Located just 15 minutes north of Downtown Cincinnati lies the neighborhood of Northside. Known for being hip, alternative, and progressive, Northside is home to a variety of unique shops, coffeehouses, restaurants, bars, and breweries.
Not only does Northside offer plenty of things to do, but it’s also one of the more walkable neighborhoods in Cincinnati. This means that no matter where you are in the area, odds are you’re only a short walk away from some neat places.
Along with a list of things to do within the neighborhood, Northside is just a five minute drive to nearby Mt. Airy Forest, Buttercup Valley Preserve, and Parkers Woods Nature Preserve, which is good news for those who like to hike, jog, or spend time in nature.
And despite being home to several great restaurants, bars, and breweries, being located relatively close to downtown, and being situated near plenty of green spaces, Northside is generally much more affordable than comparable neighborhoods around the city.
For all of these reasons, it is both a great place to live and a fun place to visit.
In this post, we’ll share a guide to Northside including a brief history of how it grew into the neighborhood it is today, a list of the best bars and breweries in the area, and the best restaurants and shops to visit.
A Brief History of Northside
Northside began as a small settlement in Indian territory until the introduction of the Miami and Erie Canal in the 1820s caused the settlement to grow in population size. The area gained the named “Cumminsville” after one of the areas original settlers David Cummins. The population continued to grow with the installation of the Cincinnati, Hamilton, and Dayton railroad.
Throughout the 1800s, Cumminsville experienced an influx of immigrants from Germany who were leaving the turmoil of Europe behind. This caused the population to grow even further.
In 1873, Cumminsville was annexed by the city of Cincinnati.
Growth and prosperity continued in the area steadily through the 1920s as shops, merchants, and manufacturing sites began to pop up all over the area. It wasn’t long until Cumminsville became known as a neighborhood where Cincinnatians could escape from the city.
Following World War II, though, the automobile market took off along with the development of the highway system. People no longer had a reason to live near the place they worked and more people fled to more rural areas to live. As housing declined in the area, property values fell and business declined. By the 1960s, much of the industry that had once been around had finally left.
Once the I-74 highway was introduced that divided the neighborhood into two parts, the area changed its name to Northside and South Cumminsville. The neighborhood that is known as “Northside” today now sits, unsurprisingly, north of I-74.
Once the 1980s rolled around, Northside began to experience an uptick in population size and business growth. First time home buyers flocked to the area, attracted by low home prices. The city began to invest in improvement projects and new shops, restaurants, and bars began to open.
Today Northside is home to a thriving business environment and a rising home market. And just as it used to be a haven for those looking to escape the city, today it remains popular as a place to live relatively close to downtown while still being far enough away to feel like its own unique neighborhood.
Today the neighborhood is known as Cincinnati’s primary LGBTQ-friendly neighborhood and it has a strong LQBTQ allied presence in its annual 4th of July neighborhood parade and other community events.
Restaurants, Bars, and Breweries
Northside is home to a variety of restaurants, bars, and breweries. Here are a few of our favorites:
Littlefield: An excellent bar and kitchen known for their bourbon, whiskey, cocktails, and their simple elegant menu that offers a variety of delicious eats.
Northside Yacht Club: A bar and restaurant that offers some of the best smoked wings in the neighborhood. Known for their craft beers, craft cocktails, outdoor patio, and friendly staff, this is a great place to grab a drink and a bite to eat.
Darou Salam: A Senagalese restaurant that offers some of the best authentic West African food that you can find anywhere in the Quen City.
Tickle Pickle: A self-proclaimed “Music themed family gourmet burger and shake restaurant” that offers some of the best burgers you can find in Northside. Each of their burgers are named after rock bands, which makes their menu one of the most unique of any burger joint you’ll come across. Our personal favorites are the Rob Zomwich and the Breadzepplin.
Django Western Taco: A Mexican-themed restaurant that offers a variety of tacos and other Latin-inspired dishes in a laid back atmosphere.
Bridges: A homey, colorful restaurant that specializes in Nepali cuisine. Their menu includes a variety of delicious appetizers, entrées and deserts.
