Moonlite Bar-B-Q

Anyplace outside of Memphis calling itself “The Barbecue Capital of the World” is going to get raised eyebrows from me. Owensboro, Kentucky makes that claim, so I headed there to check it out. My destination was the Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn, the most celebrated barbecue pit in town.


Moonlite smokes the usual: pork–ribs, shoulder and ham–chicken, and beef. The unusual item coming off the pit is mutton. Why mutton? According to a booklet published by the Bosley family. who owns the Moonlite, one possibility is that Welsh farmers who settled the area were partial to mutton, while another theory holds that Catholic immigrants from Europe would serve mutton at their picnics. However it got here, mutton is a big presence on the Moonlite menu: the place smokes some 10,000 pounds of mutton a week.

I still prefer pork, but the mutton was interesting to try. Moonlite serves everything but ribs in their buffet. which costs $9 at lunch, $12.15 for dinner Monday through Thursday, and $14.75 on weekends.  They also offer “fiddlers,” a term you hear in West Tennessee, which means an entire catfish minus the head.

Here’s a photo of Pat Bosley, a third generation member of the family that owns Moonlite. You can see quartered mutton on the top rack and pork shoulders down below.


Moonlite justifies a trip to Owensboro, which also hold a big barbecue festival every year. But Barbecue Capital of the World? No way!

This blog is part of a much larger website, also entitled Tennessee Guy, that contains travel and cultural information about Tennessee. Visit it here.

One Response to Moonlite Bar-B-Q

  1. Ashley Dukes says:

    Hi, I live in Owensboro and we do call ourselves the Barbecue Captial of the World. I’ve never been to Memphis, so I don’t know how good it is there. But what I do know is that I hate Moonlite’s mutton! You have to go to Old Hickory Pit Barbecue! I love Old Hickory’s mutton. You can ask anyone who lives here, Old Hickory is very good. I don’t even like Moonlight. In addition to Old Hickory there are several other barbecue restaurants, and every warm weekend you can smell barbecue in the air here. There is always some pit somewhere cooking barbecue for large crowds. We literally have roadside pits that people cook on, and people pull off the street and go get barbecue. And the churches still barbecue all of the time. The Barbecue Festival is something wonderful also. I would suggest that anyone who has never had mutton needs to try it. It’s very good (not Moonlite’s though.)

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