Oberlin Blogs

Downtown Oberlin

April 11, 2013

Paris Achenbach ’13

A while back, Emily wrote a great post on her personal tour of downtown, and included places I've never been to like the yarn shop and the public library (and I'm a senior! Terrible). Anyway, her post inspired me to write my own, especially now that we're the height of Oberlin's tourist season and prospective students are flooding our campus and may need some guidance to our overwhelming downtown. Okay, well that's a lie. But contrary to popular belief, there ARE places to go out to eat or shopping in Oberlin - and some great places at that!

A bike sits at bike racks in the parking lot behind the stores of Main street and College street
A shot of downtown Oberlin from a parking lot behind the stores.

I feel fortunate, actually, that I go to school in which I have pretty much everything I could want to buy, food and shopping-wise, AND that 1) I'm not distracted by a large city or fun business destinations and 2) everything here is super-duper cheap. Let's just say that ten bucks goes a lot farther here than it does, say, in my hometown of DC.

But I digress! On to the Oberlin Tour!

Stop#1: The Local
The Local sign hanging above the door

Before I start my day I like to drink a strong cuppa Joe, and though I usually make it myself or use flex points at DeCafe (as a part of my CDS mealplan), sometimes I go to into town. Walk south on Main Street and you'll hit The Local on your left (right beneath the bike shop). I think the best deal is the medium Americano - two shots of espresso with hot water - it's strong and cheap ($2.00). Also, their bagels single-handedly saved Oberlin from the Great Bagel Depression that lasted for approximately 2 years after Beethoven's Bagels closed in 2011. Yay bagels!! I still think they're silly as a concept (I mean, bread and cheese for breakfast? not nutritious) but they're still delicious and only $2.00, so I say go for it.

After you've grabbed your cup of coffee, continue to walk south on Main Street and you'll hit...

Stop #2: Ratsies

Clothing racks inside of Ratsies

Ratsies has to be on the tour; it's the town thrift/vintage/antique shop. You never quite know what you'll find there - sometimes nothing, other times the best ugly sweaters, summer dresses from the sixties and neon whole-piece bathing suits in the world. Great for birthday presents, retro items and costumes. I don't go there too often (hello, college budget) but it's a great spot nonetheless.

Vintage cameras on a shelf

The price tag of a vintage skirt for $10

Now it's time to turn around, head back north on Main till you hit the old church with the bell tower, turn right, walk through the churchyard, stick to the right and cut across the parking lot and then head left and THEN you'll find....

Stop #3: Kim's Grocery

Part grocery store and part restaurant, Kim's will satisfy your Asian food cravings, from Japanese soda pops to udon noodles to green tea ice cream. If you eat lunch or dinner there, I recommend the vegetarian sushi, kimchi dumplings and the Asian-Mexican-fusion burritos. (Sounds weird to me, but my friend Emiliano claims they're pretty bomb.)

Noah holding Sriracha and jumping in Kims
My friend Noah jumping for joy at Kim's sriracha options.


Stop #4: Cowhaus Creamery


I'm hesitant to put another food-related pit stop here BUT I can't refrain myself; this is, after all, an ice cream shop we're talking about here. And Cowhaus is not just any old ice cream shop: their flavors and waffle cones will blow your mind. Recommendations are included, but not limited to: Salted Caramel, Irish Car Bomb, Wabi Sabi and Blackberry Lime Cilantro Sorbet. Wild, right? The ice cream is on the pricier side, but you're supporting a small / local / organic business, not to mention your happy ice-cream-triggered endorphins. Yum!

Tubs of ice cream inside the glass casing at Cowhouse


Stop #5: The Feve!


Okay, last but DEFINITELY not least is The Feve, my favorite restaurant in Oberlin. I wind up there a lot because it's great for brunch, dinner, and late-night drinks when everything else is closed. Any of their signature burgers can be replaced with a veggie burger, and they have TATER TOTS with special dipping sauces and seasonings. Woah. It's also great for brunch on the weekend - they change up the menu every week, so you never know what to expect! My favorite specials were probably the pumpkin-manchego pancakes, the BALT (bacon-avocado-lettuce-tomato sandwich) with wasabi aioli, and their sourdough grilled cheese with homemade chowder. Enough said. I promise I'm not getting paid for this!!

The front of the Feve

Well that concludes the grand Oberlin tour for now. There are many many more places to explore that I have not included, such as the art museum (GO THERE - it is seriously beautiful), the Heritage Center, the many gardens, oh and Ben Franklin's! I really love Ben Franklin's, aka the town five-and-dime, for its used books, $1.50 mascara, and fairly decent chocolate selection.

The front of Ben Franklins on a snowy day
Ben Franklin's has pretty much anything random you could ever want.

p.s. I would just like to take a moment of silence for the baller businesses that unfortunately didn't make it. RIP Beethoven's Bagel's, Providence Kitchen, and Yesterday's ice cream shop. You were lovely while you lasted.

The reflection of a photographer taking a photo against a window

Taking photos of downtown through the window of the Conservatory. Note the Oberlin Market and the bell tower in the background.

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