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Dec 16, 2008 10:19 PM

Best Barbecue in the State of Kentucky

I'm mapping out a visit to the Bluegrass State and am planning on doing some serious eating while there.Other than Slims in nearby Cincinnati I haven't made any firm plans as to where.I dug up the following list from an old post and am looking for feedback.I'm particularly interested in barbecue in the eastern half of the state.


Split Tree Barbeque - 3358 Dye Ford Road, Alvaton, KY 42122-8666, 270-842-2268


Damon's The Place For Ribs - A500 Winchester Avenue # 424, Ashland, KY, 606-325-8929


Backwoods Barbecue - Highway 51, Bardwell, KY 42023, 270-628-0117


4 Little Pigs Bar-B-Que - 198 West 5th Street, Benton, KY 42025, 270-527-9471
Aurora Barbeque - 15927 US Highway 68 East, Benton, KY, 270-474-2227
Hutchen's Bar-B-Que - 601 Main Street, Benton, KY 42025, 270-527-9424


Grandaddy's Bar-B-Que - 2428 Big Hill Road, Berea, KY 40403, 859-985-9690

Betsy Lane

Sam & Tonio's Ribs Nachos - US Highway 23 North, Betsy Layne, KY 41605, 606-452-4000
Sam & Tonio's Ribs Nachos - 14538 US Highway 23 South, Betsy Layne, KY, 606-478-3600


Bryan's Hog Wild Barbeque - US Highway 62 West, Boston, KY 40107, 502-833-2543

Bowling Green

Bar-B-Que Inn - 1924 Russellville Road, Bowling Green, KY 42101, 270-843-1324
Greenwood BarBQ - 191 Cumberland Trace Road, Bowling Green, KY 42103, 270-782-0966
Smokey Pig Bar-B-Que - 2520 Louisville Road, Bowling Green, KY 42101, 270-781-1712
West Kentucky Barbeque - 430 US 31West Bypass, Bowling Green, KY 42101, 270-781-5719


Joyner's Backyard Barbeque - 830 Old Ekron Road, Brandenburg, KY 40108, 270-422-7700


Capps BBQ - 926 North Main Street, Burkesville, KY 42717, 270-864-9429
Smokehouse BBQ - 2605 Celina Road, Burkesville, KY 42717, 270-433-4990
Volcano BBQ & Ribs - Highway 61 South, Burkesville, KY 42717, 270-433-7665

Calvert City

Ole Kountry BBQ - 3885 US Highway 62, Calvert City, KY 42029, 270-395-5770

Cave City

Hickory Villa Restaurant - 806 Sanders Street, Cave City, KY 42127, 270-773-3033


Texas Outlaw's BBQ - 2957 Leitchfield Road, Cecilia, KY 42724, 270-769-5877


Nicky's Barbecue & Catering - 3243 US Highway 51 North, Clinton, KY 42031, 270-653-6092


Buddy's Bar-B-Q - 2700 Cumberland, Corbin, KY, 606-526-0250


J J's Barbecue - 2929 Dixie Highway, Covington, KY 41017, 859-341-4843
Montgomery Inn-Ribs King - 400 Buttermilk Pike, Covington, KY 41017, 859-344-5333


Texan Smokehouse BBQ Inc - 105 Harlan Street, Crittenden, KY 41030, 859-428-2700


Mike's BBQ - 10362 Glasgow Road, Dubre, KY 42731, 270-864-4307


Barbecue Barn - 203 North Main Street, Edmonton, KY 42129, 270-432-3070
Pits Bar-B-Cue - 603 West Stockton Street, Edmonton, KY 42129, 270-432-2022
Pride Of The South BBQ - 1934 Sulphur Well Knob Lick Road, Edmonton, KY, 270-565-5367


Mark's Feed Store - 1704 North Dixie Highway, Elizabethtown, KY 42701, 270-763-6611
Texas Outlaw Barbeque - 220 Commerce Drive, Elizabethtown, KY 42701, 270-234-8586


