With Derby weekend right around the corner, I thought I’d write the next Louisville neighborhood guide on one of my favorite areas for all you out of town visitors.
NuLu is a small, but vibrant neighborhood just east of downtown on Market and Main Street. You can easily spend an entire day in Nulu without running out of something to do. You’ll find one small business after the next with unique eats, drinks, and trinkets you won’t find anywhere else in Louisville.
Welcome to Nulu, Derby visitors. Let’s take a tour.
Where to Eat, Drink, and Shop In NuLu, Louisville, KY
Where to Eat
Toast on Market: Toast is hands down my favorite brunch spot in Louisville. They consistently have great daily specials, but you can never go wrong with some other classics like lemon soufflé pancakes, California club sandwich, and the ever so heavenly hash brown casserole. I’m salivating just thinking about them. Get there before they close at 2pm Tuesday- Sunday.
Harvest Restaurant: Harvest is a farm to table restaurant next to Toast that truly celebrates farmers. They’ve got pictures of them on their walls. Check out their southern-inspired brunch or dinner menu for your next date. I recommend the scrambled egg sandwich on a pretzel croissant for brunch and the gnocchi for dinner.
Wiltshire on Market: Wiltshire is a quaint little spot in NuLu open Thursday through Sunday evening. Their menu rotates weekly, so it’s hard for me to give you a recommendation. Reserve a sidewalk patio spot and enjoy one of their fresh and local recipes on a crisp evening.
Macaron Bar: Fill your sweet tooth fix at Macaron Bar – the only macaron-exclusive bakery in Louisville. Get a to-go box of your favorite French dessert while you stroll up and down East Market Street.
Royals Hot Chicken: Royals is the real deal. Stop in for their famous hot chicken and equally delicious down-home sides like coleslaw and mac ’n beer cheese, but stay for the bourbon slushies and milkshakes. Royals is the perfect casual stop after a day at the races. Grab a seat outside in their repurposed shipping containers and take in the sounds of NuLu.
Galaxie: If chicken isn’t your thing, walk next door for tacos and margaritas at Galaxie. Stop by before heading to the track for their combo special: two Wakatakas (their homemade flatbread tacos) and chips and salsa for $12.
Lueberry: Lueberry is your chance to try those fancy acai bowls you see on Instagram all the time. Stop in on a warm day and cool off with an acai bowl or one of their fresh smoothies. Don’t forget to take a snap with your purchase in front of their greenery wall and neon sign for the full experience.
Louisville Cream: This small ice cream shop is creating innovative flavors like nobody else. Their flavors are rotating, so don’t expect to always get the same thing twice. Stop in for Red Velvet Swiss Roll, Germantown Pretzel Butter, or Pistachio Wedding Cake. They’ve got vegan options too, as well as a few homemade baked goods.
Mayan Cafe: If you want something a little more upscale, head across the street to Mayan Cafe. Grab a seat outside on the sidewalk for a New York feel or head inside for a farm-to-table Mayan-inspired meal. Mayan Cafe is known around town for their Tok-sel lima beans. Pair that with one of their colorful entrees and you’re good to go.
Decca: Sticking with the upscale theme, Decca offers a locally sourced menu with a modern twist on American fare. Decca has a room for any kind of dining experience you could want. Sit inside for an intimate and warmly-lit setting, step outside for a courtyard experience, or head downstairs into the cellar to feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
Grind Burger Kitchen: A food truck turned brick-and-mortar restaurant, Grind Burger Kitchen has a small, but mighty menu. Go Louisville style and order the Old Fashioned burger and pair it with their famous sweet and spicy brussels sprout side. It may not sound like your typical burger pairing, but they’ve managed to make a negatively cliche vegetable into a winner.
Rye: If rustic decor is more your vibe, walk across the street to Rye. Rye offers another take on modern American food and features an oyster and cocktail happy hour Tuesday-Thursday. Pull up a seat at the bar and order oysters on the half with “The Shit” gin cocktail.
Feast BBQ: You’ll be hard pressed to find a time when there’s NOT a line out the door at Feast BBQ. The food is well worth the wait. Locals love Feast for their barbecue and sauces, obviously, but also for their perfectly paired sides. Grab a seat near the garage door windows and munch on a trio of baked beans, mac ’n cheese, and collard greens.
