From Bourbon to Chili: 10 Can’t-Miss Drinking & Dining Experiences in Northern Kentucky

By Kate McDermott


Whether you’re craving local innovations (hello, Cincinnati chili!) or international fare, Northern Kentucky is home to a dynamic culinary scene that will have you coming back for seconds. Just a hop across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, this captivating region attracts chefs, distillers, and hospitality experts eager to delight foodies from all over the world!

Check out this top ten list for the best grub and spirits in Northern Kentucky.



1. Get a Taste of Bavaria at Hofbräuhaus



Food and beer from Hofbrauhaus
A spread of beer and German dishes at Hofbräuhaus. Photo Courtesy of meetNKY.

Old World-inspired beer hall Hofbräuhaus brings Bavarian culture to Newport. Order a stein of Lager, Hefe Weizen, or Dunkel, based on 400-year-old recipes passed down by the 17th-century Duke of Bavaria – steins can even be purchased as keepsakes.The menu is full of German favorites like chewy spätzle, hearty bierwurst, and tangy sauerkraut. Save room for their famous Bavarian cream puff! With family-style seating, gleaming copper beer kettles, and a soundtrack of live oompah music on weekends, you’ll feel like it’s Oktoberfest all year round. Prost! 



2. Make One-of-a-Kind Whiskey at Wenzel Whiskey



Group Blending Whiskey at Wenzel
A whiskey blending class at Wenzel Whiskey. Photo Courtesy of meetNKY.

Blend your own whiskey? Yes, please! At Wenzel Whiskey, you’ll choose from some of the best barrels within a historic building in Covington. Built as a soda bottling plant in 1873, this spot eventually became a non-distilling whiskey producer that purchased spirits to make proprietary blends. Today, visitors can honor that history with Wenzel’s hands-on Blending Experience. Sample four barrel-proof whiskeys from different regional distilleries and craft your custom blend. If you’re happy with your creation, they can fill a bottle (or a case!) for you to take home! 



3. Take a Self-Guided Bourbon Tour of The B-Line® 



Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar in Covington, KY.
Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar in Covington. Photo Courtesy of meetNKY.

Keep the bourbon fun going and explore the best of bourbon country on a self-guided tour of The B-Line®, a who’s who of distilleries, bourbon bars, and bourbon-focused restaurants in Northern Kentucky. The B-Line Guide will be your digital passport to the tour’s 25 stops. Visit the Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar (OKBB) in Covington, a small, cozy space with over 700 bourbons and 200 American whiskeys. Or try Newport’s New Riff Distilling, a sleek, modern facility that exceeds Bottled-in-Bond standards for aging, bottling, and filtering their bourbons. Check in at any two distilleries, bars, and restaurants to earn free B-Line swag!



4. Colorful Margaritas & Authentic Mexican at La Torta Loca



La Torta Loca in Northern Kentucky
Delicious grub from Torta Loca in Florence. Photo Courtesy of meetNKY.

Tasty tortas, tacos, arepas, and empanadas are on the menu at energetic Mexican and Venezuelan restaurant La Torta Loca in Florence. Try their namesake Torta Loca—chicken, steak, and carnitas topped with bacon, grilled onions, jalapeños, and cheese, toasted on a hot press. They can accommodate keto, gluten-free, and vegan guests. 

Drinks here are over-the-top fun, from frozen margaritas in mini Patron bottles to micheladas (a classic Mexican cocktail) topped with an entire bottle of beer. Colorful murals deck the walls, like proud luchadores and a modern-day reimagining of Frida Kahlo.



5. Have a Cinematic Experience at KungFood Chu’s AmerAsia



Dishes from AmerAsia in Northern Kentucky.
KungFood Chu’s AmerAsia. Photo Courtesy of meetNKY.

