Helpful ReplyEating BIG in Louisville

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2014/05/04 21:45:42 (permalink)

Eating BIG in Louisville

- as seen on chibbqking
No winners for me at the OTB this year, but I'd love to take a race in at Churchill Downs one day soon. In the meantime I spent two nights down here this past winter and because of the weather and the fact we were there on a Saturday and Sunday night, we decided to stick with the Urban Bourbon Trail as opposed to visiting any distilleries, most of which are closed on Sunday during the colder months. The Urban Bourbon Trail is a clever, well put together "guide" to the best bourbon sipping spots within city limits. I believe the city's tourism board is responsible and I'll give them a tip of my Cubs hat as they got us to do our own little tour, pumping money into their economy while enjoying a weekend long buzz. 

Riding 'round and getting it

First stop of the trip was downtown at place called Dish on Market. We were getting into town around Noon and they do both a brunch and regular menu and are part of the Urban Bourbon Trail meaning they have lots of whiskey served in many different forms. The inside of the place is very old school, almost a Wisconsin Supper Club feel to it with the age old bar and two levels of dining amongst wooden floors and staircases. The service was really friendly and interested in what we were doing in town (ID's showed we weren't locals). When I told them we came from Chicago to eat and drink they immediately fetched one of the handheld Urban Bourbon Trail Passports for us to use which would become our guide for at least five other drinking stops on this trip. The idea is you stop into one of the places, order anything and then get your passport stamped. Five stops gets you a t-shirt. We also downloaded the app. If you really want the shirt check out the phone number of the spot you're at once you get their confirmation code for the app, wink wink.

Downtown Louisville

I made like Seabiscuit and got the duty of having a Hot Brown while in town out of the way right out of the gates and she went with their fried pork chop lunch plate. Both were tasty. I dont love a Hot Brown (this was my second) but in the middle of a brutal winter this isn't a bad thing to eat. It was both comforting and well balanced. I enjoyed it. The chops were pretty good, I mean they are what they are and that's southern comfort.

The Famous Louisville Sandwich known as the Hot Brown

Fried Pork Chop Lunch Plate

We also stopped into Garage Bar, twice in fact, and enjoyed each visit. Louisville is like one big Wicker Park (Chicago neighborhood) and Garage Bar is a replica of Big Star (Chicago spot) in the fact it used to be an old gas station and service garage. Being the middle of winter the patio wasn't open but it looked like a great place to hang when warm. We tried a Southern Ham Sampler and some beignets amongst a few of their excellent cocktails. I remember preferring the top left and bottom right offerings from the Ham Sampler which was quite a treat with a cold one. I could see myself stopping in another couple times next trip I get down there.



At the Bar

Southern Ham Sampler


Milkwood would be one of our dinner stops the two nights we were in town. We went later in the evening and the place was pretty much empty having already gone thru the dinner rush. The only other patrons I noticed inside were Rick Pitino and his group as the University of Louisville had played a home game at the Yum Center earlier in the day.

Chef  Edward Lee's Place 

We took a seat at the bar which is my preferred choice when traveling. I like to meet the people behind them and learn anything they may have to share. Our bartender was from Nashville and he and wife are big fans of Chicago. I knew I had to have an order of the rock shrimp sausage upon glancing over the menu and she really wanted the Octopus Bacon with Smashed Potatoes dish and we split the double smashed pork burger. Loved it all. I think this was probably my favorite meal on all levels because they also had this simple cocktail made with some Asian tea, I wish I'd of remembered the name, mixed with Buffalo Trace on ice. Even though it was winter, I knew I wanted to drink this all summer long. 

Octopus Bacon

Rock Shrimp Sausage

Smashed Pork Burger

We did brunch Sunday morning at Proof on Main. As already discussed this place is attached to the 21c Hotel and Museum. The latter part of which is a free exhibit of Contemporary Art in the lobby of the hotel. 


Inside the restaurant there's some really pretty pictures related to Louisville that were taken by a longtime photographer for the local newspaper. It's really nice but still pretty formal. The fact that many places are closed on Sundays along with my personal opinion of their brunch menu looking more appealing than dinner got us in here that morning. The Nashville inspired Hot Chicken dish came with white bread, corn relish and bread and butter pickles. All of which I believe were made in house, it looked different than I expected but tasted as good as I had anticipated. I had to get their Fried Bologna Sandwich with with an over easy egg, pimento cheese spread and arugula on a toasted butter bun, again all but the egg is made in house. The sandwich was my favorite bite of the weekend, the fries served with it were equally great. After brunch we cozied up at the bar for a round before walking around the free display of Modern Art in the hotel's lobby.

