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    Eat & Swig

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    Photos by William DeShazer

    Hungry? Good. Over the last month we’ve been eating our way through Louisville’s new restaurants (open since January 2017 or later). Burgers, pizza, ramen, breakfast sandwiches, doughnuts, salads and so much more. Dig in. Because in this town, it’s a safe bet that another restaurant just opened.

     


    Tsubaki Sushi & Bar

    TSUBAKI SUSHI & BAR
    13825 English Villa Drive

    Tsubaki is an extension of Jasmine Chinese Cuisine, in the shopping center across from the Lake Forest subdivision. You can go through the door labeled Tsubaki or you can go through Jasmine’s door. Either way, you pick a side to dine in and grab a menu. Jasmine is a favorite, but it’s the new part — the sushi — I’m after. Choosing a roll from a picture book of a menu has me telling the server, “Just one more minute!” more than a couple times. There’s the Derby Roll, with shrimp tails jutting out atop each nugget; the E.T. Roll, with pieces resembling heads of the Spielberg character; the Godzilla Roll, a real monster of a dish with seaweed salad splayed overtop. It’s April and 40-something degrees, so I search for warmth in the spicy L.A. Roll, with tuna, crawfish, avocado, cilantro, lettuce and radish, topped with spicy mayo and a citrusy ponzu sauce. Then I wonder why the hell I don’t eat sushi more often.

    — Mary Chellis Austin

     

    JW CAFE AND BAKERY
    2301 Terra Crossing Blvd., Suite 105

    Here’s what you’re gonna do: Take I-265 to Old Henry Road and the Korean bakery JW Cafe, where, of course, you’ll be ordering a Philly cheesesteak. Inside the cafe, a table of wooden plates displays an assortment of baked goods: cinnamon buns, kale-onion-Gruyere scones, chocolate-walnut biscotti, PB&J muffins, croissant twists dangerously priced at just 94 cents. The small cafe menu has salads, rice and noodles. And — why not? — a cheesesteak. A hoagie roll called “Hog’s bread” contains a pile of tender marinated beef, yellow peppers, red onion, mushrooms, hot sauce and a blanket of melted Mozzarella. A toothpick topped with a tiny baseball holds it all together. “You’re really going to town on that,” my four-year-old says.

    — Josh Moss

     

    MOZZAPI
    12102 La Grange Road

    Why does a place known for its pizza do breakfast sandwiches on weekend mornings? “We are known for our pizza, but when you really think about what we do: It’s just bread with toppings,” says Tom Edwards, owner of MozzaPi and Louismill. (The mill churns out stone-ground grits and flour. Translation: Lots of baked goodies are available, too.) Edwards makes the sourdough English muffins from scratch. He cures the bacon and makes the sausage (sage, red pepper flakes) from pigs in Liberty, Kentucky, about 100 miles southeast of Louisville. A special Italian meat slicer shaves the smoked speck (similar to prosciutto) to an almost translucent thinness. Poaching the egg makes for a jammy yolk. “We put on a traditional Cheddar and finish the sandwich in the wood-fired oven,” Edwards says. “Melt-y cheese is really important.”

    — JM

     


    Pork shank at 4 Seasons Restaurant

    4 SEASONS RESTAURANT
    8402 Hudson Lane

    This tiny stand-alone Bulgarian restaurant in Fern Creek packs a lot inside. Little wooden chairs that look like they could go in a country store tuck underneath plastic-covered white tablecloths. Pots hang from a wooden Kentucky-shaped ornament, as though I’m in a baba’s kitchen. Bulgarian pop music plays. But it’s the giant pork shank (opening spread) that impresses most. It’s served on a generous bed of cabbage with carrots and tomatoes that transform the cruciferous vegetable into soul food. I Fred Flintstone my way through a portion of the shank and give up. Somehow, I missed the chalkboard advertising the lamb shank on special. I’ll be back to accept that challenge.

    — MCA

     

    A-CHAU RESTAURANT
    5103 S. Third St.

