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Kentucky’s Must-Taste Dishes

From Hot Browns to chow-chow and goetta, the Bluegrass State is full of memorable flavors.

Groups touring Kentucky will find lots of distinctive foods to sample during their trips. Here are some of the signature dishes your travelers can enjoy in each region of the state.

Western Kentucky Barbecue

Bluegrass, Blues and Barbecue Region

Maker’s Mark Distillery is now featuring an exclusive Dinner at the Distillery experience. Guests arrive on the property in late afternoon to tour a special outdoor exhibition of Dale Chihuly art and then sit down to enjoy a world-class dinner prepared by resident chefs Newman Miller and Alex Dulaney.

Beer Cheese

Bluegrass, Horses, Bourbon and Boone Region

The legacy of beer cheese began in the 1940s, when Clark County local Johnnie Allman reportedly first served his cousin’s sharp cheese recipe. Winchester and surrounding Clark County celebrate their role in inventing beer cheese by promoting the Beer Cheese Trail and hosting the annual Beer Cheese Festival. The Beer Cheese Trail consists of eight restaurants with local beer cheese recipes.

Homegrown Meals

Caves, Lakes and Corvettes Region

Agritourism plays a key role in this south-central region of the state. Groups can sample their way through the area with local cheese from Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheeses, blackberry cobbler from Jackson’s Orchard or homemade ice cream from Chaney’s Dairy Farm.


Northern Kentucky River Region

Invented by German settlers who settled in the greater Cincinnati area in the 1800s, goetta is a meat-and-grain sausage dish. Northern Kentucky celebrates its German connection during Goettafest. During the three-day weekend, visitors can enjoy entertainment and the beloved breakfast patty at Newport’s MainStrasse Village.

Hot Brown

Bourbon, Horses and History Region

After Louisville’s Brown Hotel first served an open-faced turkey sandwich with Mornay sauce and parmesan cheese, the Hot Brown became the go-to order for about 95 percent of the hotel restaurant’s customers. Groups can still order this signature sandwich at the Brown Hotel or at numerous restaurants in central Kentucky.

Chow-Chow Relish

Daniel Boone Country

This Southern relish is prepared with cabbage, green tomatoes, bell peppers and a vinegar-based sauce served over soup beans in Daniel Boone Country. Also known as piccalilli, chow-chow offers a tangy Southern flavor. It features ingredients from Appalachian home gardens and is a staple of daily diets in the area.

Jam Cake

Appalachians Region

Blackberry jam cake with caramel icing ensures that juicy summer blackberries last long into the fall and winter seasons. The dessert mixes blackberry jam, pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg and whiskey-soaked raisins. The region is also known for salmon croquettes, made by frying salmon patties dipped in egg and bread crumbs.

Country Ham

Western Waterlands Region

Farmers from the western corner of Kentucky carried the tradition of smoking hams for generations. Award-winning country ham brands like Broadbent, Harper’s and Colonel Bill Newsom come from the region. Ham dishes in this area typically come paired with a side of homegrown vegetables like pole beans or sweet corn.