Nashville Spicy Chicken

House Bologna w/ Pimiento Cheese Spread and Egg

Walking Around

We stopped into Silver Dollar one night. I thought I read that this place has some connection to Big Star here in Chicago and you could definitely feel that. If the folks from BS had decided to open up a place reflecting 1950's Bakersfield, California than this is what you would get.

Happening Spot up on the Hill

It almost felt identical as far as atmosphere and customers and the food was pretty damn good too. Of course the bourbon based cocktails were also to be had. We started with an order of fried oysters which were what we wanted as far as those go. Entree wise she went with the fried chicken and waffle and enjoyed it and I had the Plate o' Chops which had three fried bone in pork chops with a black pepper gravy and smashed potatoes. Very comforting. The menu and music is supposed to reflect the people from the South that migrated to Bakersfield starting in the 1930's. Fun stop.

Country Fried Pork Chops with Country Gravy  and Mashed Potatoes

The Seelbach Hotel was on the aforementioned Urban bourbon Trail and it's an authentically restored, early 1900's bar that features a expansive bourbon collection. I ended up drinking here twice, one night to watch the NBA Dunk Contest and met some really interesting people while sipping on some rye that time.

As seen in The Great Gatsby

I wasn't expecting to eat Mexican on this trip but then I remembered this place I had read about that was doing up local seasonal cuisine with a Oaxacan flair. Chef Bruce Ucan is from a small village in Southern Mexico and he's bringing some of his family's recipes as well as takes on them to the Mayan Cafe.

Downtown Louisville

The chef has been here for a while now and before that he was selling salbutes, tamales and tacos out of a truck called The Gypsy Van and this was before food trucks became fashionable. Said salbutes are a staple of the Yucatán peninsula. They're freshly fried tortilla puffs that typically come topped with chopped cabbage, pulled bird (chicken or turkey), tomato, pickled red onion, avocado, and pickled jalapeno pepper. Mayan Cafe offers a variety of options on their lunch menu.


Three come to an order and they let you pick and choose your main topping option. We went with the Smoked Chicken, a Roasted Pork and a Chorizo, Potatoes & Black Beans and they were outstanding. I know I said that the house bologna sandwich at Proof was my favorite bite but now I think these may have been. So good we got another round and thus I wasn't able to save any room for anything else. Next time I want to try their Papadzules which are smoked chicken & mozzarella cheese enchiladas served with a pumpkin seed sauce, fried egg, guacamole & chips. We really dont have anything like this in Chicago so dont skip over it thinking it "cant be better than what we have here" Chef Ucan would be a celebrity in the big city. Especially in today's day, he's been practicing farm to table sustainability since he started.


We stopped into El Camino which is located amongst a happening part of town with the younger aged crowd. I believe this place also has some association with a well known Chicago Mexican dining option in that its run by a guy who used to work at Frontera.

Happening Spot on Bardstown Road

While the looks and feel of the place were great, the outdoor area must be a hotspot when warm, the tacos were not good. The al pastor was the worst I've had in a long time, drowning in what tasted like an uncooked sauce there no way was it from a spit as advertised. The panza taco wasn't much better. It was just one large hunk of pork belly that resisted arrest with each bite, on top of that all the ingredients on top of it were a little much. 

Panza (L) and Al Pastor (R) Tacos

I had better taco success at a newer place in the Highlands neighborhood called El Taco Luchador. It's pretty much the typical new aged taqueria you're seeing pop up all across the country. From the menu down to the design, but that doesn't mean the place cant be good.

Taco Shop on Bardstown Road

The fish taco was outstanding, crunchy perfectly battered fish only needed the chile aioli and pickled cabbage that came on top of it. Their unique offering that I really enjoyed was the veggie taco. Refried black beans, guacamole, queso fresco, roasted corn and poblanos, crema and pico de gallo along with a roasted plantain gave it a little Cuban flair.

Chicken Mole (L) Fish (M) Veggie (R)

Time for some old locals favorites. Indi's Fried Chicken is a Louisville Institution. When us outsiders hear Louisville and fried chicken in the same sentence we think about the Colonel, most locals think Indi's.

One of a handful+ of their locations

a peak inside

Indi's has spots all over the city and they're all different in looks, I liked how they did that. Not one outlet is the same as far as the building goes. It's popular at all times of the day but they seem to do their best business at night. I visited twice and on my first visit it was around Midnight and the place was packed. I was weary about the fact the chicken is sitting there under a lamp but went ahead and ordered anyway, not like there were many other options at this time.