    I’d heard folks reference this strip-mall Vietnamese restaurant as a “hidden gem.” Turning the building inside out would remedy this. On a recent Monday, I walk into A-Chau and the place hits me — POW! Lemon yellow pops from every wall. The restaurant’s paint choice inside makes the noon sun seem understated, even frumpy. Enhancing this vibrant scene, a man is playing what I presume is Vietnamese pop music from his phone at a nightclub decibel. The party ends there, though, because most of the 12 tables sit empty. I hope that’s not the norm because A-Chau’s Vietnamese “street food” is flavorful, authentic — and cheap! Most everything is in the $4 to $9 range. Everyone raves about the bánh mì sandwiches, and I recommend one of the vermicelli noodle bowls or curries. Later, after I’ve eaten, I see on the menu something that sounds like a dare — a sour soup smoothie. Next time, A-Chau. You are no longer hidden. But you are indeed a gem.

    — Anne Marshall

     

    BABY MAE'S
    1817 Graybrook Lane, New Albany

    As the cost of a cheeseburger creeps towards $20 with toppings like cranberry jalapeño bacon jam and free-range goat cheese lemon aioli, it’s refreshing to find a no-frills backyard version that competes with the best of them — for $4. That’s less than it costs to pan-fry something with the grass-fed chuck I get from the store. Baby Mae’s isn’t grass-fed or on a pretzel bun or served with truffle fries, but it’s got the desired accoutrements (a word that would never appear at this red-and-white-painted cinderblock walk-up joint) to go with a thick, juicy patty: tart pickles, iceberg lettuce, a barely melted American cheese square, tomatoes and red onions between a fluffy ol’ white bun. Yeah, the place calls itself a barbecue restaurant, but don’t waste your calories on the ribs. Even the guy in the order window steers me toward the burger and fried fish. Gripe about crossing the bridge all you want — those other places will still be plating and perfectly smearing your aioli by the time you scarf this one down and make it back.

    — MCA

     

    CHAMLING KITCHEN AND BAR
    2249 Hikes Lane

    The dragons on the ceiling breathe China. But Chamling describes itself as Chinese/Nepalese/Indian cuisine. General Tso’s chicken and the classics appease safe types, while the chili-like pork sewaka and the dumpling-looking chicken momo (don’t worry, the menu has pictures) fill out the less-familiar Nepalese parts of the menu. The lamb curry, in a dark, rich sauce, is like a blend of vindaloo and Chinese five spice. If all this gives you decision fatigue, I’ve got two magic words for you: lunch buffet.

    — MCA

     

    DADDY RICH'S
    617 W. Oak St.

    One year ago, Daddy Rich’s was operating at Jay’s 120, a restaurant incubator in Chef’s Space in west Louisville. It now has a permanent home to serve wings (with flavors like honey sriracha and garlic parmesan) and sweet waffles. The signature flavor — lemon-pepper buffalo — is a kicked-up version of the traditional seasoning. “It’s kind of two things,” says co-owner Brian Allen. “It’s the sauce, of course, but then we sprinkle it with the lemon pepper. The secret’s in the sauce.”

    — Jenny Kiefer

     


    Kathmandu Kitchen and Bar

    KATHMANDU KITCHEN AND BAR
    3825 Bardstown Road

    If hearing “Nepalese food” has you reaching for a map, well, that makes me feel better for having done so too. The restaurant, named after the capital of Nepal, is a blend of Indian and Chinese cuisines. Located among a mix of stores in a sort of rhombus-shaped building in Buechel, Kathmandu serves spicy curries and samosas, though chow mein and fried rice fill out the rich menu — making things hard for indecisive types. As I’m sorting out which spice level to get on the chicken chili (this one’s red, nothing like the white chicken chili your mom breaks out when the weather turns cold), the server tells me he usually asks for the absolute hottest level at Indian restaurants — and that’s nothing close to a Nepalese medium. Erring on the conservative side, I go with an Indian medium and my mouth sets fire. One of the owners arrived in Louisville through Kentucky Refugee Ministries six years ago. His mom now grows peppers for the restaurant at their house nearby. Whatever she’s growing, I want more of it.

