The Brown Hotel’s Hot Brown

This deceptively simple creation has become a staple of Kentucky cuisine, and it was created at this hotel in Louisville where you can still order it today

The Hot Brown at The Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky (photo by Chris Witzke)

In the 1920s, up to 1,200 guests would gather at the opulent Brown Hotel in Louisville for its weekend dinner dances. When the patrons grew weary of dancing, they would head to the hotel’s restaurant for a bite to eat. One night, chef Fred Schmidt grew tired of the same old ham and eggs and threw together a brand-new concoction using ingredients he had on hand in the hotel’s kitchen.

Little did he know at the time, he was creating a dish that would go on to become just as synonymous with the state as bourbon and horses.

To this day, the creation Schmidt assembled is called the Hot Brown. The sandwich is deceptively simple: thick-sliced turkey piled atop Texas toast and stacked with bacon, tomato and cheesy Mornay sauce and then baked until it’s golden and bubbly. The Hot Brown has become a staple of Kentucky cuisine and can be found throughout the Bluegrass State.

Visitors to Louisville, however, would be remiss not to try this delicacy at its point of origin, the still-swanky Brown Hotel. The hotel serves more than 70,000 Hot Browns annually in both its elegant Lobby Bar & Grill as well as in the more informal J. Graham’s Cafe. There are only a few hours on any given day when guests can’t get a Hot Brown since it’s available starting at 7 a.m. up until closing hours in the late evening. No matter when you order one, be forewarned: Hot Browns are filling, so come hungry. 335 W. Broadway, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, 888/888-5252,