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Where to eat during long weekend in Louisville?

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My wife and I are driving up from Nashville to Louisville for a short vacation from March 8 - 11. I have a list of restaurants I'm thinking about and/or have been recommended to me by others. I'm having some difficulty narrowing it down, so I figured I'd ask for thoughts that any of you from Louisville could add. We're leaving on the 8th after I get out of work around 3:30 pm, so I'm anticipating an arrival around 7 (barring too much traffic) and hoping to have dinner in the city that night. We will, of course, be having dinner on Friday and Saturday as well. We will be having breakfast/brunch and/or lunch Friday - Sunday. Knowing us, I suspect it will be one or the other each day. We'll be staying downtown, close to "Museum Row" and will have a car, so driving isn't a big problem. We're willing to take cabs if that's a viable option, but we'd certainly like to walk when we can. As far as dinner the first night, I wasn't planning on making reservations, since I don't know the exact time of arrival. I'm not sure how many options that leaves me, but I was hoping perhaps Doc Crow's would be an option, or potentially Garage. Hammerheads looks interesting as well, but would certainly be another (short it appears) ride in the car. My suspicion is all 3 will have a crowd and may require a long wait, but are any of these particularly worthwhile/feasable? For the other two nights, I've been wanting to try 610 Magnolia for quite some time, so I'm hoping we can do that. No reservation yet...think I'm too late? If so, I have some backups in mind, and one would be our 2nd dinner too: Mayan Cafe (I'm leaning heavily towards this one for one of our meals), Seviche, Proof on Main, Basa, Jack Fry's, The Blind Pig, Eiderdown. We're breakfast/brunch people more than lunch, but will do either depending on time. I've been looking at Hillbilly Tea (bonus points for location near hotel), Toast on Market, Harvest, and Wild Eggs (less appealing given distance, but might be reasonable for Sunday before getting back on the highway). Garage actually looks intriguing for brunch too. Mayan Cafe seems like a good lunch option if we don't go there for dinner, maybe Proof on Main too. Lynn's Paradise Cafe was recommended, but it seems a bit gimmicky to me. Is this the case, am I off-base on that? Ramsi's Cafe on the World was also recommended, and looks a little more interesting. So....any thoughts as far as what I might be missing? Or recommendations on definite do-not-misses? How about dinner Thursday, is there a better option than the three I listed, or a best option out of those three? Also, how is parking?...I noticed few of these seem to have private lots. Hopefully that's not too rambling...thanks in advance for the help!

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  1. You have quite a bit of good options listed. One place you might want to also consider is Rye on market. It is very new but we had a nice dinner there a week ago. Corbett's is also very good but in the suburbs. Its not too far up I-71, however, from downtown. Taco Punk just opened too and could be good for a quick casual lunch. The chef is from 610 Magnolia and although I haven't been yet I plan on going soon.

    I wouldn't think 610 would be difficult to get reservations right now but with the Top Chef fame it could be more difficult that usual.

    Most places downtown have street parking available without too much trouble. There are also some with parking lots or you may want to find a garage. Doc Crow's might be the hardest to find parking. The garage at The Galt House is just a couple of blocks away on 4thst. and it makes for a good pre dinner or post dinner place for drinks overlooking the city at Rivue.

    Hillbilly Tea makes a good breakfast/brunch but you'll probably feel like you get more for your money and equal quality if not better at Wild Eggs or Toast.

    I generally avoid Lynns but it can be good. If you like that type of atmosphere I would recommend it but you can get equal or better food elsewhere. I haven't been to Garage for brunch yet but let me know if you make it.

    It has been a long time since I've been to Ramsis but the last few times the menu was way too long and they seemed to spread themselves very thin.

    Roots is vegetarian but I definitely recommend it even for carnivores like myself. Also has the best tea menu around.

    The Blind Pig is good but I would definitely choose Garage, Doc Crows, other listed if you have to keep the list short. I mainly go for the drinks and bar menu. There is also a prohibition styled bar above the Pig called Meat if you are into craft cocktails. Don't expect to see a sign for it but it is up the back starway on the outside of the building.

    Hope this helps. Let me know how it goes.