    — MCA

     

    JOE'S OLDER THAN DIRT
    8131 New La Grange Road

    You might be thinking that this place is older than — it’s not, sort of. The 78-year-old neighborhood favorite sold off its colorful artifacts and closed in 2015, giving way to Red Barn Kitchen, a Southern-style notch in Fernando Martinez’s belt that includes El Taco Luchador and Mussel and Burger Bar. Now, the moose taxidermy and cheeky humored signs are back and the bar layout is closer to its original form. A Martinez-crafted menu shows off nachos, barbecue — and cheese on just about everything. It all goes down with beer, surrounded by regulars who stuck around through all iterations.

    — MCA

     

    OSKAR'S SLIDER BAR
    3799 Poplar Level Road

    Complete with elk-head lighting and a stuffed grizzly bear guarding a forest-themed hallway, Oskar’s is a place where you can enjoy a can of cheap beer or a shot of the traditional Scandinavian spirit aquavit. When it comes to the sliders — aside from the good-if-basic cheeseburger, the mild walleye and the delicious braised lamb on lefse (Norwegian flatbread) — it’s the gravlax (house-cured salmon) that steals the show. It has an almost creamy texture and a buttery flavor, with plenty of dill seasoning. Served with rye crackers and lightly tangy crème fraiche, it’s like sushi of the (Nordic) gods.

    — Kevin Gibson

     

    GREEN DISTRICT SALADS
    225 S. Fifth St.
    126 Breckenridge Lane

    Almost every afternoon, I eat a spinach salad with a few baby carrots and grape tomatoes. I pour some ranch into the plastic container, secure the lid, shake it all up. Sad! At Green District Salads the woman at the counter chops the ingredients with a two-handed pizza cutter that looks like it could fell a tree. “Good muscle workout,” she says. I scan the menu — Romaine Calm, Hide and Go Greek, You Are What You Beet — and go with the spicy Thai One On: shrimp, red cabbage, shredded carrots, edamame, cucumbers, jalapeños, peanuts, crunchy chow mein noodles and a Thai ginger dressing. Not sad!

    — JM

     


    Chik'n & Mi

    CHIK'N & MI
    2319 Brownsboro Road

    When I first heard about the oddly named Chik’n & Mi moving into a spot that’s been home to a string of short-lived restaurants, my expectations were low. Turns out that skepticism was unwarranted, as the Clifton restaurant is bustling nightly and for good reason. This Asian comfort food joint focuses on Laotian-spiced fried chicken and ramen, both of which are delicious. But no meal at this restaurant would be complete without a few delicate pork belly steam buns. If you sit at the bar during happy hour (Wednesday through Saturday, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.), you can feast on an assortment of “bar bites” — steam buns, lettuce wraps and egg rolls for a buck apiece, along with appetizers like fries sprinkled with bonito (dried tuna flakes) and miso mussels, which range from $5 to $7. It’s worth noting that the bartender did not give me the side-eye for bringing kids to happy hour, and in fact she cheerfully complied as my adventurous seven-year-old asked for increasingly spicy hot sauces — and then ultimately provided him with an unsolicited but much-appreciated glass of milk.

    — Sarah Kelley

     

    CUVÉE WINE TABLE
    3598 Springhurst Blvd.

    Cuvée has the feel of an Italian wine cellar, with greenery through the windows masking hints of its strip-mall location. I definitely don’t feel like I’m in Springhurst, especially not when the Kalimna Bin 28, an Australian Shiraz, arrives (for half-off during happy hour!). Pretty bites punctuate the wine, easy jazz “elevator” music and conversation: a Jenga-looking stack of fried polenta with garlic aioli, which my husband likens to a vegan fish stick, tartar sauce and all; a sweet-bitter baby kale salad; hanger steak with cremini mushrooms, roasted potatoes and red wine reduction, mixed together like a salad. Not enough for a full dinner, but plenty to fuel a shopping trip across the street at Target or T.J. Maxx.

    — MCA

     

    EL BARRIO TEQUILA & WHISKEY BAR
    129 W. Main St.

