We associate food with fun, celebrations and just downright enjoyment. You can’t beat a hot piece of tender fried chicken as it dissolves in your mouth bite after juicy bite or capping the evening off with a warm, chocolatey brownie topped with cold vanilla ice cream. These decadent offerings are classified as comfort foods, and they come in all forms — from appetizers to desserts. Louisville is tops when it comes to satisfying your craving for these dishes at local diners, delis, food trucks and restaurants. Let’s dig in!
13 Decadent Comfort Food Dishes in Louisville
4901 Outer Loop #100, Louisville, KY 40219 • (502) 357-0767
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
What’s cooking at the Metro Diner? Chicken and waffles! This sweet-and-savory dish seems so very Southern, but in reality, this tasty pairing of pastry and poultry harkens back to the 1860s with the Pennsylvania Dutch. The diner’s signature chicken and waffles dish is an award-winning recipe, using fresh chicken that’s brined for 24 hours, then marinated for another 24. Half a bird is hand-breaded and cooked to order, resulting in a fall-off-the-bone gastronomic masterpiece. The chicken is served with a fluffy, warm Belgian waffle topped with a sweet house-made fresh strawberry butter and a side of signature sweet and spicy sauce. Their portions are so filling, you’ll never leave hungry.
983 Goss Ave, Louisville, KY 40217 • (502) 290-2390
Hours: Closed Monday; Tuesday through Sunday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
A taste of the “old country” can be found at Eiderdown. This mom-and-pop restaurant opened eight years ago and serves rich German-American food. “We offer our patrons delicious, comforting and thoughtful food using the highest quality ingredients,” says owner Heather Burkes. Everything is made in-house — the giant pretzels served with beer cheese, sausages and spätzle (noodles). They source a majority of their meats, cheeses and vegetables from local and regional farmers. Their prize comfort food dish is the pan-seared Marksbury Farm pork rouladen, a German pork specialty stuffed with bacon, caramelized onions and pickles, served with seasonal local roasted vegetables, smashed red potatoes and bacon-buttermilk gravy.
St. Matthews: 3400 Frankfort Ave Louisville, KY 40207 • (502) 895-2235
Middletown: 13401 Shelbyville Rd #101 Louisville, KY 40223 • (502) 254-1111
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
My, oh my! If you like your chicken to sizzle — not just temperature-wise, but in a spicy, kicky way — then Joella’s Hot Chicken will cool that hot craving. Their chicken is Nashville-style hot, with six unique spice levels, ranging from Southern Style to Fire-In-Da-Hole! The chicken tenders dish is served up with three large tenders, two generously portioned sides and a dipping sauce. Pair your chicken with crispy-thin Parmesan fries or their award-winning creamy mac ’n’ cheese by Slow Foods Bluegrass.
624 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40202 • (502) 384-9090
Hours: Closed Monday; Dinner served Tuesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Brunch served Friday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
“Rustic regional cuisine” is on the menu at Harvest Restaurant. Their mission is to serve outstanding, regionally inspired, seasonal, farm-to-table cuisine. And with 80 percent of their ingredients sourced locally from within a 100-mile radius and many of their foods baked, cured, smoked and preserved in-house, they are creating palate-pleasing local fare that has built a cult-like following. Their star comfort option is the half fried chicken with mashed potatoes, buttermilk gravy, country braised greens and hot sauce. There’s no doubt you’ll feel as if your mama was in the kitchen cooking up this delightful down-home dish.
Various locations across Louisville
Hours: Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
With five locations spread across Kentuckiana, there’s simply no way you can avoid the very popular Wild Eggs. Locals know their food’s a treat, and even with so many locations, you might have to wait a while to get a seat. The Kalamity Katie’s Border Benedict is their front-runner for favorite comfort food dish. They begin with green chili cheddar corn cakes and top them with chorizo and two poached eggs, then add queso fundido, pico de gallo, sour cream, green onions and avocado, served with skillet potatoes and their signature everything muffin — a sweet and savory mix of spices that completes any meal. It just makes your mouth water reading about it! “As one of our top-selling dishes, it is a great example of what we do with our chef-driven menu,” says Shane Hall, Wild Eggs Chief Operating Officer. “It’s Mexican-style eggs Benedict and the mix of flavors is something everyone must try. From the first bite to the last, it is a meal you won’t want to end.”
712 Brent St, Louisville, KY 40204 • (502) 589-9191
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Closed Sunday
Though a rather unassuming title for a restaurant, the dishes found at The Café are certainly noteworthy. Their comfort food fave — Huevos Rancheros alla The Café — is comprised of two locally sourced, hormone-free, non-GMO, farm-fresh eggs cooked to order, served on a pile of their signature mixture of roasted red potatoes, cooked together with locally made artisan chorizo sausage, diced green chilies and spicy chili powder. The dish is topped with shredded cheddar cheese, fresh diced tomatoes, fresh cilantro, sour cream, guacamole and corn tortilla chips. “I was once asked, ‘What one word best describes The Café?’ My answer is ‘comfortable’,” says owner and operator Sal Rubino. “Everything we do at The Café is about making our guests feel welcome, comfortable and appreciated. That’s how we train our staff, and the heart and soul of The Café is comfort food.”