Jerry's Bar-B-Que - 2130 Butler Road, Elkton, KY 42220, 270-265-2637


J J's Barbecue - 4315 Dixie Highway, Erlanger, KY 41018, 859-342-9585

Fern Creek

Bootleg Barbecue Co - 9704 Bardstown Road, Fern Creek, KY 40291, 502-239-2778


HK Ribs - Florence - 2076 Florence Mall, Florence, KY 41042, 859-283-0444

Fountain Run

Kirk's BBQ - 1321 Fountain Run Road, Fountain Run, KY 42133, 270-434-4270


Capital Bar-B-Q - South Highway 127 South, Frankfort, KY, 502-223-8110
Pink Pig Bar-B-Q Carry Out - 581 East Main Street, Frankfort, KY 40601, 502-223-7343


Jim's Barbeque - 6111 Nashville Road, Franklin, KY 42134, 270-586-9851
Thunder Road Pit Stop BBQ - 3765 Nashville Road, Franklin, KY 42134, 270-586-0026


Deno's Barbeque - 302 West State Line Street, Fulton, KY 42041, 270-472-2020
Porky's Bar-B-Que - 1000 Elm Street, Fulton, KY 42041, 270-472-3111


Bugtussle Bar-B-Q - 6117 Bugtussle Road, Gamaliel, KY 42140, 270-457-3868
Collins Bar-B-Q - 531 East Main Street, Gamaliel, KY 42140, 270-457-2828
Stinson's Barbeque - 675 East Main Street, Gamaliel, KY 42140, 270-457-3500


Frisky Pig BBQ - 123 Opera Aly, Georgetown, KY 40324, 502-570-0750


Bar-B-Q Place - 1499 Burkesville Road, Glasgow, KY 42141, 270-651-6266
BBQ Hut - 8610 Tompkinsville Road, Glasgow, KY 42141, 270-427-2277
Big Moose's BBQ & Smokehouse - 525 West Main Street, Glasgow, KY 42141, 270-651-1913
Granny's Bar-B-Que Inc - 594 Reynolds Road, Glasgow, KY 42141, 270-651-5924
Taylor's Catfish & BBQ - 2403 Finney Road, Glasgow, KY 42141, 270-646-2975

Grand Rivers

Knoth's Bar-B-Que - 728 US Highway 62, Grand Rivers, KY 42045, 270-362-8580
Mr BBQ - 2075 Dover Road, Grand Rivers, KY 42045-9110, 270-362-4445


Brother's Barbeque - 115 North Main Street, Greenville, KY 42345, 270-338-3384


C & E Barbecue - 711 State Street, Guthrie, KY 42234, 270-483-6644
Tiny Town Red Top Barbecue - 9580 Russellville Road, Guthrie, KY 42234, 270-483-9777


Hanson Country Store - 45 Eastlawn Road, Hanson, KY 42413, 270-322-8288


Aurora Barbeque - 15927 US Highway 68 East, Hardin, KY 42048, 270-474-2227


Old Happy Days Diner - 1742 Danville Road, Harrodsburg, KY 40330, 859-734-4607


Cliff Hagan's Rib Eye - 200 Morton Blvd, Hazard, KY 41701, 606-439-3739


Gene's Restaurant & Bar B Q - 1095 North Green Street, Henderson, KY 42420, 270-827-8576
Ralph's Hickory Pit - 739 North Green Street, Henderson, KY 42420, 270-826-5656
Thomason Barbecue - 701 Atkinson Street, Henderson, KY 42420, 270-826-0654


Knockum Hill Bar B Que - 11185 Highway 107 South, Herndon, KY 42236, 270-271-2957


Frances B-B-Q - 163 South Celina Road, Hestand, KY 42151, 270-487-8550


Carters Bar-B-Que - 1810 South Walnut Street, Hopkinsville, KY 42240, 270-889-0008
Hickory Smokehouse - 5415 Madisonville Road, Hopkinsville, KY 42240, 270-886-0688
Mann's Barbeque - 822 East 21st Street, Hopkinsville, KY 42240, 270-885-7090
Square Deal Grocery - 5810 Newstead Road, Hopkinsville, KY 42240, 270-885-9452
Woodshed Pit Bar-B-Que - 1821 West 7th Street, Hopkinsville, KY 42240, 270-885-8144


