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a la lucie
159 N. Limestone. Lexington's special occasion address. Regarded as one of the region's best. Award winning menu with extensive wine list. Open 10-6, Mon-Sat.Reservations recommended. 252.5277

557 S. Limestone 253-0014. Voted best pancakes by Ace readers in the Best of Lexington poll year after year. Winner of 2001's "Best Veggie Friendly Restaurant." Vegetarian, chicken, and seafood entrees available. Homemade baked goods and desserts. Weekend brunch. Live music. Free evening parking behind the building. Daily specials. Open for lunch, Monday - Friday 11-2. Dinner, Tuesday-Thursday 5:30-9, Friday 5:30-10. Brunch, Saturday and Sunday 10-2.

Billy's Bar-B-Q
101 Cochran Rd. At the corner of High St. in Chevy Chase. 269-9593. Genuine Western Kentucky style pit barbecue and fixins. Dine in/ carry out/ catering/ bulk deliveries. We're the home grown guys. Open M-Th 11am-9pm, F-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 11:30am-8pm.

Cafe on the Park
369 W. Vine St. at the Radisson Plaza Hotel. (859) 231-9000. With a wonderful view of Triangle Park, Café on the Park is one of downtown Lexington’s hidden treasures. Breakfast 6:30am until 10:30am daily; breakfast buffet served in season. Lunch 11am-2pm, (pasta bar on Thursdays until 1:30pm). Dinner offers affordable upscale American cuisine and a wonderful wine list 5pm-10pm. 90 minute complimentary parking. Open 365 days per year. Private dining available.

Cafe Jennifer
111 Woodland Ave at the Woodlands Condominiums, 255-0709. A cozy restaurant featuring Kentucky favorites, using locally grown produce. Lunch and Dinner daily, Mon.-Sat. Pub room atmosphere in the well-stocked bar and private room available for small gatherings.

The Depot
128 East Main St., Midway 846-4745 Eclectic creations with a down home flavor serving Central Kentucky and beyond. Good times abound at “The Depot” in Midway, six days a week for lunch and Thursday, Friday & Saturday for dinner.

Ed and Fred’s Desert Moon
148 Grand Blvd. 231-1161 American Cuisine at affordable prices. Enjoy gourmet pizzas, fresh pasta, specialty salads and sandwiches, and a wide array of entrees in an informal yet elegant atmosphere. Wonderful wine list! Patio dining and banquet facilities. Lunch: 11a-3p Tue-Fri; Dinner: Tue-Sun.

Emmett’s Restaurant
Off Tates Creek Road, south of Man O’ War, offers innovative Southern cooking in a renovated farmhouse featuring a cozy bar, casual patio dining and seven lovely dining rooms. Dinner served Mon.-Sun. beginning at 5:30 PM and Sunday brunch from 11 AM-2 PM. Reservations accepted. 245-4444.

255-2431. It’s all about the food at this continental eatery where Chef Jim Plymale builds his menu around fresh, seasonal ingredients. For lunch how about Black Bean Cassoulet or Crispy Polenta Napoleon? Imagine the dinner fare. Located on (that’s right) 431 Old Vine St. in downtown, the atmosphere is smart and cozy. And the bar is the swankiest in town. Dress: As yourself. Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30; Dinner: Mon-Thurs 5:30-10; Fri-Sat 5:30-11.

521 West Short Street. 455-9660 Where tradition meets style. Five course tea service at noon and 3 pm Wed-Sat. in an atmosphere of understated elegance. Reservations required. Greentree also offers graceful service and imaginative cuisine demonstrating fine Southern hospitality for professional meetings, club events, and every wedding occasion.

Happy Dragon Chinese Buffet
1510 Newtown Pike, 859-388-9988. All you can eat chinese buffet. Over 120 items daily, featuring fresh seafood, beef, chicken, pork, soups, salads, fruits... and much more! Open Sun. to Thurs. 11am - 10pm, Fri.& Sat. 11am - 10:30pm.

The Homestead
The Homestead Restaurant offers superb regional cuisine in a classic and beautiful setting. A warm and cozy ambience naturally complements the traditional southern dishes prepared by Executive Chef Tony Cortez. With a charming bar, a romantic patio, and laid back live entertainment, The Homestead is the perfect spot for any occasion. The Homestead is open for dinner six nights a week. They are closed on Sundays, except during Keeneland and on some holidays. Dinner: 5:30 Mon-Thur,, 5:00 on Fri & Sat.

Imperial Hunan
Woodhill. 266-4393. One of Lexington's oldest and finest Chinese restaurants. Voted Best Kung Pao by Ace readers. Don't forget the Sunday Buffet. " Hours: Sun-Thurs 11:30am-10pm, Fri 11:30am-11pm, Sat Noon-11pm

Jonathan at
Gratz Park

120 West Second Street 252-4949 Redefined regional cuisine served in our Southern dining room or in the English pub room. Signature items and daily specials, every entrée a Jonathan original. Festive Sunday brunch from 11:30-2 pm. Reservations suggested. Also call us for intimate dinner parties, fabulous banquets, business lunches, pre-wedding events to the reception.

