Bluegrass Brewing Co.

A brewery catering to the beer lovers all over Louisville, Bluegrass Brewing Co. reps itself as “Louisville’s Original Brewery” having launched the first of the brewery’s three locations in St. Matthews in 1993. Today it has three locations, including a tap room downtown where people congregate right across the street from the KFC Yum! Center and other big venues to have a drink after a show or a performance. It’s a pleasant experience, and the beers aren’t too bad.

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Doc Crow’s

Right along the Whiskey Row area of downtown Louisville, Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar is a modern take on a southern favorite — big barbecue. With an enormous oyster bar greeting you as you walk in, and sandwiches so big that they’re served on metal cookie sheets, this bar is larger than life. Over-the-top food is always easy to like, and seeing how this spot has quickly established itself as a southern food destination in the middle of the city.

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Birracibo

Amid the many restaurants and nightlife spots you can find in downtown Louisville’s “Fourth Street Live” section, you will spot this higher-scale restaurant specializing in Neopolitan pizzas and Italian kinds. Marketed with an artisan food focus and featuring an ornate bar evoking something from Rome, the pizza spot is part of a larger push to move the well-known downtown nightlife area into the nicer restaurant realm as well. While the bar gives an atmosphere that is definitely different from what can be found nearby, the pizzas can be hit and miss.

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Magees of Lexington

A Kentucky focused bakery with classic goodies of all kinds, Magees of Lexington exists for one reason: to satisfy your sweet tooth. This bakery offers the classic favorite cakes, cookies, desserts and more in a very peaceful seating. Boasting its family ownership that has keeps the bakery running for over 50 years, this spot off East Main Street doesn’t make a lot of noise outside of the city. But the goodies to be tried here are worth a sampling. Altogether, a pleasant experience.

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Dragon King’s Daughter

With two locations in Louisville, Dragon King’s Daughter is a contemporary restaurant concept that combines two very unlike cuisines — Japanese sushi and Spanish Tapas — into one dining experience. I’m not quite sure what exactly inspired the combination, but it seems to work well enough to keep a steady following of people coming in the doors here. The concept works, though, in part because it brings out a lot of foods that people love and allows them to combine those in fun and interesting ways.

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Don Pablo’s

Founded out of Texas in the mid-1980s, Don Pablos had expanded rapidly into the Midwest before a 2007 bankruptcy slashed the chain’s locations. Now, Don Pablo’s is back with a new menu and a new concept to make each location something of a party. The interior of each restaurant has a wide open, colorful and friendly concept and the menu an expansive bunch of Tex-Mex dishes focusing on great meat dishes and simple flavors. The chain has spots in many cities still, and it’s a overall a good experience.

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Hiko-a-mon

With downtown Louisville changing at the hands of a ton of new buildings, more housing and new businesses, it’s a welcome site indeed that some great new restaurant concepts are populating around the city’s core, too. Hiko-A-Mon, a casual concept for Asian fusion-style foods as well as sushi, is a relatively new face in the core, with a particular brand of sushi that is easy to love and really not that expensive. The restaurant scene in this part of Kentucky is some of the state’s most adventurous, and I think the concept comes to Louisville’s core at a good time.

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Wick’s Pizza Parlor

Since 1990, Wick’s Pizza Parlor is been very popular tradition in Louisville. Now with four locations around the city, the spot has won a number of awards ranging from Louisville Magazine’s “Best of Louisville” awards as well as the LEO Magazine’s readers choice picks. But at the heart of it all, though, it is a chain of very casual pizza joints the locals love to come and congregate to enjoy giant pizzas and a long list of great beers. It’s hard to visit the river city without hearing a mention of this place as one of its most popular establishments.

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Evan Williams Bourbon Experience

Evan Williams is a brand of bourbon you’d recognize throughout the Midwest, and the longstanding distillery has a retail spot and tasting room in downtown Louisville’s legendary Whiskey Row. This spot is renowned as the first stop on Kentucky’s beloved Bourbon Trail, and the tasting room offers a chance for a tour of the history of the company and the city where it resides, as well as a chance to taste the many varieties of bourbon that you can try today from the distillery Evan Williams first founded in 1783. Bourbon is a proud Kentucky product, and the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience is a must if you want to really understand what the famous spirit means to the identity of the Bluegrass State.

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Cake Flour

A bakery that serves the Lyndon area of northeast Louisville, Cake Flour is a great spot for Kentucky folks to try a wide variety of baked goodies. The brainchild of New York-educated baker Claudia DeLatorre, Cake Flour looks to bring organic, high-quality baked ingredients to its products, and the result is a great menu of cupcakes, pastries, cakes and baked favorites with a lot of love and a few unique flavors. It’s an interesting spot, and one that seems to have carved out a good niche in Louisville as a unique bakery.

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