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Frankfort’s Hot Brown Trail 2024 Written by Patti Nickell

Image credit: Goodwood Brewing

Admit it – when it comes to Kentucky comfort food, most of us will take a Hot Brown every time. There’s just something about moist white turkey, sizzling bacon, lightly charred tomatoes and creamy Mornay sauce on buttered toast that gets our culinary juices flowing and our mouths watering.

In recognition of this, Downtown Frankfort, with the support of Whitaker Bank, has put together a week-long Hot Brown Trail (April 26- May 3) that will lead up to this year’s Run for the Roses.

The original Hot Brown may have been created at Louisville’s Brown Hotel in 1926, but this year 18 Frankfort eating and drinking establishments will put their own twist on the classic dish.

Those businesses are Andy’s Artisan Bread, Bourbon on Main, Brown Barrel, Buddy’s Pizza, Cliffside Diner, Goodwood Brewing, Howser Tavern, Jim’s Seafood, Kentucky Coffeetree Café, Limewater Bistro, Local’s Food Hub, Main Street Diner, Mi Fiesta, Mortimer Bibb’s Public House, POURter’s, Serafini, Sig Lusher Brewery and Stainless Brewing & Spirits.

Image credit: Limewater Bistro

With this line-up, can trail blazers expect some unique ingredients in their Hot Browns. Beer or bourbon, perhaps? Shrimp or crabs? Might there even be a pizza or Mexican version?

Buddy’s Pizza says their Hot Brown will definitely be a pizza – a 12” pizza with the traditional ingredients topped with a Mornay sauce in place of the usual red sauce.

Mi Fiesta proves that a South of the Border Hot Brown can be just as delicious as its North of the Border counterpart.

The restaurant’s version will be an open-faced sandwich on toasted bread topped with grilled turkey breast, tomato and bacon, covered with refried bean spread and creamy cheese sauce sprinkled with Monterey Jack cheese and broiled until the bread is crisp and the sauce begins to brown. It will be garnished with a slice of avocado and cilantro chives.

Others that have released their dish include Andy’s Artisan Bread (a toasted Hot Brown croissant sandwich with roasted turkey, bacon, tomatoes and Mornay Sauce) and Sig Luscher’s Hot Brown Dog (hot dog with tomatoes, bacon, Hollandaise Sauce and Parmesan cheese.)

Image credit: Andy’s Artisan Bread

Image credit: Sig Luscher Brewery

Megan Allan, co-owner of Main Street Diner, plans to keep us guessing a bit longer.

“We haven’t decided yet, but we’ll be serving one of two options – the Hot Brown hash browns which we did last year, and everyone loved, or a Hot Brown baked potato,” she says.

One thing’s for sure – all will offer a symphony of flavors and textures that have stood the test of time, according to Suzy Hosley, executive director of Downtown Frankfort, Inc., who is also the Trail organizer.

Hosley invites everyone to take a delicious journey through downtown Frankfort’s flavors.

“We are thrilled to introduce the Hot Brown Trail to our downtown community,” she says. “This food week (now in its second year) celebrates the rich culinary heritage of the state, showcasing the creativity and passion of our local businesses as they craft their own version of the iconic Hot Brown.

“We invite everyone to savor the tastes of Kentucky in every bite.”

So, how does it work? If you’re an underachiever, you can just pick a place, enjoy a Hot Brown, and call it a week. For the rest of us, here’s what to do:

The first step is to pick up a passport at any participating establishment, any Frankfort Whitaker Bank location, or if you’re saving your strength for the actual eating part, just print it off the website (downtownfrankfort.com/hot-brown-trail/). Next is to simply wait for the fun.

But fun is even better with a little financial incentive. Hosley says they have you covered there too.

Those who visit at least two participating locations and order a Hot Brown will have their passport stamped to enter a drawing for two $25 gift cards to participating establishments.

I know. Right about now, you’re probably thinking “two – that’s for amateurs. How about going for double digits?”

We’re not sure you have the digestive stamina to make it to all 18 in a week, but we’re betting you can make it to at least three. If you do and order a Hot Brown, get that all-important stamp on your passport, and you will have a chance to win a $25 gift card at three participating establishments. Get those taste buds primed…the Hot Brown Trail is gearing up for an influx of culinary trailblazers.

**Images are from 2023’s Hot Brown Trail