If you follow me on Instagram or read my Kentucky travel series, you will know that I am no stranger to Shelbyville, Kentucky.
Some might argue as to what is the best part about this Kentucky town. The food? The kind, generous people? The fact that it’s the Saddlebred Capital of the World? The local shops? All of those are, of course, great – however, I would like to add one to the mix: the location.
Conveniently located between Lexington and Louisville, Shelbyville is a true meeting ground of the state. It serves as a central location for all Kentuckians, let alone the city dwellers wishing to escape for a day or weekend trip.
Over the course of the last year, it has turned into one of my favorite destinations (and one of Jude’s, my grandmother + travel partner, favorites, too!). On our most recent trip, I wanted to dive deeper into the small businesses, restaurants, events, and farms that make Shelbyville special. I went in with high expectations – but, y’all, let me tell you… they were greatly surpassed.
Upon arriving and checking into my hotel (I always stay at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites, which is located at 110 Clubhouse Dr. Shelbyville, KY 40065), I joined Chenelle for dinner at the Old Stone Inn.
Stay tuned for an upcoming post to learn more about the Old Stone Inn; but, I’ll say this now: it’s a historic dining experience not to miss. Recently reopened by Chef David Danielson of Churchill Downs, the food and atmosphere is a true highlight for the region.
Also, side note: any restaurant that serves their butter in the shape of the Commonwealth of Kentucky is a restaurant that will get my repeat business.
The following morning started bright and early with the first of my Dine & Discover classes, which was held at Citizens Union Bank. Dine & Discover is a fantastic series put on by the ShelbyKY Tourism Commission & Visitors Bureau; both of these classes catered to small businesses and I discussed how one can leverage social media to be a driving factor in their success. It was an honor to be a guest speaker; if you are looking for educational classes in the area, I highly recommend this series!
Between classes, I had to do my due diligence as a food writer and check out a new-to-me local eatery, right? At least that was my justification.
McKinley’s Bread Shop & Deli (615 Main St. Shelbyville, KY 40065)
I stumbled into McKinley’s via Chenelle’s recommendation – and it didn’t let me down. I love casual, local eateries. It was clear that the clientele is predominantly locals — patrons that have dined there for years & will continue to do so. That’s when you know you’re in for a treat, y’all.
The bread is made in-house and is cut via a bread machine that is nearly a century old. If something, or a method, isn’t broken — why fix it? I love that they have maintained their methods; there’s something special about doing so that cannot be ignored.
I chose the Tuscany, which featured Caesar dressing, grated parmesan, black pepper, turkey breast, and romaine lettuce, served on focaccia (my favorite bread). At less than $8, this sandwich is a fantastic value for the budget diner.
Oh, and don’t miss out on their cookies — they are, arguably, the best part. Large, moist, and ringing in at around $1, you can’t go wrong, y’all.
After my second Dine & Discover class, I went and visited my new friends at Lettleiki Icelandics (6105 Eminence Pike, Shelbyville, KY 40065). Now I — and any true Kentuckian — would be amiss to not love the equine industry. However, I must confess: prior to this trip, I was not well-versed in Icelandic horses, a very historic breed.
Lettleiki is the Icelandic word for “lightness”; interestingly enough, each Icelandic horse that is born must have an Icelandic name given to it. Furthermore, in reference to their homeland, Icelandic horses cannot return to Iceland after they leave; this is largely due to the fact that Iceland does not experience vast equine diseases, unlike other countries. As for personal history, the breed’s ancestors are often traced back to Viking-Age Scandinavians that came to the region.
Upon visiting the farm, you will find world-class facilities; seriously, y’all — their barns are the most gorgeous that I have ever seen! Apart from that, they have a gorgeous arena on site, and they offer a wide array of services (breeding, training, clinics, etc).
I left a big, big fan of Lettleiki Icelandics — be sure to check them out!