Spicy Fried Chicken and Spicy Wedges

Chicken is served regular or spicy and you can definitely taste the kick in the spicy batch. I was instantly addicted, not just to it but also to the wedges which come served regular or spicy as well. This was some of the best fried chicken I ever had, maybe not the juiciest as it didnt need anytime to cool down but as far as fast food shacks go, this was grand.  The green bean side dish was also a real winner, so good I got a 1/2 gallon to take home on my way out of town.

A Louisville Fwing

I'd done a little google search before heading down there and noticed another place called Chicken King that many praise as the well, the King. So I just had to try them both. Similar spots, this one was a little more run-down and I didn't like the chicken quite as much as I enjoyed it at Indi's but it was still really solid and the green beans somehow managed to be better than those at Indi's

Locals Favorite

Fried Chicken and Wedges

Another locals favorite I found online was Check's Cafe. They appeared in a search I did for rolled oysters which if you've never heard of them are another one of Louisville's regional eats. Check's has been a staple in these parts since 1944.

Longtime Locals Favorite in the Schnitzelburg neighborhood

a peak inside

The place was hopping on this Sunday afternoon visit as I walked up to place my food order. As mentioned I was here to try a famous Louisville Rolled Oyster. These are actually a dying breed. Originally started by Phillip Mazzoni who opened a tavern in his name in 1884 in downtown Louisville. Along with beer they sold hot dogs, boiled eggs, and what would become the iconic Louisville bar food, rolled oysters. Unfortunately Mazzoni's closed a few years back so you have to go elsewhere to find them. They're made by taking three shucked oysters and rolling them in a  thick batter before deep frying, so they come out looking almost like a baseball. You don't need a Slugger to eat one but you will need a knife and maybe a fork. It was ok, lots of breading and pretty damn heavy. Maybe there's a reason they're fading away.

Rolled Oyster

Also mentioned on Check's menu as a specialty of the house was their chili. Me being a chili connoisseur and it being another fading menu item I just had to try theirs. A big semi greasy bowl came with lots of spaghetti on the bottom. It wasn't too spicy of a blend and had large hunks of ground beef still intact as well as the standard Midwest kidney beans. Seeing as how Cincinnati is just an hour away it would seem that this "Louisville Style" of chili is a take on it, although I remember Cincy style being alot more sweet and not too much to my liking. Whereas I'd probably stop in for a bowl of this a few times each winter if I was a resident down there. Not bad at all.

Checks Famous Louisville Style Chili

Looks alot like Cincy Style Chili to me...although not as sweet

Another random regional eat they love around these parts is the fish sandwich. In fact I'll share the fish sandwich trail that leads thru a few small Indiana towns south of Indianapolis down into Louisville in another post. This was a total freestyle stop as I was just driving by and even though I wasn't hungry I wanted to make sure this report was complete.

A Louisville Staple going on 20 years

So what makes a fish sandwich a Louisville style fish sandwich? I guess a few things the first of which is the breading. As mentioned by jimswside up above its called Green River Style but I'm not so sure what makes it so. You'd think maybe catfish would be the choice of the places serving these sandwiches but most use ocean fish. The other crucial element is the bread which is most always rye. The result? I dont need another.

Louisville Style Fish Sandwich

Another impromptu stop happened when I was riding around Monday morning getting gas before taking off for Chicago. I spied this awesome looking shack sitting in a parking lot, it was labeled Ollie's Trolley and I was excited to go back to the hotel and see what was up with it as it was early morning and they weren't open yet. As it turned out this place has quite the history here in the states. So it goes "Former Kentucky Gov. John Y. Brown, who had done quite well with his Kentucky Fried Chicken concept and made “Colonel” Harlan Sanders a legendary figure, tried to do the same with Ollie Gleichenhaus, who ran a tiny burger joint in Miami Beach. Ollie’s top-secret spice combo reportedly includes 32 ingredients, and Brown believed it was the burger version of the Colonel’s chicken recipe."

The Last of a Dying Breed

As the launch began Ollie's Trolley's started popping up around the country. They were unique in both looks (burgers served from a trolley) and also in taste. Aside from the secret spices used in the meat they also use a thousand island like dressing as well as fries which are tossed with the aforementioned 32 spices. I got there right as they were opening and so did a handful of other people.  To my knowledge this is one of three left, the others in DC and Cincinnati though this might be the most "authentic" one.

At Max Capacity Inside

As I made my order I noticed something odd as I always like to watch them make the burgers at a place like this, to see what they're using (frozen, fresh balls, smashed etc). Well as I waited and watched, there was nothing on the grill and then my order was called and I was like "what the f-ck?" I dont know if they made the patties before they open and hold them under a heatlamp until someone orders one but it was very odd. So was the taste. It's been at least 5 years since I been to a Subway but this burger tasted like a Subway sub. I have no idea why. The fries were pretty damn good though. I liked the secret seasoning which is sold by a former employee in one pound bags online.

