Louisville is made up of a number of neighborhoods that are well-worth exploring when you are in town. Many are emerging with collections of restaurants, bar, shops and galleries. Don’t miss:
Whiskey Row/Museum Row/Downtown Louisville
Milkwood, 316 W. Main: Famed Louisville chef, Edward Lee merges Southern food with Asian ingredients at this hip restaurant and bar. I enjoyed dinner with a local friend. I had a wonderful grilled eel dish as well as ramen noodles in a coconut broth with lobster, a catfish cake and mushrooms.
Drink Sidebar: This is a fun casual bar, at 129 N. 2nd, that is a great spot to have one of their bourbon cocktails before your dinner.
Atlantic No. 5 Cafe: For coffee, sandwiches, biscuits, salads and desserts. 605 W. Main.
The 21c Hotel has an emphasis on contemporary art and has a contemporary art museum with free galleries open 24 hours a day. With 9,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space, it has regularly changing installations by living artists. 700 W. Main.
Cellar Door Chocolates: The 601A S. 4th St. location downtown is a fun spot to grab an espresso drink and a decadent piece of chocolate.
Art Eatables at 631 S. Fourth has wonderful chocolate truffles containing different bourbons from different distilleries. They are a great gift item as well.
NULU or New Louisville is the emerging area along East Market St. with a growing number of art galleries, antique shops, specialty stores, bars, microbreweries and local restaurants. My recommendations include:
Garage Bar, in a former auto service garage, is a fun bar with outdoor seating. They are known for their wood fired pizzas plus large selections of craft beers, bourbon, wine and cocktails. 700 E. Market St.
Taste Fine Wines and Bourbons: Prior to your dinner in the neighborhood, stop by for a tasting of a wine or one of the bourbons you have liked on the Bourbon Trail. 634 E. Market St.
Harvest Restaurant: This is an excellent restaurant featuring locally sourced ingredients and over 70 varieties of Kentucky bourbon. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience along with a great conversation with Jim McArthur, one of the owners, who is delightful. 624 E. Market.
Macaron Bar: At 707 E. Market, this is a new branch of the Cincinnati based bakery exclusively dedicated to the French macaron. They make a great product!!!
Quills Coffee: This is a fun cafe offering coffee and tea drinks as well as baked good and food items for breakfast and lunch. 802 E. Main.
Joe Ley Antiques, a huge antique emporium in a former school house from the 1890s. 615-25 E. Market St.
Red Tree: A shop featuring gifts, furniture, home accessories and more. 701 E. Market.
Please and Thank You is a fun spot for for coffee and the best chocolate chip cookies. 800 E Market. They have two other locations in town as well.
Butchertown, just northeast of downtown, is one of Louisville’s oldest neighborhoods. It was the city’s original meatpacking district with butcher shops dominating the area in the 1800s. It is now undergoing a new renaissance.
It is now home to Butchertown Grocery, a fine dining restaurant in an historic building from the 1800s, that was a former grocery store. It has a fun bar/lounge upstairs, Lola, that is reminiscent of an old speakeasy. I was there for dinner and highly recommend it. It serves New American fare and artisanal cocktails. 1076 E. Washington.
Other highlights include, Copper & Kings American Brandy, a local brandy distillery located at 1121 E. Washington St. A great experience is taking a tour and tasting their wonderful spirits including brandies, gin and absinthe. I loved trying their three American Brandies. They also feature special events from music performances, cigar nights, movie nights and food events. Check out the website for details. On site, don’t miss the B-Town Pie Company for meat and savory pies, sides, dessert pies and ice cream.
There is also Butchertown Market, a fun, collection of specialty shops located in a former leather tannery from 1880. Here you will find chocolates and spices made with bourbon at Bourbon Barrel Foods, tasty treats at the Macaron Bar, great candies at Cellar Door Chocolates and local artwork and jewelry at Work the Metal along with clothing, handbags, home decor and unique gifts. There is also Butchertown Pizza Hall for pizza and beer. 1201 Story Ave.
Bardstown Road/The Highlands
Bardstown Rd. is located in the city’s Highlands neighborhood. It is a big dining and nightlife destination along with an eclectic collection of shops.
