We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. The Oakroom
It would be impossible to open this list with anything other than The Oakroom. It's a Louisville icon with an incredible history and some seriously delicious food. The Oakroom, which is located in the Seelbach Hilton, was opened in 1907 and has set the standard for fine dining in this city for decades; in fact, it's the only restaurant in the state to hold a AAA Five-Diamond Award (which it has held since 1998)! Between the beautiful, old-school ambiance, the delicious drinks (they have one of the largest wine collections in the state!), and the creative, stunningly presented dishes, The Oakroom is always a fantastic choice when you are looking for a spot to celebrate in style!
The Oakroom is located inside the Seelbach Hilton at 500 S. 4th St., Louisville, KY.
2. Garage Bar
This unassuming spot used to be a full-service garage, but has since been repurposed into an awesome spot to grab a pizza and beers with your buddies. They have an excellent drink menu featuring an eclectic mix of interesting beers on tap and more than 30 varieties of Kentucky Bourbon and Rye Whiskey. Aside from their drinks, Garage Bar is also known for their out-of-this-world hand-stretched, wood-fired pizzas as well as the quirky-cool atmosphere. You can enjoy your meal indoors with the old garage doors rolled up, around the ping pong and pool tables, or outside on their epic patio around the firepits.
Yes, those are astroturf couches.
Garage Bar is located at 700 E. Market St., Louisville, KY.
3. Bistro Le Relais
When we say "airport food," we're guessing that the image of a grab-and-go fast food joint in a busy terminal comes to mind. Bistro Le Relais is the exact opposite... and you don't need to wait through a security line to get there. Although it's located in the at the historic Bowman Airfield, Bistro Le Relais is a surprisingly romantic little French restaurant that offers a one-of-a-kind runway view of the planes taking off and landing on their outdoor patio. The atmosphere here is inspired by the Art Deco era of the 1940's and they serve up fresh, fantastic meals, making this experience unforgettable. It's an intimate little place, so we suggest making reservations if you want a prime spot on the patio around sunset!
Bistro Le Relais is located at Bowman Field at 2817 Taylorsville Rd., Louisville, KY.
4. Troll Pub Under the Bridge
Now this place is TRULY one-of-a-kind! The Troll Pub is located underground at the historic site of the former Galt Hotel, which operated between 1834 and 1865, when it was destroyed by a fire. In the early 1900s, distilleries set up shop in the neighborhood, which is now known as Whiskey Row. Over the next century, the underground space now occupied by The Troll Pub was filled in with dirt and nearly forgotten about entirely, but in 2011 (after months of excavation), the space was once again opened up to the world, this time as the weird and wonderful Troll Pub Under the Bridge. Of course, an underground pub has a somewhat obscured entrance, so keep an eye out for the slightly-creepy, yet oddly-endearing statue of Louie the Troll, who directs guests down to the subterranean pub.
Louie the Troll isn't the only quirky attraction at the Troll Pub that is sure to make you smile; don't miss the super-cool secret bar hidden behind an unassuming bookcase! It definitely feels like something out of a peculiar house in an old-school mystery movie... and we love it!
Troll Pub Under the Bridge is located at 150 W. Washington St., Louisville, KY.
5. Decca / The Cellar
Decca is an awesome spot in NuLu that serves up some excellent, creative dishes made from fresh locally-sourced ingredients. The outdoor patio is one of the most beautiful spots in the city, but Decca also sits on top of one seriously cool bar.
Beneath the restaurant, which is housed in a historic building dating back to the 1870s, The Cellar Lounge offers a completely unique experience. You can still order all of your favorite dishes from the restaurant upstairs, but the downstairs bar feels rustically hipster-cool with stone walls, comfy couches, and expertly mixed drinks. The Cellar also frequently hosts live jazz music, which just adds to the ambiance.
Decca is located at 812 E. Market St., Louisville, KY.
6. Proof on Main
Proof on Main definitely isn't a secret - it was named on Food & Wine Magazine's "America's 50 Most Amazing Wine Experiences" and celebrated as an "American Whiskey Temple" by GQ Magazine - but there's a reason for all of the attention: Proof on Main is spectacular. It's located inside the 21C Museum Hotel and offers delicious dishes made from fresh local ingredients and an impressive cocktail list featuring tons of small-batch bourbon brands. Proof on Main also emphasizes the local art scene; the walls are adorned with frequently-rotating contemporary and modern art exhibits, which are curated by the 21C Museum. The bar itself is just as beautiful as the art on the walls, making this a solid "hot spot" in downtown Louisville.
