Louisville, Kentucky, is the bourbon capital of the world. However, the city has so much more than bourbon. Visitors have a wonderful array of food to select from. There is seafood that tastes euphoric, sweet potato pies that brings back memories of grandma’s house, and soul food that is just right for the soul.
The Cookie Lady
One person that you must see as you tread through Louisville is The Cookie Lady. She’s known all around not only for her delightful, delicious cookies but also for her beautiful smile and loving persona. Originally from Uganda, Elizabeth Kizito gained popularity in Louisville for selling cookies from the basket balanced on her head at concerts, baseball and soccer games. She was even recognized by the Louisville Cardinals for 20 years of service, being the sole vendor present at more games than anyone else.
In 2020, an Apple TV series called “Little America” created an episode based on Kizito’s story entitled “The Baker.” This movie captivates her journey as an immigrant in America.
“I came from Uganda and went to college in New Mexico, and I met my ex-husband there. He was from Louisville, so I moved here with him, and somebody gave me cookies and I liked them, and I started making them for myself. Then, I took them to work and gave them out and everybody asked, ‘Why don’t you sell them to us? We’ll buy them.’”
As time went on, Kizito became a single mother. “I started making cookies and selling them to my co-workers and in the meantime, I lost my job, and I didn’t know what to do with myself and I had a little baby, so I said I’m going to sell my cookies on the street.”
“People started approaching me and started buying my cookies, and I worked on it hard enough to get to where I am now. I sold them at concerts, baseball and soccer games, and now I’m in Kroger and Walgreens.” When asked what has contributed to her success, “The Cookie Lady” shares a basic principle, “Working hard. You work hard every day, and you become successful.”
Queen of Sheba
For some, what comes to mind is the lavish biblical queen with her precious stones, gold and balsam oil. Well, this traditional Ethiopian restaurant located on the southside of Louisville brings this image to mind through the authentic arranged delicacies and traditional vibe.
“We just don’t sit down and eat,” owner Selam Deneke explains. “We eat together. So, ten platers, ten people, ten food items… then we use our hands. We just tear off the bread, we scoop it and you feed your friends. It’s more than the food, it is the connection.”
Ethiopian dishes are full of spices and rich herbs, so when you step into the restaurant, you can feel the rich culture through the environment, music and the food.
A Taste of Louisville
During a visit, definitely stop by and support the new Black-owned Brough Brothers Distillery. Downtown, there is Tanya Mangrum’s The Salad Chic, and great seafood at Nichelle Thurston’s The Seafood Lady.
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The Highlands of Louisville is another great place with much to offer during the day and night. This area is full of restaurants and retail shops like Kizito’s, celebrity chef Darnell Ferguson’s SuperChefs restaurant, The Black Italian owned by Anthony Hunter and his wife Paula, Afrokanza Lounge, and Georgia’s Sweet Potato Pie Company.
Pies with a Purpose
Louisville native Dawn Urrutia, along with her husband Deyago, are the proud owners of Georgia’s Sweet Potato Pies Company in The Highlands. However, Georgia’s is more than a feel-good dessert. Their pies fulfill a bigger purpose. They are used to build a firm foundation for children in education.
“I just feel like truly the gift of making sweet potato pies was passed down to me from my ancestors because really and truly that’s what I’m really good at,” Dawn says. “Actually, I’m an early childhood educator by trade and I wanted to start a nonprofit.” With encouragement from her niece, Dawn started making pies to fund her dream.
“I understand the importance of investing in children while they’re young. I understand that hate is taught. So, if you can teach hate, you can teach love, so that’s where the books came in. I felt like if I can start giving out books in the community that promote empathy, compassion, love and promote diversity, then maybe I’m putting a seed not only in a child that a book is being read to but also the person who is reading it. So, I’m also planting seeds in the parents.”
“If us giving books away ever goes away, Georgia’s would cease to exist. The only reason that this company was started, and these doors were opened was for us to help children. The pies have opened the door for me to do what I’ve been called to do.”
The Urrutias also collaborate with other businesses to build the community and create unity. “I feel like it’s really important to collaborate with other small businesses. We collaborate with Kizito cookie down the street. So Kizito actually makes us a special sweet potato cookie. I’m a firm believer that if you want to be the best, you have to collaborate with the best, so I thought Kizito’s was the best and I thought Louisville Cream was the dopest! So, I just approached them and said hey, this is what I’m looking for and they actually created us a sweet cream.”
Food for the Soul
Not too far from the childhood home of Muhammad Ali is LuCretia’s Kitchen, where soul food and spreading joy through that food is their specialty. The owner, LuCretia Thompson, says, “One thing about soul food, or just any food period, food is for the soul. Food, no matter what it is brings togetherness.”
“It’s a legacy. That’s what I’m carrying on. Our history dates back all the way to the 60s when my grandfather and grandmother came from Tennessee. So, they moved their family here, and this is where it all began. I’m carrying on the legacy. I’m the third generation of Mister Thompsons’ Barbeque.”
Within this community, off of West Muhammad Ali Boulevard, be sure to stop by Sweet Peaches and the funky Hip Hop Sweet Shop, where 80’s hip hop music plays and the walls are full of Right On! and The Source Magazine covers.
Louisville’s dining options are bountiful. There is plenty to do, see and definitely eat. To plan your visit to Louisville, visit https://www.gotolouisville.com.