Within an Hour


Scottsville Road

Since 2000

Japanese Mexican Occasion

Once upon a time Scottsville Road was a sleepy rural road winding out of Bowling Green en route to Scottsville. Then I-65 was built and the nearest it came to Bowling Green was an interchange out on Scottsville Road. Suddenly the two lane rural connector underwent several years of commercial development until today it has become the new Main Street of the city and with 20 has the greatest concentration of restaurants in South Central Kentucky. True, most of them are chains, but they're good franchises, and there are several independent locally owned outlets mixed in. Because of the way Scottsville Road developed in unconnected phases, you do have to look carefully for some of these restaurants. They may be tucked back in strip malls, face access roads or hide behind hotels or other restaurants. Some are difficult to access. But they're all along a mile and a half stretch, so you don't have too far to look. The photo above is a drag racer at Beech Bend Raceway, where Bowling Green often hosts national championships in various divisions. At right is the Drapery Room at Mammoth Cave, the world's largest cave system, just north of town.

Applebees Arbys Blaze BobEvans Bojangles Brewsters China Buffet CornerBakery DoubleDogs Fazollis Freddys
Fridays Griffs HoneyBakedHam Ichiban Kyoto's Logan's MontanaGrille O'Charley's OliveGarden Outback
PizzaHut PuertoVallerta QDoba's Rafferty's RedLobster Roosters RubyTuesdays SaladWorks
Samurai SmokeyBones SteaknShake Subway TajPalace Toots Zaxbys Whitecastle
Applebees has one page of items with less than 550 calories, and a "2 for 20" deal where you pick one appetizer and two entrees for $20. Yes, there are fried items. However, there are plenty of soups, salads, pastas and fajitas, under the seafood menu you can get your tilapia and shrimp grilled., and five of the six chicken entrees are grilled. One of their best entrees is a Fajita Combo : grilled steak and chicken fajitas on a cast iron skillet with Southwest rice, guacamole, pico de gallo, caramelized onions, and green peppers and Jack Cheddar Cheese. The steak menu offers six entrees priced from $10 - 15. Among their appetizers we like the Queso Blanco : white queso blended with fresh tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, roast pablanos, jalapenos and chips. There are also Wonton Tacos : pulled pork stuffed in crispy wonton shells and topped with crunchy Asian slaw. The dessert menu features strawberry cheesecake, chocolate mousse and a hot fudge sundae. Beverages include the usual beers, margaritas and mixed drinks. Kendall Jacksons are probably their best wines and they offer several good sangrias.

Bojangles is a Southern fast food Chicken & Biscuits outlet. They make a huge deal of their biscuits. There are Cajun Filet Biscuits, Cheddar BBQ Biscuits, Sausage Biscuits, Bacon Egg & Cheese Biscuits, Country Ham Biscuits, Steak Biscuits and even Plain Biscuits. Popular with Bojangles devotees are also their bowls : Pulled Pork Bowls, Chicken Rice Bowls, Breakfast Bowls, etc. But the core of the menu is still the Fried Chicken, which you can order with various parts (legs, wings, breasts, etc.) and with various sides. Bojangles not only offers Salads, but does a pretty good job with them : Roast Chicken, Grilled Chicken, Garden, etc. Sides include Pinto Beans, Dirty Rice, Coleslaw, Green Beans, Mac & Cheese, Mashed Potatoes & Gravy and Grits. Oddly, no one ever talks about the sandwiches Bojangles offers but the the BoAngler, BBQ, Cajun Filet and Grilled Chicken versions might be the best buy there. Its beverages are pretty good, too : There's Bottled Water, Sweet Tea, Milk, Orange Juice, Coffee, Lemonade, and soft drinks called Orange Twister and Sierra Mist (lemon lime). Located just off the eastern end of Scottsville Road, one lot back on Three Springs Road, which turns off to the South just before the I-65 entrance ramp.

Arby's carved out its reputation with roast beef sandwiches and they still fix the best in town. They slice it thin, oven roast it and put it between toasted sesame seed buns. There are three sizes. They offer it in cheddar cheese and pepper bacon versions. The basic sandwich is one of the most heart healthy fast foods out there. But there's a corned beef /swiss cheese/ sauerkraut on rye, two roast turkey sandwiches, and three chicken sandwiches. Arby's has added four kinds of subs and three salads. The only concessions to the cholesterol culture are the curly fries, mozzarella sticks and potato bites.