Discover an homage to kung fu at KungFood Chu’s AmerAsia. Sip a film-themed cocktail and watch a kung fu classic while you feast on American-style Chinese food at this unconventional eatery. The menu offers familiar favorites like lo mein, Singapore noodles, and handmade dumplings—all fresh and delicious. Choose your spice level from one to ten, with fiery ghost peppers bringing the heat to the high end. Cool back down with a craft beer from their vast selection. Or get a refreshing cocktail in a lucky cat mug as a souvenir.



6. Discover the Fruits of the Sea at Conserva 



Conserva in Northern Kentucky
A bowl of shrimp from Conserva. Photo Courtesy of meetNKY.

Cozy, intimate restaurant Conserva serves authentic Spanish tapas with premium ingredients from Spain and Kentucky farms. The specialty here is conservas—preserved seafood served with olive oil chips, sliced baguette, and extras like Marcona almonds. Try yellowfin tuna belly in olive oil, squid preserved in ink, or scallops in Galician sauce. If your only experience with tinned seafood is bland tuna, you’re in for a treat! The Spanish atmosphere is complete with an expansive menu of wines from the Iberian Peninsula and live Spanish guitar and tango music.



7. Take in the Sights at Opal Rooftop



Opal Rooftop, Photo Credit: Smack Talk Productions.
Food with a view at Opal Rooftop in Covington. Photo Courtesy of meetNKY.

At Opal Rooftop in Covington, Kentucky, the wood-fired grill is the star of the menu, adding that unique richness that only open flame can offer. Share grilled bread with cherry goat cheese and honey, or try broccoli with salty haloumi and sweet beets. These veggies are anything but boring! The same attention to detail extends to the entrees, like a beautiful Prime flat iron steak or delicate grilled fish. It all comes with a spectacular 360° view of surrounding Covington from this upscale-casual rooftop gem. 



8. Try the Local Delicacy—Cincy Chili



Chili cheese fries at Skyline Chili
A bowl of Cincinnati chili cheese fries from Skyline Chili. Photo Courtesy of meetNKY.

Cincinnati Chili has been a mainstay of Cincinnati and Kentucky cuisine since 1922. Unlike southern chilis, this version blends ground beef and Mediterranean spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, cumin, allspice, and chili powder. Forget the bowl—Cincy chili is served over a bed of spaghetti! Order a plate at Empress Chili, where the dish originated. Order “two-ways” (chili and spaghetti), “three-ways” (with shredded cheese), “four-ways” (adding beans or onions), or “five-ways” to get it all. At Dixie Chili & Deli, try their “six-ways” option with chopped garlic. Locals say: don’t twirl your spaghetti. Cut the noodles and scoop them up!



9. Visit Throwback Diner, Anchor Grill



Anchor Grill in Northern Kentucky
Anchor Grill in Covington. Photo Courtesy of meetNKY.

The great American diner lives on at nautical-themed (and cash-only) Anchor Grill in Covington. This 1946 mainstay has all the breakfast goodies you’d expect on their all-day menu, like omelets, pancakes, waffles, and biscuits and gravy. Try their goetta—a German-inspired sausage made from ground pork, beef, and steel-cut oats. 

Not in the mood for breakfast? A full lunch/dinner menu offers sandwiches, burgers, and entrees like country fried chicken and chopped sirloin with gravy. The throwback dining room has a cozy ship’s cabin feel, with wood-paneled walls, nautical art, and anchor motifs throughout. 



10. Sample the Season’s Bounty at The Baker’s Table



The Bakers Table in Northern Kentucky
A fresh plate from The Baker’s Table. Photo Courtesy of meetNKY.

At rustic locavore spot The Baker’s Table, each dish on the weekly menu highlights the freshest ingredients from Ohio River Valley Farms. You’ll find exceptional handmade pastas, seasonal seafood, and proteins from local ranchers in an unpretentious profusion of color and flavor. This is a must-visit for wine lovers, with a curated selection of wines from France, Italy, and the West Coast. Catch live jazz twice weekly in the inviting dining room with warm brick walls, vintage couches, and a unique glass garage door.

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