Following our early morning Canal Loop hike and brush with the eighth dimension (read here), we broke camp and headed for eastern Kentucky’s Red River Gorge. There was a problem, though; we were hungry and had nothing to eat! Lisa got on her phone to find us some great post-hike chow. I had some very specific parameters. I wanted fried chicken. I mean, we were in Kentucky. I wanted real Kentucky fried chicken from an authentic Kentucky hole in the wall. Chicken not cooked by any creepy, bearded Colonel who makes dubious, post-Labor Day fashion choices.
Lisa found Ms. Becky’s Place in Dawson Springs. It looked like it would check all the boxes, and TripAdvisor’s reviews corroborated that supposition. Pulling into their parking lot just before 2:00pm, we called the number on the sign outside. Whatever was going on inside Ms. Becky’s Place, it was loud. A cheerful employee shouted a greeting and I shouted back that we would like to place an order for curbside pickup. I asked to pay over the phone to reduce contact and subsequently hollered my credit card information to the mouthpiece. I was exhausted when I hung up.
While we waited, we discussed where we could go to eat our lunch. Lake Beshear was three miles south of town and seemed a pleasant place to spend an hour with some fried food. We identified a spot near a boat ramp that looked like it would fit our simple needs. When our food was ready, the nice lady called and yelled that she would bring it right out – after I signed the credit card receipt. Having complete the awkward crack-the-car-window-pass-the-receipt-through transaction, she brought out our food. The aroma of fried chicken filled the car, and we drove to the lake as fast as we could, then parked by the boat ramp; two minutes later large raindrops began to plunk onto the roof of the car. We wouldn’t be eating al fresco.
We unpacked and dug in. Our styrofoam containers each held two pieces of golden brown chicken, crinkle-cut fries, and a small tub of coleslaw. Pieces of cornbread were wrapped in foil. I sampled a fry. It was crispy on the outside and soft and tender on the inside. A good fry. The crinkle-cut form made them look like they came in a bag from the frozen aisle at the supermarket, but they didn’t taste that way. Next, I chomped into the cornbread. The taste was very good, but it was dry. Lisa had the same reaction. We rifled through the bag for butter. There was none. Honey? Nope. I have had lots of great cornbread, some needed accompaniment, some didn’t. I don’t necessarily consider the desire to add some butter or honey a sign of substandard cornbread, but Ms. Becky’s fried cornbread was well toward the savory side and needed something. We can’t say whether any potential accompaniments were not typically offered, or simply forgotten. Lisa didn’t eat more than a bite, and she is a cornbread lover.
One TripAdvisor review noted that, over several curbside pickups, they repeatedly found one item or another to be missing from their order. That, however, was the single only review to address their takeout service.
I turned my attention to the chicken. Here, Ms. Becky hit a grand-slam home run. The batter was crispy and well seasoned; the chicken was tender, juicy and flavorful. It was everything one could ask for in a piece of CFK. If you’re wondering, that’s “Chicken Fried in Kentucky” – not to be confused with that other fowl acronym.
Lake Beshear was picturesque, its shoreline dotted with residential homes. Each grassy yard melted into the water and an (often covered) dock stood at the joining of earth and lake. Sheets of rain swept across the surface of the water, up the dock, and across our windshield as we enjoyed our quintessential Kentuckian repast.
After finishing off my piece of Ms. Becky’s dry cornbread, I reached for my styrofoam cup of tea and took a long drink. “Dammit!” It was unsweetened. I had really been looking forward to an oppressively saccharine swig of southern sweet tea and felt pretty disappointed. Had I not adequately yelled my desire to have my blood sugar summarily spiked? Had our server simply misunderstood amid the din inside the restaurant? Either way, there was nothing to be done for it and I resignedly sipped my tea. I had to admit that, even sans sugar, this was good tea. Ms. Becky clearly brews on the premises.
I ate everything, including the coleslaw that I barely mentioned. I barely mentioned it because it was fairly uninspiring. That’s not a soft and fuzzy way of saying bad – just not stand-outish. Lisa and I generally like coleslaw that leans into vinegar more than mayonnaise. This was the mayonnaisy kind – exactly what we expected from a grill in Dawson Springs, Kentucky. Not bad, but not a triumph either. Lisa, who is decidedly more discerning than I, didn’t finish hers … so I did. I was hungry.
Ms. Becky’s Place served up some really good eats at a phenomenal price. Our bill came to $25.71 – that covered four pieces of chicken, two large rounds of cornbread, two tubs of coleslaw, a mound of fries each, and two large iced teas. Even with seven-plus miles under our boots, we were stuffed when we finished. We suspect that we would have had a better experience had we dined in at Ms. Becky’s, but we were pleased with our lunch nonetheless. If we were to eat there again (and we totally would) we would request some butter for the cornbread and maybe trade the coleslaw for a different side. Still, Ms. Becky’s Place is a great place to fill your after-hike emptiness without emptying your wallet. TripAdvisor reviews speak of a great reputation and of people driving significant distances for the chicken. In addition to being just forty miles from the entrance to Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, there are numerous hiking opportunities nearby, including the thirteen-mile Pennyrile Forest Trail which starts just outside Dawson Springs. Definitely put Ms. Becky’s Place on your post-hike-chow-spot list and hit them up for some great CFK! ♦
Date: July 8, 2020
Location: 37.169460, -87.689398
Website: Ms. Becky’s Facebook Page
Price Range: $
Everything Else: ★★★
BIT|Hiker acknowledges the Indigenous peoples who are the original inhabitants of the lands on which we hike. Our research indicated we were on ancestral lands of the Cherokee, Shawnee, Osage, and Yuchi.