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The Covington, KY restaurant scene is hopping! From fashionable eats to greasy spoons – and everything in between – Covington, Kentucky restaurants are serving up delectable dishes to please all palates.
The city boasts three distinct dining districts – Mainstrasse, Madison Avenue and Roebling Point – and has a few hidden gems, too. Most of the restaurants in Covington, KY are locally or regionally owned, offering visitors an authentic Kentucky dining experience.
We taste-tested our way around Covington indulging in contemporary eats, fusion food, international fare and southern comfort cuisine.
Our list of top 10 eateries features the best Covington, KY restaurants – plus the best bars in the city for a pre- or post-meal drink!
Must-Try Food in Covington, KY
Before we get to our list of the Best Restaurants in Covington, KY, let’s talk about a few must-eat foods in the city.
A regional specialty, Goetta is a unique breakfast sausage that German immigrants brought when they settled the area in the 1800s – and it remains wildly popular today. Made of ground pork, beef, steel-cut oats and spices, Goetta is found on numerous restaurant menus in Covington (and you can pick some up at the local grocery stores, too!).
Southern Comfort Cuisine
It is no surprise to find southern comfort food featured at many of the locally owned Covington restaurants – and we highly recommend getting a taste. In addition to barbecue, biscuits and gravy, fried chicken and fried green tomatoes, don’t miss out on those yummy hush puppies!
Bourbon is Covington’s favorite spirit (as it should be in any Kentucky city!) and many of the local restaurants offer creative bourbon drinks on their menus.
Need ideas for what to do in Covington, Kentucky? Use our guide to the Best Things To Do in Covington, KY!
TEN BEST COVINGTON, KENTUCKY RESTAURANTS
We compiled our list of the top restaurants in Covington, KY based on personal experiences and local recommendations. Use our Covington, KY Restaurant Map at the end of the post for locations and additional information.
#1 Agave and Rye, Covington, KY
Ranking as one of the top places to eat in Covington, KY, Agave and Rye puts a new spin on an old classic. The uber hip restaurant specializes in “epic” tacos – which they take to a whole new level.
Piled high – and we mean high – with quality ingredients, the inventive flavor combinations tantalize the taste buds.
While we would normally reach for a margarita to wash down tacos, at Agave and Rye, we recommend going with one of the signature bourbon libations, like Bourbon Peach Punch.
What To Order: The Alderman – a spicy carne asada steak taco – is our go-to at Agave and Rye, but even The Plain Jane is exceptionally satisfying.
#2 Smoke Justis BBQ Covington
Named after baseball player Walter “Smoke” Justis, who played for the Covington Blue Sox in 1913, Smoke Justis ranks as one of the best Covington, Kentucky BBQ restaurants.
Also an urban sports bar, the restaurant offers a full line up of traditional pub grub. However, the star of the menu is the specialty smoked meats.
What To Eat: If you are going to eat at one of the best Covington, Kentucky barbecue restaurants, then it is best to order BBQ! We recommend diving into a classic smoked meat plate with brisket, mac and cheese and hush puppies.
#3 Anchor Grill
Established in 1946, Anchor Grill is one of the most famous restaurants in Covington, Kentucky. The cash-only greasy spoon diner is open 24/7 – adhering to its motto: We may doze but we never close!
Typical diner fare is featured on the menu, with the addition of the regional specialty, Goetta.
The neighborhood joint, which is popular with both locals and tourists, is ideal for late-night grub and morning hangover cures.
What To Order: The Anchor Grill specialty is the Goetta and Cheese Omelette, but I’m partial to the biscuits and gravy.
#4 Kung Food Amerasia, Covington, KY
If you are looking for Covington Chinese restaurants, look no further than Kung Food Amerasia.
A favorite for the kitsch décor and humorous menu, the real reason to go is for the food. Amerasia dishes up heaping portions of classic American-style Chinese food at fair prices.
What To Eat: You can’t go wrong with a classic at Kung Food, like Cashew Chicken. However, for a meal that wows, order the Mongolian beef…just go easy on the spicy level.