Where to Drink
Nouvelle Bar & Bottle: If bourbon isn’t your drink of choice, head to Nouvelle for a glass of vino on South Clay Street. Sip and eat a perfectly paired Italian Merlot and charcuterie plate under the trees on their outdoor patio. You’re guaranteed to feel like you’re in Europe rather than Louisville.
Garage Bar: Garage Bar is arguably the best outdoor drinking spot in the city. Take a seat on one of their grass mounds or challenge friends to a game of corn hole while you wait for a brick-oven pizza to cook. Try their beignets for a sweet treat at the end of the night.
Goodwood Brewing: There’s nothing pretentious about Goodwood Brewing. Walk down to the corner of Main and Clay for one of their barrel-aged brews to start or end your booze tour of NuLu.
Galaxie: Like I said before, Galaxie is know around town for their margaritas with crazy straws. I usually opt for their $5 beer and whiskey shot for a failsafe start to the night. But you can’t go wrong with any cocktail here.
Louisville Beer Store: Calling all craft beer enthusiasts – this is the store for you. Stop in and sample one of their eight rotating taps and purchase it for your own bar at home after. These guys know their stuff.
Taj: Taj offers the perfect balance of an indoor/outdoor bar experience. Choose from their expansive bourbon list to build your favorite cocktail, or choose from one of their relatively inexpensive options.
Akasha Brewing Co: Bookend your tour of NuLu at Akasha Brewing after a meal at Feast BBQ. Choose from one of their 24-tap draft wall beers and pick up a board game to play either inside or out. Dogs are welcome too!
Please & Thank You Coffee and Bakery: I’m not just saying this because it’s part of their slogan, but Please & Thank You has the best chocolate chip cookies in Louisville hands down. I don’t drink coffee, so I can’t say much about their coffee selection, but they have great iced chai and a slew of other beverage options. This place is also an Instagram dream come to life.
Where to Shop
Joe Ley Antiques: You could spend an entire day and still not see all the antiques at historic Joe Ley. This three-story former schoolhouse has everything you could imagine and then some.
Muth’s Candies: Muth’s is a Louisville fixture. Open since 1921, Muth’s is known for their Modjeskas, or what they call “Louisville’s Candy.” It’s a marshmallow center covered in caramel or chocolate. Head to Muth’s for good old fashioned candy and transport yourself back in time.
Red Tree Furniture: Red Tree offers a big variety of eclectic furniture and decor imported from around the world. The building itself is just as eclectic as the selection of furniture inside. Local tip: walk out back to their alleyway to find a string of upside umbrellas hanging above for the perfect Instagram picture.
Scout: Scout is one of my favorite boutiques in Louisville. Not that I can afford many of their home furnishings. They have a beautiful selection of handmade jewelry and accessories, home goods, and other filler pieces like books, posters, and cards.
Revelry Boutique Gallery: Head to Revelry for unique Louisville themed items and tons of other great pieces from local makers. Shop in the front or walk to the back to view a current art show on display.
Peace of the Earth: This boutique is your answer to making more sustainable choices this year. Peace of the Earth sells handmade, natural, and eco-friendly bath, body, and home products. It’s also a great place to stop in for a quick gift that smells great and is good for the earth.
Rellek: Pick up your new favorite home accent or furniture piece at Rellek consignment store.
Mahonia: Mahonia is your one-stop shop to becoming the ultimate plant lady. The women at Mahonia have stocked their store with the prettiest plants, terrariums, flowers, and home decor to turn your living space into a greenhouse.
Six Sisters Boutique: Six Sisters is a woman-owned business and fashion boutique in NuLu. They’ve got the perfect selection of clothing and accessories to build a complete outfit and offer styles to fit almost anyone’s aesthetic.
Blofish Clothing: Blofish is a clothing company with the aim to do good in all areas. They sell tops, bottoms, accessories, and kids clothing made with sustainable fabrics and spread the word of equality through their designs.
There’s always some sort of event going on in NuLu on the weekends. The Flea Off Market is the biggest ongoing event in NuLu. Local makers and food trucks gather for an outdoor flea market in the parking lot of Fresh Start Growers Supply the first weekend of every month.
Bring the outdoors in and try bouldering at Climb NuLu. Make it a date night to snag their Friday date night special for just $24.
Gallery hop up and down Market Street at Zephyr Gallery , Swanson Contemporary, or Garner Narrative Contemporary Fine Art.
Reserve a private tour at Rabbit Hole Distillery. This is probably the most modern and aesthetically-charged bourbon distillery in Kentucky. The bourbon is damn good too.