You can still spot founder Bill “Mr. Goodies” Dickerson strolling around the Goodies Barbecue kitchen, testing sauces and ensuring the pork, ribs, and chicken are slowly pit-smoked just right. His daughter Creola Robinson has now taken over his business, overseeing the chefs as they dry-rub meats, fry up fish, and bake peach cobbler and chess pie.
They season a tangy tomato base with dashes of brown sugar and vinegar, resulting in the hot and mild barbecue sauces that reporters from City Beat lauded as “legendary.” The barbecue artists have been perfecting these recipes since the restaurant's founding in 1986, and today, their sauce can be found on the shelves of local grocery stores and flowing out of the water fountains of select community parks.
Montgomery Inn has seen a lot of famous faces over the years; Johnny Cash, Brittany Spears, Cameron Diaz, countless professional athletes, and every US president since Gerald Ford. The real stars, though, are the restaurant's award-winning ribs. Founders Ted and Matula Gregory started serving them in the late 1950s using Matula's homemade barbecue sauce. The ribs were an instant hit with diners and earned their first official accolades from the Cincinnati Post in 1968.
Years later, Montgomery Inn has expanded both its menu?specialties now include housemade Saratoga chips and barbecued spring chicken?and locations, but the ribs still steal the show. In recent years, they've been lauded by The Today Show, CNBC, and Fox News. The restaurant has even their own grocery line, so customers can enjoy their ribs and sauces at home.
The wood-paneled walls at SmoQ are full of vintage photos of renowned southern barbecue chefs, but that’s only one way the restaurant pays homage to the southern barbecue tradition. The other way is the smell, created by the molasses-brined chicken, hand-rubbed ribs, and spiced sausage basking in the wood smoker for up to 14 hours. The process infuses both succulent slabs of meat and the dining room with a sweet, smoky aroma.
SmoQ’s slow-cooked ribs earned praise from Cincinnati.com and were called “Best In Show quality” by Cincinnati Magazine, which also deemed the chicken wings “quite possibly the best in the city.” In addition to the meats, the chefs also send southern staples such as corn succotash to the smoker. At the end of the meal, SmoQ finishes in southern style with bread pudding crafted from Maker’s Mark sauce and glazed donuts.
Good barbecue is all about the sauce. When Robert “Big Bob” Scott perfected his mom’s famous sauce, customers clamored for it so intensely that the family went from offering samples in grocery-store parking lots to creating the eatery now known as Scott’s BBQ. The menu centers around traditional barbecued meats perfected over four generations. Instead of soaking, smoking, or tenderizing them with a sterile cowboy boot, the kitchen seasons its pork ribs and chicken well before searing them over a charcoal grill. From-scratch side dishes such as creamy coleslaw and collard greens complement the Big Bob’s smoky sauce. Even the desserts are made from scratch, concluding meals with 7-Up pound cake and peach cobbler.
In 1783, Captain John Holder established Holder's Tavern along the region's main thoroughfare: the Kentucky River. Now part of Hall's on the River, the site persists some 200-plus years later as a place to gather around food and drinks. Today, visitors dig into classic Southern dishes, ranging from steaks and smoked pork chops to frog legs and a seafood platter stacked with shrimp, oysters, scallops, clams, and fried ocean catfish.
Equal parts sports fanatics and wings enthusiasts, Wildcat Wings owners Gordon and Emerie Duke create a culinary environment that mirrors the vibrancy of a live sporting event. The idea for Wildcat Wings came to them while rooting on Kentucky versus UCONN in the 2011 NCAA basketball Final Four game. Sensing that wings were the missing ingredient to celebrating the game properly, they quickly discovered the area was lacking an eatery to meet that need. The next thing they knew, both Gordon and Emerie were in their own restaurant slinging more than 20 sauces to slather golden-fried wings in everything from a bourbon glaze and mango habanero to honey mustard and peanut butter and jelly. They also pour frosty brews such as Kentucky Ale with which patrons can wash down feasts of wings and chicken tenders. To keep Gordon and Emerie’s inspiration ever-present, the venue’s TVs air all UK games, as well as broadcasting other sports, including baseball, football, and full-contact Connect Four.