Covington, KY History

📜HISTORY & HIDDEN GEMS TOUR💎 featuring Molly Wellmann

Brought to you by Richter & Phillips Jewelers and The BMW Store

Covington, Ky. Covington’s first permanent white settler was Thomas Kennedy. He came from Pennsylvania in 1790. He landed in Cincinnati at first and then purchased 200 acres right on the banks of the Ohio River across from Cincinnati and close to the Licking River. He ran the ferry boat from the Kentucky side. His brother Francis Kennedy ran the ferry from the Ohio side until he drowned. Thomas Kennedy also owned a tavern he called “The Point.”

In 1814, Thomas sold 150 acres to John S. Gano, Richard Gano, and Thomas D. Carneal. They were all veterans of the War of 1812, and they named their purchase Covington after their commander, General Leonard Covington. The general died at the Battle of Chrysler Field in 1813. The three speculators divided the land up into lots to sell. By 1821, Covington had a volunteer fire company, a log cabin schoolhouse that also served as a church and meeting house. They also had a four-man police patrol. There was a general store and a bank owned by Benjamin W. Leathers at the northwest corner of Greenup and Park Place. There was also an entertainment house on Garrard and Second Street owned by Alexander Connelly. Connelly was also one of the first trustees of Covington. The first big factory in Covington was located on the riverfront between Greenup and Scott Streets. It was a cotton mill owned by Charles Macalester Jr. and a Cincinnati merchant named Robert Buchanan. Buchanan also built the Minrikle Rolling Mill in Covington, just west of his cotton mill. Today, this is the site of the Embassy Suites buildings.

By 1836, Covington had many factories, including a nail factory, a sawmill, five tobacco and cigar factories, two distilleries, a brewery, and a rope walk. Covington’s first newspaper was called “The Farmers’ Record and Covington Literary Journal,” and it was published in 1831. Covington’s early public square was located between Court and Greenup Streets and 3rd and Second Streets, just south of Smoke Justice and the Hayden Apartments.

In the early 1850s, Covington’s population and economy boomed. The Covington and Lexington Railroad went through Covington and stopped at Washington and Pike Streets. More and more industry started to move into that area. Some of Covington’s early businessmen included Amos and Vincent Shinkle. Their business was in coal and riverboats. Amos Shinkle also helped with the building of the Roebling Bridge. Robert Hemingrey owned a large glassworks known for making glass insulators for telegraph wires. Milward and Oldershaw owned a huge pork packing factory along the Licking River. On New Year’s Day 1867, the Roebling Suspension Bridge was completed, linking Cincinnati and Covington. The improvement in transportation and the bridge made it possible to locate plants in Covington and do business in Cincinnati.

James Walsh opened a rectifying house and distillery in the old cotton mill on the banks of the Ohio. His offices were located in Cincinnati. In 1885, the New England Distillery opened along the railroad at Pike and Washington, or Russell Streets.

Madison Avenue, between 3rd Street and Robbins Street, is Covington’s central business district. It flourished in the mid to late 1800s, especially when the Covington and Lexington Railroad was built. In 1896, Henry Eilerman opened H. Eilerman & Sons Haberdashery (men’s and boys’ store) at 610 Madison, the northwest corner of Madison and Pike. Eilerman’s was first established in 1882 in Newport or Monmouth. It went out of business in 1973 and is now a U.S. Bank branch. Another notable establishment on Madison was Coppens Department Store. John R. Coppins got his start working for his Pogue Department Store in Cincinnati when he was 24 years old in the late 1860s. In 1873, he leased a space in Covington on Madison Avenue between 4th and 5th Streets and opened his own dry goods store. His brother William Coppin was his partner. They called the store the California Dry Goods Company. Just seven years later, Coppins needed a larger store, so they moved up the street to 538 Madison Avenue to a four-story building. In 1906, Coppins once again ran out of space. Coppin purchased the lot on the corner of Madison and 7th and built a seven-story concrete skyscraper, the first in Covington. The building was designed by Cincinnati architect James Gilmore, who apprenticed under James McGlaughlin. With the new building also came a name change. Instead of California Dry Goods, the firm was officially called the John R. Coppin Company. John Coppin was president, his brother William was vice president, and John’s sons John Jr. and Charles C. Coppin were also involved in the company. In 1910, the store was finally open for business, becoming the region’s largest high-end department store.

