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9 Foods to Try in Kentucky

Other dishes were born out of necessity while some of the classics came from Louisville and nearby places.

In Appalachia, early settlers had to find and grow their own food.

Regardless of the origin, you’ll find that most of the traditional dishes in town lean towards comfort.

Thanks in part to local chefs like OutiMichel, Abe Lansdale, and Graham Waller, Lexington has undergone a farm-to-table culture shift and now has more opportunities to enjoy local, Kentucky Proud foods.

If you want a truly local experience, pair these favorite meals with a glass bottle of Kentucky soft drink.

1- Kentucky Hot Brown

The Kentucky hot brown is an open-faced sandwich with layers of bread and meat covered in creamy Mornay sauce or cheese.

The first hot brown sandwich was created by a chef at the Brown Hotel in Louisville.

The hot brown may be Louisville’s creation, but it’s not the only delicious interpretation in Kentucky.

It is guaranteed to increase happiness and decrease productivity.

Winchell’s Restaurant and Bar is one of the three local restaurants that are celebrated for their hot browns.

2- Burgoo

Burgoo probably didn’t come from Kentucky.

This stew has been a Kentucky tradition for a long time and no one knows where it came from.

With multiple kinds of meat, beans, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and more simmered in a large pot, burgoo is a guaranteed way to feed a lot of people.

It tastes better when the weather is changeable.

After watching the thoroughbreds finish a morning workout at the track, you can enjoy a burgoo by the track kitchen.

One of their most popular menu items is burgoo, which is the old way with rabbit and elk.

3- Barbecue

The International Bar-B-Q Festival is hosted by the city of Owensboro in Western Kentucky, which is also known as the “Barbecue Capital of the World”.

Mutton barbecue is a Kentucky tradition that can be difficult to find in Lexington.

Blue Door Smokehouse and Red State BBQ have some of the best-pulled pork and brisket in the area.

4- Fried Chicken

When New Circle Road was a dirt track, the Parkette Drive-In opened in 1951.

Along with their Poor Boy sandwich, Parkette was once famous for their original recipe fried chicken, known at the time as “Kentucky Fried Chicken.”

Nowadays, you can find some memorable fried chicken in different establishments.

Fried chicken is very popular at the Merrick Inn.

If you’re looking for a quick fix without a dress code, try fried chicken from the deli.

5- Catfish

Central Kentucky’s rivers and creeks are full of catfish, so it’s no surprise that fried catfish shows up on many menus.

Kentucky Proud catfish should be used in the best iteration, and everything else should be prepared with batter from Weisenberger Mill.

All of Chef OuitaMichel’s restaurants tick all the boxes.

Kentucky catfish can be found at Smithtown Seafood or her restaurant in the Summit.

6- Lamb Fries

Lamb fries are not for the squeamish, but they were once a very popular food to try in the city.

Nowadays it can be difficult to find lamb fries in restaurants, but they are a regular feature on the menu at the oldest restaurant in the area.

The legendary Nighthawk Special is an 8-ounce tenderloin served with a Diego salad, and is a great option if you aren’t as adventurous as your dinner date.

7- Kentucky Beer Cheese

Kentucky is the birthplace of beer cheese and Hall’s on the River has been at the top of the game for 50 years.

Queen Elizabeth II left with a tub of beer cheese because she liked it so much, according to reports.

Competition is fierce and many brands have hit the market.

It is possible to add beer cheese to a burger as a rich, slightly spicy enhancement.

Kentucky’s Benedictine spread is an older one.

The spread was once meant for cucumber sandwiches, but can be eaten on any sandwich or dip for veggies.

8- Sticky Buns

There is an old-fashioned, Pennsylvania Dutch breakfast food called sticky buns, and the buns from Spalding’s Bakery are famous.

Since 1929, Spalding’s has been baking everything from doughnuts to sticky buns.

The doughnuts are made by hand before they are fried.

Locals line up at the door of this cash-only institution that often sells out early.

9- Appalachian Food

A short drive to the east is where many of the city’s residents came from.

These people brought a lot of their food traditions with them, making it a great place to try some classic comfort foods.

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