Bourbon and horse racing are likely the most prominent associations with Louisville, Kentucky. I spent four days there and didn’t partake in either. Instead, I spent the time scouting high and low art; walking pedestrian bridges; chewing buttery modjeskas; browsing floors of collectibles and antiques; trying White Castle for the first time; stalking the graves of the fried chicken kingpin; and dancing at the Garth Brooks concert—the most entertaining show to which I’ve ever been!
Because food, beer, and coffee are the of course the most important, check out my recommendations for all things food and beverage. The map has many other places to eat and drink (coffee, beer, bourbon, and brandy) that I found during my research or that were recommended to me by our Airbnb hosts . It also has the things to do around town like walking the Big Four Bridge to Indiana, visiting Cave Hill Cemetery, checking out the Speed Art Museum on the campus of the University of Louisville (it’s free on Sundays); the Ohio River Greenway; and a few photo opps.
Eat & Drink
I don’t think the trip would have been nearly the success without Please and Thank You. They are famous for their chocolate chip cookies, but everything we put in our mouths from this trendy, little coffee shop exceeded expectations: the Spanish latte was sweet and silky; the iced miel latte was cinnamony. The carrot cake muffin, which they toasted to my delight, was spicy and rich. The breakfast sandwiches were perfection!
Modjeskas are lighter-than-store-bought marshmallow wrapped in buttery caramel. I chose to visit Muth’s Candies for our introduction to these delightfully airy sweets. The standouts of the small handful of treats we chose were the triple caramel (a candy made of a thin layer of caramel, chocolate caramel, and marshmallow) and the pecan modjeska. The pecans were fresh, and I immediately regretted not buying more of everything.
Indiana isn’t really know for it’s bbq, but we took a little jaunt across the river to check out Feast. The succulent ribs fell off the bone and the collards were noteworthy. But the piece de resistance of the meal were the tater tots topped with bbq, creamy slaw, and ketchup-based sweet bbq sauce.
Perhaps the best meal (and certainly the best beer) of the trip was Monnik. I went with two beers at different ends of the spectrum: the IPA and the King George ( an English brown). Both were drinkable enough to another of each. The same with the burgers. After eating one, we decided we need another!
I’m not a huge fan of maple flavored food nor am I fan of adding bacon to everything—specifically baked goods, but Nord’s maple bacon bar converted me. The only reason I even ordered one was because every single mention of Nord’s (and there were many in my research) included nothing but the maple bacon bar. Upon eating my first bite, I got it. It was as if I were eating an entire breakfast in one bite. Beside Nord’s is Sunergos coffee, which reminds me of my favorite coffee shop in Asheville with its 1970s gold and orange comfy couches and chairs. The coffee was good and the shop was a perfect place to drink a latte, eat a doughnut, and read a bit while the sky spit a wintery mix of snow, ice, and rain in the middle of April.
No one needs a review of White Castle’s sliders, but what shocked me were their pre-packaged cake doughnuts. Upon seeing them, I promptly bought one of each (plain, chocolate, and powdered). I had a hunch, but as soon I smelled them, I knew they would whisk me back to childhood and eating the small Sweet Sixteen doughnuts by Merita. Next time I see a White Castle, I’m stocking up.
El Taco Luchador was a great, quick, cheapish lunch of tacos and guac. Excellent flavor in colorful surroundings. And a patio!
Our biggest (and really only) miss of the weekend was Against the Grain. We could tell quickly, from its location that this would be mediocre. At best. What they called pickles, we called vinegared vegetables. There wasn’t a cucmber on the plate. The food, beer, and service were all underwhelming and left us disappointed that we hadn’t chose better.
A Note About Garth Brooks
With nothing else to do Friday night, we decided on whim to see the Garth Brooks show. In fact, there were four Garth Brooks shows in Louisville while we were there. Two each night for two nights. After standing in the wind and rain waiting for the first show of the first night to let out and clear the crowd and after being told by a security guard that we were not allowed to get back in line once we got our tickets at willcall, we finally got to our seats and realized they were pretty damn good. We didn’t even have to leave our seat for drinks because there was a beer tent beside us. What were about to find out was that our seats were going to get so much better. Event staff came up to us and the people in front of us asking how the night was going and where we were from. He promptly handed us two tickets for the second row and escorted to our new seats. From our newly upgraded spot in the KFC Yum! Center, we were surrounded by crying girls who knew every word of every song the man sang; I was displayed on the Jumbotron throughout the concert; and we watched the most entertaining concert of my life.
Garth Brooks not only knows how to put on show, but he wants to put on a show. It is clear that he does it all for the fans, and he’s still happy to be on that stage. Furthermore, his band and back up singers are happy to be on that stage. The entire cast of characters has smiles on their faces right through the second encore at 1:30am. I found a wealth of respect for that man in Louisville on Friday night. Regardless of what one thinks about his music, one quickly realizes that show ain’t about the music, it’s about the performance. And damn what a performance it was!
Google Map with Things To Do, Eat, & Drink