Louisville’s local dining scene is strong and remains so, despite the coronavirus pandemic forcing restaurant owners to get creative to stay afloat. I’ve heard it said you can visit a new restaurant twice a day for a month and still not cover the basics of what Louisville has to offer.
No matter your tastes or budget, there are dozens of restaurants in every category for you to try. There are Southern classics and Nashville hot chicken; a hundred takes on the famous Kentucky Hot Brown; bourbon-infused desserts and birria tacos; every kind of pizza imaginable and a thick network of barbecue restaurants. From burgers and burritos “as big as your head” to highly curated farm-to-table meals, Louisville has it all.
In 2020, more than 70 new restaurants opened in Louisville, and we’re on track for a similar outpour this year. If you’re craving a taste now, here’s a guide to places you won’t want to miss.
I’ll update this page throughout the summer with more information and links to my coverage, with occasional much-appreciated assists from fellow reporters Lucas Aulbach and Ben Tobin, so be sure to check back for updates. And in the meantime, reach out to me any time at [email protected] or on Twitter at @dghabour – we’re always interested in what you have to say.
— Dahlia Ghabour, Courier Journal food reporter
Must-try restaurants in Louisville
Eat like a true Louisvillian: These are the 5 foods all visitors must try: Did someone mention green chili wontons or perfectly baked chocolate chip cookies? We did. Trying these five local foods will make you a true Louisvillian in no time.
Want to recommend great Louisville restaurants? Here are the best of the best food guide: Looking for the best bakery in Louisville? Or perhaps the best butcher shop? How about the best place to find fresh produce or pizza? We’ve got it all in this list.
5 fast (and quality) casual restaurants in Louisville you may not have tried: We all love delicious food, but sometimes, you just need to eat. Here are give top-notch fast-casual restaurants you might not have tried yet in Louisville.
Dine alfresco! Try these top 12+ outdoor dining spots around Louisville: From spots on the Ohio River to places with serene back patios, here are some must-try spots around Louisville if you’re looking to dine outside.
Looking for a restaurant to try? Here are 12+ places where you can eat on an outside patio: If the list above wasn’t enough, try these spots, which include places like 80/20 at Kaelin’s, The Black Jockeys Lounge, Chik’n & Mi and more.
Louisville is brimming with Black-owned restaurants. Here are 80 to try: Louisville is full of restaurants owned by African Americans that serve everything from crispy fried chicken to Jamaican-style oxtail. The restaurants have helped shape Louisville cuisine.
These are the best restaurants to try in the Louisville Highlands: Looking to try a real taste of Louisville? The Highlands has what you need, no matter what your budget. It’d be tough to round up a list of every restaurant in the neighborhood, but we’ve put together a quick guide of some of the most popular spots in the Highlands below.
You’re not a Louisville foodie if you haven’t been to these 3 restaurants: We’re not going to spoil what’s on this list, but if you’re serious about good food, you have to go here.
Try one of these top 15+ best-reviewed Louisville restaurants: We revisited all of the Louisville-area spots our restaurant critic, Lindsey McClave, reviewed in 2019, before the pandemic, to pull out the “best of the best” in dining options around the city. With cuisines ranging from Korean or Caribbean to Mediterranean and pizza, here are her reason why these are the highest-rated restaurants in Louisville.
Must-try food in Louisville
These are the must-try breakfast and brunch spots around Louisville: We scoured our archives to come up with some must-try breakfast and brunch spots around Louisville.
What’s the best pizza in Louisville? Our top reviewed restaurants: We look back at what our former restaurant critic Lindsey McClave had to say about the pizza she’s reviewed at different restaurants around town. So dive in and see where she says you should grab a slice.
Who doesn’t love doughnuts? Try these 8 locally-owned spots in Louisville: Someday, when all is right in the universe, National Doughnut Day will be deservedly recognized as a national holiday, and we’ll be able to celebrate with the day off. But until then, you can just recognize the occasion by swinging by one of Louisville’s many doughnut bakeries.
Trying to eat better? Try these 12+ healthy restaurants in Louisville: Take a look below for more than a dozen standout options if you’re looking to eat a bit healthier.
Mocktails, CBD treats and bye-bye kids menus. These food trends are taking over Louisville: Take a look at some of the biggest food trend trends — from gluten-free options to non-alcoholic cocktails alongside their boozy cousins — and where you can get a taste of them in Louisville.
It’s hot, Louisville. Here are 20 frozen treat shops around town to help you cool down: No matter what type of cool treat you’re in the mood for — from Philadelphia water ice to traditional ice cream, to dairy-free versions or even a sweet treat for your dog — these 20 spots around Louisville have what you need.
Gluten or dairy-free? Try these 7 allergy-friendly places in Louisville: Got an allergy or a lifestyle you’re trying to meet? Here are a few places to try.
