By now it’s a well-known fact that Louisville has more than its fair share of killer restaurants to choose from, but the things that make those restaurants so famous apart from, ahem, yours truly (and other, lesser, media outlets) are those delicious, delicious dishes. We went through entrées, apps, desserts, and sides, and tracked down the finest 12 individual examples in town...
Proof on Main (address and info)
Now we're sure you’ve heard about the 21c Museum Hotels/Proof on Main for reasons like their impressive modern art collection, slick decor, and first-class dining, but have you heard about their fries? Because these Parmesan rosemary garlic potato cuts are the highlight of the menu, and it's a strong menu. Insider tip: ask for the aioli versus the Jezebel Sauce.
Country Fried Pork Chop
Gralehaus (address and info)
As if Gralehaus didn’t have us hooked with its impressive breakfast menu, its new lunch menu includes items like this Country Fried Pork Chop with hot vinegar, red-eye gravy, and pickled Fresno on a brioche bun.
Feast BBQ (address and info)
What’s deep-fried, smothered in BBQ sauce, and topped with cole slaw? Pork Cakes from Feast of course, and they’re ready to feed your cravings whether you’re across the bridge in Indiana or now at the new location in NuLu.
Chicken and waffles
MilkWood (address and info)
Leave it to the creative team behind MilkWood to serve up chicken & waffles in a way that’ll have even the most stubborn palate willing to give it a go. And major kudos to them for spicing it up (literally) and making the dish in a more manageable size.
Hudson Valley Duck Confit Strudel
Bistro 1860 (address and info)
Just past the flaky crust awaits a delicious mix of duck, goat cheese, candied chile, caramelized onion, and a shallot sherry cream sauce.
El Camino (address and info)
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but there aren’t enough adjectives in the English dictionary to describe how good that bacon is. And if you don't think it's one of the best dishes in town, then the only thing you'll be eating is your words.
Lemon Soufflé Pancakes
Toast on Market (address and info)
When blueberry compote and rich vanilla custard met a lemon pancake, it was love at first sight, and just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, it came with a side of bacon (or sausage).
Tok-sel Lima Beans
Mayan Café (address and info)
The jury is still out on exactly how the team at Mayan Café has tricked the whole of Louisville into eating a once loathed vegetable, but we’re not mad about it.
Game (address and info)
When in doubt, always go for top shelf whether that be bourbon or beef. You won’t be disappointed, and Game's high-end Wagyu offering proves it.
Highland Morning (address and info)
Like any reasonably level-headed individual, you’ve probably wondered to if eggs Benedict could get any better... and we're happy to report that when they're combined with avocado and chorizo, they do.
Chocolate chip cookies
Please & Thank You (address and info)
These cookies have become known on Instagram as "the best chocolate chip cookies in Louisville," and we're happy to report that they're just as pleasing to the taste buds as to the eyes.
Biscuit & Gravy
Harvest (address and info)
When the biscuit is basically as big as your plate, you know you’re in for a treat, and before you go feeling guilty about treating yourself, remember that Harvest is a farm-to-table restaurant! It's healthy by association!
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1. Proof on Main702 W Main St, Louisville
2. Gralehaus1001 Baxter Ave, Louisville
3. Feast BBQ909 E Market St, Louisville
4. MilkWood316 W Main St, Louisville
5. Bistro 18601765 Mellwood Ave, Louisville
6. El Camino1314 Bardstown Rd, Louisville
7. Toast on Market620 East Market St, Louisville
8. Mayan Café813 E Market St, Louisville
9. Game2295 Lexington Rd, Louisville
10. Highland Morning1416 Bardstown Rd, Louisville
11. Please & Thank You800 E Market St, Louisville
12. Harvest624 E Market St, Louisville
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).
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.
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.
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.
This Crescent Hill eatery/drinkery features eclectic décor, French-American fusion cuisine, and an array of delicious and unique cocktails, not to mention a full bar. On any given evening, pick from a selection of 50 different wines, a delicious dinner menu, and a great patio to use during the warmer months.
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.
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.
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.
This Irish Hill hot spot doles out all the bourbon and beef you could ask for, like its Wagyu burger with bone marrow mayo and brioche bun, aka one of the best burgers in the city.
A cozy breakfast and lunch eatery with comforting Southern dishes, Highland Morning has become a neighborhood favorite, attracting lines that spill out the door and packing crowds in tight, especially on weekends. Whether you’re ordering the famous Baja Benedict (a welcome introduction of Southwestern corn-cakes, chorizo, and pico de gallo to the traditional eggs Benny) or one of the specialty pancake plates, such as banana-berry blast and lemon lover's, it’s well worth the wait.
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.
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.