Ollie Burger and their Secret Spiced Fries

While waiting for Ollie's Trolley to open I took a ride over to the Louisville staple that is Wagner's Pharmacy. They've been around since 1922 and are a raceday favorite of both the jockeys and the owners of the horses they're riding. This place has been featured in more publications than most any spot out there so I'll save the history as you can easily find it online right here at

A longtime favorite of the Jockey's and folks who call Churchill Downs their neighbor

Upon walking in I saw something funny, they were taking the days pancakes and putting them in plastic bags for what I assume was usage the next day. Seeing as how I was already waiting for Ollie's to open and also that, I decided not to eat. Instead I did a little shopping and bought a shot glass with their name on it as there wasn't much else worth a purchase.

a peak inside

One last longtime locally loved stop. Jack Fry's has been a Louisville institution since 1933. "Fry was known as a rambling, gambling kind of guy who loved amateur boxing and the ponies. As a result, Jack Fry's became a sportsman’s hangout, as evidenced by the numerous historic photographs that fill the walls of the current Jack Fry's." Bootlegging and bookmaking were his other specialties. Jack closed his spot in 1972 and after a decade of renting the building to a family running a Mexican restaurant, it was re-established as Jack Fry's. Ownership has switched hands a few times since Jack's death but the current one was a longtime employee who's happy to keep the tradition going, minus the illegal gaming parts.

Another Louisville Institution

The inside was really old school with white tablecloths and tons of the aforementioned pictures hanging up on the walls. Nowadays they have an executive chef and are known for their shrimp and grits so thats what I would go with while she had the Korean seafood stew. Both were very good.

Seafood Stew
Last stop of the trip before heading home would be The Liquor Barn where they have all sorts of bourbon for you to buy. Some of it behind glass because it aint cheap. What is cheap are the handles of Buffalo Trace and other Kentucky made bourbons. About $10 less than what you'll be paying at Binny's in some instances and then there's also all the options only available in state as well as the small batch bourbons from the more well known purveyors. Walked out with almost $200 worth of stuff but it was indeed worth it as I wont be needing any brown liquor in my bin anytime soon. Looking forward to a return trip when nicer weather hits. 

Loading up with some bourbon before heading home...that's it for this trip

Dish on Market
434 W Market St
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 315-0669

Garage Bar
700 E Market St
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 749-7100

316 W Main St
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 584-6455

Proof on Main
702 W Main St
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 217-6360

The Silver Dollar
1761 Frankfort Ave
Louisville, KY 40206
(502) 259-9540

Old Seelbach Bar
500 S 4th St
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 585-3200

Mayan Cafe
813 E Market St
Louisville, KY 40206
(502) 566-0651

El Camino
1314 Bardstown Rd
Louisville, KY 40204
(502) 454-5417

El Taco Luchador
938 Baxter Ave
Louisville, KY 40204
(502) 583-0440

Indi's Fast Food
Multiple Locations

Chicken King
639 E Broadway
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 589-5464

Check's Cafe
1101 E Burnett Ave
Louisville, KY 40217
(502) 637-9515

The Fishery
11519 Shelbyville Rd
Louisville, KY 40243
(502) 409-4296

Ollie's Trolley
978 S 3rd St
Louisville, KY 40203
(502) 583-5214

Wagner's Pharmacy
3113 S 4th St
Louisville, KY 40214
(502) 375-3800

Jack Fry's
1007 Bardstown Rd
Louisville, KY 40204
(502) 452-9244

The Liquor Barn
4301 Towne Center Dr
Louisville, KY 40241
(502) 426-4222
Michael Hoffman
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Re:Eating BIG in Louisville 2014/05/04 22:24:03 (permalink)
Thanks for another outstanding report.
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Re:Eating BIG in Louisville 2014/05/04 23:00:41 (permalink)
What a thorough report. Really enjoyed. Thanks so much!
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Re:Eating BIG in Louisville 2014/05/05 06:30:06 (permalink)
KingT - What a great report!  Loved it!  We have friends down that way and recently made out first over night visit!  Good stuff! 
mayor al
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Re:Eating BIG in Louisville 2014/05/05 07:12:23 (permalink)
Fine report covering our community. When you come back you must try the fish at Mike Lining's and hopefully the weather will support exploring a bit further out of downtown . Glad you enjoyed your visit.
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Re:Eating BIG in Louisville 2014/05/05 10:42:07 (permalink)
Fabulous photos and fun stops!  Those pork chops with black pepper cream gravy, the ham sampler, and the chili dishes really caught my eye.  Thanks so much for sharing!
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Re:Eating BIG in Louisville 2014/08/04 20:04:30 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby flyseye 2014/10/14 08:05:40
Return to the Land of Bourbon with a daytrip to Cincinnati
- as seen on chibbqking
We did Round 2 down in Louisville this past 4th of July weekend. As the holiday crept up on us we had nothing to do and decided a ride down there to tour the bourbon distillery's this time around would be a fun getaway easily achievable in the last second. I wanted to do Traverse City or Door County but they were booked though I was happy with the end result as we also squeezed a daytrip to Cincinnati in on this visit. Good eating and drinking is what we were in Louisville to do so I again missed the Bat factory tour and also the Muhammad Ali Center. Next time! I do enjoy coming down here and the ride isn't bad at all. Boring maybe, but not awful if you stop in Indianapolis for some eats. We did a few repeats on this 3 day stay as we loved Milkwood on our last visit and then enjoyed drinks in the sun at Garage Bar and ate at Silver Dollar upon our arrival late that evening. Of course a couple trip to Indi's for some fried chicken and sides were also accomplished.

