Heading to beautiful Lake Cumberland? If you aren’t, take my word for it: you should be! Lake Cumberland is a cultural oasis for our Commonwealth and the millions of visitors that it has attracted to the South-Central Kentucky region. Lake Cumberland provides visitors with water sports a’plenty, gorgeous docks and marinas, and a community unlike any other in the region. Oh, and some delicious food + libations!
Join me in celebrating the delicious bites and sips along the shoreline of the Houseboat Capital of the World! Warning: come hungry, bring sunscreen, and be prepared to make lifelong memories!
Did you know that the shoreline of Lake Cumberland is 1,255 miles, which is longer than the contiguous shoreline of Florida? It also just falls short of matching the total Pacific coastline of the United States (California, Oregon, Washington). Let that sink in for a minute, y’all! As for water capacity, it is the 9th largest reservoir in the United States!
Side note: I’m not going to downplay my excitement for this post, yet I promise to only get somewhat sentimental — today’s post features the eateries on Lake Cumberland in Russell County. Russell County, specifically Jamestown, is where I am from, y’all. I grew up on the family farm that was homesteaded in 1798, located in what is now the Esto Community of Jamestown. Russell County was officially founded in 1825; thus, it’s fair to say that my roots run pretty deep in this community.
This is my first time getting to work here asJCP Eats in a professional capacity. This opportunity means a lot to me – and I owe it all to you, my dear readers.
A Culinary Tour of Russell County via Lake Cumberland
The Tiki Bar & Grill
I started my day at the Tiki Bar & Grill, which is located at the State Dock Marina. Upon grabbing a chair at the Tiki Bar, and after hearing a Jimmy Buffett tune, you’ll forget about all of your worries and be thankful for the forthcoming time that you will have on Lake Cumberland.
On the water, the perfect meal starts with a “boat drink”, as we Parrotheads call them, right? With plenty of beers and a wide-ranging menu, there’s a libation to please all palates. As for me, I started with rum-based cocktails – one with blue curacao and one with pineapple juice!
The fun didn’t end there, though. Don’t miss out on the fried fish, as it was one of my favorite bites on Lake Cumberland. Perfectly breaded, crunchy, and delicious. It was finger lickin’ good.
The calamari was also a favorite of mine – the portion size was incredible!
As for small bites + bar bites, I also tried the quesadilla, pulled pork sliders, chicken wings, fries, cole slaw, and pretzel + beer cheese.
Just take my word for it: you can’t go wrong. Especially if you end your meal in an authentic Kentucky fashion: with bourbon pecan pie + vanilla ice cream!
Fishtales is, without hesitation, my favorite place on Lake Cumberland. The food is absolutely incredible! Upon boating up to the banks of Wolf Creek Marina and landing at Fishtales, one could easily think that they are in the Florida Keys. I’ve made my rounds around Kentucky, as y’all know – and I truly believe that there isn’t any place quite like Fishtales in our Commonwealth.
Start your meal with the mahi mahi bites, a healthier option that features perfectly-grilled fish in bite-size form. This is the perfect dish to share (or order your own, because, well, you’ll want it).
The fish tacos feature the same mahi mahi, so if tacos are more your speed, by all means – order these! So good, y’all.
Oh, and crab cakes! Get the crab cakes. Just trust me.
If you would like another drink, look no further than “The Lake Cumberland” – a drink that was born at Wolf Creek Marina. I was so excited to be among the first to try it!
Inspired by the gorgeous colors of the lake – blue and green – this cocktail is one that you won’t be able to get enough of. It was delicious!
Lake Cumberland Marina
Formerly known as Alligator II, Lake Cumberland Marina really impressed me. It had been several years since I had been on-site – and let me tell you: there have been so many updates! It was unrecognizable in the best way possible.
Lake Cumberland Marina is fixated in one of the best spots for boating and fishing in the Commonwealth. There’s also a nearby beach area, which is perfect for a day of relaxation. Apart from boat rentals, Lake Cumberland Marina has launched two new options: Floating Cabins and Harbor Cottages! This was my first time seeing either – and to say that I was impressed was an understatement. I left wanting one — an on-water office is sounding pretty good at the moment!
While at Lake Cumberland Marina, don’t miss out on a delicious meal — and in my opinion, the Philly Cheesesteak was a perfect mid-day treat! They use the same meat in their quesadillas, too. Yum!
The Cumberland Tap
I have so many childhood memories at Jamestown Marina (now known as Safe Harbor Jamestown Resort & Marina). Being a Jamestown boy, this is the part of the lake that I consider to be “mine” – however, I’m not alone in this sentiment. One of the busiest parts of Lake Cumberland, upon visiting the marina, you’ll be charmed, too.
The Cumberland Tap is the best-stocked bar on Lake Cumberland. This is not your typical drinking experience – they have everything from speciality cocktails to locally-sourced beers. I think that is what impressed me most — the devotion to our alcohol industry here in Kentucky behind the bar. From Jarfly in nearby Somerset to Country Boy & West Sixth in Lexington, one is sure to have a taste of the Commonwealth upon walking in at the Cumberland Tap.
My favorite drink of the day was the Q-Cumberland Mojito, which featured Don Q Rum, fresh mint, fresh cucumber, simple syrup, and a splash of Sprite.
I also enjoyed the Jam Marina Margarita, which featured Cuervo Traditional 1800 Silver Tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime + lemon juice, simple syrup, and a splash of orange juice. Oh, and it’s served with a shot of Grand Marnier on the side. Yes, you read that correctly. It made all of the difference.
Apart from drinks, the Cumberland Tap is also known for live music + their bar bites. Their oversized, salted, fluffy pretzel is what they are known for – and it’s what dreams are made of. That is if you have carbohydrate-filled dreams (am I alone in this?). The pretzel was served with homemade beer cheese, which featured Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Beer. A little extra touch of Kentucky goes a long way in my book.
The Mariner’s Cafe
Located next-door to the Cumberland Tap is the Mariner’s Cafe, which is a staple on Lake Cumberland. It’s truly a one-stop shop!
As for the menu at the Mariner’s Cafe, there are classics – burgers and other sandwiches perfect for a boater’s appetite – and special dishes, such as salmon + delicious southern sides.
There are also plenty of appetizers to share with your crew + delicious salads if you are trying to live on the lighter side of life.
However, the highlight was an off-menu dessert concoction that I am so proud to say will be available to y’all upon request: Loaded Funnel Cake Fries. No, I’m not kidding. Funnel Cake Fries, topped with cherry pie filling and whipped cream. Sinful? Potentially. Plate scrapin’ good? Absolutely.
Adventure awaits in beautiful Russell County, Kentucky – especially on Lake Cumberland. I do hope that you’ll come hungry, as there are many delicious eateries located on the banks of Kentucky’s shining gem!
As I am from the area, if you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I’d be happy to help you in planning a trip to God’s Country – my home!
Thank y’all for making this post possible. I’ll always remember this one.
As always: Happy Eating, Happy Traveling, Happy Living!
Y’all come back now, ya hear?
FTC: This post is sponsored by Lake Cumberland Tourist Commission (Russell County, KY); all opinions expressed, as always, are my own.