- 208 E. 12th St., Cincinnati, OH, 45202
- Overall User Rating:
- (8 ratings)
- 4 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Monday-Friday; 6 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Saturday; noon-8 p.m. Sunday
- Official Web Site:
Something happened at Neons that I'd never seen before. A week after the iconic Over-the-Rhine bar reopened in its old spot, a co-worker and I stopped by for beers on the patio.
We tossed back a few familiar bottles, then asked the bartender for a recommendation – a question I've often had answered with an eye roll and a "they're all good, (idiot)."
But here's what this bartender did: He stepped out from behind the bar and walked over to our table.
In his hands were three bottles, hand-picked according to my co-worker's tastes. He explained each, then opened one and left with the other two.
Oh, and he brought potato chips.
Behold, ladies and gentlemen, one of the reasons why the Famous Neons Unplugged is bound to be one of my favorite area bars this summer.
Neons, which opened in 1982 and was once covered in neon signs - many of which former Neons owner Terry Carter moved to his Terry's Turf Club in Linwood - sat empty the last few years until neighborhood residents took on the task of reviving it.
They managed to eke out a grand opening on April 2, and the place was packed.
We waited for things to settle down a bit, and a week later, the place was much mellower.
As the sun went down on a Saturday night, a guitar player stood in the corner of Neon's 4,000-square-foot patio, singing Beatles songs beneath strands of twinkling lights.
We surveyed the $4 bottle selection at the bar and picked two, a Goose Island Summertime for him, a Weihenstephan Hefe Weissbier for me. The music was loud for my old ears, so we sat some distance from the guitar player, near the bocce ball court, where a few men hurled balls while their girlfriends sort of watched. On a warm spring night, we drank beers and ate chips and cheese balls, and really, things couldn't have been nicer.
OK, they could have. I have just one bone to pick with Neon's – the dogs. Dogs are allowed to roam freely in the courtyard, and while that might be sweet for dog owners, I found it annoying. A pooch stared at me while I ate my cheese balls. That shouldn't happen.
Beyond that, Neons is perfectly pleasant. It has a free parking lot, a laid-back attitude and a man who sets up a stand and sells barbecue chicken sandwiches once the sun goes down.
Oh, and the nicest bartender who ever was.