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.
A loud whistle sounds off in the distance, signaling the arrival of a steam locomotive. The train pulls past dozens of trees and into the station. It’s just another day at the Kentucky Railway Museum, where new and restored trains take visitors on nostalgic journeys through the New Haven countryside. The area’s scenic landscapes encompass 17 miles of track that meander around scenic Mount Vernon. The stationary exhibit hall—a replica of the original New Haven depot—houses a collection of railroad artifacts and memorabilia ranging from rail carts and dining cars to steam whistles and the discarded mustaches of malevolent railroad barons.
Every day at all of El Nopal’s locations, cooks whip up fresh batches of salsa, chips, and beans. The sauces and sides accent chicken or beef chimichangas, handmade tamales, and nachos smothered in cheese. All El Nopal locations offer complimentary chips and salsa with every meal, and some locations have outdoor seating areas. Performances by live bands at select locations serve as a pleasant distraction from meals, unlike a judge with highfalutin ideas about not eating in court.
Colonel Eure opened his first pizza restaurant in 1964 and when time came to open another franchise five years later, he named it Gatti's Pizza in honor of his wife's maiden name. The Gatti's Pizza empire steadily expanded over the next four decades, thanks in part to a commitment to high-quality ingredients such as real cheese, yeast-risen dough made fresh daily, and a 16-ingredient secret sauce protected by Swiss bankers. Today, chefs prepare specialty pies such as the barbecue chicken and bacon double cheeseburger pizza and bake custom creations from a choice of 17 toppings and three crust options. Many Gatti's locations boast a dining room complete with a big-screen TV, and some include a Veggie Tales room, a sports room, and a game room.
The culinary crew at El Campesino grills up delectable Mexican favorites to create an extensive menu that caters to meat eaters and vegetarians alike. El Burro Grande’s oversized flour tortilla cradles grilled beef or chicken, heaps of onions and bell peppers, and drizzles of sour cream and enchilada sauce ($10.25). Not since Meat the Beatles has a medley of protein performed as well as the steak, chicken, and shrimp showcased in the combo fajitas ($15), and the quesadilla a la Mexicana ($10.99) sings with layers of cheese, chorizo, and chicken. Meat-freers rejoice upon tasting selections from the vegetarian menu, such as the chilis poblanos stuffed with mexican cheese and deep-fried in egg batter ($8.50), and carnivores sink all four rows of canines into the tacos de carnitas, three flour tortillas filled with morsels of pork and served alongside accouterments of rice, beans, and tomatillo sauce ($9.99).
Inside Cobbler's Cafe's sky-lit dining area, you can still see some of the original bricks from when the building was constructed in 1878. Since that time, it's been a doctor's office, a jewelry store, and a shoe-repair business. From shoe cobblers to baked cobblers, owners Jayme and Kristi Burden have transformed the space into a quaint café that serves coffee, espresso drinks, and organic teas aside breakfast dishes and baked goods. Diners can sink teeth into omelets and breakfast sandwiches loaded with bacon and cheese or pick up fresh-baked muffins and scones.
Pregame with spinach artichoke dip (4.99) or a hearty helping of fried pickle chips, hand-breaded dills fried to a crisp and served with peppercorn ranch dressing or a Cajun horseradish dip ($3.99). Most of the thin-crust pizzas, salads, chicken, steaks, pastas, burgers, and sandwiches on Aspen's menu cost less than $10. Flavorful meaty dishes include a chili-rubbed pork tenderloin trio (three pork medallions wrapped in bacon and grilled and bathed in honey lime dressing, $9.99) and Hawaiian-style grilled chicken topped with a fresh grilled pineapple ($7.99). Aspen Creek's pan-seared salmon ($10.99) is hand cut, superbly seasoned, honey-glazed, and totally unable to travel upstream in search of superior gold prospecting.