Published March 05, 2014
In the 1920s, Brown Hotel guests taking a break after dancing late into the night were looking for an exciting snack food. In an attempt to serve something new, the hotel’s chef created the first hot brown, an open-faced turkey sandwich that is now a Kentucky favorite.
Guests can taste the dish at its original home in the hotel’s J. Graham’s Café. The bistro-style venue features casual dining and fresh local produce.
For groups looking for a more opulent dining experience, the English Grill at the hotel serves American cuisine with a Kentucky flair and an extensive wine list. The restaurant’s atmosphere hearkens back to its 1920s origin with oak paneling, stained-glass windows and antique brass lighting fixtures.
Groups can also stay in one of the English Renaissance-style hotel’s 293 rooms for a prime location in downtown Louisville.
Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant
Locals in Berea enjoy their spoon bread so much that they started a festival for it in 1996. The annual Spoonbread Festival celebrates the corn bread soufflé that originally came from a Native American recipe. In the early 20th century, the Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant brought the dish its wide-reaching fame.
The 1909 hotel and restaurant immerses its guests in products local and handcrafted. The restaurant gathers the ingredients for its trademark spoon bread and other original dishes from local sources, including the nearby Berea College Farm. The college’s students also handcrafted much of Boone Tavern’s bedding, mirrors and other furniture.
The award-winning Boone Tavern, named for Appalachian hero Daniel Boone, has hosted important visitors since opening, among them Henry Ford, Eleanor Roosevelt and Maya Angelo.
Harland Sanders Café and Museum
Harland David Sanders, also known as Colonel Sanders, first started selling chicken dishes at his service station in Corbin. After opening a restaurant in 1937, Sanders perfected his 11-herb fried chicken recipe, which is still used today at thousands of KFC restaurants across the world.
Groups can experience the history and flavors of Kentucky Fried Chicken at the Harland Sanders Café and Museum. The restaurant’s dining room re-creates the look of the original 1940s lobby, including the dark paneled walls.
The museum showcases Sanders’ early years with his original kitchen, displays of the restaurant’s place settings and scraps of paper with handwritten recipes. Exhibits also describe the 1939 fire, the restaurant’s subsequent rebuilding and the motel Sanders added to the complex.