Dining & Restaurants
With the immense popularity of food channels on television, cuisine-focused features on travel shows, the advent of celebrity chefs and more, interest in food and cuisine has grown tremendously, and so has Kentucky’s restaurant scene. From traditional “down home” southern fare to upscale fine dining and everything in between, there is a Kentucky restaurant to fit your “inner foodie”.
My Old Kentucky Dinner Train - RJ Corman
Based in Bardstown and Lexington this is a unique and fun way to see the wonderful autumn colours of the South. You will enjoy a gourmet meal in a fine dining atmosphere as you travel through Kentucky’s beautiful countryside. But it doesn't have to be autumn, My Old Kentucky Dinner Train operates all year round and offers special themed trips throughout the year too. Visit kydinnertrain.com to see the menu, view the calendar & reserve your seats.
Western Kentucky BBQ
The best places to try Western Kentucky BBQ: Country Fresh Meats Farmers Market (Sturgis); Thomason's Barbecue (Henderson); Henry's Boogalou BBQ (Owensboro); Dave's Sticky Pig (Madisonville); Hanson Country Market (Hanson); Good Ole Boys Bar-B-Q (Hanson); Brother's Bar-B-Que (Madisonville); Woodshed Pit Barbecue (Hopkinsville); Peak Brothers BBQ (Waverly); Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn (Owensboro); Old Hickory Pit Barbecue(Owensboro); Ole South Barbecue (Owensboro); Knoth's Bar-B-Q (Grand Rivers); Hutchen's BBQ (Benton); Starnes Barbecue (Paducah).
Kentucky is seeing a rise in craft beers. There are quite a few Kentucky microbreweries around the state, and more are popping up all the time. These small producers turn out specialty beers and experiment with new recipes and flavours. If you’re in the mood to try something new for the best beer experience visit: Rooster Brew (Paris); West Sixth Brewing (Lexington); Blue Stallion Brewing Company; Country Boy Brewing (Lexington); Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company (Lexington); Beer Engine Brewery (Danville); Hofbräuhaus (Newport); Great Flood Brewing Company (Louisville); Midway Café (Fort Thomas).
Louisville's Urban Bourbon Trail
Once you have visited the bourbon distilleries in and around Louisville and central Kentucky, you will certainly want to explore the city’s “urban bourbon” scene. Whether you are interested in bourbon’s place in the history and heritage of the city, or you want to be a part of the new, modern urban scene, the Louisville Urban Bourbon Trail is where you want to be.
The establishments on the Urban Bourbon Trail vary from historic hotel properties that once served Kentucky whiskey to the likes of Al Capone and F. Scott Fitzgerald to cosmopolitan “scenes” where urban trend-setters are making retro drinks such as the Old-Fashioned and Manhattan in vogue again. Five are in downtown hotels, four have been internationally recognised and all are serving up bourbon-inspired dining. All offer bourbon flights, special bourbon cocktails and all have at least 50 different bourbon labels on the bar with trained staff that can explain the nuances and tasting notes in the varied offerings from Jim Beam Black to Elmer T. Lee.
There are two ways to travel the Urban Bourbon Trail – with a printed booklet style passport or an electronic version. You can pick up your free passport at the Visitors Center (4th and Jefferson Streets in downtown Louisville) or at any of the participating stops (just ask your server). You can also download an electronic passport using the iPhone or Android app.
Stamp collecting has never been so much fun. When you’re traveling along the Urban Bourbon Trail, you’re in for cocktails classic and modern, live music, and the bourbon-inspired creativity of Louisville’s best bartenders and chefs. Each stop is well stocked with anywhere from 50 to 150 varieties of Kentucky’s signature spirit.
Kentucky food from Farm to Table
Farm-to-table (or farm-to-fork) dining simply means the food you’re eating came from a local farm. Kentucky’s farm-to-table restaurants have built relationships with local farmers who supply them with fresh produce–though many also have their own garden plots for harvesting.
Want to eat healthy and locally in Kentucky? Grab a table at these Kentucky farm to fork restaurants, bistros, cafés and farms:
TripAdvisor and Yelp reviewers rated the Red River Rockhouse American Café a 4.5/5–high marks for a sustainable-dining eatery in Campton. This quaint, charming eclectic café in the heart of the Red River Gorge, prepares and serves fresh, locally sourced food (organic whenever possible) – from breakfast to burgers, burritos and BLTs. Daily menu specials are determined by the availability of seasonal ingredients. Did we mention that they brew their own beer!
Want to get away–yet remain in a literally green sustainable environment along with a taste of Appalachia? Travel to the Snug Hollow Farm Bed & Breakfast in Irvine. This secluded 300-acre retreat in central Kentucky offers lodging (farmhouse and two comfortable cabins) and serves delicious gourmet vegetarian food for lunch and dinner (with reservations). Discover true garden to table dining with homemade rosemary braided bread and freshly picked salad veggies. A heaping side of “Holler” hospitality accompanies award-winning vegetarian cuisine.
Downtown Stanford’s Bluebird Café, one of central Kentucky’s premier farm-to-fork restaurants, is proud to support local farmers who practice sustainable farming and treat their animals ethically. “Serious about scratch made, fresh food”, the extensive Bluebird restaurant menu includes such favourites as a fried green tomato BLT, the Bluebird Brown and burgers served on a homemade sorghum wheat or buttermilk roll. They also serve great coffee!
You’ll find farm-to-table in the city, too. Four-star Chef Bruce Ucan, a pioneer in Louisville’s Farm-to-Table concept, describes the Mayan Café concept as traditional Mayan dishes infused with fresh, locally sourced seasonal ingredients. Monthly menu specials feature a seasonal theme paired with a signature beverage. Regular menu items include a daily house made “juice of the day” and the taste tested Tok-Set Lima Beans (lima beans with green onions, parsley and ground, roasted pumpkin seed).
“We’ve led the effort to support our local farmers by using products grown within a short distance of Lilly’s Bistro,” says Chef Kathy Cary, who introduced locavore-style farm fresh food to Louisville years ago. Her recipes reflect the original flavours of the Bluegrass state–with organic vegetables, free-range beef and artisan cheeses. The mouth-watering menu features Marksbury pulled lamb gyro, Stonecross BBQ pork, Old Hat Cattle Company burger and a Tomato Salad of the Day.
Ready for a grand culinary adventure? Whether you’re here for a day or a week, we encourage you to explore the state to find more farm-to-fork restaurants in Kentucky.