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The 18 Essential Louisville Restaurants, January 2014

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Welcome to the Louisville Eater 18, our best answers to the question "Can you recommend a Louisville restaurant?" This group covers the entire metro area, spans myriad cuisines and should satisfy just about any restaurant need. Every few months, we may shift things around a bit, in our bid to find restaurants stepping toward iconic status.

These are the places that provide a sense of the Louisville restaurant culture. They may not be the newest nor the hottest spots (that's what the Eater Louisville Heatmap is for). Eater 18 restaurants must be over two years old, and bring a unique sensibility to the local scene. Any disagreements or additions? Feel free to leave them in the comments.


Eater Louisville 18 history

· Jan. 8, 2013: Initial Eater Louisville 18
· April 9, 2013: Added Corbett's: An American Place and Holy Grale, removed Dragon King's Daughter and El Mundo
· July 9, 2013: No changes
· Oct. 8, 2013: Added Garage Bar, The Oakroom; removed Decca and Rye on Market
· January 7, 2014: Added Decca, Lilly's, Rye on Market, The Silver Dollar, Blue Dog Bakery & Café; removed Holy Grale, Bistro Le Relais, Garage Bar, The Blind Pig, Wagner's Pharmacy

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

610 Magnolia

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Edward Lee's "contemporary approach to the Southern table" is an unassuming, often innovative institution in a quiet corner of historic Old Louisville.

Proof on Main

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Executive Chef Levon Wallace creates dishes that can stand out amid the incredible art of this design-forward boutique hotel, whether it's breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or room service.

The Oakroom

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Opened in 1907, The Oakroom has been a AAA Five Diamond Restaurant since 1998. Seasonal menus "celebrate [The Oakroom's] unparalleled tradition of excellence," and dining here can give one a Gilded Age feeling.

Hillbilly Tea

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This downtown cafe focusing on "organic teas, mountain-inspired tea cuisine and tea hooch" is an inside joke, an inspired idea and a really good restaurant combined. And it "done gone global" with a second restaurant in Shanghai.

Harvest

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Harvest and chef Coby Lee Ming have a mission "to serve outstanding, regionally inspired, seasonal 'farm-to-table' cuisine." And they do—creating wonderful stuff with 80% of ingredients sourced from within a 100-mile radius.

Mayan Café

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Bruce Ucán's restaurant has been an East Market standout since "NuLu" was only a fantasy, and shows how good blending Mayan ideas with Kentucky ingredients can be.
Decca says it's "excited to feature local artists and musicians alongside inspired food and drinks in a warm atmosphere," and diners have been consistently excited by the food Annie Pettry and her team deliver.

Wiltshire on Market

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Chef Jonathan Exum emphasizes fresh, local ingredients in a menu that changes weekly in an "intimate restaurant environment."

Rye On Market

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Ever since Michael Trager-Kusman went to New York, worked his way up to line cook at The Breslin and attracted Tyler Morris to Louisville, Rye has been an electric addition to the city's restaurant scene.

Hammerheads

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Burgers, BBQ, tacos and fries may not sound like much, but this Swan Street shack is anything but a dive and dazzlingly popular.

Eiderdown

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"European-inspired Southern Food" is what Eiderdown says it has in mind for its patrons, although they admit "another inspiration is beer." Whatever they call it, this comfortable, eclectic blend of beer and bohemian gourmet seems very, very Louisville.

Jack Fry's

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Beginning as the home of a bookie and bootlegger, this clubby "New American" restaurant is full of photos, memorabilia and fine food.

Lilly's

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Kathy Cary can safely be called Louisville's farm-to-table pioneer. Setting the locavore bar for the city, she continues to deliver comfortable yet compelling cuisine.

The Silver Dollar

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Honoring the "'Bakersfield Sound,' ... great juke joints and the spirited people who inhabited them" has earned The Silver Dollar much praise, both for whiskey and for food.

Seviche: A Latin Restaurant

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Anthony Lamas's "Nuevo Latino" cuisine of course includes the somewhat eponymous ceviche, along with an array of Latin American-inspired dishes that consistently rank him among the top chefs in the city.
Led by chef/owner Michael Ton, Basa brings elegant, modernized Vietnamese flavors to fine dining in Louisville.

Blue Dog Bakery & Cafe

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Baker Bob Hancock seemingly supplies half the city with his marvelous breads, while simultaneously raising his own heritage hogs, making his own charcuterie and overseeing one of the best breakfast and lunch spots in the city.

Corbett's: An American Place

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Located in a restored 19th century mansion, the New American cuisine flagship restaurant of longtime local celebrity chef Dean Corbett, was awarded "the prestigious AAA Four Diamond Award for 2012."

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610 Magnolia

Edward Lee's "contemporary approach to the Southern table" is an unassuming, often innovative institution in a quiet corner of historic Old Louisville.

Proof on Main

Executive Chef Levon Wallace creates dishes that can stand out amid the incredible art of this design-forward boutique hotel, whether it's breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or room service.

The Oakroom

Opened in 1907, The Oakroom has been a AAA Five Diamond Restaurant since 1998. Seasonal menus "celebrate [The Oakroom's] unparalleled tradition of excellence," and dining here can give one a Gilded Age feeling.

Hillbilly Tea

This downtown cafe focusing on "organic teas, mountain-inspired tea cuisine and tea hooch" is an inside joke, an inspired idea and a really good restaurant combined. And it "done gone global" with a second restaurant in Shanghai.

Harvest

Harvest and chef Coby Lee Ming have a mission "to serve outstanding, regionally inspired, seasonal 'farm-to-table' cuisine." And they do—creating wonderful stuff with 80% of ingredients sourced from within a 100-mile radius.

Mayan Café

Bruce Ucán's restaurant has been an East Market standout since "NuLu" was only a fantasy, and shows how good blending Mayan ideas with Kentucky ingredients can be.

Decca

Decca says it's "excited to feature local artists and musicians alongside inspired food and drinks in a warm atmosphere," and diners have been consistently excited by the food Annie Pettry and her team deliver.

Wiltshire on Market

Chef Jonathan Exum emphasizes fresh, local ingredients in a menu that changes weekly in an "intimate restaurant environment."

Rye On Market

Ever since Michael Trager-Kusman went to New York, worked his way up to line cook at The Breslin and attracted Tyler Morris to Louisville, Rye has been an electric addition to the city's restaurant scene.

Hammerheads

Burgers, BBQ, tacos and fries may not sound like much, but this Swan Street shack is anything but a dive and dazzlingly popular.

Eiderdown

"European-inspired Southern Food" is what Eiderdown says it has in mind for its patrons, although they admit "another inspiration is beer." Whatever they call it, this comfortable, eclectic blend of beer and bohemian gourmet seems very, very Louisville.

Jack Fry's

Beginning as the home of a bookie and bootlegger, this clubby "New American" restaurant is full of photos, memorabilia and fine food.

Lilly's

Kathy Cary can safely be called Louisville's farm-to-table pioneer. Setting the locavore bar for the city, she continues to deliver comfortable yet compelling cuisine.

The Silver Dollar

Honoring the "'Bakersfield Sound,' ... great juke joints and the spirited people who inhabited them" has earned The Silver Dollar much praise, both for whiskey and for food.

Seviche: A Latin Restaurant