With a pizza outlet on every block, each one has to do something to make itself unique. Blaze is a national chain whose gimmick is high speed low cost. It's sort of a Subway for Pizza. You walk down a line and tell the attendants which toppings you want on your pizza. The fireman then sticks your pizza in a 900 degree blast furnace while you watch from a safe distance and in 120 seconds you receive your steaming pie. This process works surprisingly well. Blaze pizzas are whole wheat flour, thin crust, fresh tomato versions with a gluten free option. You pay $7.25 for the pizza regardless. You could theoretically pile on all 48 toppings for the $7.25. The problem is the taste. Neither the crust, the sauce or the toppings have the rich flavor pizza conneisseurs are used to. Whether this is because the overwhelming heat blanches the flavor out, or because the ingredients are bland to begin with is hard to say. However, if you want a decent pizza fast hot and cheap, Blaze is your place. They do a great job with their side items. Salads are obviously made with fresh local ingredients and include Tomato Basil, Beet & Goat Cheese, Gorgonzola & Roast Veggie, Chicken and Antipasto. Drinks include Tea, Lemonade, Beer & Wine. For Dessert, you really have to order one of their S'mores. They toast those on the edge of the blast furnace. It might be the best S'more you ever had, but it will certainly be the most unique.
Bob Evans uses a down home country America theme, giving old fashioned farm cooking a 21st Century twist. Breakfasts are so bounteous they have a cult following; in every town there is a group of people who begin every day at Bob Evans. Lunch is very traditional, but it's Dinner where Bob Evans really shines. Of appetizers, we like their Blue Ribbon Apple Pie Fries, Country Fair Cheese Bites and Loaded Baked Potato Bites (breaded and fried potatoes stuffed with cheddar cheese, sour cream, bacon, scallions and buttermilk ranch dressing). Deep Dish Dinners, Deep Dish Pastas and Slow Roasted Dinners put you in mind of big family Sundays out on the farm. Soups and salads are excellent, and the open face sandwiches are the best still being commercially served of what was once a staple in every small town restaurant in the country. The Meat Loaf (made with sausage and Angus beef) is outstanding. This may be the best of all chain restaurants. Just off Scottsville Road on Three Springs Road, which turns off to the South just before the entrance ramp to I-65.

Founded in 1989 in Bridgewater, Pa., by Bruce Reed, Brewster's is an ice cream specialty restaurant. Their signature item is their waffle cone. The cones are baked fresh, then stuffed with the ice cream and handed to you. So you have a warm cone filled with cold ice cream, yin and yang so to speak. You choose from 24 ice cream flavors or six yogurt flavors. And some of them get pretty creative. There's Peanut Butter, Coffee Cake, Eggnog, Cappuccino, Key Lime and Lemon Meringue. If you like, you can also get your ice cream in a cup, or you could have any of the flavors made into a milkshake or sundae. Bruster's offers a few other items : Smoothies, Blasts, and, given enough time, an Ice Cream Cake or Pie for a birthday party. This is clearly the best ice cream in town.
China Buffet is a Chinese buffet that probably does more carryout business than sit in. It offers the same 100 + item menu as its rivals (do they all order their menus from the same company?), so in a competitive market have to compete based on customer service and food quality. This is one of four China Buffet locations (the others are in Russellville, Morgantown and Franklin). House Specialties include Shredded Pork in Garlic Sauce, Szechuan Shrimp and Fried Dumplings. We think their Hot & Sour Soup is excellent, as is their Ysu-Hiang Broccoli (quite lively). Among the main courses on their buffet, we like the BBQ Spareribs and Crab Legs. If you like, you can decline the buffet, be seated and order off the menu with table service. The average entree here is $5-10, making this the least expensive Chinese restaurant in town. Portions are generous at the table and of course the buffet is all you can eat, so if you're really hungry you can definitely fill up here. A lot of these items are pretty rich, so if you're trying to lose weight you'll need to be careful what you order.

The Corner Bakery is a Paneras type cafe. It works best as a breakfast and lunch stop. The Breakfast menu leads off with Steel Cut Oatmeal, Swiss Oats and Berry Almond Oats. There are Breakfast Paninis (two scrambled eggs, applewood smoked bacon, tomatoes, onions, avocados and cheddar cheese grilled on sourdoughand), Croissants. Pancakes, Eggs and Omelettes. At Lunch you have three pages to pick from. There are six Salads, Soups and a Bread Bowl, the traditional Puritan loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with soup so that you eat the soup, then cut the bread and eat its soup soaked pieces, too. There are eight signature sandwiches and four grilled flats. You can order four handcrafted pastas and five hot sandwiches. Their Coffees and Teas are excellent.
Double Dogs is a place you check out for the humorous theming but stay for the food. Of the appetizers, we like the Onion Collars (sweet onions fried and served with smoked tomato bbq sauce), Fido Chow (chili blended with pepper jack cheese sauce, topped with jalapenos and lime sour cream), and Double Dog Dare You Cheese Stix (eight jalapeno cheese stix with bleu cheese). These are RED HOT. If you like HEAT, you'll love them. The G-r-r-r-eek Salad may sound cute, but it's really good (feta cheese, greens, black olives, roasted peppers, marinated artichokes, cucumbers, tomatoes, vinaigrette and pita bread). Of five pizzas we like The Great Dane best (onions, green bell peppers, sausage, pepperoni, banana peppers, roast red peppers and fresh cheese). There are 10 burgers and two hot dogs, but somebody in your party needs to try Big John. They lay down a large open face bun, spread split dogs, spoon on chili and onions, top it with cheddar cheese, squirt on a layer of mustard, add two hamburger patties, and crown it with American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and mayo. It costs $9 but Big John is a memorable experience.