Chuck-Wagon Restaurant & BBQ - 505 Adams Avenue, Island, KY 42350, 270-486-3975


Roy Willis Barbeque - 7108 Celina Road, Kettle, KY 42717, 270-433-7977


Leigh's Barbecue - 9405 US Highway 60 West, Kevil, KY 42053, 270-488-3434


Knoth's BBQ - US Highway 62, Kutawa, KY, 502-388-9282

La Grange

Back-Woods Bar B Que - 4205 West Highway 146, La Grange, KY 40031, 502-222-0300
Champion Bar-B-Que - 103 East Main Street, La Grange, KY 40031, 502-222-9426


Bar-B-Que Barn - 1435 Bypass North, Lawrenceburg, KY 40342, 502-839-8961


Applecreek Farms - 5751 Briar Hill Road, Lexington, KY 40516, 859-293-3562
Billy's Hickory-Pit Bar-B-Q - 101 Cochran Road, Lexington, KY 40502, 859-269-9593
Mark's Feed Store - 3284 Eagle View Lane, Lexington, KY 40509, 859-263-5760
Mary's Barbque Pit Stop - 895 North Broadway, Lexington, KY 40508, 859-225-4470
Red Hot & Blue - 874 East High Street, Lexington, KY 40502, 859-268-7427
Tony Roma's - 161 Lexington Green Circle, Lexington, KY 40503, 859-272-7526


Barbecue Wings - 12901 Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243, 502-245-9909
Big Ben's Bar-B-Q - 2601 West Market Street, Louisville, KY 40212, 502-772-7211
Big Pig BBQ - 5014 Mud Lane, Louisville, KY 40229, 502-962-8080
Brandon's Bar-B-Que - 9246 Westport Road , Louisville, KY 40242, 502-426-6666
Champion Bar-B-Que - 4115 Oechsli Avenue, Louisville, KY 40207, 502 897-9031
Clark's Family Bar B Q - 2912 Crittenden Drive, Louisville, KY 40209, 502-637-9532
Columbia Steak Express - 2110 South Hurstbourne Pwy, Louisville, KY 40220, 502-491-5500
Hickory House - 2307 South Preston Street, Louisville, KY 40217, 502-634-9111
Mark's Feed Store Bar-B-Q - 1514 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY 40205, 502-458-1570
Mark's Feed Store Bar-B-Q - 10316 Dixie Highway, Louisville, KY 40272, 502-933-7707
Mark's Feed Store Bar-B-Q - 11422 Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243, 502-244-0140
Ole Hickory Pit Bar-B-Cue - 6106 Shepherdsville Road, Louisville, KY 40228, 502-968-0585
Picnicaterer's BBQ - 514 West Muhammad Ali Blvd, Louisville, KY 40202, 502-584-7427
Pig Out Bar-B-Que - 1610 Dixie Highway, Louisville, KY 40210, 502-774-4754
Pit Stop Bar-B-Que - 612 South 5th Street, Louisville, KY 40202, 502-584-4054
Pit Stop Bar-B-Que - 975 Baxter Avenue, Louisville, KY 40204, 502-458-0707
Retro's Barbecue Hut - 2601 West Market Street, Louisville, KY 40212, 502-776-7312
Rib Café - 4157 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY 40218, 502-499-7427
The Rib Tavern - 4157 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY 40218, 502-499-1515
Rite-Way-Bar-B-Cue House - 1548 West Saint Catherine Street, Louisville, KY, 502-584-9385
Rollin' Ribs - 11803 Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243, 502-339-7427
Rubbies Barbeque & Brew - 6905 Southside Drive, Louisville, KY 40214, 502-367-0007
Scotty's Ribs & More - 14049 Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40245, 502-244-6868
Tony Roma's Famous For Ribs - 150 North Hurstbourne Pkwy, Louisville, KY, 502-327-8500


Bill's Ribs & Barbecue - 256 North Kentucky Avenue, Madisonville, KY 42431, 270-824-9566
Porkey's Barbecue - 410 East Arch Street, Madisonville, KY 42431, 270-821-1380


