Brunch is wonderful on its own. Add pets, and we’ve achieved next-level glee.
The Café, a restaurant at 712 Brent Street in Louisville, will team up with 102.3 The Max and The Flea Off Market for a Bark Brunch this Saturday, Aug. 2. It’s your chance to bring your dog to the lovely patio of The Café for a meal.
From the folks at The Café:
Bark Brunch is for people and dogs alike. Enjoy a delicious brunch before heading to The Flea Off Market with your pooch! There is no cost to attend, but reservations are encouraged. To make a reservation at The Café, call 502.589.9191.
The event, which is sponsored by Southern Indiana Animal Rescue, Duffy’s Dog Training Center and Bluegrass Kennels, sounds like a lot of fun. Even if you and your pooch can’t get in (sorry for the short notice, y’all), I recommend checking out The Café with a two-legged friend. Have you heard about their chicken salad?
It was an assignment not for the weak of stomach: write about the burgeoning Louisville taco scene.
Journalism school taught me that a good reporter must do his or her research, so I embarked on a two-week taco taste test across the city. I documented some lessons learned and some stand-out taquerias in a story I wrote for the WFPL news blog. Here’s an excerpt:
The components of a taco sound simple enough—a tortilla, some meat, a few veggies, a sauce, and a wedge of lime on the side. But the best tacos in the city are thoughtfully crafted by chefs willing to explore flavor combinations that call on tradition yet seem refreshing and new. The tortilla should be soft, warm, made of corn and sturdy. The meat is best when it’s marinated and slow cooked, as evidenced by tender strips that fall apart as you chew your way through. The veggies should be crisp and handled with a light hand to not overwhelm aforementioned tortilla. And the sauce can make or break this little handheld dish—too much, and it’s sloppy and overbearing, too little, and the dish is dry. And don’t forget to squeeze that lime, for it adds a final citrusy pop to make the tastes come alive.
Read the rest of the article here. Gluttony jokes aside, I had a fun time writing this one. Louisville has turned into a great place for tacos.
Dressing for this winter weather makes me as miserable as the little squirt from “A Christmas Story.”
There are tights, socks, pants (preferably corduroy). A tank top, a long-sleeved blouse, a cardigan. Boots, down-feather coat, hat, scarf. Maybe another scarf for good measure. I look like a stuffed sausage by the time I’m fully clothed.
This routine makes me hesitate to venture outside, even to go out to eat. There are new restaurants I still haven’t tried (looking at you, El Camino) and favorite restaurants that I’ve missed (oh, Mussels & Burger Bar, I’ll be back as soon as I thaw) all because the cold brings out my inner curmudgeon.
God bless delivery people.
These folks take it to the streets to deliver the goods to weather wusses like me. I have a genuine admiration for the work they do to bring home a paycheck.
If you hate the cold like me, here are some places to consider for your next night in:
Oh, pizza. How I love you so. With all those toppings, you dominate the food groups. Bearno’s Pizza and Wick’s Pizza Parlor pile on the toppings Louisville-style with a layer of cheese on top. Depending on your choice of toppings, you might be tempted to eat a slice with a fork and knife (hint: don’t). Spinelli’s Pizzeria operates well through the night and into the morning (delivery until 4:30 a.m.!), should your cravings strike at odd hours.
Maybe the guy who answered the phone that day didn’t realize that my apartment is just slightly out of the delivery area for the Café Lou Lou in St. Matthews. Maybe he took pity on me. Either way, nothing beats a hot meatball sandwich at the door.
Café Lou Lou has a location in the Highlands along with the St. Matthews restaurant. Click here for information on delivery.
Baby D’s Bagel and Deli/Jimmy John’s
Baby D’s “will gladly deliver” its bagel sammiches to Downtown, UofL/Bellarmine Campus, St. Matthews, Clifton, Germantown, Butchertown, and of course, the Highlands,” where the deli is located. I’m not sure how glad Jimmy John’s is to deliver sandwiches, but they’re freaky fast about it.
By 3:30 p.m., the paltry lunch I ate at noon had vanished from my system. A snack just wasn’t going to hold me over until dinner.
I walked into La Que ready for an early-bird special. I stumbled into the tail-end of the Asian restaurant’s lunch hours and received a meal that not only filled my belly for the rest of the day, but cost less than $6.
