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Best of NKY 2019: Readers’ and Editors’ picks

Illustration by Bridgette Gootee

Illustration by Bridgette Gootee

Illustration by Bridgette Gootee

Best of NKY 2019: Readers’ and Editors’ picks

We asked, you answered. These are our readers' and editors' selections of the Best of Northern Kentucky.

March 6, 2019

Restaurants and Bars

Best Restaurant Near Campus

Nittha Siam Kitchen

$$ – 2415 Alexandria Pike, Highland Heights

This hidden gem on Alexandria Pike serves up traditional Thai fare and features a full sushi bar. Don’t leave here without trying the Pad Med, a nutty, spicy take on classic stir fry. – Sam Rosenstiel

Readers’ Choice: Applebee’s

Best Bar Near Campus

Billie’s Skyline Tavern

$$ – 430 Johns Hill Rd, Highland Heights

What else could it be? NKU’s practically-on-campus bar and grill has been serving up cold brews, burgers, wings and other tavern fare since before NKU was built. The tradition is still alive and well today, making Skyline Tavern not only the best bar by NKU, but also a hall of fame community institution. -SR

Readers’ choice: Billie’s Skyline Tavern

Best Diner

Pepper Pod

$-$$ – 703 Monmouth St, Newport

24/7 breakfast. That’s all you  need to know to travel to one of Newport’s most famous restaurants. From french toast to burgers to steak, Pepper Pod is the place to be when you’re looking for a quick lunch bite or when it’s 3 a.m. and nothing is open. – Kane Mitten

Readers’ Choice: Frisch’s Big Boy

Best Sandwich Shop Close to Campus

Penn Station East Coast Subs

$-$$ – 7820 US Highway 42, Florence

Penn Station, a Cincinnati classic, shows that you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. Known for their Philly-style cheesesteaks, their fresh-squeezed lemonade and their freshly cut fries, you can never go wrong with Penn Station subs. -KM

Readers’ Choice: Penn Station East Coast Subs

Best Fast Food Close to Campus

Raising Cane’s

$ – 3614 Alexandria Pike, Cold Spring

The pepper sauce. The melt-in-your-mouth Texas toast. The flaky chicken tenders. There are plenty of reasons why Raising Cane’s arrival in NKY was much-anticipated, and why chicken-loving crowds didn’t subside for weeks after its grand opening. -SR

Readers’ Choice: Raising Cane’s

Best Bar Outside Campus

Sugar Whiskey Sis

$ – 633 Madison Ave, Covington

A Mona Lisa mural sits by the front window with a twist: she’s wearing sunglasses that evoke Janis Joplin and a choker around her neck. Next to her, a giant chess game. If you stumble upstairs like my friends and I did, you might interrupt a private party in their rented event space. All in all, this bar boasts a laid back ambiance with hip decor and mellow vibes. – Nicole Browning

Readers’ Choice: Keystone Bar & Grill

Best Regional Pizza

Dewey’s Pizza

$$ – $$$ – 1 Levee Way, Newport

How can you not love a place that describes itself as “the Hendrix guitar solo of pizza, except we never burn it?” Dewey’s is well-known all across the area for its unique, popular-culture-named pizzas (like the Dr. Dre, the Green Lantern, or the Edgar Allen Poe) and its glass windows that allow guests to watch their pizza being made. There’s no better option for pizza on this side of the river. -KM

Readers’ Choice: Pieology Florence

Best Pizza Chain

Mellow Mushroom

$$ – 1014 Town Dr, Wilder

Pretzel-dough crust and a wide selection of local craft beer makes this psychedelic pizza parlor in Wilder truly far-out. For veggie lovers, the Holy Shiitake is one of the best pies on the menu, though my personal fave is the zesty Funky Q. Chicken pizza. Order a Braxton brew for a totally cosmic experience. -SR

Readers’ Choice: Mellow Mushroom

Best Cincinnati Chili

Skyline Chili

$$ – 199 Martha Layne Collins Blvd, Highland Heights

The Northern Kentucky Chili company brings the skyline of the Queen City to campus as it’s nuzzled behind Callahan Hall. The staff at the diner presents a speedy and simple dining experience. The chili, made nearly 10 feet from you, is fresh out the pot and plated on your delicious hot dog or spaghetti. If you’re feeling a bit spicy, grab the complimentary crackers and dab some hot sauce and you’ll sure for a hot experience. – Josh Kelly

Readers’ Choice: Skyline Chili

Best Brunch

Bellevue Bistro

$$ – 313 Fairfield Ave, Bellevue, KY 41073

This Bellevue brunch gem specializes in bakes and benedicts—dishes that are served either on potatoes or on biscuits. They’re also famous for their Goetta grilled cheese, which puts a regional spin on an American classic, and their french toast. The bistro is open seven days a week, too, not just Sunday, so if you’re randomly in the mood for brunch on a Wednesday, they’ve got you covered. -KM

Readers’ Choice: Bellevue Bistro

Best Ice Cream

Graeter’s Ice Cream

$ – 1409 N Grand Ave, Newport

The handcrafted ice cream makers have been Cincinnati’s favorite since 1870. Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip is a classic, and with new flavors and collabs with Braxton for ice cream flavored beers, the king of Cincy ice cream isn’t leaving the throne anytime soon. -SR

