Restaurants & Bars

An Outsider's Review of Louisville, KY Restaurants

blissmj | Aug 15, 200809:02 PM     3

I’ve lived in Louisville for four months and the culinary scene has lived up to some very high expectations. Below are my experiences with a number of Louisville restaurants for your consideration. Any thoughts or recommendations would be appreciated. I’m particularly interested in finding some street tacos, Chipotleesque burritos, and New York style pizza (think Di Fara or Gimildi’s).

Bourbons Bistro – A
• If you’re going to have a single dinner in Louisville, this is the place.
• Over 100 bourbons. ‘Nuff said.
• An unreal, absolutely ginormous hamburger.

The Blue Dog – A
• I centered my house search around the Blue Dog and highly recommend the strategy.
• The Blue Dog is on par with any bakery in the country.
• My only disappointment with the Blue Dog is that they don’t focus on their bread during breakfast. Is it too much to ask to get toast at a bakery?

North End Café – A
• This is an extremely solid, neighborhood bistro.
• You can have breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner here (and I have) and never get bored with the menu.
• The bar is a perfect spot when you’re going solo.

Proof on Main – A-
• Proof is on par with any high-end restaurant anywhere in the country – it’s not better, it’s not worse.
• The staff aspires to be world class which usually means fantastic service, but can also mean laughable snobbery.
• Proof is associated with the 21c Museum Hotel, Louisville’s only Tablet hotel. Their lobby art gallery enhances the Proof experience.

Napa River Grill – A-
• True to its name
• Haven’t tried their new location

Lotsa Pasta – B+
• This is a real gem in St. Matthews.
• I’ve only enjoyed their sandwiches
• Very high expectations for their fresh pastas

Frankfort Avenue Beer Depot – B+
• If you go in expecting red neck barbeque, you will be thrilled.
• Very respectable pork and chicken smoked out front on Frankfurt Ave.
• Friendly service and an authentic bunch of Louisvillians.

Volare – B+
• Great bar and WINEdown Wednesday’s here can’t be beat
• Probably the best value for high-end food in Louisville

Heine Brothers' Coffee – B+
• Louisville’s local chain is everything you would expect including personality and first-rate cappuccinos
• Only down side is their actual drip coffee is typically weak by Peet’s standards

Toast – B
• The wait only enhances the food.
• Sublime pancakes (bread pudding pancakes anyone?).
• Terrible coffee. Or maybe the unreal food only makes the mediocre coffee seem horrible.

Mark's Feed Store – B-
• Wonderfully tender and generous barbeque.
• The further you get from the original, the lower your expectations of quality should be.

Mayan Café – B-
• Nice escape from the every day.
• A unique and seemingly authentic taste of Central America.
• A bit pricey.

Cafe Lou Lou – B+
• This is a fun, very reasonable spot in St. Matthews.

Grape Leaf – C+
• Rather authentic, but not to thrilling Middle Eastern experience.
• I need to give them a second chance.

El Mundo – C+
• Killer margaritas.
• Their burritos have lettuce in them.
• I wish they didn’t close 10:00 pm.

Sapporo – C+
• This is the Japanese version of the “Over… Rated…” cheer.
• Weak service and only decent sushi.
• Maybe I’m just biased against sushi places with hibachi grills.

Asahi – C
• Uninspired, neighborhood sushi.
• The C score is relative to Nobu (NY, Vegas, Malibu) and Sansei (Kapalua). Maybe it’s better relative to other sushi spots in Louisville.
• No sashimi on the menu and it’s NOT worth ordering it special.

Moe’s – C
• Only worthwhile if you’re absolutely desperate for something that looks like a burrito

Ray Parrella's Italian – C-
• Damp atmosphere
• Better wine list at the local Circle K
• Adequate pasta

J. Gumbo’s – F
• Slop – I threw out the food before even trying it. It was really that unappetizing

To Be Tried
• Equus
• Lynn's Paradise Café
• Bristol Bar and Grille
• Pat's Steakhouse
• Avalon

Most Missed
• Phoenix – Le Grande Orange
• Phoenix – Bario Café
• San Diego – Café 222 (peanut butter banana French toast, sigh)
• San Diego – Marketplace Grill
• SoCal – Wahoo’s Fish Tacos
• Baja California – Super Pollo
• Atlanta – Bacchanalia
• Auburn, AL – Byron’s Barbeque

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