At many restaurants, lunch menus are less expensive, adapted versions of dinner entrees. But La Que, a tiny restaurant next to Wild and Woolly Video on Bardstown Road, is almost giving the food away. La Que’s main menu is filled with Thai and Vietnamese dishes, but the lunch deal lies in the Chinese dishes. For $5.95, you get the following:
Soup, an egg roll or another similar side dish
An entree with choice of rice on the side
The entrees are similar to what you would find at Chinese restaurants (General Tso, chicken and broccoli, etc.). The portion you receive is generous and will hold you through your next meal. And it doesn’t hurt that the food is pretty darn good. I’ve been on a lo mein kick lately, and I recommend the shrimp version La Que offers.
I’ve embraced the “if not now, when?” motto in 2013. But all this change calls for some things to stay the same. I guess that’s why I refuse to order something new from Addis Bar and Grill.
Maybe the sweet sting of curry I smell when I enter the restaurant puts me into a trance. Maybe the wealth of options makes me panic and I choose something familiar and safe. Or maybe I’ve just found one dish at one restaurant that makes me happy enough to never branch out.
Addis Grill is an Ethiopian and Mediterranean restaurant on Fourth Street about a half a block south of Main Street in downtown Louisville. If provoked, I could probably give exact latitude and longitude coordinates — my day job is within spitting distance to Addis. Yet, it took me more than a year to stop in and try this eatery that is tucked away in the shadows behind concrete pillars. I ignored Addis as I walked several times a week to the more bustling food corridors of downtown Louisville for lunch.
One day, I got sick of the usual line-up of sandwiches, salads, and Mexican-inspired fare that I usually turned for a midday meal. A co-worker recommended Addis, a more international option than my usual standbys that was less than a five-minute walk from the office.
Addis serves up a broad menu that provides the chance to sample basic Mediterranean dishes. Appetizers, such as baba ghannouj ($4.75), creamy hummus ($4.75) and stuffed grape leaves ($4.99), are inexpensive enough to allow the more hesitant diner to try something new without spending too much money. The variety of dishes are wonderful for pleasing a group of hungry colleagues with diverse tastes, such as a selection of kabobs for meat-eaters ($7.95 to $12.95 depending on the meat) or vegetarian dishes such as the mujaddarah ($6.95).
All this sounded fine and dandy until my eyes settled on the Ethiopian Vegetarian, a lunch platter for only $7.95 that includes the following:
Misir Wot: Split lentil stew simmered in berbere (Ethiopian pepper)
Kik Alicha: Split peas stew in spiced turmeric flavored sauce
Misir Alicha: Whole lentil with onion and garlic jalapeno
Gomen Wot: Collard green with onion and garlic and spices
Atkilt Wot: Cabbage with carrot, onion and garlic in turmeric
Fasolia: Fresh string beans with carrots, onion and garlic
It was love at first sight. Variety? Check. Lots of vegetables, so it’s probably somewhat healthy? Check. Only $7.95? I couldn’t order fast enough.
The meal lost some of its visual luster when the employees stuffed everything in a Styrofoam container. Don’t be turned off by appearances — looks aren’t everything. Just let the spicy fragrance transport your mind to another world.
The Ethiopian Vegetarian is served over injera, a spongy, slightly bitter flatbread. Injera is very porous, so all the flavors from the thick stews on top seep into the bread. Injera is like an edible plate, and who doesn’t like dinnerware they can eat?
Though the stews are rubbing elbows with one another, each has a distinct flavor and texture. My favorite selection is the misir wot, a fragrant, rich lentil stew with a warm, spicy flavor. I also love the firmness of the cabbage, string beans and collard greens, a nice change from the more mushy texture of the lentils and split peas.
I’ve been to Addis three times in the past month. I have only ordered the Ethiopian Vegetarian. I’m sure the rest of the menu is just as delightful, but this spicy selection made a big enough impression that I don’t want to venture out.
Notes on Addis
My co-workers love the chicken curry that is served with rice, hummus and pita and only $8.49. One day, I’ll try it.
Visit Addis for lunch when the prices are a little cheaper than at dinner, but make sure to arrive before noon or you could face a line.
The convenience is the most redeeming quality of a typical trip to a Louisville shopping mall. In terms of one-stop shopping, I can’t beat having 50-plus retailers at my disposal when it’s time to find some shorts. Everything else, however, is awful – loud corridors filled with oblivious teenagers, pushy sales associates, and racks and racks and racks of clothes that I really don’t even need. I have a headache just thinking about the sensory overload.
