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Moving to Louisville and Nervous

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I'm moving to Louisville, KY, soon, and I'll probably be there for three to four years.
I'm used to the food options that I have in my home town. Here, I can go out for Vietnamese, Thai, Oaxacan, etc., made by natives of those countries. If I'd rather, I can experience the finest restaurants this continent has to offer.
I've been househunting, and I absolutely love the Louisville. I'm a bit nervous, however, about the food. I've seen a large number of chains, but fewer locally-owned places. I haven't been anywhere that's impressed me yet, though the people that have been taking me are the Outback and Starbucks set, so it may be their fault.
Please give me some insight into chowish places in Louisville and help me. I'm getting nervous.
Thank you in advance.

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  1. you will be fine. check out Robin Garr's web site. it has all the info you will need. I think it is www. louisvillehotbytes.com. enjoy

    3 Replies
    1. re: william2.

      Hmmm, your nervousness may be somewhat justified. We lived in Louisville for 3 years and although it is a charming town, the culinary scene is not all that great. My major piece of advice is to avoid The Bristol like the plague. There are several locations throughout Louisville, and I have never been able to explain Louisvillians' devotion to this place. Green chile wontons? Don't even ask.

      Vietnam Kitchen, in the south end, is delightful and well worth the trip. No good Mexican food anywhere. The Magnolia Bar, in Old Louisville, is one of the finest bars around. Good luck (and be sure and get to Owensboro, KY for their terrific Owensboro-style barbeque)

      1. re: kasia

        This is my first time on this site, but I am amazed at the lack of understanding of some of the comments. Louisville is a great food town! Where have you people been? I am not a native of Louisville, but I would rank it as one of the best kept secrets in this country, as far as the restaurant scene. I travel often, and am originally from one of the food capitals of the country. So I have been around.

        Bourbon Bistro is one of my favorites. But you can't beat the fried oysters at Del Friscos. The steaks are also great.

        Check out the crab cakes at the New Albany River City Winery. You will be very surprised. Just 7 minutes from downtown Louisville. Try Three Brothers wine.

        1. re: CajunChef

          Cajun Chef, one of the things that you have to look at is when the comments were posted. I can almost guarantee you that the food scene has changed dramatically since 2003, as it has all over the country. This is especially true in places that were never real foodie towns.

    2. First, run (don't walk) to Lynn's Paradise Cafe and have the best breakfast of your life. I think I can safely say that Lynn's is my favorite restaurant of all time. It's a genuinely delightful restaurant from the decore (whimsical yet familiar without being trendy or trite) to the staff (who actually seem to enjoy working there) to the food (I'd recommend the omlettes, vegetable plate, and bloody marys). It's crazy on the weekends, but well worth the wait. Plus there's free coffee and newspapers.

      Aside from Lynn's, just drive down Bardstown Road. There are plenty of great restaurants in Louisville, and many of them are along Bardstown. Here's a list of places to try:
      Ramsi's (intimate with an international, mostly Mediterranean influenced menue)
      Heinne Brothers Coffee (Lousiville's local fair-trade coffee roaster. There are two on Bardstown, one ajoins a small bookstore and the other is large and airy with a firepace)
      The Homemade Icecream and Pie Kitchen (There's no way you won't be able to find something you like)
      The Twig and Leaf (greasy spoon fare of the best kind)
      Mark's Feed Store (great bar-b-q)
      Kashmir (intimate Indian restaurant)
      Judge Roy Bean's (surprisingly good wine list)
      Tumbleweed (not on Bardstown, but they have $1 margaritas on Mondays and the food's not bad)

      I only lived in Louisville for a year, but was pleasantly surprised at the number of great places to eat. Louisville itself is a great chowhound find. And since Kentucky is run on bourbon and tobacco, the bars are open until 4am - eat your heart out NYC! Some good ones are Freddy's (an absolute dive, cash only and no cursing), Molly Malone's and O'Shea's for a pub feel, Dark Star Bar, Mag(nolia) Bar, and of course the Dew Drop Inn. I hope this gets you started. Have a great time, and whatever you do, don't miss Thunder Over Louisville.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Maesie

        As to the point about bars in New York eating their hearts out, bars and clubs in New York cannot serve alcohol legally between 4am and 8am. I know of one bar that has an 8am - 10am "happy hour."
        4am is the USUAL closing in New York.

        1. re: Ian_C

          Please do not go to Tumbleweed. It is basically a local version of ChiChi's. It serves really bad midwestern mex which was popular before there were any real Mexican restaurants in town. Also note the Dew Drop Inn is long gone.

          Do find Vietnam Kitchen which I believe is closed Wednesdays oddly enough, but call to make sure. Mayan Gypsy downtown is definitely worth a try asis Ramsi's which is open late and usually has a young,loud crowd but interesting food.

      2. We moved from Baltimore to KY nine years ago. For the 14 years we were in Baltimore, business carried us often to NYC, Chicago, and Atlanta, and upon occasion to the west coast. In every town we looked for good food, ranging from upscale/innovative to hole-in-the-wall.

        We had the same fears. First advise, don't try to compare it to NY. It doesn't work. Just enjoy what the area offers.

        We live two hours southwest of Louisville, but love to get up for the occasional weekend. We were pleasantly surprised at the quality of restaurants in the Louisville area. I had been to many other mid-sized cities which offered much less variety and quality.

