Considered part of the Louisville metropolitan area, the Kentuckiana city of Jeffersonville, Ind., celebrates Southern cuisine and its history as a stop on the Underground Railroad. According to food historian Robert Moss, author of “Barbeque: The History of an American Institution,” in 19th century, the area, along with Cincinnati, became known as “Porkopolis,” due to the industrialization of pig slaughterhouses, meat packing and refrigeration. In an article on Serious Eats, he states that while no region can claim to have invented barbecue ribs, the mass production of one of America’s most iconic foods certainly began along Southern Indiana’s history-laden shores.
With that information in mind, today’s eaters tasting through the area can sample finger-licking bones at the award-winning family-owned Big Ben’s D&M Restaurant at the Depot. Earlier this year, the Jeffersonville Main Street organization honored the establishment for “best barbecue” a record-setting 15 times at the annual “Taste of Jeffersonville.”
Centered in the Jeffersonville Quartermaster Depot, Big Ben’s D&M is housed in a red brick building, a former segregated bathhouse. It’s also part of the Indiana African American Heritage Trail Project. Big Ben’s is owned by resident Gary Leavell and his family, who make everything in-house, down to the secret sauce.
To wash down all that barbecue, a burgeoning craft beer and brewery scene has taken hold, offering Hoosier hospitality for hops enthusiasts to sample unique brews.
But a trip exploring Jeffersonville’s food scene isn’t complete without stopping at Schimpff’s Confectionary. Featured on The Food Network and The History Channel, the historic candy-making facility and soda shop has been crafting sweet treats since 1891. It’s a slice of Midwestern nostalgia with a museum-like quality. The business, known for the hard traditional cinnamon flavor goodies, expanded in 2001 during the 110th anniversary to include a candy-making demonstration area and an actual museum housing candy-making memorabilia, making it one of the largest in the United States.
Jeffersonville provides a tasty chronicle of the region, showcasing an evolving food scene. With its rich local flavors, the city continues to entice dining enthusiasts and remains a welcoming and delicious destination.