The portmanteau “NuLu” means “New Louisville.” The neighborhood lies between the Central Business District, Irish Hill, Phoenix Hill, and Butchertown and has emerged as a new way of living and working in a historic urban area. The site of multiple hotels and apartment buildings, it is also a Louisvillian’s go-to for everything from plant-based soaps and custom candles to small-batch ice cream and famous seafood. Here’s your guide to a few shops and eateries to check out during your next visit.
WHERE TO SHOP
Maddox & Rose Marketplace
More info: maddoxandrosemarketplace.com
Candles, room sprays, lotions, and more are all available at Maddox & Rose Marketplace — but why buy ready-made products when you can create your own? The store’s main appeal is its experiential candle-making space, which offers over 80 scents at a 30-person bar. With everything from coconut and cranberry to bacon and baked bread, there’s sure to be an appealing aroma for anyone. Experiences during regular business hours are available by reservation only; private parties during non-business hours can be reserved by special request.
More info: mahoniastudio.com
Mahonia offers all the supplies a new or established plant parent might need. The store boasts everything from snake plants and succulents to orchids and Monstera. There’s also a variety of planters and pottery, plus plant food and anything else one might need to keep their greenery healthy. There are workshops, too. Guests can take a yoga class among plants, build their terrarium, or let their inner artist free while painting their own pottery.
More info: mamili502.com
Mamili, which means “to shop” in Tagalog, is an homage to owner Melissa Huff’s heritage. After a decades-long dream of owning a boutique, Melissa opened Mamili in a former boat store in NuLu. “I chose NuLu because when [my family and I travel], we always like to go to local areas and support local stores and businesses,” she says. The shop offers a variety of women’s clothing, jewelry, accessories, home goods, and men’s and youth apparel — all with an emphasis on locally sourced and individually crafted items. Mamili is also home to Melissa’s Mad Hatter 502 brand, offering hats and fascinators in various colors and styles — perfect for any Derby outfit.
Pappy & Company
More info: pappyco.com
Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon has been around for more than a century, and Pappy’s great-granddaughters — who are triplets — are keeping the family legacy alive with a shop that offers bourbon and an assortment of bourbon-themed goods. From decanters, flasks, and barrel heads, to branded t-shirts, playing cards, and golf balls, Pappy & Company gifts have serious Kentucky vibes. Can’t-miss items include bourbon-infused gourmet goods like Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Nib Brittle or Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrel-Aged Pure Maple Syrup, which won the 2020 Good Food Award.
Peace of the Earth
More info: peaceoftheearth.com
“Handmade, fair-trade, and eco-friendly” perfectly describes the goods found at Peace of the Earth. The store’s owner, Leslie Delgado, opened the shop after years of studying essential oils and purchasing natural products for her family. Today, she uses the space to promote peace and sustainability while supporting fair wages and a safe working environment for artisans worldwide. Customers will find soaps, hand sanitizers, lotions, and more from Leslie’s branded line, as well as a curated array of gift items — including jewelry, pet products, paper goods, arts and crafts elements, books, toys, and home goods.
More info: thewomanownedwallet.com
The aptly named Woman-Owned Wallet shop exclusively features products from women-owned brands. Owner Amanda Dare, who is also a fashion designer and the owner of ethical and sustainable clothing store The New Blak, opened Woman-Owned Wallet in August 2020 after working with graphic designers to create a Woman-Owned Wallet “W.O.W.” map — a guide to all the woman-owned businesses nearby. The map, available on the store’s website, is laid out so NuLu visitors can take a self-guided tour of the 30-plus women-owned businesses in the area. “We love being a part of [NuLu],” Amanda says. “The neighbors welcomed us with open arms!”
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
More info: barvetti.com
Formerly located on the first floor of a downtown Louisville apartment building, bar Vetti moved into the NuLu’s AC Hotel in 2020. The new space allowed the restaurant to double its seating capacity and expand its menu, which includes seasonal and regional Italian dishes infused with the tastes of Kentucky. Whether it’s seasonal mushrooms from Frondosa Farms or Jake’s Fresh Country Sausage, many of bar Vetti’s dishes use local produce and house-made pasta.
More info: emmysquaredpizza.com
Known for its Detroit-style pizza, Emmy Squared opened its first and only Bluegrass State location in NuLu in late 2020. Made with fluffy middles and cheesy frico crusts, the square-shaped pies are available in a variety of flavors. Vegetarians will love the Angel Pie, made with ricotta, mushrooms, and Truffleist mushroom cream; meat lovers can easily add pepperoni, sausage, bacon, chorizo, or even fried chicken to their pizza. The Louisville restaurant is the only location with a hot brown pizza, but there are also a number of other menu offerings, including both red- and white-sauce pies, as well as salads, sandwiches, burgers, and appetizers.
