Dine Around the World … in Kentucky

There’s nothing better than enjoying some of Kentucky’s signature dishes – the Hot Brown, country ham, Benedictine, burgoo – but did you know you can also taste a whole world of flavors without ever leaving the state?
A German beer haus in Northern Kentucky, Peruvian and Mayan cafés in Louisville, great Greek in Richmond and Mexican in Ashland – inside a gas station, no less? We got you!
Check out these restaurants offering international tastes throughout the Bluegrass State.  
Northern Kentucky
Northern Kentucky’s concentration of German immigrants makes it a hotspot to enjoy juicy brats and kraut, giant pretzels with spicy mustard and ginormous steins of Bavarian bier to wash them down.

Head to the popular Hofbrauhaus Brewery & Restaurant in Newport (modeled after the iconic original Hofbrauhaus in Munich) for authentic German food, beer and music in lively surroundings.
While you’re here, pop into the nearby Wunderbar pub in Covington to hoist a pint to a backdrop of live music, then stroll the streets of MainStrasse Village, a charming 19th century German neighborhood full of shops, restaurants, bars and parks along tree-lined streets.

In addition to German eats, restaurant options in MainStrasse tempt you with Korean, French, British and Cajun specialties, among others. 
North-Central Kentucky
Before Kentucky stretches out to its most western locales, the state’s largest city offers a cornucopia of international cuisine in what is now known as one of the Mid-South’s great food cities: Louisville.

Dig into Peruvian-style charcoal chicken (slow broiled, rotisserie-style) with sides like yuca fries, cilantro-lime rice and chickpeas at Yummy Polo, or enjoy authentic, locally sourced dishes featuring bold Latin flavors at the Mayan Café, where chef Bruce Ucan’s empanadas, braised meats, fried plantains and zesty sauces will transport you to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula at first bite.
Enjoy a medley of fresh and healthy Nepali-influenced Indian recipes passed down through generations at Katmandu Kitchen in Louisville, or sample African, Somalian and Middle Eastern fare at Baraka Restaurant or at one of the city’s more than a dozen highly rated Indian eateries.
Want to try something from the Far East? The names may be difficult to pronounce, but the spicy and savory noodle, rice and vegetarian dishes at Vietnam Kitchen are easily some of the best you’ll have anywhere. Need to satisfy your sweet tooth? Head to Jasmine Bakery for a selection of Bosnian and European treats.

Make your way back east toward the heart of the bluegrass, where a trio of cities tempt with even more options. With locations in Frankfort and Richmond, Thai Smile offers a large array of traditional and signature Thai specialties, including assorted curries and noodle dishes like pad Thai, See Ew, Kee Mou and Woon Sen, the latter of which features beanb threads stir-fried with your choice of meat, broccoli, carrots, Napa cabbage, sprouts and eggs.
Richmond also offers great Greek and more at Babylon Gyros, where folks rave about – you guessed it – gyros and shawarma stuffed with seasoned lamb, beef or chicken with tomatoes, lettuce, onion and creamy tzatziki sauce. Falafel, hummus and eggplant are also in high demand, and you better snag that honey-soaked baklava while you can!
Next, travel north to nearby Lexington, home of the University of Kentucky Wildcats – and great food.
For exciting sushi rolls and modern takes on classic Asian dishes, check out the enormous menu at highly rated Osaka Japanese Restaurant. Especially popular here are dramatically presented seafood entrees featuring red snapper, salmon, mackerel and more, some grilled encased in salt.  
Many ethnic options abound in Lexington, but don’t miss the undeniable Old World charm of Giuseppe’s, tucked along a quiet, tree-lined lane just minutes from the city’s bustle. Known for incomparable fish, hand-cut steaks and Italian dishes both traditional and contemporary, Giuseppe’s has been welcoming guests into its candlelit dining room – slow jazz playing softly in the background – for more than 25 years.
South-Central & Western Kentucky
Make a pit stop in Bowling Green for cuisine that folks nearly lose their minds over at Tsunami Asian Restaurant. Although there’s a selection of popular Japanese and Chinese favorites here, too, most go for the authentic Vietnamese pho noodle or rice bowls full of meat, veggies, eggs and savory broths, or bahn mi sandwiches stuffed with char-grilled pork, cold cuts, sausage and assorted veggies.

For a taste of the Caribbean in colorful surroundings, flock to Flamingo Row in Paducah, where a huge selection of appetizers, sandwiches, salads, rice dishes and entrees feature an “island twist.” Start with the Parrot Cay Dip (guacamole topped with cilantro pesto and pumpkin seeds), a Sebastian Sea Salad with fresh mangos, avocados and shrimp, or the Caribe Black Bean Soup with smoked sausage.
Great Northern Italian cuisine awaits in Hopkinsville, home to Da Vinci Little Italian Ristorante, where European-born chef Pavel Skorpil realized a lifelong dream by opening his own place here in 2009. Combining classroom training with “real world” cooking experience, Skorpil learned to perfect the bounty of soups, pastas, seafood specialties and desserts that delight guests today.
Eastern Kentucky
Now make your way to the other end of the state for more great Old World Italian cuisine at popular Chirico’s Italian Ristorante in Pikeville. After learning his father’s sausage and dough-making skills – and learning his nonna’s recipes for meatballs and sauces as he grew up – founder Frank Ray Chirico opened his own restaurant here in 1981. He has since passed it on to his three sons, but that same passion for making guests smile still remains.
Several hot Mexican spots also await in this part of the state, with the family owned Tres Hermanos Nunez offering locations in Grayson, Greenup, Cannonsburg and Paintsville. Every traditional Mexican dish imaginable is on the menu, along with several chef specials you won’t find most places.

Like what, you say? How about molcajete bowls featuring nopal cactus; Hawaiian quesadillas stuffed with pineapple, ham and veggies; or Mexican spaghetti with steak, bacon, tomatoes, onions and mushrooms.
And we definitely saved the most, um, “interesting” spot for last.
Tucked inside a local gas station (surprise!) in Ashland, the wrestling-themed (no kidding!) Suplex Tacos offers “slammin’ good food” from morning until night seven days a week.

As the restaurant’s website playfully proclaims, the four major food groups (juicy carne asada, tortillas, fresh salsa and cheese) are so good here you’ll come back later for round two, thanks to flavors that pack a punch at every meal. (See what they did there?)
Breakfast burritos include the El Lightweight (tofu and eggs), Super Porky (chorizo and eggs) or El Heavyweight (ham, bacon, sausage or chorizo with beans, cheese, eggs, fries, sour cream and salsa), and lunch brings a selection of tacos, nachos, quesadillas and combos dressed with steak, grilled chicken, spicy pork and more. 
Looking for a Knockout? That’s grilled chicken with guacamole and salsa. Want to be a Contender? Enjoy ground beef or chicken with beans, guacamole, lettuce, salsa and sour cream – all wrapped up in a deep-fried shell.

Related Articles