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Do you get butterflies in your stomach just looking at someone? What a great feeling, right?! But, now that you’re finally going on a first date with one another, where are you going to go? You could spend hours racking your brain for a fun, first date restaurant that will make a lasting impression. Or you could let us do the heavy lifting and map things out on your behalf. There are several Louisville restaurants, each with unique aspects, that stand apart from the rest. Here are eight fun, first date restaurants we highly recommend:

Proof on Main Valentine's Dinner
Image: Proof on Main

8UP Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen

350 W. Chestnut St., Louisville, KY 40202 • (502) 631-4180
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Why it’s a great first date place:

You can toast the views of downtown Louisville at an elevated drinkery.

Nothing beats dinner and drinks with a view, and 8UP Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen delivers just that. As one of Louisville’s few rooftop attractions, located atop the Hilton Garden Inn downtown, 8Up offers views of Louisville you can’t find anywhere else. There are many culinary options that pair nicely with their cocktails or nightcaps. The menu is divided into four sections: small, medium, large and extra large. Not that hungry? Try the king crab (quinoa, carrot ginger emulsion, heirloom carrots, yuzo froth and crab cracklings) off the small section. Sharing a meal? Try the flounder (watercress, fennel, melted leeks, hazelnuts and brown butter) from the large menu. No matter if you are enjoying the dining room and bar or relaxing on the open air rooftop bar around a fire pit, 8UP is destined to kindle warm feelings.

10 Fabulous Local Patios With Even Better Views!: 8Up's Rooftop Bar
The view from 8Up on top of the Hilton Garden Inn

Down One Bourbon Bar

321 Main St., Louisville, KY 40202 • (502) 556-3259
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Saturday, 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Why it’s a great first date place:

Not many first dates offer the intrigue of stepping underground to dine in a secret speakeasy.

As Down One says, Distill, my beating heart. This speakeasy-themed bourbon bar and restaurant is the perfect place for a date. The renovated underground parking garage has become Louisville’s most popular — and only — bourbon bar. With the bourbon industry booming (Have you heard of Louisville’s Bourbon Societies?!), revel in city history by relaxing on the magnolia tree-lined patio and sipping on a glass of one of more than 160 bourbons offered. Be sure to find the secret phone booth room where some of the rarest bourbons are kept. On the menu, there are bites, small bites and entrées for two to six people. Start out with the blue cheese-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon with bourbon maple syrup. Follow that up with the spinach salad with arugula, artichokes, feta and warm bacon vinaigrette. And top it all off with bourbon and sorghum-glazed pork belly with three-potato hash and a fried local egg. If you or your date are bourbon aficionados (and even if you’re not), this place is a great spot to tap into an important part of the city you both live in and love.

DownOne Bourbon Bar
Enjoy lunch on the outdoor patio or step inside and through the phone booth to enjoy your meal in the (not so) secret speakeasy-themed room at Down One Bourbon Bar. Image: 502 Foodie


2295 Lexington Road, Louisville, KY 40206 • (502) 618-1712
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Why it’s a great first date place:

Enjoy a dinner adventure as you hunt for your order on a wild game menu.

What better way to get to know each other than by stepping out of your comfort zones and trying something new and exotic together? You can do just that at Game. This rustic spot on Lexington Road specializes in gourmet burgers made with exotic game. Antelope, kangaroo, ostrich, you name it. If you can hunt it, it’s served here. “Want to grab some ostrich or wild boar for dinner?” How’s that for an invitation?

Game Restaurant
Take a walk on the wild side at Game Restaurant on Lexington Road. Image: Taylor Dekker

Garage Bar

702 E. Market St., Louisville, KY 40202 • (502) 749-7100
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Why it’s a great first date place:

The atmosphere of this old service garage in the heart of NuLu is great for people watching, and people watching always yields great conversation. 

The idea of hanging out in an old garage may not sound that appealing, especially for a date, but this isn’t your average garage. The renovated service station includes a wood-fired pizza oven, glowing ping-pong tables and AstroTurf-covered outdoor seating. Not sold on the idea of pizza for your dinner date? Well, this isn’t your average pizza, either. Think nontraditional toppings, like shaved brussels sprouts, shaved country ham and kale chips. The menu is as colorful as the setting, and that means there will be nothing boring about your night out.

