Food & Drink

50 Things to Eat in Louisville Before You Die

Published On 08/31/2015 Published On 08/31/2015

Louisville The bad news: like a pail abuse fetishist, it's pretty much inevitable that you are going to kick the bucket. The good news: you live in Louisville, so before that happens, you're going to eat a whole lot of great food. And although eating some of the things on this list may hasten that bucket kicking, let's not forget that eating nothing at all is by far the worse option. So go with your gut, and start making your way through this list... More Stuff You Will Like

Bristol Bar & Grill

1. Green chili wontons

Bristol (address and info)   Highlands (& Other Locations)
The Bristol has been a Louisville original since 1977, the green chili wontons a beloved local favorite. Crispy wonton skins are stuffed with oozy Monterey Jack cheese and slightly spicy chilis, with the house-made guacamole served alongside acting as a welcome and tasty cooling agent.

2. Octopus

Proof on Main (address and info)   Downtown
The menu is on a quick and constant rotation at Proof, where cooking with seasonal and local ingredients is valued above all else. Only a couple of items have managed to stand the test of time, far too delicious to limit to just one season. The octopus is one of these addictive dishes, plump slices of octo served blazing hot and caramelized in a cast-iron dish, with charred pieces of Blue Dog bread offered as a vehicle for consuming this bucket list dish.

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Courtesy of Kriech-Higdon Photography

3. Tok-sel lima beans

Mayan Cafe (address and info)   NuLu
Chef Bruce Ucán has given Louisville the gift of authentic Mayan flavors and was one of the very first in the city to teach us the value of supporting local farmers. A man with such wisdom also knows it’s important to eat your veggies, even those of childhood nightmares, like the lima bean. Chef Ucán works his magic with these legumes, tossing them with ground pumpkin seeds, parsley, and green onions to create his delectable signature dish, tok-sel lima beans.

4. Loaded tots

Feast BBQ (address and info)   NuLu & New Albany (in Southern Indiana)
Chef and owner Ryan Rogers speaks to the very heart of our soul with his loaded tots. I mean, who doesn’t love tater tots? Top them with killer slow-cooked meat, some of the best slaw in town, and a spicy house BBQ sauce and there is simply nothing better. This is comfort food at its finest.

Courtesy of The Brown Hotel

5. Hot Brown

The Brown (address and info)   Downtown
Often referred to as a heart attack on a plate, the Hot Brown is an indulgence, to say the least. Crispy toast is topped with sliced turkey, tomatoes, and a rich, creamy Parmesan-spiked mornay sauce. Baked until bubbly, slices of bacon are added as a final garnish to this over-the-top favorite.

6. Beer cheese

Eiderdown (address and info)   Germantown
We Kentuckians love our beer cheese and the good people of Eiderdown are no exception. The flavors rotate regularly, combining craft brews with various cheeses like saison and cheddar or Bell’s Oarsman Ale and smoked Gouda. It's served with our favorite Blue Dog baguette, but we highly recommend paying $2 for the pretzel sticks, it’s an upgrade you won’t regret.

Lindsey McClave/Thrillist

7. Queso fundido

El Camino (address and info)   Highlands
El Camino takes cheese dip to new heights with its queso fundido, combining beer-braised mushrooms and poblano peppers with a mess of melted Monterey Jack and spicy chorizo. Warm corn tortillas are provided for easy dipping. Best enjoyed on the patio with a cool Mai Tai.

8. Toast and eggs

Toast (address and info)   NuLu & New Albany (in Southern Indiana)
Toast on Market was one of the first restaurants to claim a stake in the now insanely popular East Market District. Offering all the classic breakfast and lunch favorites, the toast and eggs is one of the simplest dishes that keeps us coming back. Noted as the "Staff’s Favorite," two yeasty slices of brioche are blanketed with eggs fried to your liking and drizzled with a signature harissa hot sauce.

Lindsey McClave/Thrillist

9. K8 (hu tieu saté)

Vietnam Kitchen (address and info)   Iroquios
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more authentic Louisville dining establishment than Vietnam Kitchen, which has been an essential Louisville restaurant for over 20 years. The menu has much to offer but we can’t seem to pull ourselves away from K8, the hu tieu saté, a piping-hot bowl of spicy rice noodles and saté sauce with broccoli, bean sprouts, and lemongrass.

10. Avocado wrap

Zäd Modern Mediterranean (address and info) Highlands
We come to Zäd for the hummus and stay for the avocado wrap, a vegan-friendly mix of avocado, black beans, tofu, and portobello mushrooms tucked in a large tortilla and warmed on a panini press. It’s surprisingly hearty, no meat required.

