Cross the river this week as TGIF Local Lunch Post pays a visit to our Hoosier neighbors in New Albany. Our guide is Greg Johnson, whose byline informed and entertained us in the Courier-Journal for over three decades.
His passion for music, food, travel, and making a story sing are my reasons for keeping up with Greg through the years. Collaborating with Vince Staten on Real Barbecue: The Classic Barbecue Guide to the Best Joints Across the USA – with Recipes, Porklore, and More! earned the team the honored title of “BBQ kingpins,” so it doesn’t get better than that.
A forever foodie, the long-time C-J Features editor and columnist, Greg’s good taste at the table can be enjoyed on his Facebook page, where I found recipes, dining tips, and a savory passel of culinary observations. I would be remiss to not mention his wry social commentary and a sense of humor dry as Chipotle rub.
It is also where I discovered a post with a graphic on New Albany’s eclectic dining scene. Cobbling a logo over an 1876 map of downtown New Albany, Indiana, Greg suggested the historic township’s blossoming restaurant district to take a cue from Louisville’s East Market NuLu district and let the Hoosier’s claim it as NuHu. (See: Tongue in cheek.)
If you do visit Greg on his Facebook page, you’ll notice he’s got a Friends list that reads like an iconic masthead. If he wanted to start a new publication, he’d have the best staff already in place.
When asked to provide a brief bio for this column, Greg sent the following blurb:
Former Times restaurant critic, former Courier-Journal Features Editor and, since retiring, former everything else, too. I am indeed an international man of leisure.
Greg’s suggestions are a guided tour for the average budget, lovers of history, and a full tummy! Here we go to NuHu…NuHoo…okay, a big ol’ yoo hoo out to New Albany!
These are all in downtown New Albany, all within walking distance of each other.
Habana Blues: Cuban, small plates, sweet-potato fries, delicious mojitos. If it’s cooler than 110 degrees out, try the enclosed brick courtyard, with its fountain.Bank Street Brewery: Gastropub & microbrewery for New Albanian beers. Frites with exotic dipping sauces, patio dining, dinner specials, free advice and instruction from Roger Baylor.La Rosita Mexican Grill: Mexican. A weirdly large restaurant space, but excellent food. Features a big vegetarian menu and central Mexican specialties (like empapelados) that you don’t often see here.River City Winery: Local wines & brick-oven pizzas in a pretty restoration.Louis le Francais: White-tablecloth “cottage” French. A fetching mom & pop restaurant with hearty, delicious food like Ragout de Boeuf. Small but tasty wine list (including individual bottles of Duval-LeRoy champagne).La Bocca: Casual Italian. Sidewalk dining. Pizza, pastas, seafood, etc. A full menu, from Sicilian rice balls to zeppoles. A full bar also.Feast: Just opened. A hip, exposed-brick spin on BBQ — including tofu — that offers metal serving trays heaped with classic dishes, and some not-so-classic ones, like light BBQ tacos and sliders. Full bar, full belly.DP Updogs at Little Chef: Hot dogs and ice cream from a fabulous, little prefab diner, circa 1957.Coming soon: The New Albany Exchange. Relocating from farther north. Top-notch bar, very high-quality “pub grub,” including perhaps the best Philly cheesesteak sandwich outside of Philly.