The Louisville Courier-Journal had an eye-opening front-page feature last weekend on the under-appreciation of black-owned restaurants in Louisville. The story includes a sidebar listing of 30 black-owned restaurants, the vast majority of which I’d never heard of. They specialize in everything from barbecue to seafood to cheesesteaks to fried chicken to traditional soul food and Southern fare. Check out the story by food and culture reporter Bailey Loosemore and find the full list with an interactive map at the bottom of the page here:
It seems there are a number of reasons why these restaurants aren’t as well publicized as many of the darlings of Louisville’s booming food scene. The city is unusually committed to diversity and inclusiveness, but geographically remains highly segregated. A lot of diners simply don’t know where to look in the West End and aren’t willing to do the research. Meanwhile, the media that is supposed to alert the so-called “foodies” to where the good stuff is tends to gravitate to restaurants pushed by public relations firms, advertising budgets, and social media campaigns. The black-owned restaurants often can’t secure the kind of financing needed to open with that much fanfare.
The one restaurant on this list I can personally vouch for is SuperChefs, aptly named in the sense that every dish seems to be amped up into a bigger, richer, heartier, more flavorful version of whatever diner classic you’re expecting. You don’t just get pancakes; you get inch-thick pancakes stacked with layers of Reese’s peanut butter or whipped cream cheese. Similarly, you don’t just get a burger; you get a burger topped with sweet onion jam, smoked gouda, sweet habanero pickles, and candied bacon, or, in this one pictured, pulled pork, hot crab spread, and sweet and sour sauce.
The walls and windows at SuperChefs set a positive tone with inspirational quotes on every surface. My favorite part of the décor, though, has to be the original oil paintings with superheroes and food items from the menu inserted into biblical scenes. Incredibly – and indicative of the attention to detail here – these double-sided paintings hang from chains and are turned over between breakfast and lunch, so the meals depicted accurately represent what’s available at that time of day.
Unlike most of the black-owned restaurants featured in the Courier-Journal story, SuperChefs is located in the heart of the Highlands on Bardstown Road, still the epicenter of Louisville’s nightlife. Check out their website here: http://eatsuperchefs.com.
I’ll endeavor to sample more of these restaurants and report back before the Breeders’ Cup. In the meantime, I wanted to share that list for those of you that are constantly in search of new discoveries off the beaten path. I can’t promise that all 30 of those restaurants make legendary food, but I can assure you they won’t be jammed with racing fans during Breeders’ Cup week. Give them a try, support local businesses, and maybe you’ll discover a new favorite that everyone doesn’t already know about.
I’ll have many more recommendations between now and Breeders’ Cup week. If there’s a particular topic you want me to write about please e-mail me at YourFriendJimbo@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, @YourFriendJimbo.
Louisville resident Jim Mulvihill is Sr. Director of Betting Information for Churchill Downs Inc. and a member of the Breeders’ Cup Festival’s publicity committee.