Vietnamese Lamb Sausage w/ fried green tomato, pan- drippings, pickled fresno, green goddess dressing at Milkwood

I'm always eager to try new spots and as many places as we made it to the first go around there were plenty more that hadn't been hit up. Right across the rive in New Albany, Indiana is a new-school BBQ place that gets plenty of praise both locally and nationally. Feast BBQ sits in a beautiful historic building and was open for business on the 4th so we made it our lunch stop before hitting up the Buffalo Trace Distillery for one of their free tours...and tastings.

New Albany, IN

Having read a few of the articles they have displayed on the walls I learned this is run by a guy who's all about the science of BBQ. Most of the worthwhile spots down in this area are run by hipsters and I don't think this place was any different though that doesn't mean it wasn't any good. One of their famous dishes is a smoked tofu but that wasn't going to be ordered so I actually went ahead and got a couple tacos while she ordered the pulled pork sandwich.

Pulled Pork Sandwich and Greens

My tacos were very pleasing. They can come two ways, American or Mexican style, and I got one of each. Brisket was topped American style with BBQ sauce, cole slaw and green onions while the pulled pork Mexican variation had cabbage, cotija cheese, pickled red onions, crema and lime. The Mexican version was much better. The pork might of been a little hidden amongst all the toppings but having tried her sandwich I can verify it was done right. Greens were approved by me but not her while the cocktails were cheap and strong. They have a really nice selection of beer and bourbon for you to enjoy with your 'que. Cool place as is the town itself which has some great Main Street Americana going to it.

BBQ Tacos

Aside from maybe apple pie and fireworks what can be more American than touring a bourbon distillery on the Fourth of July? Not much I can think of so we were off to the Buffalo Trace Distillery for their free tour which I thought was tons of fun. I learned stuff, drank a few shots worth for free and got a bottle of hand packed Blanton's to start my racing horse bottle-stop collection.

Aging Bourbon at the Buffalo Trace Distillery

Taking the Tour

After the Buffalo Trace tour we thought about doing the Four Roses one but decided not to in favor of getting back to Louisville for more food and drink. But not before a quick pit-stop at the southern fried chicken finger chain known as Zaxby's. Started in Athens, Georgia they now have locations in 15 states along with close ties to the SEC. These fried chicken finger chains are a thing around the south and Zaxby's is supposed to be one of the giants. I've always been anti-strip but was recently turned onto this phenomenon by Farmhouse Chicken Strips on Chicago's southside. Zaxby's weren't quite on the level of Farmhouse but as far as a quick drive-thru snack goes I can ride with it. Count me a fan of their signature self named sauce.

Zaxby's Chicken Fingers

Louisville has as big of a cocktail scene as any city it's size so it was no surprise to find a couple tempting establishments that we hadn't been to last trip thru. First up is a place downtown called Meta. Upon walking in you feel like you're at somewhere like the Whistler and with it they had a verdita drink on the menu titled "Ode to Logan Square". Drinks were stiff while a late nite plate of homemade pimiento cheese was on point. If you want a cocktail in more lush surroundings I recommend checking out the St. Charles Exchange. They really went all in with the inside but as far as the drinks go I don't really remember. Though you know their bourbon selection is marvelous.

Sipping up Louisville's Cocktail Scene
Daytrip to Cincinnati
This legendary 24 hour (Sat. & Sun.) slider shack has long been on my list and I finally got to cross it off this past weekend. While down in Louisville we went over to Cincinnati for the day thus the chance to stop in for some came. Unfortunately the part of the Ohio River Scenic Byway from Louisville to Madison was pretty boring but the entire drive is something I'd love to take one day as there's certainly no shortage of both Rustbelt cities and historic towns along it. Madison was really pretty but I only got to shoot thru as this was a detour that was already taking longer than anticipated.

