Bowling Green
Campbell Lane
31W Bypass
31W South
Scottsville Road


Covering Kentucky Since 2000

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Bowling Green is at the geographic heart of The Barbeque Belt. Not only is there great barbeque being prepared in backyards, patios, parking lots and restaurants for hundreds of miles in every direction, but it's been evolving for two centuries. There are different kinds of Barbeque, according to regions, and the various regions all come together at Bowling Green. So restaurants can find cooks and chefs who understand Barbeque and grew up eating it, fixing it and arguing about it. Customers understand it, too. This is a hard town for a Barbeque restaurant. Expectations are high. If you serve Barbeque, you better bring your best effort every meal, because people have other choices, or they can stay home and fix their own. The result of all this is that Bowling Green in the 21st Century has a fine selection of four Barbeque restaurants. Two are small, carry out places, with their smokers and grilles out back. One is a local franchise of a national chain. The other is a locally owned sit down restaurant.
Smokey Pig
Split Tree
Smokey Bones is an Orlando based chain whose architecture favors national park lodge like restaurants. They have high ceilings, plenty of heavy timbers and stacked stone. Among appetizers we like the Sweet Potato Stix. Smokey's is very big on drinks and Ribs, which, admittedly, are very good. Smokey's has studied the art of smoking and does it pretty well. They marinate the beef brisket 24 hours, then smoke it six hours over hickory logs. They offer a special soup they call Brunswick Stew (smoked BBQ, sweet corn and tomatoes, slow cooked for four hours). You MUST try a cup of this. Smokey's also likes fire grilled medium rare steaks. They've been fixing them that way for several tears and do it quite well. If you like steaks medium rare, by all means order one here. However, if you like yours well done or medium, you REALLY need to jump and down and emphasize it, because otherwise they tend to drift toward rare. However, the firegrilled Smokehouse Chicken is excellent. Sides Baked Beans, Roasted Corn, and Cinammon Apples are great.
Smoky Pig BBQ, at this location since 1965, is another American Classic, and another Must Stop. They've been covered by most major magazines and newspapers plus The Food Channel. For $6 - 8, you choose from nine plates, or for $4-5 you choose from eight sandwiches. This is classic Monroe County Style, different from Memphis, Blue Grass, Western Kentucky or Carolina style. In Monroe County, down along the Tennessee line, the bbq sauce is vinegar based, which certainly gives the flavor an edge. The heart of their menu is their Shredded Pork Plate for $7, and the Rib Plate for $9.00, although if you're in the mood for a Hot Dog they fix a memorable one, and we have friends who swear by their Barbequed Chicken Plate for $7.25. We think the barbequing dries out the chicken a tad, although the sauce helps remoisten it. The side orders include Baked Beans, Potato Salad, Red Skin Mashed Potatoes, Mac & Cheese, and either Mayo or Vinegar Slaw. Smoky Pig offers a nostalgic beverage lineup : Royal Crown Cola, 7 UP, Dr. Wells, Nehi Orange, and Home Brewed Iced Tea. Save room for dessert, where you can pick from Turtle Pie, Chocolate Sunday Pie, Pecan Pie or Derby Pie.
Split Tree BBQ is in Alvaton, 4.5 miles out Scottsville Road (route 231) from I-65. It is an old fashioned rustic building, rather like a summer camp dining hall. The menu is not extensive : pork, chicken or ribs barbequed and served as plates or sandwiches, plus six sides. The focus is on skillful preparation. Some BBQ conneisseurs consider Split Tree BBQ a tad dry, but there's a reason for that. They serve their BBQ Sandwiches layered with cole slaw, which adds quite a bit of moisture. If the meat were also moist, the sandwich would be soggy. As it is, the slaw balances nicely against the BBQ, resulting in a very good taste. The smoky flavor Split Tree imparts to the meat and the sour edge of the slaw creates a very interesting effect. The ribs are even better, smoky (like the sandwich) but flavorful and hinting of basil and hickory. We think the ribs are the best of the three plates, but the chicken is pretty close. We've had our share of dry chicken, but this is not, which is interesting since as we said the pork is a bit dry. We also liked their barbecued beans, potato salad and corncakes. For dessert you can order Apple, Cherry or Peach Crisp with a scoop of ice cream.
Whitt's Barbeque specializes in old fashioned hickory smoked pit barbeque. The core of their menu is Wet or Dry Ribs, Half or Whole Chicken, and your choice of Pork, Beef or Chicken sandwiches or plates. It's really a carryout place, with few tables and limited parking. As sides you can get Baked Potatoes, Fried Apples, Baked Beans, Cole Slaw, Corn on the Cob, Macaroni & Cheese and Potato Salad. Each plate comes with two sides. Dessert options are Pie of the Day or Banana Pudding. This is classic Western Kentucky style barbecue, quite different from the Monroe County style of the Smoky Pig out on 31W North. Smoky Bones also does hickory smoking but their Florida Corporate style leans more toward a Carolina flavor, and of course with a full menu they spread themselves over many different foods, while Whitt's specializes in just good local barbeque. They could make the claim to being the only pure Western Kentucky style bbq outlet in town, not counting the entrepreneurs who tow trailers around town and show up at malls and football games. 270-846-4448.
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