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    Ostra, Clifton

    “Brie cheese, and it’s coated in something — I don’t know what exactly, but there’s honey. It’s really decadent. I’ve had it probably 10 times. They make it a little smaller than it was when they first opened, which is probably for the best. It felt like you were going to explode when you ate it.”

    — Griffin Paulin, Mirin (Clifton)



    NamNam, St. Matthews

    “They are made to order and are perfectly filled with shrimp, grilled pork, bean sprouts, lettuce, rice noodles and fresh herbs. Crunchy, soft, tender, chewy, healthy, authentic. They remind me of my travels in Southeast Asia. The hoisin peanut sauce is thick and creamy, adding just the right amount of salt to the rolls. The crêpes are also spectacular. Service is always great, and I love all the art inside.”

    — Madeleine Dee, resident chef at Logan Street Market (Shelby Park)



    bar Vetti, Downtown

    “The meatballs are very juicy. Bar Vetti does its own tomato sauce, and they also make the meatballs in- house with local meat. There’s a lot of Parmesan on it. It’s so good.”

    — Paco Garcia, Foko (Logan Street Market, Shelby Park)



    Blue Dog Bakery, Crescent Hill

    “I like eating at Blue Dog Bakery. They have a breakfast sandwich with egg and bacon. I always order that. The egg and bacon taste really nice together. It’s not too heavy. It’s not too salty. All the flavor is really there. And I love their croissants. Their bread is really good.”

    — Yeon Hee Chung, Charim Korean (St. Matthews. Temporarily closed for building issues.)



    Sapporo, Highlands

    “One of my favorite places to go when it’s dudes’ night out is Sapporo. I don’t eat sushi a lot, but when I do, it’s a heavy craving. I would say my favorite thing there is their spicy green mussels. When you think of mussels, the shell is black, but these actually have a green tint to them and they’re a lot larger. I always order three of them, just for myself. It’s a perfect balance; all of the textures are there. It’s a cold dish, but I know they par-cook them. They stuff them back into the shell and hit them with some sort of spicy carrot topping. I don’t know what it is, but it’s fabulous. If there were a green-mussel-eating competition, I would eat those until I threw up.”

    — Adam Burress, Ostra (Clifton)



    The Back Door, Highlands

    “You go in there, have a couple drinks. The first time I went, (friends said), ‘Oh, they have wings.’ And then you have them, and they’re so damn tender. I went to the kitchen and asked, ‘How do you do these?’ They have the Burner Sauce. I get that on the side. It’s real damn hot, but it’s real good. From one to 10, that’s a nine. It’s pretty much just habañeros mixed with garlic and vinegar. You just sit there, you’re feeling good, hanging out with your friends with some drinks and some wings. Everybody just kind of shuts up and just scarfs down their food.”

    — Jackson Skelton, LouVino (Highlands and Middletown)



    Lucretia’s Kitchen, Russell

    “The greens have a smoky taste that took me back to my grandmother’s house. You could tell the collard greens were fresh, and they were cooked perfect. They weren’t over-seasoned. I think a big part of cooking collard greens perfectly is cooking them until they’re done: If you overcook them, it takes the flavor out of them; if you don’t cook them long enough, they don’t have enough flavor. You have to know how long to cook them. That comes with experience and love. You can’t learn that in a book. Somebody that loved what they do cooked those collard greens, and I can tell by the way they taste.”

    — Pam Haines, Sweet Peaches (Russell)



    Choi’s Asian Food Market, Lyndon

    “An unconventional, hole-in-the-wall place I like is Choi’s Asian Market in Lyndon. They have these little kimbap (sushi) rolls there that I’m obsessed with. Sometimes I’ll just go in there and grab one of their fresh rolls, grab one of their weird little coffees and a dessert, and I’m like, I’ve met my caloric intake for the day. They have all different kinds of rolls. The one that has meat in it, that’s probably their most popular. (The vegetable kimbap has) steamed rice mixed with lettuce, carrots, spinach, radish, with a fried egg, sprouts, beef and a sweet-and-spicy sauce. The place is small and intimate. The selection they have is too legit to quit.”

    — Loreal Gavin, Bourbon Barrel Foods (Butchertown)



    Jasmine, Eastwood, past Middletown

    “There’s this really nice Szechuan restaurant over in Eastwood called Jasmine. I’ve been going to that place a lot. They’ve got the standard Chinese stuff, like sweet-and-sour chicken and all that, but they also have a really authentic Szechuan menu. It has sautéed beef intestine and tripe, frog leg, hot pot and all this different stuff. There’s these Szechuan wontons with chili oil. It’s just pork and shrimp wontons with fried garlic and a good helping of chili oil on it. It’s seriously one of the best things I’ve eaten in probably the past six months. They cook it the way it’s supposed to be cooked, and I really appreciate that — like things that aren’t gentrified Chinese or gentrified ramen.”

    — Jeff Dailey, Harvest (NuLu)


    This originally appeared in the 2019-2020 issue of Louisville Eats. To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

    Photos by Jessica Ebelhar,

    Jennifer Kiefer's picture

    About Jennifer Kiefer

    Germantown transplant. Louisville native.

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