HOME > Chowhound > Kentucky & Tennessee >


Favorite local dishes in KY

So being a foodie and being in stationed in South Central Kentucky for the last 6 months, I thought I would share some of my favorite local food items in KY.

5. Baked Cabbage Wedges - I usually get them from the Smoke Pit outside Campbellsville, but they are offered at quite a few places around here. I kind of feel like this is campfire food, but there is something incredible about the simpleness of wrapping a cabbage wedge in tinfoil with butter, salt and pepper. These things just make me happy.

4. Chocolate Gravy - This breakfast item is usually served with biscuits. I get mine at Betty's OK Country Kitchen in Columbia, KY. There is nothing like slathering this mixture which slightly resembles a loose chocolate pudding on biscuits. It is a great condiment which adds just the right amount of sweetness to the beginning of my day.

3. Chili Buns - Okay this might seem a bit easy. These are like chili dogs without the dog, but I think there is an art to getting your toppings right and you never seem to miss the dog. People around here love them. You can find some great ones at Weaver's In London, KY. I have grown to really enjoy them.

2. Hot Banana Pudding - Okay, I am a huge banana pudding fan. When I first saw this I thought someone had forgotten to refrigerate the tray and put this out too early, but then I tasted this and I fell in love. I usually get this at Big Jim's Bar and Grill in Lebanon, KY.

1. Country Ham - A local specialty which you definitely should not pass up. The first time I went shopping, I loved seeing these hams hanging in the local supermarket. My favorite is Scott Hams but you can find many different brands and they all seem good. Experimenting with your glazes and dips is also fun. They can incorporate everything from ham drippings, bacon grease, root beer, coffee, or seven-up. It sounds crazy but the depth of flavor makes these ham my top pick for favorite local foodstuff.

Let me know what you love about Kentucky food.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Hey Tex
    Next time you're in London run on by the Dairy Dart for a chili bun.It's quite good and they make a dizzying array of homemade desserts as well as the elusive pineapple milkshake.

    There's a chili bun trail in Eastern Kentucky that's well worth trekking on,no need for the dog. The Rootbeer Stand in Corbin has a great one and they'll serve it to you in the footlong format as well.It's a seasonal drive in so it's not open yet but come March everybody will be lined up for the re-opening.

    Eastern Kentucky is also one of the few places where you can get a big bowl of soup beans with a hunk of white meal cornbread.

    A visit to London requires a stop by Burger Boy too. No chili buns but the best fried chicken I've found in the state.

    6 Replies
    1. re: scrumptiouschef

      White meal cornbread is not available in New York. We only have the stuff with too much sugar in it. When I see that I always ask "whose birthday is it?"

      1. re: scrumptiouschef

        We're gonna be driving by Corbin on the 31st of March and really want to try the Root Beer stand.

        Will it be open??


        1. re: Davwud

          They are opening for the Summer on March 23

            1. re: Davwud

              I always get a footlong hotdog with chili, mustard and onions...and since I only get to eat there once maybe twice a year when I visit my parents I get the cheesburger these days too! The onion rings are a must, if you have a partner in crime then you can share the onion rings and some french fires.Rootbeer float in a frosty mug! Most peple get a chili bun(without the hot dog).

              1. re: LaLa

                I wish I'd seen this sooner. We missed out on the onion rings.

                I loved the chili bun and the Dixie burger was really good too.
                Loved, loved, loved the root beer float. Not just was it good, I just loved the idea of having a root beer float.

                Anyway, more on my blog if you're interested. Pictures as well.


      2. Spoonbread in Berea at Boone Tavern...probably my favorite Ky food, when I feel homesick I always make it.
        Hot wings at Madison Gardens in Richmond
        I agree with Weavers,Also Houses Pool Room on th street right off main...they have great chili buns! I have to have a Burger at Dairy Dart but with fried pepper rings, My favorite of course is the rootbeer stand ...where I like the hot dog under my chili
        ...a foot long of course.And a frosty rootbeer float in a mug!
        The Hot Brown at the Brown hotel in Louisville....its better than sex :) Thank goodness I have almost perfected it since I don't find myself in Louisville much anymore.
        Lynn's Lunch Box in Somerset (some people call it Holsomebacks) they do these great little slider burgers, fried bologna and no bake cookies...out of this world! Between Somerset and Monticello on hwy 90 VIPS has a downhome breakfast that will rock your world.
        Beer Cheese.....I miss this immensely... my mom always brings me some when she comes to visit.... we like the homemade version at Porters ( the iga on fourth street in London)
        I am going home to visit in March I will have to remember to get a pineapple shake! I usually get a strawberry chocolate mix shake.

