Top 20 Louisville Restaurants

Our pick of the best dining spots in the city

1 | 610 Magnolia
Chef/owner Edward Lee's emphasis is natural, from the region, fresh, and diverse. His tempura-battered okra, cornbread sweetened with caramelized parsnips and onions, bison raised just a half-hour away, Tennessee bacon for the dainty BLTs in his selection of starters, and Farmer's Basket salads combining rich produce from the local fields.
 610 West Magnolia Avenue, Louisville, KY 40208; (502) 636-0783 or www.610magnolia.com

2 | Artemisia
A terrific weekday lunch spot, Artemisia provides diners with wonderful art, a covered courtyard, and excellent local produce.
 620 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40202; (502) 583-4177 or www.artemisiarestaurant.com

3 | Asiatique
The menu changes seasonally, but try the wok-seared salmon if it's available. Asiatique's Pacific fusion cuisine also features unique desserts such as Bosc pear beignets or lemon grass panna cotta.
 1767 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40205; 502-451-2749 or www.asiatiquerestaurant.com

4 | Blue Dog Bakery and Café
You smell the bread before you even walk in the door of this friendly neighborhood bistro. For a true breakfast treat, try the poached free-range eggs on toasted levain with prosciutto. Levain, their perfectly textured sourdough, is made in a wood-fired oven and joins cranberry-walnut and nine-grain delights as well as yummy baguettes from which to choose.
 2868 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40206; 502-899-9800

5 | Browning's Restaurant & Brewery
When hunger threatens to strike you out at a Louisville Bats game over at Slugger Field, just walk to a fine restaurant at the ballpark: Browning's, a brew pub with a good BLT sandwich with fried green tomatoes.
 401 E Main St, Louisville, KY 40202; (502) 515-0174 or www.diningonmain.com/Brownings/Brownings_home.html

6 | Café Bristol
If you want to dine in artistic surroundings, have lunch at Cafe Bristol in the Speed Art Museum. Their chicken pot pie, with big chunks of tender chicken in a flaky crust, is delicious.
 2035 S 3rd St, JB Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY 40208; (502) 634-2723

7 | Desserts by Helen
For an olfactory delight with no calories involved, just step inside this sweet spot. Take a whiff though, and you'll want a piece of the White Chocolate Mousse Torte as well as the Chocolate Macadamia Nut Torte. A smaller sugar fix can be attained by munching on a chocolate chip cookie or a dessert bar or scone. For an eat-at-home treat, pick up a cinnamon coffee cake that contains a ribbon of custard.
 2210 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40205; (502) 451-7151 or www.dessertsbyhelen.com

8 | English Grill
The chef offers a Continental menu with Kentucky flair and celebrates the Bluegrass State's agriculture by using local produce. The menu changes seasonally, but whatever you do, be sure to order the dessert soufflé, and order it early. It takes a good 35 minutes to make, but it's worth it. Flavors vary every day. You can also get a seat at the Chef's table for dinner. The seven-course repast includes wine parings.
 335 W Broadway, Brown Hotel, Louisville, KY 40202; (502) 583-1234 or www.brownhotel.com/dining/index.html

9 | Equus Restaurant
A Louisville favorite for 20 years, this venerable spot offers more than 250 bottles of wine in its cellar and uses the finest regional produce in its fabulous cuisine. Order the deservedly famous Parmesan-crusted sea bass. Cross the sweet finish line with their signature dessert, Equus Chess Cake, a chocolate, ice cream, and cream filling confection.
 122 Sears Ave, Louisville, KY 40207; (502) 897-9721 or www.equusrestaurant.com

10 | Ginny's Diner
It's the biggest burger we've ever seen: the Sweet Daddy Burger. You'll need more than a fork, maybe a forklift, to hoist it. The triple-decker is made of 1 1/4 pounds of ground chuck and is as delicious as it is huge. Best side dish: Frickled Pickles. These delicious fried pickles are served with a horseradish dipping sauce. Best dessert: peanut butter cream pie.
 2227 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40206; (502) 893-0923

