Louisville Essentials

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

Rainbow Blossom
3738 Lexington Road and four other locations
502-896-0189
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

Lotsa Pasta
3717 Lexington Road
502-896-6361
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.
502-899-9800
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.

Nightlife Essentials

WHERE TO GET A GLASS OF WINE

L&N Wine Bar and Bistro
1765 Mellwood Ave.
502-897-0070
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.
502-327-5058
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

The Connection
120 S. Floyd St.
502-585-5752
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.
812-944-2577
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

Havana Rumba
4115 Oechsli Ave.
502-897-1959
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
502-425-0959
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
502-451-8944
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

Silks
Churchill Downs
700 Central Ave.
502-634-1479
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.

Entertainment Essentials

WHERE YOUNG COUPLES GO

Baxter Avenue
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

Church
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.
502-561-6100
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
502-473-0969
This shop rents and sells obscure titles, hard-to-find classics and just plain weird films you won’t find at the chains.

Ear X-Tacy
1534 Bardstown Road
502-452-1799
This shop offers eclectic CDs and vinyl records.

Just Creations
2722 Frankfort Ave.
502-897-7319
Sells fair trade coffee and "fair wage" crafts from around the world.

Outdoor Essentials

WHERE TO SEE URBAN NATURE

Riverwalk
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

Veterans Park
The Indiana side of the Ohio River

Iroquois Park
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.

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