2015 was a great, if construction-filled, year for Louisville... and those two things aren't exactly unconnected, because most of the coolest stuff that happened in 2015 was thanks to the slew of excellent new places that've been popping up all over town. And because we want to give a shoutout to every spot that deserves one, we're awarding honors across a variety of vital categories. So, without further ado:
Best new dinner
Artesano Tapas Vino y MasAddress and Info
This tapas place in Westport Village has something for everyone: from luscious beef cheek to bacon-wrapped, cheese-stuffed dates.
Best new hangout bar
Louis’s The TonAddress and Info
Louis’s looks deceptively small from the outside, but it stretches back into several rooms. It’s a comfortable but classy post-work hangout spot, and they sometimes have a beer float on the menu with Louisville Cream ice cream.
Best new night-out bar
GalaxieAddress and Info
Galaxie is the neighborhood bar NuLu didn’t know it needed. The space is small but the cocktails pack a punch, and the staff are always friendly.
Best new outdoor bar
8UPAddress and Info
Technically yes, 8UP Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen opened in late 2014, but there was no chance to use their primo rooftop bar until 2015, so it counts. Especially in warmer weather, the view from 8UP is unbeatable.
Best new brewpub
Goodwood Brewing CompanyAddress and Info
Goodwood uses the same pure limestone water used to make bourbon to make their beer. They also wood-age their beer as an homage to Louisville’s favorite spirit.
Best new hotel bar
Aloft’s CornerAddress and Info
The lobby, restaurant, and bar at Aloft in Downtown Louisville are connected with an open floor plan and a cool retro-future look to the decorations. Great for a big crowd.
Best new breakfast
Con HuevosAddress and Info
You heard it here: the best eggs in town. Get there early, the restaurant is tiny and on weekends Con Huevos fills up fast.
Best new brunch
Lydia's HouseAddress and Info
The griddled bread pudding at Lydia house is beyond compare, and their Germantown Booch-made craft kombucha will really start your morning off right.
Best new lunch
Joella’s Hot ChickenAddress and Info
Nashville-style hot chicken finally made the drive (flight?) to Louisville, and it’s a hit. Go extra spicy and get the JoJo sauce with your fries.
Best new dinner and drinks
Butchertown GroceryAddress and Info
When you’re finished with dinner downstairs (order the gnocchi and the rotisserie chicken) walk around the outside of the restaurant to the bar upstairs and sample some of Butchertown’s best cocktails.
Best new late night
America The DinerAddress and Info
America The Diner is primely positioned to suit the needs of Highlands barflies late into the night and early into the morning. The cheese curds and the alcoholic milkshakes at America The Diner are good any time of the day, but there’s something about eating in a diner in the wee hours of a morning that just works.
Best new park
Turkey Run Park (address and info)
Turkey Run Park opened this autumn at the Parklands of Floyd’s Fork and features 800 acres of meadows, forests, fields -- as well as biking, walking, and hiking trails, AND the Brown-Forman Silo Center lookout.
Best new bridge
The Abraham Lincoln (info)
What a stunner. Take advantage of your free drive over the Lincoln before it becomes a toll bridge!
Best new adventure
Go Ape! at Jefferson Memorial Forest (address and info)
Brush up on your Tarzan yell, you can now Go Ape! at a zip-lining treetop obstacle course around Jefferson Memorial Forest.
Best new place to climb
Climb Nulu (address and info)
This climbing gym is really conveniently located for those living in the Highlands, Downtown or Butchertown, and during the warmer months they’re open-air for events like the Flea Off Market.
Best new co-working space
The Park (address and info)
If you’re interested in creative co-working and collaboration, The Park is the perfect place for you to post up with your laptop or moleskin notebook. Bonus: the leafy wall looks SO good on Instagram.
Best new way to connect
CreativeMornings Louisville (address and info)
This monthly lectures series has quickly become a popular stomping ground for Louisville’s creative up-and-comers. Held on Friday mornings in a variety of locations, every CreativeMornings event centers around a lecture by a notable Louisvillian, on themes like empathy, humility, and collaboration.
Best new way to stay fit
Suspend Louisville (address and info)
Because nothing takes the sting out of gym time like spending it swinging around on a flying trapeze or mastering aerial silks.
Best new place to catch a movie
Xscape (address and info)
At this movie theater you don’t have to worry about kids kicking the back of your chair; the aisles are extra-wide and the seats are GIANT soft recliners. Better see something scary or you’ll fall asleep with your fingers in a bucket of popcorn.
