Food is fuel, and we all have our favorite spots to get it. There are some really amazing restaurants scattered around the state, some known, some a little less known. The local secret restaurants in Kentucky are often the very best places to get a good, homemade meal, but they can be harder to find.
11. Bon Ton Mini Mart
This little hole in the wall is located at 2036 Madison Street in Henderson. What it lacks in first impressions, it makes up for in food. This is a place where home cooking is done daily with traditional meals prepared like Grandma would have cooked them. The fried chicken, meatloaf and mashed potatoes are absolutely to die for.
10. Harper House
This restaurant is located in a historic building at 914 S. Main in Hopkinsville. Diners not only get fantastic food here, but they also experience the ambiance of silent films and a low-key pianist. It creates an atmosphere one could imagine in the early 1900s, one of luxury and good, old fashioned entertainment. The fare is upscale American, like grilled lamb chops, Voo Doo Pasta, Steak Diana and Baby Back Ribs.
9. Heavens to Betsy
This local favorite is located at 116 S Main Street in Lawrenceburg. They serve up hot and cold sandwichs, along with soups and sides. Kids get special pricing, and there are happy hours. One of the most popular sandwiches is their version of the Reuben, which is overflowing with warm gooey sauce that. It pops with that tasty Reuben twang that those that love the sandwich appreciate. Their Philly Beef and Ham with Artichoke are also amazing.
8. Same owners as Holly Hill Inn
Located at 426 North Winter Street in Midway, this is a local favorite to get a good meal. The shrimp and grits is a favored side, but it isn’t hard to fill up on them. You can order a small plate dinner or a larger meal. Some of their most ordered meals are the Mussels Catalan, the Gambas Bravas, and the Stuffed Squash Blossoms with mozzarella and capers, fried. The entire menu is good, as Holly Hill has been perfecting fine dining since 1845.
7. JK's Cafe
This Winchester café is located at 4636 Old Brownsboro Road. It isn’t a fancy restaurant, but is more so a soup and sandwich style shop. You get food prepared fresh to order, just like you want it. They serve up homemade soups, salads, sandwiches and some mouthwatering desserts. The Hot Brown Burger is among the best burgers in the state.
6. Kathy's Country Kitchen
Kathy’s is located at 20 Black Creek Road in Clay City. They have some of the best fried tomatoes and the best fried banana peppers in the state. The catfish is not to shabby either. This is a home cooking country café, just like the name implies. Each meal is made with love in the kitchen.
5. Miguel’s Pizza
Miguel’s is located in Slade at 1890 Natural Bridge Road, which makes it really convenient if you happen to be visiting some of Mother Nature’s wonders in the area. The pizzas made here are made fresh to order with an authentic family recipe that stands out among the “chain” pizza places. You will fill up, have leftovers, and add this to your favorite pizza stops after you have a slice. They also serve up hot fresh sandwiches, salads, and rice bowls.
This is a local favorite at 1132 Lee Street in Covington. They have a variety of amazing dishes here, including the renowned wunderburger, potato cakes, prentzel dumplins, and the turkey, bacon and goat cheese sandwich. The corned beef hash and the bacon cheddar burger are both amazing, and the Brussels sprouts… well, they will make you like Brussels sprouts.
3. Smithtown Seafood in West Sixth Brewing
This restaurant within/behind the pub is located at 501 W 6th Street in Lexington. Most people walk in here not expecting to get the caliber of food they find. They have some fantastic Beer Cheese as far as appetizers go and the Shrimp Pot Boy is one of the most filling sandwiches you will ever eat. Oh, and some pints are only $2.
2. Smokehouse USA
This Louisville favorite is located at 1153 Logan Street. The smoky scent wafts down the street, enticing those passing by from afar. The meats are tender and literally fall apart in your mouth before you begin to chew. The sides have the perfect spice, not to salty and never bland. If you love a good barbecue… put this on your “must visit” list.
1. The Village Idiot
This gastropub is located at 307 W Short Street in Lexington and is a sometimes overlooked establishment. Once you enter the 1825 building, you will wonder why. The atmosphere is darker, with more ambiance, and the food is much better than you’d expect from a village idiot. The buttermilk fried duck leg with a cornmeal and cheddar waffle is a local favorite, as is the NY Strip, and the pan fried scallops. You can’t go wrong ordering anything on the menu.
Not all of these are “secret”, but the food in some of the pubs mentioned is well worth the mention, and surprising. These are just the ones we’ve found out about, but please share your own favorites. We also covered a few reader referral favored restaurants previously,