Saturday, June 1, 2013

Mama Lou's & Thomas the Train, Too (Uno, KY)

Bike Van:  Honda Odyssey
Route:  Google Maps

A proper Countryside Food Ride is long overdue and this one is not proper, but it's the closest I've been in awhile. This one is in the minivan and the next one is on a jet plane and I sure hope to be back on a bike for the one after that.

I first spotted Mama Lou's early one morning last September while attempting to conquer the Kentucky Bourbon Trail in One Day. There are no real pictures of the countryside in this post, but that Bourbon Trail link contains some great shots of the Kentucky scenery from these same roads between BG and Bardstown.

I've been looking forward to heading back for some BBQ and I've learned a lot about Mama Lou's since then, but more on that later. First we had to go 40 miles out of the way to see a train of some sort in New Haven, KY...

I don't always get chauffeured around, but when I do I sit in the back... the very back.

FLASHBACK:  When I rode past the Kentucky Railway Museum on that same September morning of last year, there wasn't much going on, but... something was going on.
Something crazy.
It was a madhouse.

New Sherwood Hotel & Cafe, and...

Thomas the Train!

"Let me see!"

Little Man loves Thomas, from a distance. Up close, not so sure what to think.
Kinda like Big Red, Santa Clause, & the UPS truck.

Choo choo.

Thomas the Train is cool... but he's no L&N #152.

That completely random and accidental [& cropped] GoPro shot cracked me up. It also prompted me to read more about L&N Steam Engine #152, a machine with a pretty cool story. Among other adventures, it pulled Teddy Roosevelt and his team along the campaign trail and it also pulled Al Capone to Alcatraz.

TtT took some other folks out for a ride while we waited our turn, and while we waited our turn we explored this crazy scene. There was a makeshift gift shop, a few food vendors, and some other tents setup. One tent featured a really cool puppet show -- been awhile since I've seen one of those! Mostly it was a bunch of crazy happy kids running around with worn out parents in tow.

While Thomas the Train was steaming back in to pick us up, I spied a pink bag that made me really happy to have boys.

Our railcar.

Once on board, Little Man still didn't know what to think...

...but Bubba's got this.

Oh, wait.

Good family fun! Actually, we met up with some friends and rode the rail with them and their boy, so it was double good family fun. We only went across one road-crossing, but it cracks me up to think what someone stopped on the road must think when Thomas the Train comes rolling by.

After the train ride we checked out some of the other museum trains. Not that we know anything about trains, but some of these machines looked pretty darn cool.

An old locomotive of some sort.

Love this.

Ciao, Thomas...

Ciao, Sherwood...

Ciao, Kentucky Railway Museum...


I took the wheel for the trip down to Uno, and following the No GPS Rule I got us a bit lost. We turned around when this here road gave way to gravel in the middle of what Bubba called "The Forest". No need for Deliverance jokes -- that was a different state. Justified thoughts, however, might be justified.

In my defense, I'd only run this route once in the opposite direction, and I only missed my intended turn by a few hundred feet! Can I blame confusing signage? Not really, and no worries... we eventually got back on track and found the intersection known as Uno.

FLASHBACK:  Mama Lou's on that Bourbon Trail Saturday.
During business hours you'll find cars parked on both sides of the road on both sides of the intersection.

The Mama Lou's Bar-B-Que & Gifts sign initially caught my attention that morning and the food truck parked out front made me happy. I've ridden past a lot of places out in the middle of nowhere that look similar, but without stopping there's no way to know if they are still open or if they are just empty buildings with old signs reflecting better days of the past. The food truck told me this BBQ joint was indeed open for business. Note to self.

Since then, I've become pretty familiar with the place without even visiting because Wes Berry featured Mama Lou's on his Go Local TV show (video here) and also had favorable things to say in several pages of his The KY BBQ Book.

Parking lot.

