Rounding up the best eateries in Derby City isn’t always as easy as A-B-C, 1-2-3. That’s why we picked your brain (and appetite) to come up with a listing from A to Z, so you can eat your way through Louisville’s top restaurants one letter at a time.
Here are the top 26 restaurants according to you + our favorites too.
A: Agave & Rye, 426 Baxter Ave.
With eclectic decor — like the silver elephant bust behind the bar — old-school arcade games, and a sprawling, colorful patio, this lower Highlands “epic” taco joint is perfect for large groups + celebration dinners.
Our pick: August Moon Chinese Bistro, 2269 Lexington Rd.
This award-winning bistro specializes in modern Chinese cuisine for lunch and dinner. We like to start our meal here with the ginger and honey mojito + pan-seared dumplings.
B: Big Bad Breakfast, 984 Barret Ave.
This breakfast + lunch joint — located in the former Lynn’s Paradise Cafe — is the newest restaurant in Louisville that starts with the letter “B” as its only been open since February. Get southern-style meals like shrimp and grits + biscuit sandos.
Our pick: Big Al’s Beeritaville, 1715 Mellwood Ave.
We’ve only got three words for you here — fried bologna sandwich.
C: Chik’n & Mi, 1765 Mellwood Ave.
With its top-ranking Asian fried chicken + noodle soups, it’s no wonder this eatery is often on a wait for a table. Call them to make a reservation for brunch or dinner.
Our pick: Come Back Inn, 909 Swan St.
This dive-style Italian American restaurant is a staple to most Louisvillians since it’s been around for 20+ years. The walls are covered in photos from Louisville’s days-gone-by and the restaurant’s known for its bolognese, which you can also buy at ValuMarket by the jar.
D: DiOrio’s Pizza and Pub, 919 Baxter Ave. + 310 Wallace Ave.
Pick between 15 specialty pizzas — like the Big John’s Hot Brown — or create your own from 24+ toppings.
Our pick: Dragon King’s Daughter, 1126 Bardstown Rd.
This non-traditional sushi joint offers a selection of Asian-inspired tacos, quesadillas + nachos in addition to its tasty sushi rolls. We especially love the crispy daikon fries.
E: El Mundo, 2345 Frankfort Ave. + 1767 Bardstown Rd.
Chile relleno, huevos rancheros, and tacos are all on the menu at this modern Mexican eatery.
Check it our during happy hour every weekday from 4-5:30 p.m.
Our pick: Emmy Squared Pizza, 825 E. Market St.
There’s a new pizza on the block and it’s one of Derby City’s few that does Detroit-style pies. It also serves Le Big Matt, a double-stack burger, which has won several culinary awards.
F: The Fish House, 1310 Winter Ave.
This old-school seafood restaurant dishes out classic fish plates served with fries and slaw + you can finish your meal with fluffy golden beignets.
Our pick: FOKO, 1001 Logan St., Ste. 124
“Illuminating culture through food” is the motto at this Mexican food stall inside Logan Street Market where we often order the chilaquiles.
G: Game, 2295 Lexington Rd.
Located in the historic Irish Hill neighborhood, this rustic eatery is making burgers from the wildest of game — like kangaroo, elk, and even camel.
Our pick: Gralehaus, 1001 Baxter Ave.
This Highlands cafe makes craft espresso drinks + offers breakfast and lunch. DYK: You can book a stay in the “bed & beverage” located on the top floor.
H: Havana Rumba, Multiple locations
This restaurant is the gold standard of Cuban cuisine in the Midwest with traditional meals like ropa vieja, the Cuban sandwich, and fricase de pollo (chicken stew). Post-meal, you can enjoy authentic Cuban coffee alongside some traditional Cuban desserts like flan or tres leches.
Our pick: Heart & Soy, 1216 Bardstown Rd.
This vegetarian and vegan eatery is one City Editor Katie’s favorite places to grab lunch. Her order includes the Vietnamese sando, garden salad with peanuts + whatever special dessert they have in the cooler depending on the day.
