Peruse the drink menu to part firmly sealed eyelids with a double espresso ($1.80 for a double), a Caramellato made with caramel, espresso, and milk ($3.80 for a tall), or a Kamikaze, which is a caffeinated combination of espresso and coffee ($2.05 for a short). Sippers can also treat taste buds to scrumptious cinnamon-spiced chai lattes ($3.20+ for a short) and cool tongues with real-fruit smoothies ($3.65 for a tall). Scarf down cinnamon rolls ($2.25), scones ($2), and breakfast sandwiches ($2.75) to procure the nutrients needed to wrestle the rooster that woke you.
Connected by an asphalt web of highways, state roads, and thoroughfares, blocky yellow signs gleam nonstop, casting a dandelion glow from the words “Waffle House.” The booths at the eateries fill 24 hours each day with the aromas of sizzling pork chops, Jimmy Dean sausage, and endless mugs of coffee. Line cooks brown shredded potatoes on a grill as waiters shout back in a language all their own for hash browns “smothered,” “covered,” or “topped”—served with onions, cheese, or chili, respectively. Angus burgers and steak melts share space on the rippling-hot surface at all times of day, allowing tired drivers to stop for food when they are on a long journey or just listening to an 11-hour drum solo on the radio. The first Waffle House switched on its lights in 1955, and some menu items still bear the names of Waffle House staff of the past, including Bert's chili from Dallas and Alice's iced tea.
At Kobe Japanese Steakhouse, patrons can enjoy entertaining teppanyaki-style dining in front of a limber habachi artist or opt for more intimate seating in the dining room. The teppanyaki experience invites bold guests to take seats at a square bar and watch Kobe's centrally located master chefs juggle flames, knives, vegetables, seafood, meats, and appetites as they whip up meals before diners' growling stomachs and flickering eyes. The Iron Plate Grill menu tantalizes tongues with fried oysters ($5.95), soft shell crab ($7.95), pan fried dumplings ($3.95), and more. If you choose to snuggle up in the dining room, temp your tonsils with filet mignon ($17.95), lobster and steak ($23.95), or beef teriyaki ($14.95). Sushi, noodles, fried rice, salads, and hot and cold appetizers round out the edible roster. Everything on the menu can be enjoyed with a premium Japanese sake or a Kobe sake cocktail, like the Sea Splash, made with blue curacao, triple sec, and pineapple juice ($5.50), ideal for easing lingering tidal stresses.
The White Oak's menu of creative southern-inspired cuisine features farm-fresh ingredients from local producers, making sustainable eating attainable even after your Chia Pet goes bald. For lunch, whet your palate with an order of mushroom and roast-cauliflower gratin with shallots, sweet peppers, and herbed breadcrumbs ($7) or a local-cheese plate ($11) before making your way to a plate of “Louisville” fried chicken (locally raised and organic, $12), a cast-iron-cooked burger (all-natural KY-raised beef, $10), or a vegetarian cassoulet of country beans (parmesan-corn-bread topping, greens, and stewed green tomatoes, $8). Dinner delights in small bites such as sweet-potato frites served with sweet and spicy apricot ketchup and a Caribbean cream sauce ($5) and butternut-squash flan accented with parmesan cream and apple butter ($6). With taste buds tickled and teased, treat them to a stuffed-vegetable platter (fresh seasonal veggies stuffed with cheese and breadcrumbs, $12), seared duck breast (confit leg and KY-sorghum glaze, $20), or stuffed pork loin (smoked bacon, apples, homemade cheddar stuffing, and apple butter, $16). All sandwiches and entrees are served with your choice of two sides.
Much like the sunny villa in The Decameron, The Bodega at Felice offers a delightful sanctuary from the bubonic plague where locals can eat delicious food and swap bawdy love stories in medieval Italian. Gourmet groceries, handcrafted paninis, and free WiFi add a 21st-century flavor to The Bodega's bazaar atmosphere, complete with an elegant patio area surrounded by herb gardens. Harried office workers can melt into an inviting armchair while they pore over the lunch menu of heated muffuletta sandwiches on ciabatta bread with ham, salami, provolone, and olive tapenade ($7.99); hand-stuffed ricotta manicotti smothered in arrabbiata sauce and mozzarella cheese ($8.99); and crisp margherita pizzas ($7.99). Fast-breakers, on the other hand, can energize their day with a breakfast menu that includes baguette french toasts (with bacon or sausage, $6.99) and three-egg omelettes with toast ($6.99). The Bodega also serves up refreshing specials alongside baked goods, beers, and coffees every week.
Each day at Taco Punk, Chef Gabe Sowder makes every component of his tacos anew. He mixes produce sourced from local farmer’s markets into salsas and mole, and smashes masa, corn flour, and wheat flour to make tortillas. But it's his taco fillings that stand out more than his prep methods: sustainable Pacific cod, all-natural Amish chicken, and grass-fed beef braised in Goose Island beer—all accented with hand-smashed guac or fresh salsas such as pineapple-habanero.
Chef Sowder's gourmet approach to finger food is no accident. Years spent working in upscale eateries had given him an idea: "There were people I knew who were musicians and artists who didn't have the money to come in and experience something awesome," he told Food & Dining Magazine in 2012, "So I decided to take the ideals of fine dining and apply them to the quick-service model."
As he shared in his appearance on Secrets of Louisville Chefs Live, Chef Sowder emphasizes healthy food, too: there are no deep fryers or butter-powered ovens at Taco Punk. Instead, meat and vegetable fillings are generally smoked or grilled, and none are injected with chemicals or preservatives. After a hearty and healthy meal, diners are invited to indulge in ice cream and other frozen treats from The Comfy Cow.