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Where to Eat and Drink in Lexington, Kentucky

See also: where to dine near Keeneland’s 2021 Fall Race Meet 

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Some of the most prestigious thoroughbred farms in the world hang their saddles in Lexington, Kentucky — rightfully standing as the Horse Capital of the World. And, there’s no better time to understand the language of winning this Bluegrass town is so fluent in than October when the Fall Meet happens at Keeneland Race Course. Just over a three-hour drive from Nashville, the city has a leg up on the food and beverage scene, embracing an area rich in history and culture. From food halls to award-winning chefs where folks come for the bourbon, stay for the beer, and savor dishes way beyond grits, everyone can find their own stride with some of these local favorites.

Greyline Station / Julietta Market

Once home to the Southeastern Greyhound Lines, the 65,000 square-foot space was built in 1928. Listed on the National Register of Historic Spaces, it’s now one of the area’s newest dining and shopping attractions. Featuring a handful of food options, a full-service bar, a local grocer, an event space, a commercial kitchen for food entrepreneurs, and shopping. Also within the Greyline, the Julietta Market is a nonprofit public market meant to foster opportunity, growth, and connection for all while leveling the playing field. A few highlights are Black Soil Kentucky, Hemp Cattle Company, and Inebriated Baker.

Distillery District

History repeats itself at the oldest continuing running James E. Pepper Distillery along the Branch River where Barrel House Distillery continues the tradition as well. While the distilleries anchor the behemoth of #SharetheLex attractions, there are plenty of other musts. GoodFellas Pizza boasts the best New York Style pizza in all of Kentucky, while Ethereal Brewing perfects Belgian farmhouse with the only yeast lab in town, along with American craft beer, and experimental brews. Crank and Boom Ice Craft Cream proudly makes all their desserts with JD Country Milk, while the Pepper Rickhouse remains the most prominent structure in this district featuring a cidery and brewery. Don’t miss what can easily be considered Lexington’s best live music venue, The Burl to wrap up a most spirited day.

And, no Lexington list of restaurants would be complete without including James Beard Foundation lauded Chef Ouita Michel’s family restaurants. She champions everything that Kentucky Proud stands for by shaking the very hands that feed us as often as possible. Several of her restaurants such as Holly Hill Inn are actually located in the heart of Bluegrass Horse Country. Not to mention Bourbon Country where Glenn’s Creek Cafe resides upon the premises of Woodford Reserve.

Disclaimer: Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here. It is highly advised people wear masks indoors or when in crowded situations, regardless of vaccination status, to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. AZUR restaurant and patio

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3070 Lakecrest Cir #550
Lexington, KY 40513
(859) 296-1007
Visit Website

This European fine dining yet relaxed experience is anything but what you’d expect from its strip mall location. Start with Azur’s signature lobster crepes or Brussels sprouts slaw, before diving into dishes like the Azur ocean duo of pan-seared sea scallops and mahi-mahi served over creamy butternut squash and mushroom risotto with a smoked and grilled artichoke heart and rosemary honey mustard vinaigrette. Sushi is also available during limited dinner hours. On Friday and Saturday nights plan a night on the patio for live music, weather permitting. 

 

Azur/Facebook

2. Distilled on Jefferson

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157 Jefferson St
Lexington, KY 40508
(859) 255-0002
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At the Sire Hotel’s anchor restaurant, dishes run the gamut. Carolina catfish and frites, barramundi, and porcine dry-rubbed filet top the list of favorites. Or, make a meal out of the poutine made with duck fat fries and creamy Kenny’s cheese curds. And, living up to its namesake, you can expect an extensive list of spirits. Distilled on Jefferson is open for lunch Wednesday through Saturday and dinner Tuesday- through Saturday.  

Distilled on Jefferson/Facebook

3. Tony's of Lexington

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401 W Main St
Lexington, KY 40507
(859) 955-8669
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A classic American steakhouse with a keen sense of service at its core, Tony’s is located on The Square in downtown Lexington. Start with Blue Points on the Half Shell or Rassatti Beef Tartare along with a traditional choice of salads. Pasta offerings such as the Riga-Tony and entrees like New Zealand Rack of Lamb show up on the meat-heavy menu, along with the Prime selection of steaks served with crispy onion straws and can be topped with your choice of classics such as gorgonzola butter or au poivre. 

