Barbourville Kentucky:Mitchell's Market
There aren't a lot of regional specialty restaurant foods in Southeastern Kentucky.That being said the two that are prevalent are both really good.Chili Buns and Soup Beans.
Mitchell's Market has been in operation since 1929.That's a good long run and with good reason.It's a classic old school small market with everything a body needs to feed the family.It sits in an ancient building on the courthouse square which is festive with all the seasonal decorations you can dream of and good Christmas music piped down to spur the holiday shopper on to greater heights.
As you enter the store you have the choice of walking down two aisles.The aisle to the left is very inviting with all sorts of fresh cut meats[at reasonable prices],a small array of vegetables and a well appointed snack section featuring Grippos Potato Chips,Mike Sells Potato Chips and a goodly array of candies my favorite being Virginia Beauty hard candies and Ms Olivia's Peanut Brittle.
The real treasure however is all the way to the rear where a small cafeteria hot line is set up.Mitchell's is famous for their chili and with good reason.A Chili Bun,which to the uninitiated is a hot dog bun loaded with a good amount of dark red all meat chili,will set you back .75 cents.It's a very good bargain and tasty if not intensely delicious.The chili is of the pureed tomato ground beef variety with the primary flavor being sweet...there are notes of cumin but they are faint notes off in the distance.My garnish for this dish is always chopped sweet onion and yellow mustard[I wish they used Plochmans].A 99 cent bag of Grippos and a bottle of local rootbeer powered by cane sugar and you're set.
Aisle two is the sundries aisle with food for the pets,detergents and paper products.Nothing too special about this aisle except for the prices which are very reasonable given the proximity of Wal-Mart.
The cafeteria line also features Meat and 3 style daily specials such as Meatloaf,Chicken and Dumplings,Fried Fish and attendant Southern style vegetables.
When the Fad Pool Hall in nearby Corbin shut down the area lost it's heavyweight champ in the Chili Bun category.Still,Mitchell's Market does a respectable job and is one of the few joints in the area that still features this delicacy.