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Northgate

Serving Kentucky Since 2000

Japanese Mexican Occasion
 

Northgate refers to the area along 31W north of the Barren River bridge. Restaurants here are frequented by farmers, auto workers, truck drivers, mechanics and interstate travellers. Some of them are very small storefronts, and some are only open for breakfast and lunch. Catfish, Fried Bologna and Fried Chicken are big items. However, there are two outstanding Mexican restaurants and one nationally ranked BBQ outlets. The first and third photographs here are from a farm along 31W north where the owner has relocated and restored a 1930s gas station and a 1932 Ford. The upper right photo shows a group of kayakers on the Barren River, which runs along Bowling Green on three sides and provides fishing, swimming and paddling opportunities almost year round.

Bajio's Bushido's Corvette Hardee's Mazatlan Puerta Vallerta Smoky Pig Sonic Stockyard Subway Which Wich
Bajio's enters the crowded Bowling Green Mexican restaurant field. It's the third Mexican restaurant on the North Side alone, and the other two, Puerta Vallarta and El Mazatlan, are among the best in the state.
Bushido's is the city and the state's only fast food Japanese restaurant. It's behind Sonic in the old Lee's Building. Naturally, there's a whole wall board of Sushi. But there are five classic Teriyaki entrees : Chicken, Steak, Shrimp, Scallops and Tuna. Rice and Noodles are offered as Sides with any item. There are six Salads, of which our favorites are the Squid, Crab and Seaweed. If you're one of those people who have always thought Seaweed or Squid Salad sounded disgusting, this would be a good low cost chance to try them. It's really pretty good and incredibly healthy. Prices are quite reasonable : $7, $8 and $9 for entrees, $11 for combination dishes, and $4 for Salads. There's a drive through window but inside service is very efficient. Our only disappointment is that Beverages include traditional Coffee, Tea and Pepsi products. We would prefer authentic Japanese Teas or at least some Asian Chai Teas.
The Corvette Cafe is located in the Corvette Museum. You enter the Cafe from the outside without paying to go into the museum. It's open from 8 - 3:30 daily. The Cafe is a nostalgic visit to the 1950s, with a jukebox, stamped tin ceiling, rolled and pleated vinyl benches and 1950s movie posters. This is a classic 1955 Soda Fountain. They offer outstanding Milk Shakes, Malts, Ice Cream Floats, Hot Dogs, Cheeseburgers, Reubens, Grilled Cheese, Patty Melts and Philly Cheese Steaks. There are also Quesadillas, Jalapena Chicken Wraps, juice, teas, espresso, lattes, cappuccinos and coffees. The Southwest Chili and their Soup of the Day are very good. Salads include Hawaiin Fruit, Frito Chili, Buffalo Chicken, Garden, Caesar and Grilled Chicken. There are five Wraps. Cucumber Turkey and Swiss are the best.
Hardees is across 31W from Warren East High School. Hardees still serves classic burgers, but has added Turkey Burgers, Chicken Sandwiches, Tacos and Burritos, and substituted Jalapenos for a fat free flavor kick. They've aggressively gone after the breakfast crowd with various combinations of biscuits, eggs and country ham, bacon and other favorites. They now serve Gourmet Colombian Coffee, Sweet Tea and Orange Juice. There's even a Salad filled with fresh veggies.
El Mazatlan is on the left on 31W North across from Sonic. Their Slow Roasted Pork, Chili Colorado, Chili Rellenos, Fajitas, Steaks and a grilled plate of sizzling hot mixed meats are all popular with locals, but what makes this a great stop is their extensive seafood page. The Coctel de Cameron is a spicy shrimp soup cooked with onions, tomatoes, avocados, cucumber and cilantro, with a slice of lime for good measure. Or try their Cuatro Marses Soup, a mix of shrimp, crab, scallops and Tilapia (or Snapper) in pico de gallo, avocado and lime. El Mazatlan offers two Catfish dinners, plus 12 Shrimp dinners. Their Carpa Dorado (deep fried Tilapia in tomatoes, onions, avocadoes and limes) is outstanding. However, the major reason you should eat here is a very special entree : The Molcajete. A Molcajete is a volcanic bowl used in rural villages both for food preparation and then for cooking it. The volcanic stone absorbs and distributes heat evenly and holds the heat seemingly forever. When you're served an entree in a Molcajete it stays hot for your entire time at the restaurant. Sadly, only three Mexican restaurants in Kentucky offer Molcajete entrees, but Mazatlan is one of them. It calls its entree the Mazamolcajete. The volcanic bowl comes filled with a stew of steak strips, shrimp, onions, peppers and cheese. For Mexican lovers this is a MUST. El Mazatlan is one of the best 10 Mexican restaurants in Kentucky.
Puerta Vallerta is behind Sonic. The menu is extensive, offering traditional favorites plus some originals. Of the 18 appetizers, we like the Guacamole Dip and Chili. Six kinds of Fajitas range from shrimp to steak and are all good. Vallarta's serves a basic T-bone Steak five different ways but we think the Mexicano (topped with bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and the usual rice and beans) and Sergio Special (with baked potato and tossed salad) are the best. Their seven Burritos are all good, and there are 30 combination dinners. Vallarta's does an excellent job with their Chili Rellenos, but they hide them in their Ala Carte list. Save room for dessert. Their Chimichango (fried cheesecake) is outstanding. This is also one of the top 10 Mexican restaurants in the state, giving you a Trifecta (these two plus Smoky Pig) of top 10 restaurants along one mile of a rural road.
