It’s been a while since my last #LocalFoodieFriday post featuring Simply Thai, but now that I’ve had some time to recover from the shock of paying for my wedding/honeymoon/house triple threat, I’m ready to get back into the local food culture! Up this week is a vegan-friendly place in trendy Butchertown: Naïve.
One of my favorite things about living in Louisville is acting like a tour guide. When I have people from out of town come to visit, my goal is to get them to leave wishing that they lived here. So any time we have visitors, I make it a point to go try something new or exciting that might make them fall in love. This includes taking everyone’s tastes, preferences, and restrictions into consideration.
Now, my husband and I don’t often patronize vegan restaurants on our own because of his allergies. If a vegan’s favorite food group is nuts, then their second must be mushrooms, because they are both wildly popular in vegan food and coincidentally on my husband’s list of no-no’s. You’ll also be hard-pressed to find a vegan with food allergies, so many places aren’t super diligent at listing allergens. Can I get a black bean burger that doesn’t have cashews ground in it for no reason, please??
But, since one of our best friends is vegan, we make it a point to explore Louisville’s vegan scene when she’s here from out of town. We’ve found some really awesome places, but we hadn’t really found a place where my husband could eat more than one thing on the menu – until Naïve. Not only is Naïve vegan friendly (meaning they still have some meat products but choose to be as veg-based as possible), but they take allergens very seriously. All my husband had to do was mention a nut allergy once, and they took care of the rest! We knew right away that this was a place that we could get behind, but we didn’t know just how much we would love it.
Naïve is such a fun place to visit. As you walk up to the corner location in the heart of the up-and-coming Butchertown neighborhood, you can tell that it’s got a friendly and modern vibe. Walking in is like walking into a 60’s boho-chic dream. Perusing the menu, you’ll find vegetarian dishes inspired by cuisines from all over the world – the General Tso’s cauliflower has a place right next to the Caribbean Bowl and the Shakashuka, and none of it feels like it doesn’t belong.
Naïve has a spirit of bringing people together. The dishes are plant-based but can easily be made for meat-eaters or vegans alike. You can add a side of Korean BBQ pork just as easily as a side of cashew cheese. The Sunday brunch had a DJ in the corner playing tracks from his computer, and there’s even a coffee bar that whips up delicious drinks while you lounge in the comfortable dining space. Everything about it just makes you feel social, warm, and friendly. It’s a hub for sharing food and sharing memories.
One of the things that I love most about this place is their commitment to responsibility. The side of the menu lists several of the promises that they make to themselves and their community. They do not serve beef because of its negative environmental impact. They source the meat that they do serve from local organic farmers. They do not use preservatives or GMO ingredients. The list goes on, and shows that this is a place that is committed to making a positive impact on the community and the world. You can eat here without worrying about your environmental impact, and I think that says a lot about the type of people that the owners are.
I’ve tried many a vegan place in Louisville. I’ve also tried many of the brunch spots that are available to choose from. I can say, without a doubt, that Naïve is the one that everyone can feel comfortable at. It’s not a vegan place. It’s not a meat-eater’s paradise with a salad (no dressing) as the vegan option. It’s not a coffee shop that serves food on the side. It’s a new kind of place. A place that welcomes all people, of all palates, and makes them feel at home. So next time you’re feeling like going out and eating with a little side of environmental and social responsibility, give it a shot. I promise that no matter who you are, you’ll find something that speaks to you.