The Kitchen Factory: A charming and eclectic restaurant known for their pizza, mac ‘n cheese, meatball sub, and other American dishes. Their menu is also filled with several vegan-friendly choices.
Melt Revival: A hip cafe and restaurant that offers health-oriented sandwiches, wraps, chili macs, salads, soups, and other entrees.
The Comet: A bar and restaurant known for their burritos, quesadillas, nachos, extensive drink options, and live music/performances.
Tillie’s Lounge: A lounge that offers a full bar and a variety of sparkling cocktails. The lounge includes a start of the art video system and a music parlor with a baby grand piano under a large chandelier. With a back patio surrounded by flowers and a uniquely decorated interior, Tillie’s lounge is one of the most unique places in Northside to grab a drink and spend the evening.
Chameleon: A bar with a variety of rotating craft beers, a patio, and a pool table. They’re known for hosting live events including karaoke, DJ dance parties, and stand-up comedy nights.
Northside Tavern: A friendly neighborhood tavern that offers local brews on tap and original live music on most weekends.
Higher Gravity: Bar and bottle shop specializing in craft beer and wine. With over 500+ rotating beers, wines, and liquor, they’re virtually guaranteed to offer something for everyone.
Urban Artifact: One of Cincinnati’s most unique breweries. Housed in the historic St. Patrick’s church building, the lower level offers a taproom and a music lounge while the upper level is available for private event rentals. There’s even a beer garden in the courtyard area. They’re known for their sour and tart beers and also offer carryout in cans and bottles.
Humble Monk: A homegrown local brewery that brews high quality craft beer with a Belgian influence.
Coffee Shops, Stores, and More
Sidewinder: An independent coffee shop located in the heart of Northside. With an impressive menu of teas, coffees, espressos, and smoothies, Sidewinder has something for everyone. There is both indoor and outdoor seating, along with a resident bunny named Violet that you can pet in the courtyard. Check out our complete review of Sidewinder Coffee here.
Collective Espresso: A coffee shop that can be accessed via a back alley and one that can be easy to miss if you’re not familiar with the area. Despite being a small shop, Collective Espresso is known for having some of the highest quality coffee in Cincinnati and there courtyard is an excellent place to hang out and chill during the warmer months.
Arcade Legacy: An arcade bar with a variety of pinball games, console video games, and retro-style games along with a bar that offers some of the cheapest drinks in town.
Shake It Records: A record store located in the heart of Northside that offers an incredibly diverse selection of vinyl records, CDs, DVDs, books, and magazines.
Casablanca Vintage: A vintage clothing store that offers an impressive variety of vintage shirts, shoes, dresses, and more. Check out their Instagram page for a peek at what they have to offer.
Part of what makes Northside so great is the fact that it’s home to public green spaces within the city and it’s also just a short drive away from some of the best public parks and nature preserves in Cincinnati.
There are two parks located right in the heart of Northside:
Jacob Hoffner Park: A two-acre park located in the center of the neighborhood at Blue Rock and Hamilton Avenue. The park is home to a pavilion, a playground, several benches, trees, and large lawn spaces where community festivals are frequently held.
Jergens Park: A smaller park that is just shy of one acre in size and fenced in. The park is home to a shelter, a walking trail, and a small playground with swings.
There are also several green spaces located just a five-minute drive away from Northside:
Parker Woods & Buttercup Valley Preserve: An area that covers a combined 89 acres and is home to a variety of hiking trails.
Mt. Airy Forest: A massive park covering 1,459 total acres that includes dozens of miles of hiking trails. The park also offers one of the best disc golf courses in all of Cincinnati, an enclosed dog park, and several shelter areas that are perfect for picnics and family events.
Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum: The second largest cemetery in the U.S. and one that is designated as a National Historic Landmark. Covering over 733 total acres, the area includes a variety of lakes, trees, flowers, and natural fauna. This is an excellent place to go if you’re looking for some peace and quiet.
From its proximity to public parks and nature preserves to its list of unique bars, breweries, and restaurants, to its convenient location to highways and quick access to Downtown, Northside has a lot to offer. Whether you’re interested in moving to the area or you simply want to visit, Northside is truly a unique and fun neighborhood to check out in the Queen City.