Fazolli's offers a full menu of Italian fast food, although the manager takes issue with the phrase. He insists he serves "Italian food, freshly prepared, fast." It gets its menu and basic ingredients from the corporation, but the pastas, sauces, breadsticks and salads are prepared during the day and the main dishes are not placed in the oven until you order them. Fazolli's carries all the traditional Italian favorites and adds a few unique twists of their own. The core of the menu is the eight pasta entrees baked and served in a white ceramic casserole dish. Of this core, we think their best are their Spaghetti & Meatballs, Chicken Parmiagano and Rigatoni Romano, although we have friends who swear by their Ravioli & Meat Sauce. You might consider the Sampler Platter, which includes a small portion of several major entrees. The Sliced Italian Sausage & Pasta, and the Tortellini & Sun Dried Tomato Rustico are newer creations which have found a loyal following. Fazolli's offers the usual Subs, Pizzas, and desserts like Italian Lemon Ice.
Freddy's is at heart a Custard outlet, and they do serve outstanding Custard. They offer all sorts of variations : The Turtle (vanilla custard, hot fudge, hot caramel, pecans, whipped cream and cherries), PBCB (vanilla custard, Reeses peanut butter cup, bananas, whipped cream and cherries), Hawaiian Delight (vanilla custard, pineapple, strawberry, coconut, macadamia nuts, whipped cream and cherries), Brownie (chocolate custard, hot fudge, brownie, whipped cream and cherries), Custard Cakes, Custard Sandwich, Waffle Cones, etc. But they're diversified their menu and serve lots of other stuff. There's a Steakburger, Veggie Burger, Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Patty Melt (Swiss cheese and grilled onion on rye), three kinds of Hot Dogs, plus Chili and Onion Rings. Freddy's Chicago Dog is one of Bowling Green's best hot dogs : mustard, relish, diced onions, peppers, celery salt, pickles and tomatoes on a very high quality frankfurter precisely roasted. The Scottsville Road Freddy's is the only one in Southern Kentucky and it has become very popular, so come prepared to wait in line, but they move quickly and it's worth it.
TGI Friday's is open for lunch and dinner.If you're up for steak, they offer a New York Strip, Flat Iron and Classic and Petite Sirloin. The Baby Back Ribs are pretty good, but if you like ribs, we suggest the Jack Daniels Glazed Ribs. As a matter of fact, we think their Jack Daniels Grill is their best offering. You can order Chicken, Shrimp, Steak, or Chicken all glazed with Jack Daniels then grilled. Adults might appreciate the array of Margaritas available. TGIF's also has good coffee. There are five kinds of chicken, of which we like the Peruvian Herb Roasted Chicken and Dragonfire Chicken. Six salads help balance all those Potato Patch Fries. If you never tried a Slider, this would be a good place to start. There are also five Pastas.
Griff's is a lunchtime deli specializing in baked potatoes, salads, paninis, wraps and soups. Plain Jane comes with bacon, cheddar and butter. But there are Grilled Chicken, Veggie, BBQ, Broccoli and Fajita versions. The Bomb is a three pound potato stuffed with chicken, bacon, cheese, onions, tomatoes, jalapenos, sour cream and butter for a total weight of six pounds. Of seven salads, the Special has greens, chicken, cranberries, grapes, pecans, artichoke hearts, gorgonzola cheese, and a vinaigrette dressing. And there's the Southerner (adds chicken salad and sliced green apples),Ultimate (adds ham, turkey, bacon, tomatoes, cucumbers and cheddar), and Black & Bleu (adds steak, gorgonzola, and bleu cheese). Of seven Paninis, we like the SuzieQ (grilled chicken, bbq sauce, sliced green apples, provalone, and special spices they won't disclose), the Wise Guy (salami, ham, pepper jack cheese, pepperoni, tomatoes, onions, green peppers, and pepperocinni) but we have friends who love the Steak Panini (grilled steak, onions, peppers, mushrooms and swiss cheese). Of the four Wraps, our favorite is the Veggie (greens, sprouts, avocado, tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, pepper jack cheese in a spinach wrap), but there's a Chicken, Turkey and Santa Cruz version. Griff's offers Broccoli & Cheddar and Potato Soups every day and a revolving Soup of the Day.