Tony’s of Lexington/Facebook

4. The Grove

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200 W Main St
Lexington, KY 40507

Located in one of the most historic downtown buildings, this 1849 pharmacy has more than a few stories to tell, including its most recent. Avena Kiely (Harvey’s Bar owner) took advantage of the time during the pandemic to reimagine the space and chose to amp up her community spirit with a small collective of businesses. Get your yoga on by day at The Melodeon, and cocktails by night with a bit of colorful flair thrown into the mix. There’s the Wine and Luna’s Vintage Food Truck out back with Harvey’s Beer Garden to accompany. Also, make sure to hit up Harvey’s Bar, and Fable Charcuterie and Wine counter service inside. Open Wednesday-Sunday, you’ll want to check this gem out more than once as the fun is as well-rounded as its community. 

The Grove/Facebook

5. ItalX

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160 W Main St
Lexington, KY 40507
(859) 407-5100
Visit Website

Celebrity Chef Johnathan Lundy joined forces with Sommelier TJ Cox, and Lee Greer to open this Italian favorite within the new City Center amidst the throws of Covid-19’s pandemic. It proved the right move. From the Farinata made with chickpea flour, and Little Neck Clams to start. Move onto Candele Cacio e Pepe or Marsala di Vitello for Secondi. Still, the Dolci offerings are a knockout with a Ricotta Zeppole served with lemon, pistachio, and honeycomb for a simple, yet elegant finish. Ask Cox to pair it all up with the finest!

ItalX/Facebook

6. Dudley's On Short

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259 W Short St #125
Lexington, KY 40507
(859) 252-1010
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A Lexington staple for nearly 40 years, local foods simply prepared are front and center on Dudley’s menu, with nightly seasonal specials topping the list. For example, a recent favorite featured halibut atop a parsnip puree accompanied by crisp maitake mushrooms, roasted grapes, with a red wine jus. Sunday suppers return this November offering a 3-course comfort food dinner for a steal at $30. Serving lunch on Friday, brunch on the weekend, and dinner nightly.  

 

Dudley’s on Short/Facebook

7. Lockbox

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167 W Main St
Lexington, KY 40507
(859) 899-6860
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A local bank in its original heyday, the 21 C Museum Hotel in Lexington recaptures the town’s vibe with its anchor restaurant. From sun up to sundown, guests can expect rotating menus featuring a network of Kentucky farmers and makers that present “simple, honest, soulful food.”Staples like the Chicken Liver Mousse, Cornmeal Gnocchi, and Woodland Farm Cast Iron Hog Chop. Sample some of the 60 plus indigenous Kentucky spirit, with either a flight of Bourbon, or perhaps an aperitif cocktail from the extensive bar program. For a private dining experience reserve the original vault for seating up to 12 in “The Safe.” 

Lockbox/Facebook

8. OBC Kitchen

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3373 Tates Creek Rd
Lexington, KY 40502
(859) 977-2600
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Named after the Kentucky counties that eventually became known as “Old Bourbon Country,” the interior is decked out in centuries-old barn wood and an expansive library of rare Kentucky bourbons, along with a discerning wine list and craft beer selection. The sushi, appetizers, entrees, and desserts comprise just as thoughtful menus. But, if there is absolutely one thing that you can’t leave on the table, it’s the Bacon In A Glass prepared in a honey bourbon glazed served with a peanut butter sauce begging for your favorite bourbon pairing. Open daily in the Landsdown Shoppes.

Honey bourbon-glazed “Bacon In A Glass” comes served with a peanut butter sauce begging for your favorite bourbon pairing.
Melissa Corbin

9. Carson's Food & Drink

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362 E Main St
Lexington, KY 40507
(859) 309-3039
Visit Website

Very much a Main Street gathering place, the open, communal aesthetic invites you to a “rustic, yet refined atmosphere.” Pair prohibition-style cocktails, local beers, or a fine wine with everything from the Sausage Trip served with bourbon mushrooms and onions, garlic truffle crustinis to the Grilled Salmon Oscar Style served on Yukon Gold garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus, topped with béarnaise and truffle buttered crab. Annual Draught and Wine Club $45 memberships offer cardholders deep discounts on food and drink with proceeds benefiting local charities. 

Carson’s Food & Drink/Facebook

10. Merrick Inn Restaurant

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1074 Merrick Dr
Lexington, KY 40502
(859) 269-5417
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The epitome of Southern genteel, this multi-generational family-owned and operated classic is a non-stop kind of destination during Fall Meet. The Pecan Crusted Pork Tenderloin is a house favorite, while the Walleye Pike is “Dad’s Favorite.” Swing by on Wednesdays for Fried Chicken Night, and Ladies Night on Thursdays feature half-off drinks all night long. And, there’s no shortage of Bourbon here as the selection often is rated one of the best in the country. 