Shelby Lattis/Thrillist

11. Bison enchiladas

El Mundo (address and info)   Clifton
We adore our bison in Kentucky and are lucky to have so many chefs who embrace this lean, locally raised meat. The folks at El Mundo love it so much that it's a standard filling for any and all of the made-from-scratch Mexican offerings. We particularly enjoy bison in our El Mundo enchiladas, offering a flavorful twist on this favorite dish, which is smothered in house-made mole poblano.

12. Octopus bacon

Milkwood (address and info)   Downtown
Chef Edward Lee opened Milkwood using his Korean roots and passion for the South as inspiration, resulting in a menu that is fantastically unique and packed with flavors new and old. A highlight is the octopus bacon, perfectly tender slices of octopus layered atop smashed potatoes and garnished with jalapeño purée, sour cream, and Kalamata olives. It doesn’t sound like it works but trust us... it does.

13. Injera bread

Queen of Sheba (address and info)   Bowman
We can’t get enough of the traditional Ethiopian fare on offer at Queen of Sheba. Whether it’s the kik wot or the doro tips, we’re just glad there is plenty of the house-made injera bread available for scooping up this spicy and highly addictive cuisine.

Courtesy of Jessica Fey

14. Bacon on a stick

Against the Grain (address and info)   Downtown
The name says it all. The only thing better is the beer.

15. The Big Wick

Wick’s Pizza (address and info)   Highlands (& Other Locations)
The Big Wick is unapologetically huge, a thick blanket of melty mozzarella set over a cornucopia of finely diced toppings including tomatoes, onions, Italian sausage, beef, pepperoni, green olives, black olives, mushrooms, and green peppers.

16. Hue

Roots (address and info)   Highland
This slightly spicy bowl of noodles and tofu dancing in hot broth is just what you need when you’re sick/hungover/cold/happy/sad... well, you get the idea.

Courtesy of Jolea Brown Andersen

17. B&B burger

Grind (address and info)
  Currently Preston Highway, soon to move to NuLu
Just when we thought NuLu couldn’t get any better Grind announces that it’s moving Downtown with its addictive B&B burger in tow, making the East Market District just a little bit cooler.

18. Brown Derby

Dairy Kastle (address and info)   Germantown
It’s been a favorite for over 35 years and what’s not to love? A classic cake cone swirled to unnatural heights with ice-cold vanilla soft-serve and then dunked into a warm chocolate bath, appearing again wearing a solid chocolate shell. It’s a summer staple and we wouldn’t order it any other way.

19. Moules

Bistro Le Relais (address and info)   Bowman
Steamed until just cooked through in a bath of shallots and white wine, this classic French restaurant serves this classic French dish just as God intended, with a side of crispy pomme frites.

Courtesy of Jesse Hendrix-Inman

20. Brisket tacos

Doc Crows (address and info)   Downtown
Located at 2nd and Main, right beside the YUM! Center, you’ll be hard-pressed to snag a seat at this Southern smokehouse and raw bar on event nights. The brisket tacos are well worth the wait, and the fried jalapeños add both spice and crunch to this tasty pre-game snack.

21. Egg toast

Rye on Market (address and info)   NuLu
It’s the simple things in life, right? Rye pulls at our nostalgic heartstrings, always offering a variation of thick-cut toast topped with a variety of clever garnishes. It’s a must-order, especially when you throw a straight-up expertly soft-boiled egg on top. Dig in and let the yolk run free, friends.

22. Pot de creme

211 Clover (address and info)   St. Matthews
Have you had pot de creme before? How about dark chocolate pot de creme? Go to 211 Clover NOW. You’re welcome.

Courtesy of Wiltshire Pantry

23. Cheese & charcuterie board

Wiltshire on Market (address and info)   NuLu
It seems as if every restaurant in town has a cheese and charcuterie board on offer; they may as well stop trying or accept their second place medal. No single cheese and charcuterie board holds a candle to the elegance and decadence of Wiltshire on Market’s offering.

24. Butter croissant

Wiltshire Bakery & Cafe (address and info)   Highlands
The freshly baked pastries, cookies, quiches, and cakes on display at Wiltshire Bakery & Cafe are such a feast for the eyes that selecting your treat feels like an impossible task. It would be easy to overlook the seemingly simple butter croissant, a standard offering at any bakery worth its salt. This isn’t any run-of-the-mill croissant, however. It is a feat of butter-laden, abundantly flakey goodness, and one that should not go without celebrating.

