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.
Kentucky is famous for its barbecue restaurants, including Louisville's own Smoketown USA on Logan Street at the corner of Oak Street. Serving up such delights as ribs, brisket, and chicken, Smoketown has down-home comfort food that will feed your belly and your soul. Not only do they offer what carnivores crave, every one of their scrumptious side dishes is vegetarian-friendly, so everyone and anyone can come in for a satisfying meal. Smoketown also offers catering for special events, so you can bring the smoky barbecue flavors to any party you host. For quality food at unbeatable prices—kids under six even eat free!—come to Smoketown and enjoy southern cuisine at its finest.
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).
At Derby City Espresso, the espresso drinks are derived from either a single or double shot of its espresso, which is made from its La Marzocco Linea espresso machine. A Cubano, which is just a sweetened version of espresso, runs $2 for a single and $3 for a double. DCE’s beer menu appeals to the senses of a beer lover's suds-soaked dreams, with premium craft beers that fall within the affordable price range of ($4–$8). An expansive menu of more than 50 loose-leaf teas completes the selection.