Louisville, Kentucky: Birthplace of the Cheeseburger

Kaelin's was a family-run restaurant 1934-2004. New owners closed the place, then reopened it next door as a coffeehouse. Still claims to be Birthplace of the Cheeseburger, but no longer serves them.

Kaelin's Coffeehouse

1801 Newburg Rd, Louisville, KY
Kaelin's Coffeehouse. Southeast side of the city. I-264 exit 15 or 15A, then northwest on Hwy 1703/Newburg Rd for a little over a mile. On the north side, west of the golf course and east of the cemetery, at the corner of Newburg Rd and Speed Ave.
Daily 7 AM - 3 PM (Call to verify)
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Birthplace of the Cheeseburger

Kaelin's Restaurant is no longer in operation. The building now houses a new restaurant.

[Anita, 09/11/2009]
Kaelin's sign. Birthplace of the Cheeseburger - Kaelin's Restaurant

One of many with such a claim. The restaurant was closed the day I went by; so I cannot say whether they have good burgers, and didn't get to see the inside stuff.

[Scott Mobley, 02/16/2008]
Birthplace of the Cheeseburger - Kaelin's Restaurant

I'm pleased to report that Kaelin's has bounced back significantly under new management.

As for the birthday cheeseburger, I'd call it good, not great. One fresh but standard grocery-store hamburger bun dressed with a lettuce leaf, a slice of tomato, a slice of white onion and a schmear of mayo bore a good-size but none-too-juicy burger patty and a from-the-packet slice of mild bright-yellow American cheese. A straight-up burger, well-made but bland. Worst, however, I had called for it rare, joking with the server to "pat it on the butt and run it through the fire." She seemed to get it, but the burger came to the table well-done, tough and dry.

The chili was better, classic "Louisville-style," thick and spicy with grocery-store chili powder, loaded with ground beef, pinto beans and tomato bits, served over spoon-size lengths of pasta that looked a little more like linguine than the traditional spaghetti.

Kaelin's remains a fine neighborhood spot, with extra points for new management's clean-up, fix-up (and an attractive streetside patio out front with an awning and heaters that will make it habitable for much of the year). But historic or no, this burger's still no Hall of Famer.

[Janet, 12/05/2006]
Birthplace of the Cheeseburger. Birthplace of the Cheeseburger - Kaelin's Restaurant

By their accounts, Kaelin's Diner is the birthplace of the cheeseburger. They have some really nifty memorabilia inside in a cabinet, the burgers are decent, and the decor simple. Price is good, but is a little ways outside of downtown Louisville.

[Jim Heverin, 07/02/2005]

Competing claims for Birthplace of the Cheeseburger are made by Rite Spot in Pasadena, CA (1926) and the Humpty Dumpty Barrel Drive-In, Denver, CO (1935). Louisville made the sacred combo in 1934, and is the only one of the three still in operation.

Nearby Offbeat Places

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In the region:
Jim Beam American Stillhouse, Clermont, KY - 20 mi.

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