Louisville is the pride and joy of Kentucky, combining southern charm, a rich history, and unique cultural attractions in one friendly and creative capital city. If you’re visiting Louisville, you’re in for a treat! There’s something for every interest.
Animal fans can catch a horse race at the famous Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby. Baseball fans can learn about baseball history at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. Louisville is also the hometown of Muhammad Ali, and boxing fans can learn more about the greatest boxer in history at the Muhammad Ali Center.
Foodies and alcohol fans can tour the enormous Logan Street Market or take a distillery tour of Bourbon City’s finest pours. After all, Bourbon is America’s only native spirit, and Louisville is its birthplace. Of course, if you’re looking for more dining options, Louisville’s growing restaurant scene is quickly becoming nationally recognized.
I’m here to verify Louisville’s fabulous culinary options, having recently toured Bourbon City in search of the best restaurants for every taste and dining preference. Whether you’re looking for a taste of the deep south, a Spanish tapas bar, or anything in between, you’ll find what you’re craving on my list of the best restaurants in Louisville.
1007 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40204
A Louisville institution, Jack Fry’s opened in 1933 in The Highlands neighborhood as a southern kitchen and sports betting hub. Gentlemen could enjoy a southern meal in the front room and head to the backroom to place bets and sip a cocktail behind closed doors.
Today, owner and former waitress Stephanie Meeks has transformed Jack Fry’s into a fine-dining American restaurant that still retains its southern flair. That’s why it’s made it onto my list of the best restaurants in Louisville!
Jack Fry’s has live Jazz music to serenade your delicious multicourse dinner. The menu offers refined takes on southern classics. I recommend starting with the spicy breaded and fried oysters with grits, country ham beurre blanc, and green onions. Entrees consist of a steak, seafood, and other high-quality cuts, like Pistachio-encrusted salmon and prosciutto-wrapped chicken breast.
335 W Broadway, Louisville, KY 40202
Located inside Louisville’s historic Brown Hotel, English Grill is an elegant, contemporary fine dining bistro in a stunning dining room replete with dark wood trim, etched ceilings, and grandiose oil paintings of horses. Executive Chef James Adams has created a food and wine menu that has earned English Grill four stars from AAA.
The menu at English Grill features a conventional multicourse meal along with a prefix chef’s tasting menu for guests who reserve group dining at the Chef’s Table. They make delicious crab cakes with rutabaga hash, bacon, and charred jalapeno aioli. For an incredibly decadent dish, try the crispy skin duck with grits, brown butter brussels sprouts, and bourbon gastrique.
813 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40206
Mayan Café is a refined, farm-to-table Mexican and Latin American restaurant with a commitment to serving the community delicious food while supporting local farms, social justice causes, and sustainability. Another one of the best restaurants in Louisville!
Mayan Café has a beautiful and welcoming brick-and-mortar restaurant in Butchertown, run and owned by Chef Bruce Ucan, whose cultural background and years of experience in Kentucky’s culinary industry shine through in his unique indigenous-inspired culinary creations.
The menu at Mayan Café is unlike your typical Mexican food restaurant in that it focuses on Meso-American indigenous cuisine. Of course, you can still find Mexican favorites like ahi tuna tacos, burritos, and enchiladas. I recommend trying one of their signature indigenous-inspired dishes like the Tikin-xic, a whole fish steamed in banana leaf and smothered in achiote sauce.
2106 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40206
Located in Clifton Heights, just a few blocks from the lovely Bingham Park, Varanese Restaurant is a cocktail bar and New American restaurant owned and run by Chef John Varanese.
Chef Varanese uses Bourbon City’s famed spirit to inspire and flavor his dishes and offers a selection of Bourbon flights. The outdoor patio space at Varanese Restaurant has a 20-foot slate water wall for a beautiful al-fresco dining experience.
The diverse menu at Varanese showcases the chef’s range, and whether you’re in the mood for pasta, burgers, or a steak, all dishes are executed flawlessly. I loved the caramelized orange bourbon salmon with cream cheese grits.