    5 Replies
    1. re: etonian

      I love breakfast at Toast on Market. Their lemon soufflé pancakes are heaven on a plate! I agree with the comments about Ramsi's. I haven't been there in a year or two, but their menu is huge and just seems impossible to do it all well. It's ok, but I wouldn't go out of my way to eat there.

      1. re: BetsyinKY

        Thanks for all the info on those. I was a bit suspicious that Hillbilly Tea's portion sizes may be on the small for money size. Rye looks pretty enticing as well..I guess I can throw that into my mix of options, if not this time, maybe next time.

        My wife doesn't believe me that I'll get out of work on time in order to eat dinner in Louisville on Thursday, and granted traffic could always throw a wrench in things, but I'm fairly determined to not be eating at, say, an Arby's somewhere off 65. Any ideas on whether Doc Crow's (which keeps growing on me) would be something we'd likely be able to get into without a reservation in a reasonable amount of time? I guess by reasonable I mean 45 minutes or less...preferably less. It looks like Taco Punk could be an option as well, and the sample menu they have up looks pretty good. A friend who lived in Louisville awhile (strongly) recommended Vietnam Kitchen.

        1. re: gkm23

          Mayan Cafe is one of my favorites, so is Jack Fry's
          Mayan is walkable from downtown, jack Frys isn't
          cabs aren't "hailable" really in Louisville, need to call

          used to go to 610 Magnolia all the time, probably hard to get in now due to Top Chefness. They started going off the radar a bit in past year or so. I had some funk crab gelee bs there early last year that was the first big turn-off. would stick with the upscale regional/farm to table stuff and steer clear of the molecular. some shakeups in the kitchen last year is word on the street but definately worth a try

          haven't tried Rye, some mixed gossip

          Proof is a cool space due to the hotel, great bar, food not worth the hype/$ in my opinion
          very close to hotels

          Corbett's not worth going to the Costco parking lot for

          Taco Punk really cool, great fast food, guy is from 610 magnolia I hear, left last year (coincidence?) also walkable

          I love Vietnam Kitchen out by airport for hole-in-the wall ethnic goodness.

          Also Dakshin out in Buchel strip mall for same

          Wild Eggs is best breakfast, worth the drive.

          Safier is great for Shawarma, on 4th street - fast food as well
          walkable

          skip Ramzis (jack of all trades, master of none), Seviche is so/so (don't really like their version of namesake)

          Harvest is ok, but Wiltshire Pantry close by is better, both walkable

          1. re: gkm23

            The one time I've been to Doc Crows on a Thursday it wasn't too crowded but its tough to count on that. It would be highly dependent upon if there are any major events in downtown Louisville that night, especially at the Yum Center which is next door. Just keep in mind Doc's closes at 10pm. I believe Garage Bar has a late night menu on Thursdays if you end up getting here late.

            I haven't met anyone yet who doesn't like Vietnam Kitchen. Good recommendation on Wiltshire on market. It may also be off the radar enough to be a good choice to gamble on walking in without a reservation.

            One of the reasons I prefer Corbett's for fine dining is they don't seem to get as caught up with too much of the molecular gastronomy just for the sake of being trendy. Sure they are in the Costco parking lot but it is a beautifully restored historic home with a brick wine cellar.

            If you like charcuterie Proof is worth a stop.

          2. re: BetsyinKY

            We ate at the Louisville location of Toast on Market this past Tuesday. It was okay, with some hits, and some misses. I love the menu, with sweet choices and savory choices, and with some items available as side orders. I liked the bread pudding pancakes the most, and the lemon souffle pancakes were very good as well. We both had egg dishes which were only so-so; for a place with toast in its name, I would have expected the bread used to be better than it was. Also, the hash brown casserole served on the side was insufficiently hot (barely warmer than room temperature). And I hated the "signature harissa hot sauce" which was served with the "Toast & Eggs"; I didn't like the taste, and it separated with a layer of oil on top, which was unappealing. Fortunately I had asked for the sauce on the side, so it didn't spoil the entire dish.

        2. Mayan Cafe and Basa are both great and unique for such a small city (upscale Yucatan and Vietnamese cuisine).