Camden and his wife, Kim, moved downtown for one reason: they love walking to meet their friends over our city’s incredible food and drink. They were downtown for just six months before the pandemic hit and forced all of their favorite spots to close their doors. As places reopened, Camden and Kim hear the stories of the incredible sacrifices restaurant owners, workers, and managers made throughout quarantine, and they did their best to help support those businesses through social media and their patronage. “The silver lining is that we made lots of friends with the owners and staff of these establishments,” Camden explains.
We asked the couple to share some of their favorite spots. As Camden puts it, “It is a lot harder than we thought to pick our favorites, so we are going to focus on our favorite patios since patio season is upon us! These places are all spots we will walk to from Short Street to eat and drink outside!”
Horse & Jockey
The latest remake of this place is my favorite spot. Paul and his staff are super friendly and ready to make you a drink. Their patio is arguably one of the best downtown. The upstairs patio has a couple of TVs and is great for watching games. Their outdoor bar also opens up to the street, where they have a few stools waiting for you. My favorite cocktail is their Old Fashioned with walnut bitters: very tasty, but packs a punch with 2 oz of Woodford Reserve. My favorite dish is the Guinness Stew, with a Guinness, of course. As a side note, Kim wants the ladies to know that they remodeled the women’s bathrooms, and now each bathroom has a door.
The Blue Heron
The Blue Heron is right around the corner from our place on Jefferson street, so we visit frequently. They recently covered their patio but left both ends open to give it an open-air feel. Their namesake bourbon cocktail, The Blue Heron, is one of Kim’s favorite, especially when paired with their rotating fresh oysters (you have to get the Kusshi’s if available). Our go-to dish is the Porterhouse Steak for 2 – but really, it’s more like 4 – and a bottle of Sexual Chocolate Zin/Syrah (yes, you will raise an eyebrow from your neighbor when you order.)
Distilled moved in the old Nick Ryans location last year. We frequented their old location and we were ecstatic when we heard that Mark was moving to Jefferson Street. Their open-air patio is spacious and, with the shrubbery around the outside, gives you a garden feel. They have a great selection of bourbons to work through, but I like the Man O’War if in the mood for a cocktail. However, a neighbor of mine swears they have the best Black Manhattan they have ever tasted. My favorite dish is the Country Ham Wrapped Scallops. Pro Tip: If you are looking for some mid-week fun, Ben Lacy plays on their patio every Tuesday evening.
Carson’s Food & Drink
When the mood hits us, we take a walk down to Carson’s. Mark and his team have been the anchors of downtown dining on the East End of town and have had one of my favorite patios since the beginning. With his history in the restaurant business, it’s not surprising that the extensive menu has a little something for everyone (in huge portions). I can’t get away from the Sweet & Spicy Ribs. Kim highly recommends the French 75 to cool you off. If you can snag a reservation on the patio for the Jazz Brunch, you should do it; it makes for a great end to the weekend and the Bloody Mary is a meal in itself.
If you are just looking for a spot after work to sit outside and have a drink, Centro is your place. Not much in the way of food, but the folks there are glad to pour you a beverage and send you out to their patio that extends to the 5/3rd Pavilion. The new galvanized stock tank planters give it a little more of a private vibe than it has had in the past. They are open seven days a week at 4pm and happen to be the first watering hole on my walk home from work.