    Can we stop homogenizing Mexican food? They’re not all the same, folks. Like, Fazoli’s is not Vincenzo’s. And El Barrio is not your average combinaciones joint. (Not that I would ever turn down a trip to El Nopal or Sol Aztecas.) Sure, the chips and salsa are complimentary and the service is friendly and how’d-they-do-that? quick, but the menu is condensed to a page (front and back) and the tacos are these greasy — but in a glorious way — chewy tortillas with biting-hot sauce and savory, grilled asada and al pastor. There’s a draft menu fit for beer snobs, and the bourbon margarita, made with fresh limes, is the no-excuses cocktail for those who “don’t drink tequila” and hate the tartness of pre-made mixes. It’s really a shame for my wallet and fitness goals that my office is so close to this place.

    — MCA

     

    NAILA'S CARIBBEAN CUISINE
    1370 Veterans Pkwy., Clarksville

    Set in the corner of a retail shopping center, Naila’s is nevertheless and eye-catcher with its multi-colored, cartoonish sign over the entrance and the palm-thatch trimmings inside, which give it the vague feel of a tiki bar. This is Caribbean comfort fare, from the signature macaroni pie to flaky beef cakes that are sort of like Caribbean Hot Pockets, only better. Way better. The citrusy habañero sauce, coupled with tender stew beef, fresh peppers and rice, puts the palate on a slow burn, but the flavor combo is worth the mild pain.

    — KG

     


    Hull & High Water

    HULL & HIGH WATER
    324. E. Main St., New Albany

    Bringing the vibe of an East Coast seafood shack to the Ohio River, Hull & High Water nods to New Orleans cuisine in its po’ boy menu and Low Country boils. A dozen oysters on the half shell, steamed crab legs and a platter of peel-and-eat shrimp make up the seafood tower. The spicy grilled shrimp po’ boy is a sensory experience built between two halves of bread shipped in from New Orleans. The flaky crust meets tender shrimp and the crunch of pickles. For good measure, order an extravagant “Crabby” Bloody Mary, garnished with shrimp, hush puppies and a freshly steamed crab leg.

    — Michelle Eigenheer

    PHO CAFÉ
    1704 Bardstown Road

    A lot can be said about the rePHOlution. A lot of puns, PHO sho. But like any good Vietnamese restaurant, this place is serious. It’s mo’ than pho. (OK, I’ll stop. Besides, it’s actually pronounced the way you would begin a certain four-letter word). I can never turn down a good summer roll, and these are made with delicate rice papers, shrimp that pop in your mouth and tangy veggies with a strong mint taste — all for dunking in a salty-sweet peanut sauce. But the Pho Bo steals the show, with basil leaves, jalapeño peppers (fresh, not canned), sprouts, onions, noodles, a combo of meatball, beef and brisket, and a broth emulsified into something mystical with flavors I can’t even identify. Pho’s a go!

    — MCA


    NGON APPÉTIT
    1991 Brownsboro Road

    The folks behind the Four Sisters crêperie on Frankfort Avenue (R.I.P.) are basically serving the same menu at Ngon Appétit: better-than-mom’s-chicken-noodle-soup pho with rare beef, bánh mì sandwiches and barely crispy crêpes, my favorite of which contains chorizo, sunny-side-up eggs, bell peppers, white Cheddar, avocado and cilantro. It’s almost too pretty to eat. For dessert: S’more crêpe.

    — JM

     

    INWAVE RESTAURANT AND JUICE BAR
    10310 Shelbyville Road

    I ate at 10 restaurants while, uh, “researching” this package, and the menu item I think about more than all the others is a veggie barbecue sandwich at a place that describes itself as an “eco-friendly juice bar,” the kind of restaurant with an indoor waterfall fountain, acai bowls, wheatgrass shots and biodegradable forks. “The chocolate-chip cookie’s not vegan, is that OK?” says the young woman working the register. The spicy barbecue sandwich is lentils, potato salad, pickled red cabbage slaw and shredded carrots. I order a second one to go and don’t feel guilty about it.

    — JM

     

    PIZZA LUPO
    1540 Frankfort Ave.

    Devil’s food in the details: the wood-fired oven heated at a constant 800 degrees; super-fine flour imported from Italy, almost the texture of powdered sugar; a fork mixer to simulate the movement of human hands; dough fermented for two days. A raw tomato sauce cooks with the house-made mozzarella, the dough pockmarked in “leopard” char spots from the brick sauna. My favorite: Sting Like A Bee, topped with house-cured sopressata (a better pepperoni) and local spicy honey.