        For upscale, we love Lily's and The Oak Room. Vincencos is a close runner-up. Also notable in this group for us would be Asiaitique, and Shariates.

        For interesting food in a slightly more casual/bistro atmosphere we prefer the Uptown Cafe and Azelas.

        Our favorite bar is Baxter STation--very interesting pub food and a good list of micro brews.
        I also like The Irish Rover, though I was disappointed that I could not get steak and kidney pie.

        Lynn's Paradise Cafe if a fun place for breakfast---somehow both funky and touristy (in a positive way).

        Enjoy.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rlc

          Oh, don't compare to New York? That is good avice because it is NOT New York. Only New York is New York. Geez.

          But Louisville is a great food town with many fine restaurants.

        2. The other places mentioned are all fine, but tend to be slightly inferior versions of restuarants you'd find in the urban North. For local food, try Chef Oscar's on Dixie Highway (down home fare), Hickory House south of the university and Pig Out also on Dixie Highway (for barbecue). And it can be a little much, but I recommend the Cincy-style chilli available at Skyline, which has a couple of locations around the city.

          1. i think chi-chis was also started in louisville.
            You'll be fine in Louisville, I grew up there, left about 4 years ago, traveled all over the place, and still get nostalgic for Louisville and the food.
            There are alot of great little places to get food... from the greasy spoon to really good stuff.
            I agree.. I like Lynn's too but it can be crazy busy with tourists especially on weekends.
            Bardstown Road or Frankfort Avenue are always good bets to go looking around for food.
            If you want some local grub, (i'm pretty sure this is the place) the Chick Inn has good bean soup.
            Old Walnut Chili Parlor has good local chili but ask for it without the oil...
            There's a little ice cream shop in the Midcity mall that has a killer caramel ice cream.
            Tumbleweed is a local chain... its good for the chili con queso, but everything else is just ok.
            Azalea I agree is a great spot to eat. I go there for lunch often when I'm in town. Its also next to a little shopping center with a grocery store in it (dolfs?.. been too long since I was there)... their groceries are on the pricey side, but the deli is good. I recommend the tapioca pudding.

            Another great place to get food for home (or a sandwich for lunch) is Lotsa Pasta... This is the place to get those hard to find foods you love but can't find in this city. You should check this place out.

            Its true there are alot fo chains in Louisville... however, there are equally as many small places to go if you look around.
            If you want a burger, the only place I go in Louisville is W.W. Cousins. Its sorta like a Fudrucker's except its actually good.

            The thing to remember about Louisville is that different areas of the city are completely unique (often socially, culturally, and culinary-wise)....
            Bardstown Road, Frankfort Ave, Baxter areas are all kinda funky and have alot of great bars and restaurants that are often local. One of my friends who moved there for about a year for a job referred to Bardstown (around Cherokee Triangle) as Boston without the traffic.
            Hurstbourne Lane and out into the east end area are more growing upper middle suburbs so you get alot of chains.
            and so on and so on..

            1. good luck! I have heard Louisville is a great place to live, so don't be nervous.

              http://blog.semonin.com/blog/kentucky...

              1. I have lived in Louisville all of my life. In my travels, I have come to realize that we may not be as "sophisticated" in our culinary offerings as NY or LA but there are lots of interesting and tasty places to explore.

                I agree that Lynn's is a must-do! The atmosphere is so funky that you can't help but enjoy yourself. Their crab and shrimp cakes appetizer is delicious. I usually have the Walnut Crusted chicken for dinner and I LOVE their chocolate lava cake dessert as well. Almost like a souffle' but not quite.

                The best pizzas are Spinelli's (614 Baxter Ave), Wicks (with 4 locations....www.wickspizza.com) and Rich-O's and Sportstime @New Albanian Brewing Co just across the bridge in New Albany, Indiana. Also, the New Albanian Brewing Co is just that, a mircrobrewery attached to the pizza joint. They have tons of homebrewed beers to try if you enjoy that sort of thing.

                Havana Rumba has excellent Cuban food. I hate veggies for the most part but can't get enough of their grilled veggie sandwich with sweet potato fries.

                I also adore The Melting Pot. Yes they are a chain, and yes probably overpriced but this probably comes from my love of all things dippable...they do have neat promotional nights (ie for charities, girl's night out, etc.) that you will receive invites to if you sign up on their mailing list at www.themeltingpot.com.

                My husband likes the Vietnamese Kitchen as well. I have never dined there.

                2 Replies
                1. re: nisey

                  Wonder how a 7-year-old post surfaced to the top? Reading this without looking at the date, one would have no idea how the food scene has progressed in Louisville -- so much so that several chefs are routinely asked to cook at major national culinary events and, in their final edition, Gourmet did a multipage spread on a Louisville chef.

                  Maybe the good thing about revisiting this thread is that current residents of Louisville will chime in with an update. We' live several hours away but have had a number of excellent meals in Louisville -- and not one at a chain!

                  1. re: pittsburgher

                    I grew up in KY, but rarely get back there. I've heard that Shiraz Mediterranean Grill is good, as well as Eddie Merlot's. Also the Blind Pig. Today I was pleased to see a piece in the NYT entitled "36 Hours In Louisville" They even tell people how to pronounce it - LOU-uh-vull. The article isn't just about food, but there are some food places mentioned.

                    http://travel.nytimes.com/2011/04/03/...

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                    Shiraz Mediterranean Grill
                    205 N Hurstbourne Pkwy, Louisville, KY 40222