KSO’s 2022 Summer Series

The Kentucky Symphony Orchestra returns on Saturday evenings to its long-time summer home in Covington’s Devou Park and continues its Sunday evening repeat performances in Fort Thomas’ Tower Park. After a couple of odd summers, the KSO is looking to get back to its normal nostalgic, free, family-friendly regional gatherings with appreciative audiences, great musicians and music. This summer marks the orchestra’s 28th consecutive summer series of concerts in the parks. Though free to attend, these performances are not free to produce. Volunteers at donation boxes around the concert bowls will thankfully accept your contribution to continue this memory-making tradition. Audiences are encouraged to register at kyso.org for weather and information updates.

Summer Park Series

KSO 2022 Summer Series at Devou & Tower Parks

Marches Madness – (Marches from classics, opera, ballet & film)
7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 9 (Devou Park)
7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 10 (Tower Park)

The KSO surveys universally known marches from the classics and cinema in its
festive summer 2022 opener. Music associated with circus, weddings, graduation, opera,
ballet, bands and symphonies comprise the concert’s first half, whereas award-winning
marches from 20th century film scores close out an evening of pomp and pageantry.

Sunday in the Park with Steve – (A tribute to Stephen Sondheim)
7:30 p.m. Saturday, August 6 (Devou Park)
7:30 p.m. Sunday, August 7 (Tower Park)

Broadway composer and lyricist, Stephen Sondheim (1930-2021) followed in the steps of his mentor Oscar Hammerstein to rank among the greatest in the history of American musical theater. Join the KSO for an evening of Sondheim hit songs from 11 shows including Company, Sweeney Todd, West Side Story, Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with
George, etc., with musings by actress, friend and Sondheim protégé Pamela Myers.

The Pack Is Back! – (Sinatra, Martin & Davis)
7:30 p.m. Saturday, September 3 (Devou Park)
7:30 p.m. Sunday, September 4 (Tower Park)

The Rat Pack (Frank, Sammy & Dean) drop in for a Labor Day weekend of song and antics backed by the KSO. Sing along with ageless croon tunes like “Fly Me to the Moon” Volare” “Mr. Bojangles”and more. Dan Radank, Mickey James and Corey Tucker are backed by the KSO’s all-star big band with strings.


Expansion of the KSO Series

The KSO is thrilled to continue and expand its summer offerings to the NKY & Greater Cincinnati community. For those who wish to avoid outdoor crowds, the dress rehearsals on Saturday mornings (7/9 & 9/3) at 10 a.m. in Devou Park (Covington) are open to those who wish to attend. Each program will be livestreamed on Sunday evening at 7:30 from Tower Park (Ft. Thomas).

The KSO appreciates the generous support of the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr. Foundation, The Milburn Family, The Elsa Heisel-Sule, Wohlgemuth-Herschede, The Charles & Ruth Seligmann Family Foundations, Cincinnati Summerfair and Matinée Musicale Cincinnati, with following local corporate sponsors: St. Elizabeth Health Care, Fischer Homes, Duke Energy, Schneller Knochelmann Heating and Air, DBL Law, Regal Maid, Truist Bank and the Cities of Covington and Fort Thomas for hosting the KSO’s 2022 free series of family-friendly summer programs.

Join the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra on Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. — July 9, August 7 and September 3 at Devou Park (Covington) and Sundays at 7:30 p.m. — July 10, August 7 and September 4 at Tower Park (Ft. Thomas). Concessions and food trucks will be on-site at both Devou and Tower Parks. Bring blankets, picnics or lawn chairs.

For more information, registration (for weather updates) and directions, visit the KSO at kyso.org or call (859) 431-6216. $5 (per person) suggested donation. Free parking and TANK Shuttles are running from Cov Cath parking lot to the Devou band shell for $1 each way.


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Celebrate Halloween, NKY Style

Northern Kentucky can be a spooky place. With a long history and neighborhoods that date back to the Civil War, the region holds many tales of roaming ghosts and gruesome events that will send chills up your spine.  

Here is a sampling of what awaits you here, as the weather grows colder, and the spirits come out to play. Links to all the events can be found here.  

Nightmare ships and haunted fields 

The USS Nightmare docks in Newport this time of year. It’s one of the area’s longest haunted tours (over 30 minutes), inviting brave and foolhardy guests to explore two full decks of pure horror. 

Sandy Acres Farm is a charming place to visit in the daytime. At night, though, it gets a lot creepier. Come for a hayride through haunted fields—if you dare. 

For kids 

To get the kiddos involved in something more than just trick-or-treating, take them to the free Halloween Hoopla at Behringer-Crawford Museum. They can do a seasonal craft, march in the costume parade and more. 

For fans of LEGO, the Northern Kentucky Convention Center is hosting Bricks, Tricks and Treats, a LEGO convention with a Halloween theme.  

