Note from Jeremy: This is a guest post from University of Kentucky entomology outreach extension specialist Blake Newton (lightly edited by me, and with a few bonus beer recommendations from me at the end). Thanks for sharing your favorite places, Blake!
Got Louisville recommendations of your own? Share them in the comments!
Louisville has some unique and amazing food, so it’s important for people in your group to experience some of the best ones. My wife and I have been eating there for years and it’s always a treat. The food scene there compares favorably to much larger markets. A general recommendation for most of these places and for life in general is to go for the apps and small plates and be cautious with entrees.
High end $:
Seviche (Latin-Southern fusion; get the seviche and specials here)
Mayan Cafe (Mayan)
Rye on Market (amazing cocktails here)
Milkwood (creative eclectic small plates-Korean, Japanese, Sichuan…)
610 Magnolia (modern Southern; $$$$; reservations required)
The chefs at Seviche, Mayan Cafe, and 610 Magnolia/Milkwood are nationally known chefs who deserve all the praise that they get.
Bar Vetti (pizza, pasta)
Doc Crow’s (Southern smokehouse & raw bar)
Migo (small plates and tacos)
Naive Cafe (fast casual, mostly vegetarian)
Garage Bar (mostly pizza + craft beer)
Chik’n Mi (Asian fried chicken, comfort food, noodles)
Mirin (very nice ramen)
Roots/Heart & Soy (really interesting Asian vegan)
Hammerheads (amazing small plate bbq + beer bar… Gotta get there early, like 5pm… A must stop if you can get in),
Queen of Sheba (Ethiopian)
Wiltshire on Market (restaurant arm of Wiltshire Pantry catering; eclectic. Only open Thurs.-Sun.)
Cocktails and interesting bars:
ALEX&NDER (associated with the very fancy Copper & Kings Brandy distillery)
Proof Bar at the 21c (also good bar food here plus a very cool free art museum)
For beer, definitely Holy Grale (church converted to a pub; 27 taps, lengthy bottle list, food)
Here are some places that get a lot of hype but that I don’t like as much (none of these are gross, but the places above are more unique):
Jeff Ruby’s (steakhouse)
Guaca Mole Cocina (Mexican)
Game (game burgers)
Oishii Sushi (most sushi places in Louisville are nothing special…not sure why)
Butchertown Market (food & craft stalls)
Decca (upscale European)
Silver Dollar (Southern honky tonk bar + restaurant)
I read beer nerd websites and browse the Untappd app so you don’t have to. 🙂 ESA attendees who drink beer all tend to all pack into whichever decent bar is on the beaten path and closest to the convention center. That’s probably going to be Bluegrass Brewing Co., one block from the convention center. But if you, like me, are willing to go a bit further afield in search of good beer, then check out Holy Grale (above) and the places listed below. Any feedback from locals on these places would be most welcome!
Gralehaus. Associated with Holy Grale. Only 4 taps, but a long bottled beer list.
Sergio’s World Beers. Looks like a neighborhood dive bar from the outside, but has an absolutely massive bottle list (as in, over one thousand bottles), including many hard-to-find rarities. Reviews aren’t as uniformly positive as you’d think they’d be though. Apparently, prices are high even for stuff you can easily find elsewhere, and service seems to be hit-and-miss.
HopCat. Huge place with 100+ taps. I’ve been to good versions of this kind of place (Flying Saucer), and less-good versions. Looks like this might be one of the less-good versions, but perhaps worth a look. It’s almost next door to Holy Grale, which depending on your proclivities either means you should definitely check it out as well, or definitely not bother. #optimalforaging
Mile Wide Beer Company. Boy howdy, do internet beer nerds love their stuff. And they have a beer with “science” in the name, so there you go.
Against the Grain. You had me at “located at Louisville Slugger Field”, home of the Reds’ AAA affiliate, the Louisville Bats. Who are at home every night Tues-Fri during the meeting–woohoo! Baseball and beer, what more could you want? I’m going to the game on Thursday evening, maybe I’ll see you there.
Old Louisville Brewery. New-ish microbrewery named for the old neighborhood in which it’s located. 12 taps, looks to have some creative beers.
Gravely Brewing. All their beers seem to be highly thought-of. I love a good hefeweizen in the summer, so I hope their hefeweizen is as good as everybody on the intertubes says it is…
Akasha Brewing. Well-reviewed place, they do some sours. Taproom only has bar snacks, but you can bring your own food and there are bbq and burger places nearby.