Outside media, and God love ‘em for at least trying to cover our quirky city, tend to be deeply uncreative in their Louisville to-do lists. It’s not entirely their fault. In the interest of meeting deadlines, they probably just consult the hotel concierge and lo, enjoy these 20 different articles about Garage Bar.

So welcome to Louisville during Derby! Do you want to party like an effete travel writer, or do you want to party like the people who live in the city with a 4 a.m. last call?

For dinner, new kid on the block Portage House (117 E. Riverside Drive) offers chef-driven continental fare that’s a little Kentucky, a little Midwest and a little international, too (everything from fresh oysters to stewed chickpeas). Housed in a historic mansion across the river in Jeffersonville, Indiana, who has straight-schooled Louisville in terms of leveraging new business around the Big Four pedestrian bridge, despite existing in the state that birthed the Captain Murphy-lookin’ shitlord Mike Pence, their patio gifts absolutely killer views of downtown. Avoid the tolls and get their by foot on a mild evening.

Or if somethin’ spicier is your zone, El Mundo’s (2345 Frankfort Ave.) new al fresco expansion is a perfect environment to sip $4 midweek margaritas of an almost nuclear potency. By admission of their own menu, it’s strongly advised to not consume more than two. Pair ‘em with inspired takes on Latin cuisine, such as their steamed mussels in a creamy chipotle broth, with just a splash of Dos Equis. Be advised Cinco de Mayo does fall on Oaks.

If those dogs are itchin’, storied Germantown dive Seidenfaden’s (1134 E. Breckinridge St.) hosts the weekend’s best dance parties. Saving Our Style concocts the best mix of hip-hop for real heads on Friday, while Saturday’s Stop! Drink! Listen! serves up everything from certified bangers to deep cut scuzz disco soundtracked to art house films and found footage on projector screens. Both parties start after 11.

For a more laid back experience and true flavor of Louisville, nothing beats Nachbar (969 Charles St). Inherently nothing special yet wholly unique — a neighborhood retreat replete with grandpa’s basement-chic, the city’s finest jukebox, absurdly cheap drinks, and a comfortable biergarten-style patio. It’s where creative 20-to-40-somethings imbibe alongside old school townies. You might run into a free rock or jazz concert, or local treasure Rusty hockin’ his $5 beef jerky. —Michael C. Powell

Three others:
Kaiju, 1004 E. Oak. St.
Zanzabar (full disclosure: kinda work there… because it’s also kinda a dope place), 2100 S. Preston St.
Seafood Lady, 103 W. Oak St.