Talk to dead people 

Falcon Theatre and Dinsmore Homestead Museum have teamed up to create a rare opportunity to talk with six costumed actors who are portraying people from the Homestead’s past. All the characters are based on their actual lives, letters and journals. It’s kind of like a historic version of “Sixth Sense.”   

Take a spooky tour 

Tickets are still available for the Halloween date of the Spooky Secrets Tour. This 2-mile walk past haunted houses, creepy historic sites and cool shops was created by the author of “Secret Cincinnati” and the writer for the NKY Art Tours website. It’s the perfect way to start your Halloween celebrations. 

For more Halloween fun, as well as details on the events listed above, please visit NKY ArtQuest’s Halloween roundup

About the author:  

Jill Morenz is the Director of Community Initiatives and Communications for the Catalytic Fund and also runs the NKY Public Arts Network. She is an enthusiastic evangelist for all things NKY. 

Boozy Milkshakes in Bellevue

We finally made it to Nomad after seeing so many mouth-watering social posts!  A product of pandemic-times, its opening may have seemed like a sleeper, but Nomad should be at the top of your list for picture-worthy boozy milkshakes!

A great place to gather with friends

nomad interior entry

Located at 225 Fairfield Avenue, the outdoor patio space is cute, comfy, and conducive to gathering.  And the interior of the restaurant is no different.

nomad lounge area interior

We loved the lounge area room, complete with a trunk full of board games.  I could totally hang out here, drinking milkshakes and playing games til my heart is content.  We opted to sit inside during our visit since the outside temperature exceeded 90 degrees, but we can’t wait to return and have a shake on the patio.

nomad interior tables

Food at Nomad

Those who’ve ever shared a meal with me know that my eating habits are like those of a child.  No, really, my young kids (8, 6, and 3) all eat more healthily and more adventurously than I do.  So when I heard about Nomad and their menu of tacos, tater tots, and milkshakes, my eyes lit up.  I mean, what a combination!  And combinations they have–all with witty menu names.  Being a lover of words, I took several minutes to just read the menu and giggle at the plays on words.

nomad cincinnati chili tots

After much debate, I settled on the Naughty Nati tot basket.  A nod to Cincinnati-style chili, this would be a great way for visitors to sample the Cincinnati delicacy if the thought of chili on spaghetti repulses them.  It’s literally tater tots smothered in Cincinnati-style chili and topped with onions, mustard, and cheese.  While the cheese was a bit different than the traditional shredded cheddar you’d see from Skyline, Gold Star, and the like, the Naughty Nati tots were tasty and exactly as I expected they’d taste.

nomad tacos

My friend ordered the blanco taco (smoked chicken, mozzarella, onion and pico) and the Korean BBQ taco (Korean style short rib, mozzarella, onions, house-made kimchi) and enjoyed both.  While they may not be the top pick if you’re looking for traditional tacos, they’re certainly a solid choice.  And when the hankering hits for tacos and tots or tacos and milkshakes–you know where to go!

Milkshakes at Nomad

nomad milkshakes

Drumroll, please…. The moment we’ve all been waiting for–the boozy milkshakes!  The menu names of these are all so cheeky! (S’more than a feeling, Oreo speedwagon, Dough you want me baby, Go Nutell-it on the mountain, etc.)  But the shakes are serious business.  So. Good!

nomad milkshakes

My friend opted for the “Ba-Duh Duhduhduh Duh-Dumdum! Tequila!,” a lemon sorbet blended with Jose Cuervo tequila & blueberries, topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit.  I sampled hers and it was incredible!  Much more of a berry base than I expected from the description, which I loved.  It would be perfect on a hot day, sitting on the patio.  So refreshing!

nomad milkshakes

If you’re like me and looking for a more “traditional” milkshake, there are several options.  I opted for the “Build me up peanut butter cup,” which is ice cream blended with bourbon, Ghirardelli chocolate sauce & peanut butter, topped with whipped cream, Reese’s Cups, Hershey bar, and cherry.  Yum–what’s not to love?!  One of the best milkshakes I’ve ever had!

And if you aren’t into milkshakes, they also have several other cocktail options, including margaritas, sorbet spritz, hot toddy, Kentucky mule, and more.

If you’re looking for a different dessert option, I’m intrigued by the tot fudge sundae–cinnamon sugar tossed tater tots, three scoops of vanilla ice cream, Ghirardelli chocolate & caramel drizzle, whipped cream, and a cherry. I have never seen a concoction quite like that on a menu anywhere else and it sounds appetizing!

Explore Bellevue

nomad outdoor patio

Once you’ve gorged enough on the treats at Nomad, you can saunter over to Darkness Brewing across the street, or venture down Fairfield Avenue to explore more of Bellevue.  From the cute shops, other restaurants & bars, and chill patios (think Three Spirits Tavern, also a B-Line stop!), there’s plenty to do to keep you entertained in Bellevue!

