The promise of cheap food close to my home was the only thing that could get me in Joe’s Older Than Dirt, a tavern in Lyndon.
Framed, autographed headshots of visiting country singers and a couple of deer heads filled a wood-paneled wall where I ate my dinner. A cornhole game was assembling in the expansive outdoor patio as I headed home. And there’s plenty of cheap beer on tap, which seemed to be the main attraction that brought patrons to Joe’s.
I don’t know much about country music (though I love me some Johnny Cash). I know less about cornhole. And I can name on one hand the beers I can tolerate.
Fortunately, stepping out of my comfort zone paid off. There’s a lot more to Joe’s than a few good drinks. This is a bar with hearty platters of food with prices that compliment the beer specials.
Joe’s has been around since 1937, when Joe Keal opened a tavern near what is now the corners of Lyndon Lane and New LaGrange Road, according to the information on Joe’s menu. His clientele was passengers from the nearby railway station that he sometimes picked up with a horse and buggy.
Times have changed, and so has Joe’s. The tavern was expanded over the years, so patrons can have a drink, watch some ESPN on several flatscreens and a projector, play a little cornhole outside or enjoy some karaoke or a live performer depending on the day of the week.
And then there’s the food — nothing fancy, and that’s OK.
Appetizers are designed to complement a cold beer, like nachos with beef chili ($7.95 for a large, $10.95 for a jumbo) or Joe’s Famous Cheesy Fries with bacon bits ($6.99). The hot sandwiches and platters come with a lot of food. Just look at some of these names: Big Bob’s Battered Belly Buster (a half pound white fish sandwich, $7.99); A Moose-of-a-Burger (a one-pound hamburger, $9.99); the Jumbo Fried Fish Platter (two pieces of cod, two crab cakes, two hushpuppies, fries and coleslaw, $14.99).
You have to pay at least $10.99 to feast on any of the platters, which come with more side dishes than just a sandwich. But all of the sandwiches come with chips and a pickle and are less than $10. On a weekday evening, a sandwich and chips were enough for me, so I ordered the half-pound Lodge Burger with cheese ($7.49) and a side of fried corn ($1.95). My husband ordered 10 chicken wings with a dry rub ($7.99) and an order of fries ($1.95).
The burger was a solid example what you can do with some beef and bread. The patty was juicy and covered with a thick slice of pepperjack cheese, my dairy product of choice. Call me crazy, but the best part of the Lodge Burger might have been the bun, which was buttered and toasted to a crisp brown. A little cooked fat kept the beef juice from turning the bread into a soggy mess.
As far as sides go, the kettle-cooked chips were nothing to write home about, but the corn was a dream. The kernels were fried in some kind of spicy sauce that kicked the back of my tongue after its sweet first impression. What a way to eat more vegetables.
Fortunately, The Mister believes that sharing is caring.
The dry rub gave Rob’s chicken wings a crisp, mesquite skin. The french fries were coated in a seasoning salt that made it hard for me to keep my hands away from his basket. Next time, I’ll opt for the fries instead of my kettle chips.
Even if you’re not much into country or cornhole, Joe’s Older Than Dirt is worth a visit. And take a few extra bucks for a beer to go with your meal.
Joe’s Older Than Dirt, 8131 New LaGrange Road, Louisville, Ky.
Lodge Burger: $7.49
Fried Corn: $1.95
Total: $9.44 (before tax)