Connected by an asphalt web of highways, state roads, and thoroughfares, blocky yellow signs gleam nonstop, casting a dandelion glow from the words “Waffle House.” The booths at the eateries fill 24 hours each day with the aromas of sizzling pork chops, Jimmy Dean sausage, and endless mugs of coffee. Line cooks brown shredded potatoes on a grill as waiters shout back in a language all their own for hash browns “smothered,” “covered,” or “topped”—served with onions, cheese, or chili, respectively. Angus burgers and steak melts share space on the rippling-hot surface at all times of day, allowing tired drivers to stop for food when they are on a long journey or just listening to an 11-hour drum solo on the radio. The first Waffle House switched on its lights in 1955, and some menu items still bear the names of Waffle House staff of the past, including Bert's chili from Dallas and Alice's iced tea.
For more than 20 years, Juanita's Place has been supplying Louisville locals with pregame and postgame grazing grounds a stone’s throw from nearby Papa John’s Cardinal stadium and the historic Churchill Downs. Barflies can buzz mesothoraxes over to a table, pausing to admire the hand-carved, Tiger Oak bar, before indulging in half and full servings of appetizers such as mild or hot chicken wings (12 for $6.50). Breaded mushrooms facilitate the tapping-into of inner herbivores (10 for $3; 20 for $5.50), while 12-inch pepperoni or sausage pizzas satisfy bellies without exposing mouths to the jagged dangers of angular cuisine ($7). Feast on succulent, six-pound slabs of tender barbecue ribs (quarter-slab for $7, half-slab for $13, full slab for $24), only available every other Saturday. With the purchase of tasty fare, this Groupon can be used toward Juanita’s Place’s daily selection of cocktails and brews, with drink specials offered seven nights a week.
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.
With a full bar, outdoor patio, and menu of pizza, burgers, and wings, Benchwarmers Pizza keeps guests sated and entertained amid casual confines. Cornhole tourneys on the back patio work out hand-eye coordination on Thursday evenings, while generously topped pizzas stimulate the hand-eye-pepperoni area of the brain. Inside, flat-screen TVs cast a blue glow across the bar, where barkeeps pour pints of Shiner Bock, Sierra Nevada, and Dos Equis.
Cooks at Home Run Burgers & Fries' four locations grill up 100% Black Angus beef patties and twice-cooked, hand-cut fries made from idaho potatoes, with a dedication to classic flavor that earned the eatery the Best 2012 Burger award on the Louisville A List. For edibles other than the eponymous burger and fries, the cooks dunk beer-battered onion rings in bubbling fryers alongside baskets brimming with hand-breaded north atlantic cod, as well as chicken strips for the kids' menu or building poultry scale replicas of a Lincoln Log cabin. Bakery buns hug quarter-pound patties cooked to order with a choice of 26 different complimentary toppings, including sauteed mushrooms, grilled onions, and roasted red peppers..
The community-centered chefs at Papalinos hand-toss a menu of fresh, New York–style pizzas, crafted from house-made dough and locally sourced cheeses and veggies. Crown an expansive 18-inch pie with a decadent dusting of artisan toppings such as house-cured bacon and local mushrooms, or opt for classic NYC toppings, which include fresh-cut pineapple, house-made fennel-and-sage sausage, and crinkle-cut back issues of the New Yorker. Swirls of italian plum-tomato sauce and whole-milk mozzarella cheese smother each slice in rich and colorful flavors and spicy hints of oregano and basil, inviting diners to wash down each savory slice with bubbly sips of iced tea or fountain or bottled soda.
Fresh from new ownership and remodeling, Tailgaters Sports Bar & Grill's spacious interiors house a menu of flavorsome bar eats and a bevy of beverages. Start with an appetizer such as the onion petals ($5.99), their crisp, golden appearance mimicking the treasured Scallion Bowl trophy, or collect the bar's all-star starters in the diverse Tailgater Ultimate Sampler ($12.49), which arrives sidekicked with your choice of assistant dipping sauces. Fresh Angus beef bedecks burgers such as the half-pound All-American ($5.99, $6.99 with cheese) and the bacon-stacked black and blue burger ($8.99). Comfortably decorate your digestive cave with the Tailgaters Surf & Turf Classic ($19.99), its prime bistro fillet and beer-battered cod capably flanked by potatoes, colorful mixed veggies, and a soup or salad.