1. Artesano Vino Tapas Y Mas1321 Herr Ln, Louisville
2. Louis's "The Ton"1601 Story Ave, Louisville
3. galaxie732 E Market St, Louisville
4. 8UP Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen350 West Chestnut St, Louisville
5. Goodwood Brewing636 E Main St, Louisville
6. Aloft's Corner102 W Main St, Louisville
7. Con Huevos2339 Frankfort Ave, Louisville
8. Lydia's House1101 Lydia St, Louisville
9. Joella's Hot Chicken3400 Frankfort Ave, Louisville
10. Butchertown Grocery1076 E Washington St, Louisville
11. America The Diner962 Baxter Ave, Louisville
12. Copper & Kings1121 E Washington St, Louisville
This no-reservations hot spot offers a tapas-style menu of inventive spanish and globally inspired eats. The shareable items here are sized for least two, though the tender cuts of rib-eye, strip, and flank, will have you wishing for your own pound of meat. For a glass of wine or one of four kinds of sangria, head to the diner-like bar, where, thankfully, the "generous" attitude is shared.
Louis’s The Ton is Butchertown’s self-proclaimed public house located in the space once occupied by The Point. Their beer list -- nearly 150 selections -- covers local, craft, domestic, and imported. Their cocktail list reflects the modern culture of craft beverages. And they provide entertainment through the arts: live music, art exhibitions, and local film screenings. The Ton is a place for high-quality beverage, to be enjoyed alongside their high-quality entertainment, without a cover.
This interplanetary themed cocktail bar in NuLu is known for their herbaceous cocktails and "wakataka" flatbread tacos. Also worth checking out are Galaxie's signature spicy margaritas; garnished with Lunazul tequila, citrus and pepper flakes, they're a great bright and refreshing summer time drink. A small plates menu of Mexican street food options accents the hip space and neon decor.
Whether you’re looking for breakfast, for a sleek dining experience, or craft cocktails at an open-air rooftop bar, 8UP Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen has got you covered. Located on the 8th floor of the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown, the rooftop restaurant and bar provides hotel guests and Louisville residents alike with progressive American fare, craft cocktails, and some seriously stunning views of the surrounding area. And with a bar program concentrated mainly on bourbon (the list is extensive) and bourbon-based cocktails, 8UP is a solid stop for elevated (literally) New American cuisine and quality drink.
Goodwood Brewing Company lives up to its name by making beer "touched by wood" via the traditional barrel method of infusing whiskey. The resulting microbrews are complex, deep, and thoroughly tasty. Come by their brick and mortar and see for yourself what all the fuss is about.
The Corner restaurant in the trendy Aloft hotel offers what is soon to be your favorite neighborhood late night combo deal: brace yourself for the bourbon and beef jerky special, which is best enjoyed on the comfortable, open air patio bar.
This tiny Mexican spot packs a mean punch with delicious breakfast and lunch food served daily. There is some patio and bar seating and the space, while small, is very bright and well-designed. Try the torta cubana, a pork and chorizo sandwich that also contains arugula, avocado and jalapeño aioli.
Lydia's has a super short menu, but brunch on their patio is basically perfect. Dishes like the "Hot Mess" -- two eggs with potatoes, ham, cheddar, onions, and blackstone gravy -- will help you feel like less of one yourself.
This casual Crescent Hill staple is known for delivering hot and spicy Nashville-style fried chicken. What makes Joella's unique is that its brined overnight and sauced to order with five levels of spice available; depending on your preference, go high on the heat ("Fire In Da Hole Inferno" level), or get yours sweet and mild. Kale and broccoli slaw sides add crunch and cool down your palate.
This industrial-chic and proudly Kentuckian spot backed by the unlikely pairing of a local Louisville lawyer and My Morning Jacket drummer Patrick Hallahan serves American fare with down-home charm. Come in for stylish takes on American classics, like the country pate and bourbon-spiked fries, or the oysters with bourbon mignonette. When you're finished eating, head to the secret late-night bar and performance venue upstairs, Lola, where acts hand-picked by Mr. Hallahan himself keep the party going into the wee hours of the night.
Serving up diner food classics like burgers for lunch and dinner and for breakfasts eggs any way with your choice of meat and a side of hash browns. It's your classic American diner fare.
This distillery is responsible for eight different types of American Brandy, with varieties like Craft Distilled, Absinthe Blanche, and Immature. Pro Tip: Try them out on the distillery's front deck or the top deck with views of Louisville.