Honey Baked Ham has been in business for 50 years selling whole hams and are a tradition at Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Easter for many families. Recently they've expanded into the lunch deli niche and have delicious sandwiches and salads. Their honeybaked ham and turkey are a whole level above what you get at any regular restaurant. You buy a boxed lunch for $8-9. They have a very limited menu but what they offer may be the best lunch you've ever tasted. Their Cobb Salad, for instance, includes ham, turkey, bacon, diced eggs, cheddar, swiss, tomatoes and lettuce. Sandwiches include Ham, Turkey, Roast Beef, and Veggie. They have various trays and packages for groups.

Ichiban is the oldest Japanese restaurant in Bowling Green and still has a large, loyal following at its 31W location. This is its second location and the food is just as good. Decor is quite basic, but the prices are the best of any local Japanese restaurant. Oddly for a Japanese outlet, most of its frequent patrons consider the Halibut its best entree, but their chef makes a special sauce which is served with all entrees and it alone is worth a visit. The Sushi here, particularly the Nigiri, is probably the best in town, despite the fact the rolls are a bit smaller. Service is often slow but go anyway and be patient; the food is worth the wait. Or you could try carryout and not worry about being seated or served. Ichiban serves what it calls Flounder. It's not Flounder. It's Tilapia. However, it's still very good, so you should still order it. We just think they should label it correctly. Just off Scottsville Road in a shopping strip on Cave Mill Road, which turns off to the south. As soon as you turn onto Cave Mill Road, Ichiban is to your immediate left.

Kyoto bills itself as a diner. It's a storefront in a strip mall and half its business is takeout. It has a much more modest menu than its Japanese rivals in Bowling Green, its prices are less, and it does not even offer Sushi. But do not be misled. This is very good Japanese food. Of the entrees we like their Scallops, Teriyaki Chicken and Yakitori Steak. They also offer Combination Platters, of which we think the Scallops & Steak and Scallops & Chicken are the best. These come with Fried Rice, Ginger Sauce and Sweet Carrots. There are Mushrooms, Potatoes, Zucchini, Onions and Broccoli served with one entree or another and they are pretty good about mixing and matching to give you what you want. For people who have never eaten Japanese food, this would be a fine place to try it.
Linzie's is a locally owned sandwich shop with three locations. The menu includes salads, soups, chips and desserts but the sandwiches are the stars. Owners Gary and Debbie Wilson obviously have the lunchtime crowd in mind, but if you weren't too hungry a Soup, Salad, Sandwich, hand dipped Milkshake and Dessert combo could be dinner. During the noon hour Linzie's gets crowded so if possible come before noon or after 1. You might consider Linzie's an upscale version of Subway. They offer 48 baked sandwiches, with traditional favorites like BLT, French Dip, Roast Beef, Turkey, Chicken and Ham; ethnic versions like Grinders, Meatball, Muffaletta (Salami), and Pizza; and creative offerings like Monte Christo (Turkey & Jam), Tomato Avocado, Black Bean and Crab Melt. We were pretty impressed with the Hawaiin, Shrimp, Cuban and Pastrami. Every sandwich costs $5. This is a bit higher than you'll pay elsewhere, but the sandwiches are enough better that you get your money's worth. At first glance, they appear a little small, given our lifetime conditioning of Quarter Pounders With Cheese and Whoppers. But these are filled with all natural ingredients carefully prepared and you definitely won't leave hungry.
Logan's is a classic Texas roadhouse, featuring flame grilled steaks with other menu items for wives and children. Logan's revels in a redneck male atmosphere, so good old boys can get back to their roots here. The steaks are USDA but are midwest corn fed, rather than high country grass fed or feedlot chemical fed. The house specialty is an 8 oz. sirloin laid atop a bed of Michelob braised onions and brushed with garlic butter. Then there's a straight 6 or 8 oz. sirloin, 8 oz. teriyaki club steak, 12 oz. New york Strip, 6 or 8 oz. Filet Mignon, 12 or 16 oz. Ribeye, 16 oz. T bone, 20 oz. Porterhouse, and 12 or 16 oz. Prime Rib.
Longhorn tries to set itself apart from the other dozen steakhouses with its cattle driving theme. The decor emphasizes lots of branding irons, campfires, saddles and so on. It does create an atmosphere fun to visit. They customize their menus, with the one here unique to Bowling Green. Sacriligious as it may be in a Texas steakhouse, we like their Shrimp Lobster Chowder (creamy corn chowder simmered with shrimp, lobster, potatoes and red bell peppers). There are the mandatory four salads (who in the steak restaurant world decreed that everyone would offer exactly four salads?). And some of their sides are unique : Brandied Cinammon Apples, Jalapeno Cole Slaw, and Sweet Potato With Cinammon & Butter. But you come for the steaks, and they've got a good selection. We think their Crab Stuffed Filet (7 oz. cut stuffed with jumbo lump crabmeat, topped with spinach and creamy herb-cheese sauce) is one of the best steak dishes offered in this city, but we forewarn you : this is a very rich and filling combo and you may have trouble waddling out to your car later. From Flo's Filet (their entry level steak, a 7 ozer.) to the 22 oz. Longhorn Porterhouse, they do a good job of seasoning and either slow roasting or fire grilling all their steaks. Just in case you have room left for dessert, which is unlikely, we recommend the Key Lime Pie over their Cheesecakes and Chocolate Stampede.
