Restaurant Comings & Goings — Winter 2023

By The Economist newspaper’s estimation, there were a tenth fewer eating places open in America in 2022 than in 2019. However, in the Louisville metropolitan area in 2023 our tally indicates 166 openings versus 93 closings. Here’s the quarterly breakdown: Spring saw 40 comings and 33 goings; Summer 50-22; Fall 41-15; and Winter 35-23. Honestly, we’re accustomed to numbers like these.
Why? Analysts, think tanks and soothsayers are free to advance their own theories, but I propose to bring 2023 to a close by refraining from deep analysis. Resolved: Louisville is one of the best food towns in the country—it’s who we are, and what we do—so let’s be thankful for what we have, and hope it continues.

(Originally published in the Winter 2023 issue of Food & Dining Magazine)


Louisvillians know The Eagle Food & Beer Hall from its portal on Bardstown Rd., where house-brined, hand-dredged fried chicken and all those “comfort sides” have built such an avid following that it’s time for another at Oxmoor Center (7900 Shelbyville Rd.), near Topgolf.

Five minutes away in Westport Village, Osteria Italian Seafood (1211 Herr Ln.) is restaurateur Jared Matthews’ loving reboot of the long-running Napa, transformed into a comfortable showcase for Italian-American influenced fresh seafood (yes, Louisville loves its UPS hub), pasta, soups, salads and desserts.

The Eagle’s fried chicken and sides.

Ensō (1758 Frankfort Ave. in Clifton) means “full circle” and represents a blend of traditions from Chef Lawrence Weeks and the team at North of Bourbon, as Japanese techniques and influences combine with Southern ingredients. Five blocks east, Miki’s Korean Restaurant and Karaoke Bar (2230 Frankfort Ave.) pairs second-to-none karaoke with simple but serious Korean finger food.

Downtown at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts (501 W. Main St.), the center’s Lexus Lounge has added The Chef’s Table VIP Club as an all-inclusive pre-show and intermission food and beverage option. Conversely, Back of the House Collective Yard (3215 Preston Hwy.) near the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center is Louisville’s first designated food truck yard, hosting six rotating vendors, yard games and a miniature dog park.

Mural at Osteria Italian Seafood.

Geographically, Bardstown Road’s “restaurant row” (the original Highlands and beyond) and Southern Indiana both excelled in the 4th quarter.

Bardstown Road begins where Baxter Avenue crosses Highland Avenue, near to where Kebab House (969 Baxter Ave.) channels the late, lamented Falafel House with kebabs, shawarma and more. WNB Factory (1019 Bardstown Rd.) is an Atlanta-based franchise featuring “the best darn wings & craft burgers you’ve ever had.”

Beyond the Sun (1023 Bardstown Rd.), a restaurant and lounge from Amet “Sol Aztecas” Bullaudy, has American and international cuisine with nightly entertainment. Nearby is the second location of Germantown’s signature pizzeria The Post (1759 Bardstown Rd.), with pizza and subs for takeout only. In Deer Park, Top 1 Korean BBQ & Hotpot (1801 Bardstown Rd.) rejuvenates the former Bard’s Town space with jeongol, or Korean fondue.

Similarly, growth continues in Southern Indiana. Derby City Pizza’s 7th area location is open at 412 W. Daisy Ln. in New Albany. At Rickhouse Barbecue (216 Pearl St.) in the Mesa Kitchen incubator, veterans of the food truck wars have a bricks ‘n’ mortar presence. The city’s La Catrina Mexican Kitchen, from the folks at Senor Iguana’s, now has its own spinoff in Jeffersonville: La Catrina Tacos & Tequila (125 W. Chestnut St.)

Also in Jeffersonville, the long dormant Portage House property hosts Game on the River (117 E. Riverside Dr,), adding seafood dishes to the original Game’s exotic proteins like alpaca and wild boar. Dropping anchor amid Clarksville’s waterfront “town center” development are two popular Louisville entities: Goodbounce Pickleball Yard (1220 Main St.), with six indoor courts and “eatertainment,” including lagers and ales from Ten20 Craft Brewery’s (1400 Main St.) first Indiana taproom.

International cuisine continues to expand, bringing world flavors into most Louisville neighborhoods, as with Tomo Japanese Ramen Sushi (5023 Mud Ln.) in southernmost Louisville and Veronica’s Mexican Restaurant (5044 Poplar Level Rd.) in Newburg, pushing boundaries with birria ramen and eggrolls.

Xian’s Kitchen (12338 Shelbyville Rd.) showcases the diversity of Filipino cuisine in Middletown. Maira Mediterranean Grill (4000 Dutchmans Ln.) replaces the short-lived Mirage, bringing a range of Middle Eastern dishes to St. Matthews. Noche Mexican BBQ’s blend of West Texas barbecue and Mexican specialties has come to The Village Market food hall in Paristown (712 Brent St.)

Culinary trends come and go, but sports bars are America. Last Place (121 W. Main St.) stays open late in the basement at the Number 15 entertainment complex. Twin Peaks (302 Bullitt Ln.) in St. Matthews is a Hooters-esque “sports lodge,” and Walk On’s Sports Bistreaux (970 E. Lewis and Clark Pkwy. in Clarksville) touts Louisiana-influenced, scratch-made dishes.

Middletown is a magnet for coffee shops, doughnut sellers and bakery cafes. Born2Bagel (231 Blankenbaker Pkwy.) offers bagels made from an old family recipe, and lox lovingly imported straight from The Big Apple. The Outer Banks-themed Duck Doughnuts franchise (13325 Station Rail Way) specializes in sprinkles, and 7 Brew Coffee (12525 Shelbyville Rd.) is a rapidly expanding chain of double-drive-thru coffee dispensaries.

