The Restaurant Gods have looked kindly upon Louisville this year, gracing our fair metropolis with a whole ton of great new eateries. From New Orleanian to Japanese, from burgers to BBQ, these are the best new restaurants of 2014...
An undisputed highlight of 2014 was the opening of Gralehaus, a breakfast and lunch establishment owned and operated by the masterminds behind the Louisville Beer Store and Holy Grale. As if their brunch of biscuits with duck gravy wasn't enough, they're giving us the early holiday gift of dinner service! Menu highlights include Kentucky Cassoulet and Chicken-Fried Rabbit along with weekly themed specials like Fish Frydays and Meat & Three Saturdays.
Nola meet, The 'Ville. The 'Ville, meet Nola. Po' boys and jambalaya are now available in the Highlands, courtesy of the newly opened Roux, whose absolutely achieved goal is to transport diners to the Big Easy via food, drink, and live jazz. So grab a Sazerac to sip on and take a sensory trip to New Orleans, without ever leaving Bardstown Rd.
It's pretty much a foregone conclusion -- Grind serves up the best burger in The 'Ville. They have spent years perfecting their patty, grilling it until the edge chars to perfection in their insanely popular food truck. While Grind remains mobile, canvassing the city on a regular basis, this year's opening of their brick and mortar restaurant has solidified their place in the Louisville dining scene. An incredible edition to the oft-overlooked Preston Highway area, Grind now serves up local beer, which will pair perfectly with their signature B&B burger (go for the habanero jam -- it's worth the burn).
Yes, Atlantic No. 5 first entered the Louisville dining scene in 2013, serving up artisanal sandwiches, salads, and lattes to the Downtown 9-to-5ers -- but November brings us the newly minted 'A5' after-hours, wherein the bright white space is transformed into a dim, blue-lit restaurant serving Japanese-inspired small plates; a dining experience known as an izakaya. Trust us, there isn't anything else like this in Louisville and it is awesome. Word of advice? Order one of everything from the menu. You won't be sorry.
Wine is the name of the game at Louvino, the recently opened restaurant in the heart of the Highlands. Featuring small plates and big wines, their vino flights pair perfectly with sharable plates of Scallop Scampi and Braised Short Rib Gruyere Mac and Cheese. Due to Louvino's instant popularity, plan to arrive early to claim your table. And if you have to wait, not to worry. There's plenty of wine at the bar.
We were psyched to learn Hillbilly Tea was opening a fast-casual iteration of their successful Downtown flagship on Baxter Ave. A walk-up counter offers quick service to on-the-go patrons, while antique furniture tucked in cozy corners is available for those who choose to stick around and enjoy Bourbon BBQ Ribs and corn pone with one of Hillbilly's signature Crushed Ice Teas.
First there was Hammerheads. Then came Game. And now, for something completely different, the team behind two of Louisville's mainstays, brings us Loop 22. While the in-house rotisserie meats are at the heart of the menu, a wide array of options such as Chicken Liver Tacos and Crawfish Monica are sure to please any Louisvillian's appetite.
Cheers rang out throughout The 'Ville when Feast announced it would be traveling across the river and opening a second location in the ever-popular NuLu neighborhood. While the exact date is yet to be revealed, it will happen before year's end, and in addition to the 60-plus craft beer offerings, the expanded space will allow for private dining and pop-up dinners so that this exceedingly talented culinary crew can test out a variety of restaurant concepts they've been cultivating. We are, however, finding it hard to believe they can turn out something better than their Loaded Tots and Brisket Tacos.
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1. Gralehaus1001 Baxter Ave, Louisville
2. Roux1325 Bardstown Rd, Louisville
3. Grind Burger Kitchen829 E Market St, Louisville
4. Atlantic No. 5605 W Main St, Louisville
5. Louvino1606 Bardstown Rd, Louisville
6. Hillbilly Tea Shack960 Baxter Ave, Louisville
7. Loop 222222 Dundee Rd, Louisville
8. Feast BBQ909 E Market St, Louisville
Offering excellent brews downstairs and cozy guest rooms upstairs, cafe-meets-inn Gralehaus gives a whole new meaning to the term B&B: bed & beverage. On the ground floor, the rustic-chic cafe serves a solid selection of craft beers alongside inventive brunch dishes, while visitors can stay in three handsome, exposed-brick suites upstairs if they please. The same masterminds behind the Holy Grale, which Gralehaus sits next to inside a 1905 Victorian home, give morning favorites their own unique spin here, such as lamb sausage and grits, breakfast sandwiches on pretzel buns, and the fan-favorite black pepper biscuits smothered with duck gravy and topped with a fried egg. When it comes to beer, you can expect four rotating taps, 150 bottles, and signature beer cocktails.
Located in the Highlands, Roux brings a taste of New Orleans to The 'Ville offering staples like po' boys and jambalaya, not to mention live jazz and a bar serving quality Sazeracs.
It's no surprise that the best burger in town has a spacious and consistently packed spot in the trendy NuLu (or, "New Louisville") neighborhood. Thankfully, this location offers the usual favorites the restaurant became famous for: that brie bacon burger, the Southern burger, and the Asian pork sandwich, for example. If you’re looking to sit down, know that it’s first come, first served so you may have to wait. Though, the crowd waiting around are a pretty good indicator that it'll be worth it.
This Downtown eatery serves up artisanal sammies, lattes, and a variety of salads in a bright space, and it also features a different evening setup in which it's transformed into a dim, blue-lit restaurant serving Japanese-inspired small plates.
As the name would suggest, this chic Highlands restaurant is wine-focused, offering a variety of global wine flights, each named for a famous Louisvillian (from Muhammad Ali to Jennifer Lawrence), alongside a small-plates menu that continues the Kentucky theme with smoked Gouda hot-brown mac & cheese and fried-chicken tacos served with garlic mash, cheddar, and pepper gravy. Not to mention, there's a killer brunch with live jazz and shareable dishes like pancake tacos and stuffed French toast.
This fast-casual iteration of the original Hillbilly Tea features a walk-up counter to serve on-the-go patrons, while antique furniture tucked in cozy corners is available for those who choose to stick around for the tasty Thai fare.
Loop 22 brings classic Southern fair to Douglas Loop, specializing in all things rotisserie. The restaurant also fires up non-rotisserie dishes for its Sunday brunch, such as eggs Benedict casserole, a fried green tomato BLT, and fried chicken and waffle nachos.
This is the first Feast actually in Louisville (the first is in New Albany) and it gets the job done just like the first, with 60+ craft beers and a menu loaded with tasty 'cue. The hearty, savory food and drink (loaded tots, fried pickles, and um, BOURBON SLUSHIES) will have you coming back for more. Feast's warm and friendly vibes are just an added bonus to otherwise great barbecue fare.