1. Vietnam Kitchen, Louisville
Located in a strip mall in south Louisville, Vietnam Kitchen doesn’t look like much. But go inside and you will have the most authentic Vietnamese food you’ll find in Kentucky. It’s nearly always packed, but worth the wait. Plus the portions are usually pretty big, so you’ll have leftovers. Located at 5339 Mitscher Avenue, Louisville, KY 40214.
2. Judy’s Castle, Bowling Green
This greasy spoon is a classic American diner. They serve lunch and dinner, but breakfast is their specialty. Located at 1302 US 31W Bypass, Bowling Green, KY 42101.
3. Dorsie’s Dairy Bar, Pikeville
This drive-up restaurant is sure to give you a one-of-a-kind experience. There’s no seating, so the idea is to eat in your car or the surrounding area. Go here if you’re looking for a classic hotdog, hamburger and french fries, or milkshake. Located at 667 Bypass Road, Pikeville, KY 41501.
4. Seafood Lady, Louisville
Possibly the best seafood in Kentucky, the Seafood Lady has a heart-warming success story. Owner Nichelle Thurston was so good at preparing her New Orleans-style shrimp boil, people would pay her to make it for them. She went from running a makeshift restaurant out of her house, to operating a food truck, to finally having a bricks and mortar restaurant that almost always has a line out the door. Located at 617 W. Oak Street, Louisville, KY 40203.
5. Bread of Life Cafe, Liberty
With a buffet and menu full of traditional country cooking, you’re going to leave here full and happy. They’re also famous for their homemade rolls, cakes, and pies. They may be off the beaten path, but it’s definitely worth the drive…from anywhere. Located at 5369 US-127, Liberty, KY 42539.
6. Red River Rockhouse, Campton
For some food from local farmers, check out this farm-to-table restaurant in the Red River Gorge area. A hearty breakfast burrito made with farm fresh eggs is exactly what you need to fuel up for a hike. Located at 4000 KY-11, Campton, KY 41301.
7. Harper’s Catfish, Scottsville
Down a gravel road in Scottsville is a small, old-looking building, but do not be deterred by the exterior. They serve huge portions of excellent fried catfish for cheap. If you’re feeling adventurous, they have frogs legs on the menu too. Located at 3085 Old Gallatin Road, Scottsville, KY 42164.
8. The Hot Plate, Franklin
Another diner-like restaurant that serves down home country cooking, you’re going to get big portions here. But try to save room for dessert. People rave about the pies. Located at 4138 Bowling Green Road, Franklin, KY 42134.
9. Wagner’s, Louisville
This historic Louisville staple doubled as a pharmacy until 2014, but it’s a must-stop place if you’re in the city, especially for breakfast. Located across the street from Churchill Downs, Wagner’s is a favorite spot for jockeys, trainers, and backside workers. If you’re there Derby week, you might even get lucky and spot a celebrity. Located at 3113 S. 4th Street, Louisville, KY 40214.
10. Wunderbar, Covington
This German-themed dive serves cold brews, gigantic burgers, and soft pretzels that are significantly larger than your hand. They have a nice patio, and occasionally there will be live music. Located at 1132 Lee Street, Covington, KY 41011.
11. Red State BBQ, Lexington
One of the best barbecue spots in Lexington, Red State has a wide selection of sauces from different regions to choose from, plus really great ribs and brisket. The restaurant is very casual and there are writing and drawings all over the wall, which adds to its relaxed, low-key atmosphere. Located at 4020 Georgetown Road, Lexington, KY 40511.
12. Bluebird Cafe, Stanford
This little corner cafe serves high-quality farm-to-table dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you stop in for breakfast, try the Bluebird Bennie—eggs, ham, fried green tomatoes, red pepper coulis, and gouda cream sauce. Excellent. Located at 202 W. Main Street, Stanford, KY 40484.
13. DaVinci Little Italian, Hopkinsville
A little slice of northern Italy is right here in Hopkinsville. Serving traditional Italian cuisine, the chef was trained in Italy, so you know you’re going to be getting authentic food. He even makes his pizzas with fresh dough and bakes them in an Italian brick oven. Located at 304 North Drive, Hopkinsville, KY 42240.
14. Morris Liquors and Deli, Louisville
This tiny liquor store also serves soup and sandwiches. The atmosphere is reminiscent of an old-fashioned general store, with whole smoked hams hanging on display. For a soup and sandwich place, it’s pretty filling. Their country ham sandwiches and French dip are some of the most popular items. Located at 2228 Taylorsville Road, Louisville, KY 40205.
15. Skybridge Station, Pine Ridge
This place only serves gourmet hot dogs and quesadillas, but it’s genius because they make those two items very well. They also have several local beers on tap. They’re located in the Red River Gorge area, so it’s a perfect place to go relax, eat a big meal, and drink a cold one after hiking. You can also buy rock climbing gear here, and if you forgot your tent and need a warm place to sleep, rent one of the bunkbeds they have upstairs. Located at 8 KY-715, Pine Ridge KY, 41360.