York Street restaurant exterior at night

York Street restaurant in Newport, Ky.: Inspired by History

On the corner of 8th and York Streets in Newport, Kentucky, stands a much-loved fixture of Newport’s dining scene. York Street (formerly the York Street Café) is popular with locals for its upscale American fare as well as its eclectic, charming interior.

York Street pharmacy sign

A pharmacy originally inhabited the first floor of the renovated Victorian building where the restaurant now lives; its ornamented carved-wood shelves still line York Street’s dining room, delighting customers with an array of quirky knickknacks, from a giant RCA dog to vintage typewriters to a painting of Elvis on velvet.

York Street interior

After the apothecary closed, the building housed a men’s fraternal lodge—and later a gambling joint and a speakeasy—among other fine establishments. York Street embraces this 130-year history, using much as inspiration for its food and its interior design.

York Street steak

Current owner Billy Cole describes York Street as a “love letter to our region.” His executive chef, Richard McCollum, moves the restaurant’s regional fare up a notch, using locally sourced ingredients. Steaks are a specialty—including filet mignon, New York strip, and ribeye—which are “proudly sourced from sustainable and humane Kentucky cattle farms, pasture-raised, and hand-carved to order.”

Menu at York Street

Though separated by 500 miles from the nearest ocean, York Street also has a reputation for good seafood, especially its Catch of the Day. On the evening this author dined, Chef McCollum served grilled swordfish.

For those diners with a more vegetarian palette, York Street offers a hefty veggie burger—a half-pound patty made with mushrooms, sunflower seeds, and steel-cut oats—as well as traditional spanakopita layered with spinach, feta, and phyllo dough.

York Street pastries and cakes

Have a sweet tooth? Pastry chef Sherry Baker - who's baked for the restaurant for twenty years - creates exclusive “scratch-made” seasonal sweets for York Street—including an assortment of cakes, pies, and other classic desserts—again, using locally sourced ingredients.

What to drink at York Street

York Street cocktail Penicillin

Thirsty? York Street also offers an expert wine list and creative cocktail menu. Nodding again to Newport’s history, many drinks are inspired by famous (or infamous) local personalities from back in the day. These include pharmacist George Windrig’s Penicillin (a “medically inspired elixir” of Chivas Regal, lemon, honey, and ginger)

York Street cocktail April Flowers

And exotic dancer April Flowers’ Bouquet (a “fragrant & fruity cocktail” made with Tito’s Vodka, blood orange juice, pomegranate juice, and Jasmin). All are concocted to satisfy what ails you!

Owner Billy Cole’s personal service stands out with his attention to each table during any given night. Cole has roots in the neighborhood, designated as York Street Historical District, and acted as a kid in the Stained Glass Theatre located right across 8th Street from the restaurant. He later learned the business at the establishment’s previous incarnation, the York Street Café. Cole’s love of performance comes across not only in the theatricality of the restaurant’s interiors, but also in the live music acts—mainly jazz and acoustic—he books for weekends in the bar and lounge located on York Street’s second floor.

So next time you’re in Newport, check out York Street and enjoy a slice of history along with your contemporary cuisine. Be sure to save room for dessert!

York Street cake Kentucky State Fair