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.
More Than 200 Years of Whiskey
Since 1795?minus a brief interruption during that dark time known as The Prohibition?seven generations of Beams have played a role in the creation of Jim Beam. Today, the distillery crafts a whole family of whiskeys to include seven different styles. This collection ranges from the classic Jim Beam, aged four years in charred American white oak barrels, to Signature Craft, which can be aged 12 years and which boasts notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak.
All Bourbon is Whiskey
But not all whiskey is bourbon; only bourbon is bourbon. And it?s governed by a strict set of laws, made to ensure that the process and ingredients are uniform?though the final product can taste vastly different. At Jim Beam, water is drawn from nearby spring-fueled lakes, emerging from the limestone-rich earth clean, rich with calcium, and thrilled to eventually become whiskey.
From the Well to the Glass
At the Jim Beam distillery itself, visitors follow knowledgeable guides around the grounds to learn about every step of the process. Starting from the well where the water is drawn, groups meander through the many facilities, past the bubbling and aromatic mash where it cooks in giant vats to the enormous stills, the barrel house, and eventually the tasting room. There, curious drinkers 21-and-older can sip samples of the various whiskeys, often including rare or limited-run versions.
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.
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.
With its lavender- and khaki-colored walls, cozy seating setups, and fireplace, Forest Edge Winery comes off more as a family's living room than a business. At the heart of its warm presentation sits a wrap-around bar, with pantries and shelves and cabinets nearby filled with, what else, but bottles of wine. That community-driven theme carries throughout the facility, including a downstairs children's room stocked with a television and creative activities. Outside, visitors venture in from the edge of the historic Bernheim Forest on Clermont Road–the start of Kentucky's bourbon trail.
Wight-Meyer Vineyard & Winery began producing wines in the late 1990s as Bullitt County's first commercial vineyard. In 2006, after initially plucking grapes from 2.5 acres of vines and squeezing them using telekinesis alone, Wight-Meyer’s founders converted their barn into a bustling wine production facility. The vineyard’s award-winning wines include a barrel-aged Kentucky norton and a rosé, some of which can be sipped during group tastings in the facility’s new tasting room.