I've listed several local favorites for eating outdoors: Dudley's has a bricked in patio. This restaurant is located in an old school building built about 1884 on Maxwell street between Mill and Upper, near UK. Chefs usually have interesting selections.
The Merrick Inn located on Tates Creek Road (3380 Tates Creek Rd.) just off New Circle Road is in an old restored house in a complex of apartments. Casual, yet upscale food. (though some critics might find atmosphere stuffy). This is a favorite of racing fans that come to Lexington during Keeneland's spring and fall meets. Reservations highly recommended at that time.
The Cheapside Bar and Grill, located at 131 Cheapside next to the old court house on Main street is a good place to mingle with Lexington's young single professionals after work downtown and have a drink while listening to a local band.
Favorite Dish: These three restaurants have stayed in business for many years because they have consistently good food and service. If you like dining outdoors (in good weather), you can't go wrong with any of these. Dudelys and Merrick Inn are more upscale. Cheapside would appeal more to the single crowd.
Ever had that Kentucky classic, burgoo? What about a mile-high corned beef sandwich? How about bread pudding with Keeneland's very own Maker's Mark bourbon sauce? If you haven't sampled some of these delectables, then you don't know what you're missing.
Keeneland is almost as well-known for its great food as it is for its great racing.
Equestrian Room is located on the ground floor of the grandstand adjacent to the finish line, this casual dining room offers an a-la-carte menu with appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches and light entrees. Sandwiches and entrees range from $7.95 to $10.95. Individual and small groups are welcome.
EVEN THE CONCESSIONS STANDS offer Burgoo and Bread Pudding!!
Favorite Dish: Burgoo!! Burgoo is a savory stew made from a varying array of ingredients. The meats could include any or all of the following meats: mutton (sheep/lamb), beef, pork, chicken, veal or opossum. You will also find some combination of these vegetables: potatoes, corn, lima beans, tomatoes, or okra. Of course there are also many spices to choose from as well
A bit of a conglomerate restaurant “complex” in a “strip mall” at the corner of Lyon and Harrodsburg Road almost at Man O’War, Malone’s is an excellent place to find steak or seafood. The “strip mall” location is a bit deceiving as the place seems to be crowded all the time. Reservations are most definitely recommended but same day reservations are not uncommon. At 1:00 PM we had options of 5:00PM or 8:00PM and beyond. We chose 8:00PM and found a packed house when we arrived.
The wait staff was very attentive, knowledgeable and ready to get you whatever you needed. The steaks are (from our experience) done to your order, but beware when ordering rare as it may be done correctly when it leaves the broiler but might cool a bit on the 30+ foot walk to the table. The wine list is good; not extensive, but it has a bit of everything from local Kentucky wines to high end California wines (you will not however like the price of the CA wines).
Prices for the entrees are high but well within the realm of what you are getting. Instead of a Prime cut, a Choice filet will be significantly less and for my money tastes just as good if not better.
The King Crab was wonderful. Done to perfection and the candle lit / heated butter dish was just the right touch to ensure your butter dip did not get cold.
Favorite Dish: Steak and King Crab! Outstanding.
While shopping at the local supermarket we spyed a sign that said FREE WIFI. Since we needed a wireless Internet connection to get four computers going all at the same time, this became our lunch stop.
Located in the Palomar Center "strip mall" at the intersection of Lyon and Harrodsburg Road we found a very comfortable "local" establishment.
The owner, Tom O Brien, noticed that we were part of the horse crowd in town for the World Equestrian Games was quick to stop by our table and welcome us to town. I suspect that even if the games were not being held, he'd stop by anyway just to say hello and greet people.
Favorite Dish: Burgers.....Burgers....Burgers....Ok, and beer. If we lived in Lexington, this could become my favorite haunt. Although it's technically a "chain" each are individually owned. This one has friendly people and good food. It's nothing fancy but everything was done to perfection. We even got our fries extra crispy on the first try.
On a recommendation from a local store owner we attempted to dine at Giuseppe’s one night only to find that not only were there no parking places in the parking lot or within a ¼ mile of the restaurant there was at least a 2 hour wait for the occasional “walk-in” patron. That said we grabbed a business card and called for a reservation a few days in the future.
