Editor’s Note: This post is a part of our series on Delilah’s annual trip to the 127 yard sale. We’ll be back next week with DIY projects, recipes, inspiration and business tips. -Nicole S.
You might have noticed from my previous trips traveling to 127 yard sale that my husband and I are big fans of Louisville, Kentucky. The Bourbon Trail or rather bourbon and spirit culture is prevalent (you’ll see more of that in my next post). The people in the area are warm, friendly and laid back but there is also a great food scene that we are always excited to discover. Over the years, there have been a number of places that we have talked about and are currently discovering so I felt that it was best to create a list of places that we recommend if you ever have the chance to visit this wonderful city.
*NOTE: We haven’t hit all the neighborhoods but PLEASE let me know if we have missed something so we can expand on this list! XO, Delilah
Many places embrace the farm-to-table aspect in Louisville and Hillbilly Tea takes this to another level by having tea as the underlying trend in all their dishes and cocktails. This two-story restaurant has a more café approach downstairs with more formal dining upstairs. Very unique tea-inspired cocktails and fresh food in a rustic environment make this a favorite, even though the hours are short.
120 S 1st St, Louisville, KY
My husband covered this long-time Mexican favorite for the Southern Foodways Alliance and I am forever grateful to have joined him on this interview. The staff and owner are the most gracious and accommodating – the food is lovingly prepared with touches of traditional Mexican flavors and techniques while representing Kentucky and its seasons. Speaking as a Southern Californian where Mexican food is supreme, Mayan Café is an oasis that leaves me wanting flavors like that back at home.
813 E Market St, Louisville, KY
Maybe it was a chance encounter but I was craving falafel and one thing we noticed here in Louisville is that there is a hell of a lot of hummus. So we stopped at Falafel House in Bardstown and even though it was empty, it was great. Maybe you have a different opinion, but on my first trip I saw local celebrity chef Ed Lee leaving with a massive to-go order.
1001 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY
I had read reviews of this local place-to-be-seen restaurant a few doors from Falafel House and on this last trip, we decided to try it out. This place reminds me of Musso and Frank’s in Los Angeles with its leather booths and decades old photos that layer the walls. You have a sense of history here but it’s bright and contemporary. The service is tops but not overly formal, just professional, attentive and knowledgeable. It’s a great place for a mid-week lunch and I am sure fantastic for brunch.
1007 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY
I’ll admit it, the main reason we went to Rye is because they had aguachile on their menu. I was shocked—this was Louisville, not California and if some of you follow me on Facebook, aguachile became my lifeblood after Carlos Salgado changed my life with it. So we had to go! Their pickled shrimp aguacile was delicious (although I would say needs a little more heat—that might just be me) in addition to several other dishes that are simple but full of flavor. Their cheese board is impressive with four cheeses and a number of homemade pickles, spreads and nut mixes that lead you to create infinite flavor combinations. Great bourbon cocktails and beautiful patio.
900 E Market St, Louisville, KY
Located in the 21c Museum Hotel, this is a great place for an evening out with friends. They had a $38 set menu that was a fabulous deal including dessert, items to share with the table and they accommodated my vegetarian request with a roasted cauliflower that was literally the size of my head—and it was outstanding! I urge you to order the Weisenberger Grits because I still cannot stop thinking about how creamy and delicious they were, I need you to miss them as much as I do (I am working on a recipe because I can’t wait a year to go back). Visit the modern gallery adjacent to the restaurant to let your stomach settle and further enjoy your stay.
702 W Main St, Louisville, KY
This was our first dining experience in Louisville and we have returned twice to enjoy lunch from this bistro that has lead the farm-to-table movement. Lilly’s has been a James Beard nominee several times yet is not pretentious. It feels like a secret that you have the pleasure to be let in on. It also kind of reminded me of a “ladies who lunch” place, but that is probably because we have always taken to late lunches! Oh… and the wine salt with butter is unbelievable!
1147 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY
Just like Hillbilly Tea, we always have to make a stop at this celebrated restaurant that truly goes above and beyond local. The walls of the restaurant feature portraits of local farmers centered around a cork map pinpointing the farms that are featured for the week. The menu changes often, modifying traditional dishes to highlight peak-of-season produce. The bar stocks a large amount of local spirits and bitters. Incredible and knowledgeable staff. Ask for the beet hot sauce!
624 E Market St, Louisville, KY
I have to thank the hubs again for introducing me to this casual fresh Mexican place that has amazing tacos set against urban murals. A number of homemade salsas and my personal favorite, the Bourbon-rita. It’s fun, young, fresh and hip and definitely worth a stop if you are looking for the next wave of Mexican food in Louisville.
3922 Westport Rd, Louisville, KY
This is our main stay when we’re in Louisville. One of the two historical hotels in the downtown area, The Brown Hotel is our personal favorite and if you can swing it, I highly suggest it. If you can’t stay there, spend a late afternoon at the Lobby Bar, a beautiful yet intimate space where they serve up seasonal Kentucky cocktails (this is the place where I discovered the Man-O-War and it is the home to the Hot Brown—a Louisville traditional dish and just about the perfect thing to cure any hang over.
*Their high-end restaurant, The English Grille also tops many best of lists.
335 W Broadway, Louisville, KY
This was my second dining experience in Louisville and it didn’t disappoint. Heavy on the seafood but also aware of sustainability, Seviche is a playful mixing of Southern-Mexican-Peruvian-Seafood that is very unique yet familiar.
1538 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY
There is a sizable African population in Louisville and there are a number of restaurants featuring African cuisine that are peppered across the city. Some friends suggested this Ethiopian eatery highlighting the country’s most popular dishes with warm and friendly staff. This is a wonderful place for a healthy bite.
2804 Taylorsville Rd, Louisville, KY
A quick search on good breakfast places and a recommend on Instgram led us to meet a friend for our final meal in Louisville at Toast on Market. I’ll admit, it didn’t look like anything special but I was proven so wrong! First of all there is a nice selection of mimosas and Bloody Marys and then you get to the eggs. Yes there are typical egg dishes on the menu but these are not typical eggs. Not only can you request farm eggs but when you get your omelette, you’ll taste and see that they are exceptionally light. They actually whip their eggs before cooking them and I am telling you they are truly heavenly. That and the lemon soufflé pancakes made me a believer.
620 E Market St, Louisville, KY
This wasn’t my first pick. I still think that this hangout across the street from Rye needs a little tweaking but it has some unique ideas that make it a fun pit-stop. This might be one of the few places in Louisville that has adopted the order at the counter concept that is common in Southern California where we ordered fried pickles (a great chip idea but personally I like thick fried pickles) and smoked tofu tacos (a great alternative for vegans and gluten-free people). However they fell flat by having a taco assortment but Sriracha for hot sauce…who does that?!? I will say that one of their redeeming ideas is the bourbon slush or the modern-day frozen margarita Kentucky-style, it was delicious.
909 E Market St Louisville, KY
OTHER PLACES OF NOTE: We are trying to make it to the following spots that we have been hearing about but either they were not open when we could visit or we were busy: 610 Magnolia (we have been trying to get there for years) and Holy Grale—it’s on the list I SWEAR!