Merrick Inn Restaurant/Facebook

11. Coles 735 Main

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735 E Main St
Lexington, KY 40502
(859) 266-9000
Visit Website

Bread baked fresh daily, pickles made in-house, and other methods handed down from previous generations prove in this classic’s belief that dining is an art. Try the King Trumpet “Ribs” for inspiration made with smoked & grilled king trumpet mushrooms, grain mustard smashed marble potatoes, braised collard greens, pomegranate molasses bbq, scallion, and lemon chili oil . Even the 1938 building boasts a restored mural originally painted by a local art teacher in 1949 that showcases locals from that period.

Coles 735 Main/Facebook

12. Epping's on Eastside

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264 Walton Ave
Lexington, KY 40502
(859) 971-0240
Visit Website

The original Epping's Bottling Works located in the Warehouse District, Epping’s continues to embrace its roots with discernment. “Keeping a local-first mindset” proves throughout the menu featuring many local farms and producers along with in-house cured meats and other scratch-made ingredients.  Whether you opt to share a few small plates such as Beef Tallow Fries and Smoked Chicken Spring Rolls over happy hour, or go all-in with the Dry-Aged Bone-in Pork Chop or the Pan Fried Fish Masala, you’ll find this a new place to return for live music each Sunday and Tuesday. 

Epping’s on Eastside/Facebook

1. AZUR restaurant and patio

3070 Lakecrest Cir #550, Lexington, KY 40513
Azur/Facebook

This European fine dining yet relaxed experience is anything but what you’d expect from its strip mall location. Start with Azur’s signature lobster crepes or Brussels sprouts slaw, before diving into dishes like the Azur ocean duo of pan-seared sea scallops and mahi-mahi served over creamy butternut squash and mushroom risotto with a smoked and grilled artichoke heart and rosemary honey mustard vinaigrette. Sushi is also available during limited dinner hours. On Friday and Saturday nights plan a night on the patio for live music, weather permitting. 

 

3070 Lakecrest Cir #550
Lexington, KY 40513

2. Distilled on Jefferson

157 Jefferson St, Lexington, KY 40508
Distilled on Jefferson/Facebook

At the Sire Hotel’s anchor restaurant, dishes run the gamut. Carolina catfish and frites, barramundi, and porcine dry-rubbed filet top the list of favorites. Or, make a meal out of the poutine made with duck fat fries and creamy Kenny’s cheese curds. And, living up to its namesake, you can expect an extensive list of spirits. Distilled on Jefferson is open for lunch Wednesday through Saturday and dinner Tuesday- through Saturday.  

157 Jefferson St
Lexington, KY 40508

3. Tony's of Lexington

401 W Main St, Lexington, KY 40507
Tony’s of Lexington/Facebook

A classic American steakhouse with a keen sense of service at its core, Tony’s is located on The Square in downtown Lexington. Start with Blue Points on the Half Shell or Rassatti Beef Tartare along with a traditional choice of salads. Pasta offerings such as the Riga-Tony and entrees like New Zealand Rack of Lamb show up on the meat-heavy menu, along with the Prime selection of steaks served with crispy onion straws and can be topped with your choice of classics such as gorgonzola butter or au poivre. 

401 W Main St
Lexington, KY 40507

4. The Grove

200 W Main St, Lexington, KY 40507
The Grove/Facebook

Located in one of the most historic downtown buildings, this 1849 pharmacy has more than a few stories to tell, including its most recent. Avena Kiely (Harvey’s Bar owner) took advantage of the time during the pandemic to reimagine the space and chose to amp up her community spirit with a small collective of businesses. Get your yoga on by day at The Melodeon, and cocktails by night with a bit of colorful flair thrown into the mix. There’s the Wine and Luna’s Vintage Food Truck out back with Harvey’s Beer Garden to accompany. Also, make sure to hit up Harvey’s Bar, and Fable Charcuterie and Wine counter service inside. Open Wednesday-Sunday, you’ll want to check this gem out more than once as the fun is as well-rounded as its community. 

200 W Main St
Lexington, KY 40507

5. ItalX

160 W Main St, Lexington, KY 40507
ItalX/Facebook

Celebrity Chef Johnathan Lundy joined forces with Sommelier TJ Cox, and Lee Greer to open this Italian favorite within the new City Center amidst the throws of Covid-19’s pandemic. It proved the right move. From the Farinata made with chickpea flour, and Little Neck Clams to start. Move onto Candele Cacio e Pepe or Marsala di Vitello for Secondi. Still, the Dolci offerings are a knockout with a Ricotta Zeppole served with lemon, pistachio, and honeycomb for a simple, yet elegant finish. Ask Cox to pair it all up with the finest!

