Year in and year out, surveys of meeting and convention attendees nationwide find at least one constant: The food and beverage experience is one of the biggest factors in attendees’ satisfaction with an event.

With this in mind, planners of business conferences, faith- and social-group meetings, sports tournaments, and other big events must consider the quality of the dining options at their meeting site and throughout the host destination. And when the host destination is Northern Kentucky, planners will be delighted with all the interesting, high-quality options available to their event participants.

First, the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington has a well-regarded partner running its F&B operations: Sodexo Live! The company works with planners using the convention center to customize the menu choices and the overall experience, from pop-up stations to grab & go options to locally sourced catered menus for large banquets and galas.

For something unique, planners can also use Covington Plaza, an outdoor plaza set between the two headquarters hotels—the Marriott and the Embassy Suites—that sits on a bluff above the Ohio River. There, a variety of food trucks can pull right in and set up an international food district featuring cuisine from all over the world, with a large seating area in the center of the plaza.

People mingle at a festival. In the background are several food trucks in front of the Roebling Suspension Bridge.

Covington Plaza

Across the street diagonally from the Northern Kentucky Convention Center attendees can enjoy Honey Uninhibited, offering southern staples and southern hospitality. Owned by former Cincinnati Bengals player Carlos Dunlap, Honey Uninhibited is open M-F 10:30 am to 9:00 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 am to 9:00 pm.

Image is of inside the right side dinning room featuring table and chairs.

Honey Uninhibited

Dining Experiences in the Neighborhoods of Northern Kentucky

Roebling Point District

Throughout Covington are different dining districts, each offering a number of restaurants. The closest restaurant district to the anchor hotels and the convention center is Roebling Point, just a two-block walk away. You’ll find Smoke Justis, Blinkers Tavern (Winner of "Best Steak" in NKY for 11 years!), Governors House Wine Bar and Kitchen and Molly Malone’s there.

A dark plate sits on a dark wood table. On it is a short rib dish with pan sauce, mashed potatoes, and asparagus spears.

Blinkers Tavern

Smoke Justis is a multi-level sports bar offering smoked meats, craft beers, numerous whiskeys, games, and live music, while Blinkers Tavern is a cozy steakhouse that works best for small groups. The stately and historic Governors House Wine Bar and Kitchen is a small groups gem, while Molly Malone’s offers three stories of an authentic Irish pub and restaurant.

Just a half-block away from Roebling Point on Scott St. is a great Thai restaurant, Thai Pavilion. It's one of the newer eating spots close to the NKY Convention Center and is already a local favorite. 

The image is an exterior shot of Thai Pavilion with a flower box in the window.

Another spot that’s perfect for larger groups wanting to stay together for dinner-time is Covington Yard, which features various food outlets that use former shipping containers as their storefront, all facing a large common area offering a full bar, tables, games, and a stage for musical performances. In addition to being a fun evening meal option, Covington Yard can be rented out for private group events.

Image is of Covington Yard at night with twinkle lights above, people sitting at table and food trucks (operating out of containers) is lining the area.

Covington Yard

Madison Street District

Then there is the Madison Street district just a few blocks over in central Covington. Within just a couple of blocks you can eat some of the best pizza, southern cuisine, New Orleans dishes, Indian, Japanese, and Tex-Mex fare.

Local craft beer brewery Braxton Brewing is there too, next to local favorite Dewey’s Pizza. You can also order Dewey’s from within the brewery. On the same block is New Orleans-inspired Rich’s Proper Food and Drink. Nearby you’ll find Libby’s Southern Comfort and Agave & Rye, each with an interesting take on regional cuisine. On the same block as Rich’s is Taj Mahal, with some of the best Indian food in the area, and Maki Mono, where you can eat some of the best sushi!

Three tacos held by taco stand with a pink margarita in a skull shaped glass at Agave & Rye in Covington, Ky.

Agave & Rye

Next to Agave & Rye is one of Covington’s newest restaurants, The Well, serving fresh takes on American food, with great drinks and a spacious patio. Coppin’s Restaurant and Bar is an upscale spot inside the charming Hotel Covington, serving locally sourced new American cuisine. Nearby is a recently opened establishment called Second Story, a bohemian cocktail bar located in a renovated space with a large outdoor patio upstairs from Flying Axes.

An outdoor patio, lush with plants, offers seating. A fireplace is to the right and an area that can be used as a stage is in the background.

Coppin's at Hotel Covington

But this area’s newest restaurant is one with a truly unique view. Opal Rooftop is a intimate space with 360-degree views across Northern Kentucky and the Cincinnati skyline. For about 75 people, the indoor-outdoor venue can be fully rented out for a private reception and dinner.

People dining at Opal rooftop restaurant with a view of the Cincinnati skyline in the backgroundOpal Rooftop - Photo: Smack Talk Productions

Mainstrasse Village District

Still walkable from the headquarters hotels but also accessible via the area’s inexpensive Southbank Trolley system is the Mainstrasse Village district. Reminiscent of a German village, Mainstrasse is home to several taverns, including Strasse Haus, a friendly, relaxed establishment featuring beer garden, hearty German and American eats, and nightly live bands. Mainstrasse also offers award winning farm-to-table choices at Bouquet Restaurant; Lisse Steakhuis, with Dutch flavors and techniques and a roof area for dining and receptions, Otto’s – a neighborhood bistro, Nagomi Japanese restaurant, and if you’re interested in Mexican food you can go to Taqueria Valle Verde or Frida 602, both with outdoor seating options. All of these Mainstrasse choices are within a couple of blocks of each other.

The exterior front of Lisse Steakhuis, a 3 story black and white building. A large patio is on the top of the left part of the building.

Lisse Steakhuis

Throughout each of these Covington districts you’ll find bourbon bars, all of which have been named some of “The Best Bourbon Bars in America” according to The Bourbon Review. They are also all part of what ‘s known as The B-Line®, which is Northern Kentucky’s self-guided bourbon tour. If you go to two bourbon bars, two restaurants, and two distilleries on The B-Line you earn a free gift. Many of the stops on The B-Line have already been mentioned in this article. Such as:

Libby’s Southern Comfort

Rich’s Proper Food & Drink

Coppin’s Restaurant

Smoke Justis

Bouquet Restaurant

Lisse Steakhuis

Nestled nearby are some of The B-Line’s bourbon bars, each with a culture and ambience of its own: The Globe Covington, Wiseguy Lounge, Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar (aka OKBB), Knowledge Bar, and Revival Vintage Bottle Shop. There’s one other such venue just to the east of Covington, in Newport: Prohibition Bourbon Bar, which carries the largest selection of bourbons in the world.

Hundreds of bottles of bourbon at Prohibition Bourbon Bar in Newport, Ky.

Prohibition Bourbon Bar

Also in Newport is the Levee restaurant district, with Yelp-acclaimed spots such as Brothers Bar & Grill as well as Amador, serving Cuban cuisine. Hofbrauhaus Newport – the first Hofbrauhaus built in the U.S. – is there too, with a large indoor bier hall and outdoor biergarten for up to 300 people.

One other advantage of Northern Kentucky for event groups is its proximity to the restaurants in Cincinnati’s Riverbank district, just across the walkable Roebling Bridge or a short trolley ride (yes, the trolley goes into the city!) Notable lunch and dinner spots on the Ohio side of the river include Moerlein Lager House, Taste of Belgium, E+O Kitchen (Asian fusion), Yardhouse, and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

Multiple tables are set for a group or private dining event with white table linens and black napkins.. The windows overlook some green.

Moerlein Lager House


In short, there is no shortage of great F&B options for meeting and event groups coming to Northern Kentucky.