The Ultimate Guide to Dining in Louisville during the Kentucky Derby

Posted by Olivia Anderle on Tue, Jun 25, 2019

Louisville, Kentucky is a one-of-a-kind city with so much to explore. There is Churchill Downs: home of the Kentucky Derby, the Louisville Slugger Museum where Major League baseball bats are made and so many astounding places to dine. Whether you’re an annual racegoer to the Kentucky Derby or in town to cross it off your bucket list, prepare to make room for at least one of these restaurants in your schedule:

Downtown Louisville

The Brown Hotel

355 W Broadway, Louisville, KY 40202

Distance from Churchill Downs: 3.8

When in Louisville, it’s only right to enjoy a hot brown at one point or another. The Louisville tradition was created in 1926 at the Brown Hotel. Prepare to enjoy a baked golden brown, open-faced sandwich with roasted turkey breast, mornay sauce, pecorino romano cheese and topped with bacon and tomatoes. Yum!

Proof On Main

702 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202

Distance from Churchill Downs: 5.4 miles

Located in Louisville’s 21c Museum Hotel, Proof On Main offers local Southern cuisine in the presence of contemporary artwork. The atmosphere only heightens the experience of this brunch to dessert restaurant.

8UP Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen

350 W Chestnut St, Louisville, KY 40202

Distance from Churchill Downs: 4 miles

Enjoy premium drinks and food on 8UP’s rooftop balcony. Surrounded by the Louisville skyscrapers, sit back and enjoy the firepits and company of friends and family while taking in unparalleled views of the city.

Bar Vetti

800 S 4th St, Louisville, KY 40203

Distance from Churchill Downs: 3.7 miles

Dine at Bar Vetti for housemade pastas, pizzas and shareable plates while enjoying the modern and trendy environment. Try the Rigatoni Cacio E Pepe pasta with the Italian donughts for dessert! 


This new, hip East Market District also known as NuLu is a dining hub with restaurants spanning upscale American cuisine to casual barbeque and burger joints.

Butchertown Grocery

1076 E Washington St, Louisville, KY 40206

Distance from Churchill Downs: 7 miles

Located in the heart of Louisville’s trendiest neighborhood, Butchertown Grocery serves refined food and cocktails in a former family market. With a brunch, lunch, dinner, dessert and drink menu, Butchertown Grocery is a perfect option for any time of the day. (Pictured to the right: Catelli Bros. Lamb Rack)

Decca Restaurant

812 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40206

Distance from Churchill Downs: 6 miles

Enjoy Decca’s fabulous food before venturing into its vintage, cellar lounge for live music, bar bites and cocktails.

Louisville Butchertown Grocery

Royals Hot Chicken

736 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40202

Distance from Churchill Downs: 5.9 miles

Despite its name, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is not where you should go for great Southern fried chicken. Do yourself a favor and go to Royals Hot Chicken. The menu features juicy, jumbo, fried chicken tenders, sandwiches and tacos with an assortment of heat levels to choose from if you want to spice your meal up. Top off the night with a side and a sweet!

Feast BBQ

909 E Market St #100, Louisville, KY 40206

Distance from Churchill Downs: 6 miles

Feast BBQ is easily the best BBQ in Louisville. The appetizer options are plentiful, but it doesn’t stop there. The menu features pulled pork, brisket, chopped chicken, baby back ribs and crispy smoked tofu as its main entrées. These can be ordered as a sandwich or by a half pound plate! The side selections are amazing which will make for a hard decision. I can guarantee you will not leave Feast BBQ disappointed or hungry. (Pictured from left to right: Mac ‘n Cheese & Loaded Brisket Tater Tots)

Garage Bar

700 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40202

Distance from Churchill Downs: 5.9 miles

In what used to be a former garage, Garage Bar is a hip restaurant and bar featuring brick-oven pizzas and Southern specialties. Take advantage of Garage Bar’s huge patio where you can relax with friends and family while enjoying craft beers, Kentucky bourbons, cocktails, and wines.

Louisville mac n cheese

Louisville Feast Tater Tots

Grind Burger Kitchen

829 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40206

Distance from Churchill Downs: 6 miles

Grind Burger is the go-to place for a burger and fries in Louisville. What once was a food truck has grown into an established, thriving restaurant that receives local and national attention. Any burger on the menu is an amazing choice, and the sides are just as good as the entrées.  Elevate your experience by enjoying the food and the on-tap craft beer in the outside dining area.

