At $1, Billy’s One Stop chili bun is worth a try. The bun is impeccably fresh — soft and spongy; the onions are crisp; the mustard is, um, yellow. The chili itself is Mitchell’s brand, a local brew. It is a blatant, one-two punch of ground beef and sweet tomato sauce with just a hint of seasoning. It’s a right combination of ingredients, although this particular chili bun is not going to convert skeptics into fans of the dogless chili dog of southwestern Kentucky.
Chili buns are a convenience-store staple in this area, and they do have devotees. But when I return to Billy’s One Stop, it will be for a lunch-counter meal at the back of the store. Here you find a menu of Cumberland Highlands hash-house fare that includes burgers, BBQ, fried bologna, and meat & 3 specials. None of what I saw looked like four-star fare, but the company was wonderful — both at the counter and behind it. I enjoyed a lively culinary colloquy that ranged from chili buns to the original Colonel Sanders’ cafe in nearby Corbin.