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Enamored as we are of Cincinnati, we can’t seem to shake our city crush on Covington, Kentucky. Just over the magical Roebling Bridge, it waits for us with its German roots and wooded streets, bidding us to slow down just a bit. We long to wander the fetching historic MainStrasse Village with a steamer in hand from Left Bank Coffeehouse. Then amble down to Braxton Brewing for a little pre-game drinking. There, a ridiculous amount of indecision will befall us as we negotiate how best to fill our gullets. Covington has developed quite a culinary rep of late, and the only problem will be in deciding what we’re in the mood for. Chances are, we’re craving the heat of KungFood’s noodles. We might head up to the Garden of Hope to see one of the best views in the city at dusk, then hit up a band at the Madison or check out the latest exhibit at BLDG. Even after a full day, we’ve barely scratched the surface of our adoration. Read on to see the many reasons to “love the Cov.”


D=Do; E=Eat/Drink; S=Shop

Butler’s Pantry 50 E. Rivercenter Blvd. (S)

Roebling Point Books and Coffee  Just across the Roebling Bridge, you’ll find this charming, dog-friendly bookshop. Get a little inspiration from your community–cross the bridge on foot or your bike and record your #RoeblingRide or #RoeblingRun in RoPoBo’s journal. Neat. Now you’ve earned an espresso and leisurely read in a comfy chair. 306 Greenup St. (S)

Blinkers Tavern 318 Greenup St. (E)

Keystone Bar and Grill  Judging by the perpetually full outdoor tables, it might take some finagling to stake your spot on a sunny day. Keystone’s Mac and Cheese has a cult following, and its own section on the menu. See what the fuss is about on Mondays when the bubbly-cheesy goodness is half-off, all nine elbow pasta variations. This popular spot has multiple Cincinnati locations as well. Keystone is a stellar hang for a few beers, laughs, and copious starches. 313 Greenup St. (E)

Smoke Justis 302 Court St. (E)

Riverside Korean Yeah, they’ve got booths, but wouldn’t you rather take the “sit on the floor” option (mats provided)? The stone bowl Dolsot Bi Bim Bab is their most popular dish. If you’re hunting a bargain, show up between 5-6:30 during the week to score half-price apps and bottles of wine. Riverside Korean has been a Cincy area favorite for over two decades. 512 Madison Ave. (E)

KungFood Chu’s AmerAsia  “Soul Food meets Kung Food” If you’re not hanging at KungFood Chu’s, you are missing a good time and some kick-ass AmerAsian food, with over 120 craft beers, too. Insiders order the How Fun noodles, an off-the-menu item. When in doubt, Fly Lomein. For you heat-seekers, KungFood has your back. You can always pretend to read the fortunes under the glass to hide your watering eyes from your dining companions. We won’t tell. 521 Madison Ave. (E)

Inspirado 715 Madison Ave. (E)

Be on the lookout for Pones, Inc. a Covington-based dance collective popping up in collaborations all over the Cincy area “creating engaging new ways for audiences to experience dance.” From the Dance and Poetry Jam class at Baker Hunt to vogue-ing in the streets, you’ll find Pones encouraging you to bust to move. Find out more about how Pones builds community and has a damn fine time doing it here.

Baker Hunt Art & Cultural Center  You really need to sign up for a class here, if only to wander the spectacular buildings and grounds. If you can score tickets to a performance for Kate’s Living Room Concert Series, consider yourself lucky. They’re sold out through January. The Baker Hunt Center offers youth and adult classes year round. From rendering your beloved pooch in pastel to mastering the Reverse Warrior pose, BHACC has something to expand your horizons. More info. here. 620 Greenup St. (D)

Garden Grove Organics  is your source for hydroponic growing. 701 Scott Blvd. (S)

Left Bank Coffeehouse  Just like the best people in your life, Left Bank is just as lovely on the inside as it is on the outside. Awwh. You may not want to return to whatever you were doing previously, but just camp with your perfectly brewed Deeper Roots coffee and pastry or Grateful Grahams. If you’re looking for something a bit more substantial, Left Bank has some delish soups to warm your belly. They are now serving vegan and sugar-free muffins from Present Kitchen, too. Try one of their seasonal mochas like Orange Spice while you peruse the books for sale. 701 Greenup St. (E)

Coppin’s at Hotel Covington 638 Madison Ave. (E)

Madison Theater/ Madison Live!  This iconic music venue in downtown has expanded. They’ve added a second, more intimate set-up next door–Madison Live. Go see a concert and get your groove on, but don’t swing your elbows ’cause it can get a little tight in there for the big acts. 730 Madison Ave. and 734 Madison Ave. (D)

The Hannaford  at Pike and Madison (E)