        4 Replies
        1. re: LaLa

          I'm so glad I found this site. My husband & I plan to visit the Louisville/Frankfort/Lexington area (also Bowling Green for a day) in late April, the week before the Derby. I wondered about the legendary Hot Brown @ the Brown Hotel, so I think that'll be something we'll try. Where is a good, but reasonably-priced place to try Burgoo? We'll be doing some Bourbon Trail visiting...so much to do & eat!

          1. re: smd7145

            If you're going to BG, slide through Owensboro and hit up Moonlite BBQ or Old Hickory for burgoo. You won't be sorry.

            1. re: smd7145

              Ooh, there is SO much to do that week in Louisville!! You're going to have a blast.

              In Bowling Green, check out the Smoky Pig for BBQ. Killer.

              1. re: LauraGrace

                Mark's Feed Store is a great BBQ joint that sells a pretty good Burgoo. Burgoo is the signature dish at a place called the Rudyard Kipling. They usually have great performers there playing for too small of an audience, either original plays or original music. In fact, there are only open if they have a performer that night so you'll have to try your luck, but the homemade Burgoo is something to write home about!

                Rudyard Kipling
                422 W Oak St, Louisville, KY 40203

                Mark's Feed Store
                1514 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40205

          2. Two... no three... of my favorite Kentucky foods can be found at the Bardstown Rd. farmers' market.

            1. Smoked catfish omelet. Sounds weird, tastes CRAZY good. Made to order with all manner of other local produce. I know it's not a "specialty" or anything, but it's made with 100% Kentucky ingredients (ok, maybe the oil they grease the pans with isn't local).
            2. Ham biscuits. See texavi's comments on country ham. It's the American South equivalent of paper-thin jamon iberico, but on BISCUITS.
            3. Tomato pie! Juicy, ripe tomatoes in a flaky crust. I can just picture someone facing a bushel basket full of tomatoes one hot July wondering what the dickens they were going to do with them all...

            Plus, I mean, Barbecue is a pretty obvious one! We cook a mean pig! :)

            1. Have you been to the Brickyard in Bowling Green Ky. It has a real chef and I've never ordered anything that wasn't spot on. They have the best tiramisu I've ever eaten. All is made in house. Loved by many.

              1. Try the ham at Broadbents.
                The best country ham I've had.

                It's over in the land between the lakes area.


                2 Replies
                1. re: Davwud

                  absolutely the best ham! we make a 3 hour drive to get it

                  1. re: Davwud

                    I am a big fan of Broadbents bacon too!

                  2. Texavi, you were out in the real sticks if you were eating in Columbia, Lebanon and Campbellsville! Earlier posts pretty much cover it, but I'll chime in, as I'm a Ky native, long removed, and have fond memories of the following:

                    Banana Pudding. Served warm, its a wonder to behold. Best store-bought I've ever tasted wasn't even in Ky: its at 18th Street BBQ [ I think I have the name right] in Marion, IL, right off the interstate. Ky's taste for this treat comes from the days when a RR depot at Fulton, Ky was the distribution point for bananas for much of the US

                    Country ham. Broadbents a classic, but Critchfield's in Lexington holds its own.

                    Hot Brown at the Brown Hotel. Other places do a good job with it, too.

                    Burgoo - never been to the Moonlite, always heard great things about it. The version served at Keeneland during the race meets is actually very good.

                    Beer cheese. Used to be very good at the restaurants on the Ky river near Boonesborough.

                    Pickled baloney, especially the long tube version sold from huge glass jars and served with saltine crackers in sleazy beer joints just across the county line from dry counties [when they existed ...] I'm thinking of the Salt Fork? River bottom at Lebanon Junction, Ky. I think it is [or was] made by Fisher's [sp.]. My grandfather, who was a bank examiner in Ky during the Great Depression, loved this stuff - its what he remembered eating in crossroads general stores for lunch when on the road in those bad old days. Sometimes called 'horse cock,' for obvious reasons ....

                    Boiled Custard. A home-made treat, can't think of Christmas without it.

                    Navy Beans and real cornbread [cooked with bacon grease, coarse, water-ground cornmeal, white or yeller, and little or no sugar].

                    Thanks for the memories, chowhounds!

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: RxDiesel

                      18th st BBQ in Marion should be 17th Street BBQ

                      1. re: RxDiesel

                        If GOD had meant for sugar to be in cornbread, he would have put it in my WHITE CORNMEAL!!!! SOUTHERNERs NEVER put sugar in cornbread.....that's for CAKE!!!!