Written By: Dot Crane, MeetNKY

A College Student’s Guide to How to “Be A Local” in Northern Kentucky

Friday, August 6, 2021 10:00 AM by Brooklynn DiPaolo

cup of graeter's raspberry chocolate chip ice cream cincinnati ohio

Welcome to your very own “How To Be A Local in Northern Kentucky” starter kit. I would not be a true Northern Kentuckian/Cincinnatian if I didn’t start this off by talking about The Big Three. Okay, so no one actually calls it that. Although I have heard the following local gems referred to as “the Trifecta.” The three cornerstone places to eat for every Cincy Metro resident are: LaRosa’s Pizza, Skyline Chili, and Graeter’s ice cream.

Hey, I don’t make the rules. Just go.

A slice of homemade goetta at Otto's in Covington, KY, surrounded by a Bloody Mary and lemon pancakes

Also, if you haven’t heard of goetta (pronounced “getta”) you better goetta educated (hehe). Here’s a handy Goetta Guide

Coffee and Tea in NKY

If you’re reading this odds are you’re a college student like me. We’ve all had more than our fair share of caffeine-fueled mornings (and nights for some of us), so let’s get right into some lovely little coffee and tea shops.

  • Velocity Bike & Bean (Florence)
    • Classic and cozy, this little bike-shop-turned-coffeehouse is one of my all time favorite places to sip and study. Their lavender infused iced coffee is my default every time. Their muffins are divine too. Live music every now and then!
  • Club Vape Coffee Lounge (Florence)
    • I only found out this place existed because my grandma told me about it!? I did not think I would see the day that my grandma would enter a vape shop, but anything in the name of amazing coffee I guess. They have more latte flavors than you and I can count on all of our hands. I’m not joking. It’s like 22, and counting. I love Dirty Hippies everywhere (the drink, people, the chai tea and espresso drink), but this place makes them iced too, which I go crazy for.
  • Roebling Point Books & Coffee (Covington)
    • Saving the best for last on the coffee list. This has to be the most quaint little place I have ever been to. It doubles as a bookstore. I mean, come on. “Sidewalk Choc” – dark chocolate and amaretto latte. “Redlegs” – white chocolate and raspberry latte. They even have little breakfast foods. I could go on. But I’ll let you experience it yourself. You deserve it.

Some of My Fave Northern Kentucky Places to Eat

Anchor Grill Covington Kentucky exterior

Anchor Grill in Covington, Kentucky

You could always just roll through the nearest McDonald’s drive through for like the fifth time this week, OR you could spend the same amount of money on food that is astronomically better at some of NKY’s best non-chain restaurants.

  • Anchor Grill (Covington)
    • You didn’t really think I was going to let you off the hook on this whole goetta thing, did you? Anchor Grill’s slogan is “Good food.” and they earn it! Get the goetta and cheese omelette and thank me later (or you can just take me with you). It’s one of those charming places you could go to countless times and get something different each visit.
  • Reality Tuesday (Park Hills)
    • Very similar to Velocity Bike & Bean as far as the live music and rustic coffee shop vibes go. But it’s here in the restaurant section because it’s also a cafe! They have salads, pizzas, sandwiches, and their donuts are incredible.
  • Sea Sushi & Grill (Florence)
    • This is a perfect example of not judging a book by its cover. This won’t be the prettiest building you see in NKY, but it’s about what’s on the inside, right?? And that’s the best (and most inexpensive!) sushi on this side of the Ohio River. But don’t take my word for it. Go check out the peaceful ambience for yourself. I order something different every time, but their Rock & Roll sushi is my absolute favorite.
  • Better Blend Nutrition (Florence)
    • Calling all health nuts. Even if you don’t consider yourself a health nut, this is your new favorite place for something quick and filling. Whether it’s a meal replacement shake that tastes like dessert or a smoothie bowl piled high with toppings, Better Blend is a go for on-the-go. The low sugar and other macros in their blends are unbeatable. (Pro tip: try the brownie batter shake with cherry flavoring blended in). They also have a ton of add-in supplement options like collagen and probiotic. Good rewards program too! I’ve already gotten 3 free shakes so far.
  • Kitchen 1883 (Union)
    • People look at me funny when I tell them Kroger has a restaurant. Would you believe me if I told you they serve some kicking American comfort food with a gourmet twist? Do yourself a ~flavor~ and get an order of their chicken and waffles. A little bit pricier for my fellow college budget pals, but I promise you it’s worth it.
  • Kung Food Amerasia (Covington)
    • A note to my fellow art lovers – this place rocks. And so does the food. I got an eggroll, wonton soup, sesame chicken, rice, and mixed veggies all for a grand total of $8. Among many of the great places to stop on Madison Avenue.
  • Newport on the Levee (Newport)
    • Let me map this one out for you, because this place can be a whole experience if you do it right. The best way to describe The Levee is a series of restaurants and shops and a movie theater. It’s all topped off by NKY’s favorite aquarium. First, you’re going to pick from one of the many restaurants. Newport on the Levee has — anything from casual at Tom & Chee (who knew you could do so many different things with grilled cheese and soup?) to a more snazzy night out at Brio Tuscan Grille (with Italian food from heaven). Next, you’re going to hit Coldstone Creamery and watch your ice cream get all rolled out on a big slab of stone. No one really knows why. We just go with it. Next, go to the Newport Aquarium to see all the fishies. Maybe catch a movie at Newport’s AMC Movie Theater. You’re never going to run out of things to do out at Newport on the Levee.
A case full of Moonrise donuts in various colors in Covington, Ky