11 | Heine Bros. Coffee
An institution since 1992, Heine Brothers' Coffee boasts five locations, touting fair trade organically grown beans. The owners take pride in their basic blends as well as their lattes and cappuccinos. Best-sellers include the medium mocha and, in the summer, the Iceberg (it's like a coffee milk shake). Grab a muffin and enjoy the wireless Internet. Best perk: connected to a great independent bookstore, Carmichael's.
 1295 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40205; (502) 456-5108 or www.heinebroscoffee.com

12 | J. Gumbo's
Order a big bowl of gumbo, jambalaya, or red beans and rice. Another popular dish is Drunken Chicken: shredded chicken marinated in Cajun spices, olive oil, stewed tomatoes, and beer. This happy spot filled with beads, lively Cajun music and friendly service will make you think you've stumbled into a family-friendly Mardi Gras parade. And if you can't decide what to order, ask for a combo of two or even three items.
 2109 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40206; (502) 896-4046 or www.jgumbos.com

13 | J. Graham's Café
If it's a casual lunch you have in mind, check out this terrific restaurant in The Brown Hotel: J. Graham's, home of the Hot Brown. Never had one? You must. It's toast, turkey, cheese sauce, and bacon, all cooked together in an unbelievably tasty dish.
335 W Broadway, Brown Hotel, Louisville, KY 40202; (502) 583-1234 or www.brownhotel.com/dining/index.html

14 | Jack Fry's
Jack Fry's is a dark and friendly restaurant with easy-to-slide-into booths. The folks here create a wonderful burger. The Jack's Burger comes with caramelized onions; Cheddar, Stilton, or Swiss cheese; bacon; and fries on the side. The onions made the difference here, and the atmosphere made the meal even better. Best side dish: tomato-artichoke soup. Best dessert: creme caramel with strawberries.
 1007 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40204; (502) 452-9244 or www.jackfrys.com

15 | Kaelin's
A culinary delight, Kaelin's still claims to have invented the cheeseburger. Enjoy the miniature version or the full-size cheeseburger with fries and slaw. Best side dish: fresh hash browns. Best dessert: Hands down, it's the creamy Dreamsicle Shake.
 1801 Newburg Rd, Louisville, KY 40205; 502-451-1801 or www.kaelins.com

16 | Lynn's Paradise Cafe
Incredibly large portions of home-cooked favorites amid an equally large collection of classic Americana. Known for their dynamite breakfast menu, but you'll also be hard pressed to find better meatloaf with mashed potatoes or turkey with dressing. Reservations accepted for eight or more for brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Reservations accepted for any size party on weekdays and all nights.  
 984 Barrett Ave, Louisville, KY 40204; (502) 583-3447 or www.lynnsparadisecafe.com

17 | Napa River Grill
A gorgeous bar piled high with California wines plays to the Napa theme. Begin with a big Cab, and then try the tamarind-marinated pork chop. End with the croissant-based bread pudding, a late harvest wine, a pot of French press coffee, or, better yet, all three.
1211 Herr Ln, Westport Village, Louisville, KY 40222; (502) 893-0141 or www.napariverlouisville.com

18 | The Oakroom
Be sure to make reservations for Sunday brunch at the Seelbach Hilton's Oakroom. It offers more than 100 items, with complimentary champagne service from 1pm.
 500 S 4th Ave, Seelbach Hilton, Louisville, KY 40202; (502) 807-3463 or www.seelbachhilton.com/hoteldining_theoakroom.html

19 | Rivue Restaurant
To be sure, rooms at the two towers of the Galt House Hotel are spectacular, but for us the real draw is its rooftop restaurant called RIVUE. After taking the elevator to the 25th floor, prepare to be stunned by the panoramic view of glittering downtown on one side and glistening river on the other. The restaurant slowly revolves, so you won't even have to choose which view is best.
 140 N 4th St Louisville, KY 40202; (502) 568-4239 or www.rivue.com

20 | Wagner's Pharmacy
Walk over to Wagner's Pharmacy, where trainers and jockeys eat. The drugstore/diner, open since 1910, also features a tack shop. Order a fried egg sandwich, and look at all the photos of famous horses and jockeys.
 3113 S 4th St, Louisville, KY 40214; 502-375-3800