Let’s Eat! Summer 2023 Louisville Area Dining Recommendations From The LEO Staff

Jun 21, 2023 at 2:07 pm
Joy Luck Wonton Soup.
Joy Luck Wonton Soup.

Joy Luck 1285 Bardstown Rd. | thejoyluck.com

I am partial to Asian cuisine, at the moment, because as I study one Asian culture, I am exploring the cuisine of many others, and Joy Luck is a rich blend of Chinese and other Asian flavors with its stir frys and deep, rich soup broths. One of my favorite dishes at Joy Luck is the spicy wonton soup. The soup is made with pork-filled dumplings and bok choy in a deeply colored, slightly sweet broth. It’s enough of a meal on its own without appetizers and almost anything on the menu is a flavor adventure. Joy Luck is also a relatively small restaurant but on a nice evening or cool afternoon, a seat on their patio watching the cars pass on Bardstown Rd. is a pleasant experience. The restaurant has a full bar so explore their cocktails and other sips, which include low and zero-alcohol options. —Erica Rucker
Polly's Freeze.
Polly's Freeze.

Polly’s Freeze 5242 State Rd. 62 | pollysfreeze.com

When I hear the words “summer dining,” my mind skitters right on past fancy eateries and cozy patio dining. Now that summer is here and temperatures are rising through the 80s, I’m ready to head north to Polly’s Freeze. This iconic Southern Indiana roadside ice cream shop has it all: A quick road trip takes us out of the steamy city to the leafy setting of this outdoor-only eatery that’s celebrating its 71st birthday this year. It’s best to skip the Sherman Minton Bridge because of construction right now, but it’s still under a half-hour from most of Louisville. Head north across the Lincoln or Clark bridge and take I-65 to I-265 west, then follow it over to pick up I-64 again above New Albany. From there it’s only a few exits to Georgetown, Indiana Hwy. 64. Scoot left under the Interstate on State Road 62, and in less than a mile you’ll see Polly’s iconic neon parrot looming on the right. Pull into a parking space, walk up to the window and place your order. There must be a hundred variations on cones, sundaes, sodas shakes and malts, burgers and fried pork sandwiches and more. I like to keep it simple and old-fashioned, though, with a simple cone, a Brown Derby, or maybe best of all a chocolate shake so thick that I give my lungs a workout getting it up through the straw.—Robin Garr
La Bodeguita de Mima.
La Bodeguita de Mima.

La Bodeguita de Mima 725 E. Market St. | labodeguitademima.com

Between the authentic Cuban atmosphere, the beautiful building, and the best Cubano I’ve ever had, I was sold on La Bodeguita de Mima very quickly. The main floor is home to the bar, which has an extensive drink menu with plenty of specialty cocktails, beer, and wine. They offer the Café Con Leche Martini, Mima’s Daquiri, Havana Rum Punch, and more. The upstairs, while slightly dimmer and quieter, is still buzzing with conversation and movement. Their menu is full of Cuban classics, like Arroz Imperial and the Cubano sandwich. They have plenty of desserts, like Flan and Tres Leches Cake. I love this restaurant. NuLu is a great place to spend time and walk around, with tons of shops and bars to visit. I highly recommend La Bodeguita de Mima.—Gracie Moore 
Spring Street Bar & Grill.
Spring Street Bar & Grill.

Spring Street Bar & Grill 300 S. Spring St. | springstreetbargrill.com

There are so many restaurant options in Louisville. Any style or type of food you want — you probably can find it in less than a ten-minute drive. But, sometimes the high-end greasy spoon neighborhood dive bar hits just right. And Spring Street Bar & Grill is currently my favorite version of that. Spring Street, which closed in 2020 after 33 years in business before reopening in 2022, is not only back, but it’s better. The legendary wings continue to be exactly as tasty as you remember, but the menu is a little bit more built out, with a fair amount of veggie and vegan options. The aesthetics, atmosphere and prices are pretty much the same — keeping the charm of the place — but small enhancements and the lean toward becoming a casual sports bar has been nice. If you’re looking for a burger and fries, a sandwich and a cup of soup, some fried finger food or other no-frills options that pair well with a pitcher of domestic beer, this is that place. And it’s always nice to have that place. —Scott Recker 
Koreana III.
Koreana III.

Koreana III 5009 Preston Hwy. | koreana3bbq.com

Koreana III is not a new restaurant but it is a staple in my repertoire of dining. 

I was introduced to the subtleties of Korean cuisine through the world of Korean drama and as a student of Korean. Through studying the language and culture, I am most struck by the way the food tells the story of the people.

 The simplicity of a Korean guk, or soup, made with very few ingredients speaks to a culture that has only pulled itself from deep poverty within the last 50 years. The same way that the way a U.S. Southerner prepares vegetables with hocks and hambones speaks to a similar — “make it work” — ethic as Korean cuisine. In fact, during the Korean War, there are stories of Black soldiers and Koreans exchanging ideas about food and cooking. 

Koreana is small with regular tables and grill tables where meat can be prepared at the table. There is usually one woman working the tables. If you’re a student of Korean, she will generously help you practice as you order. 

My favorite meal there is the dolsot bibimbap which is a beef and mixed vegetable dish over rice with an egg atop and a rich gochujang sauce. The dolsot (??) is the name of the stone bowl that is heated and cooks the soft rice at the bottom of the bowl to a nice crunch while you are mixing the ingredients on top. Bibim (??) means mix and bap (?) means rice.  It perfectly describes the purpose of the meal. It can be vegetarian or made with chicken. Beef is the most common form. Koreana’s dolsot bibimbap is worth the journey. (In the photo is tteokbokki, another favorite dish of spicy rice cakes.) —Erica Rucker


Con Huevos.
Con Huevos.

Con Huevos 2339 Frankfort Ave. | conhuevos.com

It doesn’t happen very often, but I love those times when I can sneak away to breakfast by myself during the middle of a weekday morning. Midmorning sit-down breakfast is pretty much the polar opposite of being buried in work and stress, and Con Huevos is my favorite place to experience that. Con Huevos, which has four local locations, specializes in made-from-scratch Mexican cuisine, focusing on breakfast and lunch options. From the signature dish, Huevos Rancheros, to the tacos, burritos, churros and more, Con Huevos has a wide variety of delicious options. They also have great coffee selections such as a Cafe Con Leche, a Cuban Coffee, and an Oaxacan Latte. It’s always nice to have a favorite go-to breakfast spot, and this is mine. —Scott Recker 
Chef’s Cut Pizzeria.
Chef’s Cut Pizzeria.

Chef’s Cut Pizzeria 9901 La Grange Rd. | thechefscutpizzeria.com

My family and I love Chef’s Cut Pizzeria. My brother and his wife introduced me to it, and it’s quickly become my favorite pizza in the city. Having both dine-in, carryout, and delivery means I can have it for whatever mood I’m in. In addition to their great gourmet pizza, they offer sandwiches and pasta. They also have a full bar. Chef’s Cut has a different special every day of the week: Monday you can get $2 off any large pizza or $1 off any sandwich; Tuesday is $5 off all alcoholic drinks; Wednesday is .50¢ wings and $3 wine; Thursday is happy hour all day long; Friday is Funk Friday with two happy hours; Saturday and Sunday are sports days to cheer on your favorite team. Try the Hot Brown pizza, you won’t be disappointed. —Gracie Moore

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