Yep, that's the statue of David... in all his golden splendor. You can find him right outside of the restaurant.
Proof on Main is located at 702 West Main St., Louisville, KY.
7. Wagner’s Pharmacy
You read that correctly: Wagner's Pharmacy. No, it's not your typical pharmacy... it's one of the best breakfasts spots in Louisville! Wagner's opened up in 1922 and it does, in fact, have a convenience store inside, but it became famous as a casual meeting spot for jockeys, horsemen, and sports writers visiting Churchill Downs. Wagner's is no longer a "secret spot," but it does still pay homage to racing history by displaying colorful photos and memorabilia from past Derbies. This is one of those iconic spots in Louisville that everyone must see before they die because it's a city legend... and has some seriously delicious comfort food.
Wagner’s Pharmacy is located at 3113 S. 4th St., Louisville, KY.
8. Wild Eggs
Wild Eggs got their start in good old Louisville, but has since expanded to several locations throughout the city, as well as into other states, including Colorado, Indiana, Tennessee, and Ohio! THAT’S how delicious this place is. Wild Eggs is known for their unbeatable breakfast and brunch menu, but they also recently took 1st place in USA Today’s 2016 Reader’s Choice Award for the “Best Hot Brown in Kentucky,” unseating the iconic dish’s original creator, the Brown Hotel (which came in 3rd place, behind Patti’s 1880’s Settlement in Grand Rivers)! It's hard to pick anything less than scrumptious on Wild Eggs' menu, but we recommend the (almost) unreasonably delicious raspberry lemon pancakes. These are some of the best pancakes we’ve ever tasted!
Wild Eggs has several locations in Louisville:
3985 Dutchmans Lane, Louisville, KY
1311 Herr Lane, Louisville, KY
153 English Station Road, Louisville, KY
121 South Floyd Street, Louisville, KY
This dazzling neighborhood bar in NuLu offers delicious meals by day and awesome events and live music by night. This space-themed spot hits the perfect balance of being fun and quirky (several of the dishes and drinks carry names from Star Wars!) without feeling forced. In fact, the ambience is awesome - modern and interesting, yet still casual and fun.
The Wakatakas (handmade flatbreads) are unique, tasty, and you can order them topped with everything from steak with grilled onions to pork belly with apple butter. They come as small plates, so we suggest bringing friends and ordering several to share. Other highlights on the menu are loaded Vader Fries and a kale salad that will blow your mind, even if you haven't fully hopped aboard the trendy kale train.
Now let's talk drinks... Galaxie's margaritas simply cannot be beat. You can order them "spicy," which is absolutely delicious if you want to add a little kick to your beverage. If you're not a tequila or mezcal fan, there are plenty of other fun cocktails on the menu, as well as a solid offering of beers on tap.
Friday and Saturday nights at Galaxie are loud and energetic, which is certainly something we appreciate in a good bar, but probably not the best spot if you are looking for a low-key night out. The free trivia nights and dance parties are fantastic for an out-of-this-world (ha!) night out with friends!
Galaxie is located at 732 E Market St., Louisville, KY.
10. Holy Grale
Last, but certainly not least, is Holy Grale. The restaurant appears frequently on "Best Lists" for its delicious menu, but this spot's history definitely adds an extra layer to the unique feel. The eatery sits in a former Unitarian Church that was built in 1905, and the renovations made to build the restaurant kept many of the design elements from the original architecture, as well as adding other similar features as a nod to the history of this Highlands neighborhood fixture. There's even upstairs seating in the Choir Loft (which can also be rented out for special events)!
The menu here is tasty, creative, and focuses on seasonally inspired dishes made using local and farm-fresh ingredients. Holy Grale's menu is constantly changing, with unique specials offered daily, so you will always find something new and delicious to try! As for drinks, Holy Grale's bar is beer-only, but they have a seriously impressive spread of 27 taps featuring a wide variety of brews from around the world (which are also swapped frequently to make room for new styles) and 80 different bottled beers and ciders!
Holy Grale is located at 1034 Bardstown Rd., Louisville, KY.