Moonrise Doughnuts in Covington, Ky.

What’s a meal without a little dessert, right? You can’t go wrong with any of these places.

  • Whippy Dip (Crittenden)
    • You have to drive slow once you’re getting close because you’ll drive right past the little place. They have a ton of soft serve flavors. They also have things like hot dogs and sandwiches, so you could have a little dinner there too.
  • Piper’s Cafe & Ice Cream Bar (Covington)
    • The term “variety” barely covers this. Piper’s has everything and then some. From iced coffee cocktails for us 21+ year olds, to ice cream sandwiches and kiddie cones, I’m not sure what this place doesn’t have. You could go 100 times and never get the same thing twice.
  • Moonrise Doughnuts (Covington)
    • You don’t know donuts until you know a fresh blueberry donut from Moonrise. Get them before they’re gone though, because what would be Covington’s best kept secret is no secret at all. People start lining up before it even opens at 4pm. That speaks for itself.

Craft Beer and Bourbon in Northern Kentucky

glass of beer reading "in the beginning there was darkness" with a moon graphic at darkness brewing in bellevue ky

Darkness Brewing in Bellevue, Kentucky

Where are my 21+ darlings? You deserve a drink. Something a little – ahem – stronger than what we’ve toured so far.

  • Boone County Distillery
    • Have you ever toured a distillery? At Boone County Distilling Co., you can not only see the inner works, you will hear some bourbon stories that will make your mouth drop open. Which is the perfect position for the tasting that follows the tour, hehe. My favorite bourbon of theirs is the bourbon cream liqueur. Put a little (or a lot) of it in your coffee in the morning for some extra giddy-up. Mix it with root beer and you have yourself a more exciting root beer float.
  • Bircus Brewery & Kitchen (Ludlow)
    • People tell me it’s pronounced Beer-cus and not circus with a “B” but say whatever you want. Beer. Pizza. Live music. Did you need something else? I didn’t think so. An awesome rock band that came out of my local NKY high school performs here every now and then. Check out Trauma Illinois on Instagram.
  • Darkness Brewing (Bellevue)
    • Ambiance is everything, and this place HAS IT. Their taproom is incredible. They have a ton of options on tap that change just often enough to keep up a good variety. And on top of that, you can have yourself a merry little $5 drunk grilled cheese. They also have a brunch that is sure to cure the nastiest of hangovers.
  • Braxton Brewing Company
    • Okay you get it. It’s craft beer. And Braxton has ALL the flavors. So let’s run through all the awesome locations. The Braxton Barrel House is in Fort Mitchell, Braxton Labs in in the Party Source in Bellevue, and Braxton Covington is – guess where – Covington, The Rooftop is also in Covington and it’s exactly what it sounds like, and there’s also a Braxton location in Cincinnati, in Over the Rhine, aka OTR.

And to think that this is all just the tip of the iceberg. Check these places out and keep your eye out for the other hidden gems of NKY.

Author: Brooklynn DiPaolo

Brooklynn DiPaolo is a Freelance Graphic Designer and Writer.

She would love to say she’s started fulfilling her dream of traveling all over the world, but she’s finishing college first. She spends her free time digging up NKY’s hidden gems and being a mother to her dog Sadie

Best Tacos in Covington, KY

You’ve seen our lists of best tacos in Newport and Florence, but when in Covington, the delicious taco options are endless!  Whether you’re at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center for an event, or just in town staying at one of the Covington hotels, you’ll want to include tacos for at least one meal.

several tacos lined up from agae and rye in covington ky

Agave & Rye

Agave & Rye seems like it’s boomed lately, with a total of nine locations, but Covington was the original, the OG, the epicenter of epic-ness.  

two baskets of chips in front of artwork on wall with cups of salsa, guacamole, queso at agave and rye in covington ky

Start with the incredible dips–from the guacamole to the queso, you can’t just try one.  They’re all delicious.  And the chips are house-made.  Expert tip: If you like a softer/fluffier chip, or just want to try it once, ask your server if you can have the flour tortilla chips.  They typically come with the pimento cheese dip, but man, they’re delicious with the queso! 

