Louisville is a foodie hub in Kentucky. Hungry visitors find not only Southern favourites, from fried chicken to fried green tomatoes, but also dishes that are uniquely Kentuckian in nature. The famous Derby pie, mint julep, and the Hot Brown sandwich are only a few of the most well-known items that make up the basis of Louisville food culture. 

    Of course, when in Kentucky, you also can’t forget the drinks, particularly bourbon, which locals claim and celebrate with fierce fervour. Ready to eat and drink your way through Kentucky’s urban hub? Here are the top places locals love to eat in Louisville.

    1

    Butchertown Grocery

    Step back in time at this historically-set restaurant

    • Food

    Butchertown Grocery is named for the Butchertown neighbourhood in which it resides, as well as the 1800s building’s past as a grocery store. The restaurant has received high acclaim as one of the best in not only Louisville, but also Kentucky and the USA. The menu features a refined array of salads, pasta and entrees, with only a hint of Southern flair. Think bourbon barrel-smoked pork belly and a Southern-style greens and grapes salad.

    The drink menu is bourbon-centric – if you’re feeling lavish, you can order a pricey bourbon tasting menu. The restaurant also has an adjacent bakery and upstairs bar.

    Location: 1076 East Washington Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40206, USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 11 am to 2 pm and from 5 pm to 10 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 11 am to 3 pm and from 5 pm to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 502-742-8315

    Map

    photo by Jessica Dillree (CC BY 2.0) modified

    2

    Harvest Louisville

    Experience the farm-to-table fare of Kentucky in a laidback setting

    • Food

    Harvest Louisville sits in Kentucky’s NuLu neighbourhood, but it represents farms and producers from a 100-mile radius around the city. The restaurant prides itself on sourcing 80% of its ingredients from this area, as well as curing, smoking and preserving many of its ingredients in-house.

    The atmosphere is relatively laidback during the day but becomes a bit fancier in the evening hours. The seasonal menu is always changing, but expect a small selection of farm-centric eats and a few healthful choices. Don’t miss the Kentucky classic, burgoo – a type of stew that changes from kitchen to kitchen and is served with cornbread croutons.

    Location: 624 East Market Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, USA

    Open: Tuesday–Thursday from 5 pm to 10 pm, Friday–Saturday from 10 am to 2.30 pm and from 5 pm to 10 pm, Sunday from 10 am to 2.30 pm

    Phone: +1 502-384-9090

    Map

    photo by Edsel Little (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    3

    Jack Fry's

    Get a hodgepodge of high-end, down-home, old-world and Southern cuisine

    • Food
    • History

    Jack Fry’s offers a little bit of it all, with a menu that mixes down-home Southern flavours with more high-end techniques. Its unassuming exterior masks the more upscale experience found within. The setting takes inspiration from the 1933 structure, old-world style and the South.

    One of Jack Fry’s s most famous selections is the shrimp and grits, featuring sautéed shrimp in red eye gravy, with country ham, cremini mushrooms, tomatoes, grits and parmesan cheese. Don’t care for Southern cuisine? You’ll find some French-inspired selections on the menu as well.

    Location: 1007 Bardstown Road, Louisville, Kentucky 40204, USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 11 am to 2.30 pm and from 5.30 pm to 11 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 5.30 pm to 11 pm

    Phone: +1 502-452-9244

    Map
    4

    Rye

    Indulge in all-American spirits alongside all-American eats

    • Food
    • Photo

    Rye is a hip, trendy spot with an airy, natural-light-filled setting and picturesque menu items that look good on Instagram. The small menu features mid-range prices when it comes to food, but the cocktails are a bit on the pricier side. If you’re looking to save your cash, the bar menu does have a unique offering – a 6-pack of local beer at an affordable price.

    If you plan to see some of Louisville’s green spaces while you’re in the area, you can order a Rye picnic basket for 2 to 4 people, which includes a nice selection of charcuterie and a chilled bottle of wine.

    Location: 900 East Market Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40206, USA

    Open: Tuesday–Saturday from 4pm to 8pm (closed on Sundays and Mondays)

    Phone: +1 502-749-6200

    Map

    photo by Ray Sawhill (CC BY 2.0) modified

    5

    610 Magnolia

    Reservation is a must for this exclusive eatery

    • Food
    • Couples

    610 Magnolia is located in Old Louisville, where the restaurant’s small space and limited hours lends it a certain air of exclusivity. Reservations are always required and the menu changes every single night, but diners rave about the complex, modern-meets-Southern fare.

