Lively, locally owned Danville dining scene has lots of variety

For a town with a population hovering around 17,000, Danville, KY offers some extraordinary foodie experiences.

In its historic downtown alone, Danville has more than 15 locally-owned restaurants – with everything from craft burgers, beer and bourbon served in an upscale speakeasy atmosphere at Copper & Oak to sushi and poke bowls (including one with a Bluegrass twist) dished up at Danville Poke & Sushi to the heavenly-spiced, traditional Middle East street food, chicken shawarma, and Mom’s Moussaka layered casserole plated at Tut’s.

“Tut’s is the only place in Danville where you can experience the wonderful spices of Egypt and find homemade falafel and baklava,” said Tut’s owner, Ashraf Emam, a native of Cairo, Egypt, who brings a taste of the Mediterranean with Egyptian flair to his restaurant.

There is Italian cuisine to be enjoyed at La Cosa Nostra, an elegant restaurant tucked into a historic 1880s bank, where a unique dining experience awaits in the bank’s original vault, now transformed into a cozy dining nook.

“If you want a taste of Italy right here in Danville, you’re going to get it at La Cosa Nostra,” said Lahannah Bonagofski, who co-owns the restaurant with Chris Bonagofski and Nicole and Beau Cacciatore. “From the imported meats to the fresh parmesan and freshly grated cheeses – it’s all quality.”

The signature dish here is the spaghetti and meatballs.

“It is out of this world,” said Bonagofski. The secret of the dish’s popularity lies in ingredients like locally sourced fresh garlic and herbs.

(Spaghetti from La Cosa Nostra)

Bonagofski also has a hand in Copper & Oak, another restaurant owned by Nicole and Beau Cacciatore. With its urban vibe softened with Southern hospitality, Copper & Oak has gained a reputation for an outstanding bourbon selection. The bestseller? Kentucky Bourbon Trail® member and Danville’s own Wilderness Trail, a distillery that focuses on a unique sweet mash process.

Menu favorites include the restaurant’s locally sourced prime steaks and dishes that add a twist on Southern favorites, like the Hot Honey Chicken.

(Smokehouse Burger from Copper and Oak)

“When we were creating Copper & Oak, we wanted to create a place where people could just lose time,” said Bonagofski. “You come in and you feel great.”

The Bluegrass Pizza Pub is known for brick oven pizzas topped with locally sourced ingredients – some of which come from owner Colin and Melissa Masters’ own Thorny Meadow Farm. In addition to build-your-own pizzas, the pub has 13 different specialty pies, including El Pollo Loco, made with chicken, red onion, garlic and tomato and finished with a chipotle sauce, and the Hot Brown, an homage to the Kentucky classic with turkey, ham, bacon and tomato and doused with Alfredo cheese sauce.

(Bluegrass Pizza and Pub)

Specials are offered frequently and announced on the pub’s Facebook page: the Hot Sicilian sandwich, stuffed with ham, pepperoni, salami and mozzarella and topped with lettuce, tomatoes and zesty Italian dressing and including fries for lunch. A large specialty pizza for $19.99 and a bottle of wine for the price of two glasses for dinner. And drink specials, like $5 martinis and margaritas on the rocks on Thirsty Thursday.

Danville Poke and Sushi brings the flavors of Hawaii and Japan to this family-owned poke bar – the first of its kind to come to town. Pronounced “POH-keh” and meaning “to slice or cut,” poke bowls are a flavorful mélange of raw, marinated fish tossed over rice and topped with veggies and sauces that are all about the umami.

(Danville Poke and Sushi)

Think of it as the next generation of sushi with almost endless flavor combinations: spicy tuna, seared salmon, grilled chicken and other proteins; avocado, sweet onion, jalapeno, edamame and inari strips mix-ins; yum yum, sriracha and citrus ponzu among other sauces; and toppings from crispy onion and sesame seeds to wasabi, ginger and orange flavor masago, a piquant sauce made from fish eggs.

Gourmet street food and craft cocktails are on the menu at Bricks and Brews, a fun bar featuring Voodoo Eats: appetizers such as cheese curds and loaded blooming potato and main dishes like Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Voodoo Rice and Cheese with Bayou Shrimp and Paneer Tikka Masala. Filling out the menu are burgers, small plates and salads.

The atmosphere buzzes with energy throughout the week, with karaoke kicking things off on Sunday nights, trivia on Tuesdays and live music accompanying dinner on Thursday. On Friday and Saturday nights the beat picks up, with music starting at 8 p.m.

Not far from downtown Danville, The Still at Blue Rook Distillery, a 2022 Open Table’s Diners’ Choice, is a hidden gem and unique distillery dining experience with a menu that ranges from classic to eclectic. Among menu favorites are the steamed mussel appetizer with garlic, shallot and jalapeno in white wine curry cream and the grilled pork chop entrée with black pepper spätzle, kale, oyster mushrooms and bacon with whole grain mustard vinaigrette.

On the drinks side, the lavender gin martini and raspberry lemon drop claim many fans, but it’s the restaurant’s popular signature cocktail, the Classic Caipirinha, that tops the list.

(The Still)

“It’s the cocktail that started the whole business,” said The Still’s Cassie Baeker. “It’s made with our cachaça, lime and sugar.”

The Cachaça is The Still’s award-winning Blue Rook Cachaça, a sugarcane-based spirit whose subtly sweet flavor profile gives way to a perhaps unexpected complexity and versatility.

“Our creative, handcrafted cocktails made with our house spirits keep our customers coming back again and again,” said Baeker.

Handcrafted cocktails. Flavorful, inventive foods that bring tastes from around the world and close to home. An inviting atmosphere. Danville restaurants have unforgettable experiences on the menu.

“Come with family and friends,” said Baeker. “And leave with memories.”

Check out Danville’s foodie scene here: Many of Danville’s restaurants offer live music on weekends (check individual websites/Facebook pages for details), including Bricks and Brews, Copper & Oak, The Still at Blue Rook Distillery and Tut’s. Once a year, Tut’s has a belly dancing show.