Shelby County BBQ Trail: Kentucky Food Adventure

JC Phelps

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Hey, y’all! I was recently in Shelby County trying some new-to-me local restaurants and was astounded at the quality of BBQ dishes around the county. Like, mouthwatering good. Write your MeeMaw good. Praising the Lord good, y’all. And I couldn’t help but to think to myself… I think all foodies need to have a BBQ-packed day in Shelby County! Thus, I present to you: the Shelby County BBQ Trail!

Shelby County BBQ Trail: Kentucky Food Adventure

Grab a BBQ Sandwich and a side of Apple Cole Slaw at Mulberry Orchard: 1330 Mulberry Pike Shelbyville, KY 40065

Mulberry Orchard is known for being a locally-owned and operated farm in Shelby County that produces 17 different types of apples (more on that later); that said, they also have other fruits, amazing produce/merchandise (I had the best sugar baby watermelon from the store!), and an on-site café that serves up some delicious BBQ. You’ll want to grab the Orchard Pulled Pork Sandwich, which is flavorful BBQ with incorporated apple pieces, all served on a pretzel bun; and, of course, you have to get the Honey and Apple Coleslaw on the side!

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Ken-Tex BBQ: 1163 Mount Eden Rd. Shelbyville, KY 40065

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Ken-Tex has been serving up Texas-style BBQ since 1984 – and with one bite, you’ll realize that they are not amateurs! The name, Ken-Tex, was a natural choice: A Shelbyville girl (Ken) met and married a Texas police officer (Tex); together, they opened the business. Though the original owners sold the business, Ken-Tex is still family-owned and operated. You’ll want to grab some of the brisket, as it was fantastic. Come for the rotisserie pit, hickory-smoked BBQ (you’ll smell the deliciousness!); stay for a helping (or two!).

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B&N Food Market: 5945 Elmburg Rd. Bagdad, KY 40003

B&N Food Market was my favorite stop of the trip, hands down. This food market has been family-owned and operated since 1970. B&N is famous in Bagdad, KY – and with good reason. Upon walking in, you know this is a spot for locals to eat, to converse, and (I’m sure) to solve the world’s problems. I know for a fact that I plan to spend a lot of time in the future here – and I’d love for them to cater my next party.

Why will B&N cater my next party? Two words: the brisket. It was THE BEST that I have ever had, and I do not say that lightly. Brisket is my favorite form of BBQ and B&N‘s almost brought tears to my eyes. Get it. Run, don’t walk.

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Apart from the brisket, I also ordered the ribs, smoked turkey, pulled pork, and a bean soup. Every morsel was finger-lickin’ good.

B&N is famous in the community for their Newt Burger, which I also tried (all of the food, am I right?). Two thumbs up! If you love burgers like me, order one… along with your BBQ!

Pro tip: When visiting, make sure you say “Howdy!” to Buckshot, the owner. He’s a great guy and I really enjoyed the time that I got to spend with him. Tell him that I sent ya!

Red Lion: 525 Washington St. Shelbyville, KY 40065

I’m no stranger to the Red Lion – I’ve been a couple of times and it has been a lovely experience time and time again. The small, intimate, Tudor-style pub is the perfect spot to meet up with friends; the atmosphere is warm and inviting – and the food is great!

Through my visits to the Red Lion, I have noticed that their menu rotates. That said, on my last visit, I was able to order pulled pork poutine. Poutine is a Canadian dish that is comprised of french fries and cheese curds, topped with a brown gravy. The Red Lion made it even more decadent with pulled pork – because, well, why not?

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Love BBQ, adventure, and local food? Look no further than Shelby County, KY. Do visit and plan to stay – take a seat, grab a glass of sweet tea, and have an appetite, y’all!

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JC Phelps is a Kentucky-based food + southern lifestyle writer.

Louisville, KY
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