Writer’s Choice 2014

Best Place to Buy an Embroidered Poodle or a Weird Album 

Astroblack Records/Fat Rabbit

—1000 E. Oak St.

For those days when you feel like you need both the new Shellac record, PS1 games and an embroidered portrait of a poodle, Astroblack Records/Fat Rabbit is your one- stop shopping. Like a Walmart for mutants and chuds (or just Walmart, I guess), you can get all sorts of things between Astroblack, a record shop that specializes in the weirder, noisier side of music, and Fat Rabbit, a consignment store that carries all sorts of stuff like books, VHS tapes, ugly paintings and vintage clothes. Operated by eternal chums Jim Marlowe and Jeff Komara, you can always count on finding something unique when you visit. —Syd Bishop

 

Best Place for Someone to Confuse a Toilet with Artwork 

21c Museum Hotel

700 W. Main St.

21c has some of the most adventurous artwork in town, so it’s no wonder that you might get confused walking in. My first experience there I marveled at the sites from the strangely surreal chimera sculptures that featured man-like pig/bear hybrid creatures to the digital displays positioned throughout the first floor. So it was no wonder that their bathrooms were equally a spectacle, with the men’s urinal set behind a one-way mirror replete with waterfall. It was no surprise then when someone confused the toilet with a work of art upon entry, a testament to how bizarrely beautiful the whole place is. —Syd Bishop

 

Best Movie Made in Louisville

‘Produce’

“Produce” is an inspiring feel-good movie about the unlikely friendship between a young man who has Down Syndrome (played by Louisville’s own David DeSanctis) and a baseball player (played by Kris Polaha) whose alcoholism and anxiety disorder brought an early end to his career. The Down Syndrome community across the country has rallied around “Produce,” whose central theme is the value of seeing ability and potential in disability and which has a very specific message about “the R-word” and labeling people with intellectual disabilities. With some powerful scenes set at Slugger Field, Louisvillians will love this movie, which had its Louisville premiere at IdeaFestival. #WhereHopeGrows —Laura Snyder

 

Best Place to Get a Chapeau for Your Beau

Paul’s Hat Works 

2640 Frankfort Ave.

Everyone knows the hat makes the man. That’s why I like to get the Max out of my Ernst at Paul’s Hat Works. I love the vibe in the store and always stop to say hi to Louisville newcomers Olivia and Rick when I see them in the shop.After a successful Derby pop-up venture, Olivia expanded the existing Paul’s Hat Works from her home base of San Francisco, where the hat shop has been in operation since 1918. The new shop on Frankfort Avenue is a great neighborhood place, where you might find Rick sitting out front strumming some 1930’s tunes on his ukulele. In the back of the shop, the mad hatters are happily felting away, making every kind of hat from Homburg to Panama. These are no lame lids! Each guaranteed to keep your dome toasty all winter and still look sharp for Derby week. —Lincoln Snyder

 

Best Place to Submerse Yourself in Pop Culture and Learn How to Roll a Cigarette

Ultra Pop!

960 Barret Ave.

Do you have designer vinyl toy fever? Do you go batty for Japanese manga, local art, specialty art books, graphic T-shirts and art screen prints? Ultra Pop! might be the cure for what ails you. Ultra Pop! will overwhelm you with vibrant colors and the extensive, well organized selection of pop art and collectables. You will be overcome by the desire to buy something you never knew you needed, but can’t live without! Be sure to catch the monthly gallery-style art shows by local artists. Some of Louisville’s best and most popular artists are always haunting the walls at Ultra Pop! Owner Paul LePree has put his heart and soul into making Ultra Pop! a Louisville landmark and the friendliest shop in the city. Give Paul a visit and, if you are lucky, he might teach you how to roll a proper cigarette. —J. Cobb

 

Best Place to Listen to the Grateful Dead and Eat Pancakes

Eggs Over Frankfort

2712 Frankfort Avenue

Newlyweds Cortney and Jackson Nave make you feel right at home at their breakfast and lunch joint, Eggs Over Frankfort. All the ceramic pigs and chickens, the mix and match crockery, the kitschy salt and pepper shakers (Mr. and Mrs. Turkey are my favorites) and the friendly staff give the place a country diner feel. The cheese grits, biscuits and gravy are as good as my grandpa’s, and Cortney’s homemade jam is swoon worthy. Then, there are the pancake concoctions. This summer they had cocoa banana pancakes, and for fall, they’ve introduced pumpkin spice pancakes with an apple cider syrup and candied walnuts! On top of all of that, they’ve usually got Grateful Dead playing, another reminder that you’re breaking toast with kind folks. —Laura Snyder

 