grilled corn at agave and rye in covington ky with pitcher of margaritas in background

The elote is also incredible, and those margaritas are where it’s at!  They use premium tequila and you can definitely taste the difference.  During happy hour (MWRF 3 p.m.-6 p.m.) and all day on Taco Tuesday, the OG margaritas are $6… and worth every penny.

agave and rye patio

Speaking of Taco Tuesday, the specials at Agave & Rye are incredible.  In addition to the margarita special, they also feature $3 chips and queso, and taco specials running from $2.50 to $4.  And these tacos aren’t just your typical tacos… They’re double-shelled (a crunchy wrapped in a soft–so it holds the crumbles) and the flavor combinations are amazing.  My personal favorite is the Bees Knees, but there are still a few on the menu I want to try–Kangaroo, anyone?!

A table full of tacos, queso, red glasses, with funky art on the walls in the background at Agave and Rye in Covington, Ky.

If you’re not into tacos, there are many other options on the menu, including egg rolls, burger and chicken sandwich, sticky cauliflower bites, Brussel sprouts, Irish Nachos, corn fritters, Lo Mein, and more!  You won’t regret a meal here.  And don’t miss their sister restaurant next door, Papi Jocho’s, serving up Mexican street dogs!

Gutierrez Deli

Gutierrez Deli exterior

First and foremost, Gutierrez Deli is a small family-owned and operated Hispanic store located in Covington, near Mainstrasse Village on Lee Street.

Gutierrez Deli store

First open in 2012, Gutierrez Deli quickly became a gathering place for Covington’s growing Latino population.  The deli features a huge selection of imported products from Central America and Mexico… and they happen to also sell incredible tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tamales, and more on a carryout basis (there are some sidewalk picnic tables out front).

Gutierrez Deli tacos

The tacos are incredible.  The ingredients are so fresh and authentic… and can be “Americanized” with cheese added.

Gutierrez deli food

On the weekends, the menu at Gutierrez has additional offerings… Sergio (the son of owner Claudio Gutierrez) suggests trying the mole poblano that is his grandmother’s recipe.  We can’t wait to try it!

Gutierrez Deli food

When you don’t want anything fancy, just incredibly good food, head to Gutierrez Deli.

Olla Cov

exterior street corner of olla in covington ky

Speaking of Sergio, he branched out from his father’s deli and opened his own restaurant earlier this summer, Olla Cov.colorful mural on interior wall of Olla in covington, ky

Unlike Gutierrez Deli, which is carryout only, Olla features some indoor dining space, as well as an outdoor patio.  Not unlike Gutierrez Deli, the food is incredible.

taco, birria taco, quesadilla at olla covington ky

From Birria tacos, chicken tacos, quesadillas, elote, and nachos, everything we ate was delicious.  I must say, I didn’t order any rice, but tried my friend’s and it was some of the best rice I’ve ever had.  Definitely going to order it next time! 

basket of nachos with guacamole in covington ky at olla

These nachos, though, stole the show.  All three of us were digging in and admiring all the fresh ingredients.  I usually don’t like beans or guacamole on my nachos, but with these, you can’t go wrong!  Our server told us to try the Guti Fries, which are similar to the nachos, except with a bed of French fries… sounds delicious!

hallway and bar seating at olla covington ky

Read our full review of Olla Cov here.

Zapata Cantina

zapata exterior

Located on Madison Avenue in Covington, Zapata Cantina opened in the midst of the pandemic in the fall of 2020.  They serve a traditional handmade Mexican experience in a modern, industrial space.

zapata interior seating 2
zapata interior seating

The interior is beautiful.  And so is the food…

zapata chips and queso

Don’t leave without ordering the queso fundido appetizer.  At $12, some may wonder if it’s really worth it.  Trust me, it is.  The chips accompanying the queso are equally delicious, so start every meal here with this app.  

zapata margarita

Our waiter told us the lime juice for the traditional margarita is fresh-squeezed in-house daily and wow–you can definitely tell the difference!  The margarita was delicious… we couldn’t wait to get to the food!

zapata entree

My coworker ordered the chicken sopes, served on handmade corn disks.  The portion was great and everything was so fresh.  But man, those handmade corn disks steal the show.

zapata tacos

I ordered the del mar (tempura shrimp, spiced candied pecans, cilantro, cabbage, honey chipotle) and al pastor (pork, cilantro, onions, and pineapple) tacos.  Wow–each was so different from the other and other tacos I’ve had, making me confident that Covington can support the several taco restaurant options out there.

zapata outdoor sign

A neat note about Zapata is that their seafood is flown in fresh daily–our waiter said they don’t even have a freezer!  The shrimp on my del mar taco was delicious and the taco itself could’ve served as a dessert with the spiced candied pecans.  Definitely an A+!

