Louisville is a foodie town — we all know that. Home to some of the best chefs in the business and an incubator for up-and-coming new chefs. But out of the limelight exist many hidden gems, restaurants that are off the beaten path. Some of them are hiding in plain sight, others are tucked back in neighborhoods and some are a bit of a drive out of town. Check out our roundup of 20 fabulous eateries you need to put on your radar.
211 Clover Lane, Louisville, KY 40207 • (502) 896-9570 Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Closed Monday
Not only is this off the beaten path, you might not find it if you don’t know where to look. Tucked back in a series of shops in St. Matthews, this hidden gem has a great patio, bar and private room, all with a quiet, low-key and distinguished atmosphere. Lunch and dinner menus are frequently changed, with a focus on locally procured meats and produce. Salads and entrees are all top-notch, but be sure to order dessert here, especially the pot de creme. We ate here when they added the new bar area back in summer 2014, and we loved it — read our review here.
909 Swan St., Louisville, KY 40204 • (502) 627-1777 Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Closed Sunday and Monday
The Come Back Inn is a joint — that’s the best way to describe it — that just happens to serve up delicious Italian food. It has a great bar, too, with many neighborhood regulars in attendance. They serve huge portions at very inexpensive prices, so always expect to leave with a doggie bag. We love all the pastas, especially the Bolognese and the luxurious Gorgonzola. The bruschetta is amazing, but you can guarantee you will not be finishing your dinner if you eat an appetizer here. Located on Swan Street near Hammerheads, this is a “blink and you’ll miss it” kind of place. They don’t take reservations and they don’t deliver, but it is worth the wait.
Prepare for a large portion at the Come Back Inn. Image: Come Back Inn
316 West Ormsby Ave., Louisville, KY 40203 • (502) 637-3167 Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Closed Sunday
Located in Old Louisville, Amicí Cafe has a strong local following. Guests love their relaxing outdoor courtyard, complete with fountains and chimes, making you feel like you are in a secluded villa rather than in the middle of the city. Amicí has made our list of restaurants with great patios and was reviewed in an article about Old Louisville. Guests love the food here as well; we loved the mussels, caprese salad and capellini with shrimp on our visit.
425 West Ormsby Ave., Louisville, KY 40203 • (502) 637-5284 Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Closed Sunday
Ambiance, ambiance and ambiance are points to drive home about this Old Louisville institution. With its white tablecloths, fresh flowers and live piano music, this is a perfect place for a romantic evening or a special occasion. The food here perfectly complements the elegant, understated atmosphere and is consistently good. Guests love the steaks, the risotto with shrimp and the filet mignon.
Buck’s Restaurant is ideal for a romantic evening or special occasion. Image: Buck’s Restaurant
1101 Lydia St., Louisville, KY 40217 • (502) 718-6002 Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Daily homemade soup, salads and a build-your-own noodle bowl are all popular items at this Schnitzelburg neighborhood restaurant. Weekend brunch is also popular here, with guests loving the eggs Benedict with homemade hollandaise sauce. You can enjoy all this goodness in their courtyard patio complete with a mini-golf course.
Lydia House has a great courtyard in the back with a mini-golf course as well. Image: Lydia House
741 E. Oak St., Louisville, KY 40203 • (502) 290-7112 Hours: Wednesday through Friday, 7 a.m to 3 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Closed Monday and Tuesday
We first discovered Scarlet’s Bakery when we profiled founder Rachelle Starr as one of our FACES of Louisville. We stayed at the bakery to eat and, oh my! The donut holes and cinnamon roll (a roll huge enough for two) are the headliners of the bakery’s sweets. But, the sandwiches and pizzas are wonderful as well. We had an individual tomato-and-pesto pizza and a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch. Great local coffee from Good Folks Coffee, located across the street, is also served here.
3713 Klondike Lane, Louisville, KY 40218 • (502) 454-4406 Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
This family-owned and -operated restaurant and adjacent bakery are bustling all the time. Not only do they serve delicious Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food, they also provide over 4,000 pitas to local restaurants around town. Diners love the lamb gyros, hummus, grape leaves and especially the baklava. Go for a meal and be sure to head next door to the bakery for some delicious goodies to take home.
4222 Bishop Lane, Louisville, KY 40218 • (502) 618-1400 Hours: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Closed Sunday
Located off Newburg Road on Bishop Lane, this pollo has so much flavor that you will wonder what their secret is. This is made Peruvian style, cooked slowly over a rotisserie. They serve their chicken with classic Southern sides, such as mashed potatoes and green beans, but be sure to branch out and get the Peruvian sides of cilantro rice and chickpeas.
Yummy Pollo‘s signature pollo is Peruvian-style chicken made on a rotisserie. Image: Yelp
406 Mount Holly Road, Fairdale, KY 40118 • (502) 363-3227 Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Closed Sunday
This is another iconic Louisville eatery located in Fairdale and set in a log cabin dating back to 1896. Besides your typical barbecue fare, they also offer turkey ribs, smoked bologna and “The Hump,” a large appetizer of loaded homemade chips. People love the ambiance and experience of eating here, but Shack in the Back also offers carry-out and drive-through service in addition to their full-service catering.
This is the front, but there really is a shack in the back of this restaurant. Image: Shack in the Back
4742 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY 40218 • (502) 491-7412 Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday through Sunday, noon to 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Located in a nondescript strip mall down Bardstown Road, Dakshin is a fantastic Indian restaurant, serving lunch and dinner seven days a week. With both carnivore and vegetarian options and what seems like a million yummy condiments and dipping sauces, Dakshin is delight to the palate.