John R. Coppin was born and raised in Cincinnati. He was married to Lizzie R. Egolf, and they had four children. They lived on 28th Street in Latonia, between Indiana and Birch Streets, and east to Rodgers Street, extending south to 30th Street. John Coppin was an avid gardener, and the grounds were grand, reflecting his mansion. John Coppin died on December 21, 1913; he was 64 years old. In 1966, Coppins was acquired by Gambles Department Stores, and by the 1970s, Madison’s once-busy shopping district had declined due to shopping malls. Coppins closed in 1988, and the city purchased the building for its city hall. In 2016, the building was renovated into one of Northern Kentucky’s best hotels, along with their restaurant and one of my favorite bars in the Cincinnati area.

Madison and Pike Street came into existence even before white settlers settled here. In the 1700s, buffalo herds marked the general direction of Pike Street on their way to Latonia Springs. During the early 1800s, drovers would drive their cattle and hogs up Madison and Pike to swim across the Ohio River over to Cincinnati. By the 1850s, the railroad came in, attracting retail and commercial business. Pike Street was dotted with its dry goods stores, barbershops, saloons, cigar and liquor shops. John McKay had a dry goods store on Pike between Madison and Pike. John H. Perkins had a saddle and harness shop. Jacob Lehman had a tobacco shop on Madison at 5th Street. There was an inn at the corner of Madison and 6th Street called the Virginia Inn. The Madison House Inn was across the street. Another inn called the Magnolia House was on the east side of Madison between Pike and 7th, and a Drovers Hotel called the Day House. Michael C. Match started his jewelry store in 1857. He moved his store to the northwest corner of Pike and Madison in 1871, and he even installed a beautiful street clock that is still there today. The building on the southwest corner of Pike and Madison was built in 1919 and was the Covington Industrial Club. There were a number of businesses, including Dow’s Drug Store. Today, it’s the Hannaford Bar. On the southeast corner of Pike and Madison was, for a long time, a bank. In 1913, the YMCA Building was built there. A large-tiled swimming pool used to be on the property. Today, where the pool was, is an event space for Hotel Covington. Their bar pays homage to the swimming pool with a tile bar and back bar, and a glass floor cutout in the floor for a peek into the original pool.

At 7th and Madison, across from Coppin’s, on the southeast corner, was Woolworth’s Five and Dime. It boasted a big lunch counter as well. Today, it’s Madison Event Center. Another notable business on the southwest corner was Rich’s Jewelers. It’s now home to Riches Proper. They have awesome food and a great bourbon selection. On Seventh Street between Madison and Washington, there was the 7th Street Market House. The parking lot now sits there. Heringer Butcher, Hoerlein Meats, the George W. Hill Grocery, Sears & Roebuck, Mergard’s Bowling Alley, and the Broadway Theater were all located on this block as well.

In 1900, R. J. Dibowski owned a saloon. R. J. also ran the clubhouse and restaurant at the Latonia racetrack. R. J. closed his saloon at Prohibition, and the storefront became a fur store called Casse Frocks. Casse also had a location in Cincinnati on Main Street at 12th, next to Japp’s Hair Store. Orene Parker was a rectifier in Covington. He also ran a highly successful vaudeville theater for years and introduced the new medium of motion pictures into his offerings. Parker first appeared in the whiskey trade during the early 1870s as the co-owner of a distillery located in Gethsemane, Kentucky, with a man named Francis M. Head. Located on Pottinger Creek, in 1883, Parker sold his interests in this distillery to Minor Case Beam, and about 1885, he joined the Boone Brothers, Charles and Nicholas, in acquiring a distillery located on the farm of R. B. Hayden, two miles southeast of Bardstown, Kentucky. Hayden made a bourbon called Old Grand Dad.