Located on a hard to see side road just off of Nicholasville Road about a mile past the Fayette Mall we arrived to find an unpretentious but comfortable looking building with a bar on the right side and a nicely appointed dining room on the left. Booths ran around the outer area of the dining room while a raised floor with tables was in the center. The menu was not overly extensive but carried 6-8 items for most every category one would want from an Italian restaurant.
The wine list too was not extensive but the 6-8 (5x7) pages carried an impressive list. Wines ranged from ordinary Italian and US “table wines” to bottles one would expect to find in only 5* venues (Jordon, Opus, Quintessa). The best part was the price. A bottle of Quintessa or Opus that retails for well over $125 at the winery was priced at only $170-200. The food was just as good. Entrees were priced from $12-24 and were prepared perfectly.
Favorite Dish: I had the Chicken Marsala and it was excellent. Comments from others that had Lasagna, Pasta Bolognese were similar.
Located on Short Street just two blocks off of Broadway (one of the main roads through town) this boisterous bar is definitely designed for those out for drinks and munchies and not an older “dinner crowd.” There is an extensive outside bar area that does a great business. There is even a bar on the sidewalk to ensure you are never without while waiting. The specialty drink menu is almost as large as the food menu.
Since the town was over crowded due to the World Equestrian Games, there was a long wait for entrees so we ordered an appetizer; The spinach dip was excellent. We were warned the wait for the entrees would be long due to the crowds; the wait was not as bad as anticipated, but some of the entrees were not “up to par.” The Black Bean soup was quite bland and the salad rather wilted. The Chicken l’orange on the other hand was taste, even if quite over cooked.
It was obvious the place was more of a bar and was quite overwhelmed by the crowded. Our young student waiter was quite polite and very attentive. We did have to teach him a bit about serving wine as he brought our California Red in an ice bucket; an omission he continued to apologize profusely about.
Ramsey’s – There are now multiple locations, but we went to the one located on the outskirts of Lexington on Harrodsburg Road (actually near “Old Harrodsburg Road”). Looking like it had been located in the area for many years and perhaps saved only by history when the “new road” was built.
The menu is not very extensive but has all the basics including “Hot Brown,” a local favorite (normally enough for 4 on one plate). The portions are typically large for the price. The menu consists of a list of meats and a list of vegetables. Most meals consist of choosing one meat and up to three vegetables.
Upon first glance, I noted that any restaurant that considered “Mac and Cheese” a vegetable, had to be good.
Favorite Dish: The meatloaf was excellent. Not too “mushy” as some commercial products tend to be; just the right seasoning and lots of it. The creamed corn was excellent (and I don’t typically like creamed corn). The beans were only “so, so” but all in our group tend to like beans with a bit of flavor; these were rather bland, which may be the style in the area. The “small side” salads were huge; in addition to lettuce, they add tomatoes, eggs, and cheese in amounts equal to the lettuce making for a large plate.
Considered one of the top restaurants in Lexington, and recommended by an acquaintance, we called to see if reservations were available while walking around town. After being put on hold a couple times we were told that a table had opened which could accommodate the four of us. The restaurant is beautifully appointed in “old school” oak and brass with subdued lighting. The menu was quite good but the service was “snooty” and slow; not “elegantly slow” as most top ranked restaurants.
The food turned out to be only slightly better than the service which was unfortunate as the price was in the stratosphere. As we were leaving the hostess informed us “if you plan on dining with us again during the WEG you should call a few days ahead.” She needn’t worry as we will definitely not be back. Hopefully we just hit them on a really bad day, but I got the idea that they tended to cater to the more affluent and “known names” of Lexington.
Lunch Mon-Sat 11:00 AM-2:00PM
Dinner Mon-Sun 5:30PM-10:00PM;
Sunday Brunch 11:00AM-2:00PM.
Favorite Dish: None of our entrees were anything we'd try again.
Located in Victorian Square at the corner of Main and Broadway this is a great place to grab a quick bite or spend a relaxing afternoon to escape from the shopping in Victorian Square.