Frida 602

Frida's patio

Located in Mainstrasse Village, Frida 602 features a tequila & mezcal bar and Latin street food.  Owned by the same people as Otto’s and The Standard, it’s no surprise that Frida is top-notch.

frida 602

In addition to the beautiful art throughout, Frida features some cool hangout spots like picnic tables and  foosball on the sidewalks.

frida 602 queso

And speaking of incredible queso, this one gives Zapata a run for their money as my personal favorite in the city.  Both are amazing–this one adds corn.  I will gladly eat either.  😉

Frida's Taco
frida 602 tacos

The above tacos are delectable, and you can get chicken tacos for $2 on Tuesdays.

Frida 602 server

I personally have not had their margarita (yet), but have heard it’s incredible.

Frida 602 taco window

And a drumroll for one of the best things to come out of Covid…….. The Frida taco window!  Grab them to go or hang out in the village–can’t go wrong with a meal from Frida 602.

 

Taqueria San Miguel

Taqueria San Miguel exterior

An unassuming storefront on Madison Avenue, Taqueria San Miguel offers authentic food at great prices.  

Taqueria San Miguel interior

If you miss Taco Tuesday, be sure to catch Taco Wednesday here–$1.99 tacos and Modelo or Corona for $2.99.

Taqueria San Miguel

The tacos are delicious–and choices include carne asada, chicken, tongue, chorizo, barbacoa, carnitas, or al pastor.  Yum!

taqueria san miguel

They also have a great selection of tortas, huarache, fajitas, quesadillas, burritos, soups, and Mexican plates.

El Valle Verde Taqueria

el valle verde exterior

Located in Mainstrasse Village next door to Piper’sEl Valle Verde is a perfect spot to satisfy your taco cravings. 

el valley verde tacos

From top to bottom, barbacoa, shrimp, chicken, and fish–all incredibly delicious and fresh!

valle verde food tacos

The location is close to my office, so I’ve dined here multiple times and they always serves up fresh food with quick service.

valle verde patio

To me, one of their best assets is their outdoor dining space.  It’s just like eating on the front porch at grandma’s house, plus you get to participate in one of my favorite pastimes–people watching!  Mainstrasse is a great place for people watching and the front-porch patio at El Valle Verde is a great spot for it!

Django at Covington Yard

Strings of white lights hanging over Covington Yard, filled with seated people and a dog.

If you haven’t made your way to Covington Yard yet, what are you waiting for!?  It’s dog-friendly & family-friendly, has plenty of outdoor TVs and a stage for DJs and bands, and also has some excellent people-watching.

covington yard

Comprised of a former fire hall and group of shipping-container restaurants with a nice view of the Roebling Bridge area, Covington Yard is a popular local hotspot.  

frozen slushy drinks at Covington Yard

They also feature a full bar, serving up some delicious slushy drinks in addition to all the regulars.  Slushy drink flavors include froze, bourbon sangria, bourbon slush, or a frozen margarita.

Covington Yard food

The food at The Yard includes Mr. Bulgogi, Yard Bird, Hangry Omar’s, and Django Western Taco number three, which cranks out delicious tacos.  The first Django opened in Northside in 2012 and the second inside Kroger Downtown OTR Food Hall.

Django tacos Covington Yard

Django’s menu includes carnitas, carne asada, fried chicken, shrimp, and Brussel sprout taco options as well as chips, salsa, queso, guacamole, and churros.  And it’s all mouth-watering!

As you can see, Covington has a strong taco scene.  Eat your favorite before or after the Reds or Bengals game, during your next business meeting, for date night, or for a weekend people-watching session with your besties.  You can’t go wrong with this list!

Early Learning Fun in NKY

Stories, letters, nature & sensory play appeal to young kids 

Northern Kentucky has a wealth of fun learning opportunities for young children. They love to spot letters and identify colors. They can be completely still as they squat down to observe a passing snail or spend hours running, jumping and climbing. 

We’ve pulled together many of the ways that our region integrates teachable moments into our environments and encourages curiosity. 

Story Walks 

Imagine reading the first page of a story with your child while standing under a shady tree in a park. For the second page of the story, you walk together along a path to a sunny flower bed. The third page is located near a playground. As you read the story, you stroll from page to page through the park until the story ends. This experience is called a Story Walk and there are quite a few to be found this summer in Northern Kentucky. Find the entire list here

Ground Games 

Hopping, pointing and laughing are rewarded when kids do the fun activities provided by Read Ready Covington. The organization created large stickers that have been placed in Covington parks, at playgrounds and even inside a laundromat. The stickers are printed with objects and ideas for playful learning. Find them at places like Randolph Park, Devou Park and Leo Foster Ballfield. The stickers don’t last forever, so some of the locations may change as they are removed and replaced. 

