One UofL fan’s late night driving course

By Steve Springer

Watching a Big East basketball game is a great experience, whether in person or on TV. The sights and sounds of a collegiate game day in a huge arena can reward a fan with a lifetime of memories. But why limit oneself to only two senses. There can be more to it than that. Much more.

A diehard fan of Big East Basketball participates in the game day activities inside the arena, but doesn’t limit oneself to just watching one’s team fly up and down the floor, basking in the cheers, chants, whistles, and squeaking of hightops on the hardwood.  There are three other senses that can indulge the fan into making the most out of the experience.

Tailgating is an excellent way to dive into the tastes and smells of college football.  It’s not, however, ideal during basketball season, at least not traditionally.  The majority of the Big East hoops season falls during the cold winter months, with many of the schools located in the bitterly cold Northeast.  We can’t all have home games in sunny Tampa, Florida like the Bulls do.  So the rest of us are forced to find good grub and spirits indoors.  The following is an attempt to narrow the best post game and late-night dining establishments in Louisville into a top five as we slide behind the wheel of a Naughty Volvo S60:

  • Cardinal Hall of Fame Cafe— There’s no other restaurant in the world that represents a team better than the Cardinal Hall of Fame Cafe represents the University of Louisville.  The restaurant resides in the shadow of the nicest on-campus stadium in the country, Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.  Stepping into the restaurant you are surrounded by reminders of Cardinal greatness, with your feet traversing the Walk of Fame, consisting of tiles that display the name, sport, years played, and induction year of the finest athletes in the school’s history.  The entryway includes dozens of trophies, jerseys, balls, and all sorts of memorabilia. On one wall is a giant mural featuring the likenesses of Darrell Griffith, Wes Unseld, Pervis Ellison, Howard Schnellenberger, and of course, Hall of Fame coach Denny Crum, amongst many others.  Quite the nostalgic feeling, having a two-time championship coach, Fiesta Bowl winning coach, and hardwood and pigskin giants along with the steaks, pizza, seafood, and everything else on an eclectic menu.  A literal sensory overload of everything Cardinal.
  • Denny’s Restaurant — What collegiate midnight munchies marathon would be complete without the world famous Grand Slam Breakfast from the Denny’s on Eastern Parkway?  After a game’s worth of seven dollar beers at the arena, partying your tail off celebrating a hard-earned Big East victory and yet more brew, you could be celebrating into the wee hours of the morning and quickly approaching the break of dawn. Denny’s would be the destination of choice, as long as all the other breakfast places aren’t open yet.  Pancakes, bacon, eggs, French toast- easy on the wallet, but not the arteries.
  • Papa John’s — A dedicated UofL fan will always find a way to support his school, even when it’s satisfying late night hunger.  What better way to accomplish that than patronizing one of UofL’s largest contributors?  Papa John Schnatter of Louisville started his worldwide pizza chain in Louisville in the closet of his father’s business and it grew into the best pizza chain in the world.  He drops major coinage on UofL whenever possible, contributing to many different athletic facilities/events, scholarships, and to top it off, he donated so much to the construction of the football stadium that he earned the naming rights, thus Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.  He really represents the spirit of generosity and a true Cardinal fan always stops by Papa’s when craving a pizza.
The Granville Inn keeps attracting U of L partisans long after graduation.
  • Granville Inn — A unique local spot on our dining tour would be the Granville Inn on Third Street, just off the campus.  The atmosphere on game day during the season is electric.  The party is always rocking here after a victory and they have the best burger in town.  It combines an historic look (1930’s) with the contemporary sounds of college bands and music, partying the night away after a big win over rival West Virginia, or a blowout of Cincinnati.  Jessica, the day manager, has been a UofL fan her entire life, and her being revolves around keeping them full and happy, after wins and losses.
  • White Castle — Finally, at any time of night after a game, no matter how tired, wasted, hungover, almost broke you are, there’s always White Castle.  The mini hamburgers are available 24 hours a day, which is great because some people’s hunger is available 24 hours a day, or especially after late night celebrations.  The hamburgers aren’t too bad if you can fill up on a couple (not likely).  But after about five or six, they all start to taste the same and really just serve the purpose of filling your gullet instead of pleasing your tastebuds.  One caveat, however.  They do have a drive thru, but the smell and the grease that permeates the bag, your clothes, everything, should not be allowed into the luxurious cabin of the Naughty S60.  Put them in the trunk, on the roof, whatever you have to do to keep from soiling the leather.