Best Place to Get Mooned and Flashed at the Same Time

21c Museum Hotel 

700 W. Main St.

You can’t miss it. Serkan Ozkaya’s “David (inspired by Michelangelo)” at 21c Museum Hotel is a 30-foot tall sculpture that is blinding gold when the sun hits it. Depending on how you navigate the busy street, you are mooned as you walk by the bountiful booty or flashed by the shiny package as you drive by. I always said “David” has the best butt in all of art history. We now have a twice-as-large-as-the-original posterior to prove it. —Jo Anne Triplett

 

Best Place for that Unnecessary, Irresistible Cookie

W.W. Cousins 

900 Dupont Rd.

Well, I came for a greasy cheeseburger, fresh-baked, buttery buns, grilled onions, 40-accouterment toppings bar, some onion rings, and a diet coke (because that’s where I save a few calories). Drop a puddle of ketchup on my tray, with an inordinate amount of (free) pickles, and I’m well on my way to curing the hangover.  Unfortunately, we all know what looms. The overwhelming, irresistible scent of fresh-baked buns, cookies and cakes has solidly instilled a desire for a sweet morsel after the burger. A smiley-face, iced sugar cookie that melts in your hand vanquishes any reasonable assessment of need vs. want. I’ll do one. —Aaron Yarmuth

 

Best Place to Hear Someone Compare Vintages of Budweiser Bottles 

Old Town Wine & Spirits, Inc. 

1529 Bardstown Rd.

Old Town is a great place to assemble a four or six pack of some of the finest craft brew in the city. I’ve made all sorts of discoveries there, from IPAs like the Southern Tier 2X IPA, or a specialty beer like Isseki Nicho, an Imperial Saison by Dieu Du Ciel. But for some folks, it’s best to keep it simple, and stumble in half-dazed to your neighborhood liquor store to get some Budweiser. And sometimes you have to check the date on that can, because you can’t be bothered to drink expired Budweiser. What are you, a caveman? —Syd Bishop

 

Best Place to Accidentally See Art

Waterfront Park

You’re strolling along the Ohio River among the 85 acres of rolling landscape that is Waterfront Park. You’re minding your own business, lost in thought as you enjoy nature. Egads – what’s that blocking your way? It’s not a tree, bicyclist or a guy with a Frisbee. That big metal object in Art. Two examples in Waterfront Park are the “Lincoln Memorial” by Ed Hamilton and Tony Smith’s “Gracehoper.” Not looking for art is a great way to find it, and we’re lucky to have an abundance of public art to discover. —Jo Anne Triplett 

 

Best Place to Feel Like You’re in Diagon Alley

Alchemy

415 E. Market St.

Perhaps you need a museum replica skull or an exact replica of “The Tales of Beedle the Bard,” (like the one bequeathed to Hermione by Dumbledore), or maybe the needful is sundry other tonics, treats and treasures. Well, step right into Alchemy, “The Marvelous, Magical, Olde World Emporium on Market,” and wish no more. Unless, you’re a muggle, you’ll be delighted to find that you’ve been transported into another realm altogether. The music, the aromas, something even about the quality of light are pure magic. Owner Ricky Moores says he was inspired not just by Harry Potter, but also “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “Willy Wonka” and “Peter Pan.” Otherworldly is the key. —Laura Snyder

 

Best Place to Possibly Hear Smashmouth or ‘The Crow’ Soundtrack while Buying Comics 

The Great Escape

2433 Bardstown Rd.

I love comics and graphic novels, or whatever you want to call it to feel socially acceptable about your obsession, and there is no place greater in this city than The Great Escape. I speak from experience when I say their used collection is second to none. The staff there stays out of the way unless you need them, which for my needs is perfect; I’m never bothered and can leaf away through my favorite books to my heart’s content. Who doesn’t want to listen to Smashmouth, ‘The Crow’ Soundtrack, or whatever random CD they have sitting around while you’re shopping? —Syd Bishop

 

Best Place to Feel Nostalgic About U of L basketball 

Freedom Hall

937 Phillips Lane

If I am ever so fortunate as to have kids (far far away please!), I will deeply regret they will never be able to walk the concourse of Freedom Hall. Anyone who has had the opportunity to travail those hallowed halls can still hear the legendary voice of Public-Address announcer, John Tong, the sweet smell of caramel popcorn (which I’m not sure I ever actually found), and their perfect seats for nearly 30 years of Louisville Basketball. Two national championship teams and two hall of fame coaches ran the show for what will always remain Louisville’s true home court. And if you were fortunate to attend any of the wins over Kentucky, you remember exactly where you were when … (Samaki Walker’s triple-double for instance)! —Aaron Yarmuth

 