Mancino’s Pizza
& Grinders

1590A Leestown RD. 253-2299. First in Kentucky with HOT oven grinders! A taste of New York right here in Lexington. Everything from the traditional Mancino’s Pride pizza to the “New” Zesty Ranch Pizza. All Grinders are oven baked and served Hot from the oven. Everything made to order. Mon-Fri 11am-8pm; 11am-3pm Sat

Natasha's Cafe
112 Esplanade. A look and a feel of the Bleeker Street in the Village. A taste of Mediterranean cuisine interpreted by talented poet and chef Johnny Shipley. Lunch Buffet 11-2, Dinner 5-9. Lighter fair and exotic coffees in between. Fine dining for any income bracket.

Pacific Pearl
Chinoe Plaza. Boldly fusing Asian and American flavors. Coconut fried lobster, King Crab legs in ginger butter, and Grilled Yellowfin Tuna are just a few of the items that represent this extensive menu. Dining room, patio and bar offers elegant decor. Open 5-10 pm, Sun-Thu. and 5-11 pm, Fri and Sat. Reservations recommended. 266.1611

Scarborough Fare
355 Romany Road. 859.266.8704. A gourmand’s delight, featuring an array of entrees that will tickle your fancy and menu changes daily. Sample the mouth-watering desserts and you’ll be back to feed your newest addiction. Special dinners prepared daily. Café dining, or gourmet carryout for those on the go. Open Monday-Saturday 10-8.

Starbucks Coffee
University of Kentucky Student Center. Lexington's first full size Starbucks location. Stop in today for fresh brewed coffee, espresso drinks, Frappuccinos, delightful pastries, and Starbucks merchandise. A supremely comfortable atmosphere conveniently close to downtown. We are a cyber-café; come surf the 'net on our laptop computers. Open Mon.-Thurs. 7am-9pm, Fri. 7am-4pm, Sat. 9am-4pm. 257-1209.

l Neither Here Nor There

Reminiscing about travels taken during one's life happens at awkward times. The smell of sulfur, usually unpleasant, sends me back to visiting Amsterdam (which always smells of sulfur to me), and to New

Year's Eve in particular because there were so many people about. It was an amazing night in an amazing city with fireworks exploding in every inch of unused space, children running with bottle rockets, and a good friend laughing at my horrified face after I insisted that we take a walk through the streets at midnight. It is impossible to completely replicate the unique sounds or smells that incite senses awakened by foreign soils either visited or once called home. When and where they will jog your memory is a lottery.

Recently, I was in Natasha's Café enjoying a distant memory stirred; drinking a Turkish coffee after dinner, and listening to two men sing and play instruments that they switched for new after each song. I had to chuckle to myself - would we be charged for the music?

Once, I was with a travel mate in Otavalo, Ecuador in a very charming vegetarian restaurant - we were so happy sipping our warm beer, watching the tourists haggle with the vendors in the market under brightly woven coverings, and listening to a Quichua Indian band in the corner of the room. We had very little money, but viewing this scene is why we had come - to put a name with the face, to breathe the air and be warmed by the sun of this beautiful country. Then we got the bill. Not only had we been charged for the beer, but double the amount for la musica. Ah, live and learn and always read the notes at the bottom of a menu.

But, bringing my head out of the clouds and back to Lexington, my bill, naturally, did not reflect a charge for music. Chris Sullivan and Warren "Bobo" Byrum played that evening, and the whole experience of eating at Natasha's Café was, as usual, relaxed and culturally eclectic. To tell you that it is urban, well-lit with Moroccan lanterns, and infused with aromas of food from exotic locales would be rehashing what others before me have justly written about this great eatery. So I must, in good conscience, direct you to to peruse their views for yourself and enjoy a website which is as close-knit and eccentric as the restaurant itself.

Whether you are interested in how to make the perfect demitasse cup of coffee, want to buy an ibrik to cook it in, or just read Natasha's wonderful writings about Russia and how the café began, then this is the place to start. Each page reminds us that the café began as a multicultural collaboration built on love, friendship and the lack of proper coffee in Lexington, and has evolved into an example of downtown-friendly renewal.

One page of their site introduces each member of the café team and an interesting characteristic about them - actually to the point of teasing because now I would like to know more about them. The photos of the owners of Natasha's Café, Gene and Natasha Williams, their children, and a few friends are great. You can watch the family's growth progression through black and white photos.

If you want to check the menu before you arrive at the Esplanade location, or look back at the Southland Drive menu, both are listed on this site. You could battle with your dining partner on the way to the restaurant about who should have Red Sea Lamb with apricots and dates over couscous and who should have Tyrnova Pork stuffed with dried plums and garlic. You have obviously both agreed on the Spicy Ceci Bean Cake with Cucumber Relish as an appetizer, and the Greek Salad as a second course. Dessert? Well, that might be a difficult choice between Lemon Basil Pound Cake, a Siberian Sundae, and Belgian Brownies. There are also dessert coffees to choose from, such as Turkish coffee with chocolate, and/or whipped cream, and/or ice cream.

Natasha's Cafe is not only a restaurant that serves delicious food, but also a place to be experienced. Just sit back, relax, let the memories of an overseas adventure return, enjoy a conversation with a old friend, devour a piece of baklava, and listen to the music.

Please email your culinary heads-ups to Karen at