Seviche A Latin Restaurant
1538 Bardstown Rd #1156, Louisville KY 40205
Seviche A Latin Restaurant is a fine dining contemporary fusion restaurant that marries flavors of the deep south with traditional Latin American dishes. Located in the Bonnycastle neighborhood, Seviche offers a beautiful and elegant space to enjoy award-winning Chef Anthony Lamas’ creative dishes.
Chef Lamas’ dishes exhibit excellence in taste and presentation, with each plate prettier than the next. I recommend starting with the Kentucky Bison empanadas with avocado jalapeno puree and pico de gallo. As per its name, Seviche is famous for its fresh ceviche and seafood dishes. I loved the shrimp ceviche with tomato, horseradish broth, avocado, and cucumber.
425 W Ormsby Ave, Louisville, KY 40203
Buck’s is another one of my favorite restaurants in Louisville! Located inside the Mayflower Building in historic Old Louisville, Buck’s Restaurant is a traditional Southern-style steakhouse and cocktail bar in an elegant dining room with white tablecloths, flowery fine China, and a tile bar covered in fresh bouquets of white flowers. The dining room and bar have a beautiful grand piano with live piano performances nightly.
The menu at Buck’s is as classic and high-quality as steak and seafood houses come with a few Southern specialties to honor Kentucky’s culinary culture.
I went for the fanciest plate of fried green tomatoes I’d seen, topped with crab meat and drizzled in hollandaise sauce. For a fantastic entrée, try the NY strip with Dijon butter and a three-cheese blend over mashed potatoes and asparagus.
610 W Magnolia Ave, Louisville, KY 40208
610 Magnolia is a fine dining contemporary Southern kitchen owned and run by James Beard Award-winning chef and cookbook author Edward Lee.
Named for its Old Louisville location in an intimate old-school, rustic Kentucky home, Magnolia 610 is the perfect meeting of old and new culinary traditions. It has received accolades from the most famous culinary publications like Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, The New York Times, Esquire, and many more.
610 Magnolia has a rotating, seasonal tasting menu that sources all produce, fish, meat, and poultry locally and sustainably. The tasting menu is a five-course meal, with each course offering a few dishes to choose from.
I loved the seared scallops with braised radish, tarragon oil, and miso hollandaise when I went. They also had a bourbon-inspired dessert known as the Bourbon Aficionado, a bourbon-soaked banana cake with butterscotch, chocolate maple syrup, and corn and brown butter ice cream.
J Graham’s Cafe
335 W Broadway, Louisville, KY 40202
Another restaurant inside the iconic Brown Hotel, J Graham’s Café is a refined yet casual café in a cozy and charming dining room. It’s simply one of the best places to eat in Louisville, so you have to check it out!
Its comforting dishes and friendly service have earned J Graham’s Café a diner’s choice award from OpenTable and TripAdvisor’s coveted seal of excellence. They’ve been serving hearty comfort food dishes with Southern flair since the 1920s.
If you go to J Graham’s Café, you must try their most prized and famous dish, The Hot Brown. Invented in the Brown Hotel in 1926, The Hot Brown is a roasted turkey breast with toast points in mornay sauce with pecorino romano cheese baked to a golden-brown crisp and topped with bacon and tomatoes.
921 Swan St, Louisville, KY 40204
Located in Louisville’s Germantown, HammerHeads is a family-friendly, casual smokehouse and Southern grille offering a wide array of smoked meats, wild game, and fish in over-the-top sandwiches, tacos, and entrées. Unlike your typical barbeque joint, HammerHeads incorporates cuisines from around the world along with fancy artisanal ingredients to showcase smoked meats’ true versatility.
It was hard to choose one item on this menu that features the most amazing selection of sandwiches, burgers, tacos, rib plates, and sides. I recommend their plate of baby back ribs with a side of smoked loaded potato salad with bacon, cheddar, and green onions. If you want excellent tacos, I recommend the pulled pork tacos with jalapeno-lime mayo, pico, and cilantro in fresh corn tortillas.
Wild Eggs is a breakfast, lunch, and brunch spot with locations in Landis Lakes, Westport Village, St. Matthew’s, and downtown Louisville. Originating in 2007, Wild Eggs offers a wide selection of breakfast and brunch favorites with home-cooked appeal and plenty of southern hospitality to enjoy as a family or a group of friends.