Cutman Barbershop  Book a haircut with Cutman to get your fade just right. 5 W. Pike St. (S)

Handzy Shop + Studio 15 W. Pike St. (S)

BLDG is a little like a mad scientist collective–but for art. These “copious creatives” are into all manner of radical transformation. You’ll see their rad murals all over town. BLDG.’s first floor gallery “is the start of interaction and connection to the inspiring. View international art, draw on white boards, or just sit back and people watch, the Gallery is a space for creative exploration.” But don’t stop there. The second floor design studio and third floor print studio are definitely worth a gander. Plus you can get your hands on their sick posters and more hand-pulled screen printed merch. 30 W. Pike St. (S)

The Pop-up Shops on Pike Street 33 W. Pike St. (S)

Point Perk Coffeehouse 43 W. Pike St. (E)

Braxton Brewing will no doubt be the best “garage beer” you’ve had the pleasure of tipping back. No, they don’t operate out of Evan’s parents’ garage any longer, but a gorgeous sunny brewery off 7th. Go pull up a stool or settle into one of their tufted leather couches with your favorite brew, perhaps their Dead Blow Tropical Stout or the medal-winning Crank Shaft IPA. Their first Heritage Series brew, Dark Storm, is Braxton’s take on bourbon barrel-aged beer and will be released in early December. Join them for Last Call Trivia on Tuesdays or sweeten your morning with Gadabout Doughnuts and a cup of Starter Coffee, Braxton’s own blend made in collaboration with Carabello Coffee, on Fridays from 8-10:30. 27 W. 7th St. (E)

MainStrasse Village

D=Do; E= Eat/Drink; S=Shop

Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar  While their burger has been acclaimed as one of the best in Cincinnati (area) or by Garden and Gun standards–the state, Bouquet is universally recognized as one of the top restaurants in the area, full stop. So whether you are hankering for a big juicy Bouquet Burger topped with pimento cheese and braised cabbage, or in the mood for perfectly prepared Risotto, Bouquet is your prime target. 519 Main St. (E)

Otto’s is your happy place. Brightly painted chairs, art-filled walls, warm wood floors and really, really good food have made Otto’s feel like the house of a chef friend you wish you were invited to more often. But hey, you’ve got carte blanche at Otto’s with one caveat–you’ve got nary a chance of squeezing into brunch without a reservation. If you’re feeling virtuous order the Roasted Roots with Eggs, or throw caution to the wind with their decadent Banana Chocolate French Toast with peanut butter caramel. Lunch and dinner are equally on point.  521 Main St. (E)

Bourbon Haus 1841  522 Main St. (E)

Lisse 530 Main St. (E)

Cock and Bull Public House  The best place to beer-watch, uh… people-watch, in MainStrasse. Join them for Pint Night Thursdays featuring a different craft beer each week; buy a pint, keep the glass. You’ve got massive options for Flight Night Tuesdays with 50 brews on tap. 601 Main St. (E)

Frida 602  This vibrant mezcal bar and eatery from the owners of Otto’s is a must. We are suckers for a good tequila cocktail, and Frida 602 delivers the goods–we bow to Our Lady Mezcal, topped with frothy egg white; or try the Smokey Martinez made with rye whiskey and orange bitters. We’d order the Nectar Del Diablo again just for the Hawaiian black salt rim. You don’t need to be a vegetarian to be a tad obsessed with their Brussels Sprout Tacos, either. Whatever you do, order the Elotes–one can never go wrong with Mexican street corn. 602 Main St. (E)

Piper’s Cafe has a gajillion flavors of soft serve you need to try. As for us, we’re all about the Bahn Mi hotdog. Seasonal soups (try Piper’s Own Goetta Guinness Chili), sandwiches and sides–roll up to their take-out window and have a little impromptu picnic in Goebel Park. Piper’s serves breakfast, too. 520 W. 6th St. (E)

Commonwealth Bistro 621 Main St. (E)

Zola Pub & Grill  Drop in this casual pub to experience one of their epic burgers Wednesdays during BurgerMania–any style burger and a side for just six bucks. There’s always Trivia Night on Tuesdays, so you can alienate your friends with your competitive nature. 626 Main St. (E)

Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar (OKBB) bourbon of the day, boutique bourbon flight ranging from 13 to 20 bucks. “With an ever expanding selection of Kentucky’s native spirit, there are over 300 bottles of domestic bourbon and whiskey to choose from,” do you need to ask why this is one of our favorite watering holes? 629-A Main St. (E)

Bean Haus Bakery & Cafe 640 Main St. (E)

Crafts & Vines 642 Main St. (E)

Hail Dark Aesthetics 720 Main St. (S)


