Since April, 2003, the chefs at North End Caf? have championed a focus on local, seasonal ingredients with a healthy approach to cooking. North End Caf?'s menu features traditional meals from around the world, ranging from grass-fed beef burgers and flatiron steaks to grilled fish and scallops to 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 outdoor deck, an expansive wooden patio surrounded by vines and flowers.
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.
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.
The menu at Sister Bean's Coffee House offers customers a variety of flavorful gourmet coffees, with a rotation of fresh-baked delicacies rolling in daily. Purists can opt for a large portion of fresh-brewed bean juice in its plainest form ($2). However, a small white mocha—concocted from white chocolate, espresso, and steamed milk ($3.30)—is a far better way to subdue a ravaging sweet tooth, especially when paired with a hunk of cake or a tasty pastry. Regular-sized frozen chai lattes irrigate overheated palates ($3.70), and organic sencha, a delicate Japanese green tea (regular $1.85, large $2.25), is a great brew to serve when meeting the environment's ambassador.
Old Louisville Coffeehouse's organic coffees arrive hot or on ice in 28 varieties, and they can be accompanied by five stacked sandwiches and seven indulgent desserts. Saunter up to the shop’s wide wooden counter to order the locally roasted, in-season 16-ounce brown-sugar-cinnamon latte, or take a cup full of hand-brewed pumpkin-spice latte back to your seat to begin carving eyes and a mouth into it. Kizito cookies and pastries by Adrienne & Co. tempt taste buds to tackle dessert before dinner, leaving buffalo-chicken and turkey and swiss sandwiches to deal with culinary cleanup.
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.