Stop for the Gas, Stay for the Grub
Classic Italian in a castle-like setting
Grassa Gramma -- the new high-end Italian restaurant -- is set in a shopping center, but that’s where the banality ends. Walk through the heavy, giant wooden front doors, and you'll immediately feel like you’ve stepped into a Medieval world. We’re not talking turkey legs and jousting here; the place was built with antiques and stones, from an 18th-century altar as a bar back to a stone courtyard that feels like it should be a movie set. The food is straight from an Italian grandmother’s kitchen, with plenty of pasta, wood-fired pizza, antipasti, and more.
Latin-inspired classics for brunch, lunch, and dinner
For years, this spot in Deer Park (which is surrounded by other bars and restaurants) was a brunch-centric American restaurant. The owner decided to make a switch, and the result was the Latin concept La Suerte (Spanish for “luck”). Serving brunch daily, diners can choose from Latin-inspired classics like huevos rancheros, chilaquiles and picadillo (a blend of ground beef, potatoes, carrots, jalapeños and eggs). For dinner, the menu shifts into specialties such as cochinita pibil, a slow-cooked pork dish, and steak chimichurri. At the bar, you’ll get plenty of cerveza and Latin-inspired cocktails.
An old-fashioned, neighborhood fish shack with a nautical theme
When you walk into Hooked on Frankfort, there's no question you’re in a good, old-fashioned, neighborhood fish shack. Just peer at the shark photos, under-the-sea-mural, and rope-wrapped column. It’s a no-frills, family-friendly spot with plenty of fried everything, from cod to catfish, oysters and calamari. The fried fish tacos are a favorite, but you can also dig into a po' boy, pan-seared scallops, or a clam basket. Jump into some fried frog legs or keep it a bit more healthful with blacked salmon and a side salad. Whatever the choice, wash it down with a cold beer and get your belly full on a reasonable budget.
Small digs, big flavors
Set in a shotgun house straddling the line between Germantown and the Highlands, Eatz Vietnamese Restaurant is sort of like the Millennium Falcon -- it may not look like much, but it's got it where it counts. The small, mustard-yellow building won’t hold too many diners (unless the sun is shining, and the slick deck is seating), but the menu is not only tightly packed with Vietnamese favorites like pho, banh mi, bun thit nuong and hu tieu, but everything is wallet-friendly. Diners rave about the bone-broth pho, but don’t skimp on the appetizers… we like the chicken wings coated in fish sauce.
A Downtown German beer hall with classic food
Wood columns, long communal tables, and a 65-foot bar help give The Hall on Washington the feel of a German beer hall, but the place also maintains the clean sharpness of a modern restaurant. On the menu there’s no question what’s up: It’s sausages, sauerkraut, Bavarian sides, and schnitzel. Order your best wurst, with a choice from eight styles, put in on a bun, with bread or as currywurst, then add toppings ranging from peppers and onions to Bavarian slaw. Or build your own charcuterie plate and wash it down with a liter of lager to top off the experience. Lederhosen sold separately.
Laid-back cantina with a taco bar and craft cocktails
Owner Roza Segoviano was a big fan of the street food she encountered when living in Mexico. That became the inspiration for La Catrina, a cozy cantina splashed in color and sugar skull murals. The menu isn’t especially long, but there’s plenty for everyone, from signature tacos to quesadillas, and plenty of shareable appetizers like tacos dorados and oyster shooters. At the bar, you can cool off with a house margarita, spicy michelada with house-made hot sauce, and plenty of craft cocktails. House tacos like the namesake La Catrina (with grilled shrimp, bacon, red jalapeno aioli and more) are mouth-watering, but a taco toppings bar offers plenty for you to build your own. But let's be honest, they had you at "taco bar."
Celtic fare meets barbecue in a pub-like setting
Long a popular food truck operation, Celtic Pig opened its first brick-and-mortar with a bang, a two-level restaurant and pub with a rustic feel thanks in part to Celtic-themed décor and plenty of exposed brick. The main dining area comes complete with a sitting room with a fireplace and antique décor that will make you feel like you’re hanging out in an Irish parlor. Downstairs is a Celtic pub with stained-glass bar back. The menu is filled with hearty fare like fish and chips, Irish poutine, haggis, shepherd’s pie, smoked meats and plenty more.