Reader’s Choice: Graeter’s

Best Late-Night Munchies

Waffle House

$ – 251 AA Highway, Wilder

The time for waffles is all the time. After you’ve stayed up way past your bedtime, and in need of your waffle fix, head to this diner and dive your face into waffles, eggs and bacon. Everytime you head you may think you might try a burger, but you’ll leave fulfilled with your waffled and variant of hash browns. -JK

Readers’ Choice: Waffle House

Best Italian Cuisine

Pompilio’s

$$$ – 600 Washington Ave, Newport

Known for their raviolis, lasagna and rigatoni, Pompilio’s is also famous in Hollywood. The 1988 film Rain Man, starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman, filmed its famous toothpick scene in the restaurant, as did the 1993 film Airborne, starring a then-unknown Jack Black. Head to Pompilio’s to enjoy some great Italian cuisine, learn a bit of film history and then play some bocce ball in the back. -KM

Readers’ Choice: Pompilio’s

Best Asian Cuisine

Wabi Sabi

$$ – 508 Madison Ave, Covington

Half price sushi, all day every day. Need we say more? A twist on a classic roll, Wabi Sabi’s Crazy Spicy California will light you up with torched crab and spicy mayo. The adventurous should be sure to try the Swipe Right with mango and salmon or the Drunken Taco roll, a creation featuring crushed Doritos and spicy sriracha. -SR

Readers’ Choice: Wabi Sabi

Best of NKU

Best Selfie Spot

Amphitheater Overlooking Loch Norse

This location, although overlooked, encompasses the best looks of campus in itself. Looking off the stage, during the fall months you have the fall colors on the trees behind you. Combined with the ivy of SOTA to backdrop you spring headshots, and the snow on the steps leading down to the stage, it’s an all season example. -JK

Readers’ Choice: Griffin Hall

Best On-Campus Dining

Steak ‘n Shake

$ – Northern Fare Food Court, Student Union

This is quite literally the reason I came to NKU. The other school I was choosing between gave their Chick-Fil-A the boot, now I am here. The staff at Steak ‘n Shake wants your food out the fastest and also prepared the best. Seasonal shakes also make this station great every season. -JK

Readers’ Choice: Steak ‘n Shake

Best On-Campus Coffee

Starbucks

$ – Northern Fare Food Court, NKU Student Union

Is there any college student who doesn’t know about Starbucks? You knew this was going to be the winner. Whether it’s a Frappuccino, a caffe latte, an iced drink or just plain black coffee, Starbucks has you covered. -KM

Readers’ Choice: Starbucks

Best View at NKU

University Suites overlooking Cincinnati skyline

The Queen City has always looked her best from the Kentucky side of the Ohio River. The overlook view from campus housing is not only breathtaking, but also a reminder that Cincinnati metro is just minutes away. -SR

Readers’ Choice: Bridge on Loch Norse

Best Campus Parking Garage

Kenton Drive Garage

This popping parking garage is so iconic, people are busting down the entrance poles just to park there. It’s in perfect reach of the majority of campus. The bridge over Kenton Drive also creates an accessibility for visitors in wheelchairs and even easier access to the Student Union, Griffin Hall and the Health Innovation Center. -JK

Readers’ Choice: University Drive Garage

Best Fun Stuff

Best Music Venue

Thompson House

24 E Third Street, Newport

Enjoy light shows down in the basement. The bar is located in the back right corner of the dance floor so you don’t have to travel far to grab a drink. Need a bit of entertainment before or after the party? Head to the pool table on the second floor. There is plenty of room for guests to jam and dance the night away in this basement venue. -JK

Readers’ Choice: TIE: Thompson House and Madison Theatre

Best Arts/Performance Venue

The Carnegie

$$$ – 1028 Scott Street, Covington

Events like Art of Food, shows like “American Idiot” and more keep crowds of discerning taste and art newcomers alike coming through The Carnegie’s doors. Converted from the historic Carnegie library in 1972, The Carnegie is the only multidisciplinary arts organization in Northern Kentucky, featuring galleries and a performance theater. -SR

Readers’ Choice: The Carnegie 

Best Bowling

LaRu Lanes

$ – 2443 Alexandria Pike, Highland Heights

Bored and looking for something to do on the weekend? Head to LaRu Lanes. On Fridays and Saturdays, after 10 p.m. until close at 2 a.m., the lights go out and the alley turns into a dazzling display of neon colors. On Sundays, you can bowl as much as you want, all day, for just $8 a person. With a deal like that, you’re guaranteed not to strike out. -KM

Readers’ Choice: LaRu Lanes

Best Shopping Mall

Crestview Hills Town Center

$$$ – 2791 Town Center Blvd, Crestview Hills

About ten minutes from NKU’s main campus, the Town Center hosts name brand retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond and DSW plus a bevy of nearby restaurants. -SR

Readers’ Choice: Crestview Hills Town Center

Best Fitness Club

Campus Recreation Center

Free for students – Kenton Drive, NKU main campus

Cardio, weight training, fitness classes and more make NKU’s state-of-the-art recreation center a no-pressure environment to get fit and have fun. Features two basketball courts, indoor sports complex, pool, sauna and more. -SR

Readers’ Choice: Campus Recreation Center

Best Liquor Store

Party Source

$-$$$ – 95 Riviera Dr, Bellevue

Party Source features a wide selection of spirits, bourbon tasting and a full beer cave. New to buying booze? The friendly staff are well-versed in wine and liquor, and they can help you make the perfect selection for any occasion. -SR

Readers’ Choice: Party Source

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