The Hottest New Restaurants in Louisville, September 2015

The Hottest New Restaurants in Louisville, September 2015

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Eater returns to Louisville, Kentucky to focus on ten restaurants that have been garnering some serious buzz.

10 Places
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    Chefs Dustin Staggers, Ethan Ray, and Eric Morris, along with several other chef partners, have created a collaborative dinner club featuring a surprising new, several-course menu every time, popping up each time at a different location. Seats, limited to 10 tables at each appearance, are available only through a Facebook lottery. The group began at Staggers’ restaurant Roux, but Ten Tables has now appeared all over town and shows no signs of stopping.
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    Arising almost literally from the ashes of one of Louisville’s most venerable restaurants, this outpost of an Indianapolis-based company has become packed with well-heeled East End residents who have found a new hangout. Duck confit and waffles, Sichuan coriander-crusted tuna, and other competent kitchen items often must thread a gauntlet of Madras-panted people to arrive at table, but many don’t seem to mind.
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    Veteran Louisville chef Griffin Paulin (Hammerheads, Roux) has transformed the Falls City Brewing/Old 502 Winery location from a distilling to a dining destination. Offering twists on traditional pub fare, Over the 9 serves up dishes such as “burnt ends” of tofu with house barbecue sauce and brioche points, cashew butter and jelly, and some seriously in-demand Scotch eggs. There are also libations such as the Ballyhoo (bourbon, blood orange liqueur, bitters) and Pepper (pepper moonshine, citrus, seaweed simple syrup) to go with (of course) readily-available beer and wine.
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    Chef Dustin Staggers has become somewhat of a juggernaut in Louisville’s restaurant scene, opening New-Orleans themed Roux, opening (then closing) a ramen shop called Rumplings, and debuting the sandwich spot Epic Sammich. While he was at it, he also got in on a national trend with America: The Diner. Fried chicken, burgers, meatloaf, and other diner fare (including breakfast) is available around the clock Thursday through Saturday, with slightly more limited hours the rest of the week. There’s also a full bar, so your throwback milkshake or ice cream float can be boozed up in a jiffy.
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    This up-to-date, slightly edgy bar is yet-another idea from Michael Trager-Kusman, Tyler Morris, and Doug Petry, the guys who made the down-the-street Rye restaurant so popular. Galaxie is more like a neighborhood bar with somewhat less expensive drinks and food — though everything is still fresh and “sourced locally when possible.” “Breakfast of champions” shot and beer combos start at $5, with cocktails like the Rosy Crucifixion (gin, honey, rosemary, lemon) and the Storm Trooper (rum, allspice, ginger beer, lime) going for around $7, and food like fried egg and sweet potato wraps and tempura avocado with peppers and carrots starting around $8.
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    2015 Eater Young Gun Ryan Rogers brought his belief that barbecue brings people together to East Market Street, and the NuLu location has proven him right. The open layout of his 1920s truck dealership hosts classically trained cooks serving exceptionally smoked proteins, craft cocktails, and cold beer to throngs of happy people. Pork cakes kick crab cakes and take their name, plus add sorghum. Loaded tater tots tempt along with a rotating menu of flavored bourbon slushies. Rogers will also soon open the hotly anticipated Royals Hot Chicken, a foray into pressure-fried fine food that is scheduled to open this fall.
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    Chef Allan Rosenberg has been building his reputation in Louisville for years, including founding the Papalino’s Pizza chain. Now he’s taken over another pizza place, but instead of pie, Rosenberg’s plating up Southern comfort food “with the right amount of modern influence.” Classy-casual decor is the setting for pimento cheese with lavosh, fried bologna and aioli, or chicken and waffles with foie gras butter. A raw bar, drinks, beers, and Rosenberg’s legendary charcuterie are also on tap.
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    Gralehaus is the quieter, slightly more sober sister to Bardstown Road’s Holy Grale, with which it shares ownership and open space. Open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day since early 2014, Gralehaus recently been experimenting with the occasional dinner, which is as interesting and excellent as its ongoing brunch-ish fare. It’s the perfect place to prepare for your evening (or work off a hangover), as long as you’re one of the people lucky enough to grab a seat in the limited space. The biscuit with duck sausage gravy is excellent, as are the coffee and espresso.
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    Liz and Jesse Huot, of Grind Gourmet Food Truck, built a fan base rabid for hand-shaped, high-quality burgers. A little over a year ago, they opened a non-mobile restaurant towards the Southern end of the city. Recently, Grind fans rejoiced as the Huots announced a move to the East Market Street NuLu district with more seating and a full bar, and away from what they described as their “little, yellow, peeled-paint, bullet-holed building on Preston.”
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    8UP offers dark wood paneling, banquettes with eight-foot-tall backs, kitchens serving both indoor and outdoor areas, "progressive American cuisine," and a craft cocktail program. But really, the reason to come to this Hilton Garden Inn location is the 4,000-square-foot open-air rooftop bar, smack in the middle of downtown and offering what may be the best damn view in the city.
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