Pleasant Ridge

photography by Sarah Parisi Dowlin

Cincinnati, Ohio

Community Happens Here is the name of a nonprofit headquartered in Pleasant Ridge. And it perfectly summarizes my family’s seven years in this neighborhood. After we moved from the heart of Denver to an artery of Cincinnati, we joked that the neighborhood might have more hair salons per capita than any other in the country because, on the surface, that is what you see. If that’s your perception, too, then allow me to show you how Pleasant Ridge’s local food scene exemplifies the evolution my family has experienced.

When we first arrived in 2012, we had great walk-to-dinner options: the Gas Light Cafe, with one of the city’s top burgers, and Pleasant Ridge Chili, with its infamous gravy cheese fries. As luck would have it, we had our hometown favorites LaRosa’s and United Dairy Farmers, too. Loving Hut was a pleasant surprise: a haven for vegans among this meat-and-dairy paradise.

And then, Share: Cheesebar, Nine Giant Brewing, Casa Figueroa, Overlook Bar, Revolution Rotisserie, and Red Balloon Café all opened. Now we can walk to buy cheese! And fresh beer!

We can walk to the corner of Montgomery Road and Woodmont Avenue to begin our day at the Red Balloon Café with a cup of locally roasted coffee and a slice of homemade quiche. In the afternoon, we can walk to Share: Cheesebar, near the corner of Montgomery and Ridge, and pick up a locally made baguette, topped with local or regional cheeses, and pair it with wine or local beer.

For dinner, we can grab a beer at Nine Giant and enjoy food from a menu that changes with the season. Their team served an over-the-winter hit of brussels sprouts, marinated and roasted, served atop grainy mustard (I spent a weekend trying to replicate it). Casa Figueroa’s festive environment and menu, with taco options galore, provides diners with seafood options that are certified by Seafood Watch. And they serve amazing margaritas.

We can start an evening out with the ultimate comfort food: a bowl of mashed potatoes with roasted chicken at Revolution Rotisserie. Then end with a nightcap at Overlook, part of the ever-growing Gorilla Cinema group. The nightly possibilities seem endless.

We mourn for Coffee Exchange and Molly Malone’s, where hundreds of community-focused meetings were held, both of which were lost in a fire in 2018. Yet we have hope for what might fill the void, with our community literally and figuratively supporting the reopening of Coffee Exchange just a few blocks south of its original location.

In the summer, on Mondays from 3:30–6 p.m., we can shop at the decades-long-and-still-going farmers’ market in the parking lot of Nativity of Our Lord Church (on the southeast corner of Woodford and Ridge) featuring Lobenstein, Eden Urban, Barbian, and Neltner Farms, among others, for the ultimate locally grown food experience. (Unless, of course, you are farming your yard, of which you can also find examples in Pleasant Ridge.)

Over time, so much has been revealed to us about the neighborhood; perhaps, as Ruth Anne Wolfe, founder of Community Happens Here, speculates, “we have become part of the fabric of the community.” Indeed, there are so many other stories about our schools, our nonprofit organizations, and our amazing neighbors to illustrate about how our community happens here, in Pleasant Ridge.

Find the heart of Pleasant Ridge at Montgomery Road and Ridge Road.