There are a lot of great places to eat in Cincinnati and Covington, and I’m not talking about chili parlors. In fact, the only thing I’m going to say about chili parlors is this: They are the only place you can order a “child’s three-way” and not get arrested.
To make this list manageable, I’m going to focus only on establishments that are in Covington and downtown Cincinnati. If I covered other neighborhoods, it would be a book.
Otto’s: This is one of my favorite places for lunch, dinner and brunch. It has a small menu of Southern food, but everything is outstanding. Get the tomato pie for lunch. Otto’s is also one of my contenders for best burger in the city.
Bouquet: Great wine bar and good food made with local ingredients. I love the trout.
Frida 602: A bustling Mexican place that specializes in mezcal and tacos. Get the queso. You’ll thank me.
Cock & Bull: The best fish and chips in town and a draft beer list that is insane (Delirium Tremens on draft – dang).
Goodfella’s Pizza and the Wiseguy Lounge: Downstairs is a small pizzeria with New York style pizza (yes, you can order a slice) and beer. Upstairs is one of the best bourbon bars in the state and a great place to relax.
Commonwealth Bistro: A new Southern food restaurant on Main Street. I’ve only been once but I was blown away by the fried rabbit and biscuit.
Crafts & Vines: One of the friendliest bars in the city. Wine on draft (you read that right). Plus an inventive beer selection.
Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar: The bartenders know me by name here. An astonishing bourbon selection. The patio out back is one of my favorite places to hang out with a crackling fire and a bourbon.
Covington Coffee: Super-friendly family-run place. Great pastries and the best bagels (Lil’s) in the city.
Crepe Cafe: A relatively new shop on Pike Street. A cozy family-run place with really good sweet and savory crepes, plus espresso. One of my favorite places for lunch – it’s two blocks from our shop.
Point Perk: My other favorite coffee shop in town. The hours are limited, but the espresso and chai drinks are fantastic.
Coppin’s in the Hotel Covington: Open less than a year, this hotel is the jewel of the city. It’s less than a block from Braxton Brewing. The restaurant and bar are highly recommended for breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch. Get the corn fritters, the 16 Bricks bread and… oh just get everything.
Inspirado: Around the corner from Braxton. Eclectic menu. Osso buco and street tacos? Yes please. A very friendly place – lunch, dinner and brunch.
Amerasia Kung Food: Don’t be fooled by the appearance of this divey-looking Chinese place. People come from all over the city for lunch and dinner. It also has one of the best selections of beer in the city. If you like noodles, get the pork ho fun (and ask them to make it a little extra crispy).
Riverside Korean: Authentic Korean. A karaoke room (yes, we’ve done it). Riverside never disappoints.
House of Grill: Tasty Persian food served up by the friendliest family in the restaurant business.
Keystone Grill: Family-friendly place for lunch, dinner or brunch. The mac and cheese varieties are great.
The Gruff: A pizza place in the shadow of the Roebling bridge. Fantastic pizzas (try the Italian meat pizza or the Margarita) plus local craft beer and one of the most inspiring views in the city.
Whew, Now Cincinnati
I’m going to keep this brief. This blog entry is turning into an opus already. All of these restaurants are less than a mile from the river. I’m also skipping places that are so popular (The Eagle, Bakersfield, Taft Ale House) that you can’t easily get in.
Sotto: The best restaurant in the city. Period. The first time my daughter tried the short rib cappellacci she cried. No lie.
Boca: The big brother to Sotto. A bit fancy, but unforgettable in every respect.
Maplewood: The best breakfast in the city. No question.
Mita’s: Beautiful Spanish restaurant with achingly good paella.
Nada: Upscale Mexican with a fantastic brunch.
Senate Pub: Go early. Poutine and the best hot dog I’ve ever had (brioche bun!).
Krueger’s Tavern: Delicious hamburgers and homemade sausage.
Taste of Belgium: Fried chicken and waffles. Great breakfast. Belgian ale on tap.
Morelein Lager House: A local brewery with a restaurant – the view of the Roebling Bridge and Covington alone is worth the trip.
A Tavola: My favorite pizza in the city. Neapolitan-style. Awesome wagyu-beef meatballs and bacon tapenade. Great wine, beer and cocktails.
Salazar: I vacillate between Salazar and Sotto as my favorite places in the city.
Findlay Market & Eli’s: A old open-air market and the pride of Cincinnati. On weekends we walk around, eat whatever smells good and buy sausages (Kroeger meat) for the week. Eli’s is adjacent and it’s my favorite barbecue joint.
OK, that should be enough to keep you fed for one weekend.
— Christopher Schwarz