There are very few great historical bars left in America. They've either vanished or, worse, become some cheese-ball parody of themselves. Having traveled all over this country and drank my way across most American cities, there are four bars that I put above all others: The Green Parrot in Key West, Vesuvio in San Francisco, Miller's in Chicago, and Arnold's in Cincinnati. I discovered Arnold's in 1999 and have rarely left. Part of what makes Arnold's so amazing is that not everybody gets it. If you think that Applebee's is a great place, stay out of Arnold's. The junk on Arnold's walls and shelves was not placed there carefully by a corporate policy. It has been accumulated during a storied history as the longest operating bar in the City of Cincinnati. In continuous operation since 1861 -- including through prohibiiton -- Arnold's is timeless. It is also a fantastic restaurant. The $4.25 lunch is under-mentioned by local food critics. Through extraordinary creativity, Arnold's weekly changing lunch menu is one of the overall best in downtown and without rival in value. The dinner menu stays the same, but the specials change and are usually excellent. Arnold's also has one of the best cold Muffalettas I've had north of the Central Grocery. Music is always free and some of the city's most beloved acts are regulars. This is all part of what makes the bar a haven for political leaders, celebrities, local theatre troops, poets, lawyers, and drunks like me. Arnold's is like a Coen Brothers movie. If you're cool, you'll enjoy it the first time, but it keeps getting better the more you go back.
Pros: Ambience, food, music
Cons: No happy hour deals, no lunch on Saturdays and closed all day Sunday.