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Going to Lexington, KY- any suggestions?

p
PastryPusher Feb 20, 2009 09:55 AM

I will be traveling to Lexington, KY the end of April/first of May. I have never been there and want to get any suggestions for places to eat that you may have. I would like to try BBQ and southern cuisine especially but am always open to anything that you would recommend. We will probably be able to afford 2 expensive meals but would prefer the rest to be reasonably price or inexpensive. Looking at breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. Also if there is anything that shouldn't be missed that is in Lexington or the surrounding areas. Any great distilleries or horse farms?
Thanks for your help!

  1. m
    Milt Apr 25, 2009 11:39 AM

    We were in Lexington a couple of weeks ago on a Monday evening and had dinner at Billy's BBQ. I ordered mutton bbq with black eyed peas and fried okra, my wife had a small salad and a bowl of burgoo. For dessert, we had blackberry cobbler a la mode. Every item was very good. Service was above average, prices were very reasonable in our opinion.

    1. d
      de5181 Apr 23, 2009 11:47 AM

      Oh and if you're willing to drive the 30 miles to little ol' Midway, there are 3 GREAT restaurants there. Holly Hill Inn is in an old victorian-style house and is a great choice for Sat/Sun brunch, lunch (weekdays), or dinner (Wed-Sat, I think). The chef was recently featured in Southern Living magazine. They are also the owners of Wallace Station that I mentioned in my previous post. www.hollyhillinn.com

      The other two are Heirloom and Black Tulip. I prefer Heirloom but I don't think you'd go wrong with either.

      Good luck and happy eating!

      1. d
        de5181 Apr 23, 2009 11:42 AM

        I agree with some of the posters. I'm not sure where you're from and therefore not sure what you're used to, but Lexington does not have the best dining scene. I once asked a regional restauranteur why they didn't set up shop in Lexington and I was told Lexington had proved to be more of a "chain-restaurant, meat-and-potatoes" scene. Boo! With that said, there are still some very fine eating establishments around town - both expensive and inexpensive.

        Breakfast: I'll second the Spalding's Doughnuts. They've been around for decades and are an absolute Lexington mainstay. It's a serious must - nothing fancy, just plain country people.

        Magee's is decent but I've definitely had better for pastries.

        Ramsey's does a decent breakfast on the cheap. It's certainly plentiful for the money but it's also definitely a greasy spoon.

        Lunch: Stella's Deli downtown. It's in a quaint old house and features mostly, if not all, local ingredients. Their sandwiches are all fantastic, as are the burgers (choose from beef, bison, turkey, lamb...) This could be one of your inexpensive meals.

        Wallace Station - actually in Midway (about 30 minutes down a beautiful, farm-lined road) is a superb spot for lunch. It's in an old country store so there are no frills but the sandwiches speak for themselves. All of the sandwiches have horse references since you are in horse country! I love the turkey with brie and Granny Smith apple slices. The bread is all baked in house too. The desserts are huge and sinfully delicious!

        Dinner: Azur - hands down the best restaurant we have in Lexington, The duo chef team are young and as cutting edge as you're going to get around here. The scallops are to die for, as is just about anything else I've ever sampled. They are open for lunch too, so that might be an option for you.

        Jonathan's is another good one. He puts a Southern twist on traditional fare. He rarely changes his menu so I often get bored but you wouldn't know the difference! I agree that the setting is really nice.

        Summit - A new restaurant that is struggling due to lack of publicity. The main entrees are a bit pricey but they also offer a sandwich section on their menu that is much more affordable ($10-14). The burger, which is made from ground steak on site, is one of the best in the area. Don't expect a crowd though because it's basically on the skirt of a neighborhood and somewhat unknown.

        I'm not as big of a fan of Malone's and Sal's as other posters (and most of Lexington). I feel they've gotten too big for their britches and their food has suffered as a result. The steaks are hit or miss but the atmosphere is nice - typical dark wooded steakhouse. Both of these restaurants will be PACKED no matter when you go. Like I said, I'm probably in the minority here but I've just had better and don't buy into the hype.

        Joe Bologna's is a definitely a unique restaurant having been built in a converted church, but the food has never impressed me. It's a pizza place with a few pasta dishes intertwined.

        I'm sure there are others that I'm leaving out and I'll continue to think. If you have any specific requests, I'd be happy to address those.