25. Guacamole

Mojito (address and info) / Havana Rumba (address and info)
Various locations
Everyone has their favorite guacamole in town. This is ours.

Flickr/Edsel Little

26. Buttermilk fried chicken

Harvest (address and info)   NuLu
With 80% of the ingredients used on every plate sourced from purveyors within a 100-mile radius, there’s a lot to feel good about when you’re dining at Harvest. It has embraced what it means to eat local and has peppered its menu with classic Southern favorites, like the buttermilk fried chicken, easily one of the most irresistible birds in town. The fact that it’s served with a drunken pork biscuit hoecake and smoked peppercorn gravy is simply icing on the proverbial cake.

27. Crunch Munch roll

Sapporo (address and info)   Highlands
Sapporo is a Highlands hotspot, with crowds lining up and willing to wait for the hand-rolled sushi or for a spot at one of the hibachi tables. We’re partial to any sushi roll with texture and the name of the Crunch Munch roll says it all, crispy panko taking the shrimp and crab up a notch.

28. Spicy tuna sandwich

Blue Dog (address and info)   Crescent Hill
This is not your typical tuna melt. Think fresh avocado, mozzarella cheese, and chunks of heat-infused tuna sandwiched in between the best bread in the world. You’ll never look at tuna the same way again, we promise you.

Please & Thank You

29. Chocolate chip cookie

Please & Thank You (address and info)   NuLu
It’s the best chocolate chip cookie in town, plain and simple.

30. Grippo's fries

Hammerheads (address and info)   Germantown
Typically reserved to spice up potato chips, Hammerheads showers its duck-fat fries with this sweet-and-spicy BBQ seasoning. Servings are rich and plentiful, ideal for sharing and as a side dish for the PBLT (pork belly, lettuce, and tomato) sandwich you are sure to order.

Courtesy of Kate Lyons with Cellar Door Chocolates

31. Sea salt caramel

Cellar Door Chocolates (address and info)   Butchertown, St. Matthews, and online
Whoever thought to combine chocolate, caramel, and sea salt should be deemed a saint. To find this other-worldly confection in it’s most perfect form look no further than Cellar Door Chocolates, which takes things up a step further, foregoing the everyday sea salt and instead sprinkling its chocolate-caramel treats with bourbon barrel-smoked sea salt, adding another dimension of deliciousness.

Josh Johnson/Thrillist

32. Fried chicken

Shirley Mae’s (address and info)   Smoketown
Shirley Mae’s has been serving Louisville soul food classics for over 25 years, turning out slices of hot water cornbread alongside its beloved fried chicken day after day in Smoketown. This is a special find in Louisville with a history all its own. The walls are lined with photos of previous guests, some quite famous, all of whom made the trip to Shirley Mae’s in search of the very best in fried chicken and home-cooked goodness.

Courtesy of Corbett's

33. Dean’s Perfect Nachos

Corbett’s (address and info)   East End
Named for the head chef and owner, these nachos are indeed worthy of the term "perfect." Individual tortilla chips are layered with each and every beloved nacho topping, ensuring that every bite is full of flavor and, well, perfect.

34. Tuna "Old Fashioned" seviche

Seviche (address and info)   Highlands
Anthony Lamas knows his way around a piece of fish and his unique and sustainable treatment of this gift from the ocean has won him critical acclaim both locally and nationally. Given the name, it is no surprise that his creative seviche offerings are highest in demand and the tuna "old fashioned" is a menu staple, boasting perfectly sliced cubes of tuna marinated in bourbon barrel-aged soy and straight bourbon and tossed with tropical chunks of pineapple.

Muth's Candies

35. Modjeskas

Muth’s (address and info)   NuLu
When people think of Kentucky and candy, the bourbon ball generally is the first confection to come to mind. While you will find an ample supply of homemade bourbon balls at Muth’s, it is the Modjeskas that we covet. Created in Louisville in the late 1800s, the Modjeska is crafted by dipping a plump marshmallow in warm and silky caramel, creating a scrumptious and chewy shell. You’ll see this candy in large supply come Derby time but there is no need to wait, Modjeskas are available year-round at Muth’s.

Courtesy of Michelle Eigenheer

36. Farmer’s beef

Joy Luck (address and info)   Highlands
This dish is not for the spice adverse. In fact, it is almost impossibly hot... almost. The flavors of this sautéed medley of beef and peppers are so intense, so full of umami that we find it well worth the burn. Just be sure to cut to the chase and ask your server to leave the water pitcher at your table and to bring a refill in about 10... you’ll need it.