About 1886, Parker also founded a wholesale liquor business in Covington, Kentucky. The offices were located at 25 Pike Street. In 1902, the Orene Parker Co. moved permanently to 12-14 Pike Street. The Boone Brothers distillery provided the raw product for a series of brands issued by Parker’s liquor business. They included “1884 Rye”, “Boone Co.”, “Defiance”, “Mayfield”, “Old Griffin”, and “Old Petoskey.” The company’s flagship brand was “Old Maid Whiskey.”

Like the showman he was, Parker strongly merchandised his Old Maid label. By 1903, Parker appears to have re-entered the distillery trade. Internal Revenue records show him operating a distillery, RD#47 in the 5th District of Nelson County. Under the recently enacted Bottled-in-Bond Act, he made a number of transactions, both storing and withdrawing whiskey from his federally supervised warehouses.

While engaged in the whiskey trade, Parker was also a major figure in Covington show business. He owned the Colonial Theatre, a vaudeville house, on Madison Avenue between Fourth and Fifth Streets. Such theaters displayed live acts, lasting between five to ten minutes each. Because the shows cost only a nickel or dime to get into, they became the dominant form of mass entertainment in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Many “respectable people,” however, refused to enter such premises. Parker oversaw a constant flow of new entertainers each week to make sure that the crowds came back regularly. He apparently ran a tight, and possibly stingy, ship. The story was told that when his manager, one L.B. Wilson, a former vaudeville actor, asked for a raise, Orene refused, and Wilson promptly quit the Colonial Theater and opened his own Covington shop selling cigars.

Parker was one of the first theater owners to recognize the possibilities of film as a popular medium. Early in the 1900s, a few canny impresarios, such as Parker, began to intersperse short films among the live acts, seeing the potential for drawing in larger audiences, including people who would not enter a vaudeville house. Parker became an early member of the Motion Picture Exhibitors of America, and in 1914, he was elected National Treasurer of that organization.

But trouble was on the horizon. The same dry National Prohibition. He was forced to close down his liquor business and distillery in 1920. Moreover, about a year later, his Colonial Theater burned to the ground. Ironically, the vacant lot later was purchased by L. B. Watson, Parker’s former manager. Watson built a new theater on the site, one dedicated entirely to the motion picture.

L.B. Wilson owned the Liberty Theater in the 1920s and ‘30s. He also owned the Rialto, Strand, Hippodrome, and Madison Theaters. L.B. was also the president of Peoples-Liberty Bank, which was adjacent to the Liberty Theater. L.B. Wilson was named with the initials of his mother, Lyda Beall Miles, who died from complications of his birth. Being short in stature, it was often joked that “L.B.” stood for “little boy.” He and his brother, Hansford, were vaudeville actors as youths growing up in Covington. They traveled across Europe with a vaudeville company in their late teens. Hansford would go on to become an actor on Broadway.

In 1911, L.B. got a job working for Orene Parker as manager of the Colonial Theater, a vaudeville house. He left due to feeling underpaid. A couple of years later, Parker invited Wilson to his office at Madison and Pike to offer him a new contract. Wilson refused the offer, saying he was making more money selling cigars (he owned a cigar shop). As he was leaving Parker’s office, he remarked that someday he would build the nicest theater Covington ever had at Madison and Pike. Almost 10 years later, Parker’s building burned down, and L.B., along with department store owner Frank Thorpe, purchased the lot. The bank and theater began construction in 1922, and the theater opened on July 21, 1923.

Another amazing gem in Covington is Revival, located at 5 E 8th St, Covington, KY 41011, owned by Brad Bonds and Covington lawyer Shannon Smith. Revival is a vintage spirits shop and tasting room where you can buy and taste vintage spirits from pre-Prohibition all the way to today! It’s really cool, and Brad is a wealth of information about every bottle in the shop! It’s a must-see in Covington! Stay tuned for more in Covington next month! There is just so much!

By: Molly Wellmann

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

NKY Urban Home Tour takes you Beyond the Curb

Beyond the Curb, Northern Kentucky’s popular urban living tour, offers an insider’s look at properties in Covington’s Old Seminary Square and West Side neighborhoods. The tour is on Sunday October 3 from 10:00-4:00. Everything Cincy readers will get exclusive savings with the promo code EVERYTHING.