Montana Grille (not to be confused with Ted's Montana Grill, this was created by John Morrison in Bowling Green first, which is why Ted had to add his name to his) boasts a beautiful building, and serves up a fine Buffalo Burger. The lunch menu features the Betty Lou Burger, Billy Bob Burger, Jalapeno Burger and Memphis BBQ. However, it's at dinner where Montana Grille shines. Of the Appetizers, we like their Southwest Quesadilla (rotisseried chicken pieces mixed with cheeses in a spinach tortilla with jalapenos an option). Of their salads the Wyoming Chef's Bowl is a meal in itself with mixed greens, cheeses, tomatoes, ham, bacon, chicken and tortilla strips. Their Lost River Trout (polenta crusted, pan fried in herb butter) is one of the better fish entrees in town. The steaks are outstanding, all hickory grilled. The Big Horn is huge, the Kentucky basted in a bourbon glaze, the Ribeye an 18 oz. cut topped with bleu cheese. The kitchen tends to be too conservative. Emphasize to the waiter exactly what you mean by rare, medium or well done. A greatly under rated restaurant.
If you're hungry and not worried about a diet, O'Charley's is where you come. They make great use of cheese, bacon and other hearty ingredients, beginning with their outstanding soup rotation. Best are probably the Three Cheese Broccoli, Chicken Harvest, and Overloaded Potato Soup (two cheeses, potatoes, and hickory smoked bacon). Our favorite appetizer is the Three Cheese Shrimp Dip (shrimp, Asiago cheese, sun dried tomatoes, Monterrey Jack and Cheddar served with warm, freshly made tortilla chips). They offer six flashy salads, such as the Black and Bleu Caesar (blackened grilled sirloin cubes with bleu cheese on romaine lettuce and tomatoes) and Pecan Chicken. There are Southern Grilled Chicken Tacos, Baby Back Ribs, seven kinds of steak, five pastas, Caramel Pie and a solid beverage list including Beringer and Ecco Domani wines, Killian Irish Red Beer and Belgian Blue Moon Ale. OCharley's very best entree may be the Cedar Planked Fish. They fire grill 9 oz. filets of either Tilapia or Salmon on a cedar plank with lemon seasoning.
The Olive Garden may be Corporate Italian, but it's good. Among appetizers we like the Smoked Mozzarella Fonduta, an oven baked mix of smoked mozzarella, provolone, parmesan and romano cheese served with Tuscan bread. If you don't eat Italian often, you might prefer the Sampler, a platter of squid, mushrooms, fried zucchini, chickcn fingers, fried mozzarella and roast meat ravioli. Of the three soups we'll take the Toscana, a blend of spicy sausage, russet potatoes and cavolo greens in a creamy broth. Kids will be happy with one of their pizzas, which come with a salad. You can get six kinds of Yuppee coffee, but the Caffe la Toscana is more authentic and equally delicious. However, as beverages go, we much prefer the Villa Antinori, a great Italian wine, a blend of three kinds of grapes from Sangiovese vineyards. From entrees, we recommend the Mixed Grille (skewers of marinated steak, chicken, vegetables, and Tuscan potatoes), Seafood Portofino (mussels, scallops, shrimp and mushrooms in linguine in garlic butter wine sauce), and Sausage Rollatini (oven baked lasagna filled with cheeses, sausages, tomato alfredo sauce and mozzarella).
Outback has a varied menu so it's hard to categorize, but at heart it's a steakhouse. A Bloomin Onion is a must. They're cooked until golden, then served with dipping sauce. Several of the Soups of the Day are really unique. But the steaks are the show. They include a Slow Roasted Sirloin, 12 oz. center cut Outback Special, 9 oz. Victoria Center Cut Filet, 8, 12 or 16 oz. Prime Rib, 14 oz. Ribeye, 12 oz. New york Strip, 20 oz. Melbourne Porterhouse, and Filet Medallions. Then there are Salmon, Crab Cakes, Rack of Lamb, Grilled Pork Chops, Lobster Tails, Alaskan King Crab, Baby Back Ribs, various burgers, and an obscene dessert called the Sydney Sunday.
