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9 Noteworthy Kentucky Restaurants | Listen

By: The Local Palate

Our top 9 Kentucky restaurants from tried-and-true classics to new hotspots

While it’s commonly known for its bluegrass and horse racing, Kentucky also hosts a variety of restaurants and cuisines. In the Local Palate’s 2024 Restaurants Issue, Kentucky writer Tom Wilmes offers a guide to new and tried-and-true local spots with these 9 Kentucky restaurants.

5 New Kentucky Restaurants

Nami | Louisville, Kentucky

With traditional grill tables on its second level and a menu featuring favorites like ribeye, short ribs, and pork belly—each served with housemade kimchi, sides, and sauces—one might view Edward Lee’s new venture as only a steakhouse. However, dishes like sweet potato edamame dumplings, wagyu beef tataki handrolls, and crispy skin snapper showcase a contemporary spin on Korean cuisine.

Steak grilled and served at Nami in Kentucky
Image courtesy of Nami Modern Korean Steakhouse

Tuk Tuk Snack Shop | Lexington, Kentucky

Chef Samantha Fore introduced her Sri Lankan-influenced Southern fare at pop-up events held around the country, where guests lined up for dishes like fried chicken sandwiches doused with coconut gravy and her curry chili ribs. The James Beard finalist brings these favorites and more to her first brick-and-mortar restaurant, where a hidden “Snackeasy” retains a pop-up feel for special events.

Southern dishes served at Tuk Tuk Snack Shop in Kentucky

Lost Palm | Lexington, Kentucky

With its tropical murals painted in pastels, rattan fans, and an open-air patio with semiprivate cabanas, guests would be forgiven for thinking they’ve stepped into mid-century Miami rather than the rooftop lounge of this hip Manchester hotel. Try the ceviche de Jipijapa and jerk chicken lollipops paired with a tiki-inspired cocktail like Buy the Race, made with tropical fruit, cachaça, banana liquor, and spiced honey syrup.

Dish served at the Lost Palm in Kentucky
Image courtesy of Ryan Neeven

Opal Rooftop | Covington, Kentucky

While the wood-fired plancha grill takes center stage in the open kitchen, diners will find the sweeping views of the Cincinnati skyline equally compelling. However, an inventive cocktail list and dishes like grilled trout, dry-aged duck breast, and flat-iron steak focus squarely on Opal Rooftop’s standout cuisine.

Dish served at Opal Rooftop
Image courtesy of Smack Talk Productions

Mr. Tubs | Bardstown, Kentucky

Following a high-profile tenure as chef-in-residence at Star Hill Provisions at Maker’s Mark Distillery—where he also helped host Top Chef Kentucky—chef Newman Miller and his wife, Rachel, envisioned this low-key neighborhood spot to serve “fine cocktails for fine people.” Pair your drink with small bites like Shuckman’s Smoked Trout or a “Kentucky Snack Box” with pimento beer cheese, Benedictine, and banana pepper mustard.

4 Tried & True Kentucky Restaurants

Dish served at Freight House
Image courtesy of Dana Kalchnik

Freight House | Paducah, Kentucky

Chef and Top Chef finalist Sara Bradley put western Kentucky on the culinary map with her contemporary presentation of traditional Southern fare, farm-fresh ingredients, and a deep bourbon selection.

Dudley’s on Short | Lexington, Kentucky

A restaurant doesn’t thrive for 42 years without consistent quality and attention to detail. Owner Debbie Long ensures Dudley’s exudes both, balancing customer favorites like Tournedos Maxwell and Pasta Dudley with seasonal dishes made with locally sourced ingredients.

Vincenzo’s | Louisville, Kentucky

Founded in 1986 by two Italian-born brothers, Vincenzo’s is downtown Louisville’s original fine-dining destination. While it has seen increased competition in recent years, the authentic scratch-made cuisine and classic tableside preparations keep diners coming back—enough for Louisville rapper Jack Harlow to name-check its fettuccine in “WHATS POPPIN.”

Old Hickory Bar-B-Que | Owensboro, Kentucky

Old Hickory, family owned since 1918, is a major reason the ’boro is known for barbecue—particularly barbecued mutton. Add a bowl of burgoo for an authentic taste of Kentucky.


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