The Lexington-Fayette area is known for its horse farms and thoroughbred racetracks, along with plenty of horse and horse racing museums.
However, there is more to do in this area than watch horses run.
The city has a diverse offering of restaurants, including breweries, distilleries, and bakeries. It is an area saturated with restaurants, so I created a list of my 23 must-try spots to help you navigate the neighborhoods and find the best food.
I included every type of cuisine, from sushi to steak to Italian to BBQ.
Check out my list of the best restaurants in Lexington-Fayette Kentucky below!
Best Restaurants in Lexington
- Coles 735 Main
- Carson’s Food & Drink
- Tony’s of Lexington
- OBC Kitchen
- Ramsey’s Andover Country Store
- Dudley’s On Short
- Distilled on Jefferson
- Bella Note
- Corto Lima
- Merrick Inn Restaurant
- The Grove
- AZUR Restaurant and Patio
- Blue Door Smokehouse
- West 6th Brewery
- Harry’s Hamburg
- Joe Bologna’s Restaurant and Pizzeria
- Pies & Pints
- East End Tap and Table
- Poppy & Olive
- J. Alexander’s Restaurant
Coles 735 Main
735 E Main St, Lexington, KY 40502
Coles 735 Main is in the Eastside neighborhood just two blocks from Woodland Park and down the street from The Henry Clay Estate.
It’s an upscale restaurant serving up traditional American dishes with a twist. The restaurant has a casual but contemporary feel with an air of playfulness, with cat pillows and rustic paint on the outside.
The truffle-infused lobster bisque transported me with its sharp but creamy flavor and immense flavor. And I’ve never had a better Duck Confit in my life than Cole’s.
Pair these delicacies with one of their boujee bottles of wine, and you’re in heaven
Carson’s Food & Drink
362 E Main St, Lexington, KY 40507
Carson’s is between the Bell Court and the Downtown neighborhoods off E Vine Street. It has an open and rustic atmosphere with charming brick walls and high industrial ceilings, perfect for a casual lunch or dinner with a big group.
It strikes the perfect balance between laidback and sophisticated.
Their diverse menu has familiar favorites executed to perfection as well as innovative new dishes. I adore their seared ahi tuna with a sweet, spicy glaze and a hint of wasabi.
But if you want to go bold, I recommend the pork belly beer cheeseburger, which takes decadence to a new level.
Tony’s of Lexington
Victorian Square Shoppes, 401 W Main St 4th Floor, Lexington, KY
Tony’s is in Downtown Lexington right across from a Hyatt Regency and a block or two from the Mary Todd Lincoln House.
The restaurant has a wow factor with stunning hardwood floors, cozy brick floors, and a lovely upstairs area. They serve classic steak and seafood dishes that will exceed your expectations.
I can’t resist their freshly shucked oysters, which change frequently so there’s always something new.
They have many fabulous meat dishes, such as the New Zealand rack of lamb, braised short ribs, and the dry-aged bone-in pork chop.
But they serve a pistachio pesto orecchiette that puts every pesto I’ve ever had to shame, with a sweet nuttiness that you’ll fall in love with.
3373 Tates Creek Rd, Lexington, KY 40502
Heading to a different part of town, OBC Kitchen is in the Lansdowne neighborhood across from Dove Run Road. Don’t worry, it’s super easy to find!
The restaurant has an upscale rural vibe, with a long wooden bar and plenty of cozy tables. The decor is simple because they put all their effort into their food!
My favorite dishes are their fried green tomatoes with bacon jam and chevre and the flavorful but tender kale and quinoa salad with grilled salmon.
One of their staple starters is called bacon in a glass, and it’s literally glazed bacon in a glass with a peanut butter dip.
Ramsey’s Andover Country Store
3090 Helmsdale Pl Suite 270, Lexington, KY 40509
Ramsey’s is in the Andover Forest neighborhood off Liberty Road near Indiana Wesleyan University.