To soothe my sensitive psyche, I’ve made more frequent meal-time visits to Oxmoor Center so I can stop by Yang Kee Noodle, a Louisville-grown pan-Asian restaurant in that mall. Yang Kee Noodle is a rarity – a local dining option in a shopping mall. Its location away from Oxmoor’s main corridor (it’s next to Dick’s Sporting Goods) and fast-casual concept make for a nice oasis when I’ve had enough browsing and buying. Plus, the food is tasty, fresh and affordable, especially important when I’ve treated myself a little too well on a shopping trip.
Yang Kee Noodle offers service that feels classy for the mall atmosphere – and that’s not a bad thing. Servers bring your meal and cutlery right to your table after you order at the counter. And no worries if you’re too tired to throw your trash away – employees clear your table, too. These little things might not seem like a big deal, but it tickled me pink to spend less than $10 and get a sit-down restaurant experience. Other national fast-casual restaurants with similar price points such as Panera and Chipotle don’t even give this type of service.
Yang Kee Noodle delivers a lineup of food that focuses on Asian-American cuisine that’s approachable to a large audience. I’ve seen Yang Kee Noodle’s menu items offered at a number of local Chinese places, such as fried rice ($6.99-$8.49), General Tso’s ($7.99-$8.99) and egg drop soup ($2.79). But this restaurant’s dishes are lighter than the more greasy fare I’ve eaten at other places. The noodles of the chicken lo mein, for example, left me pleasantly full instead of roll-me-out-the-door bloated.
The number of options that Yang Kee Noodle offers its diners also sets the restaurant apart from other eateries that serve Asian food. The variety of combo options, stir-fry customizations, and a “pick two” menu provides opportunities to sample from across the menu in just one visit. Customers can upgrade any entrée to one of four combos, such as adding an egg roll and soft drink for an additional $2.59 or a cup of soup and a soft drink for $3.29. For stir-fry dishes (starting at $7.49), patrons choose the meat (or tofu) of their choice, a set of vegetables and sauce such as the Honey Bourbon or Golden Ginger, and rice or noodles. And the “pick two” menu ($7.49 or $8.99 with a drink) lets you chose from six starters and five entrees for one filling meal.
During a recent visit to Oxmoor, I stopped by Yang Kee Noodle for a pick-two lunch of chicken lo mein and potstickers. I also sprung for a soft drink ($8.99 for the meal).
Everything is made to order, so I waited about seven minutes or so for my lunch. The food was piping hot when a server brought it to my table beside the window. I started with my four potstickers, slim pockets of chicken and pork served with a Singapore sauce on the side.
This was a slightly salty yet light appetizer that provided a nice balance to the relatively sweeter lo mein. Nothing fancy, but nothing terrible, either.
The lo mein was loaded with shreds of carrots and strips of chicken. I could’ve gone for more cabbage, but that’s more of a personal preference. As I mentioned earlier, this noodle dish is much better than its counterparts at fast Chinese food restaurant because of its lighter sauce and fresher taste. A soy sauce coated the noodles well and didn’t leave the dreaded pool of gelatin-like substance at the bottom of the bowl. The flavors are pronounced enough to be interesting but subtle enough for a wide appeal. And those fried wontons on top? Yes, please, more of this.
Like my general relationship with shopping malls, I’m afraid that Yang Kee Noodle’s location in Oxmoor Mall is a gift and a curse. The restaurant provides a healthy, local dining option in a shopping center that just got rid of its food court, but I’d bet money that most people don’t think about going to the mall just for a meal. But Yang Kee Noodle is a hidden gem in the Louisville dining landscape. It’s affordable and it’s good. It’s even worth a trip to the mall.
Notes about Yang Kee Noodle
Rob once brought home some Firecracker Chicken and Yin-Yang Hot-Sour soup ($11.28 for the combo) when my head was congested. WHOA. Not only did both these dishes clear the heck out of my nasal passages, but I also sweated during the entire meal. Bonus: there was enough Firecracker Chicken for lunch the next day.
There’s a nice outside patio for dining al fresco. Yang Kee Noodle also serves beer. Put two and two together, and you get a nice place to spend a summer Saturday.
Decide what you want to order before you hit the cash register. A bit menu board and to-go menus are positioned near the entrance for pre-meal planning.
Yang Kee Noodle, 7900 Shelbyville Road, Louisville, Ky.
