Our overnight stay on the trip back to KC was set in the ever-so-charming burg of Paducah, KY and this fine town won our hearts in less than 24 hours. As the K-Man is in the downtown revitalization business, he had heard impressive things about Paducah and finally, we were able to find out for ourselves.
Our trip through The Bluegrass State was far more satisfying this time around, as compared to the endless gridlock we encountered before. The fall colors were less subdued than in West Virginia and as we made our way through Lexington, the already picturesque horse country was made all the more stunning by its autumnal hues. We finally landed in Paducah and with one look, I was instantly intrigued. Many of the buildings were lovingly restored and were clearly rich with history and character. The most striking aspect of the downtown scene that we noticed is that, indeed, it was a SCENE....restaurants were hopping and people were strolling the streets. That's a dream scene for any downtown. We quickly looked for our overnight digs called the Fox Briar Inn. Other than a sign, we couldn't quite figure out where the inn was and the after-hour check-in process was a bit odd...a phone number called; a key exchanged. The entrance to our loft led into a large kitchen that itself opened into a long hallway meandering into an expansive bathroom, bedroom and living room. After a quick admiring glance around, we headed out for dinner to check out the sights and sounds.
Indeed, the downtown revitalization has certainly created a happening here in Paducah. The neon welcome of Maiden Alley Cinema lit up the alleyway that our loft led out to. This independent cinema was showing a documentary based on Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters called Magic Trip and the local hipsters were huddled around the entrance anticipating the debut. We strolled the warmly lit streets, discovering performance artists posing and bands jamming on various street corners. We struggled with which food haven to inhabit and after being turned away by a busy Max's Brick Oven Cafe, we settled on Tribeca Mexican Cuisine. Located in historic Market House Square, this is a bustling joint that doubles as an art gallery featuring local artists and even houses a bed and breakfast. With a multiple personality like that, you could almost forgive Tribeca if their food was a tad on the lackluster side, but I'm happy to report that it was anything but. The chile rellenos were packed with flavor, the icy Margarita strong and their house-made salsa was a memorable wow. The staff was also friendly and informative. Satisfied to a fault, we retired back to our loft-for-the-night.
It may be a sign of age, but, when traveling, the mornings have become more a time of discovery for us than the evenings. Paducah was a perfect example of this. I had slept like a baby and that's not the norm for me, but this time I awoke in an almost recuperative state. It might have been the surroundings....waking in that brass bed and looking up at the transom windows over the door; no other sound but the whirring ceiling fan. I sat up and read the New York Times Fall Preview issue, the one annual edition of the NYT I pore over like it held the Meaning of Life. Lying in that bed, covered in comforter and various sections of the New York Times was a cozy way to start the day. We walked to our breakfast spot; an amazing place located around the corner by the name of Kirchhoff's Bakery and Deli. This deliciously lovely place, like Breitenbach Winery in Ohio's Amish Country represents one of those perfect storms: the kind of business we would love to own someday.....wonderful, diverse food-product offerings in a charm-filled setting. Kirchoff's baked their first loaf of bread in 1873 and they have been a Paducah institution ever since. Shelves and baskets of fresh-baked breads wound through the bakery and decadent pastries, like the Honey-Nut Brioche(pictured at top left)adorn the bake case. It was utterly impossible to choose just one treat, so we chose breakfast savories to eat immediately and sweet treats to take on the road. The bakery opens up to the deli on the left and the Etcetera coffee shop on the right. The barista at the coffee shop made a chai latte for Keith and an employee special drink for me..the Spork; a double-marshmallow mocha latte. I savored my warm breakfast foccacia topped with peppers, onions, and potatoes and Keith devoured his spinach and ham quiche. Over the course of the next couple of days, we reveled in a Kirchhoff's-created delirium...a sweet sticky bun, a crazy-good chocolate-chip brioche, baklava and an apple cider cookie. We also took home a loaf of Parmesan Pepper bread that was delectable. Kirchhoff's was such a delight, I wanted to stay to sample the deli for lunch but we had to move on. If you ever get near Paducah, run, don't walk, to this fine establishment.
We strolled the city blocks to take in all of the way-cool architecture and storefronts. We read about Paducah's rollicking history on the riverfront murals and did an impromptu bourbon-spiked barbecue sauce tasting. Finally, we got back on the road towards KC, promising to return to this fine town. Thanks, Paducah!