Where to Eat in Louisville Right Now
From pandemic shutdowns to labor shortages and supply-chain nightmares, restaurants have taken it on the chin of late. Fortunately, there were many survivors and newcomers, and now we have a chance to head back out to our favorite restaurants. They need us more than ever right now—and, let’s face it, we need them, too. Here’s a look around Louisville at some of the best eateries as you seek out your new and old favorites.
Pelicanos Mexican Kitchen
The gist: This tiny Mexican eatery in southern Indiana puts the focus on seafood, from a signature seafood tower to Mexican sushi. Oh yeah, you can also get all the tacos, burritos and quesadillas you want.
The food: It’s tough to decide where to begin once you sit down at Pelicanos and start poring over the menu. Sure, you can play it safe and get a couple chorizo tacos and some refried beans, but where’s the fun in that? Start things off with the Executive Oysters, served on the half shell and topped with shrimp ceviche. Or take it a step farther and order the Torre De Mariscos, a tower of deliciousness with layers of shrimp, octopus, tilapia, scallops, avocado, cucumber, red onion and signature sauce. Oh, and you get a couple Executive Oysters as a side.
District 6 Vietnamese Gastropub
The gist: Come for a modern spin on classic Vietnamese cuisine.
The food: Vietnamese fare meets modern dining at the hip District 6, with a large selection of small plates and shareables, noodle and curry bowls, and signature entrees like crispy fried whole fish, “drunken beef,” and baby back ribs. There’s also a full bar, a selection of teas and coffee, and killer lunch combos.
Square Cut Pizza
The gist: The pizza here is cut into squares instead of triangles, and it's a must-try—along with the charcuterie and other specialty dishes.
The food: That’s right, the name says it all and yet doesn’t. Square Cut serves up Roman-style pizza as its focal point, from classic Margherita to clam, but also has an impressive list of charcuterie, plus Italian-style starters ranging from ricotta to polenta taragna. (Be sure to check out the adjoining Sugar Room for dessert.)
Tha Drippin’ Crab
The gist: Gourmet seafood is cooked with Southern flair.
The food: Any way you can make seafood, celebrity chef Darnell Ferguson is probably doing it here. The menu offers up droolers like seafood lasagna, seafood pizza, crab legs, fried lobster tail, garlic oysters and more. And the “Drippin’” part comes with several signature sauces, or “drips,” from the Louisville Drip to Korean BBQ Drip. Wash it all down with a signature cocktail.
The gist: Everyday Kitchen serves a modern spin on farm-to-table comfort dining, from shareables to classic entrees.
The food: The menu at Chef Mike Wajda’s new concept takes one from Bourbon Bone Luge to the “Roasted Beast of the Day,” with plenty of unexpected stops in between. Set in a newly developed shared space, Everyday Kitchen can fit you with a house burger or tempt you with potato pierogi or a stuffed Golabki cabbage. And don’t sleep on the clam chowder.
502 Crab House
The gist: This is your go-to for a classic seafood boil with signature house spice options.
The food: Seafood boil chains are springing up everywhere, but 502 Crab House is a local stand-alone that won’t quit. A huge selection of starters, fried seafood baskets, po boys, and sides—and, of course, boils for days, featuring shrimp, crawfish, clams, crab legs, lobster, and more. Get extra napkins.
La Bodeguita De Mima
The gist: The Ole Restaurant Group strikes again with this wildly popular Cuban concept that features a huge rum selection, a cigar bar, and authentic Cuban cuisine.
The food: The menu features traditional Cuban dishes like Arroz con Pollo a la Chorerra, a Cuban comfort food dish consisting of big chunks of chicken and yellow rice simmered with beer, sofrito, peas, green olives, and roasted peppers. There’s a substantial apps menu (shrimp ceviche or pork tamales, anyone?), entrees, sandwiches, sides and, of course, desserts such as flan and tres leches cake.
Agave & Rye
The gist: This upscale Mexican concept has a bar focused on tequila and bourbon, funky decor, and a massive patio area.
The food: The tagline says it all: “Epic tacos.” From the Mac Daddy to the Hell Yea, there’s a mega-taco for pretty much everyone, not to mention rice bowls, tortas, apps, and more.
Pints And Union
The gist: This European-style pub with quirky decor, a loft, and a built-in library space is focused on small plates, craft cocktails, a diverse beer list, and conversation.
The food: Think pub grub with flair, with a brand new focus on Indian street food like Korma, Vindaloo, Saag, and Tika Masala, but with a few pub classics sticking around from the old menu. That’s right, you can still get your Scotch egg and that tasty smash burger, all for a reasonable price.
Matt Winn’s Steakhouse
The gist: Named for racing legend Matt Winn, this upscale steakhouse is located at historic Churchill Downs and features upscale environs and old-school service and amenities.
The food: The menu is seafood meets hearty steaks, with the option to kick off a meal with lump crab cakes, oysters on the half shell or Alaskan king crab and come into the homestretch with a 10-ounce filet or rack of lamb.
Barcelona Bistro Bar
The gist: Authentic Spanish cuisine is the cornerstone of this cozy concept by a voice-actor-turned-chef who hails from Barcelona, Spain.
The food: An array of Mediterranean tapas and entrees fill the menu, from charcuterie to paella to Spanish sausage and a fish and shrimp cake. Perfect for sharing. (Note that the menu may be limited due to the pandemic.)
That's My Dog
The gist: Basic American fare is served up in a chill, pet-friendly environment.
The food: No, this isn’t a typical ketchup-on-a-grocery-store-wiener proposition; That’s My Dog is purveyor of a dozen signature sausages plus a rotating dog of the month (example: the apple chicken dog). Staples include everything from a classic Chicago dog to The Porky, a frank topped with pork belly and house sauce. Snacks and combos are also available.
Moya’s American Kitchen
The gist: This classic American tavern and restaurant blends a cozy atmosphere with hearty food and a side of entertainment.
The food: Burgers, sandwiches, apps, and home-style entrees abound, from a meatloaf sandwich to a bourbon BBQ bacon burger, it comes wrapped in a bun or on a plate, such as a catfish dinner, beef stroganoff, or chicken and dumplings. And hey, you gotta like a place that offers tater tots.