When you've visited 45 states as I have, you visit a LOT of restaurants, and when I DO travel, I make sure I stay away from any chain we have in Owensboro...as much as possible, anyway.

Also, with regards to cities within decent to easy driving distance from the 'Boro, there are restaurants around which I will plan a trip just so I can eat there. Nashville, Louisville, Lexington, and beyond. If I find an eatery I love, I'll come up with reasons to be in that city.

RAMSI'S CAFE ON THE WORLD

One of the reasons I enjoy Louisville is the food. And that's been the case for a very long time. I remember discovering a Middle Eastern place on Bardstown Road about 20 years ago. It's called Ramsi's Cafe on the World. It's still there, and it's still good. It was my first experience with falafel; since then, I've been a longtime fan.

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LOUISVILLE -- THE TOP FOOD CITY FOR RENTERS

And maybe Ramsi's is one of the many reasons Louisville has been named the top "foodie city" in the nation by ApartmentAdvisor. Yes, it DOESN'T sound like the type of website where you'd expect to find a restaurant rating, but it's also a very specific type of accolade. The online renter's guide names Louisville the top U.S. food city for RENTERS. I say, whether you rent OR own, Louisville knocks it out of the park with fine eating establishments. I may NEVER get around to all of them.

So NOW, let's continue with OTHER establishments that might have helped to earn Derby City this particular honor.

 V-GRITS

V-Grits is a vegan/vegetarian restaurant on Winter Avenue, not far off of Bardstown Road, and before you turn your nose up, let me tell you about the Phatty Melt. That's what V-Grits calls it. It is plant-based, obviously, but I would put it in front of ANYONE who ordered a traditional PATTY melt and not tell them. I seriously doubt they'd know the difference. There's also a side dish called pumpkin curry that might simply be the best thing I have ever eaten in my lifetime. The rest of the menu rocks, too, but I need to move on. Oh, no, wait...one more thing. If you go when it's nice outside, you MUST dine on the roof.

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HAMMERHEADS

Hammerheads has a great big shark over the entrance, because of course. But you won't find shark anywhere on the menu. (Too bad, too, because shark is GOOD.) But I really shouldn't say "too bad" because everything on the Hammerheads menu that I've tried has been a home run. One thing unique about Hammerheads is duck fat. When you go, you're encouraged to order their "duck fat fries." Amazing. As far as side dishes go, though, you will also not be disappointed in their smoked cheddar grit tots with Hollandaise sauce, either. Plus, they use a variety of meats for their burgers like venison, elk, chorizo, and Angus.

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Bonus points to Hammerheads for the atmosphere. Located at 921 Swan Street, Hammerheads is in the basement of a house that has been converted into a restaurant. They do the cooking upstairs. During a visit there seven years ago, I whipped out the camera to give everyone a closer look.

So does it look like I opportunistically used the recognition Louisville has received for its fine cuisine to throw the spotlight on my three favorite restaurants there?

Of course, I did. Sometimes it's okay to be opportunistic.

[SOURCE: Louisville Courier-Journal]

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