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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. www.cafeontheparkcom. (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.

Dudley’s Restaurant
380 S. Mill Street in Historic Dudley Square. 252-1010. A Lexington tradition, with adventurous takes on regional cuisine and an award winning wine list. Patio, bar, and dining room each provide a unique atmostphere. Open everyday: Mon-Sat 11:30-2:30 for lunch; Sun 11:30-2:30 for brunch; and dinner Sun-Thurs 5:30-10 and Fri-Sat 5:30-11. Reservations recommended.

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.

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 Upper Class Beer

When I moved to Lexington, Kentucky from Japan, I met an American guy. He invited my husband and me to his house. He grabbed a can of Natural Light and said to me, "This is American lower class beer."

What is lower class beer? Poor, miserable beer? Blue collar beer? Uneducated beer? No health insurance beer? One day, at a cafeteria, I ate macaroni and cheese with an American friend. I enjoyed the American food and its taste. But she said, "Did you know macaroni and cheese is kind of lower class food?

Once, when I cruised with my husband and an American friend on I-75, we passed the restaurant, Waffle House. I thought it was a patisserie, serving many kinds of fancy, sweet desserts with a lot of fruit and whipped crème. So I said to the friend, "I want to go to the Waffle House."

He said, "I don't want to go because it is a lower class restaurant." I missed that chance to go to Waffle House, but I was so curious about it. I went by myself later. Honestly, I was disappointed because it was not a fancy patisserie at all. The food was greasy, and I was the only female customer. I stared at one man's arm, well muscled and tanned with a big dragon tattoo. But I liked to listen to these guys talking about their jobs and their families with other customers. The restaurant was filled with ordinary people's daily lives.

Eating scrambled eggs and bacon with french fries and waffles, I remembered what my friend said, "And Kentucky Friend Chicken is also a lower class restaurant." In my hometown, Toyota City, there are four or five Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants. They are all clean and neat, and cashiers are very polite; they have sweet smiles. The customers are mostly high school kids and young women. I loved the restaurant because it served cheap delicious food in a hospitable style. However, American people seem to have a different point of view.

What on earth is class? I have often heard words-upper class, middle class, lower class and under class-here in the United States. I have also heard that most American people think they belong to the middle class. I think Japanese people might feel the same way, but instead of thinking they are middle class, they just consider themselves ordinary people. I can't claim categories don't exist in Japan, but I think Japanese people don't emphasize class very much. I have seen poor people and rich people in Japan, but I've never thought of them as lower class and upper class. It might be a cultural difference between the United States and Japan.

But I don't understand why people would put food and drinks into certain classes without considering their quality. Why does beer have to belong to a certain class? I hesitate, but want to say a few more words. Budweiser and Coors are sold in Japanese liquor shops as expensive import beer with other European beer, like Heineken and Guinness, but I have never thought of them as upper class.

The popular Japanese novelist, Haruki Murakami, who used to be a Modern Japanese Literature professor at Princeton University, wrote in his collection of essays, Yagate Kanashiki Gaikokugo, that he felt strange to hear a professor at Princeton say to him, "As you are a professor at Princeton University, a kind of intellectual elite and upper class person, you should not read local newspapers like The Trenton Times. Upper class people should read The New York Times or The Washington Post." He knew Murakami loved to read The Trenton Times. Then he noticed professors in Princeton always drank European import beer at parties. They never drank Budweiser and Coors. I bet they don't even know about Natural Light.

Murakami wrote that such people might ignore a professor who drinks Budweiser, reads all of Steven King's novels and entertains guests with Kenny Rogers' music because he is acting contrary to the rules that the intellectual elite has established. He felt the United States is a country that values class and status more than Japan. He called this lifestyle "social snobbism." So he tried to pretend to be like Princeton professors in public, reading The New York Times, listening to operas and drinking Heineken, while he secretly enjoyed The Trenton Times and Budweiser at home.

When I read Murakami's essay for the first time, I thought social snobbism worked only around Princeton. But since I moved to Lexington, I have had similar experiences. If the United States is a country of freedom and equality, why do Americans always think of class? It is a culture shock. Should I pretend to read The New York Times? Should I avoid eating macaroni and cheese in public? I don't think so. I am glad I am not tied down by class categories. If we enjoy the taste of cheap, local beer, that is fine. If we enjoy the taste of macaroni and cheese, that is enough. Beer is innocent. Macaroni and cheese is blameless.

I love the United States as well as Japan. I love American food as well as Japanese food. For me, what I love is the most important. If I cared too much about class category, I would miss the chance to encounter things I might love.

I happen to live in Kentucky and love it. I love tasting Kentucky food at the restaurants. I like Kentucky hot browns and roast beef on bread with gravy at old family restaurants and small, unknown restaurants in the countryside. Some people might think that is lower class.

One day, in the southern part of Kentucky, I found a restaurant that looked interesting. It was small and filthy. All of the customers looked like farmers or factory workers, wearing overalls and sweaty shirts. A chubby waitress with gray hair and thick red lipstick served sweet tea and said, "Hey, y'all." I liked their fried chicken with corn bread and french fries. And I liked the waitress. She saw me off, saying, "Bye hon. Y'uns have a good day." Yes, I really did have a good day.

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