I lived in Northside, Cincinnati for several years and loved it. It’s home to amazing food, creative spaces and a really unique vibe that I don’t think you’ll find elsewhere in Cincinnati. There’s so much to see in this neighborhood that I knew I needed to create a Northside Travel Guide. Whether you do a mini-staycation or you’re planning a day trip, here’s a guide to all the places to eat, drink and have fun in Northside.
Where to Have Fun in Northside
I think everything on this list is an option for fun in Northside, but needed to especially call out the place below.
Arcade Legacy: Bar Edition
We love Arcade Legacy! Arcade Legacy has tons of classic arcade games, pinball and a lounge with several classic consoles like Sega Genesis, Nintendo 64, Nintendo and Super Nintendo and more! All but a handful of the games are free (pinball, Death Ball, + Killer Queen) so it can make a cheap date spot.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors In Northside
Northside is home to several smaller parks and nearby some larger ones too.
Jacob Hoffner Park is located right on Hamilton Ave and has a large pavilion, playground and plenty of green space. It’s where you’ll find the weekly farmers market in the summer and other events throughout the year.
Jergens Park is also on Hamilton Ave and is fenced in with a small playground so it’s perfect for kids.
Parkers Woods is also located off on Hamilton Ave and Haight St. It’s connected to the Buttercup Valley Preserves. You can find both a paved and woodland trail if you’re looking to enjoy a short walk in the woods. The Buttercup Valley Preserves offers other hikes including some that are more challenging and steep for avid hikers. It’s really surprising how much Northside can offer in what seems like a small neighborhood.
Nearby, you can find Mt. Airy Forest which is popular for its dog park and disc golf courses, as well as, Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum. I know a cemetery might sound like a strange recommendation, but it’s actually a designated National Historic Landmark with over 700 acres and so much beautiful greenery, lakes, flowers and more. It’s a popular spot for runners and walkers.
Where to Eat in Northside, Cincinnati
The Kitchen Factory
One of my favorite places in Northside is The Kitchen Factory. They really embrace their own unique style from the decor, the menu and overall vibes. It’s a true Northside experience. And while the menu isn’t that big, the food is great. We typically stick with pizza and “crack and cheese” here. The crack and cheese is a vegan mac and cheese that is SO GOOD. They offer vegan pizza plus traditional meat toppings too if that’s your preference. If we ever find ourselves back in the neighborhood running errands this is one of the places we will always stop at.
Ruth’s Parkside Cafe
Ruth’s is another favorite for me. They have a great menu and great chefs. The dining is a little less casual than the others on this list. And they take reservations for parties of 5 or more. The menu is American with lean proteins, vegetarian options and plenty of vegetables in every dish. It’s healthy without feeling like you’re sacrificing on taste. I’ve also had great service every time I’ve visited.
Melt is a veggie-friendly and vegan institution in Cincinnati. This newish location has great natural lighting and feels so cozy. It’s a great vibe that matches the menu of flatbreads, wraps, salads and more goodies. I’m not vegan myself but love all the vegan options on the menu.
Bridges serves Nepalese cuisine and their goal is to introduce South Asian dishes to the Cincinnati community. And they’re doing an amazing job at it. You can do a BYO bowl here with rice and traditional meat or vegan dishes on top along with tons of sides and appetizers. The momos (Nepali flavored dumplings) are a must.
Boswell’s (Boswell Alley)
Boswell’s is like a classic neighborhood joint even if you’re not from that neighborhood. They have a casual menu with plenty of burgers, sandwiches, salads and Bos bites. And they have a nice garden patio.
It’s hard not to list every restaurant in Northside on here. There’s really something for all tastes in the neighborhood and great food at every place. If any of the above don’t intrigue you, you can find even more options listed on Yelp.
For Something Sweet… Try:
You might know Dojo from their space at Findlay Market. In Northside they offer the same delicious & unique flavors of gelato and sorbetti that’s made from scratch in small batches. You can also find some Italian style coffees.
Coffee Shops in Northside, Cincinnati
I love the friendly faces at Sidewinder. I’m not a huge coffee drinker, but every time I’ve been here the service has been friendly and the drinks have been made quickly. They also have additional seating in a back room and and outdoor space behind the building.