    — JK

     

    QUILLS FIREHOUSE
    802 E. Main St.

    It’s difficult to tell that the newest installment of Quills Coffee once housed firetrucks. The double bay doors now lead into a gleaming white cafe, serving hearty breakfast burritos, granola and savory and sweet waffles. The coffee creations (like the just-sweet-enough bourbon-salted caramel latte) are made with beans freshly roasted in the painted-black barn behind the patio.

    — JK

     

    RAMEN INOCHI
    2009 Highland Ave.

    Ramen Inochi is the perfect hole in the wall. Authentic through and through, from the bone broth to the row of bar seats in the window, this ramen spot celebrates one of the purest forms of no-frills comfort food. The spicy miso ramen is an artful blend of heat and umami, topped with braised pork, seaweed and a soft-boiled egg. Come for the ramen, but do not pass on the perfectly cooked spicy pork belly buns topped with pickled radish. Like many ramen shops in Japan, this isn’t a spot to linger: The restaurant seats about 25 diners, names added to the waitlist as you eat.

    — ME

     


    Whiskey Dry

    WHISKEY DRY
    412 S. Fourth St.

    Local celeb chef Edward Lee finally opened his long-awaited whiskey and burger joint at Fourth Street Live. The menu, stylized like something you’d find in a diner, includes a $27 Koji beef burger that’s dry-aged for 30 days, topped with gooey Cheddar, bacon, whiskey onions, Duke’s mayo and Henry Bain’s sauce. For half that price, the Big Ed, Lee’s take on a Big Mac, is two smashed-thin beef patties, crunchy pickles, lettuce shreds, spicy “comeback sauce,” Cheddar and a fried green tomato in the middle instead of a soggy third bun. The bartender asks me if it’s good but my mouth is too full to reply. “Tell your friends it’s OK to come to Fourth Street again,” she says.

    — JM

     

    TOGO SUSHI
    700 Lyndon Lane

    In our ever-evolving culinary scene, I am undecided as to whether drive-thru sushi is a step forward, backward, too far or just no big deal.

    On a recent afternoon, I head to ToGo in Lyndon for lunch. I have the time to dine in, but the novelty of drive-thru sushi tugs. I ignore parking spots and swing into the lane that hugs the small white building. Folks, ordering sushi is more challenging than a burger and fries. The choices are many and unfamiliar. Names provide no clues. What’s a Hot Girl Roll? I panic because the whole premise of this arrangement is that I spit my order and in return an arm is quick to extend out a window with my food.

    My decision rides solely on the menu board’s pictures: One Holiday Roll (spicy tuna and crab), one Louisville Roll (spicy crab, avocado, top-seared salmon) and seaweed salad. The wait time is in between McDonald’s and mall food court. Five minutes and I have Styrofoam containers full of fat sushi rolls and slippery seaweed salad. From my car, I can eye the top two-thirds of the dining area. It looks very snug and very red, perhaps a holdover from ToGo’s former life as a Bruster’s Ice Cream shop. Sushi isn’t good car food, of course. So I wait until I’m parked at my kitchen table. The seared salmon tastes far above any fast-food pedigree, and the crab stands nearly an inch high, like a proper bouffant hairdo on rice and tuna. I have no doubt that I will ToGo again.

    — AM

     

    BAR VETTI
    800 S. Fourth St.

    Ryan Rogers, the man behind Feast BBQ and Royals Hot Chicken, is serving up his take on Italian at bar Vetti, off the lobby of the renovated 800 Tower City Apartments. Inside the cozy, 99-max-capacity restaurant, “bar Vetti” glows in pink neon on a marble wall. My wife and I start with the fritto misto, a bowl of lightly fried olives, broccoli, cauliflower and other vegetables, then split a plate of dill taglierini with rock shrimp, fennel and fermented chiles (not a large enough portion to split, according to my appetite). The spicy nduja pizza has seasonal wild ramp leaves and pickled ramps, and a spicy sausage spread. The guy manning the domed pizza oven grabs a grater, rains cheese all over the pie. The crust is airy. “Do you like it more than Coals?” my wife asks. Don’t think I’m ready to answer that question in print yet. For dessert, we dunk hot and sugary doughnut orbs into apple butter.