Located on Historic downtown Main Street in Madison, Indiana

Hinkle's is a major part of the town as it's fed a few generations and counting. As the name suggests they serve sandwich classics like grilled cheese and tenderloins and also offer breakfast but it's all about the hamburgers which are served in slider form. I got a seat right at the end of the counter right where the action was taking place so I got to watch the grillman and his partner churn out one after another as orders for them can come by the dozens. It obviously wasn't their first week on the job.

Men at Work

The patties come pre-smashed and lose quite a bit of their size as they cook down. Standard toppings are grilled onions and pickles. Result? Fantastic. As good as I remember Powers Hamburgers over in Fort Wayne to be. Since I was en route to the Queen City I held my order to two which I ended up regretting the rest of the ride there. These have been on my want list ever since that last bite.

Slider Perfection
Wandered over to Cincinnati for a quick daytrip while down in Louisville. Spent most of the time in the up and coming OTR neighborhood which seems to have a Logan Sqaure-esque restaurant on every corner with more coming. You're pretty much watching gentrification happen live before your eyes. Look no further than this picture below of a family taking a carriage ride past a burnt out loan shop.

OTR Neighborhood

First stop of the day was going to be for some goetta, a popular breakfast item eaten in these parts. It's a German-American regional eat made with pork sausage that's binded together with pin-head oats and spiced with seasoning. I had my eyes set on Tucker's Restaurant in OTR. I'd originally read about this Cincy classic at Roadfood where they give deep praise to both the goetta and also their hash browns which many say are the best in the business.

Locals favorite

Tucker's is a no-frills type of place with a counter to one side and booths to the other. On this particular visit the clientele was very wide-spread. From bros to brothers and everything in between. I like spots like these. I decided to go with the breakfast plate and upgraded my hash browns to the deluxe variety. The perfectly cooked potatoes get topped with fresh mushrooms, basil, tomatoes all bought that morning from the nearby Findlay Market, cheese and onions go in them too. The goetta was somewhat similar to corned beef hash which is my favorite breakfast bite. Nothing odd about it. As the Stern's over at Roadfood said, this place is worth the drive. Best breakfast I've had in some time, granted I'm not a big morning eater this was something I'd be in for often if I lived in the vicinity.

Goetta with Eggs over-easy and Deluxe Hash Browns

Also on Vine street not to far from Tucker's is Holtman's Donut Shop. From the outside I assumed this place was a newly opened spot in wake of the craze for them but I was happy to see that they've been around since 1960 and have three locations there. I stopped in for a couple and came out with a wonderful chocolate frosted bite as well as a game-changing maple bacon peanut butter concoction. Best part of it all was the $2 and change total they came out to.  

Holtman's Donuts

Feeling full from a double dip breakfast we walked on over to the famous Findlay Market. This is "Ohio's oldest continuously operated public market and one of Cincinnati's most cherished institutions. The Market is located just blocks from downtown in Over-the-Rhine, a dense historic neighborhood rich in 19th century architecture." I thought it was very similar to the Eastern Market in Detroit. Not quite up to par with the Reading Terminal out in Philadelphia but still something most any city would be happy to have. I tried my first mettwurst which is a type of smoked sausage with cheese that's another popular regional eat in these parts.

Findlay Market

Thirsty for something boozy we headed over to a popular place called Bakersfield OTR. It doubles as a taqueria and tequila sipping spot and like many of these modern taquerias throughout the country, they get packed. Many of the trendier spots in OTR close around 2 or 3p and then reopen at 5p or 6p but Bakersfield is open all day. The drinks were good but the tacos were even better. As good a trio as I've had at these modern taco bars that are taking our nation by storm. Both the mahi mahi and cochinita pibil were above average while the short rib was outstanding. I left impressed.

Trio of Tacos from Bakersfield OTR

The last food stop before heading back to Louisville was a place an old friend suggested we meet at for a quick bite. Eli's BBQ started off catering but became so popular that they moved into a brick and mortar. The line was reaching out the door on my visit but it moved fast. They have a huge outdoor dining area with large tents hovering over tables in the lot next door. You can eat inside if there's a table available.

Eli's BBQ

I'd heard the pulled pork sandwich was where it's so of I chose to roll with that. Great deal as $8 nets you a sandwich overstuffed with meat and two large sides of your choice. The pork was sensational and the sides were just as good, really enjoyed the cheesy jalapeno grits and thought they should of added a cheesy in front of the mac and cheese's name on the menu too. No doubt the kids love that version. Looking forward to a return trip to the Queen City soon, I really liked what I got out of it on this short daytrip. Unfortunately I decided I didn't want to add on the 40 minutes of total driving time it would of took to go to Jungle Jim's and immediately regretted that on the ride back. Next time for sure.