During 2020 and the first part of 2021, the Catalytic Fund, the host of Beyond the Curb, switched from in-person tours to a video series of more than 30 episodes.

With COVID safety guidelines in place, people can feel safe to come beyond the curb in Covington.

The one-day, self-guided tour features 13 properties, including historic homes, artsy renovations and modern apartments. As always, the tour stops include an intriguing mix of completed and in-progress projects that offer ideas and inspiration for anyone interested in architecture, interior design and the urban lifestyle.

Early bird tickets are $15 and are available online at www.BeyondTheCurb.org until Saturday, October 2. Use promo code EVERYTHING to save 10%. Tickets will also be available for purchase for $20 on the day of the tour, either online or at the registration area at OKOTA Wedding Design, 266 W. Pike St. in Covington.

Tickets include admission to exclusive, behind-the-scenes tours of 13 interesting properties, entry to win the “All Things NKY” raffle basket and free parking at nearby locations. All ticket holders will start their tour at OKOTA Wedding Design, where they will receive their wristband, tour booklet and gift.

Covington’s West Side and Old Seminary Square neighborhoods offer an intriguing blend of old and new. On the tour, guests will stroll down tree-lined streets, coming upon community gardens and charming little parks. One-of-a-kind eateries and stunning public art also contribute to the vibrancy of this area.

The tour is presented by Comey & Shepherd Realtors and the Catalytic Fund. For more information and to preview the featured properties, please visit www.BeyondTheCurb.org.

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.

Celebrate Labor Day in NKY

By Jill Morenz

First off, we’d like to offer our gratitude to all the workers out there—THANK YOU! Your efforts are always cause for celebration, especially on Labor Day.

Northern Kentucky is cooking up a lot of fun for this weekend. We hope you can join us!

Fireworks

The tradition of Labor Day fireworks over the Ohio River began in 1977. Some of the best places to watch those beautiful explosions are in NKY.

  • Purple People Bridge: Be among the special folks who get primo views from the bridge. Tickets are still available for the Boom on the Bridge party and include live music, food and drinks and a parking pass. Learn more here.
  • Newport on the Levee: The Bridgeview Box Park will be rocking before, during and after the fireworks, along with the rest of this popular entertainment destination. Many of the Levee’s businesses are offering specials, along with live music and popup activations all day long. Check it out here.
  • BB Riverboats is welcoming passengers for a dinner cruise ending with fireworks viewed from the river. Book a spot here.
  • The new Covington Plaza runs along the murals painted on the floodwall near the foot of the Roebling Bridge. It has seating similar to the serpentine wall in Cincinnati and is a great place to watch the fireworks. See below for the BBQ Festival that will be there over the weekend.
  • Devou Park’s overlook in Covington and the Bellevue Beach Park are also excellent places to set up chairs and enjoy the view.

BBQ Festival

The Smoke on the River BBQ Festival is this weekend, from Friday through Sunday. A great lineup of live music will provide the soundtrack for the delicious menu options that include traditional barbeque, as well as unusual dishes like smoked brisket tacos, pork ‘n cheese and BBQ surf ‘n turf stuffed pretzels. Learn more here.

Comedy Show

The Brewery Comedy Tour brings top-notch comedians to Wooden Cask Brewing Co. in Newport, KY. You can decide which of their craft beers pairs well with hysterical laughter. Get the details here.

Symphony in the Parks

The Kentucky Symphony Orchestra is teaming up with the No Promises Vocal Band for two free shows around the theme “boy bands.” Sing along to nostalgic tunes from the Beach Boys, Temptations, NSYNC and more. On Saturday, they will be playing at the bandshell at Covington’s Devou Park and on Sunday they’ll be at Fort Thomas’ Tower Park. Get more info here.

Cute Caboose

Ludlow’s Train Viewing Platform has a new attraction—a decommissioned caboose that will be a permanent fixture there. Join the party to welcome the cute red newcomer, with live music, food and drinks, book signings and more. See the details here.

For more fun ways to celebrate Labor Day, NKY-style, you can visit NKY ArtQuest’s list of activities here. Don’t forget to celebrate your own hard-working self this weekend!

