One of Our Favorite Bowling Green Restaurants: Rafferty’s

The. Best. Baked. Beans. On. God's. Green. Earth.

Rafferty's Salad with Bleu Cheese Dressing

Bowling Green restaurants almost always amaze me.  You’ll find lots of Bowling Green restaurant reviews on Genuine Kentucky to back that up.  As far as cities go, Bowling Green is in the upper echelon when it comes to restaurant management.

Do they have a training facility where they train restaurant managers and staff the way Samurai warriors were trained?  If so, well played Bowling Green, well played.

I’m a small town girl (born and raised in Madisonville who now calls Owensboro home), so I have to say I couldn’t handle Bowling Green’s traffic on a daily basis – I don’t have a lot of patience and I have even less driving skills – but I am obsessed with their restaurants.

The most recent restaurant my husband and I fell in love with is Bowling Green’s Rafferty’s.

With all the respect a Kentucky girl could muster (and that’s a lot), I must tell you that you only THINK you’ve had the best baked beans in the world.  Unless you’ve had Rafferty’s Spike’s Mean Beans, you have only had  the second or third best baked beans. Let me assure you, baked beans are one of my culinary obsessions.  I know my beans like Popeye knows spinach, like Bugs Bunny knows carrots, and like Yogi knows Pic-i-nic baskets.

Spike’s Mean Beans are the most flavorful and delicious baked beans in the world. They don’t just have a “kick,” they have a ninja kick.  Evil Spike Beans trained in the art of assassination and espionage of all other restaurant baked beans!

But let’s start at the beginning.

First of all, Rafferty’s is a showplace.  This is one gorgeous restaurant – inside and out. Everywhere you look, all you see is beauty. The ambiance is beautiful, the tables are gorgeous, the architecture is stunning, and the ceilings are too cool for their own good.

Yes the ceilings.  Yes I looked.  I am the very definition of a visual person and  am utterly fascinated with architecture and decor.  When a building, home, or restaurant goes out of its way to impress me, you’d better believe I’m going to make a big deal about it (which is why I”m always crowing about Lake Barkley State Park‘s gorgeous lodge).  I SO wanted to take a picture of the inside of the restaurant – yes, even the ceiling – but there were simply too many people.  I didn’t want to look like a tourist or a nut for crying out loud.

Suffice to say, the restaurant is stunning.

Rafferty's Salad with Catalina Dressing

Our lovely server (“Murray” – I remember her name because I fell in love with it.  Murray for a girl. Adorable!) was extremely friendly and totally on top of her game.  She, like every worker I saw, smiled the entire time as they worked in their beautiful environment.  I noticed the workers helped one another out a lot and just seemed genuinely happy. I saw something I really, really liked – a manager (in his nice shirt, slacks, and tie) helped a young girl bus several tables.  You don’t see that every day, but it stood out as pretty special.

I can’t put my finger on it, but every single employee I saw seemed to be giving 100 percent.  You know what it reminds me of, now that I think about it? When we have family over for a holiday, birthday dinner, or Sunday meal, each one of us goes out of our way to make sure everyone is comfortable.  Heaven knows I obsess over making sure the food’s just right. Our only concern is that our much-beloved guests have a “perfect” day.  Of course we’re all smile on these occasions because we’re happy.

The staff at Rafferty’s struck me as a family that was entertaining other family members or friend. Try telling me that’s something you’ve experienced at a lot of restaurants.

We ordered a salad (around $3 extra) to go with our meal and, let me tell you, that was a great call.  This was one spectacular salad. Rafferty salads are generous, fresh, and fantastic.  Riding in on the salad plate was a little bit of Heaven in the form of a croissant.  SO delicious! There was a buttery honey flavor that nearly made me melt out of my seat. Come on, nothing has a right to be that delicious – it just isn’t fair.  When you go to Rafferty’s, no matter what you order, add a salad. For just $3 or so, it’s money very well spent and it’s more than worth it.

Michael got Bleu Cheese dressing and I chose Catalina. Both were excellent.  They have a lot of amazing sounding dressings to choose from including Mustard-Honey, Garlic Ranch, Hot Bacon, Vinaigrette, and 1,000 Island.

