In the heart of Bardstown lies The Java Joint, a refueling station where hungry patrons can stock up on sandwiches, soups, quiches, and coffee. The menu unfolds to reveal a long list of sandwiches, such as the 3rd Street club—a trio of roast beef, bacon, and provolone topped with veggies and blue cheese. Between bites of quiche or spoonfuls of soup, diners sip on freshly roasted Heine Brothers coffee, made from organic beans that were fairly traded for a rare baseball card. Plaid tablecloths, wooden chairs, and a wall of pottery make one part of The Java Joint's interior as rustic as a tree fort's breakfast nook; this look is starkly contrasted by a bright mélange of colors at the front of the eatery, where purple, green, and yellow walls sprout from a black-and-white checkered floor.
Each morning at Amazin Glazin Donuts, master donut architect John Rizer lays out freshly fried ring-shaped treats as early as 5:30 a.m., sweetening up his customers’ morning routines. Customers can stop by before work for a dozen gooey, glazed creations to share around the cube, or stuff all twelve confections into their own cheek pouches for later. Either way, two donut-dunkers can both wash the sugary circles down with a morning cup of joe. Unfortunately, Rizer's airy gems sometimes sell out before midday, forcing customers to wait out their crave for 24 hours or attempt to sate it indirectly by pulling donuts in the parking lot.
Combining her grandmother's recipes with personal artistry, owner and chief baker Virginia Rankin sculpts sweet treats that stun the eyes and mouth alike. Mert's succulent cakes brim with fresh, full ingredients like eggs, sugar, and cream, and sandwich spreadings of real fruit filling and fluffy frosting. The iconic Louie's Derby Cake, created for the Kentucky Derby, deliquesces on the tongue with tastes of butter praline, dark chocolate, and top-shelf Kentucky bourbon ($19.80 for a small, $36 for a large). Other fine cakes circling the nucleus of nuts and sugar include rum-moistened cranberry walnut spice cake and bourbon-drenched butter praline cake (both $22.50 for a small, $38.50 for a large).
Gleaning her baking skills from her mother and grandmother, Gigi's Cupcakes' eponymous owner opened her first cupcake hub in 2008, drawing upon her entrepreneurial spirit and gift for crafting beautifully topped cupcakes. The franchised cupcakery now has 50 locations, each of which churns out 11 daily-rotating flavors that are made fresh every morning. The shop's selection of more than 40 flavors includes Canadian Maple, Southern Comfort, and Champagne—a bubbly-flavored base topped with an edible pearl. Patrons can pick out sweet treats from the daily selection or preorder them at least one day in advance online, by phone, or via singing telegram.
Great Harvest specializes in baking tasty delicacies and healthy, homemade breads ($4.50–$8.50 per loaf) that are high in fiber, free of preservatives, and crafted with freshly milled flour every day. The bread selection changes each day of the week according to a monthly schedule; previous offerings include golden honey wheat and Dakota bread. Gluten-free and high-fiber breads are available in a variety of flavors, including gluten-free cinnamon-chip bread. For carb connoisseurs that prefer breaded delights that are easily juggled, Great Harvest bakes scones, muffins, cookies, cinnamon rolls, and bars.
The menu at Funmi’s Café swims with the names of West African dishes, tangles of unfamiliar syllables. Kachumbari, asaro, and kelewele may sound intimidating initially, but they conceal a cuisine characterized by warmth and gentle spice. Kachumbari is an African spin on coleslaw, asaro is a goldenrod-hued yam porridge, and kelewele is a snack of fried plantains.
In the kitchen, chefs stir pots of stew and sauce, often eschewing meat and dairy to fill Funmi’s menu with vegan options. Beneath murals of circular huts on a colorful savannah, fair-trade organic coffee imported from Africa pours forth steam like a robot trying to understand the end of Of Mice and Men.