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Kentucky/Tennessee Adventures

Hello everyone! I'm a NY hounder and food blogger who will be traveling through Kentucky and Tennessee in a few weeks.

I'm ultimately driving to Memphis for a friend's wedding, but will be taking my time. We're doing a good exploration of Kentucky and will be heading through the bourbon travel from Lexington to Louisville. One night in Louisville, which is a city I love. I ate at Proof on Main a few years ago and had a great time.

Then from Memphis, we'll be driving across the state to Nashville and then to Asheville, North Carolina.

I eat everything and am looking for some great food adventures while I'm down south. Anything that is a must-taste and specifically anything that is truly unique to that part of the country. I'm sure I'll be having lots of BBQ. What else do you guys recommend? Looking for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

Thanks in advance for all your help and I promise I will post a detailed report of my trip upon my return.


Proof on Main
702 W. Main Street, Louisville, KY 40202

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  1. Nashville...I would choose the Loveless Cafe! Great breakfast.

    Loveless Cafe
    8400 Highway 100, Nashville, TN 37221

    1. I always recommend The Smoky Pig to folks who'll be headed through Bowling Green. It's some of the best BBQ (ribs AND pulled pork) I've ever had the pleasure of devouring, and their sides are nothing to sneeze at either. Only down side is that EVERYTHING is served in styro take-out containers. But it's gooooood. They do a sliced pork shoulder that's bone-dry and disastrously messy to eat but incredibly flavorful -- almost bacony.

      Weirdly enough, the cafe at the visitors' center at Mammoth Cave National Park (of all places) has REALLY good burgers, fries, and sweet tea, served at a lunch counter straight out of 1965. That's between Louisville and Bowling Green.

      1. I don't often see Kentuckians post about this place (and maybe that should tell you something) but Mrs. Sippi and I stopped in at the Old Talbott Tavern in Bardstown because of the history and very much enjoyed it. They have a couple of Kentucky standards like the hot brown and burgoo.

        We've also stopped at a place called The Whistle Stop in Glendale, Ky that was fantastic. Best fried green tomatoes I've had.

        If you're heading down 75 towards the Tn. line then you must stop in Corbin. It's a small town where the Colonel got his start. There are replicas of the original Sanders empire and it's kinda neat. At the end of the day though, it's just a KFC. Worth a visit but not lunch.
        On the other end of town is the gem. The Root Beer Stand. An old fashioned drive in where they make their own root beer. It's a local legend. So much so it doesn't even have a sign.
        That area has it's specialty. The chili bun. It's like a chili dog without the chili. We stopped this spring and just loved it.


        Whistle Stop
        216 E Main St, Glendale, KY 42740

        Old Talbott Tavern
        107 W Stephen Foster Ave, Bardstown, KY 40004

        2 Replies
        1. re: Davwud

          I am confused...what exactly is it suppose to tell us?

          "I don't often see Kentuckians post about this place (and maybe that should tell you something)"

          1. re: LaLa

            Either they take if for granted or there is simply better around. Any time this kinda thread is started it's never brought up. That said, when it is, not one says it's bad either.

            We stopped there and loved the food and the ambiance. Take that for what it's worth. Two travelers passing through's opinion.


        2. Here's a couple of places along I 40 between Memphis and East TN.....................

          Ming Court Buffet and Grill @ 531 Highway 46 S # 1, Dickson, TN 615 - 446 - 6868.
          Whitt's BBQ @ 590 Hwy 46 South, Dickson, TN 615 - 446 - 7304. *
          Gondola Restaurant @ 625 South Cumberland St., Lebanon, TN 615 - 444 - 6016.
          Sunset Restaurant @ 640 South Cumberland St., Lebanon, TN 615 - 444 - 9530.
          Whitt's BBQ @ 401 South Cumberland St., Lebanon, TN 615 - 443 - 1919.
          Crawdaddy's West Side Grill @ 53 West Broad St., Cookeville, TN 931 - 526 - 4660. *
          Dipsey Doodle Drive In @ 2331 West Broad St., Cookeville, TN 931 - 372 - 2663.
          Logan's Roadhouse @ 1395 Interstate Dr., Cookeville, TN 931 - 526 - 9595.
          Big Boy's BBQ @ 229 Interstate Dr., Crossville, TN 931 - 787 - 1350.
          Brass Lantern Restaurant & Lounge @ 79 Chestnut Hill Rd., Crossville, TN 931 - 484 - 7657.*

          These should be 5/l0 minutes from I 40.

          1. Smokey Pig BBQ @ 2520 Louisville Rd., Bowling Green, KY. 270 - 781 - 1712.
            Center Point BBQ @ 1212 W. Main St., Hendersonville, TN. 615 - 824 - 9330.

            These are just off I 65 between Lville and Nville...............

            1 Reply
            1. re: Littleman

              Loved the Smokey Pig in Bowling Green. We tried the shoulder, shredded pork sandwich, small shredded pork plate, baked beans, mac & cheese, potato salad, creamy coleslaw, vinegary coleslaw, pecan pie and Derby Pie. Decided to go with 'sprinkle' re: the sauce ( I'm a newbie, so not sure if same vocab is used elsewhere),rather than 'dip', in case it was spicier than I expected, but would go with 'dip' if I revisit.
              3 of us left stuffed for $29, and the staff were so friendly.
              I'm so glad it had been mentioned on CH.

