The owners of North End Café don't just purchase local produce: they also grow vegetables and herbs in their own garden in Simpsonville. Since April, 2003, their chefs have championed this focus on local, seasonal ingredients with a healthy approach to cooking. North End Café's menu features traditional meals from around the world, ranging from grass-fed beef burgers and flatiron steaks to grilled fish and scallops to vegetarian lasagnas, stir-fry, and cakes. For sharing, chefs build eclectic small plates such as crab cakes, fried goat-cheese ravioli, and almond-crusted brie. They also prepare a range of vegan and gluten-free dishes, taking care to avoid the pyrotechnics that result when steak and tofu touch.
To accompany these meals, bartenders pour American and international wines, and blend cocktails from fruit and old-fashioned ingredients. At the Highlands location, a brand-new tap system spouts 23 craft beers, including imperial IPAs and peppery black porters. In warmer months, the aromas of cooking and laughter of clientele also fill the Highlands location's new outdoor patio, an expansive wooden deck surrounded by leafy plants and tall, wispy trees.
In the middle of July, alfresco diners at Le Deauville might dive headlong into a Bastille Day celebration, watching as servers light red, white, and blue cupcake towers with sparklers or mediate street-side matches of pétanque. Though they bathe their sidewalk bistro in patriotic colors on state holidays, the staffers also immerse visitors in French culture year-round. Chefs populate seasonal menus with traditional French dishes such as steamed mussels in tomato and herbs, roasted rack of lamb with bordelaise mint sauce, and sea scallops with wild-mushroom risotto. They sometimes augment these dishes with globe-hopping guests including Caribbean lobster and Spanish mackerel, introducing new flavors to French preparations without having to pass sushi off as really, really strange-looking ratatouille.
In warm weather, servers ferry these dishes to sidewalk tables draped in white tablecloths next to the restaurant's French-door-covered façade, which is illuminated each night by strings of colored light bulbs. Gray tiled floors inlaid with intricate designs spread out inside, running between dark-wood-paneled and exposed-brick walls. Here, patrons gather at café tables or sidle up to an old wooden bar, where servers pour from a full stock of beer, wine, and spirits.
At It’s Just Crepes, you’re encouraged to eat with your hands. That’s because every crepe on the menu is folded into what Soapbox Cincinnati calls "a convenient to-go style," eliminating the need for knives, forks, or tiny plate-side catapults. Instead, diners bite straight into the golden-brown bundles, which are stuffed with fillings both savory and sweet. The smoky BLT, for instance, oozes with pepperjack cheese and chipotle mayo, while sweet crepes pack in classic flavors such as Nutella, strawberries, and brown sugar. Utensils can come in handy, however, when attacking one of the eatery’s fresh salads, which meld fresh spinach, chopped romaine, and other greens with diced veggies, cheese, dried fruit, and slices of meats.
Co-owner Keven Paizannoglou founded the first It’s Just Crepes with his wife and partner, Karrah, after realizing how much he missed the crepes he’d enjoyed in his native Greece. Now, more than 20 employees serve up the delectable treats from three trendy dining spots decorated with blue and orange hues and contemporary white furnishings.
Justin and Kristin Gilbert spent three years in Italy, visiting gelaterie in more than 20 cities to mine artisanal secrets before opening their own shop. In choreographed musical numbers, the duo handcraft dense, flavor-packed gelato in small batches using local milk and fresh fruit. From a repertoire of more than 100 recipes, Justin and Kristin curate 20 flavors at a time. Past and present flavors include poached-pear zinfandel, orange-ginger dairy-free sorbetto, and chocolate orange—one of Justin's favorites, according to a feature in Louisville Magazine. Delicate crêpes conceal Nutella or lemon and sugar. The cozy shop also sends forth its mobile cart to cater office snack breaks, weddings with as many as 2000 guests, and Roman legions on the march.
Famous for their burgers, Dish on Market's chefs hand-form perfectly seasoned patties throughout the day, loaded with top-shelf fixings that include applewood-smoked bacon, housemade bourbon-barbecue sauce, and fried eggs. While the menu recommends trying the sweet-potato fries as an accompaniment to any of their burgers, they also offer a special option for those that would rather sip their side than eat it: the Bourbon and A Burger. This dish pairs a juicy cheeseburger with a shot of any of Dish on Market's bourbons priced under $6.
The rest of the enormous menu is available in the morning and afternoon, with classics such as veggie omelets and bread-pudding french toast. But the star of the breakfast menu is the Presidential Breakfast, described by the Smithsonian as an "ode to Harry Truman," a man of routine who ate this very breakfast every single day. The plate comes with everything one might need to start their day off right: an egg, toast, bacon, milk, a shot of Old Grand Dad whiskey, and the presidential nomination.
The Great Canadian Bagel stuffs sandwiches with nutritious ingredients and embraces each mouthwatering mound with freshly sliced wheels of dough. The extensive sandwich menu reflects gourmet deli concoctions such as barbecue beef with onions ($5.59), asiago swiss supreme ($4.99), and the Monte Cristo ($4.99), which is garnished with toasted ham and sweet revenge. Pizza bagels ($2.19) and bagel dogs ($3.09) grant sandwiches a much-needed rest until a sausage-egg-and-cheese ($4.19) or nova-lox-and-cream-cheese sandwich ($6.29) scrumptiously breaks dawn. Rumbling stomachs can embellish meals with a spring-greens salad ($3.69) and a bowl of Klondike chili ($4.29) or simply snack on a brownie ($1.99) and raise a pinky while sipping a large chocolate milk ($2.39).