While I was in the spirit of the horse industry, I hopped over to Shelby Horse Supply (7022 Shelbyville Rd, Simpsonville, KY 40067) to learn more about their business. The man behind the shop, Vance Riester, very well might be the nicest guy around. He welcomed Jude and I into his shop, walked us through some of his processes, and even made a custom gift for Jude to take home!
A full-service tack shop, Shelby Horse Supply is – and should be – your one-stop shop for all of your equine leather good needs. But, their offerings do not stop there! You can find many personal leather goods in the store, whether it be wallets, key fobs, or a plethora of other items. They custom-made a piece for me a couple of months ago – and y’all, it is truly one of my prized possessions.
The best part? The leather goods are customizable! Many of the belts, fobs, and equine goods can have engraved plates attached to them. A true southerner, I love a good personalization service! If it walks, talks, or moves — monogram it. Am I right?
The quality of their goods is unmatched; be sure to keep them in mind!
After spending the afternoon on the farm and shopping, we decided that we needed a sweet treat. For that, I wanted to try out Serendipity Kandy Kitchen (519 Main St, Shelbyville, KY 40065), a newcomer to Downtown Shelbyville. A mainstay in La Grange for several years, the new shop in Shelby County is a very welcomed addition to the community.
Their best-selling item? Bourbon-infused, chocolate dipped Twinkies. Yes, you read that correctly. That is, simply put, my Kentucky dream. I knew that I had to try one when I visited; however, I was pleasantly surprised that the owner wanted to let me make some of my own!
While the process is self-explanatory, I’ll omit some of the strict details for proprietary purposes. However, believe me when I say that you MUST try one of these. You’ll keep going back for more — thank me later.
Post-refreshing at the hotel, I knew that no trip to Shelby County is complete without a stop at Jeptha Creed Distillery (500 Gordon Ln, Shelbyville, KY 40065). Jeptha Creed’s property is stunning & it is a kick ass, woman-owned business — one of my favorite’s in the Commonwealth.
Luckily for Jude and I, we were there for one of their Farm To Table dinners, which features four courses from Chef Josh Moore of Volare Italian Restaurant in Louisville, KY. What’s even better is that fact that each course is paired with a cocktail! Now that’s the Kentucky way of dining, y’all.
The first course was a stunning salad, which featured Aqua Fresh Farms red oak leaf lettuce, roasted Italian sausage, pepperoncini peppers, Capriole Farms goat cheese, and crispy potatoes, finished with a balsamic & Jeptha Creed blueberry vodka vinaigrette. It was paired with a cranberry-spiced Negroni, which was my favorite cocktail of the evening.
The pasta course was next, which boasted house-made Garganelli pasta in a rich mushroom ragout of Sheltowee Farm mushrooms, Jeptha Creed original moonshine, cream, sage, and ricotta salata cheese. It was simply divine! The pairing was a bay leaf limoncello.
Our main course was a Stone Cross Farm pork loin scallopini (fra diavolo style) in a spicy tomato and pepper sauce with onion, rosemary and Jeptha Creed Hot Pepper Vodka. It was accompanied by Tuscan white beans (two thumbs up from me!) and braised, bitter greens. The cocktail? A honey raspberry sgroppino, which was fabulous!
Last, but certainly not least (trust!), was the dessert course: zeppole. Plated were three house-made Italian doughnuts tossed in cinnamon and sugar, joined by cherry preserves & Jeptha Creed apple pie moonshine apple butter. This was a standout, y’all. To wash it down, we were given a coffee & lavender affogato. The lavender was a fantastic touch!
To say the least, it was a night to remember – fabulous food and even more fabulous company. Better yet, as per usual, it was a trip to write home about (or, in my case, to blog about!).
A special thank you to ShelbyKY Tourism for two fabulous days; it is truly a privilege that y’all share your slice of Kentucky heaven with all of us!
As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living.
Y’all come back now, ya hear?
FTC: This is a sponsored post; all opinions, however, are my own.