Garage Bar
Hanging out at Garage Bar is a great way to spend a sunny day — or a first date — in Louisville. Image: Garage Bar

Proof on Main

702 E. Main St., Louisville, KY 40202 • (502) 217-6360
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m. to 12  a.m.

Why it’s a great first date place:

You’ll walk away with a cultural experience.

Don’t let date planning consume you. Make it easy and head downtown to Proof on Main for dinner. Not only will you enjoy an amazing meal from Chef Mike Wajda, but you can also indulge yourself in the arts. Proof’s dinner menu ranges from duck bolognese to rainbow trout. After dinner, grab a cocktail from the bar and take a stroll through the 21c Museum Hotel’s 24-hour modern art museum, with a convenient entrance at the back of the restaurant. Nothing sparks great conversation like a stunning piece of art!

SBGLou_Proof On Main_Interior_19
We’ll take our dinner with a side of art at Proof on Main, please.


140 N. Fourth St., Louisville, KY 40202 • (502) 568-4239
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Why it’s a great first date place:

Dinner with a 360-degree view of downtown Louisville is not your average night out.

If you want to score major points with your date, take him or her to dinner with a view. Better yet, a revolving view. Rivue, inside the Galt House, is another of Louisville’s rooftop restaurants, and is a perfect spot to make a first impression. The French-American menu is something to rave about, as well, with dishes like the duck, lamb and, of course, the steaks taking top billing. What you’ll really enjoy, though, you won’t find on the menu. The views of downtown are simply spectacular!

10 Fabulous Local Patios With Even Better Views! Rivue ontop of the Galt House Hotel
See Louisville from 25 stories up at Rivue.

Silver Dollar

1761 Frankfort Ave., Louisville, KY 40206 • (502) 259-9540
Hours: Monday through Sunday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturday and Sunday brunch, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Why it’s a great first date place:

Take in some of Louisville’s history as you dine in this old fire station.

Having dinner in a location that used to have an alternative purpose provides an allure and a charm that can’t really be explained, but it is so Louisville. The Silver Dollar was formerly a fire station, but now it’s the perfect place to take your date. The drinks are fantastic! Try the refreshing Gold Rush, made with bourbon, honey syrup and lemon. Offering made-from-scratch Southern food, like hickory-smoked beef brisket, breaded catfish and fried chicken livers, and crooning classic honky tonk music through their speakers, mainly on vinyl records, Silver Dollar offers the perfect chill vibe for any first date.

Dining in an old fire station is always interesting.
Experience the charm of dining in an old fire station with brunch or dinner at The Silver Dollar. Image: Iquo

Troll Pub Under the Bridge

150 W. Washington St., Louisville, KY 40202 • (502) 618-4829
Hours: Monday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Why it’s a great first date place:

It’s not every day you can (much less WANT to) dine with the town troll.

At first mention, Troll Pub Under the Bridge sounds like your average joint, but there’s a catch: it’s underground. The Troll Pub is located on the site of the original Galt House hotel on Whiskey Row. This space is filled with so much history and has seen many changes throughout the years. From its start as home to the Galt House, the spot was headquarters for the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, was completely underwater during the great flood of 1937, became an artist colony and is now a unique underground dining experience. The history alone will keep the conversation easy all night. The dinner menu offers various personal pizzas and assorted entrees, such as fish and chips, rib-eye and dry-rubbed pork kabobs.

Don’t forget to take a picture with Louie before you leave! He proudly stands guard, welcoming each guest with a smile, at the corner of Second and Washington streets.

Troll Pub Under the Bridge
Thank goodness your date doesn’t look like Louie, right? Louie is the guardian of Troll Pub Under the Bridge.

Disclaimer: While we can’t guarantee that first dates at any of these fabulous locations will automatically lead to a second, we DO think these destinations up your chances! After all, we can get you there, but it’s YOUR job to make it happen! Good luck!

For more fun date ideas, download the free StyleBlueprint App so all the happenings around town are always right at your fingertips!

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About the Author
Elizabeth Gerber