Dakshin is a great Indian restaurant down Bardstown Road.
165 Outer Loop, Louisville, KY 40214 • (502) 363-0308 Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Yes, it’s in a strip center next to a Walmart on the Outer Loop. But don’t judge a book by its cover — this restaurant is delicious. Sit down to complimentary breadsticks and marinara dipping sauce and save room for the numerous appetizers and then your dinner. Fettucine Alfredo, lasagna, pizza and sandwiches are all highly recommended here.
435 North Bardstown Road, Mount Washington, KY 40047 • (502) 759-2070 Hours: Tuesday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Wednesday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Closed Sunday and Monday
We found this treat of a cafe when we wrote an article about Mount Washington a couple years ago. Hidden among a sea of chain restaurants, this locally owned cafe has a great breakfast and lunch, all homemade by the owners. They are also a coffee shop, the only one in town, serving up locally roasted coffee. Best part about this place: the people. Everyone is friendly and we chatted with everyone in the cafe during our lunch here.
Owners Taylor and Jordan Hughes proudly stand in front of their menu at Maggie Mae’s Cafe. We had everything on the menu, including the summer squash and corn chowder and the turkey, brie and strawberry panini.
9308 Cane Run Road, Louisville, KY 40258 • (502) 937-9888 • (502) 937-1235 June through August hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 10 p.m.; Closed Monday Late January through May & September through November hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 9 p.m.; Closed Monday
You have not lived until you have experienced Mike Linnig’s … seriously. And with a massive patio, outdoor bar and views of the Ohio River, it is an unforgettable experience. This is a family-friendly seafood restaurant with classic fried fish platters, onion rings, slaw and everything fried you can think of. Read our article about this iconic Louisville establishment. The perfect time to go is when the weather is warm, so that you can spend some time on the patio.
8730 Westport Road, Louisville, KY 40242 • (502) 618-4588 Hours: Monday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
From the street, this looks like nothing more than a grocery store, but walk through to the back where they are serving up some of the best tacos in town. You know it is the real deal, because the menu is in Spanish and English. All tacos come Mexican style, which means just cilantro and white onion as toppings; that way you can really taste the meat. You can also order tacos with deluxe toppings such as lettuce and tomato. Carne Asada, carnitas and Al Pastor are all popular here. Just like any good taqueria, bring your appetite, because there is no such thing as eating just one taco.
La Rosita has an authentic taqueria tucked in the back of a grocery store. Image: Yelp
131 West Market St., Louisville, KY 40202 • (502) 584-7800 Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 8 p.m.
Saffron’s is the sleeper hit of the downtown food scene and consistently produces some of the best meals with the best service. This traditional Persian restaurant has delicious lamb chops, chicken and beef kabobs and salads. It is hard to decide on an entree as they are all delicious. SB TIP: Eat here before an event at the YUM! Center, and parking is free.
10609 La Grange Road, Louisville, KY 40223 • (502) 245-9004 Hours: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to midnight; Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Located on the road into Anchorage, Selena’s is famous for its great happy hours and weekend brunch. The menu is a mix of Creole and Italian food, but guests consistently return for the Creole food. Popular items are the Creole omelet, gumbo, étouffée, po’ boys and of course, bread pudding and bananas Foster for dessert.
6905 Shelbyville Road, Simpsonville, KY 40067 • (503) 722-8200 Hours: Monday through Saturday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Closed Sunday
This historic inn, dating back to the 1700s, has had a restaurant since 1922. It closed last year and re-opened in April under new owner Christopher Kayrouz (of Kayrouz Cafe). It’s a classically Southern restaurant, with such notable menu items as fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, fried chicken and pork chops, but the menu does have some range now, with Italian dishes and other lighter items.
5728 Smithfield Road, Smithfield, KY 40068 • (502) 845-7682 Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Closed Monday
Head east on Highway 22 for about 30 miles and you will find Our Best Restaurant in Smithfield, Kentucky. This restaurant is beloved for their comfort food, like fried chicken and mashed potatoes, meatloaf, corn bread and delicious desserts. Louisvillians have been making this scenic drive through the country for many years just to savor their flavors and sip on their sweet tea.
Our Best is about 30 miles east of Louisville in Smithfield, Kentucky. Image: Yelp
1153 Old State Hwy. 62, Leavenworth, IN 47137 • (812) 739-4264 Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Located about 45 minutes west of downtown Louisville off I-64, this restaurant literally “overlooks” the Ohio River from its perch on a bluff on the Indiana side of the river, where it claims a 20-mile panoramic view of the rolling river. Fans of this restaurant drive in for the fried chicken, ribs, catfish and the chicken cordon bleu. But, the favorite category on the menu here is dessert, with diners saving room for blackberry cobbler, coconut cream pie and their famous “Death by Chocolate.” They only take reservations for parties of 13 or more, but they do offer call-ahead seating, if done one hour prior.
1208 State St., New Albany, IN 47150 • (812) 945-1149 3700 Paoli Pike #4, Floyds Knobs, IN 47119 • (812) 923-9805 Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 10 p.m.
What is it about Arni’s pizza that makes Hoosiers keep coming back for more? Even Hoosiers that live on the Kentucky side of the river drive back to get their Arni’s fix. They all say it’s the cheese, the thin and chewy crust and the edge-to-edge toppings that make it special. Popular pizza choices here are the BBQ and the deluxe. Don’t forget about the stromboli selection, which is excellent. We think it’s the sentimental value of Arni’s that keeps their clientele loyal, with many of them saying that Arni’s reminds them of their childhood. There are two locations nearby, one in downtown New Albany and one in Floyds Knobs.