GLINTstudios courtesy of Proof on Main (edited)
GLINTstudios courtesy of Proof on Main
Jack Fry's
Lindsey McClave
610 Magnolia
Kriech-Higdon Photo
Lindsey McClave
Lilly's Bistro
Lindsey McClave
Holy Grale (edited)
Garage Bar
Meta
El Camino
Holy Grale
Flickr/Zepfanman.com
Nach Bar
Down One Bourbon Bar (edited)
Haymarket Whiskey Bar
Down One Bourbon Bar
Bourbons Bistro
Proof on Main
Flickr/Southern Foodways Alliance
The Silver Dollar
Marriott Louisville East
Doc Crow's Southern Smokehouse and Raw Bar
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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. 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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3. 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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4. Pat's Steakhouse 2437 Brownsboro Rd, Louisville, KY 40206 (Clifton)

This old-school, classic steakhouse in Clifton opened more than 50 years ago, and has continued to draw customers in with its white-glove service and quality cuts of meat. Alongside New York strip and porterhouse t-bone, Pat's also offers non-beef entrees, like frog legs and pan-fried oysters, a decent selection of wine, and homestyle desserts.

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5. Wagner's Pharmacy 3113 S 4th St, Louisville, KY 40214

Located just outside Churchill Downs, the pharmacy/general store opened in 1922 and branched into a cafe to gain the business and friendship of the racetrack workers and horse trainers. You’ll get plenty of history with your huge and cheap breakfast plate (go for sausage & eggs with biscuits and potatoes), and you might also overhear a tip before placing your bet for the day.

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6. 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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7. Frankfort Avenue Beer Depot 3204 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40206 (St Matthews)

You can smell the Frankfort Avenue Beer Depot long before you reach it's doors and that isn't a bad thing. Two large smokers use the low and slow method to grill up some of the very best barbecue in town. Frankford Avenue also features a large selection of cold beer (duh) and there's even a mini-golf course out back. What are you waiting for?

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8. 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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9. Nach Bar 969 Charles St, Louisville, KY 40204 (Germantown)

On the surface, this Germantown drinkery just your run-of-the-mill, neighborhood bar with a good outdoor area (and it’s dog-friendly!), a great beer selection, and inexpensive drinks. But some would say Nach Bar is the soul of young Louisville’s music-loving, sort-of-hipster, just-wanna-hang-out-somewhere-tonight youth.

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10. Holy Grale 1034 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40204 (Highlands)

This converted century-old church now works full-service as an artisanal pub specializing in beer and food pairings. The space is equal parts ingenious adaptation and gorgeous design and the menu is always changing, as are the beers. Be sure not to miss the choir loft and the beer garden, and if the Scotch quail eggs are on the menu, order them immediately.

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11. 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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12. Hilltop Tavern 1800 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40206 (Crescent Hill)

If you really want to hang out with locals, do so without ostentation at Hilltop Tavern, which has a ping pong table, a stack of board games, foosball, and pretty much everything you would expect from a local haunt. It doesn't hurt that their cuisine is a home-cooked, bourbon-syrup drizzled, and mouthwatering selection of American classics. Check out this friendly spot's Facebook page to get a sense of their changing daily specials.

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13. Meta 425 W Chestnut St, Louisville, KY 40202 (Downtown)

Meta is a wonderful world of contrasts -- a marble-barred, copper-penny-floored temple of swank drinking lodged next to a strip club. But it’s not just bravado and balls that make Meta the best damn cocktail bar in a city that was doing craft cocktails long before they were trendy. The signatures are all grounded in tradition, but with a nice kick in the knickers. Take, for example, The High Pant, which augments some Old Fitzgerald with fernet and ginger to transform the Old Fashioned into something completely new. And hey, with cocktails this good, that strip club next door just keeps getting less lurid by the sip.

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14. 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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15. Haymarket Whiskey Bar 331 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40202 (Downtown)

Haymarket Whiskey Bar has more than 100 bourbons and almost 200 whiskeys, as well as live music four-plus nights a week. If the extensive liquor selection isn't enticing enough, visit for the décor alone: '80s memorabilia, Star Wars posters, old pinball machines, and a gorgeous green glass bar.

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16. The Silver Dollar 1761 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40206 (Crescent Hill)

Situated inside a former firehouse, this redbrick Crescent Hill whiskey temple models itself after the old-school honky-tonks of Bakersfield, California (in the 1930s, Southerners migrated to SoCal and, shunned by native Californians, formed their own subculture known as the "Bakersfield Sound"), merging modern takes on traditional Southern fare with vintage country records and craft cocktails. Silver Dollar's spirit menu is laden with bourbon selections sorted by distillery, plus moonshine, rye, and seasoned bourbon -- all from the Bluegrass State. You can pair your drink with hearty dishes such as Cajun shrimp & oyster stew, hickory-smoked beef brisket, chicken & waffles, and brunch specialties like cornbread pancakes and a fried oyster sandwich.

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17. Bourbons Bistro 2255 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40206 (Clifton)

Bourbons has a truly world-class selection, and offers amazing bourbon flights: like the “Traditional” flight with Jim Beam White Label, Wild Turkey, and Ancient Age; or the “Wheated” flight with Old Fitzgerald Prime, Weller Special Antique, and Maker’s Mark.

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18. The Old Seelbach Bar 500 S 4th St, Louisville, KY 40202 (Downtown)

Drinking at the Old Seelbach Bar feels like stepping into a scene from The Great Gatsby; which is fitting since the Seelbach Hotel served as inspiration for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. The Seelbach’s signature cocktail features bourbon and Champagne, an uncommon but deliciously fizzy combination.

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19. Down One Bourbon Bar & Restaurant 321 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202 (Downtown)

Down One’s bourbon list is so large it is divided into eras: Pre-Prohibition, Post-Prohibition, and Modern. And their “Get Splashed” wall is the perfect photo opportunity for the bourbon lover.

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20. Charr'd Bourbon Kitchen and Lounge 1903 Embassy Square Blvd, Louisville, KY 40299

Louisville’s Marriott East is a bourbon-themed hotel, and their bar and restaurant, Charr’d, has bourbon barbecue sauce, bourbon butter, bourbon-smoked wings, a bourbon-marinated Portobello sandwich... the list goes on. Naturally, a great bourbon and cocktail list accompanies this menu.

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21. 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.