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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.

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.

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 Spam, spam, spam, spam

Every country needs something to be proud of. While some nationalistic accomplishments are dubious (like the Scots inventing haggis) if you've created something good you should flaunt it. That's why it's nice to see that some Russians have taken pride in their national beverage and opened the Vodka Museum. This is the Absolut truth.

And why shouldn't they? After all, France has a cognac museum, Ireland has a whiskey museum, and Wisconsin has the Old Milwaukee Museum of Lame American Beer for People With a Budget To Match Their Taste Buds. Besides, vodka is the national pastime-I mean, Drink-of Russia. Each year the average Russian man drinks 180 bottles of the stuff, which is one every two days, or just the right amount to forget about the long bread lines, horrible weather, Yakov Smirnoff, and Mir.

The museum is small-only two rooms in fact- but they're packed full of vodka bottles, glasses, advertising posters, and a display of a Russian monk distilling the first shot way back in the mid-1400s. It shouldn't come as a surprise that vodka has religious origins. After all, the Benedictine Monks invented the liqueur which bears their name and the Little Sisters of the Poor created Blue Nun. Just kidding. Actually they created the Flying Nun, which is even more embarrassing. Especially to Sally Field.

One of the high points of the museum is the vodka tasting. It's not a great sign that the founders think visitors need shots of seven different vodkas to enjoy the museum to its fullest, though I have to admit I think any museum is more fun after seven shots of vodka. Even the newly opened SPAM museum in Austin, Minnesota. Or maybe that should be 'especially.'

Amazingly there's never been a SPAM museum until now. This has been a major national embarrassment since there's a Ramen noodle museum in Japan, a Cadbury chocolate museum in England, and even a Jell-O museum in LeRoy, NY. Luckily SPAM's maker, Hormel Animal Parts Recycling, saw the hole in the museum market and plugged it.

The SPAM museum is a lot larger than two rooms-it's 16,500 square feet to be exact. To put this in perspective, you could lay 2,845 Russians who have passed out after drinking seven shots of vodka on the floor side-by-side and still have room for a few cases of bootleg caviar.

The museum features SPAM advertising, a production line which probably won't take any mystery out of the mystery meat, and even a video of Monty Python's famous skit. No, not the dead parrot skit, the SPAM one.

The museum should do well. After all, SPAM is very popular. Over the past 64 years they've sold nearly six billion-that's billion with a 'b'-cans of the stuff. That's nearly 94 million cans a year, or one for every man, woman, and child who doesn't question what they put in their mouth.

In some parts of the world-okay, in South Korea, anyway-SPAM is considered a gourmet delicacy.

The SPAM Museum has an interactive game show ("I'll take Food My Starving Cat Refuses to Eat for 500, Alex."), a display of 4,752 cans of SPAM from around the world ("Best when eaten after drinking seven shots of vodka."), and a gift shop with 255 different SPAM items ("Do you have that SPAM stomach pump in blue?"). They also have a display showing the role SPAM played in World War II.

I haven't made it to the museum to see just what that role was, but if it worked then I'm sure it can work now. I think President Bush should recruit SPAM and send it into battle. We could drop the cans from airplanes onto terrorist camps-they'd be deadly falling from 10,000 feet.

Plus, if they accidentally opened and ate any of it they'd be in for a surprise when they read the leaflets we dumped the next day with the Arabic translation of the ingredients. As soon as they discovered it contains pork they'd realize there was no way they were getting into heaven no matter how many terrorist attacks they made mistakenly thinking it would buy them a "Get Into Heaven Free" card in Islamonopoly.

This may help explain why the Russians had such a hard time in Afghanistan-dropping bottles of vodka just wouldn't have had the same effect. It also points out another reason America is such a great nation: we have SPAM. So support America and check out the museum. Though it might not be a bad idea to pretend you're at the Russian Vodka Museum first and have those seven shots before you go.

Please email your culinary heads-ups to Karen at