37. Chorizo taco

Holy Molé Food Truck (address and info)   Various locations
You won’t go wrong with any Holy Molé offerings, but please don’t miss out on the chorizo taco, we beg of you. Often made with locally sourced grass-fed beef from Foxhollow Farm, this taco is everything street food should be: flavorful, easy to eat by hand, and perfect before/during/after a night of bar hopping.

Lindsey McClave/Thrillist

38. Bacon maple donut

Nord’s (address and info)   Schnitzelburg
How do you make a donut better? Cover it in maple icing and top it with bacon. Thank you, Nord’s, for this revelation. We are forever indebted to you.

39. Fried fish

Mike Linnig’s (address and info)   Cane Run Road
It’s hard to believe that Mike Linnig’s has been frying up fresh fish, shrimp, frog legs, and oysters for 90 years. Located just off the river and easily accessible via the Louisville Loop, the menu can be overwhelming, but we recommend keeping it classic and ordering Mike’s Famous Fish Plate, which comes with two hand-breaded fried filets, French fries, coleslaw, and plenty of the house-made tartar sauce.

40. Simply Southern ice cream

Comfy Cow (address and info)   Old Louisville (& Other Locations)
Butter pecan ice cream + pecan pie + chocolate chips + bourbon. It’s Kentucky’s sweetest flavors served ice cream-style. We couldn’t ask for more.

Courtesy of Dan Davidsaver

41. Tomato dill soup

The Café (address and info)   Downtown
Some people will spend a lifetime trying to perfect certain classic dishes like tomato soup. We think they’ve done it at The Café, where the recipe for creamy tomato dill is a closely guarded secret.

42. Shrimp & lettuce roll

Café Mimosa (address and info)   Highlands
Who would have thought that our favorite dish on Café Mimosa’s lengthy, cross-cultural, Chinese-Japanese-Vietnamese menu would be so healthy? Steamed shrimp and poached chicken are layered amongst vermicelli noodles and fresh lettuce and then rolled up tight in rice paper. Served chilled, these rolls come with peanut sauce for dipping (perhaps the best part).

Courtesy of Mickie Winters

43. Waverly pizza

Coal’s (address and info)   St. Matthews
Coal’s house-made pizza dough is truly something special and the Waverly pizza is what dreams are made of. Prosciutto and fig jam are paired up with a trio of cheeses (think Asiago, mozzarella, and Gorgonzola) and it's cooked in a blistering 1,000-degree oven until bubbly and just on the edge of charred. A drizzle of balsamic reduction and shower of shaved Parmesan take it over the edge.

Courtesy of Garage Bar

44. Sweet corn pizza

Garage Bar (address and info)   NuLu
It only comes around once a year, folks! Don’t miss sweet corn pizza season at Garage Bar; the time for cream, garlic bacon, and sweet, sweet corn to mingle on Garage Bar’s coveted pizza crust will be over before you know it.

45. Fish & chips

Irish Rover (address and info)   Clifton
The Irish know how to do pub fare right and the Irish Rover is no exception. It’s the traditional fish and chips that we’re after, a large filet of cod fried until extra crispy and served with a mountain of fries, err chips, and plenty of vinegar and tartar sauce.

Courtesy of Charim

46. Hot stone bibimbap

Charim (address and info)   St. Matthews
We’re pretty much in love with everything on Charim’s traditional Korean menu but it’s the hot stone bibimbap that ultimately has our heart. As the name suggests, a flaming-hot stone bowl is filled with fluffy rice, an assortment of veggies, and, most importantly, an egg yolk. The rice toasts along the edge of the bowl while you break the yolk, creating a wonderful sauce and bringing the entire dish into perfect harmony. The various condiments served alongside are a final flourish to one of our favorite dishes in the city.

47. Warm Brie salad

Jack Fry’s (address and info)   Highlands
It’s a generous slice of Brie layered over locally grown Kentucky bibb and melted into a luxurious mess. Add toasted almonds and basil-Dijon vinaigrette to the incomparable surroundings of Jack Fry’s and you have a perfect Louisville, Kentucky, salad experience.

48. Crispy imperial rolls

Basa (address and info)   Clifton
We love just about everything the Ton brothers do, especially when it comes to their inspired creations at Basa in Clifton. The imperial rolls are our go-to starter, an addictive combination of shrimp, pork, glass noodles, and wood ear mushrooms enveloped in a crispy shell and fried, ready for dipping in a house-made chili and garlic sauce.