It is open Sun-Thurs. 11:00AM-10:00PM; Fri-Sat 11:00AM-12:00AM. It spans all three floors of a renovated building at the corner of The Square. The menu has something for most everyone. The chicken salad sandwich was quite good with large chunks of chicken. The onion soup was good, but not as thick and tangy as I tend to prefer. The hamburgers were very tasty and cooked to order.
Favorite Dish: The chicken salad sandwich was quite good with large chunks of chicken. The onion soup was good, but not as thick and tangy as I tend to prefer. The hamburgers were very tasty and cooked to order.
The best place for breakfast in Lexington just might be the track kitchen at Keeneland. It is open to the the public seven days a week, 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. Breakfast at the track kitchen is a step into the flavor of the Bluegrass. Horsemen mingle with the general public and track employees actively help non-raceing customers understand the lore of horse racing.
The country breakfast served buffet style. Eggs cooked to order, grits, biscuits, bacon, sausage, potatos, and gravy, and more. Seating for up to 200 in two dining rooms.
The track kitchen is located near the barn area just follow the signs.
Classic just like an old drive in diner! The food and drinks even stayed the same price. You get a huge real beef patty burger for only 84 cents!!! The french fries are the best around. You can't beat the prices or the food. The only downside is they only take cash. No credit or debit accepted.
I had a detailed map of the town which had eating places on it, so we first tried to find a place there near the Un of KY, but there was no place to park. We finally spotted a Subway in a little shopping center which had very little parking.
Favorite Dish: One of the bad things about Subway is their lack of desserts. They DO have a very good chocolate chip cookie.
I had a cheese steak sub and two chocolate chip cookies. Bob had tuna salad and chips.
Many years ago when I went to UK, there was a restored train station called South Hill Station that housed all manner of restaurants and stores. One such restaurant was a yummy Cajun restaurant called Yat's. Well, unfortunately Joe moved out of town, closing Yat's and selling off his other restaurants, Jozo's (also Cajun restaurants). For years, I sadly contemplated never again having Maque Choux.
But then, one of the former employees tracked Joe down and must have begged permission to use his recipes. Because lo and behold, Yat's has been recreated again, now in TWO locations! The South Broadway location is so authentic to the original Yat's that customers were exclaiming in surprise while we were there during the first opening weeks. And for all of you that frequented Yat's regularly during your college days, I can assure you that the food is still excellent.
The Maque Choux sauce is exactly as I remembered it, although the peanut sauce was a bit spicier than I remembered. My husband's favorite, the Yat-wich, is still on the menu. And the new owner has added many more selections, all of which are listed on their website, www.gumboyayaky.com . The portions are huge, and the prices are reasonable: $5 for a small plate, $6 for a large plate. You go up to the counter and pick the sauce, and whether you want it over rice or pasta. And if you're new to the experience, or unsure, they'll let you taste-test a spoonful of as many sauces as you like so that you can try before you buy.
If you've saved room for dessert, don't forget to try a piece of the Elvis pie. It's worth all the extra calories! And get a couple pralines to go so you can savor the experience later. PS. If you show up on Mardi Gras, they usually give out free slices of King Cake and beads, of course.
Favorite Dish: The Maque Choux is my favorite, a little less spicy than some of their other sauces.
This place definitely qualifies as a "hole-in-the-wall" kind of pizza joint but their pizza is really quite tasty. We were looking for something light so stopped for a small salad and some pizza. I was impressed when I saw that they were tossing the dough and placing ingredients on it as I was afraid they might be pulling it out of the freezer. Nothing fancy here but a very edible light meal. It is nicely located just near Rupp Arena and the Lexington Center. They also have on-line order capability.
Bruster's advertises its product as "real ice cream" and having tasted it, I find it hard to argue with them. We made a mid afternoon stop for a pick me up and I found my favorite flavor of ice cream - black walnut. The portions are huge so be prepared to eat a lot. Our granddaughter had a sunday with gummy worms - yuk! but she found it wonderful. I also like the waffle cones which they bake on the premises (though I am sure the mix is shipped from somewhere else) and you can get your sundae in an edible waffle bowl as well.