Couple-Ville [Food & Dining]

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Newly married, eternally in love with my Southern roots and adopted hometown of Louisville, I consider myself a lucky guy. “Guy” being the operative word as I don’t buy into Hallmark holidays, but I do wilt between Mardi Gras and pre-season football.

There’s a balance to be reached when you’re recently married in Louisville. It’s a gamble determining WHEN to celebrate WHICH holidays that are important to us, and more to the point, where. Don’t get me wrong, I want to share every moment with my wife, but doing what you love with whom you love makes decision making on a budget difficult while starting a new life in a new town.

I consider myself medium-maintenance - so if I trade a romantic New Year’s Dinner in exchange for some Superbowl couch time, flowers on Valentine’s for March Madness, or a yoga class for a crawfish boil, It's a tight rope I'm willing to walk.

Let me be a beacon and provide for my brethren some ideas of coupley-things to do off the beaten path in-and-around Louisville, which will not only save you time and money, but that you may likely enjoy – because sharing an experience with those you love is what relationships are all about. Face it, being creative is sometimes disastrous, but the moments where all the best-laid plans go completely awry create some of the best memories (and worst first dates – also fun stories to tell in hindsight). Creative is sexy, and boys, trust me, she’ll recognize the effort.

Hope and I have started a tradition that falls somewhere between New Year’s resolutions and a bucket list. At the beginning of each year we separately brainstorm for ideas of the things we’d like to accomplish with (and for) each other before we make a new list for the following year. An individual romantic think-tank of sorts.

We compare our lists throughout the year with the understanding that they are constantly allowed to evolve and we find it amazing how much we have in common in places we least expect. We shock each other at every new change and suggestion.

I love the outdoors for fun, diners and dives for eating, travelling for experience, cooking for relaxation, and of course football. My wife loves doing all of those things with me (sometimes for me, I think more to the point).

For instance: she loves getting flowers, and I love getting flowers for her – but I also get a charge in planting a flower garden next to herbs and veggies. This brings us closer as a couple and the food we grow somehow tastes better and the flowers smell sweeter. I love movies from the couch, and she like’s going out for a movie night…what better way to meld those two points of view than a good old fashioned drive-in movie from the comfort of my front seat? You get the idea.

Remember: doing ONLY what you love is simply selfish, yet enjoying time with those you love is memorably PRICELESS. If you can get away with both at the same time - well that’s a holiday I’d gladly celebrate year-round.

Here are some ideas for ‘my guys’, which I’ve found that not only helps create a bond, but also a great memory without breaking your wallet.

DINE IN:

Sure, there are a ton of great places in and around Louisville to eat. There are the obvious choices for “date night” to include the Ruth’s Chris’s, Jack Ruby’s, and any number of downtown/4th Street or Bardstown Road haunts, but finding that special place out-of-the-way takes a little looking. Some examples include:

Riverbend Winery, Louisville, KY  www.riverbendwineryky.com/

Located on 10th street between Main and Market, River Bend Winery adds an air of class and sophistication to Louisville's downtown. They are located in a historic building dating back to 1880. The spacious tasting room and bar are separated from the processing facility, but allows patrons a rare glimpse into a world of wine making through a viewing area. Come enjoy a glass while you watch.

Big R’s Barbecue Shack, LaGrange, KY www.bigrsbarbeque.com

Pork butts and briskets are slow smoked on hickory and cherry wood for 12-15 hours. Baby back ribs are seasoned with Big R's "dry rub" , then slow smoked for 4-6 hours. They use homemade rubs for all meats, that is one of the secrets to good barbeque. Another secret is the slow consistent smoking! In barbequing , there's no short cuts to hurrying if you want GREAT barbeque!

Bootleg BBQ, Louisville, KY www.bootlegbbq.net/

This joint is run the old fashioned way - built from the ground up, and run by the two owners. They don't sit back and let the employees do all the work - they are there - answering your calls, taking your orders, cooking, catering, driving, cleaning, repairing whatever needs repairs at anytime. They run their business like a family, everyone has a job to do and is always welcome, both to do their work and to offer input and suggestions. While upward mobility isn't really an option, everyone gets the chance to see the various sides of restaurant, catering, and of course greeting the customers!

Big Momma’s Soul Kitchen, Louisville, KY (502) 772-9580

Open for lunch and early dinner daily, Big Momma’s offers a lot of soul food for a little price. Each day’s menu changes slightly, but fried chicken and a few other items remain constant. A main course and two sides is $7 to $7.50; sandwiches are $3.50, mostly. Fill up on crisp, juicy fried chicken and an oversize breaded pork chop smothered in gravy, with excellent long-simmered green beans and bacon; white beans; creamy, rich mashed potatoes; and long-cooked chunks of cabbage, all well-seasoned and flavored and prepared with obvious TLC. That’s what “soul” is all about. We dropped a good tip in the jar and left with smiles and change from a $20.