D=Do; E= Eat/Drink; S=Shop

The Carnegie is a multidisciplinary art venue encompassing six galleries, a theater and a robust children’s art education division including after-school arts programs and summer camps. Check out their current season and exhibition schedule here. 1028 Scott Blvd. (D)

Wunderbar  Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is just a dive bar. Nein. This is a dive bar with giant pretzels with beer cheese, infamous Brussels sprouts, 10 different housemade authentic German sausages and mustards, pierogies, pretzel dumplings–what? Yeah, just order them. Live music. 1132 Lee St. (E)

Donna Saylers Fabulous Furs Showroom has faux fur for days, from rock star to Siberian princess. Fabulous Furs has the cruelty-free coats to keep you cozy in the winter months. 20 W. 11th St. (S)

Covington Coffee Roasters 508 W. 12th St. (E)

Grainwell specializes in wood-centric decor including tall pine air planters, cherry wood serving platters, ornaments and floating wood cutouts. You can custom order any city for your own hometown wall art tribute. 316 W. Pike St. (S)

Anchor Grill  Diner fans rejoice, Anchor Grill is here for you 24 hours a day. Cash only, so don’t spend your last dollar on the Uber. The Anchor specialty is the Goetta and Cheese Omelet, a rite of passage here. 438 W. Pike St. (E)

Herb & Thelmas Tavern 718 W. Pike St. (E)

Black-n-Bluegrass Rollergirls Support your local rollergirls team. Go see a bout; the Black-n-Blue Nation needs you! Each home bout is an opportunity for the BBRG to rally support for a featured local charity or community organization. Home matches are held at Hits 3785 Lake Park Dr. (D)

Out of Doors Adventures

Yoga in the Village  June to September get your om on Thursday evenings 6-7 or Sunday mornings 10-11 a.m. in Goebel Park. Say hello to the goats while you’re there. 6th and Main St.

Devou Park Backcountry Trails  So you’re off to Drees Pavilion to see the spectacular view of the Cincy skyline. Great idea. Load up your bike and get ready for a rad ride. Their tagline, “trails for self-propelled activities” is no joke. Devou Park is a sweet place to log some running too. See trail maps here. 450 Deverill St. (D)

The Licking River Greenway and Trails  Go for a run or a casual stroll and take in the great mural project commissioned by ArtWorks. The long term plan is to build an urban trail along the Licking River that stretches from Covington to Newport. The Covington portion is roughly five miles of natural and paved trails, as well as existing roads. You can access the trail at the corner of Lavassor and Eastern Ave., the end of E. 16th, from  Clayton-Meyer Park or behind Randolph Park. Find the trail map here.

Notable in Ludlow

Second Sight Spirits is your local artisan distillery. You’ll find their premier unbarreled rum being served at fine establishments throughout the Cincy area. Next up will be a spiced rum and a bourbon-barrel aged rum. Then, the long-time friends are setting their sights on bourbon and gin. The future’s so bright, we gotta wear shades. 301 Elm St. Ludlow (S)

Folk School Coffee Parlor  Pick up a cup of joe, a bag of Deeper Roots beans, a local cd, a song writing prompt, or a banjo (to strum, not to buy)–Folk School is here for you. They also feature locally made goodies from Pie Bird, Dean’s Fresh-Roasted Nuts, Whirlybird Granola, and Grateful Grahams. They host live performances of Roots music, regular workshops for playing traditional instruments, and community events like the Ludlow Square Dance. Hey, even Jerry Springer records his podcast Tales, Tunes, and Tomfoolery from the back room. Get  down to Folk School Coffee Parlor.  332 Elm St. Ludlow

Don’t miss events

Covington Farmers Market is Saturdays 9-1 p.m. May through October. Be there. Third and Court Streets, Roebling Point (S)

The Covington Night Bazaar  “A high-end nocturnal adventure for all the senses where you can enjoy a magical evening and inspire your holiday gift-giving.” You can expect amazing local artisans and makers, live music, seasonally-themed cocktails and craft brews, and food vendors galore. 6-10 p.m. 302 Court St. (S)

Art Off Pike  With a reputation for launching emerging artists, Cov’s favorite annual art festival is just getting bigger and better each year. Spoken word, dance, and drag performances, art installations, hands-on activities, a full music schedule, booths and booths of stuff you gotta have from local creatives, and naturally plenty to happily imbibe. More deets about the late September bash here. 7th St. between Madison and Washington St. plus Duveneck Triangle and Pike Street Overpass

MainStrasse Village Oktoberfest  Where else are you going to ride a Ferris Wheel in Lederhosen? No, authentic garb is not necessary to enjoy the festival–but so much more festive. Enjoy the beer, brats, and authentic German music.

Hey wait, there’s more! Check out our massive compendium of Cincy coolness here.

© 2021


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