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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." Live music. Free evening parking behind the building. Daily specials. Lunch, Monday - Friday 11-2. Dinner, Tuesday-Thursday 5:30-9, Friday & Saturday 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. Wonderful view of Triangle Park. Breakfast 6:30am until 10:30am daily; breakfast buffet served in season. Lunch 11am-2pm, (pasta bar on Thursdays) Affordable upscale American cuisine and a wonderful wine list 5pm-10pm. 90 minute complimentary parking.

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. Affordable American Cuisine. Gourmet pizzas, fresh pasta, specialty salads and sandwiches, and a wide array of entrees. 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, 245-4444, 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.

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., 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.

"Food with Character" 735 E. Main Street (859)266-9000. Full-blooded, dipped in the Bayou, authentic Southwest Louisiana Cuisine at Furlongs! PO-Boys, Burgers, Creole, Etouffees, Gumbo, Pastas, Salads, Seafood, Steaks, Fresh Fish, great daily dinner specials and extensive wine list. Open for dinner: Mon.-Sat. 4-11.

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
3955 Harrodsburg Rd, 219-9922. Why not tonight? 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. Open for dinner six nights a week. Open Sundays during Keeneland and holidays. Dinner: 5:30 Mon-Thur, 5:00 on Fri & Sat.

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. 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.

The Mansion
at Griffin Gate
1800 Newtown Pike. 859-288-6142. Lexington's landmark of good taste. The elegantly restored antebellum mansion offers traditional American and regional southern cuisine with European flavors. Experience gracious dining at Lexington's first Four Diamond rated restaurant. The Mansion is open daily from 6pm-10pm. Reservations are suggested.

Merrick Inn
3380 Tates Creek Rd. (Top of the hill in Merrick Place.) We pride ourselves on being the establishment of choice for over 30 years. Enjoy Chef Jeremy Ashby’s savory nightly specials and superb signature southern cuisine all served in our Kentucky manor house. When the weather’s warm, enjoy Lexington’s favorite patio by the pool offering a more casual menu. Mon.- Thurs 5:30 to 10:00, Fri and Sat 5:30 to 10:30.

Natasha's Cafe
112 Esplanade 259-0203. An array of tastes from Kiev to Cairo in the elegant atmosphere of a Parisian cafe. World cuisine buffet for lunch. Fine dining for all income brackets evenings after 5:30. Tour buses, business meetings and accordion players welcome. Voted Lexington's Best Ethnic Fare (ACE Weekly Readers’ Poll, 2001). Lunch Buffet 11A-2P, M-F and Noon to 3P on Saturday.

Scarborough Fare
355 Romany Road. 859.266.8704. A gourmand’s delight, featuring an array of entrees that will tickle your fancy. Menu changes daily. Deli dining, or gourmet carryout for those on the go. Open Monday-Saturday 10-8.

Starbucks Coffee
University of Kentucky Student Center. 257-1209. Lexington's first full size Starbucks location. Stop in today for fresh brewed coffee, espresso drinks, Frappuccinos, delightful pastries, and Starbucks merchandise. 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.

Yamamoto Japanese Grill
& Sushi
130 West Tiverton Way. 859-272-6668. Call for reservations. Prepared before your eyes!! Come enjoy our Fresh Sushi and a variety of Sushi Rolls and fantastic performance and taste in Habachi Grill. Lunch Specials and Lunch boxes available $5.95-9.95. Mon-Thurs 11-2, 5-10; Fri 11-2, 5-11; Sat 5-11; Sun 12-9.

l Tie on the Feedbag at Keeneland

This is a great time of the year. The sky is blue, birds are singing, the trees are blooming, and it's one minute and three seconds to post, and I am the fourth person in line, trying to get a new two-dollar boxed trifecta for the final race-this time including the thirty-to-one horse that I just got a tip on from a one-eyed scold who was selling four-leaf clovers and rabbit's feet in the beer line. Excellent signs of money forthcoming.