Courtesy of Jolea Brown @ Creative Photography

49. Red potato salad

Mark’s Feed Store (address and info)   Middletown (& Other Locations) 
Sometimes, when it comes to BBQ, it’s all about the sides, and Mark’s Feed Store has mastered the art of a good potato salad. Made with large chunks of skin-on red potatoes, Mark’s adds hard-boiled egg, celery, and green onion to the mix, tossing everything in a rich vinegar-laced mayonnaise dressing. It’s BBQ’s best friend, and we can taste why.

50. Sweet potato fries

Village Anchor (address and info)   Anchorage
The Village Anchor is easily the most in-demand restaurant in Anchorage, turning out its unique take on Southern-inspired fare on a nightly basis. It’s the sweet potato fries that we love, which are unabashedly seasoned with vanilla brown sugar and rosemary salt and then smothered with marshmallow creme. Not enough? This appetizer comes with bourbon BBQ sauce for dipping. Just the kind of over the top we love.

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1. Proof on Main 702 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202 (Downtown)

Located in The 21c Museum Hotel Louisville, a boutique hotel and art museum, Proof on Main serves up gourmet meals from Chef Levon Wallace, including a unique and scrumptious burger made out of bison and topped with a Jezebel sauce that gives it a fruity, earthy flavor, plus Tillamook cheddar and applewood-smoked bacon. You'll want to throw in a side of the crispy cauliflower, and top it all off with the s'mores dessert. This trendy spot houses the Proof Bar, too, which offers an enormous bourbon list (we're talking upwards of 50 varieties).

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2. Mayan Café 813 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40206 (Nulu)

Chef Bruce Ucán heads up Mayan Cafe, a beloved veteran restaurant in NuLu, infusing the traditional flavors of his Yucatan heritage into every beautiful plate on the menu -- from the signature tok-sel lima beans to the Mayan Burger, a grass-fed beef patty topped with chili aioli, greens, pickled onions, mozzarella cheese, and tomatoes, and (best of all) served on a warm pretzel bun.

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3. Feast BBQ 909 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40206 (Nulu)

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.

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4. The Brown Hotel 335 W Broadway, Louisville, KY 40202 (Downtown)

Louisville’s iconic sandwich, the Hot Brown, had its cheesy, glorious birth back in the ‘20s at The Brown Hotel, when Chef Fred K. Schmidt created the turkey-bacon-Mornay sandwich as a midnight snack for hotel patrons. Check out the glamorous Lobby Bar, which has a wide variety of bourbon and serves up excellent cocktails. Sip on the bar’s classic Mint Julep as you make yourself at home on one of the brocade silk couches, all while the hotel pianist performs for you.

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5. Eiderdown 983 Goss Ave, Louisville, KY 40217 (Germantown)

Located in Germantown, this American resto and sandwich spot features a number of non-traditional treats, from its duck fat popcorn to its beer cheese that's served warm like a fondue with Blue Dog bread.

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6. El Camino 1314 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40204 (Highlands)

Tequila might never be the most popular spirit in The 'Ville, but El Camino is certainly making it a runner-up. The drink menu here is “artisan Tiki” offering both twists on traditional options like a Mai Tai or a daiquiri, and more traditional libations like bowls of punch that you should definitely not try to drink by yourself. And whoever said honky-tonks don't deliver on food hasn't checked out El Camino's list of Mexican eats, which includes savory creations like grilled petite filete with cotija, and a pan roasted salmon with grilled pear.

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7. Toast on Market 620 East Market St, Louisville, IN 47130 (Nulu)

Wedged into Market Street, Toast is a casual breakfast-and-lunch eatery that's become a crowd-favorite brunch spot in NuLu thanks to its famous lemon soufflé pancakes, which come served with vanilla custard and berry compote, and taste even better with a side of hash brown casserole. Not to mention, there's a solid list of mimosas that should not be overlooked, including mint julep, passionfruit, and mango variations. This friendly spot has plenty of sandwiches, grilled cheeses (go for the spicy chipotle to give your favorite comfort food some heat), and salads for lunch, too.

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8. Vietnam Kitchen 5339 Mitscher Ave, Louisville, KY 40214 (Iroquois)

Tucked in between a laundromat and a dive bar in Louisville's Iroquois neighborhood lies Vietnam Kitchen, a true hidden gem. Within its four bright, baby-blue walls, you'll find ample seating that's constantly full of diners looking to try authentic Vietnamese cuisine like the ever-popular Hủ tiếu Saté, a spicy rice noodle with sate sauce, bean sprouts, broccoli, peanuts, and lemon grass, with your choice of beef, chicken, or pork.