113 S 7th St, Louisville, KY 40202 • (502) 749-6451
9200 Taylorsville Rd, Louisville, KY 40299 • (502) 384-4834
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Mussel & Burger Bar’s goal is to be your go-to destination for burgers, mussels and beer. This fun, family-oriented spot features unique, inventive burgers along with gourmet twists on classic bar and grill fare. Everything is made in-house with fresh, top-notch ingredients. Their top comfort dish is the Southern Belle Burger. The burger consists of a fresh locally-made pretzel bun, house-made Creole-style remoulade sauce, a half-pound beef patty made with their own blend of brisket and chuck ground in-house daily, topped with two freshly fried green tomatoes and house-made pimento cheese melted on top. “Sometimes I take fried green tomatoes for granted, but then I’ll serve a guest who has never had them before, and my first reaction is like, ‘Really?! Please eat these fried green tomatoes with melted pimento cheese. I hope you love it’,” says manager Nathan Eiden.
1211 Herr Ln, Louisville, KY 40222 • (502) 423-5822
Hours: Sunday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
A staple of the Louisville dining scene, the Napa River Grill has been around for 20 years, making its current home in Westport Village. The Blackhawk steak is their go-to comfort food — Kentucky-raised American Wagyu beef served with chef’s house steak sauce paired with a warm, twice-baked potato featuring Kenny’s Farmhouse cheddar, house bacon and truffled sour cream. Says Executive Chef Seth Butkus, “The Blackhawk Steak is one of our staple menu items that is prepared with almost entirely local ingredients and is a guest favorite.”
Various locations across Louisville • Hours vary according to location.
It’s lucky for Louisville that you don’t have to drive far to find one of the six Mark’s Feed Store locations. They’re in Middletown, Valley Station, Fern Creek, the Highlands, Elizabethtown and New Albany — and they all serve Southern-style barbecue. But when it comes to soul-nourishing comfort dishes, open wide for Mark’s famous burgoo — a hearty, spicy stew with an array of vegetables, smoked chicken, pork and brisket — served with a warm, house-made sweet corn muffin. This savory, rich treat is famous throughout Kentucky. “It’s the perfect dish as the temperature starts to drop this fall,” says Fred Stewart, lead kitchen member, who’s been making this dish since he started with Mark’s 30 years ago.
3017 River Rd, Louisville, KY 40207 • (502) 592-7065
Hours: Open 7 days a week, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Nothin’ says lovin’ like a plate of smokey, spicy, meaty spare ribs paired with a side of Wild Bill’s Tater Salad — the comfort food pick from River Road BBQ. The ribs are full, plump and tender, gliding off the bone as you take bite after bite. The skin crackles under your teeth, and you experience a simultaneous saltiness and sweetness. The potato salad is made with big chunks of skin-on red potatoes, crispy bits of sweet red onion and bits of crisp celery, all bound together with a little mayo and black pepper. River Road BBQ is for everyone — workers on the job, young guys, old guys, moms picking up dinner and ladies who lunch!
1025 Barret Ave, Louisville, KY 40204 • (502) 742-1714
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Closed Sunday and Monday
The Betty is a favorite choice for comfort food at V-Grits. This is a country diner-style plate with creamy mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy, stir-fried vegetables in a citrus-tamari glaze and an old-fashioned drop biscuit served with sweet cinnamon butter. The star of the show is the oyster-mushroom marinated in vegan buttermilk, battered and fried until crispy – their version of fried chicken. Everything is made from scratch, in-house, by Chef Zachary Kerr and the talented V-Grits kitchen team. “The Betty is named after my mom, my inspiration for Southern-style comfort food, with my own vegan twist,” says Owner Kristina J. Addington. “So far, it has been our best seller every day since we’ve opened the restaurant — over three weeks in a row!”
Brick & mortar location: 2250 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40206 • (502) 896-1488
Hours: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Closed Sunday
Fresh, made-to-order hot and cold sandwiches, wraps, salads, sides, desserts and more are on the menu at Crave Café & Catering. And cold days call for soup, which Crave Café does quite well. They have three different house-made soups all day long. If you’re a fan of tomato soup, Crave makes five different varieties. Their spicy cheeseburger soup is wildly popular. Made from scratch, it’s meaty and cheesy — it’s almost like a dressed cheeseburger in a creamy soup form with just a hint of jalapeño to give it a kick. “I just make food that tastes good,” says owner, manager and chef Shannon McDonald-Foster. “I am not a trained chef. I am self-taught over the years. I do nothing pretentious — just serve good-tasting comfort food that keeps them coming back!”
1761 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40206 • (502) 259-9540
Hours: Monday through Friday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Cold days call for warm comfort food, and The Silver Dollar’s Texas-style chili is sure to hit the spot. This spicy stew with just a hint of broth is made with cubed chuck steak, serrano chilies, jalapeños, onion and garlic. The secret to its unique taste is that it’s seasoned with beer and coffee and served with white cheddar cheese, cilantro, onions and pickled jalapeños. Pair it with their house-made cornbread, and you have a winner! “It’s warm and comforting with a little bit of spice,” says manager and event coordinator Alyssa Smoger. “If you like it extra spicy, ask for the habañero sauce!”
Cozy up and enjoy something comforting, Louisville. Cheers!
For more food and drink news around town, click here.