Gertie’s Whiskey Bar & Torino’s Sandwich Bar
Gertie’s Whiskey Bar, which originated in Nashville, opened its second location in NuLu in 2021. Offering whiskey, beer, wine, and a selection of whimsically named cocktails, the space has a low-key, moody atmosphere — and a downstairs speakeasy. Its back door opens up to NuLu Marketplace, and its front door is technically the entrance to Torino’s Sandwich Bar. Guests at Torino’s can choose from signature sandwiches, entrée salads, and sides — and take them to go or head behind the curtain for a more comprehensive drink selection. “We knew Louisville would be an ideal location for Gertie’s, our whiskey-centric cocktail bar,” says Pennington Pribbenow, the COO of Gertie’s Whiskey Bar’s parent company, Red Pebbles Hospitality. “The bustling atmosphere at NuLu Marketplace has the perfect vibe for Gertie’s and, ultimately, helped inspire the Torino’s Sandwich Shop concept, as well as the speakeasy at Gertie’s.”
La Bodeguita De Mima
More info: labodeguitademima.com
The bright yellow, two-story building known as La Bodeguita De Mima was designed to evoke 1950s Cuba. Run by chefs and cousins Fernando and Yaniel Martinez, the restaurant’s menu features traditional Cuban flavors seven days a week. We like the pollo asado, a mojo-marinated, half-roasted chicken topped with mojo onions and served with gravy, rice, black beans, and sweet plantains. And don’t forget dessert. The Habano de Chocolate, a chocolate cigar made with almond cake, Nutella mousse, and chocolate ganache, is served with coffee ice cream in a cigar box.
More info: louisvillecream.com
Known for its premium, small-batch ice cream, Louisville Cream’s fun flavor options include Coffee with Bourbon Cream, Pistachio Honeycomb, and Bourbon Smoked Pecan, to name a few. The shop also offers a few vegan flavors and baked goods like brownies, cookies, mini pies, and other treats.
Lou Lou on Market
More info: loulouonmarket.com
Jared Matthews, the owner of Lou Lou Food & Drink in St. Matthews, has brought Lou Lou to NuLu. Dubbed Lou Lou on Market, the restaurant sits in the space formerly occupied by Decca. Its menu is New Orleans-focused, but there are a variety of other options as well, including special items created just for kids. Guests can expect everything from crawfish bayou dip and Creole seafood fettuccine to roasted chicken salad and the Lou Chicago pizza — a favorite at the St. Matthews spot. The new space also boasts patio seating and a cozy, underground speakeasy that offers weekly live music.
The Seafood Lady
More info: seafoodlady502.com
Nichelle Thurston’s cravings for seafood platters like the ones she used to get in her home state of Florida eventually led to the opening of The Seafood Lady in 2015. She and her husband, Luke, serve everything from shrimp, lobster, and crab to tilapia, oysters, and even alligator tails. The restaurant has even been featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The NuLu spot is Nichelle’s second location, and it features a full bar with an extensive cocktail menu.
The Local Seltzery
More info: thelocalseltzerynululouisville.com
Founded by two brothers who love seltzers, The Local Seltzery boasts drinks made with clean, all-natural ingredients. This allows guests to enjoy flavorful and refreshing alcoholic beverages that include a fraction of the carbs and calories typically found in beer and traditional cocktails. Fun seltzer flavors include cotton candy, blueberry cobbler, and spicy cucumber.
WHERE TO STAY
AC Hotel by Marriott Louisville Downtown
To book: hotels.com
Nestled in the heart of NuLu is the AC Hotel, offering everything from fine dining to high-end amenities. In addition to trendy and well-appointed guest suites, the hotel is also a part of the Urban Bourbon Trail and is in close proximity to popular distilleries. Before heading out, stop by the AC Lounge for a delicious, Spanish-inspired breakfast or a collection of tapas and handcrafted cocktails.
To book: hotels.com
Hotel Genevieve is a chic lodging option in the heart of NuLu. The six-floor, 122-room boutique hotel offers an ideal place for those visiting Derby City to rest their head, as it’s within walking distance of many shops and restaurants. The property itself also boasts its own restaurant, as well as a rooftop bar, mini market, and speakeasy.
NuLu Bock and Wurst Fest
More info: nulu.org
If you happen to be in NuLu in the springtime, you just might be able to experience NuLu Bock and Wurst Fest, an annual event that celebrates bock beer — a rich and complex, malty, low-hop style lager. It has been said that Louisville’s first bock beer festival took place in the 1800s, and NuLu has kept the tradition alive. As bock means “goat” in German, Bock Fest typically kicks off with a ceremonial blessing of the goats, followed by multiple races for both kids and adult goats. They run a course amid NuLu’s appropriately named streets — the goats race from Nanny Goat Strut Alley to Billy Goat Strut Alley. As a true neighborhood block party, Bock Fest is more than goat races — breweries that serve bock beer brews will often offer specials, and the event typically includes live music, a petting zoo, and other family-friendly activities.
More info: nulu.org
Each fall, the neighborhood celebrates all things NuLu with an annual street festival that began over a decade ago. East Market Street — from the 600 through the 800 blocks — is shut down to traffic to make way for live music, food and retail booths, and a variety of activities for the whole family. The event lets people learn more about local businesses and celebrate the community’s growth. NuLu Fest typically takes place on the last Saturday of September.
Enjoy all the fun of NuLu!
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