48 Hours in Louisville

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Louisville for a work conference. I was actually there for three and a half days but because a good chunk of my time was spent inside the hotel ballroom space listening to lectures, I decided to tag this as a '48 hours' post. I didn't bring a camera with me so these are just my phone photos but I think they're still nice.

I've technically been to Louisville a handful of times before, but it was really only to pass through the airport. I didn't get to actually spend much time in the city so this was a nice little introduction. The weather was gorgeous when I landed (though it was pretty crappy by the time I left) and I took some time to explore the city on foot. I ate a ton of good food (which is mostly what this post is about) and enjoyed the southern charm and hospitality Louisville had to offer.
I packed just the necessities in a small backpack and tote and drove myself to the airport. I parked in economy parking (it was $60 for the three and a half days, which isn't bad considering if I had to take a cab, it would've been much pricier). My main tip for parking is to screenshot your location on maps and also take photos of the lot and area so you remember where your car is!

For our in-flight snack, we were given these Byrd's maple wafers which were delicious. I need to find out where I can buy these.
We landed really early (like 45 minutes early) and the pilot made an announcement that we weren't going to get a gate for another 30 minutes so we had to sit tight. However, there was a gentleman seated in front of me who was shaking and sweating and flagged down a flight attendant to say he was having a medical emergency. Apparently, he was on his way to a rehab facility and was going through withdrawal and his seatmate also happened to be a nurse and when she checked his vitals, his blood pressure and pulse were through the roof. So, the flight crew managed to negotiate a gate. I hope everything worked out okay for that guy.

Anyway, after I hopped off the plane, I rushed down to the taxi stand and grabbed a cab to my hotel. I checked in, dropped off my stuff, and then immediately went out in search of lunch.

On my way, I saw that Louisville has a bike share, which is named Louvelo (which I find adorable; velo is French for bike) but I didn't end up using it. I didn't need to travel that far and it was just such a nice day, I wanted to leisurely walk and enjoy myself.
So I've been hearing about how good Nashville hot chicken is for a few years now. I haven't had the opportunity to go to Nashville yet but when I saw that Louisville had its own take on the dish, I decided I had to go and check it out.
I got the hot chicken sandwich (with the regular hot spicy level; I think I could've and should've maxed out the spice level though because it was really tame) and a side of cucumber salad. The cucumber salad was because I thought I'd need something to cool down the spice and even though I didn't really need it, it was bright and refreshing and cut through the grease of the sandwich.

The sandwich itself was incredible. The soft bun and the crispy chicken and the crunchy lettuce; it was a harmonious dish that is perfect for lunch. If you don't know, the concept of hot chicken is just spicy fried chicken and if the cooks do it right, the hot seasoning is actually an oil-based sauce that the chicken is dipped into after frying. Because the sauce is oil based, it doesn't add watery moisture onto the breading so it stays ultra crispy.
After lunch, I walked towards the river. On the way, I saw gorgeous foliage.
This is a beautiful area if you want to some fresh air and to enjoy a bit of nature in the city. The bridge crosses the Ohio River and you can visit Indiana if you like. Everyone said it's best to visit this bridge at night but I think it's just as gorgeous during the day, especially when the sun is shining.
There are speakers playing music and I was told that in the evenings, there's a light show. (Though, I also learned that a storm a few weeks prior to my visit actually blew out the lights so I wouldn't have been able to see it even if I'd returned at night.)
I didn't stay in Indiana long; just enough to say I visited.
The waterfront park area is beautiful and apparently there's a concert series and movie nights and all sorts of fun activities hosted here. I fell in love with the porch swings; they're so much better than benches.
As I made my way back towards the hotel, I saw the Louisville Slugger Field, a cute little chicken art installation, and the KFC Yum Center (which sounds like a delicious food venue but it's actually an arena).
After my 15,000 step walk around the city, I went back to the hotel to rest for a bit. I did a little research on Yelp and ended up going to Doc Crow's for dinner because it had great reviews and because it was just an 8-minute walk from the hotel.

I grabbed a seat at the bar and settled in with an old fashioned to start (bourbon is compulsory in Kentucky) while I looked at the menu. The old fashioned is one of my favorite cocktails. It's just sugar, bitters, and bourbon and the most important ingredient is the orange rind which is expressed over the cocktail and skimmed across the rim of the glass. The orange essential oils take this from a cup of liquor to a sophisticated, complex drink. The bartender here, Levi, did a fantastic job mixing this up; I thought it was pretty perfect.
I ended up ordering the brisket tacos with fried jalapenos, the fried okra, and an order of hush puppies. The brisket was falling apart tender, the hush puppies were fluffy and amazing, and even though I hate okra (it's too slimy) this preparation was perfect because it was crisp and spiced deliciously. Plus, the remoulade and the barbecue sauce they had on offer was also the perfect condiment for everything.
There were two lovely gentlemen sitting next to me that were super friendly and sweet. One of them was a local, born and bred, who was actually on the board of the Waterfront Park and he explained that Louisville was the best place to get oysters (other than from the actual source) because this was the distribution hub. So, he proceeded to buy me a couple and seriously, they were amazingly fresh.

After my extremely fulfilling dinner, I walked back to my hotel and promptly fell asleep.