Pizza Hut (Wichita 1958) was the first national pizza chain to colonize Kentucky (1970 in Lexington), and for a long time they were the best source of pizza in a state with few Italians and no history with the food. Now, individuals and fine restaurants make pizzas locally from scratch while large chains like Pizza Hut have abandoned local cooking and gone to frozen ingredients and even frozen entrees. So Pizza Hut scrambles for its life in a competitive market. Attempts to update have been mixed. They dropped their original pizza recipe (which many old timers still think was a major mistake), and have dropped the calzones (which were hugely popular but not a large profit generator). They now offer five $10 pizzas (meat, cheese, pepperoni, veggie and combo) plus a build it yourself model. There are three pastas (chicken alfredo, meat marinara and lasagna). New in 2009 are $5 specials : Pizza Rollers (four, sushi sized, stuffed with pepperoni and cheese, with ranch or marinara sauce); Panormous Pizza (one topping, four slices); and Pzone (foot long, ellipsis shaped, your choice of pepperoni, meaty or veggie). They have Wings, Breadsticks, Cheese Sticks and Cinammon Sticks. These are the best prices in town.
Puerta Vallerta is the Scottsville Road location of the local owned chain with four BG restaurants. This is VERY GOOD Mexican food, worthy of that available in much larger cities. The menu is extensive, offering traditional favorites plus some originals. Of the appetizers, we like the Guacamole Dip and Chili, but there are 18 to choose from. There are six different kinds of Fajitas ranging from shrimp to steak and they're 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 which are tempting. But we think they make one mistake. We think Vallarta's does an excellent job with their Chili Rellenos. But they don't even list them as a featured item. They hide them in their AlaCarte list. You should definitely search for them on the menu and someone in your group should order them. Save room for dessert. Their Chimichango (fried cheesecake) is outstanding.
Qdoba does some very creative things with the basic Mexican menu. We particularly like their Mexican Gumbo, which is a Qdoba creation. You won't find anything like it anywhere else, and we think it alone justifies a Qdoba visit. But there are other reasons. Qdoba uses all local fresh ingredients and makes your order while you watch. There's none of the shipping items in premade and frozen, then quick thawing and heating them in a microwave just before serving. Qdoba's burritos, tacos and quesadillas are made California style, which is more like Mexican and less like Tex Mex. In other words, the taste of the fresh vegetables and herbs comes through without being buried under the heat of peppers and spices. Their Taco Salad is a pile of lettuce and vegetables served in a taco bowl; first you eat the salad, then you eat the bowl. Qdoba lets customers customize your order: first you specify which basics you want, then you choose which additions you want. Qdoba also provides complete nutritional information on each item so if you're dieting or training you can customize your meal. Many students treat this as a carry out restaurant, but there's plenty of room to eat in. During weekday lunchtimes it gets extremely busy. Just off Scottsville Road to the South, on Cave Mill Road, to your immediate left in a short shopping strip.
Rafferty's spends marketing dollars touting Happy Hours and mixed drinks like its Margarita Grande, but there is some very good eating here. It starts with appetizers, of which we like Pickled Paw Prints (fried dill pickle discs in a creamy smoked tomato horseradish sauce). Their Potato Soup (potato chunks, cheese and bacon squares) is rich but delicious. The Chicken Salad (chopped chicken, greens, mixed nuts, fruits, melons, and a sweet orange dressing) is one of the better salads in town. Among their entrees, we think they do their best job with seafood. The Catfish Platter usually comes fried but you can request grilled or broiled. Salmon is marinated in an orange bourbon roux. Their best entree is their Catch of the Day, brushed with olive oil and grilled. Rafferty's offers Ribs, Chicken, Chops and Steaks, of which the best are a ribeye marinated in pineapple juice and the Jackson Hole Filet, an 8 oz. center cut rotisseried on hickory coals. Two desserts should be outlawed : White Chocolate Banana Cream Pie, and Kentucky Silk Pie. Rafferty's supplies Tailgating Trays and Picnic Baskets.
Bowling Green has always been a Fried Catfish town. Red Lobster, a 1968 Florida chain, introduced it to Corporate Seafood, and locals found out they liked it. This is a standardized menu : reliable, reasonably priced, low fat, low carb, low salt, and wood grilled. One of its popular sides is the Cheddar Bay Biscuits, which come with most entrees and can be ordered separately. They're especially good at combination platters, beginning with what must surely be one of America's greatest appetizers, the Seafood Sampler (lobster, crab, seafood stuffed mushrooms, clam strips and scallops for $10). This plus a cup of their Bayou Gumbo would be a meal in itself. Their Trio includes shrimp, shrimp scampi and shrimp linguini alfredo. The Feast includes a lobster tail, crab legs, shrimp scampi and shrimp. The Admiral's Plate includes shrimp, scallops, clams and flounder. RL's all time most popular entree is their Seafood Stuffed Flounder, with the Wood Grilled Giant Sea Scallops a close second.
It's hard to define Rooster's: Roadhouse, fast food outlet, restaurant, sports bar, funky hangout, whatever. With cartoon roosters, hens, and eggs running around the menus and walls, Roosters is a combination of funny, hip and campy. The food is mostly fried. There are Burgers, Pizzas, Subs, Wings, Nachos, Corn Dogs, Quesadillas, Fried Pickles, Potato Wedges, Curly Fries, Chicken Fingers and something called Cheesy Bacon Fries. But there are also 10 very good Salads and three very good Soups. Of all places, Roosters has the best Chicken Noodle Soup in town. You can order Beer, Wine and mixed drinks, as well as the usual soft drinks, coffees and teas. Three seasons a year, the big shady outdoor deck is a fine place to relax.
