In 1997, Shahram Pouranfour, his wife Gita, and their sons Farzan and Arman opened up the first Fishery Station in south Louisville, dishing up familiar favorites such as oysters, catfish, and coleslaw. Like season two of Twin Peaks, the menu became more adventurous and fascinating as time went on, expanding with exotic samples of alligator tail, shark, and frog legs. Shahram adds a cosmopolitan flair to the selection of fried chicken and fish with mediterranean gyros, baklava, and falafel, as well as a special Iranian spread (kashk e bademjan) made with mashed eggplant, whey, caramelized onions, and mint sautéed with garlic.
From its humble beginnings as a single orange-juice stand in Los Angeles, Orange Julius has blossomed into a worldwide purveyor of refreshing blended smoothies and fresh fruit drinks. Slurp a large smoothie (a $5.73 value each) in one of more than a dozen flavors, such as pomegranate and berries, a blend of low-fat frozen yogurt and three ruby-hued fruits, or tropical tango, a mix of pineapple, banana, orange sherbet, and tropical fruit juice. Light smoothies each contain 250 or fewer calories, acquiring their sweetness from fresh fruits, a light sprinkling of Splenda, and afternoons spent reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Or hold the ice and sip a namesake large Julius fruit drink (a $4.44 value each) available in the shop’s famous signature orange or 1 of 13 other frothy flavors, perfect for quenching thirst after a long day of stamp licking.
Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine’s 2012 list of Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. The shop’s reputation grew, and so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&M’s, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real showstoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
An inexhaustible source of slow-cooked, smoky ribs, the Bootleg Bar-B-Q pit masters have supplied area carnivores with excellent meat since 1991. Bootleg's co-owners work alongside their mutton-juggling employees to deliver well-slathered meatstuffs dressed in savory sauces to starving mouths of all sizes. When running their buds over the menu, tongues trill at the feel of robust half-slab dinners ($12.49) and choose from a wide selection of meat sandwiches including pulled-pork and beef-brisket ($4.99 each). A review from The Courier-Journal advises sandwich aficionados to order their first time selection without sauce, then sample every Bootleg sauce until the ideal accompaniment reveals itself. Bootleg recommends customers send meat-seeking missives ahead of their arrival, as many sublimely smoked dishes take time to prepare, such as the wings(25 for $11.99; 50 for $20.99; 100 for $39.99), which require three-hours' notice to exchange their aerodynamacy for hot and sticky flavor. A slew of enticing sides ($1.79–$22.99), available in individual, pint, or gallon sizes, fill remaining gut space with homespun fixings made from scratch, including country coleslaw, mac 'n' cheese, and down home tater salad.
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.
An array of picnic tables graces the outdoor patio at Lolita's Tacos Inc., allowing patrons to soak in fresh air over plates of tacos, taquitos, and tamales crafted from fresh ingredients. Inside, wall-hung sombreros and casual booths provide a quiet setting for patrons to argue the merits of Lolita's 14 different specialty burritos. Large portion sizes cater to big appetites and small T. rexes, and a small array of American fare, including nacho-cheese fries and corn dogs, complements pairings of flavored ice, soft drinks, and beer.
The menu at Funmi’s Café swims with the names of West African dishes, tangles of unfamiliar syllables. Kachumbari, asaro, and kelewele may sound intimidating initially, but they conceal a cuisine characterized by warmth and gentle spice. Kachumbari is an African spin on coleslaw, asaro is a goldenrod-hued yam porridge, and kelewele is a snack of fried plantains.
In the kitchen, chefs stir pots of stew and sauce, often eschewing meat and dairy to fill Funmi’s menu with vegan options. Beneath murals of circular huts on a colorful savannah, fair-trade organic coffee imported from Africa pours forth steam like a robot trying to understand the end of Of Mice and Men.