Derby weekend is fast approaching … do you know what you’ll be eating for lunch? While there are certainly a number of dining options trackside, prices can be staggering, and no one wants to spend their Derby Day waiting in line. Luckily, the good people of Churchill Downs have a BYOBL (that’s “box lunch,” in case you were wondering) policy in place, and several of our favorite Louisville dining establishments are here to help ensure we are well fed while we take in the magic of the Kentucky Derby! There are requirements for how box lunches are to be packed and what is permitted in Churchill Downs, and each of these restaurants will make sure you are in compliance so you can worry about other things, like how to get all your winnings home!
Where to Find Tasty Derby Box Lunches
3909 Chenoweth Square • Louisville, KY 40207• (502) 893-2324
Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Closed Sundays and Mondays
What’s not to love about The Cheddar Box, a Louisville tradition since 1979? There is no question that their box lunch game is on point, and they pull out all of the stops for the biggest weekend of the year in Louisville. Three lunch boxes and a snack box are on offer, and orders may be placed online or in person at their Chenoweth Square location. Selections are as follows:
- A classic sandwich lunch with your choice of roast beef with Henry Bain sauce, turkey with chutney mayonnaise, country ham or grilled chicken with caper gorgonzola mayo. Sandwiches are served with pasta salad, fruit and a chocolate mint brownie for $19.
- Vegetarians will be thrilled to dig into their salad box complete with bow-tie pasta salad with asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese and a mixed green salad dressed with pecans and balsamic vinaigrette. A fresh fruit cup and brownie are included in the price of $16.50.
- We are especially fond of The Cheddar Box’s entree salad option, which comes with grilled chicken set over mixed greens and topped with spicy pecans, Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. A mini caprese salad also comes in this box, along with a wild rice salad and brownie for $22.
- The fourth and final box is a snack option to serve two, a genius idea, as we know all that midafternoon betting will work our appetites back up! Cheese wafers, vegetables with spinach dip, herb cheese and country ham spread are accompanied by crackers and two more brownies, for those of us with a sweet tooth! The cost for this pick-me-up is $20.
1147 Bardstown Road • Louisville, KY 40205• (502) 451-0377
Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Closed Sundays and Mondays
A pioneer of the farm-to-table movement in Louisville, it’s easy to see why snagging a seat at Chef Kathy Cary’s Lilly’s Bistro is next to impossible over Derby weekend. The next best thing? Ordering a box lunch from La Peche, the “gourmet to go” minibistro located next door to Lilly’s on Bardstown Road. The same culinary masterminds behind Lilly’s menu will be crafting the following for your Derby box lunch pleasure:
- A classic Cobb salad is one of our favorite lunchtime offerings, and there is no question that La Peche’s variation, complete with mixed field greens, chicken, bacon, avocado, blue cheese, tomato, eggs and Dijon vinaigrette, will be absolute perfection! Served with a chocolate chip cookie and an oatmeal raisin cookie, it is $18.
- Sandwich lovers will be more than satisfied with the turkey club on the box lunch menu. Piled high with turkey, tomato, avocado, bacon, lettuce and lemon Parmesan mayo and served on ciabatta bread, this sandwich comes with chips, Pops’ Pickles and two cookies for dessert. The cost for this box is $18.
- La Peche knows that vegetarians need love too, and their gourmet veggie sandwich certainly won’t disappoint. Eggplant tahini, tomatoes, cucumbers and capriole goat cheese are sandwiched between slices of ciabatta bread and accompanied by chips, Pops’ Pickles and two cookies. This box costs $16.
3717 Lexington Road • Louisville, KY 40207 • (502) 896-6361
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Although small, it is hard not to get lost among the various selections of cheese, pasta, meats, crackers and specialty goods that fill virtually every inch of this international food shop. The wide selection of made-to-order sandwiches is a good idea any day of the year, and Derby weekend is no exception. Lotsa Pasta allows you to choose from any sandwich on their board (excluding paninis and hot sandwiches), including specialty sandwiches, like the muffaletta and a plethora of deli meats, cheeses and breads, for those who prefer to construct their own sandwich for Derby Day noshing.
Box lunches with sandwiches sell for $11, and come with chips and a cookie. Prefer one of their various housemade salads? They’ll give you a box with a pint of salad, chips and a cookie for $10. Can’t make up your mind? Sub the chips for a half-pint of salad with your sandwich of choice. The cookie is still included, of course, for a price of $12.
1114 Bardstown Road • Louisville, KY 40204• (502) 584-3354
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Closed Sundays
Stevens & Stevens has been a serving hungry Highlanders a plethora of both quirky and classic deli-style sandwiches since 1991. They’re featuring three of their most popular sandwich and pasta salad options for this year’s Run for the Roses, each box selling for $12.95. Here are their hunger-inducing offerings:
- WIN — This box includes the Me Turkey – You Jane sandwich, a beloved combo of roasted turkey, benedictine, applewood bacon, lettuce and tomatoes served on whole wheat bread. It comes with a side of the tomatoes alfresco pasta salad, which includes bow-tie pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, farm goat cheese, fresh basil, toasted almonds and housemade balsamic dressing. It also comes with fresh fruit and a Goldrush cookie, which is Stevens & Stevens’ housemade version of the classic chocolate chip cookie.
- PLACE — Comes with a Be Seriously sandwich, complete with roast beef and a housemade horseradish spread, fresh fruit, tomatoes alfresco pasta salad and a Goldrush cookie.
- SHOW — This box is filled with an entree size of tomatoes alfresco pasta salad, as well as fresh bread and a Goldrush cookie to round out the meal.
Various locations and hours; click here to find one near you.
Paul’s is a go-to every day of the year, and with locations scattered throughout the city, it provides both a convenient and delicious option for your Derby weekend box lunch needs. They don’t skimp on variety with the to-go offerings, with a multitude of box lunches up for order on Oaks and Derby. The most popular option is The Champion, a beef tenderloin sandwich served on a French roll with cheddar and horseradish. Other favorites include the fried chicken sandwich and the smoky pork loin sandwich topped with smoked Gouda. A Derby sub, veggie wrap, ham wrap and jalapeno turkey wrap round out the menu. All sandwiches come with a pasta salad side dish, fresh fruit and a Derby bar for dessert. Box lunch prices range from $11.95 to $15.95.
2420 Lime Kiln Lane, Ste. C • Louisville, KY 40222• (502) 425-0130
Hours: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Closed Sundays
Committed to using natural and local ingredients, you know you can feel good about indulging in a box lunch from Cake Flour. They have crafted a handful of specialty sandwiches for the Derby weekend, all of which can be made to accommodate gluten allergies and other dietary restrictions. The sandwich varieties are noted below and come with chips, cucumber salad, fruit, a brownie and your choice of coleslaw, tabbouleh or pasta salad, making this one of the most ample lunches on the list!
- Turkey with beer cheese and mustard butter for $14.95
- Ham and Swiss with caramelized onion spread and poached pears for $14.95
- Benedictine with cucumber, avocado and onion for $9.95 (Bacon may be added for an additional $1.)
While all of the restaurants included said they can accommodate orders up until and including race day, do yourself — and them — a favor and plan ahead by preordering your Derby Day eats. It is one less thing to worry about as you enjoy the excitement and beauty that is the first Saturday in May!
Be sure to download the free SB App to find all the great restaurants around town.