During his nearly 15 years in the bean-brewing business, James Linton has learned precisely what it takes to beat out the larger, corporatized chains and their assembly-line lattes. "What separates us is customer service … really getting to know your customers, their families, talking to them," he says, recalling a daily customer who lengthens her morning commute substantially just to stop in for her cappuccino. A&J Coffee Shop's baristas prepare their premium lattes and cappuccinos, customizable in 70 flavors, out in the open, allowing the customer to note the care and blown kisses that go into each cup.
James estimates the café's favorable location, within the University of Louisville Health Care Outpatient Center's lobby, generates foot traffic of 3,000–4,000 passersby each day, many of whom stop in, intrigued by the complex aromas of top-shelf espresso beans and fresh café fare. Catering services include a mobile coffee bar that encompasses every coffee drink permutation possible and, all served on elegant, delicate china.
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.
Dedicated to combining the pleasures of tea and "good, wholesome food," according to co-owner Karter Louis in the Louisville Eccentric Observer, Hillbilly Tea invites patrons to sip at organic whole leaf teas and feast on mountain-inspired fare made from locally sourced ingredients. Like in a lavish dollhouse sauna, steam rises from mugs filled with black, green, herbal, and rare teas, from the sweet, full-bodied sweet grass tea to the aromatic Remedy tea. Ingredients from local enterprises such as Duncan Farms and Stone Cross Farms combine for contemporary fare based on traditional Appalachian recipes, and vegetarian options such as barbecue tofu skewers slay hunger more effectively than a medieval knight in a chain-mail apron. Praised for its "old-fashioned country cooking" by the Courier Journal, Hillbilly Tea complements its brunch, lunch, and dinner dishes with savory additions such as chai butter and tomato jam.
Coffee from local Sunergos Roastery ($1.65) and specialty teas ($1.65) make each cup a memorable quaff, and the fresh-fruit smoothies and shakes ($4.50) are a cool way to relax in the newly expanded lounge. Mrs. Potter's also offers breakfast, lunch, and small plates from 4 p.m. to close, so complement your latte ($3.40) with an early morning quiche of the day (with side of bacon and fresh fruit, $4.95), ham and brie panini at noontime ($7.95), or evening hummus plate with vegetables ($6).
Inside the cranberry-colored walls of Main Street Coffee and Deli, glass cases brim with house-cured meats that the staff shapes into sandwiches under the supervision of Chef Laurence Agnew. House-made chips accompany handhelds such as the Cuban with black-forest ham or the corned beef with braunschweiger, swiss cheese, russian dressing, and slaw. Aromas of house-roasted coffee beans also fill the café, inspiring diners to sample fresh house cups or contemplate the possibility of patenting a coffee-based cologne.
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.