Lynn’s Paradise Café; 984 Barret Avenue; (502) 583-3447: Calling Lynn’s Paradise Café “visually stimulating” is an understatement. Nowhere else in America will you have the chance to see so many weird lighting fixtures (the restaurant sponsors an Ugly Lamp Contest each year at the Kentucky State Fair) while enjoying delicious food.
The cafe has been named one of the four most fun restaurants in America by Esquire Magazine and has been featured on the Food Network. While it serves lunch and dinner, it’s most famous for its breakfasts. For a light start to the day, try the Bourbon Ball French Toast: cinnamon swirl bread dipped in vanilla nutmeg batter and then grilled and topped with bourbon vanilla custard, chocolate syrup, fresh strawberries, sugar spiced pecans and whipped cream.
Owner Lynn Winter opened Lynn’s Paradise Café in 1991 and has long been an active community volunteer and leader in Louisville. When she’s not around, Patty Schnatter oversees the operations with a capable eye and warm heart (she likes to point out that Patty is just one letter away from party). With its mixture of kitsch and whimsy, Lynne’s Paradise Café is a Louisville institution you shouldn’t miss. An added bonus is its World of Swirl Gift Shop, where you can buy a leg-shaped lamp to take home as a souvenir.
Bourbons Bistro; 2255 Frankfort Avenue, (502) 894-8838: Located three miles from downtown Louisville on historic Frankfort Avenue, the restaurant offers one of the largest selection of bourbons in the U.S. as well as a number of entrees that use the spirit in creative and delicious ways. Try the Bourbons Baked Salmon, which is rubbed with Dijon mustard, encrusted with pecans, finished with a bourbon orange molasses, and served with a roasted shallot asparagus risotto.
Toast on Market; 736 East Market Street; (502) 569-4099: A great spot for breakfast, in particular. (I highly recommend the lemon soufflé pancakes).
Wallace Station; 3854 Old Frankfort Pike; Versailles; (859) 846-5161: Located near Lexington and Three Chimneys Farm, this down-home eatery is popular with locals and is a great stop for a sandwich and cup of soup, finished off with a homemade cookie.
The 21c Museum Hotel, 700 West Main Street; (502) 217-6300: This Lousville showplace skillfully blends genres. It includes more than 9,000 square feet of gallery space for 21st century works of art (admission is free to the public) as well as 90 hotel rooms. Despite the “museum” in its name, the hotel has a playful vibe and is famous for its Red Penguins, which were commissioned as a public art project at the 2005 Venice Biennale. Sculpted of red plastic, the four-feet tall birds migrate through the building. The hotel has been honored with a host of awards, including being named the top hotel in the U.S. in 2009 by Conde Naste Traveler.
Travelers will also enjoy its gourmet restaurant, Proof on Main. The chic eatery is part of Louisville’s Urban Bourbon Trail and features inventive American food with Tuscan influences.