On Hats & Horses

Long overdue, this post on delectable Louisville (that’s Lou-uh-ville). I would tell you I have only just recovered from a mint julep induced hangover, but the truth is I was goofing off with my parents here in Illinois. So without further ado ..

Things you should know about Louisville:
1) These folks know food. My love of the South is increasing with every meal.
2) The Kentucky Derby is an experience.*
3) It is HOT in the Kentucky sun.

* and I look excellent in a hat.

Holly and I posted up for the weekend in a beautiful apartment we found on airbnb, and as usual the decision to go local made the trip that much better. We had loveable pets to host us, a long list of recommendations and a short walk between Old Louisville and NuLu.Β  Add this to long conversations with my father about the art of betting on a horse, and I was ready to take on the town.

Our adopted neighborhood, St. James, has a tremendous collection of historical Victorian homes. We walked the tree lined streets pointing, staring, taking photos. We saw several very distinct neighborhoods on our visit: Bardstown Road is an indie hipster area with bars and ethnic restaurants galore, and we got our fair share of culinary delights here. We also spent some time downtown on Main and Market streets, logging one of my new favorite breakfast places (aptly named, Toast on Market). Rather than detail the meals and write for an hour, I’ll hit you with the highlights & addresses at the bottom of the post.

But the horses! Yes, there were horses. Also hats, heavy drinkers and various hot meats for sale (see: turkey leg). For a general admission ticket ($40), you gain entry to the paddock area and the infamous infield. The infield is exactly what I envisioned, although with brighter costumes. It is a midday fraternity party / day drinking picnic where the family (suit-wearing, bow-tied, showered) and the friends (shirts-off, stumbling, ass-pinching) have suddenly fallen into the same soup. Rather than try to save one from the other, you sit back and watch them swim. And that’s what we did!

The paddock area is a cleaner, crisper version of the Derby. The hats are here, the owners, the true fans. The gamblers and debutantes are side by side with the thoroughbreds. And everyone is drinking bourbon. I don’t mean your grandfather and his pals, I mean everyone. Pinkies up and mint stalk standing proud in the collectible glass, the requisite Mint Julep is present at every turn. I had been warned repeatedly by friends, family, strangers that the drink was strong. They weren’t kidding. Maker’s Mark is 90 proof, and that doesn’t change no matter how much ice you add.

Did I place a bet? Yes – two. There was a strong moment of false hope as the big race came to a finish – is that the #15 on the teleprompter a hundred yards away? I can’t see it – can you see it? #15 is your horse, right? It doesn’t say #15. It says #15! That’s your horse! That’s my horse. Followed closely by “sorry, sugar, your ticket’s not valid.” So it didn’t say #15 after all. Thanks for nothing, Gemologist.

A whirlwind weekend in this city left it’s mark on my heart. Culinary, independent, historic, excellent. I’ll see you soon, Louisville… we’ll do this again. I’ll be the one in the hat.

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Bluegrass Brewing Company – 300 W. Main Street (& others) – http://www.bbcbrew.com/
Hillbilly Tea – 120 S. First St. – http://hillbillytea.com/ – Tea infused vodka. Earl Grey chocolate torte. I’m not kidding.
Homemade Ice Cream & Pie Kitchenhttp://www.piekitchen.com/ – multiple locations – Maple bourbon ice cream.
Lynn’s Paradise Cafe – 984 Barret Avenue – http://www.lynnsparadisecafe.com/ – epic breakfast, unique atmosphere.
Ramsi’s Cafe on the World – 1293 Bardstown Road – http://www.ramsiscafe.com/ – Tremendous meal, huge portions.
Safier Deli – 641 S. Fourth St. – http://www.safierlouisville.com/ – rockin’ falafel, sweet prices.
Toast on Market – 620 E. Market – http://toastonmarket.com/ – bread pudding pancake for dessert. that’s right.

Carmichaels Bookstore – two locations – http://www.carmichaelsbookstore.com/ – Lville’s oldest indy bookstore
Cave Hill Cemetery – 701 Baxter Ave. – Colonel Sanders buried here .. no, I did not find him.

FACT: Kentucky is the fourth new state I’ve visited this year! On target.


5 thoughts on “On Hats & Horses

  1. I love Louisville! It reminds me of New Orleans a little bit because of the French architecture and the fact that it’s a very musical city, but it’s not as overwhelming as New Orleans. Louisville is just right. πŸ™‚ Glad you enjoyed it.


  2. Louisville is awesome, but you left out the North End Cafe in your list of restaurants. If you have not been, you must go. Now. Also a plug for the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, the best regional theatre in the US.


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