Pulled Pork Sandwich with Cheesy Jalapeno Grits + Mac & Cheese

Back in Louisville. One of the newly opened places I had my eye on was a spot called Gralehaus that specializes in both beer and breakfast. The guys behind it own another popular spot in town and plan on opening a B&B alongside this new venture very soon. They're taking the Longman & Eagle approach. As I mentioned in the previous post, most of the city is one big Logan Square.

Located in the Highlands Neighborhood

a peak inside

They do food and beer for there or you can buy beer from their fridge to put into yours. Taps, bottles, cans, you name it they got it. Having checked out the menu beforehand it was the crepes that caught my eye. They offered quite a few variety's and while the one I wanted wasn't on there I found a replacement pretty quickly. The Country Ham with an egg and red eye gravy as well as a couple other components I can't remember was a nice way to start the day but having seen another patrons Biscuit and Duck Gravy plate I was kind of regretting having not gotten that. She had the cornmeal crusted catfish sandwich of which everything except the fish was made in-house. I heard it was good, small but worthwhile.

Country Ham & Egg Crepe

Catfish Sandwich

Best bite of this trip came from Harvest Restaurant located in the NuLu neighborhood amongst a bunch of other worthwhile spots. We stopped in for drinks, which were super refreshing, and I decided I had to try their take on an old state favorite. Burgoo is a social event in Kentucky, much like the fish fry is here in the Midwest. Usually its made by churches and organizations but you'll find restaurants making it here and there too. Traditionally it's made with whatever meats and vegetables were available and everything from racoons to squirrels are game. At the farm to table Harvest Restaurant they're making theirs with chicken, pork, turkey, new potatoes, heirloom tomatoes and pretzel croutons. This was deep in flavor and definitely something I'd seek out next time I'm around.

Kentucky Burgoo at Harvest Restaurant

Also located in NuLu is a place called Taco Punk and seeing as how I'm a taco fiend I had to stop in and try one. Upon entering the place has the feel of a Chipotle so my hopes weren't all that high but I left pleasantly surprised with my "quick service gourmet taco". I tried the pineapple pork shoulder which is real smoked pork finished with a pineapple glaze and chose my toppings ala Chipotle. The meat had actual smoke flavor and they make the tortillas fresh to order and stuff them with fillings. Not bad at all.

Smoked Pork Taco from Taco Punk

Last stop before heading back was to a Drive-In that's been slanging burgers since 1947. I chose to try the other old school burger joint nearby last time so this time around I wanted to see what was up over here.

The famous Dizzy Whizz Drive-In

Their famous Wizzburgers were 2 for $5 on my visit but she wasnt eating so I went with just one. This is a double Decker burger ala the Big Mac minus the sesame seed bun. I think the sauce is a little bit different as well, mostly mayo based and I liked it for a fast food burger but would still say Jim's Hamburger Heaven in Elmhurst Illinois makes my favorite burger in this style. That's all for this trip! See ya next time.


316 W Main St
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 584-6455

Feast BBQ
116 W Main St
New Albany, IN 47150
(812) 920-0454

Buffalo Trace Distillery
113 Great Buffalo Trace
Frankfort, KY 40601
(502) 696-5926

425 W Chestnut St
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 822-6382

St. Charles Exchange
113 S 7th St
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 618-1917
Hinkle's Sandwich Shop
204 W Main St
Madison, IN 47250
(812) 265-3919
Tucker's Restaurant
1637 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 721-7123

Holtman's Donuts
1332 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 381-0903

Findlay Market
1801 Race St
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 665-4839

Bakersfield OTR
1213 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 579-0446

Eli's BBQ
3313 Riverside Dr
Cincinnati, OH 45226
(513) 307-8318

1001 Baxter Ave
Louisville, KY 40204
(502) 454-7075

Harvest Restaurant
624 E Market St
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 384-9090

Taco Punk
736 E Market St
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 584-8226

Dizzy Whizz Drive-In
217 W St Catherine St
Louisville, KY 40203
(502) 583-3828
post edited by KingT - 2014/08/04 20:07:55
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Re:Eating BIG in Louisville 2014/08/04 22:43:00 (permalink)
A big crowd of Roadfooders just participated a very successful Cincinnati Chili Crawl (many thanks to CajunKing and ChiTownDiner for organizing) last April.  Between the actual day of the crawl and the extra curricular activities in the days surrounding it, we hit a lot of outstanding eating spots.  But I still read with awe and envy your visit to the Queen City.
Thanks, as always King T, for creating a first rate Roadfood guide for future visits.
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Re: Eating BIG in Louisville 2015/09/18 22:40:51 (permalink)
- as seen on chibbqking 
I get down to Louisville a couple times a year and I have a few more spots worth sharing. Actually this trio is probably as good of a bunch as you'll find around town. At this point I'm probably more familiar with the food scene there than most locals. Ramen at Milkwood was the best bowl of ramen from a non-specific ramen shop I've come across. Love that spot, as well as a few others I doc'd upthread but today we check out the lesser known. I dont like to bash places but I had some average BBQ this trip as well. It and a few other spots can be seen HERE.

