Visitors to Lexington’s beautiful bluegrass region always ask us for our definitive dining guide. This is Ace’s highly selective ten-part dining series (downtown, Chevy Chase, campus, popular breakfasts and brunch spots, coffee, international markets, beer guide, patios, etc) is based on the 20+ years Ace writers and readers have been eating out in Lexington, Kentucky.
This segment focuses on a small sampling of Lexington’s outdoor/patio drink and dining options.
Atomic Cafe 265 N. Limestone (corner of N. Limestone and Third Street). 859.254.1969. Caribbean (sweet potato chips, jerk chicken, quite a bit of vegetarian fare.) In the summer, it is one of Lexington’s best patios.
Azur 3070 Lakecrest Circle, Suite 550. 859.296.1007. One of Lexington’s more inspired menus, presided over by one of Lexington’s best chefs, Jeremy Ashby, tucked away in a southside suburban shopping strip, the contemporary interior design and exterior patio let you focus on the creative fine dining.
Cheapside 131 Cheapside. 859.254.0046. One of Lexington’s oldest downtown lawyer bars, with a double-decker patio that affords a perfect people-watching perch. They also have sidewalk seating on Cheapside with a view of the old Courthouse square and the farmers market pavilion.
Coles 735 Main 735 E. Main. 859.266.9000. This neighborhood (at the corner of Main and Ashland Avenue) is dying for a success story in this location, formerly Onizim’s, and before that Furlong’s; at one point it was Thai; and at several points it was French fine dining). The patio faces the Main Street corridor into the city.
The Dish 438 S. Ashland Lexington KY 859.317.8438. Recent staff changes suggest transition is afoot. Specialty cocktails can be hit or miss, but when they’re good, they’re sublime. Upscale prices and walking distance for most Chevy Chasers and UK campus-adjacent. Expanded deck fronts one of Lexington’s most delightful neighborhoods. Local music a few nights a week.
Dudley’s 259 W. Short Street. 859.252.1010. Upscale Southern with a farm-to-table style that goes back decades. Exquisite rooftop garden, designed by Jon Carloftis, open in season.
Grey Goose 170 Jefferson. 859.233.1500. Voted best new restaurant by Ace readers in its first year, it was an early anchor to what is now the Jefferson Street dining corridor. Reasonably priced bar-food. The bacon-gorgonzola pizza is an Ace crew favorite. Great patio.
Lexington Beerworks 213 N. Limestone 859.359.6747. New to downtown in 2012; food provided by a rotation of Lexington food trucks, beer on tap, homebrew supplies, and a double-decker patio out back.
the Local Taco315 S. Limestone Lexington KY 859.523.3700. Though we don’t include chains in the list, this Nashville implant is sneaking through. If you don’t have time to make it to Lexington’s authentic west side taquerias, this offers Mexican by way of the local food/Kentucky Proud movement. (You won’t be able to get BBQ on your taco on the west side.) Patio out front faces South Limestone for campus people watching.
Sabio 380 S. Mill Street. 859.368.9901. New chef, new management, new staff, located in the former Dudley’s location in Dudley square — the old schoolhouse — this restaurant inherited one of Lexington’s finest patio legacies. What they make of it is up to them. (The duck, on a recent visit, was a bit oversauced, but cooked perfectly to temp; do not order the mashed potatoes.)
Stella’s Kentucky Deli 143 Jefferson Street. 859.255.3354. The charming side porch off to the left of this shabby chic Victorian is a shady way to double the size of this locally-sourced soup and sandwich fare shop, with delicate-size but tasty portions.
DOWNTOWN Lexington DINING OPTIONS WITH SIDEWALK SEATING
a la lucie 159 N. Limestone 859.252.5277. Though the kitsch may feel a little dated now, this tiny pink palace defined small, quirky, and pricey for Lexingtonians in search of shabby chic eclectic fine dining when it opened decades ago. The fried-green-tomato BLT is a great lunch, and people-watching across the street from the Courthouse rarely disappoints. Sidewalk tables in summer.
Columbia’s Steakhouse 201 N. Limestone. 859.253.3135. The downtown location is Lexington’s oldest continuously operating restaurant. Famous for the Nighthawk Special (tenderloin), ask about manager Flo Cowley’s homemade pies. Sidewalk tables in summer.
Le Deauville 199 N. Limestone. 859.246.0999. French Traditional. Sidewalk seating in season.
Parlay Social 257 West Short Street. Next door to Dudley’s. Upscale cocktails and bar food. Sidewalk tables face the farmers’ market/old courthouse square on Cheapside.
Sidebar Grill 147 N. Limestone. 859.225.8883. If you blink, you’ll miss it (it’s near the Short Street intersection), but the chips are homemade in this Mom and Pop shop. Seats about 25. Sidewalk tables face the new courthouse plaza (not to be confused with the old courthouse plaza, which is on Cheapside.) Popular with lawyers, hipsters, hipster lawyers, and everyone in between.
Shorty’s 163 West Short Street. 859.309.3813. Lexington had been in desperate need of a downtown grocery for decades, and this steps up as an in-between urban market, with deli fare and wine tastings. Sidewalk tables face farmers market on the weekend.
Rosetta, corner of Limestone and Short, in the former Mia’s location. Before that, AnnaBelle’s.
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Where to Eat in Lexington Kentucky: 10 Downtown Ace Summer 2012