B-Bops BBQ Drive-In - 5160 Nebo Road, Manitou, KY 42436, 270-249-3700


Cheemo's BBQ & Home Cooking - 31 East Vaughn Road, Mayfield, KY 42066, 270-247-9908
Hill's Barbecue - 1002 Cuba Road, Mayfield, KY 42066, 270-247-9121


Pig Out BBQ - 110 Ky Highway 801 South, Morehead, KY 40351, 606-784-6378


Brandon's - 531 US Highway 60 East, Morganfield, KY 42437, 270-389-0500


J J's Barbeque - 729 W G L Smith Street, Morgantown, KY 42261, 270-526-2400

Mt Sterling

Eldridge's Barbeque - 2087 Winchester Road, Mt Sterling, KY 40353, 859-498-5391


Firehouse Grill - 403 Chestnut Street, Murray, KY 42071, 270-753-6190
Harold's Short Stop - 8284 State Route 121 North, Murray, KY 42071, 270-489-2199
T J's BBQ Restaurant - 806 Chestnut Street, Murray, KY 42071, 270-759-5555


Cody's Barbecue & Catering - 135 Withers Lane, Nebo, KY 42441, 270-249-3633


Louis' Ribs - 438 West 11th Street, Newport, KY 41071, 859-581-3003


Rita's Bar-B-Que - 173 Mockingbird Drive, Nortonville, KY 42442, 270-676-3821

Oak Grove

115 One Stop Market - 723 Pembroke Oak Grove Road, Oak Grove, KY 42262, 270-439-2377


George's BBQ - 1362 East 4th Street, Owensboro, KY, 270-926-9276
Merriweather Barbecue - 1661 Thompson Drive # A, Owensboro, KY 42301, 270-926-7811
Moonlite Bar-B-Que Inn - 2840 West Parrish Avenue, Owensboro, KY 42301, 270-684-8143
Old Hickory Pit Bar-B-Q - 338 Washington Avenue, Owensboro, KY, 270-926-9000
Ole South Barbeque - 3523 Highway 54 East, Owensboro, KY 42303, 270-926-6464
Shady Rest Barbecue Inn Inc - 3955 East 4th Street, Owensboro, KY 42303, 270-926-8234
The Kettle Barbecue - 2530 West 3rd Street, Owensboro, KY 42301, 270-684-3800


Backwoods BBQ - 5172 Hinkleville Road, Paducah, KY 42001, 270-441-7427
Hoskins' Bar-B-Que Inc - 2260 Lebanon Church Road, Paducah, KY 42003, 270-856-3400
John's Barbecue - 125 North 11th Street, Paducah, KY 42001, 270-442-1187

Kountry Kastle Barbecue - 3415 Clarks River Road, Paducah, KY 42003, 270-443-9978
Legends Bar-B-Q - 2008 Cairo Road, Paducah, KY 42001, 270-444-0280
O'Tyme Hickory Pit Bar-B-Q - 1535 Broad Street, Paducah, KY 42003, 270-442-1680
Slim's Barbecue - 125 North 11th Street, Paducah, KY 42001, 270-442-1187
Starne's Barbecue - Joe Clifton Drive, Paducah, KY, 502-444-9555


Jerry's Bar-B-Q Shack - Pembroke Road, Pembroke, KY, 270-475-4844


Richardson's Bar-B-Que - US Highway 62 North, Powderly, KY 42367, 270-338-3862


Mike's Western Kentucky BBQ - 705 Mechanic Street, Princeton, KY 42445, 270-365-1777


Vince Staten's Old Time BBQ - 9219 US Highway 42, Prospect, KY 40059, 502-228-7427
Willy B's Smokehouse Barbeque - 6313 River Road, Prospect, KY 40059, 502-228-5333


Perkins Bar-B-Que - 505 Country Meadows Drive, Providence, KY 42450, 270-667-7959


C & C Fraley BBQ - 821 North Dixie Blvd, Radcliff, KY 40160, 270-352-0042

Russell Springs

Little John's Grocery & Restaurant - 4172 S Highway 76, Russell Springs, KY, 270-866-9494


Ed's Barbeque & Catering Service - 5521 Clarksville Rd, Russellville, KY 42276, 270-726-4136
Roy's Pit Bar-B-Q - Bowling Green Road, Russellville, KY, 270-726-8476
Roy's Pit Bar-B-Q - 101 Sarah Lane, Russellville, KY 42276, 270-726-8057