Best Place to Breakout in Front of a Crowd

PBR Louisville

432 S. 4th St.

One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, BULL! OK, I haven’t personally ridden the mechanical bull at PBR on 4th Street Live!, but I have encouraged several shy, conservative, criminally over-served friends to jump on it. Maybe it is because we are spoiled with plentiful, wonderful bars and restaurants, but it seems like 4th Street just leads to those special nights where you just wanna break out! A rush of adrenaline that takes you a few extra hours into the night, a few extra shots of whatever you get talked into taking, and before you know it, you’re sitting on a machine that is convulsing in a violent attempt to throw you across the room. —Aaron Yarmuth

 

Best Place to Flip your Palate

Mashallah Restaurant and International Grocery

3927 Bardstown Rd., 107 B

If you have never tried anything cooked in palm oil, then by all means make your way over to the Mashallah Restaurant and International Grocery and avail yourself of whatever the daily special is. I guarantee that proprietor Mohmat Sall and his wife Kadiatu Jalloh will flip your palate with some delicious East African halal eats which they cook fresh six days a week. While you are there, stock up on fresh bay leaves and other spices much cheaper and far more pungent than you will find elsewhere. Mohmat also provides halal meats cut on premise if you have a need for that. You have to love this city that you only have to go to Beuchel to shop half a world away! —Lincoln Snyder

 

Best Place to Get Your Asana Handed to You Eternal Health Yoga

3410 Frankfort Avenue

Come for a lovely local place to get in shape, stay for the joyful pursuit of yogic balance. I first went to an open house at Eternal Health Yoga because I was a bit saggy and worn and EHY showed up first as a convenient local studio based on a Google maps search. I’m now beginning to understand there was a little bit more (or maybe less?) that brought me here. EHY is a community oriented teaching studio where everyone regardless of age, size gender or fitness is welcome. If you just want to work on strength, flexibility and balance you won’t be disappointed. And when you find your balance, and life starts coming more into balance, the knowledgeable instructors and supportive community will be there to help you keep growing. Namaste! —Lincoln Snyder

 

Best Store to Proclaim Who You Are  

Regalo 

982 Barret Ave., 

140 N. Fourth Street (Galt House), 

562 S. Fourth St., 

234 E. Pearl Street in New Albany 

Who are you? People will know without you saying a word when you put on a pair of socks from Regalo. By your feet coverings alone, you can proclaim that you love bourbon, eat bacon or drink beer. No wedding is complete without knee socks that reveal the bride and groom. Are you a redneck, a nerd, a bitch? The socks will tell. Mix and match for twice the self-definition. —Jo Anne Triplett

 

Best Shop to Buy Your Grandmother Some Jewelry

Nitty Gritty 

996 Barret Ave. 

I love me some shiny baubles, vintage style. Rhinestone pins and crystal necklaces that your grandmother wore back in the day make me swoon. My dream? A signed Eisenberg pin. Nitty Gritty has been my supplier of choice for years, where they know I have a standing order for color crystal necklaces (still looking for green). The blue pin I bought there is one of my favs. My new habit is proper-lady cotton gloves in an assortment of colors. Nitty Gritty has those too. —Jo Anne Triplett

 

Best Place for the Next Resurfaced Project Fenced off and Neglected Property 

Corner of Franck and Frankfort Avenues

This blighted blister in an otherwise blooming area of Frankfort Ave. is begging to be resurfaced! In my six years as a Crescent Hill resident, the property in question has never been occupied other than temporary campaign headquarters. Understandable, as gentrification works best at a slow and steady rate, and at least the property supplied some much needed parking for the thriving local businesses. The back lot even had a free public parking sign in it. I was more disappointed than surprised when the ugly chain link barricades surrounding the property appeared earlier this year. In a great year for the Avenue with two new restaurants on the block and the best Trolley Hops in the ten year history, visitors to Crescent Hill have had to walk past this chained up old service station to get to their favorite wine shop or restaurants. Shame on the owner for inhibiting local growth, I only hope it is due to absenteeism rather than sour grapes. —Lincoln Snyder

 

Best Place to Have Your Faith in Humanity Restored

Alleyways of Crescent Hill

Walking the alleyways of Crescent Hill is an adventure, one that gives you a glimpse into the spirit of the neighborhood. Tucked away between Grinstead Drive and Frankfort Ave. is a slightly unkempt, intriguing maze of urban gardens, workshops, artist studios and garages. The DIY ingenuity behind the many ad hoc works of art — a bicycle welded to a pole 12 feet high — and small space gardens—a miniature greenhouse made of old paned windows—is inspiring. Best of all are the friendly tokens left by one neighbor for another, like the free lending library—a covered wooden shelf mounted on the alley side of a backyard fence — or the three wooden steps and wrought iron grate that offer neighborhood kids a peek at the laying hens in their lovingly crafted chicken coop. —Laura Snyder