Covington, Kentucky sits on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River across from Cincinnati, Ohio. Covington and nearby Newport are considered part of the Cincinnati Metropolitan Area, and Covington itself is home to the region’s international airport (airport code CVG). While big, flashy Cincinnati across the river gets most of the tourist business, on a recent overnight trip with a friend and her daughter we found that Covington offers its own brand of hospitality.
Approaching Covington from the south, the most striking building is a luxury condominium building called The Ascent at Roebling’s Bridge, an upward-sloping blue-and-white wedge piercing the skyline. Designed by Daniel Libeskind, the chief architect of the new World Trade Center in New York City, it was inspired by the nearby Ohio River and the nineteenth-century Roebling Suspension Bridge. It makes an impressive signature building for the Covington skyline and is visually striking from either side of the river.
After checking into our Hampton Inn Riverfront (a Hilton property), we fired up Yelp to find a spot for dinner. We discovered an area within 5 minutes of our hotel called MainStrasse Village. Centered on a pedestrian promenade, this area of downtown Covington has been nicely preserved and updated with themed restaurants and bars, eclectic shops, and back-alley venues for live music from local artists. With little trouble we made reservations for Main Bite Bistro, a cozy restaurant in a restored 19th Century building. This place specializes in European-style “small plate” dishes, and has an extensive wine and artisan cocktail selection. See my Trip Advisor review here; suffice to say, we recommend this dining option.
With some time left in the evening we decided to stroll MainStrasse, which was busy with diners and bar patrons. Many of the taverns have outdoor seating areas, some of them behind the building and accessed through narrow alleyways that invite you to explore.
We chose the Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar, a friendly place that showcases the many varieties of Kentucky’s native spirit as well as cocktails and fine wines. The alley led us past the bar itself into a fenced back yard with tables, benches, satisfied patrons, and a series of local artists providing live music. A pleasantly warm evening, good bourbon after a good meal, and live music under the stars – all makes for a very nice end to the day. We reluctantly returned to our hotel, where we had a peaceful rest in this nicely-managed small hotel.
The next day, we decided to find brunch before leaving Covington. Another Yelp search yielded yet another find in the MainStrasse area, Otto’s. They open at 10:00 am on weekends for brunch, so we had a few minutes to stroll MainStrasse Village in daylight. The German heritage of the neighborhood is proudly displayed, and a historical guide and self-guided walking tour are available for local history and culture buffs.
At Otto’s, we started off with a traditional breakfast cocktail. In honor of Italy we chose the Limoncello Mimosa, a bubbly combination of champagne and that famous Italian citrus cordial. It was refreshing and delicious, although for a Saturday morning drink, one was plenty. My brunch choice was the Benedict Otto’s, a cake of fried grits topped with smoked salmon, a poached egg, dill Hollandaise sauce, sautéed tomatoes, and spinach. I added a side of mixed fresh fruit for a delicious breakfast. Regina had the Breakfast Casserole, a good sized slab of layered potatoes, sausage, spinach, mushrooms, onions, cheese, and eggs all cooked together and served hot. She added a Greek-style salad of mixed baby greens, the perfect complement. We still had room left after this, so we shared a slice of cake with baked-in berries and a scoop of vanilla gelato on top, with coffee.
We were very pleased with our short visit to Covington, and plan to go back for some of the special events held on MainStrasse, like their monthly artisan Bazaar and other festivals that can be found on their web site. If you are in the Cincinnati area, don’t overlook Covington!