Science Hill

Barn BBQ - 4427 North Highway 27, Science Hill, KY 42553, 606-423-3551


Smoke Shack BBQ - 100 Holt Drive, Scottsville, KY 42164, 270-237-5629


BBQ Shack - 99 US Highway 41 North, Sebree, KY 42455, 270-835-2050


Sonny's Real Pit Bar-B-Q - 3580 South Highway 27, Somerset, KY 42501, 606-678-0198

Summer Shade

Mr Q's BBQ - 999 Summer Shade Road, Summer Shade, KY 42166, 270-428-5843


Fat Boy's Bar-B-Que - 2460 Said Road, Symsonia, KY 42082, 270-851-7744


Paul & Nora's Barbecue - Edmonton Road, Tompkinsville, KY 42167, 270-487-9271
R & S Barbecue - 2nd Street, Tompkinsville, KY 42167, 270-487-9462
Sam & Terrei's Bar-B-Que - 313 South Main Street, Tompkinsville, KY 42167, 270-487-6440


Good Ol' Days Bar B Que - 620 Old Frankfort Pike, Versailles, KY 40383, 859-873-9520
Kessler's Bar-B-Q Station - 199 South Main Street, Versailles, KY 40383, 859-879-6900


Tina's BBQ Restaurant - Highway 42 West, Warsaw, KY 41095, 859-567-2187


Peak Brother's Bar-B-Que - 6353 US Highway 60 West, Waverly, KY 42462, 270-389-0267

I'm conversant in Alabama and Texas barbecue.The only barbecue I've found that's of comparable quality in Kentucky was at Ken-Tex in Shelbyville.Is there better barbecue to be had or is this the finest?

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  1. I am not really a bar b que lover but I will attempt some help.
    Eastern Ky isn't really known for it, I have had decent bar b que from Smokey Pig in Bowling Green but it was a while back.Sonny's(Somerset) is a chain as is Buddy's(Corbin) ...when I lived in Somerset I would eat at Sonny's but not somewhere I would seek out...just not much there. You should go to Cliff Hagen's just because it rocks but they don't have Bar b que...doesnt matter the steak is great.

    5 Replies
    1. re: LaLa

      It seems like you know E.Kentucky like the back of your hand.How much is a ribeye steak dinner running these days at Cliff Hagan?Also,where are you going for your country ham breakfast in Laurel,Knox,Pulaski-hell I'd even be willing to drive to Bell County?Ever been to Flo-Coe[sp?]?
      I had one barbecue dinner at Buddy's.That one will do me for the next 20 or so years[uncured wood is not a good idea when smoking meat].Also,remember the old shack by the side of the road in Williamsburg that had great barbecue?Any word on what ever happened to that man?

      1. re: scrumptiouschef

        I guess I to my husband's job I have lived all over the state and in a few others.I am from Laurel though and that is where my family reside. I usually get the special at Cliff's around 18.00 for a rib-eye, potato, salad bar, and bar....of course a couple extra for some yummy mushrooms.When we lived there it was our Saturday night out....before kids and such.I am lucky because my husbands extended family lives a county over so we still get to go after our visits to them.
        I think the guy in Williams burg had more than BAR B QUE and that is why he is no longer there,LOL.
        I never get country ham out because it with beaten biscuits or baby biscuits is at every party we attend or something we eat at home.
        I am so lucky that even though I have moved on to yet another state,,,still Southern!!!! lovely parents brought me some country ham and beer cheese this week!

          1. re: LaLa

            Full report coming soon.Ate high on the hog across the area for the duration.

      2. 'Pink Pig Bar-B-Q Carry Out - 581 East Main Street, Frankfort, KY 40601, 502-223-7343'

        Pink Pig has been shut down for a couple of years, which is a shame. Very tasty and unique barbeque.

        1. Over the years,there seems to be a concensus that bbq in Ky/Tn begins west of I-65.

          Seeking out meat and threes and some chilidog places in the eastern/southern part of the state usually attract roadfood folks.


