Where to get a drink, a bite, a great afternoon outing for the kids—this guide has it all and more!
Food and Drink Essentials
WHERE TO BUY GROCERIES
3738 Lexington Road and four other locations
Locavores admire this local chain of organic and natural markets. For the rest of your groceries, Kroger is here, all over town, as is Meijer. And Louisville has a Whole Foods. It’s in the St. Matthews area (4944 Shelbyville Road, 502-899-5545).
WHERE TO BUY PASTA
3717 Lexington Road
Foodies love this establishment that’s part New York-style Italian deli, part international grocery.
WHERE TO GET A LATTE
Heine Bros. Coffee
2200 Bardstown Road, 502-515-0380, and four others around town|
Louisville adopted the coffee culture so early that local shops held off the Starbucks invasion for years. The shop that started the local caffeine cult in the early 1990s is Heine Bros.
WHERE TO GET A GOOD LOAF OF BREAD
Blue Dog Bakery & Cafe
2868 Frankfort Ave.
With its $50,000 Spanish wood-fired oven, inspired by the noteworthy Acme Bakery in Berkeley, Calif., Blue Dog set an entirely new standard for high-quality bread in Louisville. Many of the city's finest restaurants get their bread here; you can too.
WHERE TO GET A GLASS OF WINE
L&N Wine Bar and Bistro
1765 Mellwood Ave.
L&N's 54-unit Cruvinet wine dispenser and 100 wines by the glass make for a tasting adventure at this American-style bistro, the city's top destination for wine-lovers.
WHERE TO EAT A FINE DINNER
Corbett's - An American Place
5050 Norton Healthcare Blvd.
Chef Dean Corbett's new restaurant bearing his name in a historic suburban farmhouse is a must for a white-tablecloth experience. His decades-old eatery, Equus (122 Sears Ave., 502-897-9721), is also a destination dinner spot in Louisville.
WHERE TO DANCE
120 S. Floyd St.
This joint in Louisville's East Main district bills itself as "Louisville's Gay and Lesbian Night Club," and it’s the place to go if you want to get any serious dancing done. You don't have to be gay to be welcome.
WHERE TO GET A BEER
The New Albanian Brewing Company and Public House
3312 Plaza Drive, New Albany, Ind.
In the greater Metro area, you won't find a wider beer selection than here, just over the Indiana state line. There are hundreds of international beers in bottle and on tap, not least the New Albanian's own award-winning microbrews.
WHERE TO GET A CUBAN SANDWICH
4115 Oechsli Ave.
Fernando and Cristina Martinez preside over Louisville's first and best Cuban restaurant, where you can enjoy a fine Cubano and such other Latin goodies as lechon asada, ropa vieja and much more -- plus memorable mojitos at the cozy bar.
WHERE TO GET A MOJITO
Mojito Tapas Restaurant
2231 Holiday Manor Center
The Martinezes of Havana Rumba built on their first restaurant's quick success with this East End suburban magnet that features dozens of tapas from Cuba, Spain and the Caribbean ... and, of course, the namesake libation.
WHERE TO GET A LATE-NIGHT BITE
Twig & Leaf
2122 Bardstown Road
For decades this late-night diner at Louisville's Douglass Loop in the Highlands has been the go-to hangout for those with the wee-hours munchies.
WHERE TO GET A DRINK
700 Central Ave.
Drop in on Silks restaurant's Happier Hours at Louisville's world-famous racetrack, Churchill Downs, 4:45-7:30 p.m. most Wednesdays. Racing season runs from late April through July and October and November; Happier Hours and off-track betting go on all year.
WHERE YOUNG COUPLES GO
The primary local nightclub strip runs along Baxter Avenue from Lexington Road south to its intersection with Bardstown Road. An alternative destination, Fourth Street Live downtown, is dominated by national chains. One funky local delight is Nachbar (969 Charles St., 502-637-4377), a Germantown tavern with a youthful beat and a serious beer selection.
WHERE TO MEET PEOPLE
Louisville is a city of churches, and many large congregations offer a welcoming community. One of the city's largest is Southeast Christian Church (920 Blankenbaker Pkwy., 502-253-8000), an evangelical denomination in an arena-size facility. If your theology rests on the liberal side, you’ll find a warm welcome at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church (330 North Hubbards Lane, 502-895-3485), a striking church-in-the-round on parklike property in St. Matthews, the suburb that bears the church's name.
THINGS TO DO WITH THE KIDS
The Louisville Science Center
727 W Main St.
The Louisville Science Center is great for kids of all ages. For those younger than 7, its KidZone offers a safe, exciting place to explore an airplane, drive an ambulance and run a construction site. Throughout the museum you'll find nearly 150 interactive exhibits and activity stations, plus a four-story IMAX Theater.
FUNKY LOCAL BUSINESSES
Wild and Woolly Video
1021 Bardstown Road
This shop rents and sells obscure titles, hard-to-find classics and just plain weird films you won’t find at the chains.
1534 Bardstown Road
This shop offers eclectic CDs and vinyl records.
2722 Frankfort Ave.
Sells fair trade coffee and "fair wage" crafts from around the world.
WHERE TO SEE URBAN NATURE
Bike or walk this seven-mile trail along the Ohio River and watch for river birds and other wildlife. Markers along the way give the distance from trailhead and offer historical tidbits. The Jefferson Memorial Forest, spanning the southwestern suburbs, offers a more woodsy, hilly and lake-studded wilderness.
WHERE TO TAKE FIDO
Cochran Hill Dog Run, Cherokee Park
Eastern end of Eastern Parkway, between Lexington Road and Bardstown Road. This is the city-sanctioned doggie fun park, with two acres of grass. Half of the grassy hillside is reserved for small dogs only. Dogs may run free here, an exception to the city's leash law; and they're provided with their own doggie water fountains.
BEST VIEW OF THE CITY
The Indiana side of the Ohio River
End of Southern Parkway
The best view of the Louisville downtown skyline is across the Ohio River, in Indiana. Stand in Veterans Park, a small riverside park directly across from downtown Louisville, and the urban skyline spreads out in a panoramic postcard as you look south. To see the whole city spread out before your eyes, the views from the lookouts atop Iroquois Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead on a wooded hill in the city's South End, can’t be beat.