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These are 9 of the best new restaurants or bars that opened in 2018

First Look: Agave & Rye blends tequila, bourbon and tacos
Posted at 12:00 AM, Dec 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-28 08:51:03-05

CINCINNATI — Greater Cincinnati's local drinking and dining scene continued to boom throughout 2018.

At last count a minimum of 65 new places either have opened or added locations since Jan. 1.

Below are nine of the best spots to dine or unwind that opened this year.

The Epic Taco made with barbecue pork belly, apple slaw, white onion and rattlesnake sauce, and the Angel's Share, made with fried egg, tater tots, maple bourbon bacon bean and more bacon.

Agave & Rye

This bourbon, tequila and taco bar opened on Feb. 8 with a mission to bring late-night dining to Covington's business district.

Agave & Rye boasts 75 different tequilas, 80-plus whiskeys and an eclectic list of tacos ranging from the basic soft-shell variety to the "Big Thumper," which is made with cayenne-rubbed kangaroo.

The restaurant has proved so popular that its owners added a private event space and opened the Crema & Co. bakery next door within a matter of months.

633 Madison Ave., Covington. www.agaveandrye.com

Tokyo Kitty's dance floor.

Tokyo Kitty

When owner Jacob Trevino opened Tokyo Kitty inside Downtown's 84.51 Building on Feb. 9, he introduced Cincinnati to its first Japanese-style karaoke bar.

"It was really inspired by the movie 'Lost in Translation,' where you have this scene where two people are really connected through music," Trevino said. "And when I lived in Houston, my friends would take me to these k-box karaoke places. We'd go there and sing our hearts out, so we wanted to bring that experience to life in Cincinnati."

The karaoke bar features a dance floor with an elevated DJ booth, a well-stocked craft cocktail bar, seven private karaoke rooms available to rent and a robotic drink delivery system concealed above the bar's ceiling.

575 Race St., Downtown. thattokyobar.com

Pan-seared salmon at S.W. Clyborne Co. Provision and Spirits in Mason. (Photo by Ross Van Pelt RVP Photography)

S.W. Clyborne Co. Provision and Spirits

S.W. Clyborne Co. Provision and Spirits, the restaurant that promised to bring an urban buzz to Mason dining, opened on April 10, serving elevated New American cuisine with a heavy emphasis on scratch-cooking.

It is the second restaurant for Scott Schmidt, the founder of Looking Glass Hospitality Group (LGHG). His first, Tahona Kitchen + Bar, opened a year ago in Summit Park in Blue Ash.

Clyborne's menu is particularly friendly to vegetarian diners and those with celiac disease.

5948 Snider Road, Mason. www.clybornes.com

Omelet with goat cheese and piquillo peppers

Sacred Beast Diner

Husband-and-wife duo Jeremy and Bridget Lieb put a twist on classic diner fares such as wedge salads, hash browns, omelets and matzo ball soup when they opened Sacred Beast on April 12 in Over-the-Rhine.

“We waited to open our restaurant,” Bridget Lieb said in August. “We were not ready for this when our kids were younger. Sometimes patience is important.”

The diner's craft cocktails, such as an Old Fashioned, martini, sidecar, Covington iced tea or Call Your Bloody Mary, are also guaranteed to give your dinner a kick.

1437 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine. www.sacredbeastdiner.com



LouVino, a Louisville-based restaurant that promises “adventurous small plates with a Southern twist,” expanded to Cincinnati when it opened on Aug. 21 in Over-the-Rhine.

Cincinnati is LouVino's fourth location; the other three are in Kentucky and Indiana.

LouVino's menu offers "classic" and "seasonal" small plates. Classics are staples that stay the same year-round and across all locations. Seasonal plates vary from one location to another and rotate every four to six weeks to reflect the local foods in season.

1142 Main St., Over-the-Rhine. www.louvino.com

Fresh colorful bagels

OTR Bagelry

After moving back to Cincinnati from Louisville in 2013, Richard Huff started baking bagels at home, and his family loved them so much they prodded him to sell them to the public.

That push, coupled with a dearth of fresh bagel shops in Cincinnati, led Huff to found OTR Bagelry in March, working out of Findlay Kitchen. Huff, wife Erin and brother Kyle Jones opened their first brick-and-mortar store in Over-the-Rhine in October.

"Baking has been a way to express my affection," Huff said. "I enjoy cooking for my wife and my family. When I'm making bagels, it's like I'm showing my affection for the neighborhood."

1401 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine. www.otrbagelry.com

Sonder Brewing

Sonder Brewing

When Sonder Brewing opened Oct. 27 in Warren County, its founders promised visitors would find more than just good craft beer on draft in its taproom.

The brewery also offers fresh eats thanks to a fully equipped kitchen operated by BrewRiver GastroPub. Sonder also features a fenced-in lawn with an oversized beer garden that is adjacent to bocce ball courts, cornhole, volleyball and fire pit areas on 6.5 acres of land near Kings Island.

"Everyone will feel welcome," said Justin Neff, one of Sonder's three co-founders.

8584 Duke Blvd., Mason. www.sonderbrewing.com

Meats offered at Station Family + BBQ include Cincinnati sausage, brisket, pulled pork and salmon with squash butter.

Station Family + BBQ

Kelly Trush and Caitlin Steininger, the sister act behind the multimedia brand Cooking With Caitlin and CWC the Restaurant, opened Family Station + BBQ, their second eatery in Wyoming, on Dec. 7.

Station Family + BBQ features "Cincinnati style" barbecue, sides and suds in the heart of the city's business district. The restaurant also features a fun, family atmosphere with multiple board games and a pingpong table for guests to play while they wait for their food.

"Truthfully, we had no intentions of getting involved in another restaurant," Trush said. "But the more we talked about it, the more we were like, 'We have to do something or at least try.' It's a love note to Wyoming."

400 Wyoming Ave., Wyoming. www.cincystation.com

Karrikin's cheese spread

Karrikin Spirits Co.

When Karrikin Spirits Co. opened Dec. 7 in Fairfax it offered beers brewed in house, cocktails made with spirits distilled on site and small plates served from its scratch kitchen.

'When we set out to do this we didn't just want to make beer or do one thing," said Jeff Hunt, one of Karrikin's co-founders. "We wanted to be a flavor house. When we hand a customer a cocktail we want to say, 'Our cola and our rum is in this drink.'"

Hunt and his business partners spent the last two and a half years planning for Karrikin, which is located in a 30,000-square-foot former industrial building.

3717 Jonlen Drive, Fairfax. www.karrikinspirits.com

Tap on the the photographs below to learn more about the new bars, breweries and restaurants that opened around Greater Cincinnati in 2018.