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Food suggestions for a Kentucky road trip! [Owensboro, Bardstown, Louisville, Lexington and in-between]

Hello. My girlfriend and I will be traveling through Kentucky on a road trip. We would love to explore some of the local food Kentucky has to offer. We know we will be going through Owensboro for BBQ. Any picks for the best BBQ in Owensboro? I'm especially interested in mutton. We will also be going through Bardstown and the bourbon trail area. Food suggestions or off-the-beaten-path distillery suggestions? Also would be interested in suggestions for Louisville and Lexington. We're from New York, so we're not really interested in fine dining. We would like suggestions that include home-style southern, diners, local specialties and the likes. Also, where can we sample some Kentucky country ham? One last question: Do people in Kentucky actually eat/appreciate the hot brown or is that for tourists? Sorry if the post was rambling but we're excited to see what Kentucky has to offer. Thanks in advance!

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  1. Born and raised in Kentucky. Went to the University of Kentucky. Given a few Derby parties. Never had a Hot Brown. They look kind of heavy and messy to me. When I think of food from home I think of BBQ - in my corner of KY Mutton was popular (long time ago). It is hard to find now. Much more pork. I also think of ham - in and around Lexington a few years ago you could buy it by the pound at a Kroger deli. Haven't been back in a while. If you get a chance you might try Shakertown at Pleasant Hill. The last time I ate there I got real Kentucky Ham. While you are there try to drive around Woodford County (real horse country) beautiful pastures, barns and stacked rock fences. Try to get a meal in Midway - that used to be a great place to eat.

    1. This born and raised Ky girl loves hot browns..ESP from the brown hotel! We make them for parties even here in SC for parties and they are a hit. I think if one wanted to try it ...go for the best...which is the original !

      I prefer the Beaumont inn or the owl at Beaumont over the shakertown for a meal, but still enjoy a visit there.

      Try some beer cheese...a local speciality.

      1. Thanks to the both of you!

        1. just south of Elizabethtown, KY is the town of Glendale --.the town is charming, and there's a local placed called The Whistle Stop. (menu: http://www.whistlestoprestaurant.net/...) Kentucky favorites and the town is charming. Save room for the pie.

          The Hurst Drugstore in Bardstown is a great place to stop and get a milkshake. Old school. Yum.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ceciliaky

            We ate at the Whistle Stop about 8 years ago and it was surprisingly excellent.

            Just a little FYI, there is also a lunch counter called Tastebuds in the drug store in Wilmore, Ky. Very good food for a place that is really nothing more than a prep counter and eating counter. Good pizza and astoundingly good chicken salad.

            DT

            DT

          2. Also Kentucky born and raised but have lived on the West Coast for 20 years. This last spring we took my mother to The Beaumont Inn for her birthday and wow was it fantastic. LaLa is right on about that. Do not miss the orange lemon cake. They have a great bourbon list and also a solid wine list. In Lexington, The Merrick Inn is a must. We had a wonderful big family dinner there last year. I love hot browns but the food in the main restaurant in the Brown Hotel is just okay. The fancy restaurant there, The English Grill, is wonderful according to my sister. I always stay at the Brown because I love the lobby bar. Great bourbon selection. The best country ham in Kentucky is from Finchville Farms so if you see this on any menu be sure to order it. Bonus: you can order it online and they will deliver a great cooked and sliced half ham to your door. That is how you get a country ham fix in Seattle.

            3 Replies
            1. re: bourbongal

              I'll have to look up Finchville Farms. I am in Seattle also and have been ordering ham for parties from Broadbent's in Cadiz, KY. My last order wasn't as good as I expected. I, too have enjoyed Beaumont Inn, but was afraid to recommend. It has been many years since I've been there and sometimes places don't change for the better. Didn't think of Merrick Inn. It was always a favorite of the Lexington area branch of my family.

              1. re: libstewart

                Try Order #204 their half, cooked, sliced country ham. It is very thinly sliced and, in addition to being great right out of the package, works well in any recipe that calls for prosciutto.

            2. For your Owensboro BBQ, many people favor the Moonlite for mutton, but I had a recommendation for Old Hickory and really enjoyed that.

              There's an excellent old diner in Louisville called The Twig & Leaf that does a good breakfast.

              In Lexington, I'm still keen to try the Tolly-Ho, but I made the mistake of trying to get there along with everybody else for a Wildcats basketball game and settled for some surprisingly decent BBQ at a chain place called City instead. There's also a massive old drive-in called the Parkette in Lexington. The burgers are ordinary and boring, but it's been restored really well and the fried chicken's good.

              3 Replies
              1. re: MarieLetsEat

                I'm not sure I'd call the burgers "Ordinary and boring." While there nothing special they're still quite solid. The other thing is, they can be very nostalgic. The Big Mac is McD's version of a burger that was sold at just about any drive in worth it's salt back in the day.

                The fried chicken is outstanding and a piece of history as well. It's the original Kentucky Fried Chicken. The good Colonel bought the name back in the 50's.

                One piece of advice I will give is don't eat at the distilleries. The food isn't that great.

                Here is where I've eaten in Ky with pictures and much more indepth reviews.
                http://davwudsfoodcourt.blogspot.ca/s...

                DT

                1. re: Davwud

                  Really enjoyed reading of your food adventures. Nicely done!

              2. For Louisville, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT go to the Twig and Leaf, it's greasy and grimy.. not good at all. For a great breakfast try WIldEggs, Toast on Market or Superchef. For lunch, you have to go to Miss C's on Chestnut.or Hillbilly Tea,
                For Dinner, it depends on what you want, Nice or hole in the wall, we have everything, the best streets to eat on are Bardstown Rd, East Market or Frankfort Ave... I'll give you a some from each.. on Bardstown Rd we have expensive (Palermo Viejo and Seviche) to cheap (Impellizeri's Pizza), On E. Market we have Decca, Mayan Cafe, La Coop, Taco Punk, Rye, anhd Garage Bar, on Frankfort Ave we have Sari Sari... to name a few, I'll post websites...

                Breakfast
                http://www.wildeggs.com/
                http://toastonmarket.com/
                http://www.superchefsbreakfast.com/me...
                http://www.pleaseandthankyoulouisvill...
                Lunch
                http://www.misscskitchen.com/
                http://www.hillbillytea.com/
                Dinner
                Bardstown Rd:
                http://www.sevicherestaurant.com/
                http://www.impellizzeris.com/
                http://www.legallorosso.com/
                http://www.urbanspoon.com/cities/51-l...
                http://holygralelouisville.com/
                http://www.asiatiquerestaurant.com/
                http://www.lillyslapeche.com/
                http://www.funmiscafe.com/

                East Market
                http://themayancafe.com/
                http://www.harvestlouisville.com/
                http://www.coopbistro.com/
                http://deccarestaurant.com/
                http://ryeonmarket.com/
                http://wiltshirepantry.com/wiltshire-...
                http://www.tacopunk.com/
                http://www.garageonmarket.com/site/

                Frankfort Ave
                http://www.502elmundo.com/
                http://www.basarestaurant.net/
                http://www.urbanspoon.com/cities/51-l...

                and for dessert, you have to either try the Comfy Cow or Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen