Dining May 11, 2021
The Ultimate Guide To The Best Restaurants In Kentucky — Pizzas, Tacos, Ice Cream, And More!
Kentucky may not be a place you immediately think of as being on the “cutting edge” of the culinary scene, but it should be. All across The Bluegrass State, there are talented local chefs making magic in their kitchens, taking Kentucky cuisine to the next level. Kentucky is home to an increasing number of top-rated dining options, offering elevated cuisine served with a side of Southern hospitality. Of course, that’s not to say it’s all fine dining,
Michelin star glitz and glam; in Kentucky you’ll also find loads of unassuming little spots that pack a big punch, as well as historic restaurants beloved by generations. And then, of course, there’s the bourgeoning bourbon and craft brewery scene in Kentucky, a movement that’s really put the Bluegrass on the map. Add it all up, and you’ve got a formidable force in foodie arena. Today we’re celebrating the culinary culture of The Bluegrass State, and sharing the very best dining, restaurants, and cuisine in Kentucky.
The Best Pizza In Kentucky
For a slice of classic New York-style pizza in Kentucky, go to
. Craft your own pizza or get one of their specialty pies. We like to think of the Margherita pizza as the barometer of a good pizzeria -- this deceptively simple pie lets the ingredients shine, with no room to hide. And the Margherita pizza at Goodfellas truly is a revelation.
The Most Delicious Tacos In Kentucky
There are tacos... and there are
. We're talking homemade tortillas, packed with Mexican spices and ingredients, piled with fresh salsa and guacamole (or sometimes, a simple squeeze of lime) -- real, authentic
. These are the tacos you'll find at
, an unassuming little taqueria tucked inside a strip mall grocery store.
If you're looking for the most delicious tacos in Kentucky, you'll find them right here. Choose from more traditional options like steak, pork, or barbacoa, or really stretch your taste buds with rare choices like lingua and tripa -- you'll be blown away no matter what you order!
The Oldest Italian Restaurant In Kentucky
Americans sure love their Italian food -- but let's be honest: the 'Italian' fare you’ll find at most restaurants is, at best, a pale imitation of the real deal. Traditional Italian food is not smothered in sauces, mountains of cheese, and served with never-ending breadsticks. It’s nuanced and veg-forward, fresh and light, balanced and best served with a glass of red. Which is precisely what you’ll get at Pompilio’s in Kentucky. Located in the historic Ohio River town of Newport, Pompilio's opened its doors in 1933, making it one of the oldest Italian restaurants in the state. (The building actually dates back to 1902, when it housed a small saloon -- and the
of this notorious building is truly fascinating!) Everything is good here, so we recommend the Original Sampler, which comes with lasagna, meat and cheese ravioli, eggplant, homemade Italian sausage, and one of Pompilio's famous meatballs. It's a true taste of Italy! Forget what you thought you knew about Italian food -- and head to Pompilios.
The Most Mouth Watering Donuts In Kentucky
Donuts really are the most delightful way to start the day, and in The Bluegrass State, you'll find the most mouth watering donuts at
. This unassuming little bakery is a Louisville institution, with folks coming from all over to try Nord's melt-in-your-mouth donuts. Our tip: order a dozen (at least!) and be sure to try their signature maple bacon doughnut. This little gem consists of a long, yeasted doughnut topped with a creamy maple frosting and a crisp strip of maple bacon. It's dreamy donut perfection.
The Most Amazing Ice Cream In Kentucky
We'll just get right to the point: you'll find the most amazing ice cream in Kentucky at
Chaney's Dairy Barn
. A working dairy farm in pastoral Bowling Green, a visit to this ice cream shop is a total experience. Chaney's ice cream is some of the sweetest and most delicious in Kentucky, offering an impressive lineup of classic flavors and creative concoctions, most of which perfectly match up with the season. You can taste the freshness of the ingredients, and can order the ice cream as a sundae, atop a warm brownie skillet, or mixed into a shake. But really, Chaney's ice cream is so good on its own, that all you need is a simple scoop atop a cone.
One Of The Best Bakeries In Kentucky
You'll find one of the best bakeries in Kentucky at
R&S Groceries and Amish Bakery
, an out-of-the-way spot located in the charming little town of Horse Cave. Don't let appearances fool you, however, as inside this grocery-store-slash-bakery you'll find massive donuts, hand pies, cinnamon rolls, and fresh breads. (The inside of this place would make the best scented candle ever.)
One Of A Kind Sandwiches In Kentucky
The Freight House
is a celebration of The Bluegrass State. The restaurant is all about rustic-yet-elevated, down-home Kentucky cuisine, and the entire experience will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about our state’s fare. The Freight House's menu is full of Kentucky classics, like skillet cornbread, grits, and barbecued pork belly. And Chef Sara's version of Nashville Hot Chicken is truly "Top Chef" level; a one-of-a-kind sandwich that needs to be on every Kentucky foodie's bucket list.
The Most Delicious Mexican Food In Kentucky
Like all of the best Mexican restaurants,
Victoria Mexican Restaurant
in Louisville is located in a humble, unassuming little building. Meals range from south of the border classics to authentic Mexican cuisine. The seafood at this restaurant will take you by surprise: cold oysters, nutty calamari, and sweet shrimp all offer bright freshness to the menu. The tacos here are next level (order the barbacoa -- just trust us!) and diners will be pleased by Victoria's authentic pozole and menudo.
The Best Barbecue In Kentucky
A Paducah institution,
has been dishing up delicious, melt-in-your-mouth barbecue since the 1950s. This humble little BBQ joint in Kentucky has been named one of the “most legendary” in the South, in fact. Of course, this Paducah institution has long been known for its finger-licking barbecue and smoked-meat-topped sandwiches. To really get the full Starnes experience, do as diners do in Paducah: order one pork and one smoked bologna sandwich. Served between two slices of toasted white bread, these tiny packages pack a big, wood-smoked punch!