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Aug 19, 2010 05:56 PM

Lexington KY report

We have been staying downtown, at the Hyatt ($45/night on priceline). Walked around our first night and looked at menus. Lots of terrific looking places but out of our price range. Wound up at the Mellow Mushroom where we had to wait for a table, which was a good thing, because looking at the pizzas and salads, we decided not to stay. Just didn't look appetizing, crust too thick, iceberg lettuce, etc. The noise levels were over-the-top. Wound up across the street at Chipotle, my favorite fast food chain.

Had better luck the 2nd day. Lunch at Guiseppi's Italian Restaurant. Terrific salads, sandwiches, pastas. The best thing was the garlic potato chips. Truly delightful. The price was very reasonable, especially considering the elegant setting and excellent service. We were so full we skipped dinner.

3rd day we drove up to Georgetown and tried Fava's, which is celebrating it's 100th anniversary this week. Good diner food, nice atmosphere (happy locals), friendly service. The price was right.

That night we tried to visit the Istanbul Palace for dinner, but it has closed. Used an iPhone ap to locate something popular nearby, and it suggested the Good Food Cafe. WOW! What an amazing buffet. Good meat selections: talapia au gratin, roast lamb. The highlight was the vegetable selection: spinach and carrot loaf, leak and fennel casserole, fresh corn, kale, roasted eggplant, etc, etc. The chef is very knowledgeable. Big salad bar, good looking soup selection, tempting desserts. My dinner was $6.18. The place is packed so the selections stay very fresh and hot.

Today we drove to Berea and had lunch at the Historic Boone's Tavern. I have been avoiding the ubiquitous "Hot Brown" but decided to try it here. Again: WOW! I doubt it is done better anywhere in Kentucky. Tell me if I'm wrong. I suspect it can be done badly a million ways. If you don't already know, a Hot Brown is an open-faced turkey sandwich, smothered in cheese sauce, and topped with bacon and a slice of tomato. At Boone's all of the ingredients were perfect, especially the thick slices of real roast turkey.

This evening we were back to Good Food Cafe, where my afore knowledge of the food's superiority caused me to blow $8.43. Stuffed. The cafe is attached to a very wonderful grocery store, specializing in organic items. (Not to be confused with Whole Foods, which is across town, and wishes it's buffet was half as wonderful.)

Fava's Restaurant
159 E Main St, Georgetown, KY 40324

345 S Limestone, Lexington, KY 40508

Istanbul Palace
393 Waller Ave Ste 16, Lexington, KY 40504

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  1. A good Hot Brown is a true delight.

    2 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca

      Ate at Ramsey's last night. OK, but nothing special. Great fresh tomatoes, but overcooked chicken livers and mediocre meat loaf. Went back to Good Food Cafe tonight with a half dozen friends and everyone was pleased, especially those with dietary restrictions, thanks to the wide variety and excellent quality. Sorry that I'm heading home tomorrow. I'd like to see if I ever tire of the place.

      1. re: pikawicca

        I love Boone Tavern...did you try the spoonbread? Out of this world.
        The Hot Brown is good there but the best is still the original at the Brown Hotel in Louisville.

      2. Thanks for posting your reviews. I'll definately check out the Good Food Cafe & Guiseppi's.

        1. I'm sorry you're Lexington dining experience wasn't that great. In my opinion, Lexington has some of the finest food you can get in a town of its size. If you wanted to go to Istanbul Palace, you should have tried Oasis Restaurant, which makes some of the finest falafel you can get in the south.

          Ramsey's actually makes a decent hot brown, though for me, the zucchini burger is one of the best dishes on the menu. Top it off with Missy's Peanut Butter Pie, and you get an outstanding dining experience.

          If you walked a little bit further you could have gone to Pazzo's Pizza, which has some great pizzas, though if you don't like crusty pizzas, it may not be your cup of tea.

          I have lived in Lexington for 20 years, and it seems like there's a dearth of information on where to go if you come here. So, if anybody is looking for recommendations on where to go in Lexington, here's where I would suggest:

          Hall's on the River - a bit outside of the city, though has a great atmosphere, and if you like fish/want authentic Kentucky cuisine, this is a great place to go. DON'T go if you're vegetarian/vegan - they have nothing for you.

          Stella's Deli - great little diner that specializes in Kentucky produce, ideal for locavores.

          Giuseppe's - Probably the best Italian restaurant in Lexington. Portofino is a close second. Joe Bologna's is not that great, outside of the fried appetizer combo/garlic bread, but is a traditional favorite.

          Joseph Beth Cafe - makes arguably the best tiramasu in America (generally food not that great, but great to come and hang out/have a coffee).

          Jalapeno's - pretty good Mexican restaurant that is quasi-authentic.

          Le Matin/Zuni - makes some outstanding French pastries/cream cakes.

          Hope this helps.

          249 E Main St, Lexington, KY 40507

          Istanbul Palace
          393 Waller Ave Ste 16, Lexington, KY 40504