Banditz Pizza's margherita pie is built on an oval base of fresh, crisp flatbread and topped with the traditional tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil.

Fun, music, and five local eateries at The Village Market

By Robin Garr

Here’s the thing you should probably understand about the five restaurants that line the walls of cavernous Village Market in Paristown: This is a place to have fun and grab a bite and a drink and enjoy music, and that’s a good thing.

Just don’t expect a destination dining experience. That’s my conclusion after a Saturday visit and stops for a bite at each of the five eateries and a long look at its extensive bar.

Our dishes from the side-by-side stands housing Bunz Burgers, Banditz Pizza, Noche Mexican BBQ, and Sarap Filipino Eatery rose to the level of pretty good in a local fast-food kind of way. Well, we might need to talk about that taco, Noche.

What’s more, a couple of oversize donuts from Jeff’s Donut on the other side of the hall were so good that I can’t understand why there wasn’t a squadron of LMPD cruisers lined up waiting for a stereotypical snack.

The tiny Paristown neighborhood borders Germantown and the Highlands two miles east of downtown Louisville. It got a new look in recent years as an evolving arts and culture hub anchored by historic Louisville Stoneware and the old Louisville Leather Co. Tannery building (now home to The Café) and the new Old Forester Paristown Hall, a 28,000 square foot performing arts venue.

Still in the planning stages is a $183 million proposal by Paristown Preservation Trust to convert the old Urban Government Center property nearby as apartments, offices, a boutique hotel, and more. (LEO Weekly, March 23, 2022)

The Village Market, a modern food hall and bar, joined the mix last autumn.

Bunz Burgers

Bunz, a fixture on the Baxter Avenue nightlife strip since 2009, moved over to The Village last year. Its menu features 10 burger combinations and another half-dozen sandwiches. I went with The Californian ($11), with the veggie burger upgrade (50 cents).

The California burger from Bunz Burger in The Village Market Food Hall, comes with a slice of Swiss on a golden bun slathered with just enough guacamole and mayo to make it a slippery experience.
The California burger from Bunz Burger in The Village Market Food Hall, comes with a slice of Swiss on a golden bun slathered with just enough guacamole and mayo to make it a slippery experience.

The hefty plant-based patty looked like the Dr. Praeger’s brand, a genuinely vegetable burger made with a dozen different veggies processed into a burger-like patty. It shared a golden, fluffy bun with a slice of swiss cheese, pale tomato, and schmears of guacamole and mayo that tasted great but made for a slippery sandwich that kept losing its parts.

Banditz Pizza

The z on the end of Banditz’ name may or may not signal a corporate connection, but this outfit and Bunz Burger appear to share the same point-of-sale system and staff. The simple menu includes five specialty pizza choices and two build-your-own options. It is the only one of Village Market’s five eateries that includes prices on the online menu: The pizzas are $14 for small, $18 for large; a dollar less for the veggie or the margherita pie.

I tried a mall Margherita pizza ($13, pictured at the top of the page) and was rewarded with a still sizable oval flatbread topped with the traditional mozzarella, snipped fresh basil, and wan winter tomato slices reflecting the white, red, and green colors of the Italian flag. The crust has already developed a cult following for its solid construction that’s lovably crisp on the surface yet light and soft within. Gently spicy tomato sauce was a plus, as were rounds of melted fresh bocconcini mozzarella.

Sarap Filipino Eatery

“Sarap” means “delicious” in Tagalog, the language of the Philippines, and Sarap Filipino Eatery’s menu holds promise. I’d like to come back and try the pancit noodle dish, chicken adobo, or even the silog brunch plate on weekends. This time, though, we went with a single lumpia ($3), the trademark Filipino egg roll.

Long and skinny, a golden-brown fried pastry tube resembling a cigar but clearly more edible, it was filled with a simple mix of crumbled ground beef and noodles.

Noche Mexican BBQ

I’ve enjoyed dinner at Noche Mexican BBQ’S sit-down eatery in the old Calvary Lutheran Church building on Bardstown Road, but our choice, from Noche’s more concise Village Market menu – a $5.99 smoked brisket taco – wasn’t up to that mark.

A large flour taco was spread on a brown-paper-lined tray, loaded with a ladle full of beef chunks and broth lifted from a simmering pot, topped with chopped tomatoes, pepppers, red onions, and cilantro, and finished with a drizzle of spicy avocado crema, and served with lime wedges and salsa verde on the side. The soupy topping made this a knife-and-fork taco. It was a generous portion, but the meat was disappointing at best. It was almost entirely chewy translucent fat, holding together just a few tiny shreds of beef.

Oversize, light and fresh pastries from Jeff's Donut were a highlight of the Village Market experience.
Oversize, light and fresh pastries from Jeff’s Donut were a highlight of the Village Market experience.

Jeff’s Donuts

Dessert? Yes, please! Jeff’s Donuts, the sixth unit in a local chain that started in Jeffersonville, Indiana, creates donuts to compete with Louisville’s best. A chocolate-topped glazed donut and a cinnamon twist ($2.50 each) were both light, and fluffy, and huge. Not to mention perfectly fresh and just about as good as donuts get.

The Village Market Food Hall & Bar
712 Brent St.
No published phone number

Noise Level: The combination of loud music and a happy crowd can make this large hall difficult for conversation when the roar hits a peak.

Accessibility: A step bars independent wheelchair access to the door closest to Brent Street, but wheelchair users may navigate a longer route through an outdoor seating area to a level side door.