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[Photo: Carey Jones]

I'm not sure other cities could get away with the political thorniness of naming a spot "Hillbilly Tea". But there's no question Louisville's restaurant and café owns it, from the thoughtfully ramshackle dining room to the staff T-shirts ("I'm Appalachian-American") to the "roadkill stew" on the menu.

There's a heavy dose of hipster irony, sure, but the menu transcends gimmicks; there's fine food coming out of this hillbilly kitchen. The Catfish Sandwich ($7) was, quite frankly, the first catfish sandwich I've ever loved. Thin filets are smoked, then grilled, layered on grilled bread and piled with thinly sliced pickled peppers. Don't ignore the lemon tartar sauce on the side, which brightens things up even further.

It's not the biggest sandwich you'll ever eat, but at $7 for this level of refinement—which includes a side; try the corn pone or smoked collards—it's a value I can get behind.

About the author: Carey Jones is the former managing editor of Serious Eats. Follow her on Twitter (@careyjones).

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