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Winner of the coveted AAA five-diamond award, the Seelbach Hilton's Oakroom provides its guests the same service F. Scott Fitzgerald and John F. Kennedy enjoyed during their visits. The menu draws its inspiration from the local traditions of Kentucky and it aims to preserve the native dishes unique to this region. The restaurant highlights entrees that have Kentucky bourbon, local foie gras, Denham Farm's mountain ham and other seasonal delights. Of course, the bar has an extensive selection of classic bourbon labels as well as more unknown 'small batch' ones.
Manny & Merle's fuses a touch of the Old West in the kitchen (with tacos, guacamole and flat-iron steak as quintessential examples) alongside strong select bourbons you could only find in a Kentucky bar. This honky-tonk spot has everything, from amazing Southwestern-inspired food to live bands and even a nice selection of tequilas. Throughout the week, the bar/restaurant hosts live music and though many of the bands are local, on occasion a national or international star will make his/her appearance.
Located in the heart of downtown Louisville on the ground floor of the 21c Museum Hotel, Proof on Main has captured the hearts, minds and palates of diners throughout the city. Inside the blend is modern and chic, but upon first glance it looks like an ersatz safari scene, with large sculpted faux animals such as tigers and zebras on the walls. The white tablecloths and elegant, light wooden fixtures and chairs only add to the eclectic mix. The food is just as varied, and though most would classify it as New American, the kitchen tries to transcend any compartmentalization or label. And with dishes such as diver scallops on rice grits or traditional Italian campanelle made with local lamb, it's easy to understand why.
Harvest prides itself on its farm-to-fork ingredients and they purport obtaining at least 80% from within a 100-mile radius. But it's not just the food that's local because the decor incorporates reclaimed materials from all over the city as well. The menus change regularly, but you can almost always find the hugely popular buttermilk fried chicken with peppercorn gravy and bread pudding. Definitely a top-notch choice in the entire state of Kentucky.
Housed in a former garage, The Garage Bar is one of the most popular eateries and bars in the NuLu neighborhood or East Market District of Louisville. The place is always thumping with excitement and the two crashed cars at the entrance is a cool, gimmick that belies what the bar is all about. Their wood-fired oven pizzas are phenomenal and every single one of them uses local, farm fresh ingredients. Just check the menu, it has the local farmers and purveyors listed behind the products in your dish.
Louisville isn't synonymous with culinary capitals around the country like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or San Francisco, yet this town can hold its own when it comes to innovative, cutting-edge restaurants. And though Decca may be housed in an old building from 1870, it uses fresh, farm-to-table goods like duck liver terrine or free-range chicken. Other highlights include live music in a limestone cellar, an outdoor courtyard and an excellent wine list. Overall, a nice addition to 'New Louisville' or known more affectionately (or not) as NuLu in the East Market District of Louisville.
Mayan Cafe, as its name suggests, reflects the culinary heritage of the Mayan culture. Chef Bruce Ucán, with Mayan Indian roots himself, showcases a unique style of cooking backed by the ethos of sustainability. This downtown restaurant in the East Market Gallery District offers authentic dishes prepared with farm-to-fork, locavore ingredients. Some of the specialties include Sikil Pak (pumpkin seed dip) and the Yucatec Salbutes which are tiny corn tortillas topped with turkey, chicken, pork, shredded cabbage and/or other various eclectic toppings.
Being inspired by the location of his restaurant in Old Louisville and the bounty of farm raised foodstuffs in the Kentucky region, chef/owner Edward Lee knows his way around the Southern kitchen. Here at 610 Magnolia, he serves Southern dishes that often defy even that particular description. Each dish has complex, yet familiar flavors and almost all of the items and produce come from within the state or from nearby Indiana. Since the menu changes often due to Ed's constant adherence to seasonal products, there is always something new and fresh on the menu.
Once upon a time, Americans ate exclusively food that was seasonal and local, for there were no interstate trucking to ferry tomatoes around in the dead of winter. Therefore, traditional American home cooking was just naturally health conscious and sustainable. Somewhere along the way, however, "home cooking" came to mean processed this and high-fructose that -- and canned everything. North End Cafe signals a return to the old days. Hearty comfort food (from biscuits and gravy to scallops and grits), prepared with an eye toward healthfulness and environmental responsibility. The place definitely has at least one foot in the present, with its full bar and lounge and a number of international influences on the menu.