Louisville Grind Burger

Bardstown Road

Jack Fry’s

1007 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY 40204

Distance from Churchill Downs: 5.6 miles

Jack Fry’s is a historic and classic up-scale Southern fare restaurant serving high-end dishes from lunch to dessert. Make a reservation because you don’t want to risk missing dining here.

LouVino Restaurant & Wine Bar

1606 Bardstown Road, Louisville KY, 40205

Distance from Churchill Downs: 4.9 miles

There isn't a wrong time of day to eat at LouVino—a chill, fashionable restaurant with Southern-style plates and an impressive wine selection. However, for brunch recommendations, try the Stuffed French Toast (pictured to the left) or the Chicken Biscuits Sliders (pictured to the right).

Louisville LouVino french toast


1538 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY 40205

Distance from Churchill Downs: 4.8 miles

Seviche explores the merging of Latin traditions with the use of Southern ingredients. Dine at this stylish restaurant—either inside or on the patio—while enjoying craft cocktails and exquisite food. A sure fire winner is the Sapphire Salmon or the Churrascos de Argentina (skirt steak). 


1706 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY 40205

Distance from Churchill Downs: 5 miles

Sapporo is not like any other Hibachi restaurant. This sleek, modern Japanese restaurant is one of the most popular go-to dinner locations in the Highlands neighborhood. It’s physically impossible to stop eating the garlic edamame until the bowl is empty. The house ginger salad dressing is so good that guests like to add it on all dishes. Then there’s the sushi. You really can’t go wrong with the playboy, crunch munch and spicy spider roll.

Mexican Eats  

Taco Luchador

938 Baxter Ave, Louisville, KY 40204

Distance from Churchill Downs: 5.6 miles

Enjoy tacos (pictured to the left), tortas, margaritas and sangria at one of Louisville’s best Mexican restaurants.

El Mundo

2345 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40206

Distance from Churchill Downs: 7.9 miles

EL Mundo is a casual Mexican restaurant that’s been serving tequila cocktails and made-from-scratch, delicious food since 1995.

Kentucky Derby Louisville Taco Luchador

The Most Important Meal of the Day: Breakfast/Brunch


2300 Lexington Rd, Louisville, KY 40206

Distance from Churchill Downs: 9.4 miles

Start your day at LeMoo. LeMoo offers a dinner menu, but it’s the brunch and the incredible selection of entrées that will get you to stay. Prepare to be indecisive when choosing from LeMoo’s menu. Some menu options include biscuits & gravy, a decadent PB&J (pictured below) and tater tot casserole.*Note: Minimum $250 per person required during Kentucky Derby weekend.

Kentucky Derby Louisville LeMoo Brunch

Celebrity Chef: Edward Lee

Edward Lee is a professional chef and owner of 3 Louisville restaurants-- Milkwood Restaurant, 610 Magnolia and Whisky Dry . Lee first fell in love with Louisville and it’s Southern cooking during his trip to the 2001 Kentucky Derby. 10 years later, Lee was a contestant on season 9 of Top Chef and the host chef in the third season of The Mind of a Chef. At Milkwood, Lee uses his Korean culture for a spin on Southern food, while 610 Magnolia is Lee’s modern approach to a Southern table. Located on the vibrant 4th street, Whisky Dry is Lee’s vision of a fun whiskey and burger bar. Any of Lee’s 3 restaurants are extraordinary places to dine.  

Milkwood Restaurant

316 W Main St, Louisville KY 40202

Distance from Churchill Downs: 5.6 miles

610 Magnolia

610 W Magnolia Ave, Louisville, KY 40208

Distance from Churchill Downs: 2.5 miles

Whisky Dry

412 S 4th St, Louisville, KY 40202

Distance from Churchill Downs: 4.5 miles


When is your next trip to Louisville?

Don’t know when you’ll be in Louisville next? Well, you can dine at any and all of these incredible restaurants during a trip to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby.

Enjoy amazing food at any of these restaurants AND enjoy a memorable Derby weekend with Derby Experiences.

Join Derby Experiences for the 2021 Kentucky Derby with an Official Ticket Package featuring premium seating, exclusive hospitality and more!

2021 Kentucky Derby Official Ticket Packages