Louisville has a surprisingly high number of chain restaurants: Melting Pot, Cheesecake Factory, PF Chang's China Bistro, Ruth's Chris. With that said, I recommend sampling some of the local dishes such as Derby pie (a decadent chocolate pie) and the Hot Brown (an open-faced turkey sandwich of monster proportions). Lynn's Paradise Cafe is a popular brunch place. Bristol Bar and Grille has a very good hamburger served on an English muffin. Pat's Steakhouse is their version of Peter Luger's (however, I think PL still ranks supreme) As a general rule, you can't go wrong on any restaurant located on Bardstown Road.
Oggie, it all depends on what your looking for.. yes we have chains here but we also have a great number of independents... Tiger is right, you can't go wrong on Bardstown Road. There are a great number of good/great restaurants on Bardstown... there is Palermo Viejo (A South American steak house), Ramsi's (Eclectic mix), The Bristol Bar and Grill, Sapporos (Sushi, Teppinyaki grill), A few middle eastern places for hummus/falfel, and quite a few more..
The Mayan Cafe is my favorite. www.themayancafe.com
basa is a new restaurant that we love--it's located on Frankfort Avenue, which is another street peppered with great, local restaurants. (Bourbons Bistro, Volare, Maido, North End Cafe, Shiraz, Cafe Classico, and El Mundo are all nearby and are all solid, local options.)
I'm dying to try the newly relocated Jarfi's Bistro on Bardstown Road near Bonnycastle.
Equus on Sears Ave in St. Matthews and Le Relais at Bowman Field (Taylorsville Road) are old favorites--never disappointing.
Havana Rumba gets consistently rave reviews--it's in St. Matthews near Equus.
You might want to check out www.louisvillehotbytes.com for lots more info.