Rafferty's Fried Catfish and Spike's Mean Beans

I, of course, ordered fried catfish as my entree with (one of the best choices of my life) Spike’s Mean Beans as my side. The catfish at Rafferty’s is like fried catfish I’ve had a few other places (usually high brow restaurants) – the catfish is breaded in a flour-dominated mixture as opposed to a cornmeal-dominated mixture.  Personally, I have to say that I much prefer the cornbread coating. Most people like it both ways, but I’m very particular with my catfish. You could even say picky, I don’t mind.  My husband loved this fried catfish and, in spite the fact that it had a flour-based rather than cornmeal-based coating, it was very, very, VERY good. They give you a generous amount and the catfish is plump. juicy, and full of intoxicating flavor.

The picky butt behind these words simply likes for her fried catfish to wear different attire than her fried chicken.

The tartar sauce that accompanied the catfish was herb-y and fantastic.

I have to say, however, that Spike’s Mean Beans stole the show.  They were so darn good, it’s not even funny.

My husband ordered a pork entree and, after one bite, declared that it was the best pork he’s ever had at any restaurant. I pulled away from my beans long enough to take a bite and, by George, the boy was right.  This pork is unlike any I’ve ever had. You just cannot find pork this tender and flavorful anywhere else.  Words are failing me here (and I work with them all day, every day – how dare they fail me at a time like this?!); I guess the words BEST PORK EVER will have to suffice.

You can choose special toppings for your meat entrees and my husband chose “Bleu Cheese Butter.” Outstanding!

He also, of course, ordered grilled asparagus. The boy is obsessed with asparagus like I am obsessed with catfish,  baked beans, and onion rings. It’s a complete and utter obsession. When Murray mentioned that they had grilled asparagus, even though it wasn’t listed on the menu, his eyes lit up. I knew what his side would be!

Rafferty's Pork Chop and Grilled Asparagus

Sometimes ordering asparagus in restaurants can be tricky.  A pet peeve is when they haven’t trimmed (or snapped) the asparagus at the right place – leaving you with a tough end. Hate that!  Rafferty’s grilled asparagus was absolute perfection. It was amazing. The grilled flavor, combined with the fact that they cooked it for just the right amount of time, combined with the fact that they snapped it off at JUST the right place make Rafferty’s grilled asparagus an absolute delicacy.

So let’s review:

  • Gorgeous restaurant.
  • Friendly, warm, and happy staff.
  • Best pork in the world. Period.
  • Best baked beans in the world. Period.
  • If not THE best bread in any restaurant, it’s in the top 3. None beat it and only O’Charley’s and Logan’s can hang with it.
  • One of the best salads I’ve ever had in a restaurant.
  • Amazing grilled asparagus.
  • Did I mention the best baked beans in the world?

What are you waiting for? Throw on your shoes and drive to the Rafferty’s nearest you right now.  If Bowling Green is at all within reach, I completely and totally suggest you have your next meal at their Rafferty’s (address below).

Before going, you can check out Rafferty’s Menu online. You can scroll to the bottom and click on the Rafferty’s location you’ll be visiting. Be sure to also check out the interactive menu in the middle of the page. Click Next and Previous above the image to navigate through the pages. More restaurants should have a beautiful interactive menu like this one. It’s pretty slick.

As you’ll find, Rafferty’s is perfect for lunch or dinner.

Find a Rafferty’s Restaurant Near You!

In addition to Bowling Green, there are Rafferty’s restaurants in Paducah, Elizabethtown, Florence, and there are two Rafferty’s in Lexington, and two in Louisville.  (Owensboro, we are  not on the list… let’s fix this, okay?)

Bowling Green’s Rafferty’s is at 1939 Scottsville Road.  For the address of the Rafferty’s Restaurants in the other Kentucky cities (or neighboring states), visit the Rafferty’s locations page.

Trust me on this one, I would never steer you wrong. Rafferty’s will blow you away…. just promise me you’ll order Spike’s Mean Beans!

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