Northern Kentucky’s 11 Hidden Gems


Cincinnati is home to some great bars, restaurants, and scenery, but don’t limit yourself to the north side of the Ohio River. Northern Kentucky has some pretty great places that, if you haven’t already, you need to check out. Sure, there are a few places that everybody knows about, but we don’t want to forget about some of the great, lesser known options in Northern Kentucky. Here are the hidden gems you need to visit ASAP.

1. Bellevue Bistro

The next time you’re looking for an amazing brunch, or a delicious lunch, you need to check out Bellevue Bistro. This little café has a cozy, small-town feeling, with big flavors to match. There are plenty of interesting thing to look at, like the awesome Millennium Falcon hanging behind the counter, and a vintage cuckoo clock. And everything on the menu here is outstanding.

Bellevue Bistro Delish

If you’re looking for something sweet, you definitely need to try the French Toast PB&J. The bread used for the French Toast is made at Bellevue Bistro. In the middle of your sandwich, you’ll find peanut butter, bananas, and bacon jam. You also can’t go wrong with the Surf & Turf Breakfast Bake. For lunch, try the Brie Grilled Cheese, or the Roosevelt Salad.


2. York Street Café

One of the best things about Northern Kentucky (and Cincinnati, but let’s stay focused here) is the historic buildings. York Street Café is a restaurant built in one of those buildings with an incredible history. It was built in the 1880s, and has since housed a pharmacy, Seibert Office Equipment, and now, a delicious café that you need to visit.

York Street Cafe Exterior

The trinkets that fill York Street Café definitely give the restaurant an eclectic feeling. It seems like you spot something new every time you walk into the restaurant. And the food here is simply amazing. The Dirty Hummus is a must try, filled with Kalamata olives, peppers, onions, and sweet & tangy sauce. As for your main course, go with the Filet Mignon or Blackened Shrimp Alfredo. All the food here is top notch, so you really can’t go wrong.

3. Knotty Pine On The Bayou

You can find delicious Creole food in Northern Kentucky. Who knew? Well, some of us did, and now it’s time for you to be in on the secret. Overlooking Northern Kentucky’s Licking River, Knotty Pine On The Bayou is the perfect place for comfort foods of the South, and we’re talking deep South.

Knotty Pine

Peel & Eat Shrimp, Cajun Gumbo, Fried Oysters – this place is the real deal. The semi-remote location might seem like a bit of a drive, but the authentic, back-road feeling is totally worth it. Next time you’re looking for a bit of Southern comfort, we highly recommend checking out this unique and tasty restaurant.

4. Wunderbar!

The German heritage that is so evident in Cincinnati doesn’t stop once you hit the river. In fact, one of the best places to get German food in the Cincinnati area is in Covington, where you’ll find the delicious Wunderbar. We mean it when we say this place is German. House-made sausages, speckwurst, giant pretzels, and a great beer selection. Would you expect anything less from a German restaurant?


If Wunderbar was a person, they would be laid-back, always ready to party, have a thick German accent and love for music. Open from 11:30am-1:00am every day, come here next time you get a craving for German food. If you want authenticity, you’ll find it here.

5. Greyhound Tavern

Sure, Northern Kentucky is very close to Cincinnati. But that doesn’t mean that their Southern heritage doesn’t shine through every once and a while. That’s why we’re such big fans of Greyhound Tavern in Ft. Mitchell, where they’re doing Southern food right. The restaurant itself has a bit of a formal vibe, but casual dress is definitely accepted.

Greyhound Tavern Fried Chicken

There are plenty of great options on the menu, but if you’re going to make the trip, you might as well get the best thing: Fried Chicken. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, cole slaw, and biscuits make for one of the most perfect comfort food meals you can find. Go with a group on a Monday or Tuesday, and cash in on the Family-Style Fried Chicken night. You will leave truly satisfied. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget about the bourbon. So much good bourbon.