            2. The two are pretty famous. Gus' is in Memphis too and famous for fried chicken. They both are about 15 minutes from I 40 at Exit 35.

              Bozo's Hot Pit BBQ @ 342 Hwy. 72 W., Mason, TN. 901 - 294 - 3400
              Gus' Fried Chicken @ 505 Highway 70 W, Mason, TN 901 - 294 - 2028.

              1. Thanks for all the suggestions so far. I should also mention I may be staying in Lexington for a night and after Louisville will be driving to St. Louis. Possibly stopping through Owensboro to try some burgoo. Thoughts?

                7 Replies
                1. re: Sweeney856

                  Hope you don't mind me piggybacking on your thread...I'm doing a Chicago->NYC drive next week, via Kentucky. Specifically for some mutton BBQ and bourbon...

                  Which brings up Owensboro, which is renowned for the mutton bbq. But I can only find two places that serve it up (Moonlite and Old Hickory). What gives? Where are all the other mutton bbq joints, or is this mostly a backyard and competition thing?

                  1. re: Joe MacBu

                    Thirty years ago mutton bbq was a fairly common offering throughout mid-to-western Kentucky. To the best of my knowledge the two places you mentioned are now about it. Bourbon, of course, is still widely available ;-)

                    I've had bbq'd mutton exactly once, at a little roadside place between Barkley Lake and Cadiz that I'm sure is long gone. Years later, in 1999, driving back to Nashville from a high-school reunion, I went through Owensboro specifically to stop at Moonlite. But it was Sunday, and guess what? So don't plan to go there on Sunday...

                    1. re: Will Owen

                      Update: I see from their website that Moonlite is in fact open on Sundays. So either they weren't back in '99 or else they were closed for a funeral or something.

                  2. re: Sweeney856

                    If you hit Owensboro, stop at Moonlite. The mutton bbq is a must try and their other bbq is good as well. In Nashville, try the Copper Kettle for good meat & 3 - one downtown and other by David Lipscomb University. Also, either Mary's or Prince's for hot chicken. At The Table is another good Southern meat & 3 on 12th Avenue. Also, Bobbi's Dairy Dip on Charlotte Avenue - they do real soft serve ice cream the way it used to be and have good burgers too. Great bistro behind it called Miel so if you want to go more upscale for dinner then walk over to Bobbi's for dessert.

                    Copper Kettle
                    4004 Granny White Pike, Nashville, TN 37204

                    1. re: amh615

                      Arnold's is, was, and shall be for the near future the "Eppy-tome and pinochle" (as a friend used to say) of Nashville meat'n'threes. Monday is fried chicken, not to be missed. On 8th just south of the junction with Murfreesboro Road.

                      1. re: amh615

                        Well I'm an Owensboro native born and breed. Its a huge competetion between Old Hickory and Moonlight. Its just like fighting over U of L or UK. One or the other. We have the best bbq in the country. I've never found any mutton or burgoo as good as ours. They are both a wonderful treat fot the mouth but Old Hickory is the best in my book.

                        1. re: carriehurlburt

                          Tell ya what: if there's ever a contest between Moonlite and Old Hickory and they need some judges, I'm booking the next flight out there!

                    2. For a nice dinner in Lexington, I would suggest the Merrick Inn. Very traditional southern cuisine and wonderful service. Spectacular food. The other place I'd highly recommend for dinner that is near many of the distilleries on the "Bourbon Trail" is the Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg, KY. I was there a few weeks ago and had the best fried chicken livers I have ever eaten and their orange-lemon cake is a must. Their bourbon list is top-notch. The inn also has a more low-key spot called The Owl Tavern that my sister reports is great for lunch if you are driving through the area at mid-day.

                      1. Summit City
                        214 Main St.
                        Whitesburg, KY

                        Manchester Bakery
                        Richmond Rd.
                        Manchester, KY 40962
                        Run by Mennonites and has yeast donuts that just melt in your mouth.

                        Ridgewood BBQ
                        900 Elizabethton Hwy
                        Bluff City, TN 37620
                        They do not do much advertising, it is in the middle of nowhere and people often think the place itself is a little rough around the edges, but not many will dispute that the food is really good even legendary in some estimation.

                        The Wild Cow
                        1896 Eastland Ave.
                        Nashville, TN 37206
                        Yummy vegetarian.

                        Loveless Café
                        8400 Tennessee Highway 100
                        Nashville, TN 37221
                        A bit of a tourist trap, but fun and delicious.

                        Tomato Head
                        12 Market Square, Knoxville, TN
                        7240 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN
                        Pizza, salads, sandwiches, etc.

                        Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria
                        200 East Jackson, Knoxville, TN (Old City, near downtown
                        Good Pizza and lots of microbrewed beers on tap; plus many nights of the week they have live music too.

                        Bistro at the Bijou
                        807 S. Gay St.
                        Knoxville, TN 37902
                        Great food in a cozy atmosphere next to the oldest theater in Knoxville--plus, the owner is fabulous.

                        Tupelo Honey Café
                        Several Southeastern locations, including Knoxville, TN and Asheville, NC
                        1 Market Square, Knoxville, TN
                        12 College St., Asheville, NC

                        Laughing Seed Café
                        40 Wall St., Asheville, NC

                        Early Girl Eatery
                        8 Wall St., Asheville, NC
                        Farm to table southern food.