Lexington, Kentucky is getting great press for its growing restaurant scene. Zagat named it one of the 30 Most Exciting Food Cities in America 2017. I recommend the following after my recent trip:
Blue Door Smokehouse: This is a fun spot for BBQ and sides in a casual spot east of downtown Lexington. It was my first stop as I drove into town. I had a great brisket sandwich with collard greens and a great potato salad. They feature brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken, sliced turkey and smoked sausage. They also feature a number of salads, ribs, sides and desserts as well. I highly recommend it. 226 Walton Ave.
James Beard nominated chef, Ouita Michel, in addition to her three locations in Midway, has three places in Lexington, two of which I tried. These included:
Honeywood Restaurant: At 110 Summit at Fritz Farm, this is an upscale residential, retail and restaurant development. I tried the recently opened Honeywood Restaurant with local friends. Recommended by the Holly Hill Inn, I tried and loved the vegetarian beetloaf, a take on meatloaf made with shredded beets, carrots, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and cheddar topped with a tomato-onion sauce and served with mixed root vegetable puree and a small salad.
Smithtown Seafood: Adjacent to West Sixth Brewing at 501 W. 6th St., this is her casual restaurant emphasizing local foods and old-fashioned Kentucky recipes. Here you can find wild-caught fried catfish, salads, burger, ethnic seafood dishes and vegetarian specialties. I enjoyed the shrimp and grits. With no seating in the restaurant, you can sit in the large tasting room of West Sixth Brewing. Here you can try one of their ales, porters, IPAs and wheat beer along with seasonal and limited release offerings.
Around the corner is Bluegrass Distillers which makes bourbon, whiskey and bourbon cake. They are closed Sunday and Monday. I was sorry I was unable to take a tour. 501 W. 6th.
Third St. Stuff & Coffee: A funky coffee shop that is worth the visit. It is located north of downtown at 257 N. Limestone.
Lockbox at the 21c Hotel: I had a really excellent meal at the restaurant of the 21c Hotel downtown at 167 W. Main St. I had a wonderful beet salad with a garlic pesto, strawberries and hazelnuts and tagliatelle pasta entree with braised rabbit, dried carrots, wild mushrooms and English peas. It is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. Since the hotel has an emphasis on contemporary art, make sure to visit one of their current exhibitions.
James E. Pepper Distillery: The former James E. Pepper Distillery, now the James Pepper Campus, at 1200 Manchester St., from 1780 to 1755, has been transformed into a large complex featuring restaurants, bars, a microbrewery and a distillery. The James Pepper Distillery has remodeled its original building and reopened in the original facility. Tours are now available. The campus was one of my favorite spots that I visited on my recent trip to Lexington.
The complex includes the Barrel House Distilling Company. The Elkhorn Tavern, their tasting room next door , is a fun bar, where you can grab a cocktail and listen to live music. I first enjoyed a tasting at the Barrel House and enjoyed having a cocktail there before dinner with local friends. They make a bourbon, vodka, rum and moonshine.
Crank & Boom Ice Cream Lounge: A great spot to check out the homemade ice cream. This is an ice cream bar, featuring a sundae bar, beer, wine and cocktails. You can mix any flavor with bourbon, rum or you choice of spirits. The bourbon and honey ice cream was a perfect choice.
Based on my research, other good spots to try include Country Club for smoked meats. Belle’s cocktail lounge at 156 Market street is recommended for cocktails as is Bluegrass Tavern at 115 Cheapside and The Goose (formerly The Grey Goose) at 170 Jefferson St. Bluegrass Tavern was named one of the best bourbon bars in the South.
Dudley’s on Short, known for its Southern cuisine, was rated as one of the South’s Best Restaurants by Southern Living Magazine. 259 W. Short St. Lexington recently had it first food hall opened, called The Barn which is located at the Summit at Fritz Farm. Here you can try craft ice cream, fried chicken, Greek street food, Japanese ramen and more.120 Summit at Fritz Farm #155,