I: I Love Tacos, Multiple locations
With 15 different taco recipes, this restaurant has every kind of flavor combination you could think of from juicy beef birría to chorizo, potato, and egg tacos. If tacos aren’t your thing, try one of its seven handmade tortas instead.
Our pick: Indi’s Fast Food, Multiple locations
Winner winner, chicken dinner. Indi’s serves fried chicken in several different ways including wings and strips + plenty of sauces to choose from. It also has steak nuggets, BBQ ribs, and seafood like codfish and boneless catfish sandwiches.
J: Jack Fry’s, 1007 Bardstown Rd.
A fine-dining institution is hard to beat, especially when its history dates back to 1933. Try the escargot — it’s one of few places in town to offer it.
Our pick: Jasmine Asian Bistro, 2420 Lime Kiln Ln.
Two words: Lunch special. For $8.99, you can get a plate of Sesame Chicken with Wonton Soup + an egg roll (for $1 more).
K: 80/20 @ Kaelin’s, 1801 Newburg Rd.
Legend has it this Belknap-based restaurant is the inventor of the cheeseburger — but its chicken tenders, milkshakes + Benedictine BLT are also can’t-miss.
Our pick: Kayrouz Cafe, 3801 Willis Ave.
This family-owned and operated St. Matthews cafe offers quesadillas, burgers, and City Editor Sarah’s favorite, chicken tenders.
L: Le Moo, 2300 Lexington Rd.
Notorious for its weekend drag brunches, this steakhouse is also great for anniversary and birthday celebrations.
Our pick: Lonnie’s Best Taste of Chicago, 121 St. Matthews Ave.
With Italian beef, Polish sausage + Chicago-style dogs, you can get the best taste of Windy City right here in Derby City.
M: Mussel & Burger Bar, 113 S. 7th St. + 9200 Taylorsville Rd.
If the 4-cheese Mac and cheese with fried curds on top isn’t enough, choose from one of its 18 house-ground burgers + polish off your experience with a bourbon cocktail from the bar.
Our pick: Momma’s Mustard, Pickles & BBQ, 102 Bauer Ave.
When available, the burnt ends at this smokehouse are some of the best in town. They’re even resmoked for extra flavor.
N: Naïve Kitchen + Bar, 1001 E. Washington St.
This Butchertown eatery specializes in using fresh, local ingredients in its West Coast-style small plates + mixes up fresh-pressed juice cocktails.
Our pick: New Wave Burritos, 3311 Preston Hwy.
Have a late-night snack attack? Let this burrito shop — open until 11 p.m. Fri. + Sat. — be the cure. There are seven burritos to choose from and we can’t recommend The Vacation enough. It’s got tater tots in it y’all.
O: Oishii, 2810 Taylorsville Rd.
In addition to its well-known giant sushi rolls, this casual Japanese restaurant also offers Katsu + Yakisoba.
Our pick: Ollie’s Trolley, 978 S. 3rd St.
You haven’t had a burger in Louisville until you’ve had an Ollie Burger from this landmark take-out burger joint located in an old trolley car.
P: Porcini Restaurant, 2730 Frankfort Ave.
City Editor Sarah and her family have celebrated many a birthday, anniversary, and new job at this Crescent Hill-based Italian restaurant. Start your meal with complimentary bread and olive oil, select a bottle from the illustrious wine list + enjoy the penne carbonara or the Gamberi E Risotto for your entree. Did we mention there’s tiramisu?
Our pick: Proof on Main, 702 W. Main St.
Located in the 21C museum downtown, you can enjoy breakfast, brunch, and dinner in an art museum atmosphere.
Q: Queen of Sheba, 2804 Taylorsville Rd.
Tear off a piece of Injera — traditional Ethiopian flatbread — as you sample Doro Wat, Kitfo, or Shifta Tips. Round out your meal with a Timtim Selata salad or a piece of the double-layer chocolate cake.
Our pick: La Que, 1019 Bardstown Rd.