It’s a quaint spot with an unexplainable charm and one of the friendliest atmospheres I’ve ever experienced. The casual diner is perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
I always get their hot mari, a beef tenderloin sandwich marinated in ginger soy sauce with melted Swiss cheese and sides of horseradish and au jus.
Served on an onion bun, this sandwich hits a myriad of delicious flavors that will make you see why locals love this spot so much. And with over a dozen craft cocktails, you can enjoy a drink here!
Dudley’s On Short
259 W Short St #125, Lexington, KY 40507
You can find Dudley’s in Downtown Lexington between the Lexington Financial Center and Gratz Park. It’s an upscale spot with creative and vibrant dishes that will introduce you to new flavors.
It’s a white tablecloth kind of place, perfect for fancy date nights or celebratory dinners.
The chef creates new specials every night, so you never know what will be available! But some of my regular always-on-menu items are the bacon-wrapped jalapenos, the beet salad, and the perfectly sauteed scallops.
Everything is plated like artwork and surprises you with unique flavor combinations. And if you go during brunch, they have a robust and delicious Bloody Mar bar!
Distilled on Jefferson
157 Jefferson St, Lexington, KY 40508
Just three blocks from the Mary Todd Lincoln House, Distilled on Jefferson is a luxurious restaurant with elevated southern dishes, other American plates, and a wide selection of bourbon.
The dining area is bright but still intimate, with cozy plush chairs and a refined vibe.
I always order their house meatballs, made with grits, pickled chilies, parmesan, and amatriciana, so far from your average meatball.
The last time I was there, I tried their crab goat cheese ravioli and haven’t looked back since. The rich tarragon sauce coats the fully-stuffed ravioli for a creamy and flavorful bite.
3715 Nicholasville Rd, Lexington, KY 40503
Bella Notte is off Mon O War Blvd in the Lansdowne neighborhood near Fayette Mall. The restaurant has a lovely atmosphere with a focus on al fresco dining and intimate but simple seating.
They pride themselves on using fresh ingredients and creating new flavors out of common elements.
One of my favorite parts of Bella Notte is the seasonally rotating menu, changing its items based on what’s in season.
Their most recent spring menu included a superb artichoke bruschetta that was indulgent and tasty, along with a grilled spring salmon that I couldn’t get enough of!
101 W Short St, Lexington, KY 40507
Corto Lima is Downtown on the corner of N Limestone St and W Short St across from the 21c Museum Hotel.
They serve elevated Latin food with a modern interpretation and the restaurant has a colorful and welcoming vibe. The decor includes many natural textures and bold patterns, creating a homey vibe.
First things first, you have to try their margaritas. I am obsessed with their smokey, spicy mezcal margarita, but they have many versions you can order!
One of their best dishes is the blue corn empanadas, filled with Chilean rock grab, vibrant green chiles, and cream cheese, served with a pineapple-banana pepper hot sauce that will make your taste buds dance.
1920 Pleasant Ridge Dr, Lexington, KY 40509
Near Man O War Blvd in the Bright and Andover Forest neighborhoods, you can find Malone’s, a steakhouse with plenty to offer.
The restaurant has classic steakhouse vibes, with dark wood, low lighting, and a slightly upscale vibe. Their menu is immense, so everyone can find something they like!
From sushi to steak to salad to seafood and more, they truly have it all. I always order their maple bacon chicken breast.
I know it’s a steakhouse, but once you taste this chicken, you’ll understand. It has a sweet and savory flavor with a candied walnut bacon crumble that makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
821 Chevy Chase Pl, Lexington, KY 40502
Josie’s is a lovely American restaurant in the Chevy Chase neighborhood where Tates Creek Road and Fontaine Road meet.
It’s a colorful and casual restaurant with an infectious vibe that makes you feel right at home. They serve some wonderful dinner dishes, but I recommend you go for breakfast or brunch, as that’s what they’re known for.
I love their omelets and pancakes, but nothing beats their classic eggs Benedict, with perfectly poached eggs for a runny yolk, crispy and fluffy English muffins, meaty Virginia ham, and the best hollandaise you’ll ever eat.