#5 Libby’s Southern Comfort
Libby’s is one of the top Covington, KY restaurants for southern comfort cuisine – and, oh my, is it scrumptious!
Serving southern classics with a modern take, Libby’s is a comfortable gathering place for friends and families. The cool industrial space (the restaurant was once a small grocery store), offers tables, bar seating and an outdoor patio.
Regional ingredients, secret recipes and homemade sauces are featured on the Libby’s menu – and they source their bread and desserts from local bakeries.
What To Order: To start, get an order of Libby’s special Goetta Hush Puppies as an appetizer, then dive into a satisfying meal of fried chicken.
#6 Wunderbar German Restaurant
Wunderbar is one of those hidden gems that first intrigues and then surprises. We stumbled onto it when we were out exploring the city on foot…and made sure to circle back around for dinner.
A corner neighborhood restaurant, Wunderbar clings tight to the area’s German roots. The dark interior is decorated with steins, historic photos and shared picnic table seating. In the back, patrons can dine outdoors in the small German-style beer garden.
What To Eat: Without a doubt, the best thing to order at Wunderbar is the sausage platter. If you are dining with a group, we recommend ordering several different sausages and sharing them!
#7 Hangry Omar’s at Covington Yard
The Covington Yard is a fun outdoor containership food-and-beer garden that is a favorite place to hang out on warm summer nights. While all of the food offerings are delightful, the sliders at Hangry Omar’s are downright delicious.
Some might call it a food truck, while others say it is upscale fast food. We call Hangry Omar’s Slider Shack one of the best places to eat in Covington!
The menu is simple, but the taste is out of this world. Two sliders make a meal – especially if you are going to pair it with a basket of fries (and we suggest that you do!).
What To Order: The West Coast Slider is the way to go! The thin beef patty is seared to sizzling perfection then it is topped with caramelized onions, a pickle and “1001 Island Sauce” and served in a buttery potato bun. Yum!
#8 Zapata Cantina
Traditional, yet upscale, Zapata Cantina is an authentic Mexican restaurant in Covington, KY. Guests are warmly welcomed into the bright and colorful corner eatery.
The a la carte menu features classic Mexican fare made with fresh ingredients. Each menu item is well-plated with an artistic touch…and the food tastes phenomenal.
What To Eat: Every bite of food we ate at Zapata was incredible, but if we had to order just one dish is would be the Burrito Asada.
#9 Otto’s Covington, KY
One of the classy Mainstrasse Covington, KY restaurants, Otto’s is the top fine dining option on Main Street. The stylish but small restaurant is incredibly popular, so it is best to make reservations, especially for the weekend brunch!
The simple menu at Otto’s features American fare and is highlighted by southern specialties – like the lunchtime Kentucky Hot Brown.
What To Order: Any meal at Otto’s should start with the restaurant’s famous Fried Green Tomatoes! If you are eating dinner at Otto’s, follow up the appetizer with scrumptious braised short ribs.
#10 Goodfellas Pizza Covington
When you are craving pizza in Covington, KY, Goodfellas Mainstrasse is the place to go! The pizzeria is a family-owned establishment originating in Lexington – and their New York style pizza is spot on!
The toppings are generous – especially the cheese – and the marinara sauce is done right. The best part is that you can grab a single slice or order an entire specialty pie. Either way, be sure to check out the speakeasy-style bar upstairs.
What To Eat: A classic Tommy Two Times (double pepperoni) pizza is a solid choice, but we love to load up our pizza with meaty toppings and veggies, too – and for that you get The Don.
More Food: Covington, KY
Looking for specific food in Covington, Kentucky? We have tips from locals about where to find the best sushi and steak – and food tours as well!
Sushi: Covington, KY
For sushi, locals recommend Wabi Sabi Restaurant in Covington, KY. The atmosphere is chill, the rolls are creative and the happy hour is awesome.
Steakhouse in Covington, Kentucky
There are two Covington, Kentucky steakhouses that consistently get rave reviews: Blinkers Tavern and Eighteen.