You can make it a boozy brunch with one of their delicious brunch cocktails that come in glasses or pitchers for the whole table. The expansive menu has all the breakfast essentials like pancakes, waffles, and every variation of egg dish you can imagine.
711 Brent St, Louisville, KY 40204
The Cafe is another establishment on my list of the best restaurants. Located in Louisville’s artsy district of Paristown, The Café is a friendly, hip, and casual Southern diner, bar, and café. Its expansive menu features Southern and American comfort food classics with breakfast all day, a full cocktail bar, and an impressive beer, wine, and bourbon list.
The creative menu features a variety of innovative small plates, a diverse selection of main courses, sandwiches, and of course, breakfast in all its forms. I wanted a true Kentucky classic and went with southern fried chicken with a side of collard greens and French fries.
Proof On Main
702 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202
Located one block from the Muhammad Ali Center and the Louisville Slugger Museum, Proof On Main is a quirky, trendy bourbon bar and refined southern comfort restaurant. I love the wonderfully whimsical Southern boutique dining room, adorned with mismatched flowery wallpaper, cushy white leather booths, antique furniture, and old oil paintings in gaudy gold frames.
The lounge is a great place to enjoy a bourbon tasting with friends before enjoying some of Louisville’s best comfort food from Kentucky-native head Chef Jeff Daily. I loved their ruby trout dish with cornbread puree, Gigante beans, and cacio e pepe vinaigrette. Their skillet cornbread with apple preserves and sorghum butter is the best thing you’ll put in your mouth!
Brendon’s Catch 23
505 S 4th St, Louisville, KY 40202
Located in the heart of downtown Louisville, Brendon’s Catch 23 is a fine-dining seafood restaurant, steakhouse, and cocktail bar. Brendon’s uses the highest quality cuts of beef, aged to perfection, and seafood flown in fresh daily to create the most lavish meals in an elegant and modern dining room with an open kitchen.
Brendon’s has an impressive bourbon list of over 100 varieties with a selection of flights and tasting programs, not to mention a unique take on an Old Fashioned called 1081. When at Brendon’s, you can’t miss out on the Ultimate Seafood Tower with shrimp cocktail, oysters, king crab legs, crab claws, and a whole chilled lobster.
812 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40206
Decca Restaurant is a jazz club, cocktail lounge, and refined American cuisine restaurant in Louisville’s East Market District. There is a diverse lineup of jazz ensembles performing live Thursday through Saturday, with a house jazz ensemble performing every Monday. Decca offers a classy, dimly lit lounge to sip an artisanal cocktail while listening to great live music.
Decca’s cocktail menu offers simple yet creative combinations of the finest spirits with fresh herbs, infusions, and mixers. I liked the herby Garden Room, with fennel-infused vodka, blanc vermouth, aquavit, and olive. I had a fresh and comforting bowl of hand-cut pappardelle with fall mushrooms, turmeric, walnut, black garlic butter, and parmesan to pair with my drink.
The Fuelery Restaurant and Cafe
2011 Frankfort Ave Unit 101 Louisville, KY 40206
Located between Bingham and Breslin Parks in the Clifton neighborhood, The Fuelery Restaurant and Café is a neighborhood favorite for healthy, fresh, farm-to-table meals. You can dine in the bustling, airy dining room, order a smoothie and pre-packaged meal to go, or spend hours in the cozy café with a fancy coffee drink while you study or read the paper.
All ingredients at The Fuelery are locally sourced and exceedingly healthy. They have delicious organic coffee, espresso, and teas along with a nutritious smoothie menu. If you’re looking to chill out, try the refreshing CBD-infused green machine with romaine kale, basil, parsley, cucumber, pineapple juice, lemon curd, mint, hemp oil, and oat milk. Save room for their hearty, creamy sweet potato risotto.
Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse, Louisville
325 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202
Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse is an award-winning steakhouse franchise with a bustling, energetic atmosphere, live music, and the best cuts of USDA Prime and Wagyu steaks and seafood. Jeff Ruby’s Louisville is located a block from the beautiful Ohio River in downtown Louisville in a colorful, Kentucky-inspired dining room with country-style French windows, red leather booths, and extravagant chandeliers.