The Bakery at Sullivan University.

The Bakery at Sullivan University, on hiatus since the pandemic, has reappeared as a European-style, dine-in bakery café at 3100 Bardstown Rd. in the Gardiner Lane neighborhood. In St. Matthews, Better Blend Nutrition (4149 Shelbyville Rd.), sells smoothies, bowls and “wellness,” while Cherry Pickin’ (828 E. Main St. at NuLu Marketplace) is a breakfast/lunch “juicery” with healthy fare.

The changing nature of work, remote versus office, leaves Louisville’s downtown business searching for a post-pandemic identity. Good news comes with the advent of The Misfit Lou (119 S. 7th St.), a beer bar serving “mischievous” sandwiches, sausages and spirits.

Finally, the franchise front: Chicken Salad Chick brings namesake sandwiches to 7706 Bardstown Rd. (south of the Gene Snyder Freeway), and Jaggers Restaurant (13801 English Villa Dr.), Texas Roadhouse’s fast-casual creation, debuts in route to Valhalla—the golf club, that is.


After 26 years, Bearno’s Pizza downtown no longer perches by the Clark Memorial Bridge, having relocated two short blocks away as Bearno’s on Market (301 W. Market St.), formerly Southern Restaurant & Lounge, which closed in late summer.

Following lodging at the Chef Space restaurant incubator, Lucretia Thompson brings Lucretia’s Kitchen to Old Louisville (617 W. Oak St.), with daily themed soul food specials and her grandfather’s legendary Liquid Gold barbecue sauce. Also in Old Louisville, Taqueria Los Gorditos changed its name to Tacos Los Gorditos (meaning “the fat ones”) as a prelude to opening a fourth area location at 317 W. Oak St.

Departing Logan Street Market, Foko (991 Logan St., Shelby Park) expands its American South-meets-Mexico options for breakfast, lunch and brunch. Six Forks Burger Co. (1039 Ash St.) appeared to have closed, but after a rethink and tech refit, the Germantown eatery is back for takeout-only. Belatedly, we see that South End BBQ (8610 Dixie Hwy.) moved to Bardstown in May, 2023 and became Family Barbecue.

There are openings, and there are closings, and then there’s the little-known category called “Pea Soup Fog,” as with The Champagnery at Architype Gallery (1764 Frankfort Ave.), currently closed for “winter break,” although when this pause began, in 2022 or 2023, remains unclear. Fortunately the nearby Wine Rack stocks Moët & Chandon, and we’re keeping a bottle chilled for the big reopening reveal.


We begin with Manhattan Grill (429 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd.), which began serving lunchtime diners downtown in 1997. Retirement beckoned for owner Mitch Lary, and he grabbed it. In Germantown, 20 years of good times and Chicago-style Italian food ended when Comeback Inn (909 Swan St.) made a graceful October exit, while in Clifton, Comfy Cow shuttered its pink-hued flagship shop at 2223 Frankfort Ave.

Unfortunately, restaurateurs aren’t always able to control their destinies. A massive September fire left Osaka Sushi (426 W. Market St.) and The Salad Chic (428 W. Market St.) without quarters. Both are seeking new premises. Also downtown, Southern Restaurant & Lounge (301 W. Market St.) made way for the relocated Bearno’s on Market. Nearby in Paristown, The Village Market food hall (712 Brent St.) lost Ramble Fried Chicken and Taco Rito following brief tenures. In Old Louisville, Neon Pizza (1201 S. First St.) has concluded an 18-month run.

Starting in 2020, there was a proliferation of Asian-infused, Cajun-boiled seafood restaurants, 16 of them at the peak, now contracted to only four after Pier 17 Cajun Seafood (5362 Dixie Hwy.), Seafood Lady (3207 Fern Valley Rd.), and Sweet & Juicy Seafood (8402 Hudson Ln.) closed. Sweet & Juicy’s food truck lives on, and Pier 17 and Seafood Lady primary locations remain at 1975 S. Hurstbourne Pkwy. and 601 E. Jefferson St., respectively.

Other restaurants contracting include J. Gumbo’s (8603 Citadel Way; two locations remain), Panchito’s Ice Cream & Taqueria (2245 Bardstown Rd. in the Highlands; one still left) and Señor Iguana’s (3105 S. Second St.), now down to two, although the group’s La Catrina brand is growing.

Two closings earlier in 2023 deserve recognition. The Goat (700 Landis Ridge Dr.) in Middletown, part of a regional chain, functioned somewhat as a social community with food, drink, volleyball and related events. In the South End at 7208 Whipple Rd., Catfish Haven Pay Lake Bar and Grill’s name said it all: Catch fish, eat fish and have a few beers, all in one stop.

Speaking of the life aquatic, Hooked on Frankfort (3202 Frankfort Ave.), dating to 2019 as an offshoot of the Frankfort Avenue Beer Depot, is no more. Neither is MexA Tacos (3701 Lexington Rd.), into which the adjacent Asahi Japanese Restaurant will expand. Three short-lived vendors of world cuisine, all located in the East End, also ended: Gold Sweet Bakery (529 Lyndon Ln.), Mirage Mediterranean Restaurant (4000 Dutchmans Ln.) and Paradise Fine Indian and American (12951 Shelbyville Rd.), representing Cuba, the Middle East and India, respectively.

Concluding this edition of conclusions, we observe that with the passing of the O’Charley’s at 4404 Dixie Hwy., just one remains in metropolitan Louisville. Requiescat in pace.