6. Pepper Pod

It’s 4:00am, and you’re hungry. Perhaps you’re drunk, or maybe you have to get up super early for work. Whatever the case may be, where are you going to go? One great option in Northern Kentucky is Pepper Pod, where your greasiest food dreams will come true.

Pepper Pod

Open 24 hours a day, you can always find something to satisfy your appetite at Pepper Pod. Whether you want some fluffy pancakes with eggs and goetta, or a burger at 7:00am, you’ll find it at Pepper Pod. You might not find the healthiest foods on this menu, but sometime you’ve jut got to let go and go for the gold, or in this case, the grease. It’s worth it.


7. Europa Bistro

You can find some amazing, fine dining in Northern Kentucky, if you know where to look. One of those restaurants is Europa Bistro in Covington. The restaurant moved to a waterfront location in March of 2014, but Chef Nicola is still making some of the best European-inspired dishes in the tristate.


Europa can definitely be a bit of a special occasion restaurant, so come here on a special date, or when you have something great to celebrate. Umbrias Fig & Gorgonzola Crostini, Wild Boar Ravioli, and The Sea Bistro Trio are just a few of the mouth-watering items on Europa’s menu. Ask Chef Nicola what he thinks you should get, since he’ll most likely introduce himself to you. You can trust that talented man’s taste.

8. El Rio Grande

When Northern Kentucky natives want Mexican food, they know there is only one place to go – El Rio Grande in Newport. Don’t be thwarted by the strip-mall that this restaurant resides in. It is by far one of the best authentic Mexican restaurants in the Cincinnati area.

Rio Grande

So, what does one get at the amazing Rio? First off, you’re going to need a margarita. No trip to a Mexican restaurant would be complete without one. Then, you want to order chips and queso. The queso here is always hot, and has amazing flavor. As for your main dish, try the chicken or steak fajitas. You get a ton of food, and it tastes amazing. After one night at Rio, you’ll understand what the hype’s about.

9. Mai Thai

The further south you go into Northern Kentucky, the harder it can be to find original places to eat. That’s why Mai Thai stands out in a sea of fast food and chain restaurants. Delicious Thai food in a fun building, this restaurant is a true treasure to Florence.

Pad See Ew

A pretty good rule of thumb is that if Sake is an option, you should drink Sake. Start with that, and get some Pot Stickers while you’re at it. For your main course, we recommend the Pad See Ew. The thick noodles and peanut flavor make the perfect combination. Another great option is the cashew chicken. Quite a bit to choose from, and definitely worth the trip.

10. The Crazy Fox Saloon

Some neighborhood bars just don’t have anything unique going for them. That is certainly not the case at The Crazy Fox Saloon. This is a neighborhood bar where you’ll find the most eclectic group of people, and a great list of drinks. Located in Newport, this bar is the perfect place to hang out next time your friends get together.

Crazy Fox

The Crazy Fox Saloon is an intimate place where you and your friends can catch the game, shoot pool, or play music on the juke box. Open every night until 2:30am, this is the perfect bar to hang out at. There are plenty of local beer options to keep even your snobbiest beer guru satisfied, and a laid-back enough atmosphere that’ll make you want to stay all night. You’re also going to want to check out their Bloody Mary’s on Sundays. Simply amazing.


11. Buona Vita Pizzeria

Italian lovers, look no further than Buona Vita Pizzeria in Dayton, KY. This family owned and operated restaurant is the perfect place to get your fill of pasta, pizza, and all things delicious. The building that houses Buona Vita used to be a bank, and one of the best tables in the house is located in what was that bank’s vault. Definitely a cool place with loads of history.

Buona Vita

You will fall in love with the food at Buona Vita. If it’s your first time, you absolutely must order Mama’s Meat Lasagna. It may ruin you for all other lasagnas, but it will be worth it. Other great options are the Saccottini and any of Papa Joe’s pizzas. Everything about this place screams “Big Italian Family,” and it’s perfect.

Featured Image Credit: cdubya1971