A cozy establishment, Blinkers in Covington is a classic steakhouse that features perfectly cooked steaks, seafood and pasta. Blinkers has been consistently awarded “Best Steak” of Northern Kentucky.
Eighteen at the Radisson Revolving Restaurant Covington, KY
Although there are not any Covington, KY riverfront restaurants, diners who want a meal with a view can dine on steak in the revolving Eighteen Restaurant atop the Radisson Hotel.
Covington, Kentucky Food Tour
If you are short on time, but still want to get a taste of the city, let a guide lead you to the best bites on the Mainstrasse Food Tour.
In addition to sampling some of the best food in Covington, tour participants will also learn about the Mainstrasse Village district and history of the city. Reserve Your Spot!
COVINGTON, KENTUCKY BARS
Now that you know the best places to eat in the city, let’s talk about the best bars in Covington, KY for before or after dinner drinks!
We’ve already mentioned Covington Yard for the sliders at Hangry Omar’s, but we want to talk about it some more because it is truly one of the top bars in Covington, Kentucky!
The casual outdoor space is as comfortable as your friend’s backyard. Patrons can share a picnic table, grab a seat in a lounger, toss a game of cornhole or sit back and enjoy the tunes.
At the bar, guests can choose from an extensive tap list (that features local brews!), cocktails, slushies and even Jell-O shots.
Braxton Brewing Company
Patrons are welcomed into Braxton Brewery in Covington, KY by a hoppy and yeasty aroma – a signature trademark of any good brewery – and the experience only gets better from there.
In addition to the huge lineup of beer produced in-house (including IPAs, sours and stouts), Braxton has also created a line of hard seltzers under the brand name, Vive.
The spacious brewery offers plenty of seating indoors, but the best place to drink a beer at Braxton Covington is on the rooftop deck!
Crafts and Vines Mainstrasse
Cozy and comfortable, Crafts and Vines is the perfect place to wind down at the end of a long day with an ice-cold craft beer or tasty glass of wine.
The incredible selection of drinks is accompanied by an outstanding choice of small plates and creative appetizers. Plus, they offer well-priced wine flights with food pairings, too!
Revival Vintage Bottle Shop Tasting Room
Revival Vintage Bottle Shop is an absolute gem of a place! The small space is packed with rare and vintage bottles of bourbon and other spirits.
Although not technically a bar, patrons are able to partake in bourbon tastings – and we highly recommend it! Of course, visitors can purchase a bottle from one of the many shelves, as well.
The Hannaford Cocktail Bar Covington, Kentucky
The Hannaford at Pike and Madison is an excellent option for craft cocktails in a fun atmosphere.
In addition to the extensive list of house cocktails, the bar has a nice selection of craft beer, wine and bourbon on the menu. And, to top it off, they offer happy hour and a fun trivia night!
Corner Bars and Dives
It wouldn’t be right to talk about drinking establishments in Covington and not talk about the copious number of corner bars and dives in the city.
The small, dimly-lit neighborhood bars typically have long, wooden bars, a casual bartender and a local crowd. Although we won’t recommend a single place in particular (because it just wouldn’t be fair to all the others!), we do suggest popping in to one or two if dive bars are your jam.
Bars and Restaurants Near Covington, KY
We have highlighted our favorite places to eat and drink in Covington, Kentucky, but there are a few fun restaurants around Covington as well!
Just north of Covington, across the Ohio River is the city of Cincinnati – and there are plenty of places to get a bite to eat in the city. The city’s most famous fast food is Skyline Chili, but the best places to eat in Cincinnati are in the hip Over The Rhine district.
Find all of our tips for eating and drinking in Cincinnati in our Things To Do in Cincinnati blog post!
Newport and Louisville, KY
Newport, Kentucky sits just east of Covington across the Licking River – and is home to quite a few unique dining establishments. Pompilios Italian Restaurant is Newport’s most iconic restaurant, but it’s not the only one!
Restaurants: Covington, KY Map
Use this link to Google Maps for an interactive version of our Map of Covington, Kentucky Restaurants and Bars.
We Want To Know: What are your favorite Covington, Kentucky restaurants? Tell us in the comments below!
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