We are so accustomed to celebrating the newcomers to Louisville’s culinary scene that it can be easy to forget those tried-and-true establishments that make up the foundation of our city’s food identity. Today, we take a moment to give credit to these venerable institutions — locally owned, one-of-a-kind restaurants where we have celebrated special occasions, have spent hot summer nights with friends or which have simply served as our go-to neighborhood gathering spot. Whatever the case, here are 12 Louisville classics that we look forward to supporting for years to come!
2437 Brownsboro Road • (502) 893-2062
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Pat’s Steakhouse epitomizes the concept of old school, and dining at this green-trimmed, wood-clad, two-story restaurant offers a glimpse into days gone by. The dining rooms are rambling and varied, regularly full of guests sipping martinis and tucking into various cuts of beef while sampling the sides, all served for the entire table to enjoy. Little has changed at Pat’s since it opened in 1958, and we don’t see any need for it to.
2122 Bardstown Road • (502) 451-8944
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 24 hours; Sunday, open until 5 p.m.
Opened in 1962, many a Louisvillian has welcomed the morning sun while dining on a plate of fried eggs and bacon at the Twig and Leaf. A Douglass Loop staple, the diner feel is in full effect here, cracked leather booths lining the floor-to-ceiling windows, offering generations of Highlands residents a picture-perfect view of the comings and goings of this eventful Bardstown Road corner. Prices have increased minimally as the years have gone by, ensuring this diner remains accessible to any and all who pass through its doors.
970 S. Third St. • (502) 583-8015
Hours: Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Closed Sunday
We embraced nostalgia last year with our article on Louisville luncheonettes, and D. Nalley’s was a favorite stop on the list. Indeed a classic luncheonette, red swivel stools and all, this Louisville favorite, along with the good people behind it, has been serving up burgers, pies and everything in between since 1960. As with many restaurants that have stood the test of time, the prices at D. Nalley’s have increased little over the years and a combo including The Mighty Dee, their signature burger, french fries, coleslaw and a drink is a bargain at $6.04.
1007 Bardstown Road • (502) 452-9244
Hours: Lunch served Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Dinner served Monday through Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Few would argue with the notion that Jack Fry’s is Louisville’s signature restaurant. Founded in 1933 by Jack Fry and his wife Flossie, the restaurant was a popular hangout for sportsmen and gamblers alike. Old photos adorn the walls of the small and buzzy dining space, where some of the city’s very best cuisine is turned out night after night. Jack Fry’s hasn’t held court continuously on Bardstown Road, however. Mr. Fry elected to retire in 1972, and a Mexican restaurant took up shop in the space for more than 10 years. Luckily, Susan Seiller made the wise decision to purchase the building and reopen Jack Fry’s in 1987. There is little doubt that countless special occasions will continue to be celebrated at Jack Fry’s for years to come!
570 Eastern Pkwy. • (502) 637-4325
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Classic, country home cooking is the name of the game at the Cottage Inn, and it has been since the doors opened in 1929. The Cottage Inn now holds court as one of Louisville’s oldest dining establishments and locals continue to flock to this tiny stone abode for their daily specials (think meatloaf and roast beef) and the fried chicken, Cottage Inn’s house dish. Despite a handful of ownership changes through the years, little has changed about the Cottage Inn. We hope it never does.
3113 S. Fourth St. • (502) 375-3800
Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Also included in our Luncheonette roundup was Wagner’s Pharmacy, the eatery adjacent to Churchill Downs. Wagner’s, in operation since 1922, has been a go-to for hungry horse racing insiders and casual trackgoers alike, with traditional soda fountain fare at the ready, along with daily lunch specials and breakfast made to order. We recommend sitting at the counter when visiting Wagner’s, and make sure to take time to browse the photographs decorating the walls that chronicle Wagner’s storied past.
3901 S. Third St. • (502) 368-3161
Hours: Open every Saturday from March through November (except Derby Saturday), 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. or when the fish sells out
The Suburban Fish Fry may well be the best-kept, longest-running secret in Louisville. Operated by the Suburban Social Club, an offshoot group of the Suburban Lodge, which was chartered in 1902, the club established their fish fry tradition in 1927 as a way to fund their various social programs and to give to charities throughout the city. Come March, the Social Club members are hard at work on the weekends, offering fried fish to hungry Louisvillians, served by the pound, as a sandwich or as a dinner, complete with french fries and sweet onions marinated in vinegar.
9308 Cane Run Road • (502) 937-9888
Winter and spring hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.
What started as a small roadside stand selling fresh fruits and veggies in the 1920s soon became a full-fledged family business for Mike Linnig and his wife, Carrie Wessel. The same fried fish sandwich has been served year after year, and locals flock to this eatery with ample outdoor seating. The Linnig family still owns and operates the restaurant, which has weathered many a storm over the years, including brief closures due to the flood of 1937, World War II, the Korean War and a major fire in 1966. The Linnig family’s dedication to preserving the restaurant and their family’s heritage is admirable. The icing on the cake? They fry some of the best fish in Louisville!
1101 E. Burnett Ave. • (502) 637-9515
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.
While the awning at Check’s Cafe may boast 1944 as their date of origin, history tells us that Check’s first opened its doors in 1935, owned and originated by Check Sumpter. Nine years later, he would sell the restaurant to Joe Murrow Sr., who firmly solidified Check’s Cafe’s place as a Schnitzelburg institution over the next 35 years. The Murrow family still runs Check’s Cafe today, and their chili is as comforting and classic as it was when first introduced to Louisville decades ago.
1516 S. Shelby St. • (502) 709-4660
Seasonal hours, Spring opening date TBD: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Little has changed about the Dairy Del in Schnitzelburg since it was first established in 1951. From the building itself to the ice cream treats they’ve been making for more than 50 years, anticipation of the seasonal opening of this slice of days past is always on our minds. And, like any good, old-time ice cream parlor, there are more than just sweets on offer, with burgers, nachos and soft pretzels at the ready for those who may be craving a salty kick.
217 W. St. Catherine St. • (502) 583-3663
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.
When you picture old school, fast food joints, curbside service likely comes to mind. Louisville’s original Dizzy Whizz has maintained the tradition of taking customers’ orders in person, at their car window, and returning with piping hot bags of Whizzburgers, the signature item, which are cooked to order. Counter seating for 10 people is available inside for those who want to kick back and reminisce about visiting Dizzy Whizz in the good ole’ days.
4302 Shelbyville Road • (502) 897-1017
Hours: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Closed Tuesdays
Dim sum all day, every day. What’s not to like about that? The Oriental House is one of the only spots in Louisville where authentic dim sum is on offer, a variety of small plates featuring traditional Chinese fare. The colorful home of Oriental House has sat proudly on Shelbyville Road since 1964, and while the classic Chinese-American dishes have always graced their menus, highly traditional offerings were added in 2003, when the restaurant came under new ownership. Between the dim sum (be adventurous and try the chicken feet!) and dishes like Wok Seared Whole Flounder, Oriental House is truly the most tenured and authentic Chinese restaurant in the region.
We know these are just a few of the Louisville classics in this restaurant rich town. What is your favorite, long-standing Louisville restaurant? Share them with us on our Facebook page. And find more local favorites by downloading our free SB App. Click here to get started!