Pick two meal (chicken lo mein and four potstickers): $8.99
Live in Louisville, New Albany or Clarksville? Like sub sandwiches? Then today is your day, friends. Jimmy John’s, the “freaky fast” sandwich delivery company, will celebrate Customer Appreciation Day today, April 17, by offering $1 sandwiches at its Kentuckiana locations.
Here is the fine print: the offer only applies to sandwiches 1-6, and you have to order in store. Also, you have to buy your sandwich between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Click here to find more about this deal.
Then print the page with the deal and show it to your server. Or you can just show the server the page on your smartphone. Either way, bring a friend and flip and coin to see who gets the free lunch. The deal ends Saturday, Feb. 9, so get down to Westport Village pronto.
I’ve discovered my own little quantum of solace at The Main Eatery.
This lunch spot is my destination on the days when I’ve taken too many conference calls, my inbox never empties and my eyes strain under the fluorescent light.
I should keep this place a secret. But judging from the line that spills onto the sidewalk, somebody blabbed.
Main Street Eatery serves simple, wholesome lunches to office drones like me. And the stringent, assembly line operations at the counter and in the kitchen are ideal for getting back to the office in an hour — as long as you can slide into the routine.
Knowing how to order at The Main Eatery can make or break your experience. First, have basic knowledge of the menu:
The core of the Eatery’s menu is soups and sandwiches. No croque monsieurs, just ham, turkey, tuna salad, chicken salad and roast beef.
Salads, baked potatoes and desserts are also on the menu.
Each day, there is a special soup available in addition to the standing selections: broccoli cheese, vegetable beef, chicken noodle and garden vegetable.
There are a range of combinations that include a drink and some medley of soup, salad and sandwich. Most are between $5 and $10.
There are also Blue Plate Specials each day. Information about the day’s soup and Blue Plate Special is displayed on a white board in front of the restaurant. You can get the Blue Plate Special with chips or soup, but the soup costs a few cents more.
Got it? Let’s move on to waiting for your food. As I mentioned earlier, the line is usually out the door by 12:10 p.m. This is prime menu-studying time. Review the white board outside with the day’s specials. Once you make it into the building, there are two large signs that display the entire menu AND another white board full of specials. You’ll be in the line about 10 minutes, so it’s your own fault if you don’t know what to order by the time you make it to the register.
Now, the cashier. This guy (one of the owners) knows how to take an order. But his style of asking a barrage of questions can be daunting. Don’t blurt out everything you want to eat, just answer his questions one at a time. I’ll walk you through some examples:
Here or to-go?
What type of bread?
Chips or soup?
Would you like anything else?
How are you going to pay for that today (more on this later)
Easy peezy, right? This efficiency is what will get you back to your desk in an hour. Respect the system.
You will earn a delightful lunch that tickles your insides if you can get into the swing of The Main Eatery’s flow. The food evokes a culinary déja vu — everything tastes like something I’ve had at home, only better. That’s because the ingredients are simple and familiar, yet the dishes are prepared with enough love to transform them into something special. And all this comfort rings up at less than $10.
My favorite Eatery lunch is Friday’s Blue Plate Special — a panini grilled cheese sandwich made up of Wisconsin whole-milk cheese on sourdough bread with a side of bread and butter sweet pickles. I recently had this sandwich with Friday’s soup of the day, tomato bisque, and a cornbread muffin.
This meal is perfect for winter weather. The tomato bisque is creamy and filled with chunks of tomato. I could feel my insides warming up after just one sip. It tasted as good as my Snuggie feels on a cold day.
The grilled cheese is perfect in its simplicity. No fancy cheese. No extra toppings. Just a thick slice of American between hearty bread. The sandwich was toasted to a light brown that was enough to warm the cheese and make it gooey, but not hot enough to make the cheese slide out of the sides.
The cornbread muffin isn’t available every day, but add it to your meal when it is. For 94 cents, I got a muffin that was a struggle to hold in one hand. This cornbread was sweet, which I prefer. There were also corn kernels throughout the bread. I split the muffin in half — I crumbled one half into the tomato bisque and took the other back to the office. Both incarnations were delicious.
Learning the ways of The Main Eatery is worth the good midday meal you’ll get. Find a quiet corner, sip on some soup and let the problems of the corporate world fade away.
Notes on The Main Eatery
This business prefers dealing in cash. There’s a $6 minimum to use a debit or credit card. There is also an ATM in the lobby. I recommend going to your bank and popping a $20 out of your account before you get to The Main Eatery. Not only will you avoid the ATM fee, but you also get a small discount on your meal for using cash.