                        1. re: thefluffyturtle

                          I hate sugar in cornbread too but the area in Ky my husband was raised in did put a tad of sugar in it. When I make cornbread I make a medium pone of each.

                          1. re: LaLa

                            Good to hear from ya....I'm from the Southern most tip of Ky and my Grandparents were from East Tennessee and Western NC....No sugar in these black skillets of bread!!!! Where is your Hubby from?

                            1. re: thefluffyturtle

                              He is from Jackson-Breathitt and when we lived briefly in Hazard when we were first married I noticed they did it there too. I am from London so no sugar in ours! LOL

                      2. I realize that this is a bit old, but I love to talk about Burgoo. In fact, there is a great PBS special on Kentucky Burgoo. http://www.stanwoodward.com/burgoo.htm

                        Tottally agree with aMillionDreams on Mark's Feed Store for Burgoo. Mark's is really spicy and amazing. Mark's has several locations and is primarily a BBQ joint, but don't let that keep you from ordering a healthy portion of burgoo.

                        Burgoo is totally different in Owensboro at Moonlite or Old Hickory. It is really good and probably more "authentic" to Kentucky's past, than Mark's, but that doesn't always mean better, in my opinion. Owensboro uses a lot of mutton and the burgoo is thinner and the meat has been cooked down more. If you are in Owensboro, you have to go and enjoy Moonlite or Old Hickory! It is very good.

                        If you are in Louisville, go for Mark's! You won't be disappointed.

                        Happy Eating!

                        Mark's Feed Store
                        1514 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40205

                        1. Hamburgers at Ferrells in Hopkinsville.

                          1. Got a chance to eat at Wallace Station yesterday and thought it was great. The burger (which Guy Fieri hailed as in his top 5) was very good but I'm not sure it makes my top 5.

                            The East Hampton (or something like that) sandwich that Mrs. Sippi had was amazing.

                            The Danger Brownie was also outstanding.

                            A terrific place that makes pretty much everything in house. Including the mustards.



                            Wallace Station
                            3854 Old Frankfort Pike, Versailles, KY 40383

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Davwud

                              Im glad you liked it DT! It is one of my favorite spots! I love the Inside Out Hot Brown! The bread is amazing. I also love their maccaroons! Yum! I need to make a trip there soon!


                            2. I know it's an old thread, but as a long displaced Kentuckian, just found it and had to chime in on the spoon bread at Boone Tavern in Berea. Just the best (altho' I've heard the B.T. has changed a lot.) Also had great country ham at one of those restaurants around Boonesborough on the KY River. Ah, good memories.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: pine time

                                That would be HALL'S ON THE RIVER......best BEER CHEESE EVER!!!!!

                                Oh...and my opinion......The "OTHER PLACES" make a better HOT BROWN than the Brown Hotel....

                                1. re: thefluffyturtle

                                  I would be interested to hear who you THINK does a hot brown better than the Brown as I have not found that to be true.

                                  1. re: LaLa

                                    Hey again LaLa....Two stand out in my mind.....Columbia Steak House in Lexington and Buffalo and Dad's in Lexington....the latter being the BEST!!! There are others, but it's been a while since I've been up there.
                                    The Brown tries to "perk it up" too much....I will tell you that more than probably the cooks from 30 yrs ago are better than the ones these days.

                                    Oh, and that BURGOO question??? Hands down KEENLAND has the best!!!

                                    1. re: thefluffyturtle

                                      Another favorite....CORNBREAD DRESSING....doesn't have to be Thanksgiving....we have it all year....just whenever we get a "hankering"

                                      1. re: thefluffyturtle

                                        I agree with Buffalo's and Dads but I would still have to go with the brown Hotel. For ME it is the one that all others should aspire to be,LOL
                                        Really I have never gotten past the nighthawk special at Columbias!

                                        I agree with the Burgoo at Keeneland....but hey everything is better at the track!

                                        1. re: thefluffyturtle

                                          +1 for Keeneland's Burgoo! My favorite! Their bread pudding is awesome too!

                                  2. There's nothing better than the Nonesuch Kiss - it's heavenly - it's on the menu at The Glitz restaurant located in the basement of an old school out in the beautiful Bluegrass horse country outside of Versailles. Two sisters own restaurant and Irish Acres Antiques (which is the rest of the school building). They are open March 15 through December. The menu changes every two weeks and made from scratch in their kitchen. The Nonesuch kiss is chocolate, ice cream and all the rest. It's a perfect dessert following a delicious meal. and worth the drive.