Route: Google Maps
It's kinda hard to believe that I've never been to Moonlite. But I've never been to Moonlite. I do have a Moonlite recipe book, but I've never made a recipe. That's mostly because I don't need to make dip for 400 chickens, I don't have 12 gallons of vinegar, and dividing gallons by 400 is hard. But I digress.
When we think about Owensboro, two things come to mind: BBQ and racing. The OWB is home to the International Bar-B-Q Festival each May and it's known for its mutton. Although Kentucky isn't recognized as one of the big BBQ states, the most defining characteristic of KY BBQ is certainly Owensboro's mutton and the black dip. And while there aren't many well-known racetracks for cars or bikes near Owensboro, the OWB is also the home of successful racing families like the Waltrip Brothers and the Hayden Brothers. There's a whole new generation of road racers in area, too. Guys like JD Beach, Hayden Gillim, and Jake Lewis come to mind.
Back to BBQ. There are more than two BBQ restaurants in Owensboro, but there's really just two that people from out of town talk about: Old Hickory & Moonlite. Conventional wisdom says that you go to Moonlite if you want a buffet, and you go to Old Hickory for take-out. That's what all my Owensboro friends say, and if you ever find yourself stuck in an airport security line with Darrell Waltrip and you don't want to talk NASCAR, he'll tell you the same thing. So it must be true.
I have been to Old Hickory a few times. But the idea of a BBQ buffet has always sounded like paradise and today I had a good reason to go check it out at Moonlite...
|I broke most of The Rules.|
It is a boring drive if you take the parkway.
It's a long drive if you don't.
Self-proclaimed Bar-B-Q Capitol of the World!
|Hey, look... it's Roger Lee Hayden!|
Rog is a national champion road racer and the youngest of the three Hayden brothers. For the past couple years he was piloting the National Guard Superbike for Michael Jordan Racing and he was riding the wheels off that thing. If you saw the 2013 races from Miller Motorsports Park in Utah, you know what I mean.
He was kind enough to bring me a couple autographed bikes for the boys, and I gave him the same Kick Ass Kentuckian sticker I gave his brothers when we saw them at the Indianapolis MotoGP race a few months ago. I didn't come up here for die-cast motorcycles, but that was a nice surprise!
|Considering that this place is known for its buffet, I was surprised to see such a big carry-out business.|
|BBQ & Beer.|
There aren't a lot of BBQ joints around here that feature both, but Moonlite does.
Apparently the buffet isn't always available. There's a lunch buffet and a dinner buffet, but no buffet in between lunch and dinner! That's OK. I placed a to-go order and the folks who were working at the time couldn't have been friendlier.
I strolled around for a minute and learned that this is a big place! I reckon it's the biggest BBQ restaurant I've visited in Kentucky. I think that would make it the biggest BBQ restaurant I've visited anywhere.
|How cool is this? A BBQ joint with its own BBQ sauce packets to go!|
|The Big Dipper. Roger says this is Owensboro's version of In-N-Out.|
It definitely looks like my kind of burger joint, and it must be good if it stays in business right next door to Moonlite.
|Headin' home... with gifts & BBQ.|
|The parkway is really boring, except for this here bridge.|
The only reason I want to get a pilot's license is to fly something through that gap.
|Back in BG I traded that sandwich for this Preds jersey at a mattress store.|
|Moonlight over Alvaton.|
Moonlite in the Jeep.
|Thanks, Santa Rog!|
|Mutton Plate w/ Mashed Potatoes & Green Beans.|
|Pork Rib Plate w/ Apples & Slaw.|
VERDICT: I love this place, and I can't wait to visit the buffet someday. The people are friendly, the BBQ is great, and they package to-go orders better than anybody else in the state. I didn't even plan on getting the mutton plate until they gave me a sample. The sample was big enough that it was almost a meal in itself, and I was sold. I'm not expert on mutton, but I loved it and the pork ribs were just about perfect. No sauce needed!
|This is how we learn to use a bike stand.|
My little guy is three years old. For perspective, the Hayden Bros were riding motorcycles when they were three at the family compound just down the road from Moonlite. That's how champions are made! Rog penned a pretty cool story about growing up as a racer in this Soup article.