beloved but benighted Disco Kroger, and an array of small bars, restaurants, and cute retail (olive oil and balsamic bar, anyone?) Visitors to Lexington, Kentucky arrive in the beautiful bluegrass region with one question: where do the Locals eat in Lexington. This is a ten-part dining series, based on the 25+ years Ace writers and readers have been eating out in Lexington, Kentucky. We include old reliables alongside new and trendy, emerging neighborhoods alongside old faithfuls. We begin our Lexington Culinary Tour here: Start the day with a perfect cup of joe. Lexington has no shortage of indie coffeehouses and cafes, in addition to the Starbucks-on-every-corner as required by law. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and you could enjoy everything from doughnuts and beignets to some pretty famous buckwheat blueberry pancakes. If it’s nice out, you’ll want to enjoy all the Bluegrass has to offer in outdoor and/or patio dining, If you’re planning to cook, Lexington has greatly benefited from an influx of diverse cultures and culinary traditions in the past two decades. Whether you’re from Omaha or Oaxaca, you’ll have no trouble assembling a world-class meal in the bluegrass from the ingredients available at this selection of a dozen international markets, personally curated by Ace Food Writers. But if you want to let someone else do the cooking, come downtown, for everything from sandwiches and delis to steakhouses and fine dining. This segment of our guide is almost entirely walkable, but you could also hop a trolley and just circulate. This would also be a great time to stay on that trolley and avail yourself of Lexington’s craft brew scene. You’ll want to finish up that part of the tour in Lexington’s campus, and here in our Chevy Chase neighborhoods: Billy's BBQ 101 Cochran Road Lexington KY 859.269.9593 Pick up the pig (pulled pork) by the pound. Eat-in is no frills southern bbq style ambience (fried dill pickles, sweet tea, etc). Handy location at the corner of Tates Creek and Cochran. Bourbon n Toulouse 829 E. Euclid Avenue Lexington KY 859.335.0300. Extravagantly large portions of Cajun fare, Lexington-ized New Orleans, in a small, casual, one-step-up-from-fast-food environment. They have a dizzying array of hot sauces off to the side, but you likely won't need them. There are also options for both vegans and vegetarians, and there is a certain sameness to much of the fare. If you don't like the styrofoam, you're welcome to bring your own dishes (and apparently, people do...?) Taking a buddy and ordering a couple of half and halfs for sharing will let you try a substantial selection of the menu. Coles on Main 735 E. Main 859.266.9000 For a while, this location (at the corner of S. Ashland and Main) seemed cursed, suffering a revolving succession of unsuccessful concepts, even though it's an easy walk to several of Lexington's highly-populated and most popular residential neighborhoods (Kenwick and Ashland Park). Now run by a neighborhood guy, Cole Arimes, who grew up nearby and came home to Lexington, its heart is in the right place. Although the culinary point of view is a little too broad and could use some editing, most everything from the panko fried avocado to the duck tacos to the shrimp and grits is a standout. The lemon brussels sprouts are one of the best side dishes in town. Expect fine dining prices, but the bar menu adds plenty of options for a more affordable evening out. The Dish 438 S. Ashland Avenue Lexington KY 859.317.8438 a great location that's an easy walk to Columbia Heights, Hollywood, and Mount Vernon neighborhoods, though the setting itself is low on ambience/atmosphere. Ambitious menu that's very good when it hits, same for the craft cocktails. Fine dining prices, but no need to dress up. Graeter's ice cream is back in town, this time on Euclid Avenue in the Chevy Chase Plaza. Oasis 837 Chevy Chase Place Lexington KY 859.269.6440 refreshingly authentic Mediterranean fare in a whitey-white white bread strip of Chevy Chase. Try the lunch buffet to see what your favorites are, then go back for dinner. The lentil soup is always a good starter. Puccinni's Smiling Teeth 833 Chevy Chase Place Lexington KY 859.269.0404 Family-style pizza (thin style) and pasta offerings. Gluten-free available. Try the lemon chicken piccata pasta. Ramsey’s/Missy’s Pie
500 E. High Street Lexington KY 859.259.2708. Relocated to Lansdowne. Meat and Three comfort food in the buffer zone that snakes between Campus and Chevy Chase. If you’ve thought of it, they’ve fried it. Save room for the pie next door at Missy’s (delivered to your table).
Rincon Mexicano 818 Euclid Avenue Lexington KY 859.245.4679 Acceptable Mexican fare for the college crew it serves, upstairs from Charlie Brown's bar and pub fare. "It might get loud." (Locals in search of the best Mexican in town will go to the west side's taquerias on Alexandria Drive.)
Tomo 848 E. High 848 E. High 859.269.9291 draws extremely polarizing reviews, and the service can be erratic. But try the Godzilla roll, and enjoy the spare Japanese aesthetic.