    — JM

     

    BUTCHERTOWN PIZZA HALL
    1301 Story Ave.

    It was a sad day when Papalinos Pizza closed on Baxter Avenue. The pizzeria offered New York-style slices in a town overrun with purveyors of extra cheesy, doughy options. Good news for Papalinos fans: Former owner Allan Rosenberg is the man behind Butchertown Pizza Hall, where patrons are likely to recognize some familiar flavors, like the delectable spicy chicken sausage. The first time I visited Butchertown Pizza Hall, inside the former Hall’s Cafeteria, across from the JBS Swift plant, my husband was “ravenous” and ordered two slices. That was ill-advised, as a single slice is a fourth of a large pie. But the pizza is so good that we managed to polish off all the slices, buttery garlic knots and a salad with goat cheese, cranberries and pine nuts. The best part: We leisurely enjoyed a couple local draft beers while our kids played in the arcade (Donkey Kong, Ms. Pac-Man) adjacent to the dining room.

    — SK

     

    FLORA KITCHENETTE
    1004 Barret Ave.

    In the spring, at about 8:30 in the morning, a soft golden light eases through Flora’s large front windows, warming the exposed brick walls and potted ferns. That tender glow smiles upon two small children manhandling a table full of toys that Flora provides — a small wooden cake mixer, a wooden birthday cake with pieces held together by Velcro, a miniature, plastic French press coffee maker. The vegan bakery and cafe offers plenty to savor, like its take on biscuits and gravy, a breakfast burrito or avocado toast. But the two children have just received plates of chocolate doughnuts. The two-year-old boy gently cradles the treat with both hands as if it were a fluffy new chick. Unsure of what his mother has chosen for breakfast, his first bite barely registers as a nibble. The doughnut leaves a kiss of chocolate glaze on his lips. He licks at the smears, raises the doughnut above his head, pure glory and victory, and at the top of his lungs proclaims, “CHOOOOOCOLATE!!!!!”

    — AM

     


    Octopus at ROC Restaurant

    ROC RESTAURANT
    1327 Bardstown Road

    When a pat of butter arrives on a plate, sprinkled with just the right amount of salt crystals and creamy enough to spread on freshly baked focaccia, you can ease into your seat, rest your eyes from the exhaustion of choosing between fettuccine Bolognese and osso buco (or why not both?) and know that whatever comes out will be delicious. Especially when you try to order one course at a time but your server stops you and says that the chef won’t allow that, giving the reasoning, “He’s Italian. That’s the way he likes to do it,” as though that explains everything. The house-made pasta is for real, in case the host with an accent didn’t clue you in. You revel in being in the epicenter of the Highlands, dote on the thoughtful yet original decor, like the red-lit bar — somehow sexy in a non-Amsterdam way — note that the noise level is lively but not headache-inducing and sip on a ROC boulevardier (like a Negroni, only with bourbon and limoncello). You’ve somehow made it to Italy after work on a Friday.

    — MCA

     

    RED HERRING
    1757 Frankfort Ave.

    Red Herring, in the former Clifton theater with “Hilltop” spelled out in fat lightbulbs, does brunch, lunch, dinner and “bar bites,” meaning the kitchen churns out everything from huevos rancheros burritos to spicy chicken salad sandwiches to cavatelli to bacon-wrapped hot dogs with Mornay sauce. The cripsy chicken skins dissapear when having drinks with friends on one of the upstairs couches.

    — JM

     

    MIRIN
    2011 Frankfort Ave.

    Noodles made an unexpected splash in Louisville with short-lived Rumplings in the Highlands a couple years back. Mirin is a direct descendant under chef Griffin Paulin. Noodles are his focus, special dishes coming and going based on his whim. A spicy triple soup made with fermented Thai bird chiles and a Tonkotsu broth will have you slurping. The soft-boiled eggs, slices of lean pork and tender noodles make for a meal you can’t stop eating and won’t want to end.