An ode to fries. Here are the 5 best places to eat fries in Louisville: Ahhh, french fries. Is there anything as good as the perfectly cooked french fry? We think not. Here are fries you must try — and why — in Louisville.
Staff picks: The best fried chicken in Louisville: Sink your teeth into Louisville’s best fried chicken with these staff picks from the Courier Journal.
Here’s where to find the best chicken wings in Louisville: Feeling classic buffalo? Or Jerk chicken wings? It’s all right here. These wings are so good you won’t even need a napkin. Enjoy!
Looking for the Impossible Burger in Louisville? We made it possible: Some call it the fake meat of the future. Others say the patty, which so closely resembles a real burger that it bleeds, is gross. Here’s everything you need to know about the rare patty — and where you can find it around town.
Beer + cheese. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the Kentucky concoction: Beer. Cheese. Objectively two of the most beloved food items in the world. Both span centuries, continents and cultures. But beer cheese? It’s a Kentucky thing.
Beginners guide to Kentucky Bourbon
Think bourbon has to be made in Kentucky? Think again. Here’s the truth: Listen, let’s dispel this myth straight away. We can be the home of bourbon and not have to own it. So cheers to all the good bourbon out there — wherever it’s from.
Is this hard-to-find bourbon the ‘next’ Pappy? Spirits experts say yes and explain why: Somehow, we’re still talking about Pappy Van Winkle, the apparently never-ending unicorn of all unicorn bourbons, the headline-grabbing whiskey that gives people like me an equally never-ending supply of stories. So, what’s next?
Up your bourbon IQ with these 13 facts you’ve never heard: So you think you know bourbon just because you live in Kentucky? Here, in no particular order, are your bourbon IQ boosters.
I tried the $2,000 whiskey from Woodford Reserve. Was it worth it? Yes and no: The good news? This is tasty whiskey, for sure. But you needn’t weep over not having it.
Who run the (bourbon) world? Women, no matter how we drink it: The old joke about Kentucky being 20 years behind is turned on its head when it comes to bourbon and women. The rest of the world has come catching up to do on that front.
Blind taste tests prove women like more complex bourbons than men. So there: Women are generally better at sniffing out the myriad flavors found in bourbon and tend to like more complex bourbons than men.
The pursuit of Pappy Van Winkle: Is the crave-worthy bourbon worth it? Here in Louisville, we like to sigh at how absurd Pappy Van Winkle mania has gotten. But why?
How a strong mix of women are shaping Kentucky’s bourbon industry: For decades, bourbon in Kentucky was dominated by men from both a business and consumer perspective. It’s 2020 and women are still claiming “firsts” years after Peggy Noe Stevens became the first female master taster in the world in the late ’90s.
Meet 7 women who are smashing the glass ceiling of Kentucky’s historic bourbon industry: With a little help from the Kentucky Distillers Association, The Courier Journal identified more than 30 women in leadership roles in the commonwealth’s traditionally male-dominated industry in a variety of jobs and work distilleries of all sizes.
Recipes from Louisville restaurants
Here are 3 Hot Brown recipes from Louisville restaurants to try at home: We’ve pulled together three classic Hot Brown recipes we’ve collected over the years from some of Louisville’s best restaurants.
Want to cook the perfect burger? These Louisville chefs offer top tips: Burgers hold a special place in the hearts of Louisvillians; after all, legend has it we’re the home of the cheeseburger. And for every personality, preference, budget, or mood, there’s a burger in this town to suit it.
Learn how to make the classic Farby from Morels Cafe, gooey ‘cheese,’ hot meat and all: When Morels Cafe announced its closing, loyal fans were devastated. The vegan eatery’s spins on fast food and comfort fare had built a cult following, and as an inclusive place, its appeal certainly didn’t end with vegans.
This is where you can find the best guacamole in Louisville: In the mood for whipping up your own guac? Try these three recipes from local restaurants.
3 dessert recipes from the pastry chef at The Brown Hotel: From Bourbon and mint fruit skewers to Tart cherry shooters, you can’t go wrong with these sweet recipes from the iconic hotel in downtown Louisville.
Keeping up with chef Edward Lee is exhausting, inspiring and delicious:Want to impress your guests? Try these three recipes from celebrity chef Edward Lee to serve a meal your guests won’t soon forget.
Soul food at LuCretia’s Kitchen is simple, traditional and delicious: Customers can’t be blamed for living in the moment at LuCretia’s Kitchen when a feast of fried chicken, baked beans, green beans, ribs and catfish is put in front of them. What they may not realize is that they’re eating history.
Features Editor Kathryn Gregory contributed to this report. Reach reporter Dahlia Ghabour a [email protected]