Here we stand, one week away from Louisville’s week in the spotlight. If you’re one of the lucky attendees of this year’s Kentucky Derby, make sure you set aside some time to visit Louisville’s East Market District, a neighborhood that’ s evolved tremendously during the last ten years.
A decade ago, East Market Street—aka “NuLu,” for New Louisville—was a strip of mostly abandoned storefronts. Then a group of investors led by film producer Gill Holland came to town, injected money into the area, and began luring independent business owners with offerings of inexpensive space. It worked.
Today, with an evolving mix of acclaimed restaurants, art galleries, and curiosity shops, NuLu is one of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods.
Pick up distinctly Kentucky souvenirs made by local artists, such as the “Keep It Cookin’ Kentucky” apron emblazoned with a cast-iron print ($14.99), fleur-de-lis necklaces, or a bourbon flask decorated with an outline of the state ($15.99).
This home store stocks an eclectic array of bold-patterned decor, statement jewelry from Louisville designers Cindy Borders and Walter Randolph, equestrian bags, and such quirky accents as cardboard animal heads made to mimic taxidermy mounts.
This farm-driven restaurant keeps making waves for its stellar handcrafted cocktails. Try the signature Waysider ($10) or the Cranberry Mule ($5) mocktail with cranberry, ginger beer, and lime. Stick around for the nightly entertainment in the cellar.
Toast on Market
This all-day breakfast spot serves sinful lemon soufflé pancakes ($8.75), mascarpone-stuffed French toast ($8.25), and a dozen mimosa styles, such as the Kentucky ($6), made in the style of an old fashioned.
A former auto-repair shop, Garage Bar has been reinvented as a bar and restaurant. While the focus lies on wood-fired pizzas (such as a Brussels sprout pie [$15] and house-made pepperoni [$16]), the craft beers and outdoor space with benches and Ping-Pong tables are what keep it packed in warmer months.
Photographer Tom Gnadinger followed his dream to open a space filled with furnishings and gifts. In 2011, Revolver debuted with a heavy focus on reclaimed-wood products, handmade wares, and decorative items such as colorful clocks and Tom’s original artwork: abstract landscapes.
This eatery abides by Louisville’s “go local” mantra, sourcing 85% of ingredients from within 100 miles. Order the burger with chèvre and hog jowl-bacon jam ($16) and a side of three-cheese grits ($3). The cookie filled with candied bacon and locally sourced sorghum is drool-worthy ($6).