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Mar 11, 2011 05:45 PM

Louisville, Nashville and everything in between (what's good?)

My wife and I are taking a trip to Kentucky and Tennessee in early April. We'll be spending about a week in Louisville, a couple of days in Nashville and then heading back north through Virginia.

So, what's unmissable in Louisville and Nashville and what's unmissable between the two and between Nashville and Blacksburg? We have no preferences cuisine-wise, we only want to eat the best. We're also not necessarily into fine dining, if it's good we'll eat it.

We're coming from Montreal so we've had our fill of French and Vietnamese food. We want the local stuff.

Thanks guys!

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  1. Bowling Green, KY:

    If you are traveling on I-65 between L'ville and N'ville, swing into downtown Bowling Green, KY and
    give The Brickyard a try:
    They serve Mediterranean and Italian food. The lunch menu is best bet for affordable dinning.
    I love their Cannelloni!

    Also, Mariah's: is very good option!!

    If you were looking for more mom and pop type meat and 3 joints... let me know.

    Brickyard Cafe
    1026 Chestnut St, Bowling Green, KY 42101

    801 State St, Bowling Green, KY 42101

    3 Replies
    1. re: kelomaki

      Meat and 3 is something we can't get up here so we're definitely interested in that. Montreal has some really great Italian and Mediterranean food so we'll probably skip The Brickyard but Mariah's sound good. We'd like to go on the Southern Food Diet.

      Thanks for the tips! And hit us up with some great meat and 3s!

      801 State St, Bowling Green, KY 42101

      1. re: Tiny Iota

        I'm hesitant to recommend some of our local dives... They come and go quality'wise.
        You won't go wrong with Mariah's .. always good.

        I would recommend:
        Cambridge Market, 830 Fairview Ave:
        They always have a "Special of the Day" meats and choice of vegs. Very reasonable and good sandwiches too.

        Judy's Castle, 1302 Us 31w-Byp.
        Very good breakfast, Meat and 3's and the pies are awesome! Recently went smoke free.

        If you're wanting southern BBQ,
        Smokey Pig, 2520 Louisville Road
        Split Tree Barbeque, 115 Alvaton Road, Alvaton, KY

        If you do make it BG, be sure to visit our downtown "Fountain Square". Art galleries, boutiques, restaurants, shops..etc
        And drive thru Western Kentucky University's campus which should be in full bloom by early April.

        Cambridge Market & Cafe
        830 Fairview Ave, Bowling Green, KY 42101

        Judy's Castle
        1302 US 31W Byp, Bowling Green, KY 42101

        1. re: kelomaki

          Thanks for the meat and 3. We'll probably be going through Bowling Green and now we know where to eat. Everything sounds great!

    2. I don't know if you'll be going through/near Murray, but if you are it's worth a stop. I went to college there (originally from Louisville) and while it's a tiny college town that's loaded with chains, there are a few hidden treasures.

      Mary's Kitchen, right off 641, is a major greasy spoon with country friend steak that is UNREAL. I'm a bit of a connoisseur, it's my favorite food ever, and it's the best I've ever had. They're open 24 hours and serve breakfast all the time, and the staff is friendly and efficient. My best friends and I used to hang out for hours, talking or playing mahjong.

      The Big Apple cafe is an American/over-Americanized mexican food place, but their bean dip is pretty decent and the Apple burger is excellent and served on a slightly sweet house-made bun.

      The green curry at Jasmine is better than any I've had at some of the highest rated Thai places in Louisville. Their sushi is also wonderful.

      There are also a few good pizza joints in town -- Tom's Pizza (thin crust, good garlic bread), Mugsie's Hideout (fantastic, authentic Chicago-style deep dish with the sauce on top) and Matt B's (deliciously greasy, more New York style)

      By far my favorite restaurant ever in Murray, though, is Happiness. It's relatively americanized Chinese (not as bad as PF Chang's, but not the authentic Chinese menu at Oriental House in Louisville either) but they have the best lo mein I've ever had -- get the house lo mein(with a mixture of all the proteins that Happiness offers) or the shrimp. Get the spring rolls, too, they're fantastic.

      Oriental House
      4302 Shelbyville Rd, Louisville, KY 40207

      Big Apple Cafe
      1005 Arcadia Cir, Murray, KY 42071

      Tom's Pizza
      506 N 12th St Ste A, Murray, KY 42071

      1. We are planning a trip through Kentucky from Ohio and down to Nashville. We are planning to stop for lunch in Frankfort, KY at Rick's White Light Diner, it was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and got good reviews off Yelp. We will also visit the Buffalo Trace Distillery near Frankfort, where they supposedly give out samples of their liquor as well as bourbon balls. Who could resist?

        We haven't planned out all our favorites in Nashville, but will definitely be visiting Pancake Pantry near Vanderbilt campus for breakfast, the Loveless Motel for both breakfast and dinner (fried chicken!). We are deciding on a couple of meat & 3 places, haven't made up our minds yet.

        Won't be doing it this trip, but a visit to the Jack Daniels distillery in Lynchburg, about an hour's drive south of Nashville is always fun. I recommend Miss Bobo's Boarding House. If you do this, you will ABSOLUTELY need reservations.

        Pancake Pantry
        1796 21st Ave S, Nashville, TN 37212

        White Light Diner
        114 Bridge St, Frankfort, KY 40601

        3 Replies
        1. re: Diane in Bexley

          Loveless is fine, and is a tourist favorite, but really there's no need to go twice in lieu of experiencing another restaurant. There are plenty of places in town to get good fried chicken besides Loveless. You could even branch out into the Nashville specialty hot chicken.

          1. re: TLF

            Any good suggestions for fried chicken? And what is a hot chicken? Is it anything like what we call a hot chicken here? Basically an open faced sandwich with gravy on it?

            1. re: TLF

              Ditto on the Loveless and regarding Pancake Pantry I must say that the food is not the attraction. It is average at best and very expensive for what you get. People go there more to see and be seen. For some reason they stand out in line at times. Never understood that.

              Pancake Pantry
              1796 21st Ave S, Nashville, TN 37212

          2. There are a few good threads about Louisville and Nashville, but I have to mention Eiderdown and Hammerheads in Louisville.

   is a fantastic resource for the Louisville food scene.

            3 Replies
            1. re: LauraGrace

              We definitely plan on hitting up Hammerheads. What's the deal with Eiderdown?

              1. re: Tiny Iota


                I reviewed it awhile back. Their prices have gone up a HAIR, but it's still VERY reasonable for the quality of food!

                1. re: Tiny Iota

                  And update on Hammerheads: pulled pork sandwich, PBLT, and sweet potato fries all get this hound's seal of approval. Whoooooaaa, mama. YUM.

              2. If you have a hankering for Middle Eastern/Arabic food, there is a place in Nashville that is amazing. It's a little hole in the wall place on Nolensville Rd. Almost across from the zoo. It's called Kabab Erbil. From what I understand, the woman who cooks all the food has cooked at various Arabic restaurants in town and each time she moved her fans followed her. It must be a sign that her food is good!

                I think they now have a week day buffet. If you stop in for dinner, I recommend the lamb shank with white bean soup. Her gyro on rice is also worth the trip.