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Jul 6, 2013 04:07 PM

Labor Day weekend in Louisville-- please critique

Hi! My husband and I are making our first trip to Louisville over Labor Day weekend. We will be driving in from Columbus, OH on Friday night and leaving Monday afternoon. We will have a car but would probably just as soon take the trolley or cabs so we can enjoy some adult beverages worry-free. We are staying at the Galt House.

A little about us: We recently moved from NYC to a small town outside of Columbus. Of everything we miss about New York, we miss the restaurants the most. We've been lucky enough to go to a bunch of the fancy/expensive NYC places (Per Se, Eleven Madison Park, Gramercy Tavern, Babbo, etc.), so we have pretty high expectations when it comes to restaurants where you rack up a big tab. Good service is very important to us, as is feeling like we got good value for the price-- we're happy to spend a lot when it's worth it, but we're not likely to believe that it was worth it just because we spent a lot. We're in our 30s and we like places that aren't museum-quiet, but where you don't have to scream, either.

We like all different cuisines and try to eat whatever is best wherever we are. If everything were equally great, we would tend toward Italian and contemporary American, but otherwise we would go for the local stand-outs.

The goal is to have one dinner that's more high-end and the others more moderate (I still think in NYC prices, so "moderate" could still include entrees in the $20 range, though certainly doesn't have to). We would be open to the idea of a fancy lunch and a more casual dinner, but we're probably more likely to keep lunch casual.

We would like to drive out to some distilleries (likely Maker's Mark-- my husband's favorite, though I know their production will be down for the season-- and Jim Beam, but I'm definitely open to suggestions) on one of the days. It's looking like Sunday right now because from what I can tell, the distilleries are open but a lot of the local favorite restaurants are closed. Monday we would probably check out of the hotel, eat lunch, and drive home.

With that, here are my initial thoughts. I would love your feedback/edits/additions!

Friday: Since we will be driving, I'm inclined to have a reservation in hand but be prepared to cancel if we get stuck in traffic, so I would need somewhere we can walk in. Probably not the right night for our high-end dinner.

Current thoughts:

Reservation at Harvest; potentially walk into Doc Crow's (Can you walk in on a Friday night? If not, where would you plan to walk into?)

Saturday: We'll probably just tour around the city-- no major plans. Probably a more casual lunch and the nice dinner

Lunch: Lily's, Havana Rumba, or Hillbilly Tea

Dinner: 610 Magnolia (I was able to book a table), Harvest, Doc Crow's (if we decide we don't feel like high-end), or Jack Fry's

Is 610 Magnolia worth it? Would you do that over Jack Fry's?

Sunday: Likely a distillery tour, so probably a more casual dinner

Lunch (if we're not on a tour): Havana Rumba, Proof on Main, or Hillbilly Tea

Dinner: Havana Rumba or Proof on Main (What other favorites are open?)

Monday: Tricky; I haven't found much that's open on holiday Mondays

Lunch: Mayan Cafe (less desirable if we've already been to Havana Rumba)

I'm sure we'll be hitting up the bar scene before and/or after dinner, so if there are any great happy hours-- or just great bars-- we shouldn't miss, I'd love to hear about them.

Thanks so much, Louisville experts! Everything I've read tells me Louisville is a hidden food gem, and I'm excited to experience it!

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  1. Sounds like a lot of good ideas. Milkwood in Actor's Theater is close to the Galt House and you should be able to walk in on a Friday and at least sit at the bar if not easily get a table if you plan on arriving after 8p (after the diners with reservations leave to go to the show). The "Milkwood" cocktail is great. It is a newer restaurant developed by Ed Lee of 610. I would also still keep reservations at 610 as well.

    Hammerheads is good and very hole in the wall-ish. But you'll probably have to wait for a seat. Also would consider contacting Rye on Market, Garage Bar, Decca, Bistro La Coop to see if they are open on Labor day. These 4 are also almost next door to one another and all have very good bars.

    Here is a link that may help with bourbon event planning:

    Have fun

    1. keep the 610 rezzie, Decca is awesome, go to Mayan Cafe and skip Havana Rumba...Havana is good.. but Mayan Cafe is better, and the food is very different then what you've ever had.

      1. Thanks very much! I think it's going to look like this:

        Friday dinner: Reservation at Harvest or walk into Doc Crow's/Milkwood/Hammerheads


        Lunch: Still open; walk into Lily's/Havana Rumba/Hillbilly Tea

        Dinner: 610 Magnolia


        Lunch: Likely on a distillery tour

        Dinner: Garage Bar or Milkwood


        Lunch: Mayan Cafe

        I appreciate the help!