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    Louisville is the kind of town that has a bar for everyone - the outsider, the beer lover, the lush, the townie. Among these are a few gems - true hometown bars that open their doors to all kinds, creating atmospheres unique to Louisville. These bars, each known for their own thing, have become favorites to natives and transplants, alike. 


    Hilltop Tavern
    1800 Frankfort Ave.
    Why: If you’re looking for the perfect hometown bar, Hilltop is it. The relaxed older brother of the hip whiskey bars that dot the city, Hilltop was made for laid back drinking, but can serve up a good cocktail, too. The food, standard bar fare, is hearty and delicious, with some hometown flavor added in. The walls are covered in art by local artists, available for sale, and the back of the bar holes away shelves of games to play with friends. Grab a drink and sit on one of the picnic tables outside, or grab a partner and hit the ping pong table in the bar.
    What: The West Sixth Mac N Cheese Fritters are the stuff of dreams, deep fried and served with a delicious dipping sauce. Grab these along with a Kentucky Hot Brown or a pulled pork sandwich, with the house-made Carolina sauce. Check the board by the bar to see which beers are on tap - it’s an ever-changing list of classics and craft beers.
    Photo: Chris Witzke


    Haymarket Whiskey Bar
    331 E Market St.
    Why: Haymarket is a true hole-in-the-wall and has repeatedly been named one of the best bars in America - most recently by Esquire. It’s a small, cool bar, with a big collection of memorabilia and an even bigger selection of booze. It’s the kind of place to grab a draft and play some pinball, or take a seat at the bar and sip some whiskey. If you’re lucky, one of Louisville’s local bands will be taking the stage in the back.
    What: The bourbon. So many Louisville bars have big bourbon selections because, duh, but this one is pretty extensive. Ask the bartenders about their favorites and they’ll point you to the best that bourbon country has to offer.
    Photo courtesy of Haymarket Whiskey Bar


    The Back Door
    1250 Bardstown Rd., around the back of the Mid City Mall
    Why: The Back Door is everything that a dive bar should be. It’s located around the back of a big building that holds a big empty hall, a small branch of the public library and a Valu-Market. There are a couple of old bartenders who serve their drinks strong and cheap. There’s a window to order your food - some really good burgers and wings - and an old speaker system that calls your name over the clamor of billiard balls and the growing roar of the crowd, announcing that your food is ready at the window.
    What: First, grab some chicken wings. Play a round of foosball and then, if you’re there to get a little messy, grab basically any drink from the bar. Rub elbows with some hipsters, some bikers and more than a few locals. Repeat. For 15 dollars, you’ll have a great night and still be able to tip the bartender.
    Photo courtesy of The Back Door


    Bambi Bar
    2701 Bardstown Rd.
    ​Why: A true dive, the Bambi Bar doesn’t look like much different from any other dive. However, it’s power lies in the fact that it’s the starting point for Louisville’s most revered bar crawl, the Bambi Walk. The Bambi Walk starts at Bambi Bar and takes challengers all the way down Bardstown Road, ending at Phoenix Hill Tavern.
    What: Bambi Bar has a friendly staff and isn’t usually crowded, so it’s a great place to go if you’ve got a big group. There are some arcade games and a solid menu of burgers and beer that’s sure to send everyone home happy.
    Photo courtesy of Bambi Bar


    969 Charles St.
    Why: Nestled away in Germantown, Nachbar is the kind of place that’s become everyone’s favorite place. All kinds of people come to Nachbar, drinking everything from PBR to craft beer on the patio in the back. They don’t sell food, but often have food trucks around as a late-night option.
    What: This is the prime spot for people watching. Nachbar has become a watering hole for all kinds of people. On a good night, you’ll find people spilling from the cozy bar to the back patio, groups of friends hanging out and strangers meeting for the first time. Grab a draft and sit back.
    Photo: John Nation


    Magnolia Bar
    Where: 1398 S 2nd St.
    Why: Mag Bar, another college favorite, is tucked into Old Louisville, so you’ll have to find some street parking. It’s one of those bars where everything is sticky. The floor, the bar, the table tops, it’s all been used and abused. There’s a pool table and some arcade games in the back, along with a killer jukebox selection. All of this comes together to make an authentic hometown bar that locals love.
    What: The jukebox, really. If you like good music, head over and grab a cheap drink and spend the night with some friends and an awesome music collection.
    Photo courtesy of Magnolia Bar


    Four Pegs
    1053 Goss Ave.
    Why: The perfect pub, Four Pegs has an extensive draft list and a short, but sweet menu that’s sure to please. Cozy, with an old school feel, this bar is the kind of place that takes beer seriously and takes all orders at the bar. Feeling unsure of which drafts to try? The beer flights - your choice of six drafts - are a popular choice.
    What: You may come for the beer, but you’ll come back for the chicken and waffle sandwich. A customer favorite and a unique take on a southern staple, the sandwich is the crowning jewel of the pub’s menu.
    Photo: Louisvillenoms/Elizabeth Myers


    Sergio’s World Beers
    1605 Story Ave.
    Why: Sergio’s has one of the best beer selections in maybe the entire country, definitely within the state. It’s a divey kind of place, but there are literally refrigerated rooms filled with beer. The walls are lined with beer, and there’s an extensive collection on tap. Even the pickiest of drinkers will find something they like here. The place is cash only, so don’t worry if you forget to stop by the ATM - there’s one inside the place. You can drink there, or choose some bottles to take with you.
    What: With hundreds of beers to choose from, it can seem a little overwhelming. Don’t worry, Sergio, the man himself, is there to help you. He’s a walking, talking beer dictionary and can give you recommendations based on what you like or what you’re looking for.
    Photo courtesy of Sergio's World Beers


    2100 S Preston St.
    Why: If you want a low-key feel and a lot of fun, stop by Z-bar. It’s a staple for the University of Louisville crowd, also serving as one of Louisville’s best music venues, hosting both local and touring bands. Stop by, grab a drink and drop some quarters on one of their vintage arcade machines.
    What: I’m not joking when I recommend you check out the arcade games. Grab a table, order some food, and have a fun night out. If they happen to have a band on stage the night you go, grab a drink and enjoy. It’s sure to be a great night.
    Photo courtesy of Zanzabar


    Garage Bar
    700 E Market St.
    Why: Yes, this bar was also listed as one of Louisville’s best cocktail bars, but it’s definitely a hometown bar as well. An amazing patio, locally-sourced ingredients, and a killer cocktail menu are just the tip of the iceburg for this place. Out front, you can see an active art installation that simulates a car crash in slow motion - look at those cars a week later and they are noticeably more crushed - and some lighted ping pong tables that make late nights a truly fun time.
    What: Artisan pizza and a basil gimlet, and you’re in heaven. The pork meatballs are amazing. You will not regret a thing. Stuff your face and then play some ping pong!
    Photo courtesy of Garage Bar


    Cover photo courtesy of Garage Bar/GLINTstudios


    Michelle Eigenheer's picture

    About Michelle Eigenheer

    A Louisville transplant beginning to appreciate all the city's small things.

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