Springtime is here, and we all know what that means. Besides the rollercoaster ride of temperatures and weather conditions (who knew you could have all four seasons in one week!), spring 2018 brings a slew of recent restaurant openings.
Louisville, KY, may be one of the last places in the country you would be able to find authentic French cuisine right next to the highest ranking place for chicken and waffles. That’s what makes our food scene so incredibly dynamic, unique and ever-changing.
In fall of 2017, Louisvillians experienced some incredible players coming onto the food scene, such as Butchertown Pizza Hall, Mac’s Dough House and El Taco Luchador. Well, 2018 is expected to be no different. Big players such as Chef Edward Lee and other culinary creatives are on par to further enhance our food scene. Here are some fabulous new eateries you must try this spring!
New Louisville Restaurants to Try for Spring 2018
800 S. Fourth St., Louisville, KY 40203 • (502) 883-3331
Hours: Dinner — Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Brunch — Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Pizza, pasta and shared plates. What more could you possibly want out of life? bar Vetti is a neighborhood Italian restaurant located in SoBro of downtown Louisville. Chef Andrew McCabe is putting a serious spin on Italian classics with Kentucky ingredients. Think: Broadbent country ham pizza with mascarpone, red onion, fig mostarda, arugula and balsamic. In addition to their authentic Italian pizzas and pastas, bar Vetti also offers creative small bites like “flaming hot fried chickpeas” and plates like chicken liver crostino, salt-cured sea trout and black hawk beef tartare. And don’t forget to pair those dishes with a tasty cocktail, glass of vino or cold pint.
One unique fact about bar Vetti that warrants discussion is that the restaurant does not accept tips. With this new hospitality-included model, the excellent service provided is included in the price of all food and drink items. We spoke with Ryan Rogers, founder of HiCotton Hospitality and partner at bar Vetti, about the forward-thinking concept:
“We currently operate bar Vetti on a hospitality-included model,” Ryan shares. “Both Andrew [McCabe] and myself have worked in restaurants our entire lives, and we understand the reality, which is that it can be difficult to make ends meet working in restaurants. We want to make sure that we can pay all of our employees as fair and equitable a wage as possible in addition to offering better benefits and a real career path for those who choose to follow their passion and stay in the restaurant business.”
280 W. Jefferson St., Louisville, KY 40202 • (502) 671-4246
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 6:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Sunday, 6:30 a.m. to midnight
How about sitting for a spell? The neighborhood’s front porch just got a whole lot bigger — and tastier. Porch Kitchen & Bar has been open for just over two weeks in downtown Louisville. Chefs Josh Carter and Graham Weber had the idea of the old neighborhood front porch, where everyone gathers, as the concept behind the restaurant. With the large windows cascading around the restaurant from the sitting areas to the full bar, this “porch” is the new neighborhood watering hole. “The neighborhood porch coincides with a feeling of community,” says Chef Weber. “It’s the iconic American gathering place.”
As one might have guessed, with a concept such as this, Kentucky’s iconic meal will be on the menu. Both chefs tested their own versions of the Kentucky Fried Chicken for one year before adding it to the menu. “This is more than just a restaurant or a bar — it’s an experience,” says Chef Carter. “There is thought put into every single ingredient.”
With more than 500 different ingredients across the menu, including sourced cheeses from Mexico, this may be the most intentional concept yet.
8131 New La Grange Road, Louisville, KY 40222 • (502) 434-7470
Hours: Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 a.m.
This is the Muhammad Ali of all comebacks. Joe’s Older Than Dirt isn’t actually new at all. Joe’s stems from a long tenure of serving up affordable all-American dishes in an easy down-home atmosphere since 1937. Back in 2015, Joe’s closed and reopened as Red Barn BBQ. After a two-year stint as a barbecue joint, the cards showed that legends never die, and thus Joe’s Older Than Dirt was brought back to life. Inside, you can find an array of eclectic decor including antlered wall mounts and Louisville Cardinal paraphernalia. But don’t let that fool you … Joe’s embodies a heartwarming “Cheers”-like following of longtime workers and patrons just swinging by for a brewsky and burger.
412 S. Fourth St., Louisville, KY 40202 • (502) 749-7933
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.
As one of “2018’s Most Anticipated American Restaurant Openings” by VOGUE magazine, Whiskey Dry is your ticket to diner-style entrées with high-class whiskey cocktails and beverages. Chef Ed Lee introduces a stylish yet approachable whiskey and burger bar to Louisville. On top of the 200 whiskeys from around the world, this eatery will knock the socks off of your grandma’s diner. The concept of pairing burgers and whiskey may leave you scratching your head, but Chef Lee was onto something from the beginning. “I love the idea of infinite variety within a single concept,” he says. “Whiskey is just a distilled spirit aged in wood barrels, but it has infinite variations in age, color, flavors, mashbills and expressions. A burger is very similar. We all know what a burger is, and we’ve all had many of them, but there are so many things we can do with that single concept. I wanted to explore the idea of pairing them together. And naturally they go well together.”
So, which whiskey pairs well with which burger? Don’t worry, Chef Lee has done the dirty work for us. “The best pairing that we recommend is the fried chicken burger with kimchi paired with a Hibiki Japanese whiskey,” he says, adding, “It is absolutely brilliant.”
Interestingly enough, the famous Big Mac came into play when creating the menu items. When Chef Lee created a burger that rivaled McDonald’s, he found an interesting opportunity for some humor.
The Big Ed is a burger that pays homage to the Big Mac, and originally the burger had a different name. “Once Eater ran a story about it, McDonald’s stepped in and immediately sent me a cease-and-desist letter from using the original name for the burger. I found that funny, and I renamed the burger. When we opened, I told the story to a local reporter, and she wrote about it in her article. The story kind of went viral, and now it is our best-selling burger.”
Big Mac or not, we cannot wait to try a glass of whiskey paired with a big, juicy burger.
1600 S. Hurstbourne Pkwy., Louisville, KY 40220 • (502) 742-8210
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Milantoni Italian Restaurant is a fast-casual Italian joint located in the heart of J-town. It’s like swinging through an Italian Grandma’s kitchen for a quick bite. You can find everything from charcuterie plates with a selection of Italian meats and cheeses, to Italian classics like puttanesca and eggplant parmesan. Other menu items, such as the lobster ravioli, bring crowds from all around Louisville. Right off of Hurstbourne Parkway, this Italian eatery is a hidden gem. Styled with classic Italian touches, like red-and-white checkered tablecloths, this restaurant will instantly charm you. And word has it that all the breads, sauces, dressings and desserts are made in-house. Don’t miss it!
1030 Goss Ave., Louisville, KY 40217 • (502) 822-3777
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Sarino of Louisville is located in the kitschy neighborhood of Germantown, and, nestled among the down-home pubs, this new Italian joint is the star of the show! Fresh pasta, Neapolitan pizzas and classic Italian fare boasts Old World charm with an edge in this modern set up. Sarino offers a fantastic range of entrées, such as veal or eggplant Parmigiano, swordfish and pork Milanese. And don’t miss their killer Happy Hour, Tuesday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., when they offer up $10 margherita pizzas, $1 off all draft beers and $1 off all wines by the glass.
There you have it — plenty of new places to try in Louisville this spring. Sample these suggestions and let us know if we missed any!
Check out all our restaurant reviews and recipes in our Food and Dining section on StyleBlueprint!