GIE+EXPO guide to downtown Louisville dining

By Amy Perkins


Downtown Louisville is the place to be after hours each evening during GIE+EXPO. When the lights go down on the show floor they come up at Fourth Street Live! But, after a long day walking the aisles and test-driving equipment you’ll want to refuel before heading to the free concerts.

Noted by USA Today for having one of the “Nation’s Best Local Food Scenes,” downtown Louisville is teeming with great dining options and unique dishes. A few hometown favorites you might want to seek out are bourbon, the hot brown and fried chicken.


Bourbon on the menu

When you’re in bourbon country, you can expect the area’s restaurants and bars to be serving up this spirit in all kinds of creative ways.


With a name like Bourbon Raw, you’d better believe this Fourth Street Live! restaurant boasts bourbon in just about every form. It’s in the BBQ sauce and some salad dressings; and don’t miss the bourbon smoked tomatoes that make an appearance in several dishes.

Bourbon is all over the menu at Bristol Bar & Grille too. After dining on Kentucky Bourbon Shrimp and Grits, the BBQ Bourbon Chop or a steak topped with Maker’s Mark or Wild Turkey, you can end your meal with the Bourbon Pecan Torte.

If sandwiches and burgers are more your style, Troll Pub Under the Bridge is a cool spot tucked away (as the name implies) under the Second Street Bridge. The onions on their Fleur de Lis Dip are caramelized with brown sugar and Old Forester bourbon.

For barbecue lovers, Feast BBQ is one of the hottest tickets in downtown’s NuLu neighborhood. And, their bourbon slushie is a must try.

If you’re looking for bourbon treats to take home, check out a local candy shop for some bourbon balls or truffles. Art Eatables, Muth’s Candies and A Taste of Kentucky are great sources for these unique treats.


A true Louisville original

An iconic Louisville meal, the hot brown is an open-faced sandwiched piled with turkey, bacon, tomato and cheese sauce that’s been described as hot and hearty, saucy and savory. While it originated at the Brown Hotel in downtown Louisville — and you can still find the original sandwich at hotel’s J. Graham’s Café — many restaurants, diners and bars now have their own take on the hot brown.

A short stroll south of Fourth Street Live! you’ll find Sicilian Pizza & Pasta and their Hot Brown Pizza, which combines all of the tasty ingredients listed above on a New York crust. There’s also a 4th Street Bourbon Pizza if we’ve already gotten your mouth watering for something bourbon-inspired.

Back down by the Second Street Bridge, Sidebar at Whiskey Row serves up Hot Brown Fries that are piled high with roasted turkey, bacon, tomatoes and melted beer cheese. And, if that doesn’t fill you up, they have some amazing burgers on the menu.

If you like to start your day with a hearty breakfast before heading to the show, Wild Eggs has several locations around town, and their Kelsey “KY” Brown is topped with a fried egg.

For a list of nearly 50 restaurants that are dishing up their own take on this culinary delight, check out the Hot Brown Hop at While in Louisville, post a picture of your meal with #HotBrownHop and you could win a cool t-shirt!


Get your fried chicken fix

You could say that Louisville knows a thing or two about fried chicken. But, this city’s appreciation for crispy, breaded poultry extends beyond a certain white-suited Kentucky Gentleman — Col. Harland Sanders, who founded Kentucky Fried Chicken. Whether you want fine dining or fast food, here are some favorite spots.

Royals Hot Chicken, in the NuLu neighborhood, serves a chicken plate with spice levels that range from classic fried to Gonzo. Scratch-made sides and milk shakes will round out your meal — and cool the heat, if needed.

The Dixie Chicken Sandwich at Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar requires two hands and a few napkins. It’s that good!

But, if you’re hankering for some true southern fried chicken, Sway, located in the Hyatt Regency, is your spot. Served with mashed potatoes, chicken gravy and southern greens, they say the chicken falls right off the bone. While there, make a stop next door at the Louisville Visitor Center and take a selfie with the Colonel himself.


Very important badges

Be sure to take along your GIE+EXPO or HNA badge when you’re out and about in Louisville. Many local restaurants, bars and entertainment venues offer discounts through the “Show Us Your Badge” program. Check out the list of participating businesses at


Amy Perkins is the communications coordinator for GIE+EXPO. All photos provided by the Louisville Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.




Bourbon Raw

446 S. 4th Street



Bristol Bar & Grille

614 W. Main



Troll Pub Under the Bridge

150 W Washington St.



Feast BBQ

909 E Market St #100



J. Graham’s Café at the Brown Hotel

335 W Broadway



Sicilian Pizza & Pasta

627 S. 4th St.




Sidebar at Whiskey Row

129 N 2nd St.



Wild Eggs

121 South Floyd Street



Royals Hot Chicken

736 E Market St.



Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar

127 W Main St.




311 S 4th St.




Candies and Confections


Art Eatables

631 S. 4th Street



Muth’s Candies

630 E Market St



A Taste of Kentucky

400 West Market Street