As a lot of us in The ‘Ville settle into our quarantined, socially distant lives, we still need to eat. Before the world shut down on us, Louisville was an effortless place to find good gluten-free, vegetarian food. The good news is: That is still the case.
My wife Hope and I have been trying to eat out three to five times a week to support our favorite establishments as well as to have a governor-approved reason to leave the house. Some places have shortened hours, some have a curbside menu (a little smaller than the eat-in menu), and some have added some great cocktail and drink specials to their takeout options.
Here are some places and meals the veggies might enjoy:
Wild Ginger Sushi Bistro
Wild Ginger provided me with the healthiest meal that I will eat all week. I used to order some great low-carb sushi there in my quest to lose a little weight before I realized 2020 would not require a beach bod (and then decided to pull the ripcord).
Veggies: My favorite roll is the Oshinko roll, featuring a crunchy, vibrant pickled vegetable, but you can ask for added grilled shiitake mushrooms for savory chewiness. I also order a veggie roll and tamago roll, a fluffy sweet scrambled egg with a cucumber wrap.
Meatiness: Carnivores like the bulgogi beef and the chicken katsu. From the meatier side of the sushi menu, the chef recommends the Surf and Turf roll (tempura shrimp, cucumber, avocado inside, and topped with spicy crab meat, torched steak, eel sauce, wasabi mayo, spicy mayo and sweet chili sauce).
1700 Bardstown Road
Beverages: Bottled beer, wine and sake are available for takeout.
Ordering: Call in or order online or curbside pickup. Postmates and Doordash also deliver.
Dragon King’s Daughter
Hope and I eat at DKD at least once a week. It has the largest selection of veggie sushi in town, and most rolls can be ordered gluten-free as well. With its all-day alcohol happy hour prices for takeout, it satiates all of our sushi whims and wine pairing needs. In Indiana? There’s a New Albany location as well, although its menu differs slightly.
Veggies: We always start with a warm, salted edamame that never gets shared exactly 50-50 between us (we use the “you snooze, you lose” principle of edamame division).
I order the Summer Salad Roll (fresh mozzarella, spring mix, red onion, avocado, cucumber and cilantro with a drizzle of spicy mayo) and the Buffaroll (fresh mozzarella, cucumber and avocado). The Summer offers a variety of crunches and flavors pulled together by the rich, mayo drizzle. The Buffaroll has subtler flavors making it perfect for dipping into gluten-free soy with a healthy portion of wasabi mixed in for good measure.
Seafood: Hope’s two faves are the Sushi and the Banshis (avocado, cream cheese and roasted garlic on the inside with salmon and basil atop the roll) and the Selfish Shellfish, part of the new menu (cocktail shrimp, cilantro and fresh avocado on the inside and lobster salad and lime).
Meatier options: A friend that eats things with a face recommended: the Japan Fried Tuna (red tuna battered and deep fried with a special dressing) and the kimchi beef tacos (strip steak with sautéed kimchi and Kewpie over a spring mix).
1126 Bardstown Road
Specials: Happy hour prices on alcohol all day, and it now offers bags of frozen cocktails to go.
Ramsi’s Café on the World
Ramsi’s was one of the first vegetarian -friendly restaurants I found in The ‘Ville over two decades ago. It was also one of the early adopters of farm-to-table and has long been sensitive to many eating restrictions. All of those things are nice, but we ordered from here for the food. With much of it raised at its own farm, you get fine dining at a much cheaper price.
Veggie side o’ life: I have a lot of favorites at Ramsi’s when we are able to dine in: Jun Kun Stew (root veggies, broccoli and limas in a Japanese broth), Peanut-ginger Thai Noodles with tofu (make sure to ask for the GF tofu) and the Crispy Petal Salad (roasted Brussels sprout petals with limas, goat cheese crumbles and an almond fig cake with olive oil and a balsamic glaze.) If you are ever unsure which way to go with a side dish, order the limas.
During quarantine, I have been enjoying the Faithful Falafel, a Pakistani inspired dish with baked falafel patties served with a vegan, homemade yogurt over sweet potatoes, tomatoes and cucumber and accented with a fresh mint sauce. I usually order a side of the pesto lima beans and dump them right into the yogurt sauce.
Things that died: Hope is a creature of habit at Ramsi’s. Unless we are going twice in one week, her order is always: basil salmon sandwich, but she asks them to grill the salmon (instead of fried) and swaps out the potatoes for the pesto lima beans.
Some other carnivorous favorites are: the blacked chicken Pollo Nueva Havana (blackened chicken breast, tamarindo jalapeño sauce, Boursin cheese served with basmati rice and stir-fried vegetables) and the Z-Man Steak (blackened beef tenderloin, Boursin cheese).
1293 Bardstown Road
Beverages: You can order bottles of beer and wine.