The Main Eatery, 643 W. Main Street, Louisville
Blue Plate Special (panini with tomato bisque): $6.93
The line often snakes at least 20 people from the cash register to the door, a daunting prospect to a hungry corporate employee with only an hour to eat.
Yes, Qdoba offers up some tasty, Mexican-inspired grub — I have a rewards card to prove my appreciation. Lately, I’ve skipped the rush and gone with an even better, local option right around the corner, Bazo’s Fresh Mexican Grill.
I’d noticed Bazo’s before on the corner of Market and Fifth streets, a lunch-friendly intersection (the restaurant’s neighbors include Dish on Market, Chop Shop Salads and FireFresh BBQ). But I usually bypassed Bazo’s in favor of the familiar Qdoba.
A business lunch changed my ways.
My companions for that meal suggested Bazo’s. That was about a month ago. Since then, I’ve been back three times.
Bazo’s has a menu that will be familiar to folks accustomed to Qdoba, Chipotle Mexican Grill and other Mexican-style, fast-casual dining, but provides a wider selection at a comparable cost with a much shorter wait time.
There are no surprises in selections like the nachos (from $5.79) or the assortment of burritos, such as the Fajita Burrito with meat, cheddar-jack cheese, grilled peppers and onions, rice, sour cream and salsa (from $6.29). There’s even a Tostada Salad, a taco salad in a flour tortilla bowl ($6.59) that will look familiar to a Qdoba regular.
But Bazo’s offers choices and menu items that the chains are missing. Let’s start with dessert. Signs on the tables in Bazo’s advertise $1.59 churros, a fried-dough dish popular in Spanish-speaking countries. There there is a salsa bar with four to five different salsa options and tiny cups for you to try as many as you want. Bazo’s also has economical combination choices that start with one to three of tacos of your choice, a small side of chili-lime chips and a choice of sides depending on the combination you choose (starts at $6.29).
And speaking of the tacos, the highlight of Bazo’s menu is the variety of fillings you can choose for your tacos, which start at $2.39. There’s the usual chicken, carne asada (steak) and bean, but the restaurant also adds barbacoa (shredded beef), carnitas (pork), shrimp, and, my favorite, fish.
The fish made me a Bazo’s convert. The first dish I tried with this ingredient was a fish burrito ($6.99). The burrito was filled with a grilled fillet, black beans, salsa fresca, shredded cabbage, cheddar-jack cheese and baja sauce.
For the $10 Challenge, however, I decided to change it up and order a combination with three fish tacos, a dish that was featured in several framed newspaper and magazine article near the register ($8.49). It took about five minutes for my order to come up, the average wait time I’ve experienced at Bazo’s. It’s just enough time to fill your salsa cups and water cup.
When I picked up my plate, the mounds of white, crunchy cabbage on top of the tacos threw me for a loop. Don’t get me wrong, I love cabbage, but not when I can’t even see the dish it is supposed to accompany. I scooped about a cup of cabbage off to the side of my platter before I dug into my tacos.
The tortillas seemed delicate enough to be homemade. They were soft and not sturdy enough to hold the slices of fish in each taco. I’m not sure where Bazo’s gets their fish (I hope not the Ohio River), but it tasted out-of-the-water fresh. The grilled fish was succulent and well-seasoned, but not too spicy. I’m curious to see if the taste of the fish holds up if it’s battered and fried or blackened, two other options available.
After taco number two, I realized how much value I had gotten in my meal and how much I had overestimated my appetite. There is about half of a fish filet in each taco, so I got really full really fast. I had also created a cabbage salad of sorts with a squirt of lime and a drizzle of the creamy baja sauce that dripped from my tacos. My impromptu side dish, the side of crunchy seasoned chips, and those little tacos packed an unexpected punch to the gut. Next time, I’ll go with the Two Taco Combo that comes with rice and beans (from $6.29).
I’m a bit ashamed that I had always passed up a little guy like Bazo’s in favor of a Big Boy Chain. Now, it’s good to know that I can get a good taco at a great price without the long wait.
Notes about Bazo’s
The price for the taco combos and some of the burritos increases depending on the type of meat you choose. Seafood is the most expensive option.
Bazo’s Fresh Mexican Grill, 428 W. Market Street, Louisville (two other locations in Louisville)