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9. ZÄD 1616 Grinstead Dr, Louisville, KY 40204 (Highlands)

This casual Mediterranean spot is an all around crowd pleaser. Favorites like the Greek salad, baba ghanoush, and gyros are in ample supply along with Mediterranean tacos and our favorite, the avocado wrap.

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10. El Mundo 2345 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40206 (Crescent Hill)

Known for the strength of their margaritas and their addictive Mexican cuisine, this Crescent Hill resto features a quirky ambience and a back patio for dining in pleasant weather.

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11. MilkWood 316 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202 (Downtown)

MilkWood, Downtown’s Actors Theater restaurant, is Top Chef alum Edward Lee's ode to Southern fare and the Asian spice pantry in a flavor-forward dining experience. With hybrid ingredients like gochujang butter and green apple-ginger zest, and dishes like Korean Griddle Buns, Mushroom and Grits, Collards and Kimchi, and Togarashi Cheesecake, the cuisine is elegant, elevated, and rooted in culture. The down-home favorites have prevalent Asian influence, but neither is compromised in their marriage. To reiterate the importance of flavor to guests, the cocktail menu is laid out by beverage type, and how it will play on the palate -- wine, beer, and cocktails alike.

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12. Queen of Sheba 2804 Taylorsville Rd, Louisville, KY 40205

Two things are certain at Kingsley's Queen of Sheba -- you're probably going to share, and you're probably going to get your hands a little dirty. Sticking to it's traditional Ethiopian roots, this restaurant serves its specializes in large stews and thick soups, all eaten by an entire table of diners armed with flaps of flatbread they'll hungrily dip into the pot like a kid scooping jelly beans in a candy store. The long marination process makes for hearty and bold flavor that culminates in house staples like beef-based Gored-Gored and Lega Sega with other meat and veggie offerings.

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13. Against The Grain Brewery 401 E Main St, Louisville, KY 40202 (Downtown)

Damn good beer and damn good barbeque are the hallmarks of downtown Louisville staple Against the Grain, located right at the famous Louisville Slugger field. Since opening their doors, the creative brewing team at Against the Grain have created over 100 unique beers that are so good they've evolved from local brewery to national beer distributor. With a full range of beer types, from light session ales to hop-full IPAs and smoky stouts, Against the Grain has a beer for every drinker. And if you don't drink, then chow down on their house-smoked barbeque, with favorites like brisket and pulled pork sitting alongside vegetarian options, like a signature chickpea sloppy joe, more adventuresome than just another salad.

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14. Roots 1216 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40204 (Highlands)

This vegetarian menu is comprised of small plates designed for sharing and sampling. We're fond of the forbidden rice risotto, cooked slowly with baby spinach, black cherries, goat cheese, and candied walnuts. Don't forget to check out the impressive tea menu as well.

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15. Grind Burger Kitchen 829 E Market St, Louisville, KY

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.

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16. Dairy Kastle 575 Eastern Pkwy, Louisville, KY 40217 (Germantown)

The small outdoor seating area at Dairy Kastle is always overflowing with people enjoying sweet treats like Orange Cows (orange sherbet with vanilla ice cream and sprite). They also serve hot dogs, brats, nachos, and BBQ pork.

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17. Bistro Le Relais 2817 Taylorsville Rd, Louisville, KY 40205 (Highlands)

Once a fancier French, high-ticket spot with a view, the current Le Relais maintains steak even at a more affordable, oh-so-bistro level: you can get steak tartare as a starter, or spend three times as much on some prime beef. It’s a date spot, the food’s tasty, and the view is unique.

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18. Doc Crow's Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar 127 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202 (Downtown)

Located on the famous Whiskey Row, Doc Crow’s serves down-home Southern fare that celebrates both coastal and barbecue cuisines and focuses on bourbon in its beverage program. Starters include fried oysters, smokehouse mussels, and beef brisket tacos, while mains include baby-back ribs, blackened tilapia, and fried pork chops. Choose your poison from the drink menu’s anthology of whiskeys or imbibe a classic, like an old fashioned or mint julep lemonade.

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19. 211 Clover Lane Restaurant 211 Clover Ln, Louisville, KY 40207-2754 (St Matthews)

This refined restaurant encourages reservations, and discourages the use of cellphones in their dining room. The menu combines French and Italian techniques and flavors to create a continental menu with dishes for anyone.