    Ingredients are locally sourced or grown in the restaurant’s greenhouse, and the brand commits to responsibly farmed animal products. The bar menu changes just as often as the dinner menu, but you can count on finding just about any Kentucky bourbon on the extensive spirit list.

    Location: 610 West Magnolia Avenue, Louisville, Kentucky 40208, USA

    Open: Wednesday–Saturday from 5.30 pm to 11 pm (closed from Sundays to Tuesdays)

    Phone: +1 502-636-0783

    Map
    6

    Toast on Market

    Enjoy a casual meal at one of Louisville’s favourite breakfast spots

    • Families
    • Food

    A lively, homey breakfast and brunch spot, Toast on Market serves up Southern and American breakfast classics for an affordable price. Omelettes, pancakes and scrambles abound, but you can also find strictly Southern staples, such as shrimp and grits, and chicken and biscuits.

    A limited breakfast bar menu includes several varieties of Bloody Marys and mimosas. A separate children’s menu ensures even the smallest travellers in your crew are satisfied, with picky eater favourites like chocolate chip pancakes and a grilled cheese sandwich.

    Location: 620 East Market Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, USA

    Open: Tuesday–Friday from 7 am to 2 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 8 am to 2 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +1 502-569-4099

    Map
    7

    English Grill

    Order the famous Hot Brown sandwich at this historic hotel restaurant

    • Food
    • History

    Set within the beautiful historic Brown Hotel in downtown Louisville, the English Grill is notable as one of the city’s most elegant restaurants. Think classy and high-end dining, with dark oak panelled walls and white tablecloths included.

    For all of its clout, however, the restaurant is known for creating a Kentucky dish that’s not quite so elegant – the Hot Brown sandwich. It has roasted turkey breast, toast points, a sauce and cheese, all baked until toasty and then topped with bacon and tomatoes. It’s a comfort food classic you won’t want to miss in Louisville. 

    Location: The Brown Hotel, 335 West Broadway, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 6 pm to 9 pm, Friday–Saturday from 5 pm to 10 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Map
    8

    Biscuit Belly

    Taste the magic of a Southern-made biscuit

    • Food

    Biscuit Belly is a Louisville favourite that’s grown so much in popularity that you can find several locations around the city. The downtown NuLu location, however, is convenient for many visitors. The breakfast and brunch-only restaurant will make your mouth water with decadent fixings, such as bonuts, otherwise known as doughnut holes made from biscuits, topped with cinnamon sugar and a bourbon cream icing. You can also enjoy pancake corndogs, biscuits and gravy, and biscuit sandwiches topped with, in most cases, buttermilk fried chicken.

    Location: 900 East Main Street, Suite 101, Louisville, Kentucky 40206, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 7.30 am to 1 pm, Friday–Sunday from 7.30 am to 2 pm

    Phone: +1 502-409-5729

    Map
    9

    Mayan Cafe

    Make tracks for this long-standing Louisville institution

    • Food

    Louisville isn’t only American and Southern fare. You can find international cuisine that impresses as well, such as what you’ll get at Mayan Cafe is, a long-time favourite on the Louisville restaurant scene. Expect not just Mexican cuisine, but Mayan cuisine, which is specifically found on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

    The menu makes use of locally-sourced ingredients and regularly rotates, but examples of what you might find on any given day include tacos de lengua, made with fresh blue corn masa, spiced pickled onions, radishes, arugula and crushed tomatoes and jalapeño salsa, or beef bourguignonne a la yucateco, featuring braised beef, arbol, guajillo, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, lima beans and rice chicharron.

    Location: 813 East Market Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40206, USA

    Open: Tuesday–Saturday from 4 pm to 8 pm (closed on Sundays and Mondays)

    Phone: +1 502-566-0651

    Map
    10

    Wagner’s Pharmacy

    Grab breakfast at a spot almost as famous as the Kentucky Derby

    • Food

    One of Louisville’s most famous events is the Kentucky Derby, held annually at Churchill Downs. As such, many visitors tour the Churchill Downs facilities during a trip to the city. If you find yourself among them, visit Wagner’s Pharmacy, a casual, old-timey diner that’s fed everyone from horse owners to jockeys to journalists.

    The extremely affordable menu features rib-sticking meals like ham and eggs, western omelettes, fried egg sandwiches and, of course, grits. After 11 am, the menu switches to lunch-only.

    Location: 3113 South 4th Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40214, USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 7 am to 3pm, Saturday–Sunday from 8 am to 3 pm

    Phone: +1 502-375-3800

    Map
    Holly Riddle | Contributing Writer

    Start planning your trip

    Maps