Anyone who has spent time in Louisville recently has likely heard the buzz about Germantown. This historic community, chock full of shotgun houses flanking old mill buildings in various stages of renovation to create more housing, is booming. First developed from farmland as an industrial suburb in the late 19th century, its history, affordable housing and proximity to many other Louisville neighborhoods – where you can get almost anywhere else in 10 minutes – has made Germantown a popular neighborhood for young professionals, artists, musicians, small families and, most recently, downsizing baby boomers. Pair that with a resurgence of neighborhood restaurants and bars, and you’ve got a great, walkable neighborhood in the making.
Goss Avenue, one of Germantown’s main corridors, has definitely experienced a renaissance. Commonly known as the neighborhood’s “Main Street,” Goss Avenue has long been dotted with a mix of shotgun houses, small shops, the locally famous Hauck’s Handy Store (still presided over by 97-year-old Mr. Hauck) and neighborhood corner bars. Corner bars, or cafés as they’ve been more traditionally called in Germantown, have had a strong presence since the start. Predominantly settled by German immigrants who brought their café culture with them, Germantown is full of bars filled with history getting another round of life from the newest batch of folks to settle into the neighborhood.
We think the best way to get acquainted with this resurgence in local watering holes is to start with a Goss Avenue walking tour, along with several more spots just a few blocks away, to get a true taste of the variety — from dive bar to swanky lounge — Germantown has to offer. Let’s get started!
1151 Goss Ave., Louisville, KY 40217 • (502) 996-7552
Hours: Open 7 days a week, 4 p.m. to 4 a.m.
The first Germantown bar on our list, found at the corner of Goss and Texas avenues, is one of the newest in the neighborhood. Housed in a building that has played host to a bar since the start of the 20th century, this new Germantown joint has a sense of history and keeps things informal and comfortable. The Pearl is the latest concept from Larry Rice, a co-owner of the Clifton neighborhood’s popular Silver Dollar as well as El Camino (slated to re-open in Germantown by the summer of 2017). The drink menu is limited to a few specials and select beers on tap, but the bar is fully stocked and the prices are great, just like a neighborhood dive should be. We highly recommend their Old Fashioned, which, at $6, belies the high quality that goes into it. Bar snacks are kept to things like a simple ham sandwich, pickled eggs and cauliflower and house-made beef jerky, but in the warmer months they sometimes fire up a grill on the patio.
1053 Goss Ave., Louisville, KY 40217 • (502) 634-1447
Hours: Open 7 days a week, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
This beer-centric pub feels like home from the moment you walk in. The food is hearty, and even vegetarian-friendly, and includes fish and chips, great burgers, chili cheese fries and their always-popular chicken and waffles to name a few items. The on-tap beer selection changes frequently, and Four Pegs offers beer flights if you just can’t decide on one. Bands play on the back patio in warmer months, and local trivia teams compete in the back room all year round. Another corner bar revived by a younger generation, Four Pegs keeps the neighborhood vibe going at the corner of Goss and Spratt and feels like a true restoration of the Germantown café tradition.
969 Charles St., Louisville, KY 40204 • (502) 637-4377
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 2 p.m. to 4 a.m.; Sunday, 4 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Just a few blocks from Goss Avenue, on the corner of Charles and Krieger, is the bar that many would argue helped to start the Germantown corner bar revival. An old-timer in this new wave, Nachbar opened in early 2007 and helped to pave the way for renewed investment in this Germantown tradition. Known as a funky, comfortable spot, Nachbar has a wide beer selection, from PBR in a can to a great Belgian variety on tap, a fully stocked bar and live music inside and out in the beer garden when the weather is right. Bar snacks aren’t really on the menu, but a food truck is often there on the weekends.
1101 E. Burnett Ave., Louisville, KY 40217 • (502) 637-9515
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to midnight; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Sunday, noon to 11 p.m.
We couldn’t pull together a list of Germantown bars close to Goss Avenue without including Check’s Cafe. Located on the corner of East Burnett and Texas avenues, Check’s has been open since 1944 and has a legendary status with most Louisville locals. The Germantown corner café tradition has been kept alive by Check’s, even when the neighborhood was in decline, and it’s the truest version of what that tradition looks like to longtime residents. Family-friendly with a menu that keeps it simple (check out their bratwurst, pan-fried oysters or chili), Check’s is the place where the community still comes together.
1036 E. Burnett Ave., Louisville, KY 40217 • (502) 742-6564
Hours: Tuesday though Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Located on Hickory Street and East Burnett Avenue, on the opposite corner from Check’s, Monnik offers beer brewed on-site, specialty cocktails and their version of pub food that reflects the spirit of the Germantown-Schnitzelburg neighborhood. With its warm, inviting dining room, perfect when there’s a chill in the air, and patio space that evokes the beer garden tradition of the neighborhood, Monnik is the spot for dinner with the family or a few beers with friends. We’re big fans of their Eagle Skull Saison, but there’s always something new on tap. The loft upstairs also plays host to live music (follow them on Facebook here to see who’s playing and when).
935 Goss Ave., Louisville, KY 40217 • (502) 450-5368
Hours: Wednesday and Thursday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Friday, 5 p.m. to 3 a.m.; Saturday, 6 p.m. to 3 a.m.; Sunday, 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Found across the street from Germantown Mill Lofts, in a small, brick building that’s easy to miss, Mr. Lee’s is a newly renovated cocktail lounge with a mid-century modern, Japanese-influence twist. Classic cocktails are this swanky spot’s primary focus, along with a well-chosen select wine and beer list. Try their takes on classic cocktails, such as a Smoked Old Fashioned, Mai-Tai or their house Moscow Mule. Snacks from Wiltshire Pantry are also available and always delicious. While Mr. Lee’s is definitely a step outside the usual Germantown spot, we love that it brings another take on the local hangout to the neighborhood.
Whether you’re a Germantown local or visiting Louisville for the first time, we know this corner of the neighborhood will make your list of favorite spots to meet for a drink and conversation!
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