Merrick Inn Restaurant
1074 Merrick Dr, Lexington, KY 40502
Merrick Inn Restaurant is in the Gainesway neighborhood near Landsdowne-Merrick Park and Kirklevington Park.
It’s a little hidden away, so it can be tough to find, but is worth it! They serve traditional Southern food with a few twists.
With wooden barrels, brick walls, and a granite countertop, the bar is rustic and cozy but still high-end.
Their unique cocktails are worth the trip alone, as they craft seasonal cocktail menus with amazing drinks like a strawberry bourbon smash and a cucumber mint mule.
I’m addicted to their lobster, shrimp, and crab nachos, which need no explanation. Just order them!
109 S Upper St, Lexington, KY 40507
The Grove is in Downtown Lexington not far from the Rupp Arena on the corner of North Upper Street and West Main Street.
The Grove is a collective that consists of a bar and restaurant featuring great charcuterie, coffee shop, and their patio also has a gourmet food truck with more delicious food options.
It’s a swanky spot with plush furniture and colorful but sophisticated decor. The eclectic decorations create a whimsical and fancy vibe that you’ll love.
They’re always coming up with new dishes and drinks, like their Derby Pie Latte or Blackberry Mojito mocktail. If you’re like me, you can’t resist a cheese and charcuterie board.
At The Grove, they have endless cheese and meat options, offering some of the most delicious and robust boards that are perfect for snacking with friends.
160 W Main St, Lexington, KY 40507
ItalX is in Downtown Lexington on the corner of W Main and N Upper. With pastel decor and some natural elements, this restaurant has a unique and pleasant vibe that is perfect for a girl’s night out or a romantic date night.
They serve Italian-inspired dishes with splendid flavors.
They have an array of scrumptious pasta dishes, including malfatti, bolognese, carbonara, and cacio e pepe. My favorite dish on their menu is the lobster pansotti.
It’s like tortellini and ravioli had a baby, and that baby was filled with succulent lobster and cheese.
AZUR Restaurant and Patio
3070 Lakecrest Cir #550, Lexington, KY 40513
AZUR is right outside the Beaumont Centre Circle in the Beaumont Centre neighborhood. The dining area is cheerful and colorful, with yellow and blue walls that feel expensive but playful.
At AZUR, they only serve the highest-quality freshest ingredients, so every single dish is spectacular.
In my opinion, their farmer’s market tortellini perfectly captures the spirit of this restaurant. It uses super fresh vegetables and homemade pasts crafted with care and passion.
It includes corn, tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, squash, and cheese for a well-balanced and exciting flavor profile. Paired with their delectable house Chardonnay, it’s a perfect meal.
Blue Door Smokehouse
226 Walton Ave, Lexington, KY 40502
Located in the heart of the Eastside Lexington neighborhood, Blue Door Smokehouse is on the corner of Aurora Ave and Walton Ave. If you have trouble finding it… look for the blue door.
It’s owned and operated by two Lexington natives who take their BBQ very seriously. It has a simple, casual, and slightly industrial vibe, just like any good BBQ place should!
Their menu is simple too, but their flavors are not. I either get their pulled pork sandwich or the full rack of baby back ribs, both of which are flavorful and tender.
And their creamy cole slaw is the perfect accompaniment.
West 6th Brewery
501 W 6th St # 100, Lexington, KY 40508
The West 6th Brewery is near the Legacy Trail in the Northside neighborhood a few blocks from Coolavin Park.
So, technically, it’s not a restaurant, but they’re partnered with their neighbor Smithtown Seafood, so you can easily order food while you enjoy a few brews.
It has a typical brewery vibe with long picnic tables, simple decor, and an open, slight industrial atmosphere.
I love their seasonal beers and limited-time releases, but I’ll recommend my favorite always-on-tap brews, so you can check them out whenever you go.