          1. If you are in Owensboro area, Moonlite is a legend. The Bar b que is good and the sides on the buffet are great, baked beans, green beans, shoepeg corn, brocoli casserole, dressing, country ham, catfish fiddlers, shrimp and fried oysters on Fridays, a hugh salad bar, great homemade desserts. the best cornbread muffins and rolls you ever ate. I have not named every thing on that bountiful buffet. I forgot the burgoo. If you leave there hungry, it is your own fault.

            2 Replies
            1. re: SammieQ

              File this under better late than never:Took a nice trip to Ohio,Kentucky and Tennessee over the New Year and just finished up my report.

              The distance from the greater Cincinnati airport
              to Pompilio's restaurant is 10 miles.When this minor trek takes a little under 4 hours[ice out conditions,dozens of cars crashing into ditches and rescue choppers hovering over me and my rental Hyundai]I've nearly starved to death.

              I'm a mark for old restaurants so when I started planning my trip to Kentucky/Ohio/Tennessee I envisioned myself eating a Five Way in some ancient decrepit diner,posted a request for recommendations and received a total of one response.So,perhaps the death of Cincinnati's chili scene has not been exaggerated.Perhaps like Austin's it's been replaced by pho house wars or pitched ceviche battles.I don't know.

              I iceskate my way across the hard-frozen parking lot and walk inside where it's conspicuously bright and surprisingly big with 3 dining rooms and a small bar area.The restaurant is 90% occupied and I feel fortunate to score one of the last available tables.If I don't get food soon a scene could breakout so I rapidly scan the menu,hone in on the brasciole and set back to soak in the 75 year old scene.My salad comes and it's boring.Ice-y iceberg lettuce,a bite of cucumber,one cherry tomato sawed in half and a plastice ramekin of house Italian dressing which is sweet as candy.A basket of white bread comes and I see the appeal-if I'd been coming here since I was 8.It's basically lightbread and could easily have come from a Kern's bakery .

              The brasciuole is a pounded round steak served like a rouladen stuffed with lots of garlicky bread crumbs,topped with marinara and served with a side of plain spaghetti.It's good but has suffered from being prepped at some point in the past then carelessly wrapped before refrigeration.Like most of the patrons it has achieved AARP status.The marinara is a simple version of the classic sauce.It will not bring to mind slow cooked,wonderfully complex versions you've hopefully had in the past.I finish wolfing down my food,pay my waitress and make my way to the lounge which is bustling with locals;Secretaries on the make,insurance reps chain smoking Pall Malls,harridans sipping vodka tonics...just another Tuesday night in Newport,Kentucky I reckon.

              After savoring a couple good stiff bourbon sodas and reading the better part of City Beat I make my way into the night air,fire up the Hyundai and begin the low hard slog toward Loveland.

              I did lots of eating over the next few days.Here are a few of the highlights:

              Billy Bob's Drive In.Barbourville,Kentucky
              One of the great delicacies of Appalachian cooking is the fried baloney sandwich.
              The classic pairing[on par with Thomas Keller's work with Hoel] is with a frosted glass of Kool-Ade or perhaps Pepsi and a hefty portion of Grippos Barbecue Potato Chips.So are my thoughts as I sit in my car at Billy Bob's in Barbourville Kentucky.The baloney arrives on untoasted white bread,nicely dressed with mayonnaise,chopped iceberg and tomato.A side of Ore-Ida style crinkle cuts and a styrofoam cup of rootbeer complete the combo.The scene is pure rural Americana:An AMC Pacer pulls up filled with towheaded children.Their faces are gleeful or perhaps in some stage of oxygen deprivation as the old rattletrap is heaving blue smoke all over the parking lot.If you're a classic car lover I saw many examples on the roads of Eastern Kentucky;Gremlins,Chevettes,Pacers,Eagles and Monte Carlos are all still common and other than pouring blue smoke,appear to be running like tops.

              Something's Brewing.Corbin Kentucky
              I require alot of coffee.Good coffee.In Austin this is not difficult.I'm friends with a couple top baristas and I know the city's coffeeshops intimately.On the road this addiction can be a problem.In a rural town in Appalachia the situation can get serious.Something's Brewing is inside a Suzuki Dealership on the side of busy state highway 25E.I order my cup,peer inside a very depressing tip jar,make a deposit and head to my table under the strains of Night Ranger[!].

