Eastern Kentucky Chili Bun Trail: Corner Market In Corbin

On The Eastern Kentucky Chili Bun Trail

There are dozens of chili bun parlors scattered about the Tri-County region of southeastern Kentucky. Turn off your GPS and ride down a country lane in Knox, Laurel or Whitley counties and soon enough you’ll see a little quick mart or service station with an old crockpot on a wooden counter-top filled with scratch chili.

It’s a century-old tradition with roots that stretch back to Corbin’s Lunch Queen, and Fad Pool Hall, and it’s not going away anytime soon.

Corner Market In Corbin, Kentucky Is On The Eastern Kentucky Chili Bun Trail

On a visit earlier this year, my uncle Don told me about a tiny, rural convenient store near his Laurel County farm where he likes to dash in for a bun every so often if he doesn’t have time to go home for dinner.

The Corner Market sits at the confluence of Robinson Creek Road and 1223 right down the road from Wally’s Pay Lake

It’s one of the prettiest parts of all of Kentucky.

A Chili Bun Is A Chili Dog Minus The Dog

“I’d like a chili bun, no dog, mustard and onions please” (ed note: always say “no dog” as sometimes you may have a novice cashier who thinks hot dogs have a place on a chili bun…they don’t)

The nice counter lady walks across the store to the itty-bitty kitchen and begins preparing my feast. I grab a bag of Grippos plain potato chips, pay my flat $2 and retire to a bench butted up against the gravel and mud parking lot.

Corner Market’s cook may have spent some time in Cincinnati as his chili has just a faint hint of the Christmas-style seasoning that defines that town’s product.

I Love Homespun Little Country Stores Like Corner Market

The medium grind beef is fresh with none of the off-notes that old ground meat sometimes has. There’s a seasoning afoot, perhaps allspice, that is unlike any other I’ve tried in the Corbin area where Mexene wears the chili powder crown.

Ambiance is wonderful. It’s a clear, late Autumn day and off in the distance a few red and orange leaves are still clinging to the old growth Oak and Hickory trees that surround the nearby pastureland.

Corbin Kentucky

I make my way back inside to compliment the cook and say my goodbyes. The elderly cashier is too busy to respond so I head back outdoors.

I’ve been reconnoitering the chili bun scene in the Corbin area since I was a kid in the 70s. The only thing that’s really changed is the price. Back then a bun would run you about .50c. Nowadays there are places charging over $2

4763 Highway 830
Corbin, Kentucky


Previous stops on the chili bun trail

4763 Highway 830
Corbin, Kentucky

About RL Reeves Jr

I'm a writer living and working in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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