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Posted by on Jan 5, 2015 in Pennyrile | 11 comments

Tompkinsville: A Dovie’s Burger at Dovie’s Cafe is Worth the Drive

Tompkinsville: A Dovie’s Burger at Dovie’s Cafe is Worth the Drive


Tucked away in Monroe County is Tompkinsville’s legendary Dovie’s Cafe, widely known for its burgers, considered by many to be the best you will find anywhere. Backing that high opinion is a listing on Garden & Gun’s list of best hamburgers in the South.

Dovie's HipstagramI decided to take the backroads recently from Nashville, approaching Tompkinsville from the south as General John Hunt Morgan had done a century and a half before (I, however, did not burn anything nor take any local mules). Though mightily tempted by a series of local barbecue joints along the way, particularly in the wonderfully named town of Gamaliel, Kentucky, I held my resolve for a burger, vowing to return for a barbecue tour at a later date. 

Dovie’s closes mid-afternoon, and I was able to slide in before closing, entering an empty restaurant well past the lunch bustle. The Dovie’s building is nondescript, but the interior maintains a wonderful vintage vibe. There’s nothing pretentious about Dovie’s, just a place to sling beef and buns.

Dovie's griddle

Unlike the standard local burger stop with a counter and a wall mounted griddle, Dovie’s has a U-shaped counter with the griddle in the center. It’s clearly designed to serve a lot of hungry folks efficiently. Burgers sat at the ready in a deep sea of grease.

I’ve watched my burger fried to order at Pat’s and Walker’s, patiently waiting for the fresh hot burger to be delivered to my seat. But at Dovie’s you may get whiplash your order is in front of you so fast. Friendly ladies in long skirts deliver a burger with their special Dovie’s dressing, your onions and pickles riding on top of the bun in a signature touch. 

Dovie's burger

The sheer softness of the burger is what struck me at first. I think the fact that the beef has spent much of its life in a pool of cooking oil has a lot to do with that. (You may want to wait until at least the second week of the year when resolutions are long forgotten before eating at Dovie’s.) But the oil isn’t the only reason for the mouth melting experience. (You can, by the way, have your burger “squeezed”, but why would you want to do that?)

Dovie’s isn’t simply making a burger well; Dovie’s is making a Dovie’s burger. Crucial to this is the mysterious Dovie’s dressing, which I would fail to describe well, but don’t bypass it for the real taste experience. To get a Dovie’s, then, you must go to Dovie’s. 

Certainly, Dovie’s deserves to be on the Mount Rushmore of Kentucky cheeseburgers. If you’ve not engaged in food tourism before, making the drive to Tompkinsville for a Dovie’s is a good place to start. 

Dovie’s Cafe
107 W 4th Street
Tompkinsville, Kentucky

Dovie's Cafe


  1. Best burger in the world and to my knowledge I still hold the record. 32 Dovie cheeseburgers in one sitting. Truly a little bit of heaven in each and every bite. I’ll go even further. On the 7th day God created the Dovie Burger.

    • Bob, that’s quite a feat! I understand why you couldn’t stop eating them.

  2. delishous but not as good as it use to be WHAT HAPPENED!

  3. Dovie Moore was my aunt. My mother and I would visit in the summer (50’s). I got the pleasure of washing dishes. The school kids would skip school at lunch time and come to town and eat her burgers. It was always vey busy on Saturdays. The order would usually be for 2 burgers and a soft drink. She lived down the street on the corner in a two story house w/o air conditioning. I had cousins living in Tompkinsville. Hovie and Corinna Moore had four daughters There is one surviving (Patsy) and lives in the area of Celina. We lived in Hartsville and I always enjoyed the drive through Lafayette and Red Boiling Springs. There were several hotels in Red Boiling Springs and had a lot of visitors and the room and meals were very affordable. My brother would always stop and try to get us to drink the sulfur water.

    • Wow, Tommy–thank you for sharing the memories! I’d love to hear more about the start of it all.

    • I’m sorry to tell you Tommy that Patsy had passed also. She died in 2001. She was my aunt. But there are some of the Moore descendants left. They still own Dovie’s as a matter of fact. Although I believe Reed Moore to be the only one left locally. He practices law in Tompkinsville and is one of the part owners of Dovies.

    • Dovie Moore was my mother’s aunt also and I remember visiting in the 1960’s my great-uncle Standford Moore and his wife Anna. I was very impressed that he wentto Dovie’s and flipped burgers for us for lunch. I remember Dovies house on the corner as well.
      My mother was Doris Stuart Phillips and her mother was Flora Moore Stuart.

  4. I was born in Kentucky an my dad and grandfather Elmer Turner took me to dovies best burger in the world I’m Paul Turner dad Donal Turner dovie I’m sure you remember them.

  5. Nothing pretentious about Dovie’s? They have a free calendar from the bank hanging on the wall.. and it’s in color!

  6. Dovie’s one of a kind taste! A perfect 10 they’re that good!!

  7. Dovies is good I have been at dovies sense I was little I’m great grandma was the bus there for a long time and she is over 85 now and then my grandma took over

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