              Somethings Brewing provides a nice hang,the wi-fi's fast[a previous visit to Corbin had me at loose ends.I needed public wi-fi,called the "Corbin Center for Technology and Development"and inquired as to where the hotspots were.The girl had never heard of "wireless internet" or WAHRLUSS EENTERNAYET as she so memorably called it]service friendly,coffee's terrible but I don't care.I sit outside under a gorgeous Winter sun,the view of the busy highway and a nearby row of Long John Silver,Pizza Hut and Dairy Queens puts me in a good mood.

              Lion's Den.Corbin,Kentucky
              Corbin is an odd little hamlet.Walking into the Lion's Den[which sits on top of an impressive mountain,up a long and winding road above busy I-75]I'm met by a bouncer wielding a stack of food stamps.To enter you pay a $5 cover,receive a voucher for a like amount of food which must be spent within 30 days.The archaic liquor laws of this calcified municipality state that X amount of revenue must be derived from food.

              Sell too many Bud Lights and not enough mozzarella sticks and somebody's going to jail.

              I pay up,order a bourbon and soda[which is interpreted to mean Pepsi]and begin my hang.The crowd is diverse.Lots of "Missouri Compromise" haircuts for the men,acid jeans and mid-period Joan Jett haircuts for the ladies .Soundtrack includes Night Ranger[again],Starland Vocal Band and Musical Youth.I vow to leave as Der Kommisar begins playing and place my order for two undressed baked potatoes to go.The bakers are completely dessicated,loaded with low grade cheddar cheese,bacon from last weeks breakfast buffet and melted schmears of fake butter.The Lion's Den is a good spot to listen to a baffling selection of 80's music rendered in a 100% irony free atmosphere of vintage haircuts,cheap drinks and bad food.

              Roark Meat.Near Gray,Kentucky
              When I visit a strange town the 1st thing I do is gather up a Yellow pages and turn to "meat".I've made many a discovery this way and found a real jewel in Roark Meat between Corbin and Barbourville.The hills of the Cumberland Mountains are gorgeous.25E winds along through rolling farmland and woods thick with Oak and Hickory.The occasional hamlet pops up with a quick mart or gas station but there's really very little in the way of development.If a body wanted to retire to rural America you could do a lot worse than this region.It is away from it all.Roark's sits a hundred yards or so off the highway in an ancient red brick building that contains a slaughterhouse,meat packer and meat market.Rates for slaughtering and dressing whatever you care to bring them are posted on the wall.I talk to the young man behind the counter and he informs me they are covered up during deer and elk season and stay busy year round killing and dressing dressing primarily hogs and steers with the occasional goat or sheep thrown in for good measure.I procure a 12lb pork shoulder,two one pound ribeyes and 4 bone in pork chops,each 2"thick.Time proved all the purchases to be sound.The pork shoulder,after 10 hours of cooking was fatty and delicious,the ribeyes well marbled and tasting of well fed steer and the pork chops,fried then roasted,from a good quality hog.Every community needs a good slaughterhouse and meat market and Knox county Kentucky has it in Roark Meat.

              Hong Kong.Knoxville,Tennessee
              I expected greatness from Hong Kong.Sichuan is one of my favorite regional foods.I've pursued it across two continents and am fortunate to live near one of the best ones in the states:Asia Cafe.Austin,Texas.I've got my Dad with me today and he's a steely eyed hound from the old-school.As I've said before;he was old-school when they built the school.We enjoy the cilantro fish cakes as a starter then move on to twice cooked Sichuan pork and Salt and Pepper Flounder as our mains.Dad's practically foaming at the mouth.Going on and on about how great everything is but I'm not tasting the fire,the electric intensity that to me defines the cuisine.Everything is good but something is missing.