Missy’s Out of the Way Cafe’ (270) 692-4892

This is a truly unique restaurant, one of a kind. Nestled in the heart of Raywick, this steakhouse is unlike any other you will see. While dining your eyes don't have time to rest from the wall-to-wall decorations. They have an awesome menu, and an even better staff. Everything is cooked right in front of you by Missy herself. It is definitely worth the drive.

Dizzy Whizz Drive-In www.dizzywhizz.com

With ten counter seats and parking spaces for 40 cars, the novel concept of selling double-decker hamburgers through drive-in curb service caught on quickly. Today, Dizzy Whizz Restaurant is arguable the best well-known restaurant in the city of Louisville. The staff of 22 employees, whose work experience at Dizzy Whizz totals more than 300 years, they are committed to providing great taste with great service..and speaking of drive in’s…)

OUTDOORS:

Now that spring is in season, go out and enjoy all that Louisville has to offer beyond your front door. Go outside, please! (After you finish your mandatory “Spring cleaning” on your indoors of course – please venture outdoors, that entrance to your house swings both ways for a reason.) Some examples include:

Georgetown Drive-In www.georgetowndrivein.com

Awesome throwback for a great evening and worth the thirty-minute drive. They don’t open back up until April 2011 where they’re going back to the 1960’s with 60 cent admission, but if you’re making plans – and speaking of retro, try and get there on July 23rd where Cindy Marshall (Laverne & Shirley) and Henry Winkler (aka “the Fonze’) host a night of “Happy Days” and “American Grafatti”. A vintage car show while you’re there completes the picture.

Jefferson Memorial Forest

www.louisvilleky.gov/metroparks/parks/jeffersonmemorialforest/

Been here and it’s fantastic! Less than twenty minutes from the Louisville International Airport (SDF), it’s a reprieve without the "luxury" of driving with family and friends across country. For $15-30 dollars per night you can get a campground with running water and your own outhouse and it's pet/kid friendly with miles of trails to wear them both out:)

Ohio Falls www.fallsoftheohio.org/visitor_info.html

Now offering picnicking, grills and the littles in your life are welcome (pets need a 20 foot tether, your kids are up to you)  Check out the fossils just on the banks of the Ohio River just outside your door!

Stage Stop Campgrounds www.stagestopcampground.net

Been several times and there’s nothing better than floating down a lazy river and camping the night away under a rope swing, the Blue River site at Stage-stop Campground. Located near Highway 62, about eleven miles west of Corydon, Indiana near the Harrison and Crawford county line. Is an ultimate family outdoor location.

Marango Cave www.marengocave.com

No gear, no problem! Helmets, LED headlamps, secondary lighting... they provide you with the gear needed. Plus, take your LED headlamps home after the trip. You learn safe caving techniques and trained guides will help you or your group learn safe caving techniques, cave conservation, and cave ecology.

Bardstown Train Ride www.rjcorman.com/dinnertrain.html

Take A Unique Trip Back In Time with “My Old Kentucky Dinner Train” which features three beautifully restored 1940's vintage dining cars, which are pulled by two 1950's F-unit locomotives. During your two-hour excursion through the beautiful Kentucky countryside you will be served a delicious meal prepared while in route, by their executive chef in their kitchen car.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium www.therealwaverlyhills.com

Full night public investigations are done on Saturday nights from midnight until 8am. March-August. Cost is $100.00 per person. They will book approximately 40 people on that night, divide them up into groups of about 10 per floor and alternate the groups all night so that everyone covers the entire building. There is a $10.00 transaction fee per credit card run for the full night investigations. NO ONE under 18 years of age allowed. I.D. may be checked.

Paoli Peaks www.paolipeaks.com

The park crew will be hosting a Spring Clean Camp on Saturday March 12 from 10-4 in the Bonk. That's right, its after the doors have been closed for the season. Come out and enjoy one more day with the Paoli Park crew learning new tricks and hitting the rails one last time. Lunch will be provided and the cost for the camp will be $15 a person. Release Forms and Helmets are required to participate.

This is the first of many articles about great Louisiville haunts that you can enjoy with those you love within a budget.  But I'm always open for new ideas and experiences and am willing to put myself (and wife) through the gauntlet, so if you have any ideas - let me know.

(Photo: courtesy of ceed@googleimages.com)

About Kit Helton
Average single guy who has been able to lead an above average life. Originally from New Orleans and arrived in Louisville after 10 years via Chicago in 2005. Currently residing near Churchill Downs with my dog, Dixie. Owner of a catering company for over a decade and published cookbook author, I am lucky to return to the Food & Dining as well as Arts beats for Louisville.com.
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