Midweek Must Mention — Horseshoe Casino (and Margaritaville)

I’m an advocate for Cincinnati and—seeing as I’m a lifelong resident of this great city—I have its best interest in mind, and my hopes for its thriving up close and personally within the throngs of my heart. I also love everything organic and architectural about this city, and sometimes take offense to its spaces being compromised. A block-sized concrete eyesore can be considered just that: a compromise of our city’s space and architecture. Instead, I don’t think of Horseshoe Casino and, more specifically, Margaritaville to be such a bad thing. At all. And anyway, why are we okay with having these multiplexual landmarks not an hour from us, but absolutely hate that this economical powerhouse has found home within our city limits?

Sure, it is certainly pretty ugly, and there are a number of other better, more suitable, and original buildings that could still reside there. But with having about 4,000 jobs created in addition to now having yet another entertainment venue (whether or not that’s your cup of tea is not my problem and—more importantly—not my business) is not a bad thing by any means. Not to mention that hardly anyone frequented that part of downtown anyway.

Margaritaville Cincinnati

As far as Margaritaville is concerned: this particular restaurant is one of 20+ franchises within the chain, which is located in multiple countries in North America and even one in Australia. I’m largely opposed to chain restaurants, but I don’t consider Margaritaville to be such a bad thing for the economy and, thus, the tourism of our city. Reminiscent to Hard Rock Café and Planet Hollywood, this restaurant boasts middle of the road casual dining, some entertainment, and live music. (Also money to our thriving city. I digress.)

The biggest difference from those places? The all-around experience. Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville is all about fun. If you’re going to this place for anything other than entertainment, you’re doing it wrong. You want great food? This experience is not for you. But if you’re looking for a mid-casino break from the dinging of the slot machines, this is absolutely your place. If you’re looking for a really good time and to share it with as many other people clad in grass skirts, neon prints, and parrot visors as possible? This is absolutely your place. For a moderate price, you can enjoy some drinks, appetizers, or something from its pretty extensive menu. Or you could, y’know, revel in all of the above.

Parrotheads are some of the friendliest, most fun traveling pack of loyal music fans. I was fortunate enough to have attended a VIP pre-opening of “Fincinnati’s” Margaritaville, and particularly enjoyed how much fun everyone was genuinely having. You don’t find this kind of elation many places and by so many people in one place, so it was a special experience—one that I hope happens again and again as long as this place is open. (Sure, I was surrounded by Parrotheads at this particular event, but I don’t anticipate the level fun and bubbly atmosphere to waver from here on out.)

I may not frequent Margaritaville downtown a ton in the future, but I genuinely liked the place for precisely what it was: a decent restaurant with good appetizers, drinks, live (but not oppressively loud) music, and fun. And lots of the latter. Also Jimmy Buffett tunes. If those don’t make you happy, well, then that is a You Problem.

I’ve seen, heard, and read some hater-like thoughts and opinions about the casino and Margaritaville alike. I’ve also seen, heard, and read some praise. (Okay fine, full on strokage of the place.) It’s all personal preference, and that’s how I’ll leave it. So just try it out before forming your own opinion. That’s what I’ll say. You have a problem with it? Here’s a simple solution: just don’t go.

Overall grade: C+ [out of a possible A+]

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