Uno, KY

That pic is out of sequence, and I include it just to show that Uno is located at the intersection of 571 & 31E -- the road signs say so. If you watched the Go Local show linked above then you saw Lindsay Byrd displaying a picture that shows this same corner (and this same building) 100 years ago when Uno was a bustling community, and you also learned how to pronounce Uno. Nowadays the other buildings are gone and I reckon most business has moved to nearby Glasgow or traveled elsewhere via I-65, but Mama & Papa Lou are keeping Uno alive...

The front porch is a fine place to ride out a quick summer storm.

Step right up.

Bubba and I had a good time at the counter. They don't accept credit cards and we had exactly $20 on hand. There was no half chicken on this day, so we settled on a pulled pork platter w/ two sides & bread for him, and baby back ribs for me. After the tip, we was broke.

And then we remembered that we forgot about Momma and Little Man. A quick trip to the van scrounged up six more dollars, and that did the trick. Grilled cheese for Little Man and two Little Piggies for Momma. We ended up with exactly $0.13 leftover. Tip jar!

This is Mama Lou's.

Six tables, a big TV, and bookshelves lined with coffee mugs. I could sit here all day, but these seats appear to be in high demand so I don't reckon that'll ever happen.

Pulled Pork, Green Beans, Slaw, and Texas Toast.

Grilled Cheese for Little Man & Little Piggies for Momma.

Baby Back Ribs (later, back home).

Back at the van, our Momma loved Mama Lou's Little Piggies.

VERDICT:  Love this place. If you watched the Go Local video you know why. This is exactly the kind of establishment I hoped to find when I started this blog. Super friendly folks serving up some good home cooking in an old-school environment with plenty of character. 

It looks like they are using some sort of gas smoker now; not the same smoker shown in the TV show. The pulled pork tasted slightly sweet with a light smoke flavor. I thought it was good without sauce, especially when I found a piece or two of bark. The mild sauce seemed much like a popular bottled Kansas City sauce, and the hot version was about the same but probably spiced up with a cayenne pepper sauce. The ribs were right up my alley -- not quite fall-of-the-bone tender, but close. They came lightly sauced and they were pretty big for baby backs. The green beans were superb, if you like good ol' fashioned home cooking!

Our favorite thing was the Little Piggies, which are mini pulled pork sandwiches costing just over a dollar each. That was a great find since we were eating on a budget (at least two of us were), and Momma really did love 'em.

I look forward to going back to try the brisket and a burger. I'm not brave enough to try the famous Hubcap Burger (1 pound of meat, and that's just the beginning), but if I wasn't taking my food home today I definitely would have tried a smaller burger.

Uno feels like it's in the middle of nowhere, but it really isn't far from Glasgow and the ride there and back is a nice pleasant one through beautiful rolling Kentucky farmland. Go visit Mama & Papa Lou when you get a chance. You won't be disappointed. And remember it's cash only!

Ciao, Mama Lou's...

Headin' home...
Two are sleeping.
One is wondering who's driving.
This one is thinking about the sampler platter that awaits back home.

Makeshift Mama Lou's Sample Platter:  Baby Back Ribs, Pulled Pork, Green Beans, Slaw.


UPDATE (9//13):  Mama Lou's opened a second location right off I-65's Exit 65 in Munfordville, and right down the road from Big Bubba's Belly Bustin' BBQ Bliss, which happened to burn down soon after Mama Lou's moved in. Hopefully that was a coincidence, as BBQ joints to have a tendency to burn down, but it was sad anyway.

The satellite Mama Lou's has better parking than the original (room for big trucks), has more tables, and has waitresses that don't waste any time. Some of the food is cooked on-site, and some (pork and ribs) is smoked at the original location and trucked over. I don't think the brisket was smoked at all, but the pork and ribs had a light smoke flavor and were as good as last time, so I'd suggest getting something that was smoked in Uno. The sides are still great, and there's nothing like their big loaded BBQ potato around here! If you can't make it out to Uno, this is a very convenient way to get some Mama Lou's BBQ.

Big Bubba's Belly Bustin' BBQ Bliss is no more.

Mama Lou's in Munfordville.

Unlike the walk-up window in Uno, we have table service here.

Meat sampler + Little Piggy.


Little Piggy kids meal.

BBQ Potato.
That's not a small plate; that's a huge potato!


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