Where to Eat in Lexington Kentucky: Shopping the International Markets

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Ace Dining Guide, Summer 2012
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 (part of Ace‘s highly selective ten-part dining series including downtown, Chevy Chase, campuspopular breakfasts and brunch spotscoffeeinternational markets, beer guide, patios, etc)

Ace contributing food writer Chef Tom advises, “When shopping these markets, be curious, ask questions, and buy stuff.”

African & Caribbean Market  1301 Winchester Road, Suite 349 Lexington KY. 859.225.1889. Eastland Shopping Center. Halal goat meat. Fufu, Kenkey, yams, dasheen, matouk kuchela, and the Coca-Cola in the cold case is typically, like Mexican Coke, free of high-fructose corn syrup.

Ali Baba 412 Southland Drive Lexington KY 859.313.5080  this Middle Eastern meat etc. market stocks everything from halal lamb and goat meat (a sort of Islamic equivalent to kosher) to olive oils and lentils and spices.

Dong Yang Market  3330 Partner Place, Suite 20, Lexington, KY 859.224-0088. Korean and Japanese cooking ingredients, and some supplies (steamers, etc). Asian spices (gochujang etc). Some seasonal fruits and veggies.

Hibari Market 435 Redding Road Lexington, KY When Toyota built its factory in nearby Georgetown, Kentucky, Lexington got a welcome infusion of Japanese culture and cuisine, like this small Japanese grocery, where you’ll find fresh fish and a seafood freezer; seasonal vegetables; Japanese pickles; miso, ume, burdock root, shiso leaves, lotus root, maguro. CarryOut Sushi.

Mi Preferida 1829 Alexandria Drive Lexington KY  this small Mexican grocery is in the former La Favorita location on Alexandria Drive, with comparable inventory, and a well stocked butcher’s case.  Dried peppers, some produce, and a bit of deli/carry-out.

Old San Juan 247 Surfside Drive Lexington KY 859.278.2682  Not really a market, but it does have a small bakery/cold case, and it is locally famous for the Cuban sandwiches. Malt drinks (non-alcoholic). Tamarind shakes. Coconut ice cream.

Panaderia Aguascalientes 1400 Alexandria Drive Lexington KY 859.367.0515   This west Lexington Mexican bakery is larger than it looks from the outside, fully stocked, with everything from flan to birthday cakes and empanadas, alongside a few pinatas.

Parisa 2626 Richmond Road  Lexington KY 859.268.7387  specializing in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean supplies. Pita and lavash.  Bulk spices, olives and olive oils, jars of grape leaves. Frozen halal meats.

Selby’s International market 1995 Harrodsburg Road (corner of Lane Allen and Harrodsburg), Lexington KY. 859.309.3606.  Selby’s International Market is small, bright, clean, and  well stocked. Four aisles  packed to the gills. Plantains, yucca, tamarind paste, cardamom pods, black mustard seeds, fresh curry leaves, and lentils.

Seoul Supermarket   1085 E. New Circle Road #2  859.254 6300 Seoul stocks all the culinary requisites for preparing Asian cuisine at home, fresh mustard greens, pak choi, bean sprouts, bok choi, napa cabbage and daikon radishes, along with bonito flakes, kombu and both red and yellow miso.

Tortilleria y Taqueria Ramirez  1425 Alexandria Drive Lexington KY 859.455.9237 A  small well-stocked Mexican lunch counter/market with homemade tortillas hot off the comal. Authentic, not Americanized or dumbed down. Carry-out taco orders have been (so far) one hundred percent correct when unpacked at home or office, and at prices well below fast food.

Yu Yu  Asian Supermarket 393 Waller Avenue, #1, Lexington KY. 859.275.1288. This large market can be a little sparse on fresh vegetables and, shall we say, customer service. But it has a  massive array of noodles and rices, bird chilis, red peppers, dried fish, white beech mushrooms,  enoki mushrooms, mung bean thick noodles, Korean chili paste, dried shrimp chips, and more. Where applicable, pay attention to expiration dates.  Expect a largely… self-sufficient shopping excursion.

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