Keeneland's spring meet ushers in sloppy tracks, long-shots, men in linen suits, women in hatsand food: burgoo followed by bread pudding with Maker's Mark Bourbon sauce. The offerings for eating and drinking are plentiful here and, thanks to Turf Catering, consistent every year. There are concession stands, dining rooms, the clubhouse, box seats, and the track kitchen, so where to eat can be confusing and intimidating if you are a newcomer and not aware that there are a few rules.

For example, the dining rooms that are available for reservations are full for this spring, so remember to be prepared for next fall's meet.

If you are...

...prepared months in advance

The Equestrian Room, on the ground floor facing the track toward the finish line, is a fairly casual, large dining room with many televisions and betting machines. There isn't a strict dress code, but reservations are required (written requests for the fall meet will begin on August 24th and phone reservations on September 16th ), and there is an admission charge that varies from weekday to weekend and stake's days. An a la carte menu is served offering soups, salads, sandwiches, and a few entrees such as Hunter Style Chicken and Maryland Crab Cakes.

The Lexington and Kentucky Rooms are very large dining rooms on the fourth floor trackside, that are specifically for groups of 40 or more (written requests for reservations accepted after June 3rd ). They have the most strict dress code of the public dining rooms: men must wear a coat and tie, women should wear a dress, skirt, or dress slacks. No denim is allowed. These rooms have wonderful views overlooking the track along with televisions for viewing your winning thoroughbred. For lunch, they serve a buffet with typical regional fare like round of beef, chicken breasts, and several vegetables.

The Phoenix Room is very similar to the Lexington and Kentucky Rooms in almost all aspects except that it overlooks the Paddock instead of the track, is set up for smaller groups (written requests starting June 3rd for 16 or more people and on September 3rd for less that 16), and the dress code is more relaxed. Ties are optional.

...In the big show

The Lafayette Room on the fourth floor is a green room, of sorts, for the trainers and owners of that day's stakes race to observe the races, be nervous, enjoy a meal. They have a small private dining room with a bar and stepped seats that overlook the course, naturally, and the finish line.

...Here on the boss's dime, or a prospective or attentive client

The Corporate Boxes, also on the fourth floor, are really chic. They are more private than the other rooms, have a wet bar, a specialized buffet, betting machines, televisions, seating for viewing the races, and lots of brass and Keeneland green.

...Invited, royalty, or show biz royalty The Keeneland Room, above the fourth floor, is where one is invited. Elizabeth Taylor and Queen Elizabeth II dined here (not at the same time) when they visited Keeneland. This room is round and opulent, surrounded in glass with an azalea-decorated outdoor area in which to watch the races from up above.

...Members The Clubhouse is a members-and-guests-of-members-only section of Keeneland. It has its own lovely entrance, second floor and third floor dining rooms that face the track, lounges, and lawn with little white tables and chairs. The protocol for being a guest of a member is thus: the member should call to say that they will have a guest and, very important, should make reservations for a table if they are planning for the guest to eat. Many people assume that they will have a dinner reservation if they have a clubhouse ticket, but no.

...Otherwise (Breakfast with the works)

Concessions are available all throughout Keeneland, so don't worry that you will go hungry without a dining room reservation. Bratwursts and reubens can be found at "Brats n' Brew" on the first floor along with "Cappuccino Cafe" for gourmet caffeine and soups. On the second floor, "Blue Cactus Cantina" serves tacos, burritos, and other Tex-Mex-type foods, and the "16th Pole Grill" serves burgers, fries, pizza, sandwiches, and bread pudding.

...Up and at 'em early Off-site and a small walk away is the great Track Kitchen where you can eat a delicious, hot meal for practically nothing, then walk around taking award-winning photos, watching the horses' morning workouts. It is open to the public seven days a week, year round except for two weeks in February, from 5 a.m. until 7 p.m. during the races and sales and from 6 a.m. until 11 a.m. the rest of the year. This is great fun, especially early in the morning, summer or winter.

Keeneland is a beautiful race track where I, along with many others, open my wallet and freely give them my money hoping for something wonderful in return. Food and drink, certainly. Winning horses, rarely.

Please email your culinary heads-ups to Karen at