We’ve covered four of the five senses, leaving only the sense of touch.  What better way to cap off the full sensory experience than by feeling the quiet rumble of the 300 horsepower engine throw you back in your seat as you race to get that pizza back to your dorm room or wherever you call home before it gets cold, or as you hug the turns with the all wheel drive suspension to make sure you get those burgers out of the trunk before the smell of onions and fries drown out that new car smell.  Combine the Naughty S60 and any (or all if you dare) of these dining experiences to make your late night driving and dining course really special.

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Author: Steve Springer

Steve Springer is a lifelong University of Louisville fan and is officially "The Biggest Fan of the Big East." He graduated from Eastern High School, attended the University of Louisville, and finished his BS at Murray State University. He earned the honor of the conference's biggest fan in a contest sponsored by Volvo during the 2010-11 basketball season.

55 thoughts on “One UofL fan’s late night driving course”

  1. You have succeeded in making me want to go pig out and catch a game. You can keep the White Castle burgers, though!

  2. Ok..now I’m hungry. I’d have to agree with you on the white castle’s though….keep them out of the VOLVO!!!

  3. Lots of fond memories of the Granville Inn. You never know who you’re going to run into there, old girlfriends, profs, former players, they all love the place. Good place for alums and students to keep up with what has happened in the past and what’s going on at UofL now. An unofficial but beloved tradition that makes the neighborhood around the campus very special.

  4. Cardinal Hall of Fame Cafe is a great place to get together, especially after a game when the restaurant is really busy. It is convenient after football and baseball games, they have good service and the food is about as good as it gets. I usually pick up something in the gift shop; just can’t resist.

  5. Hall of Fame Cafe has a C rating by the health department. Where exactly is granville inn. I am a junior in high school and will be at UofL in 2 years and that place looks like it would be bumping every night

    1. Not sure what would ring on that rating from the HD but everytime I have eaten there it has been top notch. And the atmosphere is awesome., too.

  6. FIRST, we need to GET OUT THE VOTE FOR STEVE. This man has a wife and four kids. He lives in Murray, KY. He teaches full-time at a school just across the state line in TN. YET, as I’m sure you can tell by his articles, he is one of our GREATEST FANS. I don’t personally know Steve and have never met him. However, I love his attitude about things on which he has written/posed. VOTE EVERY DAY. VOTE TWICE if you have one computer at work and another at home. Have everyone in your family and your friends do the same. He’s closing on the lead vote getter from St. John’s. Are you gonna’ let a dude from St. John’s win a fan contest over a CARDINAL….NOT!

    P.S. I concur with holding off on the Sliders in the new Naughty. Wait until your Volvo has 155,000 miles like mine to introduce the Craves. As a fan of both brands, I can attest they go fine together now!

    Oh, did I say VOTE FOR STEVE NOW & VOTE OFTEN!?!

  7. Can’t go wrong with any of these but my particular favorite are the salads at the Hall of Fame Cafe. Thanks for the reminder. I feel a visit coming on!
    Go Cards!

  8. Thanks Charlie. Love the great local insight on this site. One more thing, does anyone know about the signing day reception at the Parrish House and whether or not it is open to the public?

  9. very well done Steve…I forgot what Granville Inn looked like until I saw your post! keep up the hard work!

    1. Maybe you should catch a game for the Good Side and check that place out again. Just leave the blue at home Chris! 🙂

  10. Great article! I totally have the urge to catch a game, eat a White Castle, or three and ride in a Naughty Volvo!

  11. It goes without saying that we love Papa Johns – but Bearno’s has always been a great pre or post game destination for me when I come to town. And the Yum center is right next door to Bearno’s By The Bridge. And there is also Skyline Chili! OK, I’m getting hungry now!