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

Gotta Get Some Goetta

By Jill Morenz

Goettafest provides tasty fun for the whole family

Forget Christmas and your birthday, if you’re a fan of goetta, that Cincinnati specialty, this weekend is the best time of the year. It’s Goettafest!

When & where

Glier’s, the sponsor of the festival, is going all in to celebrate their signature product. The festival will be spread over two locations, Newport and Covington, and span two weekends, July 29-August 1 and August 5-8.

Grab a “shuttle boat”

Queen City Riverboats will shuttle folks from Festival Park to and from Covington Plaza. You can purchase a “ride all day” wristband for $5 and kids 12 and under can ride for free.

Fun for everyone

The festival will be very family-friendly, with live music, bounce houses, carnival games, face painting, slot cars, axe throwing and more.

If you want to prove your dedication to all things goetta, you can even participate in the Goetta Spirit Contest.

Beyond the patty

Expand your taste horizons with the inventive dishes created by participating chefs. For example, you can try:

  • Donut sandwiches with goetta and egg
  • Goetta nachos
  • Goetta corndog
  • Curry goetta over fries
  • Goetta quesadilla
  • and a goetta brownie—do you dare??

If you love goetta or are curious about it, satisfy your cravings and curiosity at Northern Kentucky’s Goettafest.

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.

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. 

Artisan Markets in Cincinnati

  The Cincinnati area has many markets scattered throughout almost every neighborhood and they all offer a variety of different things for everyone to enjoy!  Most of them are outdoors and have plenty of things to engage in for the whole family!  A lot of them have local food and support small businesses, while highlighting community involvement!  There are a ton of opportunities for artist to sell their work and meet with the public at these markets and we know just the ones to check out this summer!

The City Flea

This urban flea market is a crowd pleaser and is in one of the most beautiful parts of Cincinnati!  This market is located in the historic Washington Park right in front of the mesmerizing Music Hall.  The market is head once a month and they have dozens of vendors from craft makers to community organizations, and startup businesses.  They have anything from vintage wears to contemporary art, and much, much more!  Make an entire day out of visiting the City Flea!  There is so much to do in the park for kids and adults!  The water feature is a perfect way to cool off from the heat and the patio bar is an excellent place to grab a drink and relax!

http://www.thecityflea.com/

Second Sunday on Main

In the art district of Over-the- Rhine you can experience a lively and fun celebration of creativity down Main street on every second Sunday of the month at this stellar market!  This market has a wide range of artists and local businesses to support and meet with!  The Art Academy of Cincinnati is usually there with their artists, instructing workshops for people to join in on.  There are performances, live music, and lots of food trucks to choose from!  This market gives off a block party vibe for people of all ages to have a fun time at!

Art on Vine

This market started as a class project and evolved into a popular market that showcases artists, craft makers, and many local businesses that we love!  The market is at different locations and always keeps you excited for the next one!  Some of the locations include Fountain Square and Rhinegeist Brewery.

https://www.artonvinecincy.com/

Second Saturdays at CampSITE

CampSite Sculpture Park is one of our favorite places that hosts community driven events and there markets on Saturdays are absolutely lovely!  Explore the park while shopping for local art and supporting small businesses! For more information on how to be a vendor visit their website! http://campsitesculpturepark.com/

Written By: Christen Collins

Season 2 of Beyond the Curb: River City Living – Popular YouTube series showcases NKY homes

When COVID-19 prevented the Catalytic Fund from hosting their in-person Beyond the Curb tours, they instead produced a series of video home tours, featuring a variety of homes in NKY’s urban river cities. Season 2 of the series has kicked off with an episode about a 1920’s house on a ridge in Bellevue.

The ten episodes of this season will give viewers an exclusive peek inside some noteworthy properties, including a landmark building in Covington, an urban gardener’s cottage in Dayton, an “upleveled loft” apartment built inside a former Newport department store and a Ludlow condo with big personality.

Watch the series here. New episodes come out on Fridays. Stay tuned for an in-person tour planned for the fall.

Written By: Jill Morenz