Great Bites in the Bluegrass State: What to Eat in Kentucky

Food Network By: Rona Roberts

Get lucky in Kentucky with these iconic state foods and the best places to try each.

Bourbon and Beyond

From the eastern Appalachian mountains west to the Mississippi River bottoms, Kentuckians stand united around tables loaded with aged country ham, tender spoonbread (please pass the butter), and handmade sorghum syrup. Oh, and a little local bourbon, maybe before. Maybe after. Ready to join the deliciousness? For everyday, try beloved soupbeans and cornbread and their variations: nationally acclaimed burritos and tacos. Pair with an Ale-8-One, munch a Modjeska for dessert, and share Kentucky’s commonwealth.

Illustration by Hello Neighbor Designs

Beer Cheese

Kentuckians began eating beer cheese in the 1940s, when Arizona chef Joe Allman invented a cheese spread with four ingredients: cheese, beer, garlic and cayenne. Joe’s cousin, famed restaurateur Johnny Allman, served it as an appetizer at popular destination restaurants on the Kentucky River near Winchester. Today, Hall’s on the River in Winchester serves a popular beer-cheese appetizer with saltine crackers and crisp vegetables. Hall’s spread won the People’s Choice award at Winchester’s 2016 Beer Cheese Festival. Hall’s Snappy Beer Cheese, a commercial version of the restaurant’s housemade spread, can be ordered online.

Ale-8-One

In Winchester in 1926, G. L. Wainscott launched Ale-8-One, a new, gingery, caffeinated soft drink. He promoted it as “A Late One” to spotlight its recent arrival on an active soft drink scene. For decades, fans went to Winchester to buy the drink, carrying supplies to friends and family members far away. Now Ale-8-One is available online and its distribution area includes much of Kentucky, along with some Ohio and Indiana counties. G. L. Wainscott’s great-great-nephew Fielding Rogers heads the company today, and he still relies on the founder’s handwritten notes to stay true to the original recipe.

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