Must Try Restaurants in Downtown Louisville, KY
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on September 19, 2022 and last updated on March 15, 2023. Please refer to restaurant websites and social media pages for the most up-to-date information.
If you’ve never been to Louisville, Kentucky, you’ve missed one of the most charming, historic cities in America. With beautiful architecture dating back to the 19th century, world class events like the Kentucky Derby, and incredible restaurants, bars and distilleries, there’s plenty to see in Louisville. In downtown Louisville specifically, you can find a vibrant arts scene, five star dining, and an array of museums covering science, bourbon and more. From historic Whiskey Row to shopping in the South Fourth Street district, there’s endless things to explore. So where are the best restaurants Downtown Louisville? Check out our list below, and grab some brown butter ice cream, a fried chicken sandwich, or a spinach pie at one of these great restaurants. For more recommendations on the best restaurants to eat and drink around Louisville, check out our city page here.
Against The Grain Brewery and Smokehouse
401 E Main St Louisville, KY 40202
There is probably no beer-lover in Downtown Louisville that doesn’t frequent what can only be described as a beer palace, Against The Grain. The four owners have been brewing beer since the 90’s and offer the classics such as hop, malt, smoke, and session. They have incorporated beer into some of their meals, such as mac and beer cheese. The foods to try out include the pit-smoked brisket, pecan pie, and Weisenberger grits.
Brendon’s Catch 23
505 S 4th St Louisville, KY 40202
This establishment is among the top of the list when it comes to the best fine dining restaurants in Downtown Louisville. It is an excellent choice for high-fashion tea and elegant events with the decor and class to boot. Their supper menu has different meal options such as raw and cooked seafood and steak. There is also a special menu curated each night with different entrees, and they offer vegetarian and gluten-free options on request.
Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse and Raw Bar
127 W Main St Louisville, KY 40202
Doc Crow’s has been around for a while and is credited for having some of the freshest seafood and authentic southern comfort foods in Downtown Louisville. Their food is always super flavorful because they use seasonal ingredients and the in-house-made spices and sauces. You can sample a little bit of everything on the menu with the smokehouse sampler platter with pork and beef brisket with either chicken or ribs. You can also try their fish platter with pickled vegetables, Doc’s remoulade, hushpuppies, and blackened or fried tilapia or catfish fillet. Some other southern delights include the fried pork loin, derby pie, and shrimp with cheddar grits.
Equus & Jacks
122 Sears Avenue, Louisville, KY 40207
Equus & Jack’s bourbon restaurant is a beautiful gem in the heart of St. Matthew’s. It’s one of the neighborhood’s best restaurants, especially when it comes to cocktails. They also have delicious food, so get adventurous, go with what the waiter suggests and the restaurant serves best. That said, you can’t go wrong with Jack’s Burger, 8oz CAB beef patty, traditionally dressed, with your choice of cheese. Add some crispy bacon for an extra buck fifty.
921 Swan St Louisville, KY 40204
This is one of the spots in Downtown Louisville with vegetarian options and amazing finger-licking ribs. So what’s good here? We recommend their house-smoked St. Louis spare ribs with Grippo fries, venison burgers, pork belly tacos, and smoked mac and cheese. Their best vegetarian option is the Garcia burger with shiitake mushrooms, potato bun, portabella, sun-dried tomato mayo, falafel, and lettuce.
Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse
325 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202
You would expect a city that hosts the Kentucky Derby to have some excellent steakhouses, wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t be wrong. Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse is a stylish, luxurious steak and seafood downtown Louisville restaurant. They have incredible USDA prime steaks, fresh sushi and the best drinks menu downtown. The restaurant also serves world class wines, so don’t be shy to ask your server for a good suggestion. With a gorgeous dining room, you could do a lot worse for a date night dining experience than Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse.
Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen
122 W Main St Louisville, KY 40202
This Downtown Louisville spot is not only known for its tasty food and impressive drink menu, but also its live music performances each weekend featuring local and national artists. Their menu has some of the best Southern foods, such as sweet potato casserole, big pig sandwich, and southern fried chicken. They also have regular tacos like bourbon bbq pork and plant-based tacos like the barbacoa taco and wild mushroom.
Mussels and Burger Bar
113 S 7th St Louisville, KY 40202
Imagine a restaurant where you can have a gourmet burger, some fresh, delicious mussels, and an ice-cold beer. Well when in Downtown Louisville, Mussels and Burger Bar is the place to be. It is family friendly, providing a great atmosphere for hanging out on weekends or grabbing dinner after a day at the office. Try the Mediterranean Burger, one of Louisville’s best – ground lamb topped with quince marmalade, house mixed greens, feta cheese, and tzatziki sauce. Good food options are all over the menu – if you’re not feeling like beef, order a seafood burger with shrimp, lobster, crabmeat patty, lettuce, avocado, and a spicy aioli between pretzel buns with a side of truffle fries. The mussels are served with artisan bread, and the sauce options include curry cream, moules, basquaise, and meuniere. It’s not just a mussels and burger bar, either – get sangrias, spiked lemonade, old fashioned and more at their actual bar.
Proof on Main
702 West Main St Louisville, KY 40202
Food and exquisite art covering the walls is what Proof on Main in Downtown Louisville is all about. They boast some rather impressive contemporary art pieces that make the dining experience akin to eating in a museum. They are open from Monday to Sunday for breakfast, brunch, and dinner. The sharable platters include the market fish crudo and charred octopus, while the entree menu includes black hawk farm salmon, ricotta cannelloni, and many more.
Sidebar At Whiskey Row
129 N 2nd St Louisville, KY 40202
The one dish we recommend is the double jeopardy burger made with an in-house recipe that brings together an Angus beef patty, red onion, cheese, lettuce, and tomato. This Downtown Louisville spot is known for its interesting take on different foods, sure to blow your mind in flavor and taste. It is a fantastic place for an evening cocktail and a tasty burger. They have a wide array of craft beers, cocktails, and fun non-alcoholic beverages, such as the caramel apple bacon milkshake.
Looking for a place to eat near the University of Louisville? Click here for our guide!
Try a Kentucky classic on your next visit. Check out our list of best places to get a Hot Brown sandwich.