You might be tempted to drive right past its small storefront on Bardstown Road, but you’d be missing out. Offering a variety of Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese food, La Que delivers a fast and delicious meal from Moo Goo Gai Pan to traditional Thai fried rice with onions + eggs.
R: Royal’s Hot Chicken, 736 E. Market Street
With Nashville-style hot chicken, Southern-style sides (the broccoli & bacon salad is our fave), and boozy milkshakes you really can’t order wrong here. Looking for some extra heat? Go ahead, go Gonzo.
Our pick: Ramen House, 1250 Bardstown Rd. (in the back of the building)
We think ramen tastes better in a strip mall and that’s why we love the traditional soups at Ramen House + your check is delivered in an anime book.
S: Seviche, 1538 Bardstown Rd.
Latin traditions and Southern ingredients live in perfect harmony here thanks to award-winning chef Anthony Lamas. The Kentucky bison empanadas are where it’s at.
Our pick: Safier Mediterranean Deli, 641 S. 4th St.
Alright, we’ll say it, Safier has the best hummus in Louisville.
T: Toasty’s Tavern, 1258 S. Shelby St.
Widely hailed online as the home of the best burger in the 502, Toasty’s Tavern offers a perfect smash burger with griddled onions, pickles + Toasty’s sauce. It also serves patty melts, fried chicken sandwiches, and breakfast options all day.
Our pick: Time 4 Thai, 2206 Frankfort Ave.
When it’s time for traditional Thai food, it’s Time 4 Thai. We really enjoy the green curry + house-made coconut ice cream.
U: Uptown Cafe, 102 E. Kirkwood Ave.
Beloved by City Editor Sarah for its white chocolate mousse dessert, this classy American eatery boasts a a variety of fare on its menu — from classics like the Hot Brown to more adventurous flavors like the duck ravioli.
Our pick: Union Restaurant & Gameyard, 114 W. Chestnut St., Jeffersonville, IN
Don’t be mad — we cheated a little — because Union is technically a Southern Indiana restaurant, but it’s only a mile walk across the walking bridge to get to from Louisville, so we’ll let this one slide + the sangria bar and cheeseburger eggrolls are worth the trip.
V: Volare, 2300 Frankfort Ave.
This white-linen restaurant features an upscale Italian menu + has been named the “Best Italian Restaurant” by Louisville Magazine three times.
Our pick: Vietnam Kitchen, 5339 Mitscher Ave.
We’re so glad this South End staple didn’t bite the dust back in 2021 because we don’t know how our hearts (and bellies) would go on without the K8 + avocado milkshake.
W: Wild Eggs, Multiple locations
Wild thing, you make me eggs zing. This locally-owned regional chain focuses on “wild egg” creations, such as the Kalamity Katie’s Border Benedict made with cheddar corn cakes and chorizo.
Our pick: Wagner’s Pharmacy, 3113 S. 4th St.
What started as a low-key spot for coffee and conversation among horsemen in 1922, has since become the famous diner across from Churchill Downs. Get classic breakfast + lunch dishes like patty melts and veggie soup.
And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for…
X: Texas Roadhouse, Multiple locations
It appears Louisville has a shortage of eateries that begin with the letter “x” — but thanks to reader Ryan R. response of “TeXas Roadhouse” we don’t have to leave this one blank. We commend you for your effort Ryan.
DYK: The original Texas Roadhouse is in the Green Tree Mall in Clarksville, IN. It opened in February of 1993 + today there are ~627 in the US.
Y: Yummy Pollo, 4222 Bishop Ln.
If you’re looking for Peruvian-style charcoal fired rotisserie chicken, look no further. “Chicken is King” at this counter-service eatery.
Our pick: Your pick is our pick.
Z: ZEGGZ, 11615 Shelbyville Rd., Middletown
Build-your-own brunch or stick to the basics at this Middletown breakfast + lunch spot. We’ve got our appetite set on the creme brulee French toast.
Our pick: ZA’s Pizza Pub, 1573 Bardstown Rd.
This classic pizza pub has been in Derby City for decades. Play pool and eat slices + every Wednesday is pint night where you get to keep the glass.