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20. Wiltshire On Market 636 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40202 (Nulu)

The menu at Wiltshire On Market changes by the week, and has an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients. Plus, the cheese and charcuterie board may be THE BEST in the city.

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21. Wiltshire Pantry Bakery and Cafe 901 Barret Ave, Louisville, KY 40204 (Highlands)

After they found success selling their goods at farmers markets, Wiltshire Pantry decided to open this retail bakery in Highlands. They serve a full range of breakfast pastry, lunch sandwiches, and breads -- including one of the best croissants this side of the Atlantic.

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22. Mojito Tapas Restaurant 2231 Holiday Manor Ctr, Louisville, KY 40222

This tapas bar and restaurant is a local (and not so local) favorite, with unique and well made dishes. They offer cheese & cured meat plates, Catalan flatbreads, cold & hot tapas, tacos, and their own take on queso dip.

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23. Harvest 624 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40202 (Nulu)

You know you're in for a fresh meal at Harvest, because the walls are adorned with large photos of the various Kentucky farmers who grow and raise the ingredients you’ll find on your plate. The team here knows a thing or two about fried chicken, crafting a buttermilk-soaked, battered, and fried breast and thigh served over a savory hoecake, drizzled with creamy gravy and topped with spicy greens. It’s heaven on a plate. And if you're not in the mood for chicken, they also have one of the best burgers in Louisville: a local beef patty topped with tomato jam, triple-cream brie, and lettuce on an addictive pretzel bun.

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24. Sapporo Sushi & Sake 1706 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40205 (Highlands)

This Japanese hot spot has crowds willing to wait for handrolled sushi or for a spot at one of their hibachi tables. We're partial to the the Crunch Munch roll in which crispy panko takes shrimp and crab up a notch.

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25. Blue Dog Bakery & Cafe 2868 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40206 (Crescent Hill)

Most restaurants in Louisville are serving Blue Dog bread, and this is the original spot. But why go somewhere else when they have their own cafe in house? Stop in for brunch or lunch, it won't disappoint.

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26. Please & Thank You 800 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40206 (Nulu)

Please & Thank You is a hip small-batch bakery, coffee house, and record store in one, meaning you can stop by to sip a latte while listening to vinyl tunes and biting into its famously decadent chocolate chip cookies. Though it's not your typical brunch spot, Please & Thank You also offers some excellent breakfast fare at the counter, including a range of bagels (add some color to your morning with the Rebel, an every-seed bagel with cream cheese and rainbow sprinkles) and incredible egg sliders anointed with habanero on brioche buns.

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27. Hammerheads 921 Swan St, Louisville, KY 40204

This uber-casual Paristown restaurant set inside a residence is classic American comfort food delivered in a relaxed and friendly neighborhood venue. Think Southern barbeque meets American burger joint and you've grasped Hammerheads, where racks of ribs sit right next to sliders and crab cakes. Seating is first come, first served at this corner eatery, but there's room enough for the whole crowd. Don't go to this Louisville spot if you're looking for a cocktail night, though—they only serve beer and wine.

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28. Shirley Mae’s Café 802 S Clay St, Louisville, KY 40203

Located in Smoketown, Shirley Mae's is down home cooking at its finest. Everything is made by hand daily and if you want some of the best fried chicken in town, you gotta order it here.

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29. Corbett's 5050 Norton Healthcare Blvd, Louisville, KY 40241

At this fine dining establishment, you will find the best nachos in the city. Named for the Head Chef and owner, they are worthy their name, Dean's Perfect Nachos, with everything else on the menu on par as well.

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30. Seviche Restaurant 1538 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40205 (Highlands)

The distinct latin menu at this restaurant changes seasonally, but the high-quality is maintained thanks to James Beard: Southeast finalist chef Anthony Lamas. His famous "avocado" dessert is made with avocado ice cream, dulce de leche chocolate, a bourbon pit, and coffee pine nut soil.

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31. The Joy Luck 1285 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40204 (Highlands)

This Taiwanese resto in the Highlands quietly opened in 2013, but really gained steam a year after once people caught word of their delectable soup dumplings and other fantastic noodle and meat dishes.

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32. Muth's Candies 630 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40202 (Nulu)

While you will find an ample supply of Kentucky's famous homemade bourbon balls at this candy shop, it is the Modjescas that we covet: created by dipping a plump marshmallow into warm and silky caramel, it has a scrumptious and chewy shell.