              Every couple years I like to get a burger combo at a fast food restaurant.Typically it does little more than remind me of how bad production line assembly food is and that's ok.Hardees always seemed to have a curious business model.If a small town in the rural south had one fast food joint it was always going to be a Hardee's.I like that fact for some reason I have yet to figure out.Maybe it's the Lewis and Clark aspect of freezer truck pioneering.This burger tastes gray.The signature charbroil on the beef is missing.The fries are faux hand cut and taste like nothing.They are devoid of flavor.As a non-ketchup eater all I can do is salt like hell and hope for the best.Nope.The patient is dead.As is the dining room of the Hardees.I'm the only person here.Maybe everybody's up the street at the spanking new McDonalds.

              Istanbul Palace.Lexington,Kentucky
              I've ranted and raved about this place before. and I hate to admit it but I had the exact same dish as last years visit.If I lived in Lexington this would be one of my regular restaurants.

              Benton's Country Hams.Madisonville Tennesse
              It won't be long before the big bacon craze that's seized the USA will fade and just leave us lifers sitting around talking about bacon while our bellies are curing in the bottom of the fridge.
              Same way we've always done it.
              Talking to a good friend who's cooking for a living in Yountville CA, he freaks out when I tell him I just got back from Benton's in Tennessee.Seems like this humble little curing shed's achieved some nationwide acclaim since some magazine wrote a piece on them awhile back.I'm halfway through my 8lb allotment and everything you've heard is true.It's the best bacon you're likely to ever have.Hits like a big,salty smoke hammer.Can't wait to tack into the 17lb country ham I've got sitting on my bookshelf right bout now.

              La Favorita.Lexington,Kentucky
              The best moment of my visit to La Favorita came when I ordered a 10lb pork leg at the carneceria in the back of the tienda.The butcher left and when he came back he had the unwrapped haunch braced up on his shoulder next to his ear and was walking along whistling.I loaded up on Mexican groceries at this small,well stocked market.Garlic,Chiles Pasilla,Oaxaca,Poblano and Cayenne.Dried Posole,Crema Mexicana,Tortillas from El Milagros excellent bakery in Chicago and tomatillas and avocadoes.

              Anchor Grill.Covington,Kentucky
              Another of my must eats when I'm in the region.I always get the big breakfast with country ham,biscuits,grits,gravy and fried eggs.Walking into this homey little mom and pop on a cold day is a treasure.Expect to get sugar pied by the waitresses.

              Doughnut Diner.Corbin Kentucky
              Every little town needs its own doughnut shop and Corbin is fortunate to have a good one in Doughnut Diner.It's not going to blow anybody away but I found the doughnuts to be airy and pleasantly sweet.The coffee had plenty caffeine and the joint was seeing some good walk in business.It's not going to make you forget the icon[RIP Clovertop Bakery]but it is fine.

              Burger Boy.London Kentucky
              I'm a fried chicken eater who's pursued it all over the US.Burger Boy is my favorite source in Kentucky and really compares favorably to legends like Green Acres Cafe in B'ham and Princes in Nashville.This is simply prepared[dusted with seasoned flour and fried in good oil]chicken.Light on the frippery,heavy on the flavor.Burger Boy is no longer open 24 hours,they took Alice Cooper off the jukebox and the waitresses aren't as sassy as they once were but man it's some damn good chicken.

              I know.Where's the barbecue?The whole point of the op was to find some good barbecue and report back.That didn't happen but I did manage to get some good eating done in Kentucky while I was there.I have another visit looming and hopefully I'll get some smoked meat on my visit and document it.

              1. re: scrumptiouschef

                Neal's B-B-Q is in the Polo Club Chevron station, 6400 Polo Club Lane.Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Call (859) 285-1270.

                How's this new joint in Lexington?

            2. Marion Pit BBQ in Marion, KY was written up in one of the MAJOR national dining magazines (I can't remember which) as one of the best barbecue places anywhere. It's in a tiny town. Either drive-thru or eat in their picnic-style area. Get the best home-made desserts in the world at the marion cafe after you eat.

              Also hear great things about moonlight barbecue in owensboro but have never been. enjoy

              1 Reply
              1. re: getmygoat

                I second the kudos for Marion Pit BBq. It's one of the highlights of Crittenden County, Ky, a scenic and very rural destination where a large Amish population are becoming a tourist attraction. Moonlite, in Owensboro, is a bit overrated in my opinion.