By Robin Garr
Covid-19 has been rough for NuLu restaurants. The pandemic has taken at least partial blame for the loss of Harvest, Rye, and most recently, Decca.
For the Martinez family’s Olé restaurant group, though, challenges create opportunities. They opened the Cuban restaurant La Bodeguita de Mamá in July 2020, early in the pandemic, in the former headquarters of Creation Gardens at 725 E. Market St.
Señora Arepa came next, opening in the spring of 2021, serving Venezuelan street food in the smaller building behind Bodeguita at 721 E. Market St., once the home of Ghislain on Market. Continue reading Señora Arepa serves delicious Venezuelan street food
The rumors started more than four years ago, and they spread quickly: “Vietnam Kitchen is going to close! The owner wants to retire! Next time they close for vacation, they won’t open again!”
The fear was real. Vietnam Kitchen – VK, as its fans invariably abbreviate it – is the longest-standing Vietnamese restaurant still open in Louisville. It was founded in 1993 by Vietnamese immigrant Alex Lam and his family. Continue reading Vietnam Kitchen stayed, and we are so happy
By Robin Garr
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
A lot of people call Vietnamese or Nigerian eateries “ethnic,” but they look at you funny if you use the same word to describe a pizzeria or a fancy French dining room. What’s up with that?
“Immigrants’ identities are deeply tied to the foods we bring with us,” Washington Post features writer Lavanya Ramanathan wrote in a 2015 story that explained it well. Added Krishnendu Ray, a New York University professor of food studies: “We use the descriptor ‘ethnic’ for a category of things we don’t know much about, don’t understand much about and yet find it valid to express opinions about.”
That’s enough for me. When people tell me how they’d like me to talk about them, I’ll listen. So let’s call them “world” restaurants in this week’s excursion into good things to eat, a round-the-world trip without leaving Louisville. Continue reading Travel on a plate with our critic’s favorite world restaurants
By Robin Garr
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
By Robin Garr
More than a year later, when the local food critic finally heads out to a fine local restaurant for a relaxing sit-down dinner, where does he go? For me, the answer is simple: It has to be Seviche.
I’m always reluctant to name any restaurant my Number One, as any of five or ten favorites could wear the crown on any given day. But Seviche always makes me happy. Continue reading Seviche always satisfies
Within hours after taking office on January 20, President Joe Biden moved quickly to sign executive orders make life much better for immigrants and refugees. He halted construction on the border wall, stopped family separation at the border, and pushed for an end to mass deportations.
These good things merit celebration with a meal at an immigrant-owned eatery, so I headed for Alwatan. This little spot, which is operating for takeout only during the pandemic, is owned by Palestinian immigrants. It offers a good variety of Palestinian, pan-Arabic, and Mediterranean food, taking full advantage of fine Mediterranean breads from its sibling bakery next door. Continue reading We celebrate our immigrant neighbors at Alwatan
I’ve been doing a lot of takeout dining in the past couple of months, and I’m content with that.
But I have one big problem with takeout: Unless I choose from a handful of restaurants within a five-minute drive from my house, my takeout dinner is likely to be lukewarm or worse by the time I get it on the table.
?The solution is obvious, especially in summer time: Let’s have a picnic! Select a restaurant with a park nearby Grab your meal and hustle it to the nearest shady glen. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner is served! Continue reading Let’s take Oskar’s out for a picnic!
Here’s something important to keep in mind about supporting Black-owned restaurants and other Black-owned businesses: We can’t do it just once. To make this right, we need to get into the habit of dining and shopping regularly at businesses owned by our Black, indigenous, and other brothers and sisters of color.
According to U.S. Census data, Louisville is about 70 percent white and moving toward one-quarter black, with smaller numbers of Hispanic, Asian, and other ethnicities. I might not commit to a rigid pattern of stopping at one Black-owned eatery for a certain number of reviews, but it must be done regularly, not one-and-done.
So, the quest for something different and delicious led me this week to Funmi’s Cafe. Hidden away in a nook cut into the back of Gardiner Lane Shopping Center, it’s Louisville’s only Nigerian restaurant. It’s known for friendly, welcoming service and a delicious introduction to African fare. Continue reading Funmi’s delights with the flavors of Nigeria
I’ve never been tempted to sample fugu, the Japanese pufferfish whose internal organs are filled with poison so powerful that even a speck left in your sashimi by a careless chef can drop you dead after a few horrifying hours of pain. Plenty of Japanese gourmands will pay upwards of $200 for a fugu meal, but not me.
Why bring this up? Because the idea of sitting down for a meal at a local restaurant during this pandemic felt way too much like bellying up to a fugu bar. I needed to think it over before sitting down to something that’s sounds like fun but that could kill you.
And yet we did it anyway, settling in on the pretty, shady and very properly distanced patio at Selena’s at Willow Lake Tavern this week. We had a good meal and a good time, too, albeit against a backdrop of nervous unease perhaps similar to the emotions that fugu aficionados must feel. Continue reading We dine well at a proper distance on Selena’s patio