Get ready for an extra-delicious edition of “Cheap Thrills,” where we let you in on some amazing, affordable FINDS around town. This time, we’re asking some of Louisville’s top chefs to share their favorite cheap eats, and they’ve revealed the city’s most mouthwatering meals that won’t blow your budget. These tasty treats will delight your palate AND your wallet. So, bon appé-cheap to these 11 local dishes!
Local Chefs’ Favorite Cheap Eats in Louisville
Luchador nachos with barbacoa, $5.99
El Taco Luchador
Dallas McGarity, chef and owner of The Fat Lamb, is a huge fan of El Taco Luchador. “I love this dish because it is filling, delicious and hits all the aspects that good comfort food does while being a little creative.” This chef would try anything at this amazing local restaurant. “You really can’t go wrong with anything at El Taco Luchador,” he says. Get the Luchador nachos with barbacoa for $5.99 at El Taco Luchador.
Biscuit and egg, $5.50
Eric Shaw, executive chef of Jack Fry’s, is a proud supporter of this breakfast delight. Wiltshire has lots of great options, but this one holds a special place on his list. He calls it “the flakiest biscuit in town.” Get the biscuit and egg for $5.50 at Wiltshire Cafe.
Chicken wings, $9.99
The Back Door
Jackson Skelton, executive chef at LouVino‘s Highlands location, is quite possibly the No. 1 fan of The Back Door’s chicken wings. When we asked him about his favorite cheap eat, he actually had some wings in his fridge! His favorite way to eat them is the sweet chili style with habañero sauce and blue cheese. “I mean it’s Back Door wings. What’s not to love?” he says.
Annie Pettry, chef and owner of Decca, might give Jackson a run for his money, though, when it comes to who loves these wings more. She calls them a no-brainer. “The chicken wings at The Back Door are my favorite Louisville cheap eat and one of my guilty pleasures. I always order them with medium spice level, buffalo sauce and blue cheese dressing. They are perfectly fried until they are super crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, then they are tossed in buffalo sauce with just the right amount of heat, dipped into their house-made blue cheese, which tastes like ranch loaded with blue cheese chunks, to help cool the heat.” You won’t find these two sharing a basket anytime soon; however, Annie says, “If you share a basket with me, I will steal all of the flats and leave you with the drumettes.”
Find these highly recommended wings for $9.99 at The Back Door.
Wagyu chorizo taco, $6, and yucca tots, $8
James Moran, executive chef at Juleps Catering at Sullivan University, couldn’t choose just one item from Migo. He likes his wagyu chorizo taco served “Korean style” with a side of yucca tots. “The flavor in these two dishes is unlike anything in the city,” he says. James is also a big proponent of supporting local. “Chefs Adam Burress and Chase Mucerino are locals and fellow Sullivan grads, and there is nothing better than enjoying good eats that also support local guys.” Find the Wagyu chorizo taco served Korean-style for $6 and yucca tots for $8 at Migo.
Combo pho, $11
Café Thuy Van
Ming Pu, chef at The 502 Bar & Bistro, is all about the pho at Café Thuy Van. “The pho has all the classic cuts of meat that I like — tripe, tendon, brisket, meatballs and pigs’ blood.” He especially likes it because it has an extra hint of Southern flair, explaining, “The pho broth also is comparable to Houston, Texas, pho restaurants, and that says a lot.” Find this combo pho for $11 at Café Thuy Van.
Sicilian pan pizza by the slice, $2.75
Dustin Willett, chef de cuisine at the Brown Hotel, says, “One of my favorite places for a ‘cheap eat’ is the late-night menu at Sarino. They do Sicilian pan pizza by the slice, starting at $2.75 for a 4-by-4-inch slice. The pizza is filling and hits the spot!” You can also customize your pizza and try different flavors. “The selection of add-on toppings include artichokes, Kalamata olives, mushrooms, caramelized onions, Calabrese salami, fennel sausage and spicy honey. They also have a good beer and wine selection and some great craft cocktails.” Grab a slice of Sicilian pan pizza for $2.75 at Sarino.
Pork enchiladas with mole, $11.99
Ryan Smith, chef at Harvest, visits his favorite spot with his lady on a weekly basis. The couple loves Con Huevos for their pork enchiladas with mole. “I love this dish because mole is such a complex sauce, but the enchiladas themselves are simple and very well executed every time.” These enchiladas are versatile too. Try them Ryan’s favorite way with mole, or switch things up with tomatillo or red salsa and the egg as you like it. Try these pork enchiladas for $11.99 at Con Huevos.
Ollie burger and fries, $3.30
Mike Wajda, executive chef of Proof on Main, has a taste for the simple and classic things in life. A good, old-fashioned burger and fries meet the criteria for his favorite cheap eat. “I enjoy making a getaway to Ollie’s Trolley for a quick fix, or to grab a sack of burgers and fries for my team at Proof on Main.” This go-to bite makes him feel a little nostalgic as well. “It reminds me of a diner burger back in Jersey.” Find the Ollie burger and fries for $3.30 at Ollie’s Trolley.
Shrimp and crawfish Alfredo fries paired with fried shrimp and fried crawfish cheddar fry, $12
Chef Darnell Fergurson, owner of SuperChefs, could eat this for just about every meal. He says, “These are like crack!” It’s seafood on top of fries on top of seafood and more fries — oh, and tons of delicious cheese and sauce! Chef Darnell is confident in saying, “These are by far the best tasting things in Louisville.” Find this seafood and fry combo for $12 at Seafood Lady.
Pho tai bo vien, $7.95
Chef Jeff Dailey from Harvest has a been chowing down at one of his favorite restaurants for the past 12 years. The pho tai bo vien from Lemongrass in Middletown is a great price for a very generously sized bowl. “It’s a Vietnamese beef and rice noodle soup that has sliced eye of round and meatballs.” This cheap eat is perfect for the broke college student. “It’s affordable, consistent and basically kept me alive during college.” Find the pho tai bo vien for $7.95 at Lemongrass.
Dine local with these delicious cheap eats. Your taste buds — and your wallet — will thank you!
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