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Louisville offers a wide array of wonderful eating establishments, but some of its gems are not on "the main drag." With a small bit of effort and some directions from a local, you can find a couple of restaurants that offer really good food at really good prices!
One Louisville favorite is the Come Back Inn ( www.comebackinn.biz/), a cozy and comfortable place that offers tasty food and a full bar at very reasonable prices. The CBI offers delicious Italian-American food that always hits the spot, from their appetizer caponata and Italian crab cakes to their Chicago-style Italian roast beef sandwiches and daily pasta specials...and don't forget the pizza! It's all good. Located at 909 Swan Street, you'll see all sorts of patrons here---from families with children to groups of friends, business people and students.
Another good place to check out that's off the beaten path is Baxter Station Bar and Grill ( http://www.baxterstation.com/ ). Featuring an eclectic menu, year-round outdoor dining on their deck and even a train that runs around the restaurant on a track near the ceiling, Baxter Station is a perennial favorite for casual, comfortable dining at reasonable prices. From the crab cakes to the warm goat cheese salad to the fajita burritos and salmon croquettes, you can't go wrong with lunch or dinner here!
In this same spirit and located in the area of the aforementioned ( Great dining Experiences ), another favorite restaurant is Smoketown USA ( www.smoketownusa.com). Located at the corner of Logan and Oak St. in a renovated Civil War era building, also along the same train track as Baxter Station. There is outside dining as well, and almost everything in the restaurant is for sale. That's right, the concept is ever changing yard sale items with killer food. Multiple vegetarian items. Wow, a BBQ restaurant that caters to vegans! Stop in and tell the owner Eric David Gould, (the guy in the coveralls most of the time ) who you are! If you are really hungry, get a slab of those Flintstone Ribs .. Oh the ribs!!!!
Louisville also hosts one of the last remaining Ollie's Trolleys. [Note hours: Mon-Fri 10 am - 4:30 pm]. Known for their special spiced hamburgers this is an order and take-away fast food stop at the corner of 3rd and W. Kentucky streets just south of downtown area and on the north edge of the Old Louisville historic district. Here are some reviews of the remaining Ollie's around the country from RoadFood.com: http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/Rememb.... Easy access from I-65 southbound is to exit on St Catherine (exit 135) - then follow St Catherine to 4th Street - turn right on 4th and go 1 block - then turn right onto Kentucky (one way street) - then the Ollies will be on the left hand side of the road at the next corner. To get back onto I-65 south - just continue east on Kentucky to Floyd - turn right (south) - and stay on Floyd for 2 blocks until the on-ramp to I-65 south.
And this next one is unique because it is seasonal and only once per week at that but a great place for a bargain lunch or dinner...Only on Saturdays spring through fall - check out the Suburban Social Club Fish Fry. A fund raising activity, staffed by volunteers, that has been running strong since 1919. It is open from 10am until 8pm - Saturday. (Also open on Good Friday). Set in a room that looks a bit like a school lunchroom, you'll find older couples and families with kids munching down plates of fried fish, slaw and fries. Note that there are two lines for ordering. The middle counter is for ordering complete box dinners. The line over by the windows is for ordering fish and fries by the pound. You can eat in or take out from either line. If you go through the line to order by the pound - you can ask for a "light pound" meaning you're OK if the weight is a bit less than an even pound. And you can ask for a "heavy pound" - meaning you are OK if you buy a bit more than a pound. They will weigh the bag and charge you appropriately based on final weight. You can order slices (or a loaf) of bread and sides of slaw - and a pound of fries to go with it. Don't forget a side order of thin sliced raw onions to add to the fish, just like the locals. A heavy pound will get you about three regular size fish sandwiches and you can stretch it to four sandwiches if you are feeding kids.
The fish fry opens on the first Saturday in March and closes on the last Saturday in November. Hours: 10am until 8pm. Location: 3901 South 3rd Street in Louisville, KY (Where Southern Parkway and 3rd Street intersect then just half a block away at the corner of 3rd Street & Collins Court). The building is two story brick with a Limestone facade. There is off-street parking next to the lodge. The building is about 2 blocks east of the back-side of Churchill Downs.