Alphabet Hunts 

As part of its goal to increase the number of kids who start kindergarten ready to read, the City of Covington has installed complete alphabets, in the form of pink and yellow signs, throughout five of its neighborhoods. Each sign has a word (apple, volcano, yarn), an image and the encouragement, “You found a word. Now find another!” Some of the signs have Spanish words, as well.  

Families can pick up a free map and passport-style checklist at the city building to start their hunt. When the passport is completed and turned in, the child will receive a free Tshirt. 

Nature Encounters 

Little kids love to learn about the plants and animals they see in their neighborhood. Two of the top nature educators in the area take it several notches up, providing immersive fun for families. 

In Covington, Behringer-Crawford Museum’s NaturePlay is a self-contained, accessible outdoor area that offers kid-sized log cabins and caves, a climbable wooden flatboat, a spot to dig for fossils and gardens planted with native flowers and shrubs. 

AJ Jolly Park’s Environmental Education Center in Alexandria is filled with wonders. Kids can get up close and personal with fish and turtles, watch birds flit around nearby branches and even examine the poop from various animals (an exhibit that always leads to giggles). After they’ve learned everything they wanted to know, they can walk the trails outside. The center is open all year and there is always something to see in the surrounding landscape.  

Public Libraries 

Northern Kentucky residents are fortunate to have such robust early childhood programming and resources available at our local libraries. From story time and science for tots to the “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program, families can rely on the friendly librarians to engage their children with fun, educational activities. Check out the programs at Boone CountyCampbell County and Kenton County

If you’ve got young kids and you live in NKY, you’re in a good place! 

Jill Morenz is the Director of Community Initiatives and Communications for the Catalytic Fund and also runs the NKY Public Arts Network. She is an enthusiastic evangelist for all things NKY. 

Sunshine + Shopping in NKY

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Outdoor markets are one of the best ways to indulge a love of shopping and nice weather. Northern Kentucky has a great selection of farmer’s markets, outdoor craft and art shows and sidewalk sales. Here’s a roundup of the ones coming up this month. 

Covington Farmers Market 

This year-round market takes place on Saturdays from 9:00-1:00. Through April, it is held on the patio outside Butler’s Pantry at RiverCenter, 50 E. RiverCenter Blvd., Covington, KY. You can find seasonal produce, eggs, honey, cut flowers, baked goods, spice blends, coffee, tea, wine, soaps and so much more! More information here

Outdoor Artist Market 

Purple Paisley Local Artisan Shop is hosting this market at their Covington store on Saturday April 10 from 10:00-3:00. You can browse original works from talented local artists. Click here for more information. 

Sunday Spring Markets in Latonia 

Every Sunday, starting this weekend (April 11) and continuing through May 30, the businesses in the Covington neighborhood of Latonia are producing this series of outdoor markets. You’ll find local vendors, artists and makers tempting you with interesting treasures. There is a weekly theme, so be sure to check out the details here. 

Ludlow Flea & Craft Fair 

This sizable monthly fair is held on Sundays–this month it’s on April 11. In nice weather, it’s set up outdoors at Bircus Brewing Company in Ludlow. There are typically 20-30 artists and makers so you’re certain to find something you can’t live without. Before, during and after your shopping, you can enjoy brunch with Bloody Mary’s or craft beer. Get more info here

Newport’s Spring Fling 

Newport’s historic downtown is celebrating spring on Saturday April 24. Businesses along Monmouth Street will throw open their doors and entice you with sidewalk sales. Visitors can challenge themselves with a fun, free scavenger hunt. The clues are based on the art, architecture and store displays on Monmouth Street from 10th to 4th Streets. Players can win prizes by solving the puzzles and posting selfies. You can get more info and sign up for the scavenger hunt here

If springtime is beckoning you to come out and play, be sure to visit these fun shopping events! 

Jill Morenz is the Director of Community Initiatives and Communications for the Catalytic Fund and also runs the NKY Public Arts Network. She is an enthusiastic evangelist for all things NKY. 

Top Eight Burgers in Bellevue & Ft. Thomas

If you’ve read our lists of the Top 10 Burgers in Covington and Top 12 Burgers in Newport and are expecting us to round out a few more Northern Kentucky cities, you’re in luck.  This time, it’s Bellevue and Ft. Thomas’ turn! 

If you haven’t been to Bellevue or Ft. Thomas lately, you’re in for a treat.  Fairfield Avenue is bursting with new restaurants and quaint taverns and bars, a brewery with food truck, and so many unique shops.  It’s close to Newport on the Levee and you could spend an entire day here checking everything out!  Ft. Thomas is equally charming with an ice cream parlor and several quaint eateries to enjoy outdoor dining.  But back to the burgers…

photo of a bison burger with caramelized onions and french fries served open faced on a plate

The Elusive Cow

We were impressed with the selection of burgers at The Elusive Cow!  Their menu states that their meats come from local farmers in Brown and Adams Counties in Ohio and Oldham County in Kentucky.  The fresh ingredients are accompanied by a plethora of delicious breads, cheeses, toppings to add to any burger, which can be ordered as beef, turkey, or bison meat.  Yum! 

exterior of elusive cow restaurant in bellevue ky.