160 W Main St
Lexington, KY 40507

6. Dudley's On Short

259 W Short St #125, Lexington, KY 40507
Dudley’s on Short/Facebook

A Lexington staple for nearly 40 years, local foods simply prepared are front and center on Dudley’s menu, with nightly seasonal specials topping the list. For example, a recent favorite featured halibut atop a parsnip puree accompanied by crisp maitake mushrooms, roasted grapes, with a red wine jus. Sunday suppers return this November offering a 3-course comfort food dinner for a steal at $30. Serving lunch on Friday, brunch on the weekend, and dinner nightly.  

 

259 W Short St #125
Lexington, KY 40507

7. Lockbox

167 W Main St, Lexington, KY 40507
Lockbox/Facebook

A local bank in its original heyday, the 21 C Museum Hotel in Lexington recaptures the town’s vibe with its anchor restaurant. From sun up to sundown, guests can expect rotating menus featuring a network of Kentucky farmers and makers that present “simple, honest, soulful food.”Staples like the Chicken Liver Mousse, Cornmeal Gnocchi, and Woodland Farm Cast Iron Hog Chop. Sample some of the 60 plus indigenous Kentucky spirit, with either a flight of Bourbon, or perhaps an aperitif cocktail from the extensive bar program. For a private dining experience reserve the original vault for seating up to 12 in “The Safe.” 

167 W Main St
Lexington, KY 40507

8. OBC Kitchen

3373 Tates Creek Rd, Lexington, KY 40502
Honey bourbon-glazed “Bacon In A Glass” comes served with a peanut butter sauce begging for your favorite bourbon pairing.
Melissa Corbin

Named after the Kentucky counties that eventually became known as “Old Bourbon Country,” the interior is decked out in centuries-old barn wood and an expansive library of rare Kentucky bourbons, along with a discerning wine list and craft beer selection. The sushi, appetizers, entrees, and desserts comprise just as thoughtful menus. But, if there is absolutely one thing that you can’t leave on the table, it’s the Bacon In A Glass prepared in a honey bourbon glazed served with a peanut butter sauce begging for your favorite bourbon pairing. Open daily in the Landsdown Shoppes.

3373 Tates Creek Rd
Lexington, KY 40502

9. Carson's Food & Drink

362 E Main St, Lexington, KY 40507
Carson’s Food & Drink/Facebook

Very much a Main Street gathering place, the open, communal aesthetic invites you to a “rustic, yet refined atmosphere.” Pair prohibition-style cocktails, local beers, or a fine wine with everything from the Sausage Trip served with bourbon mushrooms and onions, garlic truffle crustinis to the Grilled Salmon Oscar Style served on Yukon Gold garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus, topped with béarnaise and truffle buttered crab. Annual Draught and Wine Club $45 memberships offer cardholders deep discounts on food and drink with proceeds benefiting local charities. 

362 E Main St
Lexington, KY 40507

10. Merrick Inn Restaurant

1074 Merrick Dr, Lexington, KY 40502
Merrick Inn Restaurant/Facebook

The epitome of Southern genteel, this multi-generational family-owned and operated classic is a non-stop kind of destination during Fall Meet. The Pecan Crusted Pork Tenderloin is a house favorite, while the Walleye Pike is “Dad’s Favorite.” Swing by on Wednesdays for Fried Chicken Night, and Ladies Night on Thursdays feature half-off drinks all night long. And, there’s no shortage of Bourbon here as the selection often is rated one of the best in the country. 

1074 Merrick Dr
Lexington, KY 40502

11. Coles 735 Main

735 E Main St, Lexington, KY 40502
Coles 735 Main/Facebook

Bread baked fresh daily, pickles made in-house, and other methods handed down from previous generations prove in this classic’s belief that dining is an art. Try the King Trumpet “Ribs” for inspiration made with smoked & grilled king trumpet mushrooms, grain mustard smashed marble potatoes, braised collard greens, pomegranate molasses bbq, scallion, and lemon chili oil . Even the 1938 building boasts a restored mural originally painted by a local art teacher in 1949 that showcases locals from that period.

735 E Main St
Lexington, KY 40502

12. Epping's on Eastside

264 Walton Ave, Lexington, KY 40502
Epping’s on Eastside/Facebook

The original Epping's Bottling Works located in the Warehouse District, Epping’s continues to embrace its roots with discernment. “Keeping a local-first mindset” proves throughout the menu featuring many local farms and producers along with in-house cured meats and other scratch-made ingredients.  Whether you opt to share a few small plates such as Beef Tallow Fries and Smoked Chicken Spring Rolls over happy hour, or go all-in with the Dry-Aged Bone-in Pork Chop or the Pan Fried Fish Masala, you’ll find this a new place to return for live music each Sunday and Tuesday. 

264 Walton Ave
Lexington, KY 40502

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