Bourbon, classic Southern food, genuine hospitality and more bourbon. We’re talking the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, formed in 1999 to bring tourism to the state.
Inherently local, the trail of 17 major distilleries has grown to 37, representing the growth of smaller craft bourbon makers. While many are located in the Louisville area, some are as far as 70 miles apart, making it impossible to cover them all. But rest assured. Solid restaurants, new and longstanding, can be found near all of them, ready to complement tastings before and after.
Nearly all restaurants honor tradition in some way with classic and updated takes on barbecue, fried chicken, the hot brown turkey sandwich, Derby pie and the iconic mint julep. That includes Edward Lee, who drew more eyes to Louisville than any other chef by bringing Asian ingredients to the Southern Table.
There’s no wrong way to eat and explore the Bourbon Trail, but if you need help, here are some of our favorite restaurants.
WORTH THE STOP
150 Quick Stop (Jake’s Sausage Shop)
4858 Springfield Road, Bardstown
Yes, a gas station and yes, the ultimate sausage biscuits.
610 W. Magnolia Ave., Louisville.
Edward Lee. Enough said.
Bourbon On Main
103 W. Main St., Frankfort
Chocolate bread pudding, inspired cocktails and an impressive bourbon library for what you may have missed on the trail.
The Brown Hotel
335 W Broadway, Louisville
Home of the iconic Hot Brown, roof top view.
909 E. Market St., Louisville
Best BBQ on the Ohio River. Really.
2300 Lexington Road, Louisville
Real Japanese wagyu steaks and the coolest Louis Vuitton upholstered booth.
813 E. Market St., Louisville
Forward-thinking Latino food.
135 Versailles Road, Frankfort
Classic barbecue meets Mexican with its housemade tortillas, pulled pork and spinach pupusas.
Proof on Main
702 W. Main St., Louisville
The adjoining 21c Museum Hotel keeps it interesting with food, drink and people-watching.
Star Hill Provisions
3350 Burks Spring Road, Loretta
An ode to local ingredients and solid classics inside the Maker’s Mark Distillery.
The Stave Restaurant and Bourbon Bar
5711 McCracken Pike, Frankfort
For a hot chicken sandwich, a hot brown and Brunswick stew.
FOOD FANATICS CHEFS
James Cochran, Robert Frye and Ed Butler live and eat by the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Follow @ _jamie_cochran and @ffcheffrye on Instagram. Check out the official trail site at kybourbontrail.com.