The Fuzzy Fiels Hazy IPA, House Cider, and West 6th Cerveza are my go-to’s, so check those delectable brews out!
1920 Pleasant Ridge Dr, Lexington, KY 40509
In the Andover Forest neighborhood, you can find Harry’s Hamburg, a local favorite. It has a simple bar or pub vibe that is slightly elevated, with pristine tables and lovely staff.
If you want a delicious and uncomplicated lunch or dinner, Harry’s is the best spot to check out.
They have everything from sushi to mini burgers to dumplings to ceviche to wings. It’s one of the most diverse menus I’ve ever seen. I love their steak tacos and mini-fried fish sandwiches.
And I always order their super sour and sweet Pixy Stix Martini!
Joe Bologna’s Restaurant and Pizzeria
120 W Maxwell St, Lexington, KY 40508
Located in Downtown Lexington just a block from the Good Samaritan Hospital, Joe Bologna’s is one of my favorite restaurants and has been around since 1973.
This spot has all the classic elements of an Italian restaurant I love, from the rough brick walls to the dramatic stained glass windows. It’s casual but has that Italian flair for drama!
Their menu features traditional Italian items, like mozzarella sticks, spaghetti with marinara, and eggplant parmesan. They also have an excellent children’s menu.
But their pizzas are the true stars. I can’t pick a favorite cause they’re all amazing, but I can recommend the Hawaiin, buffalo chicken, Margherita, and Mexican specialty pizzas!
Pies & Pints
401 W Main St Suite 106, Lexington, KY 40507
Another top-notch Italian spot, Pies & Pints is in Downtown Lexington just a block from Rupp Arena. They also have the rustic Italian style but with a modern twist.
The yellow walls and modern artwork adds a contemporary flair to this inviting and fun spot.
These geniuses turned one of my favorite sandwiches into a pizza, creating the Nashville Hot chicken pie, complete with pickles and gorgonzola.
Their well-seasoned and chewy crust is the perfect vessel for their creative pizza toppings, such as the brunch pie, gorgonzola and grape pie, and street corn pie.
East End Tap and Table
333 E Main St suite 180, Lexington, KY 40507
Located in the Bell Court neighborhood beside Thoroughbred Park, East End Tap and Table is a fabulous spot for a casual lunch date or fun get-togethers with friends or family.
The spacious restaurant has an art deco vibe with lots of natural light and whimsical decor. It’s a trendy and modern spot with hints of rustic charms, like the brick wall behind the bar.
I love going here for brunch because their Bloody Mary is out of this world and they always make it extra spicy for me! My go-to dish is the chicken and waffles, with crispy seasoned chicken and beautiful waffles.
The waffles are fluffy on the inside and crunchy on the outside, offering the perfect combination of textures in every bite.
Poppy & Olive
264 Walton Ave, Lexington, KY 40502
Poppy & Olive is a bakery and restaurant with stunning pastries and food. It’s on the Eastside on the corner of Walton Ave and National Ave.
It’s spacious and bright with clean, white tables and walls for a modern and fancy feel.
Their menu consists of seemingly basic items that they elevate to the next level, like buttered noodles, chicken fingers, and cheeseburger sliders.
My favorite dish is grilled cheese because they perfected this iconic sandwich. They use two types of gooey cheese, cheddar and American, and housemade white bread that has the perfect density.
J. Alexander’s Restaurant
4081 Finn Way, Lexington, KY 40517
J. Alexander’s Restaurant is in the Lansdowne neighborhood near the Fayette Place Shopping Center and Meadowbrook Park.
It’s a sensational steak restaurant that also serves sushi among other items. It has a sophisticated art deco vibe, perfect for celebrations or anniversaries.
They have a robust menu with filets, sushi, burgers, fish, and more. They even serve brunch, offering one of the most delicious eggs Benedict.
However, my favorite dish is the Grilled Fish with Mango Papaya Salsa. It delivers an impeccable balance of sweet, salty, and savory for a refreshing but indulgent flavor in every bite.