Anchorage Cafe

You're not going to find lots of options for great biscuits in Louisville. They're just not found this far north, for the good ones you need to travel a little further south. However there is one place you can find what I consider to be a wonderful sandwich and a fluffy biscuit baked with chives is the bread. Anchorage Cafe is located in a suburb but Louisville is so small it's not far at all. The fillings in this beauty below are country ham and white American cheese. As good as it looks.

Country Ham and Cheese Biscuit

Morris' Liquors & Deli

This place is so under the radar I'm not even sure what it's called. Some online mentions call it Morris' Liquors & Deli while others call it Karem Deeb Liquors Delicatessen. There's little info online but those in-the-know know that this place puts out a fantastic country ham sandwich and is also a good spot to check for that bottle of bourbon you cant find anywhere else. Lets take a look.

Bourbon & Ham

Cool spot. Definitely a locals place. I actually came here twice last trip and got a signature ham sandwich each time and a bottle of bourbon I hadn't heard of before. The guy that owns the place is very knowledgeable on the subject. The salty country ham pairs great with the recipe for the type of sandwiches your mom used to make you for school. No need for the fancy stuff with this one.

Country Ham Sandwich

Shirley Mae's Cafe

"Shirley Mae’s Café cuts no corners. Shirley Mae and Chef Theresa take an enormous amount of pride in the painstaking process of prepping and cooking fresh food every day they open their doors to their eager customers. The marriage of Shirley Mae’s Café’s nostalgic atmosphere with its savory and historically-authentic dishes… straight out of the South…resonates with people who like its down-home-feel and its special one-of-a-kind cuisine…a cuisine that most folk don’t have the time or know-how to prepare for themselves or their families at home. Shirley Mae’s mission is to enable her customers to take Shirley Mae’s Café home with them in any quantity, as well as, dine-in."

I inquired about the neon but was told to come back in ten years when she's nearing retirement. haha.

Somehow this place totally went under my radar on my previous trips in. Otherwise I would've been there the first time I went to Louisville. On the weekend I visited it would be Martin Luther King Day and this place typifies the dream he wanted all to be able to achieve. It also happened to be Muhammad Ali's birthday and seeing as how he's from Louisville this spot was the perfect place to honor both men.

a peek inside

The building itself has some rich history as it dates back to 1880. The community where it rests is the oldest African-American living area in Louisville and dating back to 1946 when it housed the J & H Food Bar it's been one of the premiere bars/restaurants for the city's minorities. Service was extra friendly and the old school atmosphere was still there. Then there's the food. Skillet Fried chicken wings are all the rave and the hot water cornbread that comes with it was the best piece of cornbread I've ever had. I don't want it any other way anymore. This is what Roadfood is all about.

Skillet Fried Chicken and Hot Water Corn Bread

The Anchorage Cafe
11505 Park Rd
Anchorage, KY 40223
(502) 708-1880

Morris' Liquors and Delicatessen
2228 Taylorsville Rd
Louisville, KY 40205
(502) 458-1668

Shirley Mae's Cafe
802 S Clay St
Louisville, KY 40203
(502) 589-5295
ann peeples
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Re: Eating BIG in Louisville 2015/09/18 23:36:55 (permalink)
I don't know how I missed this report first time around, but so glad it came up now! Great stuff, as usual.
Double Cheeseburger
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Re: Eating BIG in Louisville 2015/09/19 07:01:17 (permalink)
Hot Water Cornbread!  Love all kinds of cornbread.  Can't imagine this, can't wait to try it.
KingT, when you take a trip, you take a trip!  Thanks for the great work!
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Re: Eating BIG in Louisville 2015/09/19 09:52:02 (permalink)
Freaking GENIUS!!!
And I'll have that scallop from the Korean seafood stew for dessert.
Thank you, KingT.
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Re: Eating BIG in Louisville 2015/09/19 10:07:19 (permalink)
Shirley Mae's Cafe is on my "hit list" for next summer when I head to Central Indiana and Kentucky
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