Louisville has a stronger food culture than people unfamiliar with the area might assume. Common culinary themes found throughout the city are farm-to-table restaurants, chef-driven dining experiences, and fresh takes on Southern cuisine. Presented here is a cross-section of Louisville's food offerings, from high-end to inexpensive and from soul food to Mayan.
- Vietnam Kitchen
Tucked away in a strip mall, Vietnam Kitchen is a diamond in the rough. The pho and the curry come highly recommended, as do many traditional dishes. We recommend ordering by menu number unless you want to butcher the name. Vietnam Kitchen also boasts an avocado milkshake with boba that is amazing. Another amazing thing is the price you pay for the portions you get.
Decca is a New American restaurant with a smaller but well-curated menu. Fried green tomatoes sit alongside duck liver terrine on the appetizer menu, but most of the entrées are large cuts of grilled meat, from the New York steak to the pork chop. Decca is a little pricier, but the meticulously put-together experience will be worth the cost for some.
- Burning Bush Grille Mediterranean Cafe
Burning Bush has just about everything you could want from a Mediterranean place, from falafel to baba ganoush to kebabs and gyros. Still, every now and then an American influence sneaks in—you might do a brief double-take when you notice that "Kentucky bison" is one of the kebab options, and there's a "Philly gyro," as well. Like Vietnam Kitchen, the price for the portion is right, and it's a great place for a quick-but-nice meal.
- Hillbilly Tea
While the original Hillbilly Tea was thwarted, the current version is still going strong. Though the location may be smaller than its precursor, the place is still serving up great farm-to-table meals. The food's Southern roots are played up hard—the first item on the menu is "crawdad fritters"—but the presentation is flawless, and the price is right. The only downside is that Hillbilly Tea closes during the summers before reopening in fall.
- Seviche: A Latin Restaurant
When a restaurant has a subtitle, you know it's a winner. Chef Anthony Lamas's place is a Food Channel favorite, and it's not hard to see why. Seviche has a seafood-heavy menu, from East Coast oyster to crab and swordfish. Of course, there's also a Kentucky flair. There's a bison empanada on the menu, and one of the ceviche options is a tuna "old fashioned" with bluegrass soy, Kentucky bourbon, and pineapple.
- Jack Fry's
Jack Fry's has been around since 1933. Originally a bit of a speakeasy, the place has changed hands a few times, but it retains its sense of history as it serves its New American menu. From pork chops to clam orecchiette, Jack Fry's is a great place to listen to live jazz and have an American meal.
- Bambi Bar
Bambi Bar is a deliberate dive, but it's got some of the best burgers and wings in town. It's such a fixture that the neighborhood bar crawl is called the Bambi Walk and invariably starts here. The mix of food, atmosphere, and great prices make it easy to see why it's a local favorite.
- Mayan Café
Chef Bruce Ucán serves up farm-to-table, Yucatán-inspired food, with an eye on sustainability and a unique flair. Specials right now include beef mole with blue cheese grits and sautéed spaghetti squash. In addition to the menu and their catering services, Mayan Café also offers quarterly cooking lessons for people looking to spice things up in their own kitchen.