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5 Places In Louisville, Kentucky to go For Good, Cheap Food

Updated on January 28, 2014

All of us have been there. Whether we are in high school looking for a place to eat with our friends with the money we just made mowing lawns, in college living off the part time job we so desperately need to eat something but Ramen Noodles, starting a family and wanting to go somewhere affordable that's not going to kill you from the inside out, or maybe just a lazy slacker like me living in his parents basement. Everyone knows what it's like to look for new, delicious, and most importantly, affordable restaurants that wont burn a hole through their wallets and bank accounts. My hometown of Louisville, Kentucky is a city with a thriving restaurant business that forces all participants to make their food good or risk losing their business. Here are five examples of delicious and affordable but also lesser known places for those of us with, shall we say, light-weight wallets.

1: Queen of Sheba

This small restaurant sits at 2804 Taylorsville Rd, right next to Bowman Field, the smaller of the two airports in the city. It serves delicious and original Ethiopian food that will make your eyes water but your mouth smile. To understand the food one must first understand the culinary culture in west Africa. Food is not eaten with forks and spoons in Ethiopia but, instead, eaten with the hands. A soft bread made with a local grain called Taff is used to pic up and eat the food. The bread, called Injera, resembles a big puffy tortilla and has a bitter taste that complements the delicious and intense, yet never overwhelming collection of spices used in Ethiopian food. The meals themselves are either cooked as a thick stew (wot) or sauteed (tips) and available with chicken, beef, lamb or vegetarian. All meals, unless requested, are served together on one large plate making it easy for everyone to happily share the meal. What's the best part? Almost all meals are under $10.

Queen of Sheba's classic Ethiopian platter
Queen of Sheba's classic Ethiopian platter | Source

Sante Fe Grill

A little known restaurant one block from the University of Louisville's football stadium, Sante Fe Grill is a rare authentic Mexican restaurant as far north as the Ohio River. Once one know's what they're looking for, Sante Fe is easy to find. At the corner of Central and Third St. this restaurant is in the easy to spot bright pink building. No, really, it's the bright pink one, very easy to see. Sante Fe Grill has true Mexican food, not simply burritos and tacos. They focus on popular Mexican spices such as cilantro and not on making things as spicy as humanly possible. The majority of the food is beans and rice with meats and vegetables playing a supporting role. The food is made on sight without frozen and reheated meats that make you cringe when get a piece that's a bit to slimy for your tongue to accept. (I'm looking at you, Taco Bell) the best part: most meals are under $10.

Mmmmmmm, mexican fooooood....
Mmmmmmm, mexican fooooood.... | Source

3: Sari Sari

The third restaurant on the list brings us to the tropical south pacific. Sari Sari features Spanish cuisine influenced by south pacific seafood combined into a delicious array of delights from the island nation of the Philippines. The definition of a hole in the wall, Sari Sari seats only a couple dozen people at the most and most will be crammed in like sardines. This Filipino delight will make it well worth the trouble. Most of the available food comes with rice and beans to bulk it up but the treat is the seafood. As an island nation, seafood is a staple in the recipes of the area and Sari Sari doesn't skip out. Everything from fish tacos to calamari soups to shrimp stew make gives this place a feeling of soul food from New Orleans but with a flavorful, south pacific twist. It's hard to find good seafood for an affordable price but Sari Sari hits a bull's eye like no other seafood join in the city. And the best part? The majority of dishes are under $10. Is anyone else noticing a pattern here?

Influenced heavily by Spanish cuisine and Pacific seafood, I'm getting hungry just writing this.
Influenced heavily by Spanish cuisine and Pacific seafood, I'm getting hungry just writing this.

4: Lonni's Best Taste of Chicago

Our fourth delicious yet cheap restaurant brings us back to The good ol' United States of America. Lonni's Best Taste of Chicago is a local, family owned restaurant in downtown St. Matthews, a suburb of the city. As one can derive from the name, Lonni's delivers on the great culinary traditions of the city of Chicago. When you walks in they are greeted by Lonni and the employees of the restaurant all wearing Chicago themed clothing such as Bears jerseys and ask for your order. American burgers and hotdogs, Greek gyros, Polish sausages, and Italian beef sandwiches are all on the menu and all spectacular. The Polish sausages and hotdogs are spectacular, 100% beef and covered in peppers, onions, and mustard, however you may notice alack of ketchup and for good reason: ketchup on a hotdog is heresy in Chicago. The Beef Sandwich is covered with peppers and onions and with the entire sandwich dipped in the juice the beef was cooked it; a little messy but well worth it. Lonni's is a fantastic lunch spot with everything on the menu being, say it with me, less than $10.

A little closer to home, I want the food.  No really, I'm getting hungry.  How can you not be hungry yet?  I think I have a problem...
A little closer to home, I want the food. No really, I'm getting hungry. How can you not be hungry yet? I think I have a problem...

5: Zaytun Mediterranean Grill

Centered right in the middle of Louisville's hippest district, The Highlands, Zaytun Mediterranean Grill is a superb Greek restaurant serving gyros the size of a small dogs along with baba ghanouj and fish sandwiches. Another hole in the wall looking place from the outside, Zaytun shows off it's Mediterranean roots from the inside. The hummus is incredible and spreads easily over the perfectly baked pita bread. The gyros are all delicious but, for once, I must say the original is the best. The gyros are enormous and easily a filler for even the hungriest seventeen year old boy that may or may not be able to eat a large pizza. easily a favorite and little known restaurant in Louisville, good for both lunch and dinner. And best of all? well, okay, this may be a bit more expensive. But what can I say, this is a delicious and stylish place to go for less than $15.

Hello, my name is Judd and I have an unhealthy obsession with really good, affordable food...
Hello, my name is Judd and I have an unhealthy obsession with really good, affordable food...

I know we all get board from the same thing over and over. Louisville is a city with a lot of culinary diversity if you know where to look. And for the price of the average large McDonald's combo meal, you can go to many different places and get better food, unique food, and most importantly, food that wont break the bank on a night out with the lady friend or a meal with the kids. So go ahead, my fellow Louisvillians, join me and develop your own unhealthy obsession with affordable food!

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    • TimArends profile image

      Timothy Arends 

      3 years ago from Chicago Region

      Having attended Berea College in Kentucky where there are a few good restaurants, I feel like I have missed out on a lot of good eating that is to be had in that fine state!

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