Situated at the trailhead of the Kentucky Bourbon trail, Bardstown is the state’s second-oldest city. Alongside renowned bourbon distilleries, a rich Civil War history and a fascinating railroad legacy, this small town also provides fantastic opportunities to sample local Southern cuisine. We explore the area’s top spots for eating out.
Chapeze House creates an unforgettable culinary experience in a historic Kentucky mansion. Within the impressive grounds, the grand Southern restaurant is renowned for its generous hospitality and hearty Kentucky cooking. The kitchen is particularly loved for its marinated grilled pork chops, which are infused with a secret homemade sauce and served alongside vegetables from the neighboring farmers market. Combine dinner with a taste or two of premium and rare Kentucky Bourbon from the restaurant’s fine collection.
No visit to Bradstown is complete without a visit to Mammy’s Kitchen. Specializing in breakfasts and hearty lunch options, this ultimate comfort food restaurant is fantastic for those nursing a hangover. Serving favorites such as the Country Breakfast, with eggs, bacon and biscuits topped with thick gravy, fluffy blueberry pancakes and the classic bourbon chicken sandwich, Mammy’s Kitchen’s portions are enormous and visitors always receive a warm Southern welcome.
The Rick House
Located in the basement of a former boarding school, The Rick House has a menu that features quality ingredients and seasonal produce as well as an extensive collection of the best local bourbons. For meat-lovers the steaks here are exceptional, as is the two-inch-thick 24oz porterhouse pork chop, which is grilled to perfection and served with sweet bourbon apricot chutney. For lighter options, there is a good selection of sandwiches and soups, as well as chicken and fish dishes. The bourbon blueberry salmon pan served on a bed of sautéed spinach will not disappoint.
My Old Kentucky Dinner Train
My Old Kentucky Dinner Train offers a unique culinary experience on the move, aboard an elegant 1940s dining car. The two-hour train excursion features lunch and dinner menus and operates all-year round to a varied schedule. Riding past picturesque landscapes and historical sights, visitors can enjoy entrees such as lobster pot pie, mushroom ravioli or harvest beef bourguignon. As you approach the end of your journey, sample the bourbon pecan pie or the appropriately named chocolate “Choo-Choo for Two”, a chocolate locomotive filled with Chantilly cream.
Harrison-Smith House was built in the 1800s, and the building is a wonderful example of colonial era architecture. Inside, the farm-to-table style restaurant that occupies it now offers traditional Kentucky food, with freshly butchered meats and the seasonal and local ingredients. Highlights include the catfish entrée, smoked pork and braised lamb shoulder.
Occupying a former theater, Kreso’s family-run restaurant offers no-fuss dining in an upscale setting. The interior is full of interesting art, dark wood and a friendly ambience. It also sports a collection of over 180 bourbons on the wall. After sampling the liquor, consider ordering from a traditional American menu of steaks and sandwiches. You can’t go wrong with the hefty Kreso Angus burger or the lighter Bosnian salad, a culinary influence stemming from the family’s European roots.
Rincon Mexicano is Bardstown’s choice for authentic Mexican food. In addition to offering a large selection of Mexican beers and margaritas, the menu features an extensive array of quesadillas, fajitas, chimichangas and enchiladas. Smothered with freshly prepared hot sauces and salsas, the food is spicy and cravings are sure to be satisfied at this neighborhood joint.
BJ’s isn’t a mind-blowing gourmet dining experience, but if you’re looking for great food and friendly service at a reasonable price it’s a slam dunk. A family establishment since 1984, this 300-seat restaurant and bar has some of the best steaks in the area and a spicy chili that has repeatedly won awards at the local cook-off in nearby Louisville. For dessert, try the Turtle cheesecake and Reese peanut butter pie.
Old Talbott Tavern
The Old Talbott Tavern has been providing food and shelter to American travelers since it was built in 1779, and has played host to figures including Abraham Lincoln and the exiled French King Louis Philippe. The tavern has the world’s oldest bourbon bar and offers exceptional Southern cooking, including local classics such as Kentucky hot brown and Southern fried chicken. The tavern also offers accommodation, but be warned, numerous ghostly sightings have been witnessed here, with the most famous being murderous gang leader Jesse James.
Long before fast food restaurants, Kurtz was a place to gather and dine on Southern food. Offering the definitive Kentucky fried chicken experience right on the bourbon belt, the kitchen continues to serve the cuisine that locals have enjoyed for decades. The menu is distinctly local, with community favorites such as Kentucky country ham, homemade soups and casseroles. However, after four generations, it is the homemade biscuit pudding and the skillet-fried cornbread that have become Kurtz’s signature dishes. Don’t forget to leave room for dessert because the mouth-watering homemade pies, cobblers and puddings are baked daily and should not be missed.
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