Jack Fry’s: Jack Fry’s at 1007 Bardstown Rd. was established in 1933 by Jack Fry and his wife Flossie. It was a popular local sportsman’s hangout. It was open until 1972. After being vacant for several years and then another concept, it was re-established as Jack Fry’s in 1987. It continues today as a staple of Louisville’s culinary scene and has been featured in a number of national magazines and newspapers from the New York Times, Bon Appetit and Southern Living. I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch there. The shrimp and grits were perfect. The dining room with its old photographs is a classic as well.
Lilly’s – A Kentucky Bistro gets great reviews as a farm-to-table restaurant. Chef Kathy Cary, was nominated in 2016 by the James Beard Foundation as Best Chef Southeast. 1147 Bardstown Rd.
The Gralehaus Bed & Breakfast gets good reviews as does its restaurant for coffee, beer and breakfast and lunch dishes. It is located in a Victorian home dating from 1905. There are three bedrooms upstairs. 1001 Baxter Ave.
The Holy Grale nearby, is a bar known for it beers from all of the world. It is located in a former Unitarian Church from 1905. 1034 Bardstown Rd.
This is a great collection of restaurants, bars, shops and galleries along Frankfort Avenue. It is a great place to just wander, grab a great meal and enjoy your time in the neighborhood. I recommend:
The Urban Farmhouse Market: This attractive store features vintage and farmhouse inspired specialty home decor, gifts and artwork. In Nov. 2017, they opened The Urban Farmgirls with apparel, accessories & jewelry. 2830 Frankfort Ave.
Blue Dog Bakery & Cafe at 2868 Frankfort Ave.: This is a local bakery and cafe featuring their own artisan breads and pastries. I enjoyed a wonderful lunch of smoked salmon tartine with boursin and cucumber along with a wheat berry salad.
Bourbon Barrel Foods: At 2710 Frankfort Ave., this is a great gourmet food store featuring bourbon smoked salts, sugars and rubs along with barbecue sauces, gourmet snacks, cocktails, bitters, jams and more.
Silver Dollar: Located at 1761 Frankfort Ave., this is a great spot for lunch or dinner. It is also considered one of the best whiskey bars in town. I loved having brunch there including fried green tomatoes and a perfect biscuit. The NY Times called it one of the “Essential Louisville Cocktail Bars for 2015”.
For a drink before dinner, make sure to check out Bourbons Bistro at 2255 Frankfort Ave., considered to be one of the city’s best bourbon bars.
Also getting good reviews is Red Hog Artisan Meat. This is an artisan butcher shop and restaurant that is perfect for a casual lunch. The changing menu features charcuterie, cheese, sausages, pizzas, sandwiches, barbecue, soups and stews, grilled meats and vegetables. 2262 Frankfort Ave.
This area on the western edge of downtown Louisville, is a growing area with new businesses and residents. Here you will find:
Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company: Peerless is Louisville’s newest distillery that is located downtown at 120 N. 10th St. Henry Kraver’s first bourbon went into the barrel in 1889. After 100 years, his great-grandson Corky Taylor and his son Carson have revived the family business using the original process. They currently make a rye whiskey and their bourbon will be ready in the spring of 2019. Tours of this urban distillery are available.
Make sure to drive through this historic neighborhood south of downtown. It has the largest collection of restored Victorian homes in the US and is the third largest Historical Preservation District in the country covering 48 city blocks. Other attractions include:
Speed Art Museum: This art museum which reopened in 2016 after a major makeover, features art from ancient cultures, African art, Native American art, European and American art and contemporary art and photography. They also have a large collection of Kentucky furniture, paintings, ceramics and decorative accessories and textiles. It is well-worth the visit. 2035 S. 3rd.
610 Magnolia: This is Edward Lee’s fine dining restaurant in the Old Louisville Neighborhood. It features innovative/modern Southern cuisine. They offer a four-course and six-course tasting menu with or without wine pairings. Chef Lee has been a finalist for the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest. The restaurant has been featured in Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, The New York Times Magazine, Saveur, Southern Living, Esquire, Wine Enthusiast and many other national publications.
Quills Coffee: This is a fun cafe near the University of Louisville, offering coffee and tea drinks as well as baked goods and food items for breakfast and lunch. I stopped in before heading to the Speed Art Museum. 327 W. Cardinal Blvd.