Jeff Ruby’s offers traditional cuts of steak with all the classic sauces and garnishes, a sushi and seafood menu, and a children’s menu to boot. Steaks are the star of the show, and my favorite is the Wagyu Barrel-cut filet mignon topped with Red King Crab, asparagus, and Bearnaise sauce.
Havana Rumba Middletown
12003 Shelbyville Rd, Louisville, KY 40243
Havana Rumba Middletown is a Cuban bar and restaurant founded and run by Cuban transplant Marcos Lorenzo who brought the best of Cuban culinary and entertainment culture to Louisville. Located in the Middletown neighborhood, Havana Rumba Middletown is the third of four Havana Rumba concept restaurants, cocktail lounges, and tapas bars around Louisville.
Havana Rumba’s authentic menu offers an expansive list of hot and cold tapas, salads, and traditional Cuban entrees. Grab a fresh mojito to accompany a hearty plate of Cuba’s famous slow-roasted pork dish, Lechon Asado, marinated in citrus juice, garlic, and spices, served with congri rice and yuca con mojo.
Mojito Tapas Restaurant
2231 Holiday Manor Center, Louisville, KY 40222
Another creation of Cuban visionary owner Marcos Lorenzo, Mojito Tapas Restaurant is a Spanish tapas bar, cocktail bar, and lunch café in Louisville’s Lyndon neighborhood. The vibe is as lively and vibrant as all of Lorenzo’s Latin-inspired restaurants, replete with a fun Latin soundtrack and a wide variety of authentic tapas and main dishes.
There’s a wide variety of fantastic sandwiches and burgers with a Latin flair if you’re there for lunch. At a Cuban-owned restaurant, you know that Cuba Sandwich will be amazing. Still, I suggest the Frita de Mariscos seafood burger with crabmeat, shrimp, crawfish and white fish, bell peppers, onions, and garlic served on a bun with lime avocado aioli and all the typical veggies.
Mussel & Burger Bar
With a location in Forest Hills and downtown Louisville, Mussel & Burger Bar is a beloved neighborhood gastropub with gourmet bar fare and an entertaining, family-friendly atmosphere. All dishes are scratch-made, creative and upscale creations of comfort food.
Mussel & Burger Bar has a long list of local and artisanal beers and bourbons, along with a great wine list. Their burgers are the best in town and encompass flavor profiles and ingredients from around the world.
There’s a Spanish Chorizo Burger, an Argentinian burger, an Italian Burger, a Mexican Burger, and many more. I had to go with the Southern Bell burger topped with fried green tomatoes, remoulade sauce, and pimento cheese on a pretzel bun with sweet potato fries and smoked pineapple dipping sauce.
Brazeiros Louisville – Brazilian Steakhouse
450 S 4th St, Louisville, KY 40202
Located in the heart of downtown Louisville, Brazeiros is a traditional Brazilian Steakhouse that offers upscale service with a friendly and casual atmosphere. Expert meat slicers walk around the restaurant with spits of perfectly grilled cuts of meat, slicing off endless morsels for your plate in the fanciest form of all-you-can-eat meat extravaganza.
In keeping with a traditional Churrascaria, the menu is a pre-fixe tasting of dozens of Brazilian meat varieties from steaks to pork, served with sides of polenta, cheese bread, mashed potatoes, caramelized bananas, and a wonderful salad bar.
Doc’s Bourbon Room
129 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202
If you’re looking for the best Bourbon experience in Bourbon City, look no further than Doc’s Bourbon Room, a high-end lounge featuring over 2000 varieties of bourbon and whiskey. Located in downtown Louisville’s East Main district, Doc’s Bourbon Room is committed to providing the classiest bourbon education you’ll ever receive.
Doc’s also serves a delicious breakfast and craft coffee drinks in the mornings and is connected to Doc Crow’s southern smokehouse and raw bar, so you can spend the afternoon and evening tasting bourbon and the night dining on the finest Southern cuisine.