More than two years into the coronavirus pandemic, leaders in Louisville’s dining scene are proving their resiliency. They mastered service during capacity limitations and now face staggering inflation costs, supply chain issues and labor shortages.
And they’re still creating some truly epic food, drink and tourism experiences for Louisville diners.
There’s an explosion of breakfast and brunch restaurants, new eateries in Louisville’s East End, a growing comfort food sector and nearly a dozen new Black-owned restaurants. There’s massive, loaded milkshakes, flaky buttermilk biscuits and more than a dozen savory steakhouses, including some new-to-market brands. And of course, bourbon industry leaders continue to push their offerings to new heights.
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. In 2021, more than 100 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, Matt Glowicki, Dana McMahan and Lennie Omalza, 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
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.
How to eat food from 10+ different countries by visiting just one street in Louisville: A stretch of international grocery stores and restaurants in Louisville provides popular dishes from all around the world.
Your ultimate guide to 15+ locally-owned Louisville coffee shops: Wherever you are in Louisville, a fresh-roasted cup of coffee isn’t far away. Take a look for a snapshot of more than 15 Louisville-area coffee shops.
From breakfast to beers, here are 5 restaurants opening in 2022 that we’re excited about: A new breakfast place, a cheese-filled bistro and a massive brewery are opening soon. Here are some restaurants on the way in 2022.
Looking for something new? Here are 4 lunch restaurants to try in downtown Louisville: It’s springtime and it feels like we’re waking up from the longest slumber ever and if you haven’t been to downtown Louisville lately, it’s hopping.
15+ new businesses have opened at Norton Commons in the last year. Take a look: Whether you’re hungry for a classic New York pizza or a refreshing ice cream cone or cup of tea, you’ll find it in this Louisville neighborhood.
Make a New Year’s resolution to eat better? Try these 12+ healthy restaurants in Louisville: Vegan? Paleo? Keto? Whole 30? Just looking to eat healthy? Here are 12+ Louisville-area restaurants that have you covered.
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.
From comfort food to modern Mexican, here are 5 new restaurants, bars opening in NuLu: NuLu’s flurry of development is still going. In the next few months, several new restaurants, cafes and bars are set to open in the area.
Fuggedaboutit! This new restaurant brings authentic New York-style pizza to Louisville: Lexington-based pizzeria serves New-York style pizza, sides, salads, cocktails, beer, and bourbon. Step inside Goodfellas Pizzeria and Wiseguy Lounge.
Fresh & made-to-order: This Louisville restaurant serves up authentic Lebanese food: This restaurant, which opened two months ago on Brownsboro Road, is creating fresh, authentic Mediterranean dishes with a focus on Lebanese cuisine.
Do you miss travel? 5 ways to eat your way around the globe in Louisville’s food scene: If you miss travel, here are a handful of places in Louisville, from international markets to restaurants, where you can satisfy your wanderlust.
LGBTQ, Black-owned restaurants to try in Louisville
From BBQ to vegan food, these 10 Black-owned restaurants recently opened in Louisville: Try some barbecue, vegan lunch, Cajun seafood and sweet potato pies from these Black-owned restaurants in Louisville, Kentucky.
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.
Spice up your baking with a ‘dessert spice blend’ from this Black-owned Louisville bakery: The sweet potato-themed dessert company, which opened in January at 1559 Bardstown Road, sells spice blends and to-die-for sweet potato pies and other desserts.
‘Diverse group of coffee nerds’ open Old Louisville Coffee Co-op, a late-night coffee shop: The worker-owned Old Louisville Coffee Co-Op is expected to open in early April and plants to stay open late and offer an inclusive space for everyone.
Must-try food in Louisville
Sweet or savory: Here are 8 must-try places to get flaky buttermilk biscuits in Louisville: In the realm of comfort food, it’s hard to beat a fluffy, fresh and flaky buttermilk biscuit. And Louisville’s restaurants are proud of their biscuits.
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.
Looking for something new? Try these 7 ‘secret’ menu hacks at Louisville restaurants: From fries dipped in unique sauces to a cheesecake milkshake, here are a handful of “secret” menu hacks at Louisville area restaurants.
Ooey, gooey cheesy goodness. Here are 10+ places to find mac and cheese in Louisville: In the realm of comfort food, there’s not much better than a rich, creamy bowl of mac and cheese. Here are 10+ places to find it in Louisville.
Looking for a good meal? Here are 15+ of the best Louisville steakhouses: Whether you’re in the mood for a filet mignon or a classic New York strip steak, Louisville has a steakhouse waiting for you. Here’s 15+ to try.
5 new taco spots to try in Louisville this year (Yes, I Love Tacos is one of them): Here are some taco restaurants with recently opened locations that you might not have tried yet. Who knows — you may just find your new favorite.
Hungry for pizza? Try a slice at one of these top-reviewed Louisville pizza spots: Whether you like thin crust or Chicago-style, tons of topping or the light smattering of fresh ingredients, it’s always a good day for pizza.
This new Arabic candy shop serves imported chocolates, Turkish delight, nuts and more: Chocolate & Nut Kingdom & Melt Munch, 3731 Bardstown Road, serves different sweets than you’re used to. Take a look inside this Arabic candy shop.
7 places in Louisville where you can buy bourbon balls, and a recipe to try at home: We couldn’t possibly include every shop that sells bourbon balls, but here are a few places where you can buy a boozy sweet Kentucky-made confection.
Your 2022 guide to 25+ farmers markets in the Louisville area you don’t want to miss: Spring is in full force, which means it’s farmers market season. Here’s what to know about the Louisville-area farmers markets.
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.
Why this bourbon is one of the most anticipated releases of the year. And where to find it: One thing bourbon can teach us is patience. No matter how much we want to try a new bourbon, we have to wait until it’s ready. This one finally is.
Bourbon for beginners: 5 tips to help anyone become a bourbon aficionado: From the best fresh cocktail ingredients to recipes for a Whiskey Fix and NY Sour, here are the five best tips for beginner bourbon drinkers.
This mom-to-be helped create the Best American Whiskey of 2021 without ever trying it: Shaylyn Gammon worked on Russell’s Reserve 13, the Best American Whiskey of 2021. And she never sampled it during the process because she was pregnant.
How Kentucky’s Original Black Bourbon Enthusiasts are shaping the industry a sip at a time: Formed in 2017 by Louisvillian Jamar Mack, the philanthropic organization was intended to be a social club, not something centered around bourbon.
How this Black-owned distillery is ‘breaking the ceiling’ in Kentucky’s bourbon industry: Brough Brothers Distillery wants to help other Black entrepreneurs “break the ceiling” in the industry and change the perception of a typical consumer
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.
Features Editor Kathryn Gregory contributed to this report. Reach reporter Dahlia Ghabour a [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Louisville summer food guide: How to get the best dining experience