The gourmands at Mermaids Bar and Bistro present a menu full of rich New American fare and southern-inspired cuisine against a cozy bistro backdrop replete with partially bricked walls and small, homey tables. Duos and quartets inaugurate feasts with starters including fried green tomatoes (an $8 value) and JR’s tempura cocktail (a $12 value)—jumbo shrimp flanked by sweet thai sauce and spicy wasabi. Popular entrees, such as the seared Atlantic salmon fillet (a $20 value) or the chorizo-anchored creole risotto (a $17 value) tastily exercise long-dormant mouth muscles and heirloom forks brought from home.
The bakers at The Twisted Sifter Cake Shoppe beat and blend organic eggs, real butter, and locally sourced fruits to create a tasty selection of cakes, cupcakes, pies, and cheesecakes. Confectionary concoctions range from traditional flavors, such as red velvet, carrot, and black forest, to deliciously unorthodox varieties, including pink lemonade, root beer, and Vietnamese coffee. Using scratch-made frostings and fondants, the staffers create artfully decorated treats that are ideal for celebrating birthdays, baby showers, weddings, or Tuesdays.
Kentucky Wine Tours' knowledgeable guides open eyes and palates to the birthplaces of Kentucky's distinct wines and whiskeys, from the sun-kissed vineyards to the cellars stocked with oak barrels. Continuing a proud tradition begun during Prohibition, when bootleggers offered illegal tours of their moonshine-filled bathtubs, the all-inclusive excursions wend through everything from award-winning wineries to such famous distilleries as Wild Turkey and Maker's Mark. Named one of the 10 "classic American experiences" by CNN.com, bourbon tours travel along the historic Kentucky Bourbon Trail, surrounded by the historic buildings and limestone-rich rivers that lend the state's bourbons their distinct citrusy flavor.
Amidst the vivid walls of SweetMango, colorful ribbons of low-fat and fat-free premium frozen yogurt twist into simple cups. Visitors can customizing yogurt at the toppings bar, which hosts a rotating array of fresh-cut fruits, bobas, graham crackers, or hot fudge. To celebrate the perpetually changing seasons, the SweetMango crew frequently whips up festive flavors, holiday-inspired treats, and lickable clocks.
J.D. Legends nourishes entertainment-hungry families with a massive facility stocked with bowling, a restaurant offering Southern-style fare, a bar, and an arcade. The 24-lane bowling alley features a new-and-improved scoring system to better capture lane-skipping curveballs and light-speed strikes. During open-play hours, shoes gently cradle the feet of their temporary masters as lanes brace themselves for the hurtling of bowling balls down their slender midsections. The lanes frequently host themed parties and events, including cosmic bowling every Friday and Saturday night.
The facility’s art-deco carpeting and citrus-colored decorations invigorate bowlers with game-enhancing visions of early 20th-century French heydays and afternoons spent lazing about under yellowed skies.
Overlooking 400 acres of farmland and vineyards, the Acres of Land restaurant pairs well-crafted wine with hearty dishes that fuse fine dining and traditional country fare. Seasoned crab cakes seared in pans and dipped in roasted-red-pepper rémoulade prove just as amenable to new mouth and stomach habitats ($10). Dinner debaters can point to hand-cut, bacon-wrapped filet mignon topped with garlic-herb butter to show that beef, like monumental architecture, tastes better when enveloped in bacon ($26).
Connected by an asphalt web of highways, state roads, and thoroughfares, blocky yellow signs gleam nonstop, casting a dandelion glow from the words “Waffle House.” The booths at the eateries fill 24 hours each day with the aromas of sizzling pork chops, Jimmy Dean sausage, and endless mugs of coffee. Line cooks brown shredded potatoes on a grill as waiters shout back in a language all their own for hash browns “smothered,” “covered,” or “topped”—served with onions, cheese, or chili, respectively. Angus burgers and steak melts share space on the rippling-hot surface at all times of day, allowing tired drivers to stop for food when they are on a long journey or just listening to an 11-hour drum solo on the radio. The first Waffle House switched on its lights in 1955, and some menu items still bear the names of Waffle House staff of the past, including Bert's chili from Dallas and Alice's iced tea.