Moving back to Lexington, after seven years in New York City, my biggest fear was that the food scene would be terrible and I would no longer get to enjoy an array of diverse foods. Boy was I wrong! Lexington has a great food scene and it’s only getting better. Yea, you have your franchises and chains which is the bulk of the 1000+ restaurants in Lexington, but I was searching for the local, the restaurants that were hidden gems with local influence and flair. The ones that might be hidden to the naked eye, or new enough where they’re not on many people’s radars. Also the staples, the places that a Lexingtonian would tell you to go because you just had to try ‘this or that’, an item you could only get there! I think I found a few gems, and they’re listed below in no particular order.
Located directly on Short Street, Creaux is one of the coolest spots located in downtown Lexington. Their Creole and New Orleans inspired menus really influence the overall vibe. They’re fairly new opening in the end of 2017, but they have quickly become a go-to place for music lovers with their variety of weekly live jazz bands. They started out with only cocktails, but eventually started serving food. My favorite drink is the traditional Vieux Carre but if you are into sweeter cocktails, the ‘Slurricane’ served in a large beaker seems to be a local favorite and great for sharing. My favorite item on the menu is definitely the shrimp and grit cakes.
On the corner of W Short St. and N. Limestone, in front of the Courthouse, this is my theory on where it developed its name. Chef Jonathan Lundy does an excellent job at providing flavorful tapas with Latin-American Influence. Their dishes are always colorful, creative, and are the perfect size for sharing. They offer seasonal and daily offerings while providing great go-tos for vegetarians like the Cauliflower ‘Al Pastor’ Tacos and Plantain Empanadas with barbecue jack fruit. Their cocktail bar is pretty impressive too. Being that I’m a Mezcal drinker, and the fact we’re in ‘Bourbon Country’, it makes it difficult to find a bar with a good range of tequila and mezcal, but Corto Lima nails it with the best Mezcal Margarita I have had in town.
James Beard nominee, Chef Ouita Michel is no stranger to putting together a great menu. She owns eight restaurants, all with raving reviews and this is no different. This hidden gem located inside the Courthouse, may be something you’ve past several times and not have even noticed. The secludedness in the middle of downtown chaos is what I love about it. The food selections are fairly simple but are done so well. The Artichoke Parmesan Fritters and Fried Shrimp served with hush puppies, fries, and coleslaw are two of my favorite ‘snackable’ dishes. Top that off with some house made beignets, served with a dulce de leche sauce, make for a perfect bar meal. Their seasonal cocktail menu is what I really enjoy. But what I always like to order is a traditional Paper Plane because their bartenders know exactly what they’re doing. Fresh juices, fresh ingredients, and all the makings to make any classic cocktail make this a triple threat for grabbing a tasty bite, delicious drinks, with a great low-key atmosphere.