Ruby Tuesday's is a very good chain restaurant. They feature a strong wine cellar and 10 Beers by draft or bottle. Their Sangria, Fruit Juices, Ciders, Teas and mixed drinks are among the best in town. 15 Appetizers include Shrimp Fondue, Thai Spring Rolls and Flatbreads. 10 Salads are led by the Grilled Salmon, Quesadilla Combo, Crab Cake and Cheese. Among the Entrees are 8-10 each of Seafood, Ribs, Steaks and Chicken. We particularly like the New Orleans Seafood Plate, Hickory Bourbon Salmon, Herb Crusted Tilapia, Petite Sirloin, Cajun Rib Eye, Chicken & Crab Cake Combo, Baby Back Ribs and Hickory Bourbon Glazed Pork Chop. Ruby offers several Sides not usually available at their rivals, such as Grilled Zucchini, Rice Pilaf, Roast Spaghetti Squash and Cheese Grits. The "Garden Bar" is probably the best in town, and at lunch there are seven Sandwiches, featuring the Pulled Pork and Avocado Chicken. Decor is upscale and classy.

Salad Works is almost a Salad only restaurant, although they do offer Soups, Wraps, Paninis and Cookies. You can also get Teas, Juices, Waters and Soft Drinks. You'll pay about $9 for a Salad no matter what you put on it. They all come on a base of romaine and iceberg. There are 13 kinds. We like their Autumn Harvest (roast turkey, craisins, corn, carrots, sunflower seeds and apple chips), Garden Deluxe (radiatorre pasta, sun dried tomatoes, shredded carrots, cucumbers, portobello mushrooms and broccoli), and Greek (feta, oilives, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, onions and pepperoncini). However, the Nuevo Nicoise (radiatorre pasta, chunk tuna, tomatoes, egg whites, nicoise olives and snap peas) is pretty unique, and the Mandarin Chicken (chicken, mandarin oranges, cucumbers, carrots, craisins and chow mein noodles) is great with Soup. Once you choose your basic salad, you can then add any extra from an array of 46 fruits and veggies, eight cheeses, and five meats. These are all finely diced, sliced, chopped or shredded. They include corn, artichokes, avocado, cilantro, olives, shrimp, bacon, peanuts, apples, cheddar, monterey jack and swiss. You have your choice of 17 dressings, which, in addition to the usual, include dijon lemon, oriental sesame, parmesan caesar, raspberry vinaigrette and tangy salsa. Salad Works is a block off Scottsville Road on the Campbell Lane Cutoff.

Samurai is one of the best Japanese restaurants in Bowling Green. Many locals come just for the Sushi. They offer 24 pieces, 20 regular rolls and 20 special rolls. They include octopus, eeel, crab, flounder, and sea urchin. We like the Eeel & Cucumber Roll, Cajun Roll and Soft Shell Crab Roll. Of the specials, they do their best job with their Seafood Melody, Hawaiin and Cherry Blossom. We're not too impressed with their Soups. They only offer two and neither is outstanding. But their Salads are good. We especially enjoy their Seaweed, Squid and Salmon Salads. Among their appetizers, we like the Soft Chell Crab, Calamari, Seafood Pancake and Potato Cake. Samurai offers Hibachi dining, where a chef fixes your meal in front of you using dramatic flair. Or you can have your meal prepared in the kitchen in traditional style. Entrees include Shrimp, Scallops, Salmon, Swordfish, Lobster, Chicken, and Beef. You can order seven kinds of Noodles, eight Rice bowls, five Tempura and eight Teriyaki entrees. There are also seven Bento Boxes. Be sure to try some Tea.
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. Baked Beans, Roasted Corn, and Cinammon Apples are great. Smoky Bones has been here for years, but the building was totally rebuilt and reopened in November 2016.
Steak & Shake started in 1934 in Illinois as a drive in serving steakburgers and milkshakes. They've diversified into Chile, Fries, Hot Dogs and Melts, abandoned girls on roller skates and outdoor service lanes and built booths indoors themed to the 1950s. Their Chile has earned a devoted following. But their big appeal is still milkshakes and steakburgers. Milkshakes are straight out of the 50s in tall stainless steel cannisters, made from ice cream and milk, mixed and whipped behind the counter as you watch. They're rich, cold, delicious. Steakburgers come in six models and make no apologies. They're thick, juicy and topped with cheese. You can order a Single, Double, Triple, Bacon, Cheddar, Chipotle, Guacamole, Portobello Swiss, and BBQ. You sit on red and white vinyl at white formica tables with pictures of Elvis, Marilyn, Belairs, Fairlanes and Bill Haley & The Comets framed on the walls. Ricky Nelson, Buddy Holly, and Frankie Avalon play in the background. Nobody else in town quite captures this ambience.
