Louisville, Kentucky - globally known as the home of fast food fried chicken and bourbon. And to be honest, that’s all we knew about the city before we set off from London.
But we were being challenged by Visit The USA to look closer and see if we could get to know the real Louisville food scene. To help us do this, we asked Mike to head to Louisville a few days ahead of us so he could plan a killer itinerary. As it turned out, we were in for an incredible experience
The first thing we learned was that Louisville has the 2nd highest number of independent eateries per capita of any other city in the United States, with only New Orleans outstripping it. Who would have guessed that?!
This independent food scene really shone through in every place we went - speaking to one of the chefs from Gralehaus, a fantastic B&B (Bed & Beverage) in the Highlands area of the city (the best dish we tried was the Biscuit & Duck Gravy!), he mentioned that the restaurant scene had a real community feel to it, with lots of the chefs knowing each other… and more importantly for us, the customers… constantly trying to outshine each other by coming up with new concepts for restaurants, new flavour pairings and new dishes!
It was easy to see this in practice - from the elegant and delicious lunch we enjoyed at Butchertown Grocery (e.g. a rotisserie chicken salad croissant, filled with candied pecans and heirloom tomatoes), to the unreal blend of Southern cuisine and Asian flavours we wolfed down at Milkwood in Downtown (BBQ Pork Shoulder served with coconut rice and edamame beans). Everywhere we went, we were greeted with the most friendly people showcasing some of the best flavours imaginable.
So where did Mike find out about all of these places? Easy - they were instantly on the tip of every local’s tongue. He didn’t have to search hard at all… In fact, he still has a massive list of the places that we didn’t get time to visit, written on napkins, business cards and compliment slips and whatever people had to hand when he asked them for recommendations.
It really taught us a massive lesson - it’s incredibly easy to google ‘top places to visit in XXX city’, but are you really going to discover an absolute gem by doing that? Or are you just going to visit where everyone else goes?
So here’s 2 tips for you:
- Go to Louisville, right now!
- When you travel to any city, ask the locals where you should be going to eat, drink and spend time… It’s their city and they’ll want to show it off in the best light, and you’ll probably find yourself in places you’d never expect.