A close up image of tongs turning a rack of ribs on the grill

Western Kentucky BBQ Trail

  • Western Waterlands
  • Bluegrass, Blues & BBQ
  • Caves, Lakes & Corvettes
Approx. 3-4 Days

Take a mouthwatering journey through the heart of barbecue country to sample mutton and more slow-cooked goodness.

A tray of BBQ mutton, burgoo and other sides, with glasses of strawberry lemonadeJust like Kansas, Texas or Memphis, Western Kentucky has its own unique style of barbecue. Centered around Owensboro – known around here as the “BBQ Capital of the World” – Western Kentucky ’cue famously features pit-cooked mutton, sliced paper-thin and topped with a variety of “dips.” And if you don’t yet have a taste for mutton, don’t worry: our BBQ joints also serve up pork, chicken and other slow-cooked classics.

The Western Kentucky BBQ trail showcases restaurants all the way from Louisville to Paducah, each serving up its own tasty (and in several cases, award-winning) recipes. Better yet, time your trip with barbecue throwdowns like Fancy Farm Picnic or the International BBQ Festival for the feast of a lifetime – best washed down with a glass of strawberry lemonade.

Explore the Western Kentucky BBQ Trail

roy's bar-b-que photo

Roy's Bar-B-Que

101 Sarah Ln.
Russellville, KY 42276

ole south barbecue photo

Ole South Barbecue

3523 Kentucky 54
Owensboro, KY 42303

old hickory pit barbecue photo

Old Hickory Pit Barbecue

338 Washington Ave
Owensboro, KY 42303

moonlite bar b q inn photo

Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn

2840 W Parrish Ave
Owensboro, KY 42303

smokey pig bbq  photo

Smokey Pig Bar-B-Q

2520 Louisville Road
Bowling Green, KY 42101

r&s bbq tompkinsville photo

R & S BBQ Tompkinsville

Tompkinsville, KY 42167

thomason's bbq photo

Thomason's BBQ

701 Atkinson Street
Henderson, KY 42420

j & b barbecue & catering photo

J & B Barbecue & Catering

48 S. Holloway St.
Henderson, KY 42420

knoth's bar-b-q photo

Knoth's Bar-B-Q

728 US Hwy 62
Grand Rivers, KY 42045

hutchen's bbq photo

Hutchen's BBQ

601 North Main Street
Benton, KY 42025

harned's drive in photo

Harned's Drive In

4421 Clarks River Rd.
Paducah, KY 42003

starnes bbq photo

Starnes Barbecue

1008 Joe Clifton Drive
Paducah, KY 42001

a&b bbq mayfield photo


1102 Paducah Rd
Mayfield, KY 42066

southern red's bbq photo

Southern Red's BBQ

5085 State Route 94 West
Pilot Oak, KY 42085

hoskins bbq  photo

Hoskins BBQ

155 State Route 1241
Mayfield, KY 42066

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Carr's Barn BBQ

214 West Broadway
Mayfield, KY 42066

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Swaggy P's Country Market

45 Veterans Drive
Hanson, KY 42413

Roy’s Bar-B-Que, Russellville

The Morgan family has run this popular BBQ joint for more than 35 years, ensuring that the fresh-off-the-pit pork, crispy fried catfish and everything else on the massive menu is just as good as it was when Ralph and Jolene Morgan opened for business in 1983.

Ole South Barbecue, Owensboro

Ole South Barbecue calls itself “Owensboro and Western Kentucky’s best-kept BBQ secret,” but we’re sure they wouldn’t mind us singing their praises. This no-frills restaurant features a menu chock-full of Owensboro’s finest, from barbecue pork, ham and mutton to burgers and burgoo – plus a buffet for diners who are too conflicted or hungry to choose.

Old Hickory Bar-B-Q, Owensboro

Founded by Charles “Pappy” Foreman back in 1918, this Owensboro institution is still owned and operated by the Foreman family six generations later. Old Hickory has been voted “Best BBQ” time and time again, and many locals will tell you there’s no better place to try the Western Kentucky specialty, mutton. Don’t leave without buying a jar of their house BBQ sauce. 

Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn, Owensboro

Anyone who worships at the altar of hickory-smoked BBQ should plan a visit to the legendary Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn. This Owensboro icon has been packing in crowds and racking up awards ever since it opened in 1963. Dine in, carry out or get down to business at the buffet, brimming with BBQ, catfish fiddlers and all the fixings.

