Food & Drink

The 14 Most Important Restaurants in Louisville

Published On 08/17/2015 Published On 08/17/2015
Glint Studios Courtesy of Proof on Main
Courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels
Courtesy of Lilly’s Bistro
The Mayan Cafe/Kriech-Higdon Photography
Captain’s Quarters
Ten Tables
Against the Grain
Hammerheads
The Bristol
Blue Dog Bakery & Cafe
610 Magnolia
Jack Fry’s
Winston’s Restaurant/Jaimie Schapker
Heine Brothers’
Vincenzo’s
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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. Lilly's Bistro 1147 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40204 (Highlands)

Located in the heart of the Highlands, Lilly's is a go-to spot for celebrations. Chef Kathy Cary introduced farm-fresh and locally grown food to Louisville's palate years ago and continues the tradition today with the Southern-inspired offerings on her menu.

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3. Captain's Quarters 5700 Captains Quarters Rd, Prospect, KY 40059 (Prospect)

The deck at Captain's Quarters is multi-level runs right up to the water, where people can dock their boats at The Harbor at Captain's Quarters. They serve classic american seafood and meat dishes, along with some more internationally inspired dishes.

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4. Ten Tables Louisville , Louisville, KY 40204 (Highlands)

This pop-up dining experience has no permanent location, but that hasn't stopped it from exploding on the Louisville dining scene. The dinners are hosted on Mondays, and reservations are run by lottery for one of the 40 seats at 10 tables -- hence the name.

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5. 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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6. 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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7. 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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8. 610 Magnolia 610 W Magnolia Ave, Louisville, KY 40208 (Old Louisville)

Tucked into a quiet corner of the Old Louisville neighborhood, 610 Magnolia features an always-changing prix fixe menu filled with delicious bites created by Chef Edward Lee.

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9. 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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10. 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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11. Winston's Restaurant 3101 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40205 (Highlands)

At the Southern end of the Highlands neighborhood, overlooking the highway to somewhere else, lies Winston’s, the restaurant fueled by Sullivan University’s culinary students. Only open Fridays and Saturdays for lunch and dinner, and Sundays for brunch, this is a special occasion location for when you’re looking to impress someone special.

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12. Vincenzo's 150 S 5th St, Louisville, KY 40202 (Downtown)

For over 30 years brothers Vincenzo & Agostino Gabriele have served homestyle Italian food in Downtown. The recipes are straight from Italy and it's classic elegance made it one of THE spots to go -- and it retains that reputation today.