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 Mexican and two good 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.

Hardee's Mazatlan Puerta Vallerta Red's Smoky Pig Sonic Stockyard Subway
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 conneisseurs this is a MUST.
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.
Red's River Place Grill serves down home mid 1950s Southern Kentucky cooking. They moved from the original frame house when Red died. His son now runs the restaurant in a strip mall behind Sonic. Their Breakfast Special is famous all over town ($4.85 for balogney, bacon, sausage or city ham, two eggs, home fries, hashbrowns or grits, toast or biscuits and gravy). There are six kinds of Omelets and six Egg Combos (Steak & Eggs $7.59, Pork and Eggs $7.59, Country Ham & Eggs $7.59, etc.), Pancakes (stack of three $3.00), French Toast, Grits and Home Fries. You can choose from six Breakfast Sandwiches and add sides like Jalapenos, Tomatoes, Lettuce, Cheese, Mushrooms and Green Peppers to any item. For lunch there are 18 sandwiches, and Chili or Vegetable Soup (in season), but their Bean Soup with Corn Cakes is a meal in itself. Dinners include Pot Roast, BBQ, Roast Beef, Chuckwagon and Meatloaf, but Red's real claim to fame is Catfish. The restaurant sits on a plateau high above the Barren River and every Friday is Catfish Day. You can get a Catfish Platter or Catfish Sandwich, accompanied by hush puppies and various sides. Leave room for the Peanut Butter or Strawberry Pie. Old Red's closed in mid afternoon, but New Red's is open in the evenings. The Dinner menu changes daily according to what's in season and available so it's posted on the wall. New Red's is much larger with more comfortable tables and booths and even a bar.
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.
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.
The Stockyard Cafe is only open Tuesdays from 8-3 and has a limited menu designed for cattlemen. However, it's worth a stop for the Catfish and the Barbequed Pork Sandwich. Cattlemen are a demanding clientele. Over the years, the Cafe cooks have learned to fix these two entrees very, very well. The ambience alone is worth a visit. You'll be eating your catfish or bbq surrounded by Stetson clad cattlemen, hog farmers and goat ranchers. Conversation will revolve around feed and futures prices, competition from South American imports, and government agricultural policies. It's as good a glimpse into Old Kentucky as you can still find.
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.
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 here is that Beverages include the traditional Coffee, Tea and Pepsi products. We would much prefer authentic Japanese Teas or at least some Asian Chai Teas.
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