Ordering: Ramsi’s is serving its entire menu. Call in or go to its website to order for curbside pickup.
BoomBozz Pizza & Taphouse — Highlands
BoomBozz has great pizza, lots of veggie options and excellent gluten-free crust. The gluten-free crust comes in only one size, a 12-inch at $2 more, but is still plenty of food for two people. Order a starter salad if you are extra hungry, and do yourself a favor and order a side of marinara sauce for crust and starter dipping purposes. BoomBozz’s Hurstbourne location is closed at this time, but its Highlands and Jeffersonville restaurants are still open.
Veggie Za: we have two go-tos if we don’t design our own pie — the Portobello Bello pizza (portobello mushrooms, fresh spinach, roasted red peppers, garlic olive oil glaze, asiago and fontina cheese) and the Farmers Market pizza (artichoke hearts, mushrooms, caramelized bell peppers and onions, black olives, spinach, roma tomatoes, feta and red sauce). Both provide smokiness in the grilled veggies, and the black olives and artichokes combine for a great flavor profile in the Farmers Market.
Post slaughterhouse options: In case you were thinking, “I haven’t killed anything in a while, but I just can’t decide,” BoomBozz has the dish for you. Its most popular pizza is the All Meats Classic with every kind of red meat it serves (pepperoni, Italian sausage, ground beef, ham and bacon). Another specialty for people who prefer to use their eyeteeth, the Buffalo Chicken (marinated chicken, buffalo ranch sauce, red onion, asiago cheese, diced celery and hot sauce drizzle and served with ranch dressing).
1448 Bardstown Road
Beverages: It has drink specials, growlers and bottled beer and wine.
Ordering: BoomBozz is serving its full menu and uses most of the delivery services. Or, call or order online. It is offering free cheese bread with online orders.
Monnik Beer Co.
I have written about Monnik a few times over the last year. The first time was because it has amazing vegetarian and gluten-free options. The second time was for the healthy selections for those of us trying to make sure the buttons on our shirts aren’t social distancing. You can still order pub comfort food, but the salad and side options with their varieties of proteins make this a good, healthy stop as well.
Veggies: The salads are amazing and unique. I usually order the Harvest Salad (mixed greens, blood oranges, purple potato, mixed olives and edamame, accented with fennel and topped with a hardboiled egg for little protein). If I am particularly hungry and we are not getting a starter, I will get a second egg on top or an order of fried jackfruit. Hope enjoys the Kalette and Brussel Salad (fried kalettes, roasted Brussels sprouts, toasted almond slivers, pecorino, garlic, shallots and the Dijon lemon glaze). She will add a chicken breast for the protein and to ensure I am not grazing on her plate when she’s not looking.
If you are picking a starter, definitely try the Jackfruit Al Pastor Nachos (eggplant queso, pickled onion, corn pico, pineapple and pepita cheese). This is my favorite appetizer in town at the moment, rich and colorful with a unique flavor profile including the jackfruit tasting like pulled pork.
Meatiness: Monnik offers classic Bavarian dishes: Beer Brat (beer poached bratwurst, grilled onions and mustard on a pretzel bun with curry ketchup), Sauerbraten (sour beef pot roast, pickled cabbage, potato dumpling, gingersnap sauce and crème fraîche) and Rouladen (sliced beef, mustard, onions, bacon, pickles, potato fritters and a red wine sauce).
1036 E Burnett Ave.
Beverages: It offers drink kit specials weekly, canned beer, crawlers (24 ounces) and growlers, and wine by the bottle.
Ordering: Online and call in orders. Delivery within five miles.
SOU! has been open less than a year and has already made my list of favorite Louisville restaurants. Chef James Moran has put together a menu catering to the veggies and those with eating restrictions as well as being welcoming to the red meat crowd.
Veggie recommendations: SOU! has two amazing salads that can be made gluten-free and vegetarian. The Romaine is heirloom carrot, radish, hardboiled egg and Kenny’s Farmhouse (Kentucky) gouda served with spicy buttermilk ranch and crispy potato. My other regular order is the Mixed Green Salad (black pepper pear vinaigrette, Capriole Goat Cheese, pickled currant, gala apple and marcona almond, served with brown butter waffle croutons).
Its Crispy Cauliflower appetizer is amazing: nutty and smokey with just a little sweetness. It’s also a generous portion, so more than enough to share (though the thought of sharing it is purely theoretical for me).
The Meat: SOU!’s bestseller, the hanger steak, is still on the menu, but the chef also recommends the classic burger. The chef says he puts love into it, but the meat from Black Hawk Farms is really doing the heavy lifting on the taste profile. •
9980 Linn Station Road
Menu: Order from the curbside menu for takeout.
Beverages: SOU! has several cocktails available for takeout including the citrusy bourbon punch (which is awesome on a warm day) and top-shelf margaritas, and bottles of wine are available for pairing.