Root Beer Stand

Drive-In | Hot Dog
Worth driving from anywhere!

First, house-made root beer: It is an ingenuous, uncomplicated draft, sweet enough but not overly so, just hinting of sarsparilla. It arrives in a thick glass mug sheathed in frost. An ideal companion for burgers and hot dogs, it’s also the right medium for a float of vanilla ice cream.

While root beer is universally American, the chili bun is uniquely regional; and it’s the opinion of more than a few experts on the subject that the chili bun served here is one of Eastern Kentucky’s best. I’ve had none better.

The concept of a chili bun is simplicity itself: a chili dog without the dog. Yellow mustard and chopped onions are usual condiments, most often put into the bun before the chili, meaning that you don’t see them when you unfurl the wax paper to behold the clever little sandwich. But they’re there; and they are important, the mustard adding picnic zest, the onions delivering sweet crunch. The chili itself is beefy, beanless, thick and savory, just a little bit spicy. Cheap as it is (about $1 per bun), it has a luxurious quality that sparkles in an impeccably fresh, soft bun.

The same good chili is, of course, the right stuff atop a hot dog, although its aristocratic mien tends to eclipse the pale little weenie down below.

The Root Beer Stand is a genuine drive-in with car-hop service. I arrived early and was taken care of instantaneously. But in the evening, especially on weekends, expect to wait a while.

Note that the Root Beer Stand is open only from late Spring to early Autumn.

What to Eat
Root Beer Stand, Chili Dog
Chili Dog
Expertly made chili dog has onions secreted below.
Root Beer Stand, Chili Bun
Chili Bun
Kentucky chili bun at its best
Root Beer Stand, Root Beer
Root Beer
Mugs arrive well-frosted.
Directions and Hours
Meals Served
Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

Other Nearby Restaurants

  • You and Me Coffee and Tea

    Corbin, Kentucky

    Corbin, Kentucky’s coffee house is a source for Counter Culture brewed coffee, pourover, & cold brew, and a sophisticated fried bologna breakfast sandwich.

  • Boone Tavern

    Berea, Kentucky

    Built in 1909 and affiliated with Berea College (which supplies much of the staff), the Boone Tavern serves great vintage hotel food with many modern twists.

  • Billy’s One Stop

    Barbourville, Kentucky

    Locals and regular travelers along the Cumberland Gap Parkway stop at Billy’s for a $1 chili bun, lunch-counter eats, gas, and convenience-store needs.

  • Smokey Bear’s BBQ

    Corbin, Kentucky

    A happy-go-lucky BBQ parlor with a law-and-order theme, Smokey Bear’s is a favorite among Corbin citizens, especially its police officers. Try the Pig Tator!

  • Lily Shop-N-Cart

    Lily, Kentucky

    In this remote Kentucky convenience store, chili is made daily for the area’s favorite cheap sandwich, the chili bun. Also: a quick-eats, hot meal menu.

  • Hitz BBQ

    Berea, Kentucky

    At a highway exit in Berea, Kentucky, Hitz doesn’t look like a first-rate BBQ joint, but it is. Meats are expertly smoke-cooked; side dishes are extraordinary.