El Mariachi, a favorite, moves and grows

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

If I’m going to go out for Mexican food, I’d really rather find my way to a taqueria or other small eatery run by immigrant neighbors. Someplace where the food is the real thing, where I need to be prepared to order in my awkward Spanish or by pointing at an item in the menu with a smile.

Someplace, in other words, like El Mariachi Restaurante Mexicano. This East End eatery, more than just a taqueria, has long been one of my favorite local spots for Mexican fare thanks to the quality of its food, the breadth of its menu, and its colorful, happy-making decor.

Not long ago, running an errand out Lagrange Road, I noticed to my surprise that things have changed. Continue reading El Mariachi, a favorite, moves and grows

C- c- changes … all around our dining scene

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

We lament a lot about all the restaurants we love that have closed during the pandemic. Heck, we lament a lot about all the restaurants we love that have closed before that, probably all the way back to the days when Louisville was just a growing river port town.

But we all know that the pandemic has made things worse. The loss of Decca, Harvest and Rye changed the face of the Nulu district forever. No, those spaces won’t stand vacant for long. But the look and feel of the neighborhood is changing, and that involves more than just new names on the signs out front. Continue reading C- c- changes … all around our dining scene

Bahn Thai & M returns Thai flavor to Holiday Manor

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

It’s not usually difficult for a restaurant critic to learn about new eateries around our town. Either the owner or chef clues me in with an email, text, or news release, or I’ll hear about it on social media or the Louisville HotBytes forum.

Now and then, though, an appealing new place will fly under the radar until, like Columbus “discovering” America, I stumble into it myself.

So it was the other day when I rolled into Holiday Manor, planning a quick run to Kroger, when I suddenly noticed a bright new storefront sign: “Bahn Thai & M.” Continue reading Bahn Thai & M returns Thai flavor to Holiday Manor

Complaints: Who’s got ‘em? Just about everyone

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

If you felt a little annoyed about something going wrong during a recent restaurant dining experience and wanted to shout a complaint, you’re not alone. My recent 40-minute wait for a glass of water left me feeling crabby, for sure. Order one thing, get something different. Spotting wildlife on plates, tables, or buffets. And then there was my friend who got a mouthful of twist-tie in her fettuccine alfredo. Or another friend’s Band-aid on a breadstick. Ick. And so it goes.

Indeed, negative online reviews for U.S. businesses jumped by 3 percent between April 2022 and the end of the year, the industry journal Nation’s Restaurant News reported. Restaurants and bars saw the biggest upticks in negative reviews, followed by construction, education and hobbies and crafts. Continue reading Complaints: Who’s got ‘em? Just about everyone

Tasty Vietnamese fare and cool cocktails elevate District 6

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

Not long after the turn of this century, I’m not sure that many of us would have predicted the rise of St. Matthews as one of the city’s most active bar and nightlife zones.

So I guess it shouldn’t surprise us that this suburban village has suddenly become a go-to zone for Asian eateries with estimable bars.

Say what? Continue reading Tasty Vietnamese fare and cool cocktails elevate District 6

Another year, lots more great dishes

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

When The New York Times recently listed its 50 favorite restaurants around the nation for 2022, I was a little sad to notice that they didn’t even give Louisville a mention. Our neighbors in Nashville got two top-table mentions, but we were left with our hands empty, standing by the road in the gathering darkness, softly sniffling.

But the lack of big-city appreciation does not signify that there’s nothing good here. Our restaurants may not have impressed The New York Times, but quite a few specific dishes from places I’ve reviewed this year sure impressed me. Let’s do a quick review. If you like the sound of these delights, you may still be able to get most of them, either currently or when they come back into seasonal rotation.

First, though, what exactly does it take for a dish to impress me? Continue reading Another year, lots more great dishes

You don’t need artificial intelligence to love North of Bourbon

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

“I recently had the pleasure of dining at North of Bourbon, a New Orleans-style restaurant in Louisville. From the moment I walked in, I was transported to the vibrant, colorful world of the Big Easy.

“The atmosphere at North of Bourbon is lively and energetic, with good music, colorful Christmas decorations, and the smell of good food and spices in the air. The menu is filled with classic New Orleans dishes as well as more unusual offerings. The portions are generous, and the flavors are bold and spicy.

“But the real star of the show is the bourbon.”

Okay, hold it right there. Continue reading You don’t need artificial intelligence to love North of Bourbon

Listen up, Santa! Put this on your restaurant list!

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

Here’s a funny thing about Louisville and all of us who love our city’s vibrant restaurant scene: We love things the way they are … and we complain about all the ways it could be better.

“We need a Greek restaurant,” we yell. “And a French sidewalk cafe! And where is our real Jewish-style deli!?”

The chant goes on, and to be honest, there’s probably more justification for our wailing than ever. As we go into the third year of the Covid-19 pandemic, the losses to our scene have been brutal. Continue reading Listen up, Santa! Put this on your restaurant list!

Please, sir, may I have Smør? And a Maya Bagel too?

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

Within less than a mile of each other on Poplar Level Road, two splendid new bakeries beckon the hungry pilgrim. Neither is a traditional Louisville bakery with its echoes of 19th century German immigrants, and that’s all right.

One – Maya Bagel Express – is turning out the best Louisville-made bagels I’ve tasted yet. The other – Smør Nordic Bakeri – offers a warm sense of Scandinavian hygge to surround its Nordic treats. We found our way to both on the same day last week, and I came home with a happy carbohydrate buzz that lasted for hours. Continue reading Please, sir, may I have Smør? And a Maya Bagel too?

Can pizza be (gasp) bad for us? Yes and no.

By Robin Garr
LouisvilleHotBytes.com

We dived into Louisville Pizza Week with abandon and enjoyed more than a dozen tasty pies at local pizzerias. Then it was Thanksgiving, and we loaded up on turkey and all the traditional trimmings. So how are you feeling right now, Bubba?

What’s more, the holidays, that lazy, hazy time of good things to eat in joyous excess, are full upon us for the next few weeks.

So here’s the question: Is it even possible to eat well, dine out often – including plenty of pizza – and maintain our health and reasonable weight? Continue reading Can pizza be (gasp) bad for us? Yes and no.

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