Trey Zoeller's Louisville, Kentucky

Courtesy of Garage Bar

Trey Zoeller, founder and master blender of Jefferson's Bourbon (and a Louisville native), shares his picks for dining, drinking, and sightseeing in Louisville, Kentucky—from where to get true soul food (Franko's) to local secrets like the reservation-only tour at Bourbon Barrel Foods.

What neighborhood do you live in and how long have you lived there? I grew up in the Cherokee Park–St. Mathews area and live very close by now.  

Where do you put up friends visiting town? Depends on the friend, but my favorite hotel in town is 21c Museum Hotel, which you could check into and have a spa day, amazing dinner (Proof on Main), visit a museum, and have a great bar experience and never leave the property. It’s also right down the street from the Louisville Slugger baseball museum and bat manufacturer (700 W. Main St.; 502-217-6300;  

Where is the best place to find your hometown’s signature dish? There are many places that serve their own variation of the Louisville Hot Brown, but your first should come from the original birthplace, the Brown Hotel (335 W. Broadway; 502-583-1234;

What is your favorite restaurant to take visitors? Jack Fry’s is the obvious board-of-tourism answer (1007 Bardstown Rd.; 502-452-9244;, however, it’s tough to beat a great piece of fried chicken or some true soul food from Franko’s on Dixie Highway (3300 Dixie Hwy.; 502-448-8044).

Where can you find the best cocktails? Go to Bistro 1860 and see Euan or Stephan. Tell them you want a Wild Bill made with Jefferson’s. We recently made impromptu Oyster shooters with Jefferson’s Ocean—the brine on brine flavor layering works perfectly. For your next drink, tell them your favorite spirit and they will create an incredibly unique cocktail for you based on your preferences. They also have a great selection of true Kentucky Bourbon. And of course, I have about a dozen cocktails ageing in five-liter barrels at my house. I love to have people come over, play ping-pong or the Bimini Ring toss game and play guinea pig for me with my new experiments (1765 Mellwood Ave.; 502-618-1745;

Beer list? There really is only one place to go for craft beer, and that’s Sergio’s. No sign, no music, no credit cards accepted, but over 4,000 beers, served at the perfect temperature, and in just the right glass for the type of beer you choose (1605 Story Ave.; 502-618-2337; If that’s a little too serious, but you still want a place that truly respects beer and has some ambiance, then head to the Holy Grale (1034 Bardstown Rd.; 502-459-9939; That being said, I prefer shitty American beer and there’s no place better to grab a cold one than at Frankfort Avenue Beer Depot (3204 Frankfort Ave.; 502-895-3223;

Wine list? Louvino, which opened last fall has one of the larger wine lists in town. I’m really into wines from Paso Robles right now. Robert Hall Syrah and Groth Cabernet are my favorites (1606 Bardstown Rd.; 502-365-1921;  

Where would you choose to splurge on a night out? Thanks to my friend Edward Lee, 610 Magnolia has become a destination for gourmands from around the country and world. It’s a must when visiting, and the birthplace of Jefferson’s Chefs Collaboration! Make sure you try their twist on a BLT (610 W. Magnolia Ave.; 502-636-0783; 

What is your go-to after-hours bar? For ping-pong, board games and questionable women, Hill Top Tavern (1800 Frankfort Ave.; 502-742-2908; For the warmer months, Garage Bar’s outside turf-covered sitting mounds and, once again, ping-pong (albeit al fresco pong) is a great late night gathering place (700 E. Market St.; 502-749-7100; Music and general debauchery at Gerstle’s (3801 Frankfort Ave.; 502-742-8616; Karaoke at the Tune Inn.  

What’s the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon in town? The greatest Saturday afternoon in the United States is the first Saturday in May, the Kentucky Derby. All other Saturdays pale by comparison. However, there are plenty of things to do on other Saturdays, like hike the Big 4 Bridge or Bernheim Forest, mountain bike in the world’s only underground cave system/mountain bike park, visit museum row, or day drink up and down Bardstown Road. Most summer days you can find me chasing my kids (twins) around to their sporting events and then I try to sneak in a game of polo—or every now and again, I try to get out on the Ohio river for cruising, wake boarding, or water skiing.   

What is your Sunday morning routine in your neighborhood? On the few occasions where I do get a Sunday morning to myself, I will either get on the boat with a cup of coffee and an old fashioned newspaper or take a stroll through Cherokee Park.  

Where is the best brunch? At the top of my list for brunch is Village Anchor (11507 Park Rd.; 502-708-1850; The bourbon barrel–smoked salmon omelet is phenomenal. A close second is Wagner's Pharmacy—it's a traditional diner right next to the track. If you stop in for breakfast you might find yourself next to a derby winning jockey or trainer (3113 S. 4th St.; 502-375-3800; Also delicious is the Blue Dog Bakery and Cafe. Get there early to avoid the wait (2868 Frankfort Ave.; 502-899-9800;

Where do you go for the perfect cup of coffee? Red Hot Roasters is my go-to brew. Sondra Powel shares my philosophy of small batch production, and uses only organic ingredients in her drive through only coffee shop (1403 Lexington Rd.; 502-569-0000;   

What’s your favorite view in town (that tourists might not know about)? Being a river rat, the obvious choice for me is from the captain’s chair of my boat. If you do not have access to the water via a boat then the newly opened Big 4 Bridge provides both an amazing panoramic view of the city, and a beautiful walk along and over the Ohio River. It spans over a mile from downtown Louisville to historic Jeffersonville, Indiana, with new restaurants and shops popping up like mushrooms. 

What’s your favorite path or trail to follow on a walk? The Urban Bourbon Trail (

What are your favorite offbeat cultural attractions? It might sound crazy from someone who is in the business and lives bourbon every day, but going to see how barrels are made at a cooperage, or Vendome, which makes copper stills, is a pretty interesting way to spend a couple of hours (729 Franklin St.; 502-587-1930;

What’s your favorite shop or boutique? Scout on Market is a great place to find unique gifts, home furnishings, and they recently added men’s clothing (742 E. Market St.; 502-584-8989; Red Tree (701 E. Market St.; 502-582-2555; and Gift Horse (805 E. Market St.; 502-681-5576; are two of my local favorites for furniture and gifts. 

What’s the best-kept local secret? The reservation only tour at Bourbon Barrel Foods. They make bourbon barrel aged soy sauce, and many other bourbon-themed products such as vanilla extract, bitters, smoked salts, paprika, and Kentuckyaki Teriyaki sauce, but my favorite is the addictive soy sauce (1201 Story Ave. #175; 502-333-6103;  

Image Credits: 21c Museum Hotels, Louvino, © Stan Gregg / Alamy

In our Hometown Guides series, we're seeking the best restaurants, bars, vistas, and things to do in a given place from the people who know best—the artists, designers, chefs, and store-owners who live there. See more Hometown Guides »