Soul food is homestyle cooking that's been passed down through many generations of African-Americans, with its roots in the rural South. Staples of soul food include beans, greens, cornmeal (which is used in cornbread, hush puppies, and as a coating for fried fish), and pork. If you aren’t familiar with any of these staples of soul food, you are probably at least familiar with chicken and waffles, which has recently become popularized as a brunch food. Essentially, soul food is warm, comforting, delicious Southern food. It’s no surprise that Louisville, the state's largest and most diverse city, has the highest concentration of soul food restaurants in Kentucky. Check out one of these soul food restaurants in Louisville, KY for your next meal—we promise you won’t be disappointed.
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Southern breakfast and brunch and some really good biscuits.
900 E Main St | Nulu | biscuitbelly.com
As you could probably guess from the name, Biscuit Belly is known for their delicious biscuits. Their biscuits are made from scratch using an in-house recipe and baked fresh around the clock for you to enjoy. You can get a biscuit sandwich like The Rockwell Supreme—an over-easy egg and bacon sandwiched between a fresh biscuit—or biscuits and gravy. If you’d prefer something sweet, we also love The Frenchie, which is biscuit-style French toast topped with blueberry jam, whipped cream, berries, and maple syrup. Biscuit Belly also serves a variety of coffee drinks and breakfast cocktails for you to enjoy with your meal.
“Biscuit Belly was a delightful surprise. Our wait was not long for food and it came out looking fresh and delicious! The gravy train with the little, cute biscuits was amazing. Definitely worth the money to try four different gravies.” - Yelp Review
All natural chicken tenders served with craft sauces.
2887 Dixie Hwy | Crestview Hills | citybirdtenders.com
CityBird Tenders is not your average fried chicken restaurant. At CityBird, they serve all natural chicken tenders and sandwiches with craft sauces you won’t find anywhere else. Here’s a run-down of the process: the cage-free, free roaming, all natural chicken is brined, dredged, and then dropped into custom-built fryers. Since the chicken has a bit of a kick, you’ll surely want to pair it with one of their signature sauces (Cola BBQ is our fav!).
You can enjoy your chicken tenders with fries, or you can upgrade to a tender sandwich like the Seoul Chile made with sweet and spicy tenders, chile slaw, sriracha aioli, sesame seeds, and pickles served on a toasted potato bun. (Pro tip: add a housemade lemonade to your order!)
“We had CityBird for the first time today and I'm not sure why we slept on it! The tenders were perfectly seasoned and delicious. The fries have Parmesan, garlic, fresh cilantro, and possibly other things - they were awesome.” - Yelp Review
Southern favorites including hand-breaded chicken tenders and made-in-house honey butter croissants.
3521 Outer Lp | Okolona | cheddars.com
Are you looking to get your Southern favorites at an affordable price? Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen is just the place. You can enjoy everything from soul food like hand-breaded chicken tenders to other Southern favorites like Country Fried Steak, Coconut Shrimp, and a Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich for less than $15 a plate. Cheddar’s also makes Honey Butter Croissants in-house, which make for a delicious appetizer or dessert. If you want a strong drink, order Cheddar’s Painkiller. Let’s just say there’s a two drink limit per person for a reason!
“Had dinner a few nights ago and my past rating of 4 stars goes to 5 for this visit. We had excellent service, didn't have to wait to be seated (we got there before 6 pm) and food was excellent.” - Yelp Review
Coming to Shirley’s Mae’s feels like coming home for dinner.
802 S Clay St | Smoketown | shirleymaescafe.com
And this isn’t the kind of coming-home where your mom says there’s food in the fridge—but there’s only condiments and maybe a bag of spinach. Shirley Mae’s is slow food. Each customer is given Shirley Mae’s special attention as she fries menu items to-order. Shirley Mae’s Café is actually one of few restaurants of its kind where the kitchen is open and the customers can actually watch their food being prepared.
Featured items are the Southern Fried Chicken Wings—three chicken wings fried to order, lightly seasoned, and pan-fried to golden perfection— and the Fried Fish—home-farmed tilapia filleted, battered in cornmeal, skillet-fried, and served hot out of the skillet with some of Chef Theresa’s homemade tartar sauce.
All of Shirley Mae’s desserts are made in-house by her daughter Theresa. All of the recipes are created by Theresa, and all of the desserts are absolutely delicious. From B’nana Puddin’ to Chess Pie, you can’t go wrong with any of these delicious desserts. To our delight, the portion sizes are also huge! You can expect every pie and cake to come in a double-portion, personal-sized pan.
Because everything is cooked to order, be sure not to come when you are really hungry or in a rush. Good food takes time, and that’s what Shirley Mae’s is all about.
Remember this spot is CASH ONLY. So bring some cash before you head on over to Shirley Mae’s!
