J.R. Tolkien

"Not all those who wander are lost." - J.R. Tolkien

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Eat Well and Do Good at 6 Louisville Restaurants

This holiday season visit 6 local Louisville restaurants where our city two best traits, compassion and good food, are intertwined.  At these restaurants, you'll be treated to delicious cheap food for your stomach and a warm hug for your soul.  

The Table Café
1800 Portland Ave
Monday - Friday
11 p.m. - 3 p.m.
Outside the restaurant, around 18th St. and Portland Ave.
An oasis in a culinary desert, the Table Café, offers healthy home cooked meals in the Portland neighborhood, where fast-food restaurants dominate the landscape.  “The Table is a non-profit, social entrepreneurship that serves locally grown, fresh food and operates under a pay-what-you-can model.”  The concept is simple, you can 1) pay what you can afford or work in the restaurant as payment 2) Pay the full amount 3) Pay the full amount plus a bit extra to “pay it forward” to cover someone else’s meals.  The restaurant is almost entirely staffed by volunteers (you can sign up too!).
A busy Friday inside the restaurant.
Smoke chicken and potato soup
Smoke chicken, root veggies salad, and sweet potato fries
The small menu offers salads, soups, sandwiches, and dessert made from locally grown food.  Nothing on the menu is over $7; you can get a lunch special with any sandwich, side, and drink for $10.  My sides and salads were fresh and delicious.  The main dishes can be tweaked a bit (the chicken was a bit dry and the soup a tad salty) but it still makes for an enjoyable dining experience.  The restaurant itself is chic and modern, with a community room and office space attached. Come check it out, everyone is welcome at the Table.

Waycool Cafe
120 West Broadway
(Corner of Broadway & 2nd)
Monday - Friday: 6 a.m. - 3 p.m.; 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday: : 7 a.m. - 2 p.m.; 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.

$4 for 2 meals from Waycool Cafe
The Waycool Cafe is located inside the Hotel Louisville, a transitional housing shelter for men and women as well as a functional hotel for tourists.  What's way cool about this place is that all the staff graduated from or currently enrolled in Wayside Christian Mission recovery and training program. Residents receive on the job hands-on training to prepare them for entry into the work force.  

The food here is not gourmet, but it's of good quality and fresh.  You'll find favorites such as burgers, fries, fried chicken, fish, chicken wings, etc. The most expensive item on there is $9 and you can easily have a complete meal with a sandwich, a side dish and desert for $3! They also have a buffet for $5 (one trip) with lots of sides, salads, and main entrees.   I always feel like a million bucks coming here because the staff treat me well and I can eat to my heart's desire without worrying about the final bill.
Pretty good wings.
There's a huge free parking lot, a big bonus for downtown. The hotel is older but clean and well kept. It's a humbling experience to be dining in a place where staff and clients are working so hard to make a positive change in their lives.

Common Table 
Catholic Charities
2234 Market Street
502-873-2560 ext. 256
Tuesday & Thursday: 11:30 p.m. - 1 p.m.

Chef Hank and food samples.
For a one of a kind lunch experience, check out Common Table.  Located inside Catholic Charities gym, Common Table serves lunch every Tuesday and Thursday (11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.).  Entrees are $5/$4 vegetarian, $2 desserts, $1 drinks (sample menu). Sign up with chef Hank to receive the menu weekly.  The food is prepared from the Common Earth Garden in West Louisville at St. Anthony's.  Portions are on the small side, but for such a great cause and great deal, order two!
Chicken and rice and a vegetarian option. 
Common Table is a social entrepreneurship program that offers Culinary Arts training to refugees, former inmates, and other job seekers.  Participants learn basic culinary skills, nutrition, food safety, as well as resume writing and interviewing skills.

Communal table, great for striking up a conversation with new friends.
Customer Appreciation Day, November 25, 2015
Roots and Heart & Soy
1216 Bardstown Road
502- 452-6678 (Heart & Soy)
502-452-6688 (Roots)
11 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Four Sisters
2206 Frankfort Ave
(502) 384-4262
11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Every Thanksgiving Eve, local business guru Huong "Coco" Tran offers free meals to the community at the Customer Appreciation Day at her restaurants.  Though the meals are free, donations are except and distributed to local charities.  In recent years, the lovely sisters at Four Sisters also participated in this great cause.  Heart & Soy and Roots offer delicious Vietnamese inspired vegetarian food while Four Sisters serves coffee, tea, crepes and sandwiches.  They serve the kind of food that warms the heart and the soul.
Coco and FREE food. Photo: Roots/Heart & Soy