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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

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 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.

Common Grounds

343 East High Street 233-9761 Voted #1 coffeehouse year after year by ACE readers. Fresh treats available daily in the bakery. Night life is great, too: Open mic Mondays, vinyl record night on Tuesdays (Bring your own jazz or blues!). Call about art exhibits.

Daniel’s Fine Food and Spirits
243 Broadway (across from the Old Capital in Frankfort), (502) 875-5599, Voted “Best Place to Have Dinner in Frankfort.”One of the region’s newest upscale fine dining adventures set in 150 year-old buildings. Enjoy “Traditional with a Twist,” extensive wine list, outdoor dining, private dining room, and the frequent special events. Check out our website for calendar, menu, map, and more. Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Mon-Sat 5 p.m.-10 p.m.

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.

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.

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

Phil’s Cookshop
on romany

342 Romany Road 266-0099 Seriously good food for the gourmet on the go. Artisan bakery, hot entrees, freshly prepared salads, made to order sandwiches, absolutely exquisite desserts, pies and cakes. Incredible selection of wines Join us for wine tasting Wed and Fri 4-8 pm. Open Monday-Saturday 8-8:30 Call the Cookshop catering, too!

l Favoritism among Favorites

As Ms. Reeves likes to say, the "Best of" Lexington competition is really about "favorites." It may be difficult to truly quantify "best," but we all know what our favorites are.

Since I have not seen any of the "real" results, this is the only chance I get to be completely non-objective, self-gratifying, and to express my current unmitigated gourmand predilection.

New restaurant: I feel that I should tell you initially that I will be cheating in this category. I do not have a favorite new restaurant; I have a new favorite restaurant, Paisano's (Nicholasville Road). There's something about sitting in high-back rolling chairs while eating spaghetti and meatballs.

Business lunch: Keeneland (Versailles Road). I have seen many well-dressed people during April and October escorting well-dressed associates to what must be a business lunch. It's during working hours, cups of burgoo are involved, and money is changing hands. What's not to love?

Date restaurant: Dudley's Patio (Maxwell). Everything was perfect: a beautiful moon, warm breeze, delicious wine, and carapaccio. Each course was better than the last and timed so that we had great conversation and laughs between each.

Fancy fine dining: a la lucie (North Limestone). This is the only, and I must repeat, the only place in town to wear a beautiful, see-through, clingy black silk dress with appropriately placed hints of discretion here and there while being fed escargot en brie by a steamy young man. It's excellent food in an inviting atmosphere with liberal overtones. Be prepared to be just as comfortable in jeans.

Ethnic fare: Miyako Japanese Restaurant (Richmond Road). This is probably not my favorite sushi bar in town (for reasons that I will divulge at a later date) but one of the reasons that I keep going back is because of their appetizers. Little plates of delicious (and sometimes bizarre) food, beautifully arranged. They have not only edamame and gyoza with which we have become comfortable but tako-su (octopus salad), broiled mussels covered with smelt roe, and (shudder) ankemo (sliced monkfish liver).

Bar/restaurant patio: Emmett's Restaurant (Tates Creek Road) for Sunday Brunch. It's up on a slight hill and well designed so that your views are mostly of sky and other slight hills. It has a translucent cover so that you are shaded yet warm while eating from the beautiful buffet inside. This is where we take out of town guests for a brunch treat.

Gourmet-carry-out: Cosmo's Fine Foods (High Street) for selection and convenience. The thing that I enjoy about going here is that many times I have no idea what I want to eat or drink and seeing something already prepared really helps. It's easy to get in and out fairly quickly and they respond well to call ahead orders for the charcuterie.

Dive: I will not tell. (Ever). Due to the homogenization of the Lexington edifice landscape (decisions made by a few for the greater good I suppose), I cannot in good conscience make others aware of one of the few remaining establishments that I can only imagine is clinging on to its last remaining years.

Veggie-friendly restaurant: Everybody's Restaurant (South Limestone). This category was difficult because we do have quite a bit of delicious vegetarian food in town. Everybody's offers food to eat in or take away, like hoppin' John and tofu scramble, along with vitamins and smoothies and foods specifically leaned towards vegan and special diets.

Coffee house: Natasha's Café (Esplanade). This may not seem like a coffee house, but the Turkish coffee that is made here reminds me of what coffee is supposed to taste like - rich and awakening. The café is gorgeous and the retail section is interesting to look at while you're waiting for coffee to be made in its ibrik and then served in a demitasse cup.

Cosmopolitan: The Gallery Lounge inside The Campbell House Inn (Harrodsburg Road). Make that any mixed drink. Walking into this bar is like no other in Lexington. The red carpet, leather chairs, and tiny red lights in the ceiling make the whole atmosphere, very appropriately, straight out of the late sixties to early seventies. It is one of a kind and the bartenders are well-versed in providing old favorites such as an old-fashioned, rusty nail, or gimlet.

Place to shop for wine: Le Matin Cellars (East High Street). I try to go here for occasions when I need a very specific wine and I do not have any idea what it is. For example, I am serving coq au vin to eight people in thirty minutes and do not know what wine to offer with an already sauced dinner. Thank goodness the people here are so well-informed and helpful and patient.

Again, I would like to point out that this is how I would fill out only my list of favorites. There is no rhyme or reason to favoritism but the "Best of" Lexington is free PR, and as a former business owner, to be named in the "Real Best of Lexington" is very exciting. Congratulations to all of the winners.

Please email your culinary heads-ups to Karen at