“The food here is so good. Cooked to order. I have tried everything on the menu except chitlins. Hard to pick one over another, they're all so good. If you want to have some good soul-food, don't miss this place.” - Yelp Review
Shirley Mae’s Cafe & Bar doesn’t offer GiftYa digital gift cards just yet, but check back soon because we are always adding new restaurants!
Soul food restaurant with a rotating menu, with fried chicken and fish offered daily.
4444 Cane Run Rd | Louisville | vicsoulfood.com
This soul food restaurant is relatively new to the Louisville area, and the way this restaurant is doing things is new as well. Each day offers daily specials, while classic soul food like fried chicken and fish is offered daily. Just so you have a better idea of what the daily specials look like, here are Thursday’s daily specials: Bar B Que beef brisket, Bar B Que ribs, Bar b Que chicken, freshly fried catfish or whiting cooked to order, and fried chicken, and sides of mac and cheese, green beans, fried cabbage, potato salad, and baked beans. You can check out Daddy Vic’s Soul Food’s website for all of their daily specials.
PSA: we have heard very good things about Daddy’s Vic’s mac and cheese. One reviewer even said it was “some of the creamiest mac I have ever had.” Be sure to get a scoop of mac and cheese on the side of your order!
“Recently found this restaurant and decided to try it out. The restaurant offers "soul food" on a daily menu that changes everyday. Fried chicken and fish is offered everyday as well. Each meal comes with two sides so I must recommend the Mac and Cheese as one.” - Yelp Review
Daddy Vic’s Soul Food doesn’t offer GiftYa digital gift cards just yet, but check back soon because we are always adding new restaurants!
No-frills soul food restaurant.
Image courtesy of Yelp.
1800 Dixie Hwy | Algonquin | yelp.com
Forty Acres and a Mule, named after the broken promise to former slaves, is a no-frills soul food restaurant—they don’t even have a website. However, many say that this is the best soul food in Louisville. So here’s what we know about the soul food restaurant Forty Acres and a Mule.
There’s no space to dine in—you order at the counter—but the food is so good this shouldn’t deter you! Just take it home or eat it in your car! They have a rotating menu, so feel free to call in to see what they’re offering on any given day.
For an idea of the kind of food they offer, here is what some guests have gotten in the past: meatloaf, steak burgers, ribs, and fried and baked chicken, with sides like cornbread, green beans, mashed potatoes with gravy, and candied yams. The portions are generous, and the pricing is reasonable for such good soul food. This is a small, Black-owned business you definitely want to support!
“This is a no frills establishment with no space to dine in, but don't let that deter you from coming… I wish I had gotten more cornbread, it's sweet and fluffy just like I like it! We will definitely return to support this local Black owned business in the future.” - Yelp Review
Forty Acres and a Mule doesn’t offer GiftYa digital gift cards just yet, but check back soon because we are always adding new restaurants!
Soul food restaurant with $15 plates.
2217 Steier Ln | Buechel | dbsbistro.com
This Black-owned business serves soul food classics, and has even been lauded as having the best fried chicken in town. You can come grab a plate of soul food deliciousness for only $15! Dasha’s also refuses to compromise on quality in their restaurant. They source their fresh ingredients from Barbour’s Farm. Knowing that they use fresh ingredients makes the price per plate seem even more reasonable.
Here’s some of what they’re serving at Dasha Barbours Southern Bistro: catfish, fried chicken, chicken wings, mac and cheese, corn pudding, broccoli casserole, collard greens, and more.
Be sure to call ahead and order! Since the kitchen makes everything to order, it may take a while for your food to come out. But as is the theme with all of the soul food restaurants we’ve looked at in Louisville, soul food is slow food.
Interested in hosting a special event at Dasha’s? You can! Their restaurant is available for private events such as weddings, business lunches, dinners, receptions, and more. Call for more info on how they can be a part of your special event!
“If you haven't been to Dasha's, go immediately. Isaiah and I both got catfish plates with corn pudding… 10/10 from the both of us. Dasha's is a black owned business and she's serving up amazing soul classics. Give her a visit ASAP.” - Yelp Review
Dasha Barbours Southern Bistro doesn’t offer GiftYa digital gift cards just yet, but check back soon because we are always adding new restaurants!
Now that you know what soul food is and where to go in Louisville to get it, what are you waiting for? These Louisville restaurants have been doing their thing for years, and you’re missing out! Whether you go to a modern soul food restaurant like Biscuit Belly for innovative biscuit breakfast sandwiches and lattes or you go to a long-running establishment where the owner herself fries your food to order behind the counter like Shirley Mae’s Cafe & Bar, you are sure to enjoy soul food in one of its many forms.
Be sure to let us know in the comments which of these soul food restaurants in Louisville, KY you try first!