Yesterday, we embarked on a quest to find Kentucky's best barbecue. A barbequest, if you will. Kentucky is brimming with ancestral meat wisdom and tradition (don't forget, we're a notch on the World's great Ham Belt), and it was high time that we got wise to the unique and renowned barbecue hailing from the western reaches of the state. There are several points throughout the south where Barbecue is a big deal - Texas, Kansas City, Memphis, the Carolinas and Kentucky. Here, Owensboro is the place, and barbecued mutton is king! I'd never experienced either, so it was a true adventure.
Owensboro is only a two hour drive from Louisville, and getting there was a breeze, if not a little goofy. To get there from Louisville, it's best to drive North through Indiana, then loop back down along I-64 through Hoosier National Forest. You cross the Ohio River again before you're in the barbecue capital. I swear, upon entering the city, we thought we smelled barbecue!
The dudes were stoked on the Delorean for sale and on display outside of Moonlite Bar-B-Q. Delorean worship, along with barbefarts and Rick Flair-esque proclamations of "Woo!" come with the territory when you are a lone female on a barbequest with three manimals.
Top: Barbecue ribs and mutton at Moonlite Bar-B-Q. / Bottom: Burgoo and corn cakes from Old Hickory.
It was clear that both places took barbecue very seriously, though I think I prefer Moonlite if pressed to choose sides. Moonlite has a more touristy, family-friendly feel, but unlike most attractions of that nature, the food was totally legit. All of the locals were eating the buffet, so we shrugged off the menu and followed their lead. The meat was tender and perfectly cooked, with the trademark hickory smoked flavor. I'd also like to add that the rhubarb pie was a dream, though Kurt would say that if you go to a barbecue place to eat anything other than meat, you're missing the point. (But really, you should try it.)
Perhaps it isn't fair that we ate at Old Hickory on a full stomach, only a mere hour and a half after a buffet of epic proportions ... Nevertheless, our barbequest crew was made up of some serious barbecue fanatics, and we agreed that Old Hickory fell short in the realms of service and quality. As I understand it, Owensboro is split between barbecue allegiances. Have you been to either of these places? What did you think?
From top: Barbequest crew; Bryan, Kurt and Chubbs. / Ice cream! / Barbecoma.
Thinkin' about setting out on a Kentucky barbequest? Here are some other fun things to do while you're in Owensboro:
-Barbecue enthusiasts from all over the world are going to the International Barbecue Festival in on May 11th and 12th.
- ROMP Fest sounds cool. Eat barbecue while seeing bands like Old Crow Medicine Show and the Punch Brothers! June 28th-30th.
- International Bluegrass Music Museum.