the World Cup in Germany recently, it was the pinnacle of the finest soccer career ever of anyone from Cincinnati.

It's only fitting, then, that she's on the cover of the "Best of Cincy" issue.

"My gosh, what a career," says Bob Sheehan, Mitts' coach at St. Ursula Academy and current women's soccer coach at Northern Kentucky University.

The journey to the top for the 33-year-old fullback seemed destined, the grandest in a long line of accomplishments that include:

"¢ A high school championship in 1993 as a sophomore at St. Ursula, where her teams went 70-5-10;

"¢ An NCAA championship in 1998 at the University of Florida, where she graduated as the school's all-time leader in games played;

"¢ Olympic gold medals in 2004 and 2008;

"¢ A total of 115 U.S. team appearances;

"¢ A 10-year pro career in three leagues.

Sheehan saw it all coming.

"I'll never forget her very first game as a high school player," Sheehan says. "She was not a player who would intimidate you by physical stature. Here comes this tiny, little adorable kid with blonde hair, brown eyes, whose uniform is too big for her. And I remember (my sister) saying, 'What in the world is my brother doing? This girl is going to get crushed.' Then, all the sudden, Heather gets the ball and beats four people off the dribble, and she says, 'Oh, she's going to be fine.' She was one step ahead of everyone else.

"She couldn't have been any sweeter. She just had a wonderful personality and was exceptionally popular with an incredible work ethic," says Sheehan of the bubbly 14-year-old, affectionately nicknamed "Ditzy Mittsy" by her teammates.

Mitts, who resides in Atlanta as a first-year member of the Atlanta Beat, has returned to Cincinnati the past eight summers to put on her ProCamps girls' youth soccer camp.

"I used to love to go to camps growing up, so for me to be able to come back and be here in Cincinnati where I grew up and where my soccer career began is a great experience," says Mitts, whose personal trainer mother, doctor father and sister still live here. "(The kids are) so cute when I'm out here. I love working with them, and they definitely inspire me as well."

That attitude is what makes Mitts one of the "Best of Cincy."

"She's a special, special person," Sheehan says. 
 

READERS' PICKS

Thank you, Cincy readers!

There is no doubt Cincinnati is a city of neighborhoods, and many readers' choices prove that community pride is thriving, from its coffee shops to its wine stores; its views to its bakeries. But hometown favorites also extend to Northern Kentucky and past the I-275 beltway to the 'burbs. We were reminded there are fabulous florists, golf courses and yoga/pilates studios throughout.
 
*Repeat Winner from 2010


 
 
 BEST ICE CREAM
It's a good thing *Graeter's offers shipping options. Anyone foolish enough to leave Cincy will at least be able to savor the creamy taste of home with a pint of Black Raspberry Chip.


 
 
 BEST WINE SHOP
Though receiving plenty of accolades, such as the gold medal for the 2009 Henke Vin De Rouge, made entirely from locally grown grapes, Henke Winery focuses on the full sensory experience of enjoying wine, making each visit truly memorable.

 
BEST ANNUAL EVENT
There's no better way to celebrate *Oktoberfest in Zinzinnati than with cold beer, great food and the record-setting world's largest chicken dance. See and be seen at this festival, where everyone embraces the region's German tradition.
 
 
 
BEST BIKING/WALKING TRAIL
With more than 70 paved miles meandering along the Little Miami River, the Loveland Bike Trail, running through Indian burial grounds as well as Civil War sites, is a hot spot for fitness enthusiasts, nature lovers and history buffs.
 
BEST BIER GARDEN
Summertime wouldn't be complete without a cold brew in the muggy heat. The Bier Garden at Newport's Hofbräuhaus has tree-lined seating, a view of the skyline and room for 400 friends. .
 
 

 
 
BEST RADIO PERSONALITIES
Scott Sloan and Tracy Jones take to the air weekdays on 700 WLW to banter about current events and daily life. Love them or hate them, they are larger-than- life personalities.
 
 
 BEST REDS PLAYER
A repeat Readers' Picks winner, *Joey Votto is a low-key Canadian who last year led the team to the National League Central title and its first playoff appearance since 1995. He won the NL's MVP Award, becoming the 12th Red to earn the prestigious honor.
 
 
 
 BEST CHILI
The Platters may have longed for love at "Twilight Time," but any red-blooded Cincinnatian longs for "Skyline Time" all the time. Nothing says Cincy like a *Skyline Chili three-way with a coney on the side. Reports of cases of this treasure being shipped to desperate ex-patriots are not exaggerated.
 
BEST FARMERS MARKET
Last year, more than 800,000 shoppers visited *Findlay Market, Cincinnati's oldest public market (operated since 1852). It's about quality, community, specialty shops and merchants who treat you like family. Grab your green-friendly reusable shopping bags and head downtown.
 