Dave’s Sticky Pig, Madisonville

From pulled pork to brisket to bologna, you can’t go wrong at Dave’s Sticky Pig. Madisonville locals rave about the smoky baked beans, heaping sandwiches, succulent ribs and horseradish potato salad; chances are you will too.

Swaggy P's Country Market, Hanson

The epitome of an old-time country store, Swaggy P’s Country Market offers fall-off-the-bone ribs, BBQ baked potatoes, and even BBQ quesadillas and burritos.

Woodshed Pit Barbecue, Hopkinsville

Specializing in piled-high plate lunches of a meat and three sides for a few bucks, Woodshed is a great place for the whole family to chow down without breaking the bank. Staples like barbecue pork and mutton are always on offer, but the daily specials range from chicken and dumplings to country ham, with sides like fried okra and gravy-smothered mashed potatoes to round things out.

Thomason’s Barbecue, Henderson

Named to Southern Living magazine’s 10 Must-Visit Kentucky Barbecue Joints, Thomason’s keeps things gloriously simple. Order pork, mutton, beef and other meats by the sandwich or by the pound, but don’t pass up the chance to try chip – a regional specialty consisting of charred exterior “bark” pieces, chopped and topped with a tangy sauce. 

J & B Barbecue and Catering, Henderson

'Tis rare that side dishes get as much attention as the meat, but J & B Barbecue and Catering has elevated sides like skin-on potato salad to a fine art. Don’t worry: the sampler, pork and mutton plates get plenty of love, too.

Hoskins BBQ, Mayfield 

For decades, Hoskins BBQ was a popular lunch spot in the small community of Folsomdale, Kentucky.  After a kitchen fire forced the store to close, Hoskins BBQ rebirthed in spectacular fashion just north of Mayfield, Kentucky, in early 2019. With a new location and updated menu, Hoskins BBQ prides itself on its Texas-style brisket, homemade pies, and small town service.

Knoth’s Bar-B-Q, Grand Rivers

If a day at the lake has you hungering for a rib-sticking meal, then look no further than Knoth’s. The pared-down menu features burgers, hot dogs, a handful of sides and the main attraction, chopped pork shoulder, slathered in a sweet-and-tangy sauce. Note: Knoth’s is closed during the winter. 

Hutchens BBQ, Benton

Founded by W.C. Hutchens in 1947, Hutchens BBQ is such a Kentucky institution that it was mentioned in the 1980 Loretta Lynn biopic Coal Miner’s Daughter. Not all that much has changed over the years, and the iconic neon sign still welcomes hordes of visitors for the ’cue, fried seafood, big country breakfasts and more than a dozen sides. 

Carr's Barn BBQ, Mayfield 

Carr's Barn BBQ is a family owned restaurant, in business since 1954. They serve breakfast and lunch and are one of the few places that still use strictly hickory wood to cook their meat for that wonderful juicy, smoked flavor. 

Harned’s Drive In, Paducah

Paducah locals swear by this cash-only BBQ joint, and have for more than 60 years. To give your BBQ a little extra kick, douse it in Harned’s famous hot sauce. And if you need a break from barbecue? Harned’s hot dogs and hoagies are also popular choices.

Southern Red's, Pilot Oak

Southern Red's BBQ is a family owned barbecue and steak restaurant. In business 1998, they opened at their current location in their home town of Pilot Oak, Kentucky in 2007. At Southern Red's BBQ (located in the old Pilot Oak Grocery building), they are known for their great ribs, barbecue, catfish, country cookin' sides, cakes and pies, and great in-house dining experience. Southern Red's staff greets guests by saying, "Hope y'all came hungry", before they serve up the best food of this side of anywhere. 

Starnes Barbecue, Paducah

Barbecue lovers from all over the world have traveled to the green cement mecca of pit-cooked meats known as Starnes. The menu is super simple: your choice of barbecued pork, beef, ham, turkey or bologna, with potato salad or slaw. The spiced, vinegar-based sauce (or "dip," as it's called locally) provides just the right amount of tang without hogging the spotlight from the meat.

A&B BBQ, Mayfield

A&B BBQ began as a food truck in 2017 and created quite a following over the next year and a half.  In 2019, they established a brick and mortar restaurant, providing dine-in, drive-thru, and carry-out service.  With specialties like BBQ chimichangas and their famous “Mac Bomb”, the newest BBQ place in town has made quite a name for itself.

Rib Lickers Smoke Shack, Glasgow

From humble beginnings cooking on an old loading dock behind their Grandfather's shopping center in Glasgow, Ky., to today's garage themed dining room with the Big Rig Stage, they strive to serve you great BBQ, great sides, and the coldest beer around!


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