It’s been said before that Harlan County is a place in Kentucky where you can have quite a few experiences that boast the title “Only.” For example, you can “only” experience the highest point in Kentucky in Harlan County. You can “only” go underground on an animatronic mine tour in Harlan County. You can “only” find the headwaters of the Cumberland River in Harlan County. You can also add to the list: You can “only” eat at the last remaining Rax in Kentucky in Harlan County.
Nestled in the mountains of Harlan County, standing among the dogwoods and red buds is the last remaining Rax in Kentucky. Made famous in the 1980s for their roast beef sandwiches, salad bar, shakes, and more, this restaurant grew to be almost as big as Arby’s (Rax’s main competitor) during this time. Rax Roast Beef has had a storied history rising to over 500 locations in 38 states at one point during it’s peak, however, as of 2023, there are less than 10 locations across the United States and the only one you can visit in Kentucky is here in Harlan County! This restaurant, while surrounded by fast food chains, still remains one of Harlan’s most popular restaurants for locals and visitor’s alike.
When we have visitors come into the Harlan Center in downtown Harlan and begin asking questions about local restaurants, many times the visitor will be surprised to find out we still have a Rax Roast Beef in our town. We’ve even encountered some guest’s who have traveled specifically to Harlan County just to have Rax. It’s almost become an attraction in and of itself!
Many visitors to Harlan County talk about the nostalgia that they experience when they hear that Harlan has a Rax Roast Beef in operation exclaiming that it feels like a “blast from the past”! You can still find many of your favorites from the restaurant on the menu including the “Regular Rax,” “Deluxe Rax,” and, one of our personal favorites, “The BBC.” While the visitor’s may boast about the food, the locals can tell you that not only is the food delicious but the customer service is top tier. It is a common experience to walk in to Rax in Harlan and be welcomed by a friendly face and a warm smile. The team at Rax Roast Beef is truly exceptional.
Whether you are coming to Harlan to ride the highest elevated off road park in the state of Kentucky, coming to visit Kentucky’s only underground mine tour, or coming to one of our many festivals like the Poke Sallet Festival, the Festival of the Mountain Masters, 4th Fest, or other, be sure to stop by the “only” Rax restaurant in the state of Kentucky. Based on the food, the team at Rax, and the pristine mountain setting, you won’t regret it.
To view Rax’s location click here.