 
 
BEST BAKERY
From wedding cakes to king cakes, from classic cookies to traditional breads, Servatii Pastry Shop & Deli seduced our readers with scrumptious confections from a family tradition going back four generations of bakers.
 
 
 
BEST NEWS ANCHOR (FEMALE)
A real hometown anchor: You're just as likely to catch the native West sider Sheree Paolello at Florence Mall with her husband and three sons as you are to see her on Channel 5's 11 p.m. newscast.
 
 
 
BEST NEWS ANCHOR (MALE)
Clyde Gray has been reporting in Cincinnati for more than 25 years and now anchors Channel 9's 11 p.m. newscast. With two Emmys and the Sigma Delta Chi Journalism Award under his belt, his work has garnered national, as well as local, attention.
 
 
BEST POLITICIAN
Readers have been voting for John Boehner for 11 years, electing him to the U.S. House of Representatives where he now serves as the House Speaker. He grew up working in his family's tavern in Carthage and now calls West Chester home.
 
 
 
BEST ROMANTIC RESTAURANT
Originally a police patrol house, Jeff Ruby's Precinct's 1901 Romanesque-style structure is on the National Registry of Historic Landmarks and features a corner turret, cobbled chimney and arched windows. It's cozy. It's intimate. So take her hand and turn on the charm.
 
 
BEST LIVE THEATER
You are close enough in these two intimate theaters to see Scrooge gasp when Marley drops that knocker "” but the annual holiday production is only one reason we treasure Playhouse in the Park. The professional regional theater provides excellent comedies and dramas with two Tonys to show for it.
 
 
 
BEST BENGAL PLAYER
The team's leading tackler from a year ago, Dhani Jones is also flashy off the field, always engaging with his personality and big smile whether he's promoting his charitable line of bow ties or hosting Dhani Tackles the Globe on the Discovery Channel.
 
 
BEST COFFEE SHOP
Everything about Coffee Emporium is local: in-house roasted coffee beans, handmade chocolates from Chocolats Latour, waffles from Taste of Belgium and vegan treats from Sweet Peace Bakery. It just doesn't get any better.
 
 
 
BEST BURGER
No doubt, Zip's Café, in business for more than 80 years, has great burgers, affordable prices and a perfect location in Mount Lookout Square. Their burgers satisfy the craving.
 
 
BEST PIZZA
Buddy LaRosa struck gold when he decided 50 years ago to turn his Aunt Dena's recipe into everyone's favorite pizza. For two years running, *LaRosa's Pizza is our winner among readers. You just cannot beat a classic.
 
 
 
BEST HAPPY HOUR
Classy digs overlooking Fountain Square "” it is just so Cincinnati. A taste of Palomino's Dungeness Crab Artichoke Dip or Sicilian Meatballs makes the $5 Happy Hour cocktails taste even better.
 
THE REST OF THE LIST
It was a lengthy ballot this year; here are the rest of the Readers' Picks.
 
 
Mick Cronin,
UC Bearcats Basketball
BEST SPECIALTY COCKTAILS
Tony's of Cincinnati

 

 
 


WHY DO YOU LOVE CINCY?

We Just Couldn't Stop!

After readers told us what was Cincy's Best and the staff had its say, we hit the streets and kept asking folks why they love Cincinnati. Here's just a sampling:

 

"From my family, to my teams, to my favorite restaurants, I love Cincinnati because it is...and always will be...HOME."

"” Nick Lachey, singer, songwriter and TV personality
(with Great Wolf Lodge mascot Wiley the Wolf in Mason for a Big Brothers Big Sisters fund-raiser in June)



 
 
 

" "I grew up right around the Music Hall, and I have memories of playing at the Music Hall when I was 10 years old."

"” Tina Werner, Fairfield, OH


 

"Moving from Boston to Cincy, my family found what we were looking for: a cozy city with sophisticated downtown, multicultural, family friendly, in the heart of America."

"” Dr. Hammam Akbik, UC Health Pain Management Center

 
 
 

"I love Cincy because I can go to Alms Park with my sons and watch the planes take off."

"” Isidore L. Rudnick, Artistic Director, School for Creative and Performing Arts

 

"Cincinnati has been P&G's home for nearly 174 years, but it is also home to more Fortune 500 companies than almost anywhere else in the country. And that is just one aspect of this multi-faceted, thriving Queen City community. But for me, it is the people "” their vision, passion, warmth, humility and their "¢can do' attitude, which is so pervasive here."  

"” Bob McDonald, Chairman, President, CEO,
Procter & Gamble

 
 

 
 

"I think for being such a mid-size city we really have an abundance
of arts."

"” Jared Queen, Over-the-Rhine

 
 
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