Smoky Pig BBQ is a 1965 American Classic. They've been covered by most major magazines and newspapers plus The Food Channel. For $8 you choose from nine plates, or for $5 from eight sandwiches. This is classic Monroe County (vinegar base) Style. The heart of their menu is their Shredded Pork Plate for $7, and the Rib Plate for $9.00, although they fix a memorable Hot Dog, and their Barbequed Chicken Plate for $7.25 is a local favorite. Sides include Baked Beans, Potato Salad, Red Skin Mashed Potatoes, Mac & Cheese, and either Mayo or Vinegar Slaw. Smoky Pig offers Royal Crown Cola, 7 UP, Dr. Wells, Nehi Orange, and Home Brewed Iced Tea. Save room for Turtle, Chocolate Sunday, Pecan or Derby Pie. Smoky Pig and Red State are the best two BBQ restaurants in Kentucky and Food Channel rates Smoky Pig one of the nation's top ten. If you're a BBQ fan you owe it to yourself to stop here. Go off the interstate at the Corvette exit, turn south on Louisville Road (31W) and look for Smoky Pig up on the hill to your left (on Smoky Pig Drive).
Sonic is a retro drive in restaurant where girls on roller skates bring your food on trays which hook onto your car window. The menu is classic burger, fries, shake and ice cream, although they've updated it with Nachos, Onion Rings and Chicken Nuggets. The Lime Slushie is a Summer favorite. They play Golden Oldie music over the speakers. On Fridays and Saturdays it's a frequent stop for guys cruising Bowling Green in their 50s and 60s cars, or their Corvettes. There are picnic tables under the canopy. This Northside location has recently been remodelled.
Laura's Stockyard Cafe is open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 8-4 and Fridays from 8-9. It's inside the Bowling Green Stockyard at 4350 Louisville Road. It's for the convenience of farmers and drivers who bring their animals to market and the menu has evolved to suit their demanding tastes. Breakfasts offer Country Ham, City Ham, Tenderloin, Sausage, Bacon, Eggs, Biscuits, Hashbrowns, Tomato Slices, Gravy and Toast. The Coffee is the best on the north side. Lunch begins with Fried Green Tomatoes, Dill Pickle Fries, Cheese Sticks and Hushpuppies. It then includes Burgers, Texas Burgers and Patti Melts. There are four kinds of Salads. You could order a Turkey or Ham Wrap, BLT, Barbeque, or Chicken Salad Sandwich. The Grilled Chicken Stir Fry is interesting. First Laura grills the chicken breast, then stir fries it with veggies and serves it on rice. The Manhattan is roast beef smothered with gravy and served with mashed potatoes and Slaw. There's an eight ounce Hamburger steak with Baked Potato and Slaw. The big hit, however, is Laura's Catfish Dinner. You can order it fried or grilled. Laura can garnish it with garlic or lemon or blacken it. During the week the Catfish is $10, but on Fridays it's $14 for All You Can Eat. This is a good restaurant and Bowling Green's best kept secret.
Subway brags about their eight basic sandwiches containing six grams of fat or less. We love their Black Forest Ham, Chicken Teriyaki, and Oven Roasted Chicken. You choose ingredients among vegetables, freshly made breads, and fatless cuts of meat. There are also Meatball Marinara and Philly Cheese Steak. Subway isn't into teas, soups or desserts. However, if you want the best basic sandwich anywhere, Subway is your place. This one is next to Mazatlan, across from Sonic, on 31W North.
The only thing Which Wich serves is sandwiches (and a salad and milkshake) but Oh, What Sandwiches. These are some of the best sandwiches you've ever tasted, and they have so many you can pick one to match your mood. We like their Reuben (corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss), Meatball (with provolone, mazzarello, parmesan, pesto and garlic), Gyro (rotisserie roaated beef and lamb, cucumbers, lettuce, pickled red onions, tomatoes and tzatziki sauce) and Banh Mi (pulled pork, cucumbers, pickled carrots, jalapenos, cilantro and siracha mayo). But there are 31 to pick from. There are Classics (like Chicken Salad and Egg Salad), Chicken (oven roasted chicken breast, buffalo chicken, chicken pesto), Turkey (oven roasted turkey breast, ranch turkey, and the Thanksgiving Special (turkey, atuffing and cranberry sauce on toasted rye), Vegetarian (avocado, caprese, black bean), Italian (pizzawich, grinder), Ham (regular ham, muffletta (Genovese salami, ham and olive salad), cordon bleu (ham plus chicken breast), Beef (roast beef, corned beef, French dip), Seafood (crab sslad, tuna salad, surf and turf), Philly Cheesesteak and BLT. They offer a few unique creations : the Brunchwich (roast beef, lamb, bacon, American cheese, tomatoes and a sunnyside up egg) and the Superfoodwich (black beans, avocado, jalapeno hummus, roast red peppers and quinoa wrapped in a spinach tortilla). They even take old standards and give them a 21st Century edge. For example, their Cheeseburger contains sirloin steak, smoked bacon, American cheese, tomato slices, caramelized onions, pickles and toasted sesame seeds. These sandwiches range from $7 - $12 but you could cut one in half and it would easily serve two. They're just off the interstate, across from the entrance to the Corvette Plant and at the entrance to the Corvette Museum. So you could grab sandwiches to eat driving down the highway. Which Wich offers soft drinks, but there's a Starbucks a few doors down if you'd prefer a more substantial beverage.
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