  12. I remember eating White Castles and drinking Big Red as a kid living in Fern Creek. When I moved from Louisville to Western Kentucky, there were no White Castles, and nobody had ever heard of Big Red! I couldn’t believe it! haha

    I’ve eaten at the Cardinal Hall of Fame Cafe several times while at U of L soccer camp with my son. Fun place!

    1. White Castle’s popping up all over now. There’s even one right in the middle of Fern Creek across from my old church on Bardstown Road.

  13. Game Day dining…Steve has some good ones here. Can heartily recommend the Cardinal Hall of Fame Cafe and White Castle. Have to take a pass on Granville Inn…many years ago in my misspent youth…I had a bit of a run-in with the owner at that time…Skip. I’m not sure if I’m still “barred” out of there or not…haven’t been back to check. Denny’s is fine…who can argue with omelettes and hot coffee? When it comes to pizza…gotta admit I am a Bearno’s guy. Mama Bearno’s Special is my favorite…but I can do about anything on the menu there. Sorry, John Schnatter.

    I’m going to counter Steve’s chow spots with a few of my own…buyer beware.

    1)Mulligan’s (Newburg Rd. across from St.Agnes) This was Kaelin’s for a long time…and they still have a fine Cheeseburger there…but the wing and pizza specials they have on UofL and even UK game days are the best around. 25 cent wings…good sized wings…and a variety of sauces. Beer specials, too. And, pizza at a buck a slice. Comes heartily recommended by the Irish Mafia.
    2)Check’s. (Burnett St.) Chili, bean soup, burgers and wings. A great Schnitzelburg atmosphere and cheap beer prices. Almost makes me wish that the Cards still played at Manual Stadium. (Just kidding).
    3)Zeppelin Cafe. (Burnett St.) Caddy cornered from Check’s…they offer a wide variety of munchies and a vast beverage selection. The music is always interesting and the waitresses very engaging.
    4)Zanzibar. (Preston Street). The old Z Bar is back and rolling. Great daily lunch specials and plenty of beverage specials. Good food, plentiful portions and an interesting clientel.
    5) The Lunch Pail. Warnock and Crittenden. This lunch time sandwich shop does it right. Ask Howie Lindsey over at Cardinal Sports. Prices are reasonable, the sandwiches are humongous and the service is fast and friendly. They’re owned by Frank’s Meats and Deli…so you know the quality and freshness is top notch.

    Try these spots. Your tummy is going to say ‘Thank You!”

  14. Six with cheese, four plain for the wife. Roy Orbison cranked up, and take the long way home to savor the moment. Comfortable leather seats and memories–some of the great finish to a game in doubt, and some of younger days with my companion. Got to get me one of those Volvos! Cardinal red and a black interior, no doubt.

  15. Now you’ve got me wanting to go grab something to eat! And since I’m eating for two I don’t have to worry about the calories! What better way to finish off a night at the game then a great meal with friends!

  16. Well, Steve……..you’ve succeeded in making me ready to leave for Louisville! Never have been, but sounds like fun and YUM!

  17. Ah, yes, the Granville Inn. That’s where I met my girl friend and later my wife. That place is always packed on weekends.

  18. Cardinal Hall of Fame is where a lot of visiting teams feed their players. They do put away a lot of food, before and after games.

  19. Granville Inn, where I used to study for exams during the daylight hours, believe it or not. It was kind like a Starbucks, but not quite. A gathering place for students, a place to get away for a while, almost a home away from home.

    1. I used to work in the Cardinal HOF and really met lots of good Card fans in there. Some good contacts too that helped me get back to school. U of L, of course, and I got my degree last year.

  20. Great article Steve, love the way you remind us that there is more to the game atmosphere, than just being there. I have enjoyed many collegiate games at local hang outs, and had just as much fun!

    P.S.- If I ate at White Castle,I would definitly need the Volvo to get me to a restroom very fast!!!

  21. As pizza goes, we need LaRosa, best I have had lately, Cincy and Northern Ky.. Steve, your writing skills are excellent. Must take after your parents.

  22. Great article Steve. It is helpful to know of places to have a late-night snack without breaking the wallet. I am a Denny’s fan as well; I wish they had one here in Jacksonville.

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