By Christopher Hildebrand
This is where the South begins – and where Southern eating shines – at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers in Western Kentucky. Surrounded by wetlands dense with ancient cypress, generations of families cleared the land for farms in these low-rolling hills and carved out farm-to-market roads that still wind through the countryside.
Before Eisenhower’s interstate stitched the country together, two-lane highways and county roads were its main thoroughfares. Kentucky’s Great River Road region is full of these routes – with some good eats to enjoy along the way.
Near the confluence, the town of La Center is home to a classic American diner: Bluegrass Restaurant. Serving up home-cooked fare along Highway 60 seems straight out of the 1950s, and the restaurant’s neon lights are a thing of beauty when lit up at night. In Bardwell, try the blackened salmon at 51 Grill Restaurant. Looking for pie? At Luke’s Restaurant in Arlington, you can enjoy a weekend seafood buffet and belly up to the counter for a piece of homemade pie.
Barbecue – a staple on the road – can be found in small roadhouses along a stretch of corn or smack-dab in the heart of town. Along Highway 51 in Clinton, Nickey’s BBQ’s nostalgic horseshoe counter greets the hungry traveler. Ruby Faye’s Bar-B-Que offers tender, juicy, hickory-smoked barbecue with a side of fried green tomatoes. These BBQ joints can’t help but cook it up right!
Come Sit a Spell
In Cayce – home to American folk hero Casey Jones – the porch of Cayce Café (painted in Kentucky Wildcat blue) beckons travelers to relax after lunch and watch the world go by. Visit Hickman, where the Dorena-Hickman Ferry is docked, and stop by Hub’s – offering the most variety in 50 miles. Famed for its blackened steak and blackened oysters, the restaurant also features alligator on the menu. This place stays busy for good reason, so plan ahead.
East in the railroad town of Fulton, The Keg Bar and Grill is an iconic eatery that has been in business since 1939, but offers a modern touch. Steaks rule the menu, but if you’d like a few veggies with your meat, don’t miss the BBQ salad.
Pop into any of these places for a quick bite or stick around to soak up the sights and sounds of Kentucky’s Great River Road. Plan your delicious trip today at www.KyGreatRiverRoad.org/Restaurants.
If You Go
Kentucky Great River Road,
Bluegrass Restaurant, 270-665-5391
51 Grill Restaurant, 270-628-3351
Luke’s Restaurant, 270-655-5876
Nickey’s BBQ, 270-653-6092
Ruby Faye’s Bar-B-Que,
Cayce Café, 270-838-9001
Hub’s Restaurant, 270-236-9858
The Keg Bar & Grill,