“Southern Living” magazine’s barbecue contributing editor Robert Moss has again ranked the Top 50 Barbecue Joints in the South. This list is an “editor’s picks” list, not to be confused with the magazine’s April selections that were voted on by readers.
Two Owensboro restaurants made the Top 50 list, and Old Hickory and Moonlite are the only two barbecue restaurants in Kentucky to make the list.
Old Hickory Barbecue made the list at number 30. Located at 338 Washington Ave., and serving its two signature dishes, barbecued mutton and burgoo, Moss said these are the “best in the state.”
The Foreman family has been in business for six generations and owner John Foreman said he takes pride in the restaurant being 101 years old since most only last around 10 years.
“It puts us out there and allows us to grow, but at the same time, it’s a lot of hard work,” Foreman said.
Many of the employees have grown up working at Old Hickory and there are even generations within the staff.
Mutton, pork and burgoo are their most recognizable items, but Foreman said it’s hard to say what is most popular because they sell a lot of everything.
With homemade banana pudding and pies, along with traditional barbecue sides, Old Hickory’s appearance on the list isn’t a surprise to locals.
Moonlite Bar-B-Que Inn was number 44 on the list. Located at 2830 West Parrish Ave., Moonlite and the Bosley family have been dishing up burgoo since 1963. With three full buffets customers can sample many of Moonlite’s offerings, including catfish on Thursday and Friday nights.
Moonlite co-owner Pat Bosley said that he is always honored to represent Owensboro, but the honor is not just his — it is for the employees and the community who visits the restaurant.
“The buffet is just an extension of grandma’s table — it’s like Thanksgiving, a big spread — and you can fill your plate how you want,” Bosley said of the meats and sides that are offered daily.
Moss said that he has eaten at a lot of really great barbeque restaurants in Kentucky and some were close to making the list.
“For me, Old Hickory and Moonlite stand out a bit more from the rest because they not only cook top-notch barbecue, but also because they each have a great atmosphere and their mutton, burgoo and dip represent a traditional style that’s unique to Kentucky,” Moss said.
Bosley said that it is the mutton and burgoo that keeps Owensboro on the list as both are unique to this area’s barbeque selections.
Describing Old Hickory’s burgoo, Moss wrote in his article, “The burgoo—a slow simmered stew made from mutton, pork, chicken, and vegetables—is tangy and satisfying, while the long, tender strands of smoked mutton, after a good soaking in thin Worcestershire-laced “dip” (that is, sauce) is chewy, smoky, and sublimely delicious.”
Describing Moonlite’s delicacies, Moss said, “The restaurant’s signature mutton is pulled into long, tender strands with a subtle but delicious savory bite. Be sure to order a bowl of tangy burgoo to go alongside. Warm and filling with a rich mutton bite and peppery finish, it’s a star shining amid the moonlight.”
Moss said that the barbecue scene in the South is so strong these days that making it into the Top 50 is really tough.
“I plan to head back to Kentucky soon, though, to revisit some of the other contenders and try out new places, too, as I work on the list for next year,” Moss told Owensboro Times.