Collective Espresso is like a small oasis with it’s somewhat “hidden” location. The entrance is a small/short alley that takes you to the patio space and entrance to the shop. It has tons of natural light and they serve no-frills coffee with high standards.
Where to Grab a Drink in Northside
Higher Gravity opened up just before we moved out of Northside and I was so sad to lose it as a neighbor. It’s not a brewery, but has that relaxed vibe (aka not a dance bar.) It’s a bar for craft beer lovers. (Though they have wine + liquor too!). It’s a place where novices and longtime craft beer enthusiasts can sample, enjoy and learn about different craft beer with zero pretentiousness. They have iPads with all the beer information as well as experienced staff that can help you choose a drink. And the last several times I’ve been there they’ve had kombucha on tap so you can get a unique alcohol-free drink as well.
Urban Artifact is a craft brewery with a full bar and live music & entertainment. They also have a massive outdoor space that’s perfect for spending a warm summer evening on. Their taproom is in the lower level of the historic St. Patrick’s church which you can’t miss when driving by. They focus on sour and wild beers here, but you should be able to find something for any palate. I personally love sour beers and think they have some of the best. (I also wrote about them here). The Gadget is my favorite beer there – it’s a blackberry and raspberry midwest fruit tart beer. They also offer (seasonally) a pickle gose beer that I find surprisingly delightful. Just try it if you have the chance. ?
Humble Monk Brewing Co.
Humble Monk Brewing Co. is a homegrown brewery that is family operated. The brew master, Mike, has been home brewing for 30+ years and crafts their high quality beers. What sets HMBC apart is their Belgian influence which means you’ll find some unique beers here compared to other Cincinnati spots. They haven’t been open that long, but have a steady variety of events and live music so you can count on it being a fun spot to visit. The space is quite large so you can easily bring a group and play some games, throw darts, or just find a cozy spot to chat.
Second place offers plenty of bottles, cans and some fancy cocktails. They also have pool, darts, board games and free popcorn. Plus, a large outdoor space! And they’re probably the only sports bar type place we have in Northside so you can always find a game on the TVs. From personal experience, I can say the hickory smoked wings are delicious.
Where to Hear a Good Show
The below spots often have live music on weekends and in addition the above spots, are another place to grab a drink.
Northside Tavern is one of the go-to spots in Northside. They have live music, karaoke and other entertainment pretty regularly. Plus, they have two bars, an outdoor space, lots of seating and several pool tables. There’s plenty to keep entertained with here!
The Listing Loon is a much cozier spot than Northside Tavern with a smaller, typically quieter crowd if that’s your preference. They also often have some live music too with plenty of acoustic sets.
The Comet is such a fun spot with good food and good music. It’s a place to party. The kitchen is open until 1 am so you can get a few drinks and some tacos before the night ends.
Mentioned above and listing again here because they try to have a steady stream of free music with both local acts and others coming by on tour.
Where to Shop In Northside, Cincinnati
Vintage Boutiques including Casablanca Vintage, Chicken Lays an Egg and NVISION for vintage fashions, decor and more.
Shake It Records – Shake It began as a records issuer for local bands back in 1978 and has since expanded. Their Northside store carries 25k+ records on vinyl and more.
Spun Bicycles which is a full service bike shop for riders at all levels. They put an emphasis on being a welcome spot for all riders so check it out even if you’re just interested in learning more.
Happen’s Toy Lab – this is a one-of-a-kind store where kids can create toys using up cycled parts from other toys. The Toy Lab is a program of Happen’s non-profit organization and it is recommenced that you make a reservation before visiting. Proceeds go to Happen’s other free family art activities.
Events in Northside, Cincinnati That You Have to See
4th of July Parade
The 4th of July Parade in Northside should be on everyone’s Cincinnati bucket list. There’s no celebration like it. Just visit their FB page for photos to see for yourself.
North by Northside
North by Northside just started last year, but is another smaller music festival in Northside using the Jacob Hoffner Park space as well as bars in the area. It’s what Midpoint Music Festival used to be and Bunbury before that. Basically it’s a great way to discover and support local and up and coming music acts. And it’s 100% free to attend!