Louie's Grill Fusion jazzes up everyday meals with south-of-the-border flavors from Mexico and Cuba that rouse snoozing, spice-craving taste buds. Dip a toe in the meal fountain with appetizers such as fried plantains ($5.49) or a towering plate of nachos ($6.99), or dive right in with a Fiesta burger ($9.79), a half pounder topped with fried onions, slivered avocado, and chipotle ranch with a side of sweet potato fries.
Explorers Club's cozy, 100-year-old brick exterior lends a deceptively comfortable face to the restaurant's constantly experimenting kitchen. Owner Tracy Studer and Chef Dan Varga—both veterans of the late Harold Smith's Gloria Café—root their eatery's fare in playfully updated Latin American food such as chorizo sliders and plantain-topped burgers. Yet, Varga constantly flexes his culinary muscles with unusual menu additions such as his chili-citrus-flavored vegetable lo mein. Monthly menus jet around the globe—614 Magazine notes that after deciding on "a country or cuisine, [Varga] spends months researching the ingredients, history, and flavor profiles, and then experimenting in the kitchen," turning out tributes to Germany, Spain, and his ancestral Hungary. An impressive range of vegan and vegetarian options makes use of soy-based tempeh and tofu, catering to animal-loving humans and self-hating venus flytraps.
Grecos’ chefs describe their menu of breakfast and lunch items as “Indie street food.” Aiming to provide an eclectic range of foods from all over the world, they offer street tacos, sandwiches, salads, and more. The eatery is located inside the main lobby at Longworth Hall, a historical building that once held freight and passenger locomotives. Paying homage to the rich history, Grecos showcases pictures of graffiti plastered across moving trains.
Cubana Restaurant owner and head chef Mariolis Mora draws on the culinary skills she cultivated in Santiago de Cuba to craft a menu of traditional Cuban cuisine. She grills shredded beef and tosses it with garlic and lime juice to forge her ever-popular vaca frita, and she presses roasted pork, spanish chorizo, and serrano ham between hot bread to build classic cuban sandwiches. For dessert, a cup of cuban espresso offsets the sweetness of housemade flan or bread pudding.
Lauded by the Courier-Journal as a “beach paradise,” Cubana Restaurant’s interior complements the authentic island cuisine. Palm trees pop against vibrant orange and turquoise walls, and the sound of Cuban music inspires impassioned air-bongo solos.
The chefs at El Rincon Cuban Restaurant & Bar treat diners to the tastes of Havana with a menu of authentic Cuban cuisine. Before entrees take the stage, an appetizer of papas rellenas warms taste buds with its orbs of breaded, fried mashed potatoes, each filled with seasoned ground beef, much like most asteroids. Diners can quell lunchtime belly rumblings with the chuleta natural, seasoned grilled-pork-tenderloin steak served with yuca with mojo sauce. Inside the fricassee de pollo, a bone-in quarter chicken simmers in potatoes and a white-wine-and-creole sauce, and the grilled sandwich cubano culls together ham, roasted pork, and cheese. Live musicians belt out festive tunes on weekends, and staff members lay out tarps for late-night salsa dancing or impromptu slip 'n' slide competitions.