Louisville is home to many great restaurants and choosing the right one is like choosing what you’re going to wear for a night out on the town. Difficult, to say the least. Travel far outside the city lines of Louisville, though, and you have very few to choose from. But travel about 15 miles from downtown Louisville towards Shively, and you have one very good dining option: Mike Linnig’s. This family-friendly seafood joint is one of the few and best seafood restaurants in Louisville. Don’t believe me? Ask the Courier Journal, who voted the place best seafood restaurant with the best fish sandwich and best onion rings.
In 1925, Mike Linnig and his wife, Carrie, started a roadside stand called “Mike’s Place,” selling fresh vegetables and fruit handpicked from their farm; it sat on the same land the restaurant currently sits on. Soon enough, the stand transformed into a small building where locals could buy everything from sandwiches to freshly made apple cider. Mike’s Place became popular, with a continuing crowd of locals looking for great food and hosts (Linnig and his wife) and friends to socialize with. Curb service and waiters were added as well as a square dance floor for Saturday evening entertainment and a baseball diamond for independent games on Sundays. Mike’s Place was the place to be pre-1940s.
As with any restaurant, tough times are bound to happen. The 1937 flood of Louisville did considerable damage to Mike’s Place, but it survived. From 1942 to 1946, Linnig’s was closed due to World War II rationing. In 1950, Linnig turned the business over to his two sons, Bill and Len. In 1966, Mike’s Place was burnt to the ground by a massive fire, destroying everything. With the legacy of their father and the hard work they had put into the business over the years, there was nothing left to do, except rebuild. Rebuild they did, with an even larger appetite for hungry customers. By 1987, Linnig’s had been remodeled to the size it is today and soon became the largest seafood restaurant in the area. Look to the Linnig brothers for hard work, y’all.
Mike Linnig’s not only has its own history, but one it shares with many people who grew up in the area. Starting in the 1950s, my grandparents spent their Friday and Saturday evenings at Mike’s Place with friends. Soon, that became my father and his sisters, spending their evenings eating then playing with their friends around the playground and soon around the levee, while the adults socialized and sipped on a few beers. My dad recalls the finer details about Mike’s Place though, the crunching gravel pathways (now concrete) and the hanging yellow string lights that glowed. His memories of Mike’s Place are fond and abundant, as I’m certain everyone’s are who spent their childhood growing up around the same gravel paths, hanging lights, good food and great company.
Okay, enough history. Let’s get to the best part about Mike Linnig’s: the good ol’ fried food in a nice cornmeal batter.
We chose a white concrete table outside on their massive patio. I know what you’re thinking, eating outside in July? You’ve gone mad! Conveniently, Mike Linnig’s sits underneath a canopy of old oak trees and provides an excellent breeze. Additionally mosquitos keep to the other side of the levee. Talk about an enjoyable summer night’s meal!
We ordered up some beers followed by appetizers.
Mike Linnig’s has a pretty large menu, and everything’s fried, which always leads to happy customers. We never hold back on the appetizers as they’re usually the best part of the meal.
And for the main course. Did I mention we only had four people in our party? We like to eat.
Mike Linnig’s is best known for their fried fish, and rightly so. It’s delicious. The fish sandwich, $9.95, comes with two large pieces of fish and your choice of bread. I always have to cut one in half and place them side by side for the sandwich and then eat the other (if I have enough room) without the bread.
Don’t know what to order? The Seafood Plate is a great way to sample a little bit of everything good. It comes with fried fish, scallops, oysters, crab cakes, hush puppies, cole slaw and french fries for $25.45.
After stuffing our faces with fried goodness, we took a walk around the levee. Mike Linnig’s is always crowded, although it’s not hard to find a table, as there are so many. Additionally, it’s a place where you come to eat, drink, play and stay awhile. But bellies full, we left happy … and with two doggie bags!
Mike Linnig’s is located at 9308 Cane Run Road. They are open from late January until the Sunday before Thanksgiving, with hours changing per season. Visit the website for details.