Restaurants in Lexington

It might be the horse capital of the world, and home to thoroughbred racing tracks, but Lexington is also home to great places to eat. So when you get hungry between races, check out our list of restaurants in Lexington, KY, and you’ll find something great to satisfy your appetite. From downtown Lexington restaurants to out-of-the-way spots, we’ve got some great recommendations for you.

middle fork kitchen bar | 1224 Manchester St.

 

Located in a former bourbon distillery, the airy space of middle fork kitchen bar allows diners to gaze right into the open kitchen as chefs prepare delicious seasonable plates inspired by local offering. Some recent menu items we loved include the following:

 

  • Eggs diavola: poached, then served in a fiery tomato sauce alongside crisp-toasted bread
  • PB & J: the classic sandwich gets a modern twist on many levels: ginger peanut sauce and lime-jam smothered onto a grilled baguette
  • Duck confit: dark meat confit with a citrus gastrique, served alongside a semolina puree and sauteed greens

Blue Door Smokehouse | 226 Walton Ave.

You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu here, as it’s all smoked in house every single day. If you had to twist our arm, though, we’d recommend the brisket and pulled pork, or possibly the ribs. And definitely don’t skip the housemade sides—we have trouble deciding between the creamy slaw, collard greens, and the delicious ranch beans.

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Smithtown Seafood | 501 W. 6th St.

 

James Beard Foundation Award nominee Ouita Michel opened this counter-service eatery with an eye toward sustainable seafood. Everything here is sourced as locally as possible—even the veggies are sourced from the urban farm just down the way. Tourists and locals alike are so into this spot that it was named by Zagat as one of its “11 Reasons to Drive to Lexington.” Here are some must-try dishes.

 

 

  • Buffalo Catfish Bites: fried then tossed in a fiery buffalo sauce, and served with a celery slaw made with bleu cheese and a smoked tomato ranch dipping sauce
  • Oyster Po-Boy: nestled on a roll are six fried oysters, with lettuce, tomato, onion, and a rich remoulade
  • Singapore Shrimp Wrap: wrapped in a wheat tortilla are crisp-fried shrimp with local lettuce and a sweet and spicy slaw made from superfood veggies

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How to Eat Raw Oysters

Here are our hot tips to get your slurping in style.

 

1. Know their source.

Like wine, an oyster’s flavor is determined by their terroir. Don’t be afraid to ask your server: they should have the details about the oyster’s origins, as well as when and how they were shipped to the restaurant.

 

2. Inspect them carefully.

When it comes to taste and safety, proper handling is vital—so be sure to choose a reputable and well-known restaurant. And be sure to examine it carefully—the oyster should fill the shell well, and contain some seawater. Also take a big whiff—if it smells bad, don’t eat it.

 

3. Add the accoutrements.

While oyster purists may not agree, an oyster’s flavor can be enhanced by a little lemon or a dab of the accompanying sauces, whether a cocktail sauce and mignonette sauce with red-wine vinegar and shallots.

 

4. Don’t be shy—slurp!

There really is no right way to eat one. Dislodge it from the shell with that tiny fork, tilt your head back, and slurp. And don’t swallow it whole—chew it a few times to appreciate its flavors.

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Maria's Kitchen | 805 N. Broadway


One of our favorite Mexican restaurants Lexington, KY, has to offer, the family-owned Maria’s Kitchen focuses on dishes from Durango, Mexico. This means not just the usual tacos, tortas, and fajitas, but also pork rinds in red or green salsa and generously stuffed poblano peppers.

Taj India | 154 Patchen Dr.

 

At Taj India, the chefs deliver expertly seasoned sauces and "off-the-pier-fresh" seafood. Traditional ingredients of coriander, ginger, and clarified butter lends their aroma to curries blended with succulent chunks of lamb, chicken, or fresh cheese. Meanwhile, skewered meats marinate in tangy yogurt, which infuses each smoky morsel with extra juiciness before they’re fired in the tandoor. Sips of Indian beers such as Kingfisher or Maharaja help cleanse palates between bites.

 

What People Are Saying

 

“This is my favorite restaurant and I've done well getting friends addicted to Taj India as well. Great tasting food and Raj is awesome! The lunch buffet is incredible with all the choices. Save room for the warmed coconut ice cream, it's a huge treat!” – Khari P.

 

“Taj India is great! They have so many choices of delicious food and all the staff are very friendly!” – Ryan W.


“The food was very delicious, and the portions were generous. Expect to take home leftovers. The owners were very friendly.” – Bruce B.

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Kevin Moore

Fine-dining restaurants have a lot in common with airline flights—it’s safe to assume the food will be better, though.

Read More