The conference was held at the Hyatt and I also stayed there, which made it super convenient for me to get ready and to pop in and out when I had other work obligations to take care of.
After the first day's seminars there was a reception at the Spire, which is the rooftop restaurant of the Regency. It offers stunning 360 degree views of the city. There were fantastic hors d'oeuvres, a carving station, and an open bar.
I ended up getting two Kentucky local brews; one was an IPA and the other was brewed in a bourbon barrel so it was smoky and sweet (and strong).
My colleagues told me not to fill up too much because we were going to dinner.
I got my second old fashioned of the trip here. It wasn't as good as the first, but still pretty delicious.
To start, we got a couple of different oyster dishes; there was one with garlicky butter sauce and the other had cheese. The garlicky butter ones were awesome.
For my main, I got the scallops with split pea risotto. The risotto wasn't quite as creamy as I would've liked, but it was still delicious. The scallops were cooked perfectly. I gobbled it down happily.
For dessert, the seven of us shared the pecan pie and the beignets. Both were fantastic and a delicious conclusion to a five-star meal.
Just a block down the street from Brendan's (within the Fourth Street Live! tourist area) is the Seelbach Hilton hotel which is rich in history and also has a few really cool bars.
I got my third old fashioned of the trip. This was frankly the most disappointing one, as it was really watery and it had a stupid maraschino cherry in it. And don't get me wrong, I love a maraschino cherry; this just isn't the place for it. But the bar itself was gorgeous and a perfect place for a nightcap.
While some of the group went off to some more bars, I opted to head back and sleep. Afterall, we had another day of conference seminars to attend.
This second day of the conference was actually really interesting to me. I have to say it wasn't really that useful to me in the context of my job function but it was just really cool content presented by some incredibly smart people.

For my final dinner in Louisville, I actually wanted to go to Chik'n & Mi because it was raining and chilly and I wanted some hot soup and I thought ramen would really hit the spot. Unfortunately, it was closed for Halloween so I ended up at my second choice, which was Butchertown Grocery. Both came recommended by the really cool guy I'd met on my first evening at Doc Crow's so I knew I'd be satisfied either way.
The ambiance of this restaurant is super romantic and honestly, all of the dishes seemed great for sharing so it was pretty sad that I came alone, not because I felt sorry for myself but because I couldn't sample more food. (I don't know if the waiter thought I was a sad sack because he told me how they're hosting a Thanksgiving at the restaurant and if I'm also alone for that holiday, I should come by.)

This is where I enjoyed my fourth and final old fashioned of the trip and it was well made and great ending note.
For my starter, I got the pork belly. It was sitting on a bed of pureed vegetables and sprinkled with black salt. The pork belly was perfectly tender, seasoned with a nice balance of savory and sweet, and the crispy fried carrots offered a much needed textural contrast.
For my main, I struggled to choose between a pasta, because they're all homemade and they all sounded delicious, and the bouillabaisse, because I rarely see it on menus and it's one of my favorite dishes. I asked my server for advice and he said that though you can't go wrong with any of the pastas, on such a rainy, chilly night, nothing tastes better than a warm bowl of soup. So, I went for the bouillabaisse and I'm so happy I did.
The broth was rich and unctuous but seasoned delicately so as not to overwhelm the flavors of the seafood. There must've been more than a dozen mussels in this bowl along with three humongous and tender shrimp and big chunks of mako shark. The mako was a little tough, which is just a characteristic of the fish itself and not a function of the chef; I wish they'd used a more delicate fish, but I can also understand why a more rugged fish is used in this dish.
For dessert, I got the creme brulee. The custard was soft and velvety and any sort of crunchy sugar topping is always a hit with me.
After dinner, I grabbed an Uber back to the hotel. The driver was the sweetest lady who was telling me about how she grew up in the projects, became a teen mom, and ultimately pulled herself up by her own bootstraps and was just working and hustling her way to success. She encouraged me to go out and enjoy Halloween a little but ultimately I ended up retiring to my room and threw on a sheet mask to combat the days of drinking and overindulging just a little bit.
The next morning, I had time to get breakfast before I had to go to the airport so I found a few spots that weren't too far from the hotel and wandered over. Though it wasn't raining too badly, this made me regret not having brought a little baseball cap or something because by the time I arrived at breakfast, I think I looked pretty unkempt.
I had debated between going to PTY or Wild Eggs and ultimately ended up at PTY because I wasn't that hungry and I wanted to enjoy something a little lighter.
I ended up getting the chive ass biscuit (which is a chive biscuit sandwich with egg and cheese) and a spicy chai latte. The biscuit was a perfect southern biscuit; it was buttery and tender and flaky and the bits of chive added delicious flavor. The egg inside was fluffy and the cheese was sharp and perfectly melted. My tea was so good; it was spicy enough to almost remind me of my favorite masala chai that I enjoyed in India.
After breakfast, I finished packing up, checked out of the hotel, and hopped in an Uber to the airport. My flight back was similar to my flight to Louisville in that it was an uneventful flight until we actually landed. They had so many issues trying to get the jetway to connect to the plane, the plane had to be repositioned three times to get it to work. It was annoying but my fellow passengers and I managed to find some humor in it.
Thanks for having me, Louisville!