The famous Jared campaign where a grossly overweight guy lost 245 of his 425 pounds by eating all his meals at Subway for a year was humorous but also accurate. They brag about their eight basic sandwiches containing six grams of fat or less. Of that array, we love their Black Forest Ham, Chicken Teriyaki, and Oven Roasted Chicken. You control your ingredients, but your choices are vegetables, freshly made breads, and fatless cuts of meat. If you do want to add a little cholesterol to your diet, there are Meatball Marinara, Philly Cheese Steak, and eight other alternatives. Subway isn't into teas, soups, desserts or other menu items. You can construct a salad from the veggie sandwich ingredients but that's about it. However, if you want the best basic sandwich anywhere, Subway is your place.
Taj Palace is one of Bowling Green's treasures. That a small city of 55,000 even has an Indian restaurant is commendable, but this is a restaurant the quality of which would norrmally be expected in a city 10 times larger. The Mango Lassis is creamy and tangy, not an easy balance to achieve. At least one member of your group has to try this and pass it around. There are spicy pickled vegetables to tide you over and they're excellent. At lunch they offer an excellent Buffet, which allows you to sample a wide variety of meats and vegetables. Of the appetizers, we like their Vegetable Samosa (crisp patties stuffed with mashed potatoes, green peas and coriander) and Eggplant Pakora (the eggplant is deep fried). They offer the traditional Lentil Soup, and it's good, but we like their Tomato Soup better, with its delicate mix of Indian spices. Vegetarian Dinners for two or four at $25 and $45 are very good deals. They come with A LOT of food, a grand tour of every vegetable commonly used in Indian cuisine. There's also a Carnivorous Dinner For Two or Four at $35 and $65, which includes chicken and lamb fixed various ways, such as tandoori and vandaloo. Of the entrees, the Chicken Vandaloo (spicy sauces and potatoes) and Malai Kofta (vegetarian meatballs) get our vote. Both fish entrees feature Salmon. They're good, with a unique flavor thanks to the curry and Indian spices. There are six Shrimp entrees and one Lobster option. The most unique is the Shrimp Saag, cooking the Shrimp in spinach and spices. This is the only restaurant we've known to offer this. Save room for dessert as they have some unusual ones. Culab Jamun is golden fried milk. Mango Kulfee is Indian ice cream with mango pulp.
There are only two Toots locations : Cincinnati and Bowling Green. It's a dark, cozy place, with private nooks and corners, great for a date or an after game stop. But they serve some surprisingly good food and some you can't find elsewhere in Bowling Green. Their best Appetizers may be the Oysters On The Half Shell. There's Chili and Creamy Potato Soup, but their real hit is the Chicken Pasta Soup. Captain Jack's Seafood Pasta Salad (shrimp, crabmeat, greens and seashell pasta) is a huge favorite among regulars. Among the Entrees, their Ribs, Chicken On A Stick, Pulled Pork and Smothered Chop Steak are good, but our favorites are their Frog Legs, Clams and the Catfish Platter. If you're not quite up for a dinner, you can grab a Po' Boy, Wrap, Reuben or Slider. You can order Local Craft Beer, Wine, Margaritas, Mimosas, Sangria, Tea, Apple Juice, Coffee and Root Beer. Leading the Dessert menu are Southern Cheesecake and Brownie Blast. Toots has its loyal following, but is still overlooked. It is a very good restaurant.
Eating at White Castleis a historic experience. This was the very first ever fast food outlet in America. The first White Castle opened in 1921 when, due to Upton Sinclair's novels about disgusting conditions in meat processing, people did not trust meat. To create a clean, healthy impression, White Castles were built with stainless steel kitchens in plain sight, white porcelain walls and floors, and big windows. White Castle invented all the fast food methods still used today. Long before World War II, they became famous for small square burgers, and the use of onions sprinkled over the burger patties before they were placed on the grill so the onions flavored the meat and the bun. Today's White Castle still serves the original "sliders," but have added Strawberry Lemonade Smoothies, Corn Dogs, Mac n Cheese Nibblers and other items. There's a drive through and you can pick up a Craving Box for parties or games.
Zaxby's was born in 1990 when two basketball playing buddies decided their small town didn't have restaurants to suit them. They focus mainly on chicken fingers with fries. This combo comes in various platters and forms. There are four salads, each incorporating sliced chicken fingers with lots of greenery. Sides include wings, mushrooms, cheddar cheese bites, house fried tater chips, onion rings, celery, cole slaw and fried pickles. You have your choice of ten sauces ranked according to heat. If you think of meals as wars between you and your food, order the Insane Sauce. It's guaranteed to light your fire. Dessert is your choice of ice cold, purely ice cream milkshakes.
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