Sometimes you’ll find the best food in the most unexpected places. You might eat the best meal of your life in a tiny, unassuming restaurant on the outskirts of a sleepy town in the middle nowhere. These 12 places in Kentucky are all on roads less traveled and may seem a bit out of the way, but you’ll definitely want to stop and try them.
1. Red River Rockhouse, Campton
If you're exploring the Red River Gorge area, stop here for some amazing farm-to-table pub grub, breakfast, and craft beers. It's easy to pass right up and has a modest exterior, but the inside is new, clean, and modern, and will almost make you forget you're in the middle of nowhere. Red River Rockhouse is located at 4000 KY-11, Campton, KY 41301.
2. Bread of Life Cafe, Liberty
Fill up on down home Southern cooking at this buffet-style restaurant that's about 5.5 miles outside the small town of Liberty. In 2015, it was named the Best Non-Franchise Restaurant in the state by Kentucky Living Magazine. Bread of Life Cafe is located at 5369 US-127, Liberty, KY 42539.
3. Lighthouse Restaurant, Sulphur Well
Sulphur Well is a small community about 11 miles outside of Edmonton. The journey down winding country roads is so worth it once you reach Lighthouse Restaurant. Authentic country cooking is served "family style," basically meaning it's all-you-can-eat. People rave about their country ham and say it's worth it to drive from anywhere in the state. Lighthouse Restaurant is located at 1500 Sulphur Well Knob Lick Road in the Sulphur Well Historic District, KY 42129.
4. Harper's Catfish, Scottsville
You'll know you're in the right place if you feel completely lost. This little hole-in-the-wall catfish joint is on a narrow road in southern rural Kentucky. Locals love this place and say it's the best catfish they've ever eaten. Harper's is located at 3085 Old Gallatin Road, Scottsville, KY 42164.
5. Cavalier Drugstore and Cafe, Jenkins
The reopening of this cafe in eastern Kentucky earlier this year made Jenkins residents feel like they had one of their favorite gathering places back. Come here to get sodas, hand-dipped milkshakes, a burger and french fries, or Southern-style food like country fried steak. Cavalier Drugstore and Cafe is located at 9500 Highway 805, Jenkins, KY 41537.
6. Missy's Out Of The Way Cafe, Raywick
As you can tell from their name, they are definitely "out of the way." It's about 23 miles from Bardstown, 16 miles from Lebanon, and 24 miles from Campbellsville. However, if you make the drive out to Missy's, you will be rewarded with juicy steaks and potatoes, pies, and quirky decor. Missy's Out Of The Way Cafe is located at 860 Horseshoe Bend Road, Raywick, KY 40060.
7. Miguel's Pizza, Slade
Miguel's is a gem of the Red River Gorge, and is a popular climbing hangout. This build-your-own pizza restaurant is a perfect place to refuel after an exhausting hike or climb. Miguel's Pizza is located at 1890 Natural Bridge Road, Slade, KY 40376.
8. Catfish Kitchen, Benton
This restaurant is a favorite in the Kentucky Lake and Land Between the Lakes area. Their catfish is amazing, and they even have a fried catfish option that is gluten-free. Like many restaurants in the Kentucky Lake area, they have different off-season hours, so be sure to check their Facebook page or call ahead to make sure they're open before making the drive. Catfish Kitchen is located at 136 Teal Run, Benton, KY 42025.
9. Mama Lou's Bar-B-Que, Horse Cave
If you're ever visiting Mammoth Cave National Park, it is worth driving the 25 minutes or so to Mama Lou's. This hole-in-the-wall barbecue joint may not look like much from the outside, but inside you will get traditional barbecue and filling options like a pulled pork loaded baked potato. Mama Lou's is located at 5112 S. Jackson Highway, Horse Cave, KY 42749.
10. The Dinner Bell, Benton
Like the Catfish Kitchen, The Dinner Bell is a Kentucky Lake jewel. Unfortunately they are closed for the winter until March, but next summer when you're visiting Kentucky Lake, be sure to stop here to get country dishes such as fried catfish, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, and more.
11. Ole Country Cafe, Pine Knot
Like the name suggests, this restaurant serves country food and a pretty good breakfast too. If you find yourself near the Kentucky-Tennessee border in Daniel Boone National Forest, give this place a try. Ole Country Cafe is located at 1939 E. Highway 92, Pine Knot, KY 42635.
12. Dogwood Valley Trading Post, Clay
This place may not be like to other restaurants on this list, but it's still worth a stop. It's more like a country store where you can buy farm-fresh foods, homemade jellies and jams, and other items. However, they occasionally make pizzas that they're famous for, and you don't want to miss that. Dogwood Valley Trading Post is located at 4551 State Route 109 N, Clay, KY 42404.
If you find yourself traveling through Kentucky and you’re even remotely close to any of these places, they are so worth a detour. Your taste buds will thank you.
Has anyone been to these restaurants before? What other good place to eat are there that are off the beaten path?