But if you aren’t into burgers, don’t let that deter you.  Elusive Cow has tons of other options including salads, homemade soups, sandwiches, entrees, etc.  I also noticed several vegan and gluten-free options on the menu.  Did I mention that their ketchup is home-made?  Check out my blog of the full experience here.

exterior photo of fessler's legendary pizza and hoagies in bellevue ky

Fessler’s Legendary Pizza & Hoagies

Before you try to challenge us and say that hoagies are not burgers, we know.  And luckily, Fessler’s has both on their menu… and they’re finger-licking good! 

A sign that says Fessler's hanging outside Fessler's restaurant in Bellevue, Kentucky

Burgers on the menu include hamburger, cheeseburger, deluxe versions of either, or a pizza burger, any of which can be substituted for a plant-based beyond burger.  Don’t forget the fries–they’re equally delicious!  Read about my full experience here.

midway cafe burger

Midway Cafe

The burger selection at Midway Cafe is so large that it has a “continued” section on another page of the menu!  All of their burgers are supplied by Eberts Meats in Newport, so you can support two local businesses at the same time.  The burger options span everything from classic to The Fort (onion rings, cheddar, BBQ), to The Cincy Pig (bacon, ham, goetta on a burger and topped with pepper jack cheese and BBQ) and other options in between, including a veggie burger. 

midway cafe ft thomas patio

If someone in your party isn’t interested in a burger, their menu also includes several other options including salads, their locally famous wings, wraps, and great appetizers.  Don’t forget to also check out their excellent bourbon selection!

avenue brew bellevue

Avenue Brew

Don’t let the name of this place fool you.  Avenue Brew is so much more than just brew!  They have four different burgers on their menu, the most notable being the Matt & Bree burger, which is a burger, bacon, over easy egg, cheddar, onion, and spicy mustard. It’s a mouth full!

avenue brew bellevue

Much like the other restaurants on this list, Avenue Brew has a huge menu to accompany the burgers, including hoagies and wraps, paninis, cold cut and chicken salad sandwiches (including a cajun and curry variety), and more.  There’s also a plethora of sides to choose from–cole slaw, cottage cheese, apple sauce, chips, pretzels, pasta salad, chips & salsa, potato wedges, mac & cheese, and a house salad.  If that’s not enough for you, be sure to check out their breakfast menu–it’s served all day!

Hometown Heroes burger

Hometown Heroes

This restaurant is located in Dayton, Ky., right down the road from Bellevue.  The photo above showcases their Hometown Double with Bacon–if your mouth isn’t watering we don’t know what’s wrong with you. 

hometown heroes dayton

It’s quite literally a hole in the wall and if you’re driving too quick you might miss it.  But take our advice, and don’t.  The prices are very reasonable, they have great wings, and a great beer selection.  The menu also has several appetizers (ooey gooey fries anyone?), eight burger options, including a goetta burger, a full page of other sandwiches, and dreamy desserts, such as funnel fries, raspberry vanilla sopapillas, or ice cream sundaes. 

915 Pub & Grill burger

915 Pub & Grill

Located in Ft. Thomas near the aforementioned Midway Cafe, 915 Pub & Grill is a laid back neighborhood sports bar with live music and trivia nights.

915 Pub & Grill

With a menu full of appetizers, salads, and pizza options, there’s truly something for everyone.  So grab your favorite trivia buddy and show up hungry!

darkness brewing

Darkness Brewing

Earlier in the post we mentioned the brewery with food truck located in Bellevue–we were talking about Darkness Brewing.  Such a cool hangout spot!  The food truck menu may change, but right now they have an excellent selection of burgers, plus tacos, cauliflower bites, grilled cheese, and more–including brunch!

darkness brewing burger

And all of this is in addition to their amazing beer selection, which started from an at-home brewing operation.  You’ve got to check it out!

Colonel's Kitchen burger

Colonel’s Kitchen

A USDA prime burger with choice of cheese and served on a house-made roll… the burger at Colonel’s Kitchen melts in your mouth! 

colonel's kitchen

The restaurant focuses on scratch made food and regional favorites, and the passion they have for their cooking is evident in the open-kitchen concept where the chef delivers your food to you when it’s ready.  The restaurant is guided by the legacy of the late Colonel De, and his wife continues to operate as the go-to place for spices, herbs, and special blends.

By: Rebecca Banks, Brand Identity Manager Meet NKY