Zanzabar is a local institution. Since its opening in 1938 it has changed templates many times, but it has always remained a local watering hole. The recent incarnation has it all, from old-school arcade games and pinball tournament nights to local farm-to-table food and live music, things have surely changed since those prewar days. The food and drinks are outstanding, but a lot of people come just to revert back to their childhood with games like Paperboy, Asteroids, Frogger and Donkey Kong. When you add the live music, this version of Zanzabar appears as if it is the best one in the last 80 years.
Situated right beside Residence Inn Louisville Downtown, this whiskey bar plies Kentucky bourbon as well as other potent libations in a building that dates from 1885. If you love whiskey, this unpretentious downtown bar with its fantastic selection of more than 100 varieties, is one you absolutely must visit. If whiskey isn't really your thing, don't despair because the bar also has craft and tap beers for you to enjoy as well. During the week, this popular watering hole has live bands in action, from traditional bluegrass trios to punk rock ones, each night is different.
Beer nerds take note: The Nachbar is the place to be for beer selection in Louisville. There's a hefty menu of Belgians, Germans, other imports, and the best of the American microbreweries. There are lots of bottles and plenty of cascading hops out of the taps too. The walls are made of exposed brick, there's billiards and a backyard and a full bar in case beer isn't your first choice. A popular summer venue, the patio is a great place to mingle over drinks in fine weather. Open till late, this hidden gem is a Germantown favorite for those in the know.
Headliners is a Louisville institution that has hosted top local and national performers over the years. A mid-sized venue, the hall hosts an eclectic line up of performers of various genres from hip-hop to metal, bluegrass, and rock. Past performances include Disclosure, Kings of Leon, Dr. Dog, and Girl Talk. Housed in an early 20th-century building, the acoustics are excellent and the ambiance is lively. The elevated back bar allows you to wait in line with a view of the show. Schedules are available via the website or social media. Tickets can be booked online and prices vary according to the artists.
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.
Feeling blue? Stevie Ray's has the cure: signature margaritas, an enthusiastic clientele, and some of the top names in blues music playing every week. Go big on the dance floor and enjoy the tunes of a mixture of well-known and local talent. A small cover charge varies by night of the week, but Thursdays are bike nights - where bikers get in free. Some guests may wish to note that this bar is smoke-friendly.
Tucked away in downtown, Limbo is a Tiki bar and lounge where guests can enjoy a variety of entertainment ranging from live Hawaiian music, burlesque, DJs, and much more. The joint was founded by the Queen of color, Olivia Griffin who moved to Kentucky from San Francisco in 2014 and realized there was no Tiki bar in Louisville. Be it ladies or gents, this bar welcomes all, especially ladies who can relax, let loose and have a good time. Their cocktail menu is moderately priced and one can enjoy a fine selection of house and signature cocktails. Happy hours are between 4p to 7p daily. It is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy a good time in the company of your buddies.
Dance away the evening to the lovely music played in the background as you visit Meta. This peppy bar is known for serving some of the best cocktails in town. In addition to the cocktails, you can choose from various wines, beers, sake and other spirits of your choice. Although they don’t serve food, you are sure to have some good time with its friendly service and lively ambiance. The energy of this place never goes down as they have weekly event plans like their Jazz nights, happy hours and the DJ playing your favorite number on the weekends. Unwind yourself from the hectic week as you sip on to some refreshing craft cocktails at Meta.
Located off the lobby of the Seelbach, this bar offers over forty bourbons, expertly mixed cocktails, and heavenly desserts like the Warm Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie. The Seelbach is known for its artfully restored, early 1900s decor, and this elegant watering hole was not passed over. The bar itself is a fine piece of mahogany, and it's as inviting a bar as ever there was. The bar is staffed by a crew not only expert at drink mixing, but also at spinning yarns about the hotel, the neighborhood, and the great state of Kentucky. Live jazz on weekends.
Nestled in Downtown Louisville's entertainment hub, Fourth Street Live, PBR Louisville is a vibrant place where patrons can let their hair down and have a good time. PBR which is an abbreviation for Professional Bull Riders, follows a cowboy theme, but blends an urban touch into its ambiance. Game nights, happy hours, concerts and other events fill this place up with a lot of energy.
When the glossy hubbub of Fourth Street Live becomes overwhelming, head for Third Street Dive. It's dark and gritty, the drinks are inexpensive, and the frills are decidedly few. There's a pool table in the back, a juke box full of heavy rock'n'roll, and live music on select evenings. The regulars are full of colorful stories, and the barkeeps have their share as well. If your one-drink Happy Hour plan turns into an beer-fueled, punk-rock all nighter, you're more than welcome to order out for pizza or bring in a bag of White Castles from around the corner. See MySpace page for concert schedule and more.