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33. Nord's Bakery 2118 S Preston St, Louisville, KY 40217

Do yourself and everyone else in your social circles a favor and opt for the maple bacon long john and a pretzel donut, which is a midwest specialty that tastes nothing like those things that make the cast of Seinfeld thirsty.

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34. Mike Linnig's Restaurant 9308 Cane Run Rd, Louisville, KY 40258

Located just off the river, Mike Linnig’s has been frying up fresh fish, shrimp, frog legs and oysters for over 90 years. Keep it classic and order Mike’s Famous Fish Plate, with two hand-breaded fried filets, french fries, cole slaw, and plenty of the house-made tartar sauce.

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35. The Cafe 712 Brent St, Louisville, KY 40204 (Downtown)

The Southern flavors at this Downtown spot extends across breakfast and lunch, where they're serving dishes like The Southern Grits Scramble, tomato soup, melts & sandwiches, and salads.

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36. Cafe Mimosa 1543 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40205 (Highlands)

This cafe's menu is a blend of Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese cooking styles and dishes, which is part of why it is so insanely long. And the wonder doesn't stop there: they also deliver.

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37. Coals Artisan Pizza 3730 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40207 (St Matthews)

Coals is a casual Italian eatery with a long menu of specialty pizzas, aptly named for Louisville neighborhoods and each topped with a union of fresh ingredients, thoughtfully depicting the character of each part of the city. Its 900-degree oven turns the incredibly fickle, painstakingly crafted, high-moisture dough into thick, crisp, charred bases. It was the first to deliver coal-fired pizza to Kentucky, and in addition to this St. Matthews location, there’s a second brick-and-mortar in East Louisville.

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38. Garage Bar 700 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40202 (Nulu)

Especially in the warmer months, this renovated garage in the trendy NuLu area is a must-visit. Glowing ping pong tables, Astroturf-covered places to perch, and a consistently ultra-hip crowd make this bar the go-to destination for sticky, hot nights in The ‘Ville. Garage Bar uses local veggies and cured meats to top its pizzas, which bake in a blistering wood-fired brick oven. Be sure to order a tasting platter from the ham bar (yes, it has a bar dedicated to ham) to pair with your pie. It’s got a pretty extensive beer list, too.

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39. Irish Rover 2319 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40206 (Clifton)

True Guinness is imported straight from Dublin to the bar at the Irish Rover, where County Clare born owner Michael Reidy aims to recreate the experience of Ireland's pubs. For over 20 years he has run the spot, and serves authentic dishes like lamb stuffed cabbage, bangers & mash, Guinness beef stew, cottage pie, and killer fish & chips.

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40. Charim Korean Restaurant 4123 Oechsli Ave, Louisville, KY 40207 (St Matthews)

Three words: Hot stone Bibimbap. It's the signature dish at Charim, Louisville's favorite Korean joint hidden away in a Richlawn strip mall. Its contents (one choice of meat with rice, vegetables, and sauce in a hot stone bowl) are self-explanatory, but that doesn't make it any less flavorful. Veterans of this spot will at times opt to venture out into the bulgogi bowls, colorful creations of noodles, veggies, meats, and a fried egg, all separated to satiate the organizational freak in all of us.

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41. Jack Fry's 1007 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40204 (Highlands)

Established in 1933, Jack Fry's has been a long-standing staple of the Louisville fine-dining scene. This Highlands resto features Southern flavors that are showcased using classical French techniques and the atmosphere is always buzzy.

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42. Basa Modern Vietnamese 2244 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40206 (Clifton)

In 2007 chef Michael Ton and his brother Steven opened Basa to serve Vietnamese dishes with modern updates. The menu includes dishes like Vietnamese Tenderloin "Salad, Crispy Imperial Rolls, Deep Fried Jumbo Oysters, Japanese Eggplant, and Ahi Tuna.

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43. The Village Anchor Pub & Roost 11507 Park Rd, Anchorage, KY 40223

Village Anchor Pub & Roost is well worth the drive out to historic Anchorage, where this handsome bistro is serving Southern comfort favorites, plus an extensive selection of craft beer and bourbon. The best seats in the house are around the lavish, banquette-lined bar and, particularly on chillier nights, on the covered terrace that sports a double-sided fireplace. The menu focuses on Southern classics, including a hot brown, shrimp & grits, fried chicken, and pork shoulder with cornbread, and truly shines at brunch, when you can indulge in the Village's fan-favorite red velvet pancakes topped with sweet Kahlua cream cheese, plus several twists on a Bloody Mary.



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