        Oh and I second the Woodford Reserve tour - beautiful countryside down there. Even if Keeneland is not in session while you're here, it's still worth the drive out there just to look at the beauty.

        Have a great trip!

        1. verticalQ Apr 20, 2009 01:42 PM

          Yeah, if you're looking for BBQ, go to Billy's.

          For a pricier meal: The Dish is awesome, Azur is also tasty, deSha's has grown on me, Atomic Cafe is also great if you like Caribbean food.

          For breakfast, I HIGHLY recommend Spalding's Bakery. It's on Winchester Road near downtown. They have amazing doughnuts, but they only accept cash (that's bitten me once before). They have milk and juice too, but no coffee (at least I don't think they have coffee... never seen it there). Magee's Bakery is also quite good. They have baked goods, hot items, and coffee.

          Mandarin is probably the place to go for an inexpensive Chinese meal. DeVassa downtown has tasty tapas (around $8.00 each... two can eat for around $25 without drinks). If you're looking for Indian food, go to Tandoor. A.P. Roots on Romany Road is good if you're looking for reasonably priced, locally produced food.

          Hopefully, that gives you several options to choose from for some "local flavor."

          1. g
            Gourmando Mar 9, 2009 05:23 AM

            Anyone have any recommendations north of the city, around Georgetown? We're travelling with two young kids, so really fine dining is out, but good Italian or roadhouse-style would be perfect. Thanks!

            3 Replies
            1. re: Gourmando
              d
              DrFillster Mar 31, 2009 04:09 PM

              Unfortunately, dining is limited around Georgetown. Try Ramsey's with the kids.

              To the O.P. Try The Dish. Very good in Chevy Chase area.

              1. re: Gourmando
                verticalQ Apr 20, 2009 01:30 PM

                Thai Garden in Georgetown has some of the best Thai food I've ever had. It's pretty cheap ($7-$10), and so very yummy.

                1. re: Gourmando
                  d
                  de5181 Apr 23, 2009 11:25 AM

                  There's a local pizza place in G'town, FatKat's that has received top honors. Their pizza has been chosen 2 years in a row for a national pizza contest. Unfortunately, I've never tried it so I can't really give you a review.

                2. h
                  hockeysteph Feb 20, 2009 06:47 PM

                  I would suggest for BBQ try Billy's Bar-B-Q for a relatively cheap meal. They have great pulled pork and fried pickles. Bourbon n' Toulouse is great for a cheap lunch (around $6 for a huge plate of wonderful food). Tolly Ho for a burger and shake (this is near the University of Kentucky campus, so be forwarned parking stinks). I'd also recommend hitting Ramsey's for a hot brown. If you want to drop some serious $$ for a great meal, try Dudley's, deSha's, Malone's, Sal's, or Nagasaki Inn.

                  As for distilleries, I personally recommend the Woodford Reserve tour. It's not too far from Lexington for a fun morning or afternoon adventure. Also, check out http://www.kybourbontrail.com/. And if you really want to see horses, visit the Kentucky Horse Park. I'm sure there's someone that does horse farm tours, but I've never done one, and I've lived in Kentucky for 20+ years.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: hockeysteph
                    p
                    PastryPusher Feb 21, 2009 06:05 PM

                    Thanks for the recommendations! I had read a little about a hot brown, sounds like it shouldn't be missed. I will look at the other rec's too, nice to have a wide variety of options!
                    My cousin also recommended Woodford. Their website is very interesting.
                    The Kentucky Horse Park looks like a great place to check out too.
                    Thanks again!
                    Will let you know how it goes! =)

                    1. re: PastryPusher
                      LaLa Feb 24, 2009 05:58 PM

                      Lexington is not really a BBQ town.
                      For a fancy meal I like Jonathan's @gratz Park. Lovely regional cooking.I also like the hotel there.
                      http://www.jagp.info/
                      I also love Malone's for steaks. this place is classic Lexington.
                      http://www.malonesrestaurant.com/
                      If you are in Lexington between April 3rd and 24th you must go to Keeneland. It is something you will never forget and no better way to enjoy the Bluegrass State
                      .http://www.keeneland.com/
                      Inexpensive but great Lexington tradition? Joe Bologna's!
                      http://www.joebolognas.com/

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