Known to locals as NuLu, New Louisville has become one of Louisville‘s hippest neighbourhoods, garnering attention for its art galleries, boutique stores and restaurants specialising in farm-to-table cuisine. But this isn’t all the neighbourhood has to offer. Here’s how to get the most out of your time in New Louisville.
Despite being dubbed a hip “˜hood, New Louisville is in fact the city’s East Market District, which – conversely – comprises two of Louisville’s oldest neighbourhoods, Phoenix Hill and Butchertown, with Phoenix Hill in particular displaying its history through Federal, Italianate and Victorian architecture. But, like many of the world’s most exciting urban districts, NuLu has earned its status through the creativity and vibrant culture that emanates from its historic streets.
Once occupied by woodland gardens, Bourbon stockyards and market houses, the district is now home to a notable abundance of galleries, boutiques, bars and eateries that each show their creativity.
One of the district’s leading contemporary art galleries is situated within the award-winning Green Building. Here, The Green Building Gallery showcases artworks by top international artists. By staying on East Market Street, stop by PYRO Gallery to see the work of regional artists, before moving on to Paul Paletti Gallery, which – run by the gallerist of the same name – specialises in historic and contemporary photography.
One of the first galleries to have arrived in this area is Swanson Contemporary. Here, artists from across North America showcase their work in video and installation as well as more traditional mediums. And on the same East Market stretch, the artist-run collaborative Zephyr Gallery hosts exhibitions as a platform for the development of regional art.
The district’s antique stores and independent boutiques each have their own appeal, too. Vintage clothing store Bermuda Highway combines fashion with music by featuring national touring musicians in month-long residencies, while record store Please & Thank You also functions as a small-batch southern bakery and coffee house, serving up breakfast, bagels and specialty drinks like maple leaf coffee and Spanish latte. And honouring the history that’s so evident throughout this neighbourhood, Muth’s Candies, which has been open since 1921, sells artisanal sweets made according to their original recipes.
On the first weekend of each month, browse the eclectic wares of around 100 vendors at the art fair, artisanal market and street party, Flea Off Market. Pick up an antique, record or vintage clothing, catch live music performances, and try the region’s craft beer and local produce.
For a taste of the farm-to-table fare NuLu is known for, Harvest is a great place to start, with seasonal southern plates like blackened catfish and cast iron pot pie to tuck into. Also utilising the region’s produce, but with an international flair, is chef Bruce UcÃ¡n who cooks up authentic Mayan dishes, like empanadas and oven-roasted rabbit at Mayan Café.
The chef behind restaurant Decca, Annie Pettry, sources her ingredients from local farms, too. Within the renovated 1870s building, dishes like Moroccan spiced pan roasted mussels and wood-grilled lamb chop are served up in the two intimate dining rooms and outdoor courtyard, with a cocktail bar in the cellar where live jazz and juke-box tunes set the mood.
The appropriately named Garage Bar meanwhile, is housed in a renovated petrol station. Sample Louisville’s craft beers and Kentucky bourbon and seasonal cocktails, with oysters, wood-fired pizzas and Kentucky aged ham. A popular draw is the bar’s outdoor ping pong tables, which have the added novelty of glowing in the dark.
Perhaps the best time to visit NuLu is during one of its annual festivals. Each March NuLu Bock Fest, which was first held in 1858, celebrates NuLu, Bock Beer and goats (because Bock translates to goat in German). Expect a day of beer, activities and people in goat costumes. If you’re in town in September, check out the NuLu Festival, a street party celebrating the neighbourhood’s revitalisation, with craft beer, local fare and live music.
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Which of NuLu’s venues do you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Lauren Hill