Department of Travel
Kentucky Restaurants Offer a Variety of Deliciousness
FRANKFORT, Ky. – As an established part of southern culture but with regional flare and famous hospitality, Kentucky has more than its share of renowned eateries and accomplished chefs. For starters, several long-established restaurants have a history for great Kentucky dishes that have visitors and natives alike scrambling for more.
Here, to whet the appetite, are thumbnail sketches of seven of the scores of well-known dining spots that are part of the Bluegrass State’s culinary traditions.
100 Main St. N
Berea, KY 40403
The Tavern, naturally named for Daniel, celebrated its 100th anniversary in March and continues to provide guests with traditional and creative southern cuisine. Their signature “Chicken Flakes in a Bird’s Nest”— a rich, creamy dish served in a nest of crispy potatoes -- and the much-loved, melt-in-your-mouth spoonbread served piping hot, maintain prominent positions on the menu. The restaurant is part of the hotel that was originally built to accommodate visitors to internationally famous Berea College. Berea students have always played a big role in Boone Tavern, which was constructed from bricks made by students and built by the college’s Woodwork Department. Nowadays don’t be surprised if you are served by friendly and courteous students in the dining room. The college provides a tuition-free education in exchange for student’s work at the Tavern and other venues. For more information about Berea, a charming Appalachian foothills town, visit www.berea.com/.
Doe Run Inn
500 Doe Run Hotel Rd.
Brandenburg, KY 40108
Doe Run Inn’s menu includes lots of Southern fare like fried chicken, pulled pork, smoked brisket, and country ham balls with lots of sides from which to choose. Sundays feature an all-you-can-eat buffet that includes a wide range of “comfort food”. Constructed around 1780 as a mill near Doe Run Creek, Thomas Lincoln, father of our 16th President, is recorded as a stone mason for the structure. Over the years, the inn has been a family resort, and when the restaurant was begun in the late 1940’s the name was changed to Doe Run Hotel. About a decade later, owners dubbed it Doe Run Inn. It’s now owned by Jim and Opal Greer. Find out more about Brandenburg at www.visitmeadecounty.org/.
The Brown Hotel
335 West Broadway
Louisville, KY 40202
The English Grill is a AAA Four-Diamond restaurant in the heart of downtown Louisville that features an eclectic menu ranging from grilled to perfection beef rib eye steak to curry marinated seared tofu —all grounded in Kentucky-based cuisine. Hailed as the best restaurant in Louisville by a member of the food press, this is where the famous “Hot Brown” open-faced sandwich of turkey, bacon, and tomatoes smothered with a béchamel cheese sauce originated decades ago. An extensive wine list includes more than 200 selections. Business casual attire is highly encouraged in a historic setting that is warmed by wooden pillars and stained glass windows. Cell phones are not permitted. For more information about Louisville, visit www.gotolouisville.com/.
Harland Sanders Cafe and Museum
1002 W. Dixie Hwy.
Order up your favorites at the site where Kentucky Fried Chicken icon Colonel Harland Sanders began perfecting his recipe and preparation technique for his world famous chicken in 1930. By 1937, the Colonel had built Sanders' Café in Corbin after discovering that the fried chicken on his menu, coated with his secret eleven herbs and spices, was the most popular selection. His franchise business soared to 200 restaurants in the 1950’s when the finger lickin’ good chicken began its journey to becoming an American icon. While in Corbin, visit the museum that tells the history of the chain, and inspect the original kitchen and a recreation of a lodging room that was part of the early business. Check www.corbinkytourism.com/ for more information.
The Seelbach Hilton Louisville
500 Fourth Street
Louisville, KY 40202-2518
The Oakroom at the historic Seelbach Hilton Hotel takes a New American approach to innovative cuisine that is presented with excellent service. Classic ethnic cuisine gets a modern interpretation with ingredients that are naturally grown or raised and then infused with Mediterranean, Asian and European influences. Kentucky's only AAA Five Diamond restaurant for 11 consecutive years, the Oakroom supports local farmers and preserves the best of the region’s food traditions. Guests experience world class dining as a keystone to enjoyment, culture and community. Presidents, celebrities and even gangster Al Capone frequented the Oakroom over the years since the Seelbach opened in 1905. See www.gotolouisville.com/ for more information about Louisville attractions and events.
Old Stone Inn
6905 Shelbyville Road
Simpsonville, KY 40067
At Old Stone Inn between Shelbyville and Louisville, pore over an extensive and taste-tempting menu with choices that range from bourbon barrel pork chops to pasta with pesto. Dine in a beautiful historic setting where attentive service is combined with polished, traditional Southern preparation. Construction of the inn is thought to have been completed in 1817, and since that time the inn has served as a stagecoach stop, tavern, residence and since the 1920s, a restaurant. Said to be one of Shelby County’s oldest continuously occupied buildings, Old Stone Inn is listed as a national historic landmark and has a long list of famous visitors including former President Andrew Jackson. www.shelbyvilleky.com/ has more information about the area.
Old Talbott Tavern
107 West Stephen Foster
Bardstown, KY 40004
Favorites like savory burgoo, fried-to-perfection catfish and slow-simmered pot roast are consistent choices at Old Talbott Tavern, said to be the oldest western stagecoach stop in America. Since the late 1700s the Old Talbott Tavern has served travelers with food, beverage and shelter. Filled with legend and lore, the tavern is located downtown on Bardstown’s old courthouse circle. Special lunch and dinner menus are available for large groups and parties including tour groups. Stay overnight at the bed and breakfast. Information about Bardstown’s other attractions is available at www.visitbardstown.com/.
Other Kentucky historic restaurants operating since the 19th century include Wolf’s Restaurant & Tavern in Henderson and Bianke’s Restaurant in Cynthiana.
The Kentucky Department of Travel’s web site lists scores of dining establishments throughout the state at www.kytourism.com/thingstodo/dininginterests.htm. Make a point to stop for taste-tempting selections at signature restaurants throughout the Bluegrass State. Whether you’re traveling across town or across the country, the experience of dining at any of these historic and flavorful locations will leave you wanting more.
The Kentucky Department of Travel, an agency of the Tourism, Arts & Heritage Cabinet, promotes the Commonwealth as a travel destination, to generate revenue and create jobs for Kentucky’s economy