    — KG

     

    MORELS CAFE
    619 Baxter Ave.

    Morels fakes it so damn well, taking vegan ingredients and spinning them into convincing junk food. The “Farby” meal — a meat-free, dairy-free take on an oozy Arby’s roast beef sandwich — wows those who indulge. But I think the pulled-pork sliders are the supreme feat. Korean-flavored chunks of non-animal come with pickled slaw and a gooey, nut-based “cheese” drizzle. I take my sliders on corn tortillas, packaging them into spicy, scrumptious tacos. A little bowl of Buffalo “chicken” ranch salad on the side (with “bacon bits” that I swear are as good as any pig can offer) and a mighty fine meal is complete. No hunting required, no slaughtering to speak of.

    — AM

     

    ROADRUNNER KITCHEN
    145 E. Main St., New Albany

    Run by busy moms Sarah Hastings and Stacie Bale, Roadrunner Kitchen seizes on a growing contingent of downtown businesses in New Albany. The retro, exposed-brick vibe almost feels like a cross between a New York coffee shop and a speakeasy, and the menu is largely grab-and-go — fresh, healthful food as an alternative to fast-food options. The Mediterranean tuna wrap is a specialty, but if you want to start your day off right, try the Power Muffin, baked with local eggs, banana, maple syrup, oats and vanilla chia protein powder.

    —KG

     


    Lox

    LOX
    900 E. Market St.

    One day a couple years ago, the Rye staff set up a Jewish-style deli down the street at sister restaurant Galaxie. “I was cutting salmon, vigorously, for like four and half hours,” says Zach Chancey, now Rye’s executive chef. The event was such a success that, during afternoons, Rye decided to become Lox and serve up salmon bagels (and soups, salads and sandwiches). Nancy’s Bagel Grounds makes the “everything” bagels, with poppy and sesame seeds, onion flakes and salt. “We’ve done so much tweaking of that bagel,” Chancey says. At one point, Anne Fuller, who runs Nancy’s, took a trip to New York to do some bagel research — not too fat, not too thin, some chewiness but not too much. The soft and lightly toasted bagel contains cream cheese, dill, salty capers, red onion and Chilean salmon that Lox cures for three or four days with equal parts salt and sugar and, Chancey says, “lots of black pepper.” I once ate two in one sitting. Chancey eats one every other day. Jerk.

    — JM

     

    PORKLAND BBQ
    2519 Saint Cecilia St.

    The “Pops” Porkland Round Steak sandwich is so hefty it’s indimidating. You can’t take a bite without getting sticky fingers. This is a Portland neighborhood staple, elevated: a thick slice of smoked bologna, topped with nacho cheese, red and white barbeque sauces and a mountain of spicy Grippo’s chips, which spill out the back of the toasted white bread slices with each messy, delicious bite.

    — JK

     

    BUTCHERTOWN SOCIAL
    1601 Story Ave.

    Louis’s “The Ton” may have been my favorite bar in Louisville. The odd, inventive cocktails (one that my friend got hooked on tasted like a Flintstone vitamin), the live jazz and hip-hop, the everyman vibe. I was totally bummed when I heard it got bought out and that everything was different. And the generic new name, to me, said it all. But I reluctantly gave it a try, embraced change, blah blah, and learned that, while the homey thrift-store-furniture had been replaced by trendier finds, the staff re-created some favorite Louis’s cocktails. Even better than Louis’s is that there’s a kitchen churning out a rotating mix of bar bites like tacos, juicy wings, fries to fuel a dance session and, best of all, bacon-wrapped, cookie-butter-filled dates. The duck fat popcorn is free, but Louis’s started that.

    — MCA

     

    MAC'S DOUGH HOUSE
    10509 Watterson Trail

    This pizzeria in downtown J-town also serves “loaded” mac ’n’ cheese: barbecue chicken, pulled pork, a riff on a Hot Brown. The Firestarter has Sriracha chicken, jalapeños and crumbles of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Go stoned.

    — JM

    This originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of Louisville Magazine on pg. 60. To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

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