Category Archives: $$ Modest ($30-$50)

Simply Mediterranean brings Lebanese flavor

Back in the late winter of 1984, I did my first restaurant review for The Louisville Times. I enjoyed a great dinner at a short-lived Lebanese restaurant on Bardstown Road with a Lebanese-American friend who spent a short time at the city’s afternoon paper before moving on to bigger things.

Here we are, almost too many years later to count, and I’ve just finished a tasty repast from Simply Mediterranean, which I believe is the city’s first ethnic Lebanese restaurant since then. Continue reading Simply Mediterranean brings Lebanese flavor

Mussel & Burger Bar’s wacky concept seems normal now

Early in 2013 when Mussel & Burger Bar opened its first shop in Jeffersontown, I couldn’t help but make fun of this previously unimagined combination. “‘Let’s go get some burgers and mussels,’ said no person ever,” I wrote, chortling.

Now, 8 1/2 years later, Mussel & Burger Bar’s founders have moved on to other ventures, but Mussel & Burger Bar appears to be going strong under new ownership. My recent visit to the J’town operation for lunch with a group of friends satisfied me that it remains just as good as ever. Continue reading Mussel & Burger Bar’s wacky concept seems normal now

Shalimar stands the test of time

I fell in love with Indian food a mighty long time ago, when the curry houses that surrounded London’t Victoria Station offered me a delicious – and cheap – refuge while the very young me was seeing London on £5 a day.

But it took a lot longer before Indian food came to Louisville, a gap that Indian-food-loving friends and I had to fill, sort of, with occasional trips to the region’s only Indian eatery in Cincinnati.

That drought finally ended during the ‘90s, when Shalimar opened in the Hurstbourne Parkway quarters that it still occupies. As one of the first Indian restaurants in Louisville, it has earned a loyal following with consistent presentation of authentic Northern Indian cuisine. Continue reading Shalimar stands the test of time

Simple, delicious American fare at Cheddar Box Too

Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

I don’t guess it comes as a major surprise to disclose that I’m a huge fan of world food. Follow my foodie trail and you’ll usually find me checking out another Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Mexican, Venezuelan, African or other delicious immigrant-cuisine meal. That goes double during these pandemic-remnant times when simple economics have me looking for good, cheap eats.

But sometimes I’ve just got to have a good old-fashioned American repast like my mother used to make. Or maybe a little better. Sorry, Mom!

So it was this week when I happily eased into a comfy booth at Cheddar Box Too. Continue reading Simple, delicious American fare at Cheddar Box Too

Currito impresses with flavorful grains, greens, and more

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

I don’t review chain restaurants often. I’d much rather talk about Louisville’s great independent local eateries. But when a new corporate shop like Currito comes to town and people tell me the food is really good, I’m willing to take a look.

I believe the last time I did such a thing was in November 2018, when I finally got around to sampling the amazingly tasty fried free-range chicken at The Eagle on Bardstown Road, one of the first ventures of its Cincinnati-based corporation outside its home town.

Here we are, three years later, and I’m doing it again, this time at Currito. Continue reading Currito impresses with flavorful grains, greens, and more

Sonal masters Indian vegetarian cuisine

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

Louisville has three all-vegetarian Indian restaurants, and to tell you the truth, the question isn’t why there are so many, but why it took them so long to arrive.

We have about 15 Indian restaurants now, and I’m happy to pull up to a table at every single one.

But all-vegetarian Indian? That’s new. Shreeji Indian Vegetarian Street Food opened in November 2018. Honest Indian Restaurant opened just about a year later, at the end of 2019. And somewhere in that same brief window of time – “three years ago,” the guy behind the counter told me – Sonals Kitchen Homemade Authentic Indian Vegetarian Restaurant popped up in a former Moby Dick shop on Chamberlain just north of Westport Road. Continue reading Sonal masters Indian vegetarian cuisine

Kayrouz Cafe does food and safety right

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

Show me a fourth generation family restaurant that traces its heritage back through several locations to the 1920s, and I’ll show you a restaurant that’s doing things right. That would be Kayrouz Cafe, and it should come as no surprise that the current generation is handling Covid safety with style and grace too.

“Our entire kitchen and wait staff have been fully vaccinated,” a sheet on the front door assures customers. There’s ample outdoor dining, with a half-dozen patio tables offering a significant boost to the tiny eatery’s interior seating. Continue reading Kayrouz Cafe does food and safety right

Peking City Express cracks the Chinese restaurant code

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

If you’ve never wondered why so many Chinese restaurants use what appear to be very similar menus, you probably don’t get much Chinese takeout. The menus look alike, and the dishes are pretty much the same wherever you go.

What’s that about? It took me a lot of digging, but the often-reliable Internet finally led me to the secret: Most of the menus come from a group of printers packed into a few blocks in New York’s Chinatown, using newspaper-size printing presses to run hundreds of thousands of similar Chinese menus for the whole country!

This may help explain why most of Louisville’s 50 to 60 fast-food Chinese restaurant menus seem very much alike. Continue reading Peking City Express cracks the Chinese restaurant code

Nerd out on Indian regional delights at Bombay Grill

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

Maybe I’m a nerd. Okay, probably I am. But I love discovering the geography behind what I eat. I can travel around the world in my imagination, sailing from continent to continent on a dinner plate. Or better yet, I can learn about my international neighbors by savoring what they eat.

Consider our delicious lunch for three at Bombay Grill. We didn’t just enjoy excellent food. We enjoyed the fare of India’s Chettinad, Andhra, and Chennai regions and more. To my mind, learning about the world food while I enjoy it adds real dimension to my meal. Continue reading Nerd out on Indian regional delights at Bombay Grill

For a good pho, call Eatz Vietnamese

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

Last week I had to try calling Vietnam Kitchen a half-dozen times before I could break through the busy line. I guess I wasn’t the only Louisville foodie aching to find out for sure if they were really back from a month-long vacation.

But one reality remains: Vietnam Kitchen, the beloved South End storefront eatery that introduced many of us to Vietnamese cuisine, isn’t going to stay the same, assuming it stays at all. The shop is definitely on the market as a turnkey operation, and owner Alex Lam will eventually either hand it over to new owners or close it.

We wish the Lam family and Vietnam Kitchen’s many fans well, but let’s face it: If you haven’t done this already, it’s past time to begin exploring the metro’s other Vietnamese restaurants. There are at least a dozen, and each has its own particular pleasures. But when I’m hankering for pho, the traditional and soul-consoling Vietnamese soup, I head for Eatz Vietnamese. Continue reading For a good pho, call Eatz Vietnamese