The perfect joint to get hands-on and fill your belly
This family-run fast-casual street joint has the feel and bright surroundings of a Qdoba, but the surprisingly big menu packs some unique, out-of-this-world flavors. Samosa chaat, hearty pav bhaji, khasta kachori chaat, and bhel are just a few options in the blend of traditional Indian and Indo-Chinese dishes available at Shreeji. Spicy mirchi bajji, which is basically a beautiful fried chili, is a sleeper that you should bite into. And be prepared for it to bite back. And don’t forget that this street food is largely meant to be eaten with your hands, so get in there.
Louisville's most elegant dining
And they don’t call it “Louisville’s most elegant dining” for nothing. The historic signature restaurant at the Brown Hotel, the English Grill may sound like it’s anglo-focused, but it’s classic American-style fine dining, with a southern twist in a setting that feels like a private club. Whether it’s a simple family dinner or one of the restaurant’s ballyhooed "Chef’s Table" experiences, the English Grill is going to fill you up with dishes like rack of lamb, verlasso salmon, and crispy skin duck, not to mention a Kentucky classic that was created at the hotel in 1926: the Hot Brown.
One of the oldest, jazziest, and most delicious restaurants in town
Originally opened in 1933, Jack Fry’s transformed from neighborhood tavern to culinary destination, evolving throughout the 1990s to win multiple awards for southern-inspired fare like the shrimp and grits, spicy oysters, and filet mignon. The restaurant remains true to its roots, with vintage photos of sports and the establishment’s original owners decorating every wall. Live jazz serenades you as you dine, and be sure to save time and room for a selection from the dessert menu. The extra calories will be worth it.
Latin flavors + southern inspired dishes = one hell of a success rate with diners
Esquire once said, “If you have time for one meal in Louisville, make it Seviche." And although that was around 8 years ago, chef Anthony Lamas is still killin' it. He marries Latin flavors with southern-inspired dishes to create a unique fusion experience that focuses on seafood but veers into many categories. From the popular crab “cigars” (you'll have to trust us) to the Tuna Old Fashioned -- made with local soy sauce, Kentucky bourbon, and pineapple -- the menu is a wonderland for the taste buds. And don’t leave without getting the legendary Avocado for dessert, with avocado ice cream, chocolate shell, and a bourbon truffle “pit.”
You want upscale Italian? You've found it.
A classic, upscale Italian restaurant that has been a dining destination for countless out-of-town celebrities, and Vincenzo’s continues to impress. The gorgeous restaurant screams fine dining, yet its approachable atmosphere welcomes everyone for a selection of some of the finest pasta and antipasti in the city. Of course, if it’s not noodles you’ve got a hankering for, Vincenzo’s serves a delicious filet mignon and a tempting scallops Rockefeller. Check out chef Agostino Gabriele’s special, five-course dinner, which includes a glass of Santa Margherita Prosecco and dessert.
The best Mexican food in Louisville
Chef Bruce Ucán grew up in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, and the food at his restaurant showcases the traditions and flavors of the region. Ucán manages to make magic out of lima beans and turns traditional dishes on their heads with creations like the delicious vegetarian burrito and chilaquiles topped with ingredients ranging from eggplant to cactus. The atmosphere is upscale yet approachable, and when it’s all said and done, it’s safe to say you’ve never experienced Latin cuisine quite like this.
If you can only eat at one Louisville restaurant, go here
Set in an old building that actually began its life as a grocery store, Butchertown Grocery is upscale restaurant downstairs with attached cocktail lounge upstairs. In the dining room, settle in at a table or booth, or reserve your spot at the chef’s table to enjoy the culinary stylings of owner/chef Bobby Benjamin, from basil-fed escargot to bouillabaisse or rack of lamb. Choose from small plates and sides for sharing or entrees for a full meal, or arrange a seven-course, family-style dinner with bourbon tastings.