20 Best Restaurants
Whether it’s a burger, Belgian waffle or boar,
roasted and served over polenta, the chefs of Northern Kentucky deliver.
So, annually, NKY dares to declare the best of the best.
These are our favorites, but we are not content
with a one-way conversation on something so important. Do you have a
favorite chef? A little-known treasure of an entree? The perfect
secluded table for two?
Let us know. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at NKY magazine.
All In Café
you are even in the door, strangers slide over to a smaller table to
make room for your group. Before the evening ends, you are swapping
stories with the folks on both ends of your table and chatting with the
singer. Maybe it’s the music of Danny “Man of 1,000 Songs” Sidebottom or
the atmosphere that owners Mark and Kathy serve at this
oh-so-neighborly tavern in a brick house with a porch that welcomes you.
We’re not sure. But we’re heading back on a Tuesday for Mark’s
non-traditional Sicilian lasagna with lots of meat, including shredded
pork. He says he has a lot of favorites on the menu of daily pasta and
fish specials, but his description of the lasagna left us wishing it was
already the day after Monday.
480 Erlanger Road, Erlanger. (859) 360-2878 or www.all-in-café.com.
Better with Bordelaise
perfectly rare filet mignon with bordelaise on the side accompanied by a
rich cabernet awaits. As the weather warms, go for the patio table, and
make a note that the new Sunday brunch should be up and running by the
time the ink dries on this issue of NKY.
318 Greenup St., Covington.(859) 360-0840 or www.blinkerstavern.com.
gentlemanly Old World game of bocce before a meal of homemade lasagna at
this Newport treasure where co-owner Larry Geiger says the special
ingredient is love. We knew it was something along those lines.
600 Washington Ave., Newport. (859) 581-3065 www.pompiliosrestaurant.com.
more than the fried chicken and blackberry cobbler; it’s the perfect
place for family dinner, red-checkered curtains, knotty pine paneling
2500 Dixie Highway, Fort Mitchell. (859) 331-3767 or www.greyhoundtavern.com.
All In One
York St. Cafe
service is still the first thing folks say about this Newport gem in the
late 1880s Queen Anne style building. But it’s also an art gallery with
a live music and a menu that everyone from meat lovers to vegans can
738 York St., Newport. (859) 261-9675 or www.yorkstonline.com.
Artfully Perfect Pizza
Newport Pizza Company
a pizza place isn’t hard, but discovering a locally owned joint that
offers consistently good pie is a thrill. The house special, fittingly
named the Monmouth, is loaded with pepperoni, Italian sausage, bacon,
mushroom, green pepper, red onion, mozzarella, provolone and Parmesan.
It’s as much a work of art as a meal. Share the antipasti basket that is
served with warm Italian bread and fresh seasonal vegetables to start
601 Monmouth St., Newport. (859) 261-4900 or www.newportpizzacompany.com.
Mokka and the Sunset Bar & Grill
Mokka for breakfast or brunch before it morphs into the Sunset Bar
& Grill at 3 p.m. for dinner. It’s a fine destination as the sun
sets, but starting the day with one of the Belgian waffles is simply the
500 Monmouth St., Newport. (859) 581-3700 or www.mokkasunset.com.
Food WITH Friends
and cookies come straight from the oven at this popular family eatery
that normally closes at 3 p.m. You can come later on Tuesday when they
stay open until 7 p.m. Homemade chicken noodle soup is a warm
654 Highland Ave., Fort Thomas. (859) 781-3000 or www.thecobblestonecafe.net.
the bar manager, makes you feel like you are old friends as you slide
onto the banquette for a cocktail and a glorious antipasta appetizer —
with cheeses to die for and large enough to share with friends. As the
waiters sing in the dining room, you debate veal piccata or pork osso
654 Highland Ave., Fort Thomas. (859) 442-9444 or www.vitoscafe.com.
Knotty Pine on the Bayou
the right Saturday night and savor lobster bisque that speaks to you.
Chunks of succulent … oh, you get it. But any night is a great night for
the Cajun shrimp boil of the tender, spicy darlings or gumbo with real
Andouille sausage. Sit at the bar as folks on both sides chat you up
before introducing you to the bartender,who knows wine, bourbon and true
6302 Licking Pike, Newport. (859) 781-2200.
So Many Choices
Just to be
fair, we should try something other than the seared salmon but we’re
hooked on the sweet thai chili sauce at the MainStrasse institution that
bills itself “a bistro, a bar, a cafe, whatever
you want us to be.”
521 Main St., Covington. (859) 491-6678 or www.ottosonmain.com.
shares everything: His smile, recipes and sauces, but treat yourself to
the dining room service and you can appreciate his signature General
Wong’s Chicken, leaving someone else to do the dishes.
317 Buttermilk Pike, Lakeside Park. (859) 331-3000 or www.orientalwok.com.
from the farmers market, the Findlay Market salad is crisp with cashews
and green beans while Italian fava beans enhance the lamb shank just
519 Main St., Covington. (859) 491-7777 or www.bouquetrestaurant.com.
For The Adventurous
Europa Bistro & Café
change daily, the dinner menu changes every two weeks. So how can we
choose a favorite? Chef Nicola Palmieri roasts the boar to perfection
and every fish dish hints at Cajun. This is a tiny gem worth exploring.
616 Main St., Covington. (859) 916-5511 or www.europabistrocafe.com.
woodburning oven and Nonna’s meatball recipe, the brothers running this
neighborhood spot just a few blocks from the bustling riverfront have
all the ingredients for the perfect Italian restaurant. The servers are
so friendly and warm, even Oma would think she was home for dinner.
441 Sixth Ave., Dayton. (859) 261-6792 or www.buonavitapizzeria.com.
Keeping It Fresh
andouille and pastrami is made in the house, the sweet potato fries are
handcut and chef Matt Buschle won’t let anything get in the way of his
local, fresh and fabulous creations.
710 Fairfield Ave., Bellevue. (859) 491-3287 or www.virgilscafe.com.
his customers, he likes his work and he likes to do things right at the
classic wooden bar that dominates the café. So Mike hangs on to repeat
in this category.
2053 Dixie Highway, Fort Mitchell. (859) 331-4339 or www.indigoftmitchell.com.
venerable MainStrasse spot invites you to chill with the right sounds,
the right food, the right wine and the right rooftop terrace. How smooth
it that? Date night nailed.
530 Main St., Covington. (859) 491-8027 or www.cheznora.com.
Hopping & Happening
a gorgeous day, hold out for a table on the patio and enjoy the Black
and Bleu salad. On a cold day, snuggle in one of the tall booths and
take comfort in food the likes of smoked chicken pizza or tavern
meatloaf with bourbon brown gravy. On any day, look no further for your
friends — they’re all there.
2220 Grandview Drive, Fort Mitchell. (859) 341-8439 or www.grandviewtaverngrille.com.