Visiting Lexington from out of town? Here’s a short list of places we find enjoyable in and around the city.
Blue Stallion Brewery-No Bull, Classic German beers done the right way. Served by friendly bartenders from behind an authentically tall bar. Picnic tables outside. Live music on Wednesdays, Trivia Thursday’s, and food trucks almost every night. Tuesday’s they brew up something special. #testbatchtuesday.
Ethereal Brewery-Located in the blossoming Pepper Distillery Campus just up the street from Manchester Music Hall and across from The Burl. Here you’ll find some great experimental stuff; sours, an amazing white ale, and imperial IPA’s.
Country Boy Brewing-A Lexington staple in the beer community. Tucked away on Chair Ave. off of Broadway. Very regular crowd. Think “Cheers” with Big Jenga on the back patio and the occasional food truck.
West 6th Brewing-Located in the old Rainbo Bread Factory, aka The Bread Box, West 6th is Lexington’s most spacious brewery. Very involved in local happenings. West 6th is committed to giving 6% of their net profits back to charities every year. Everything comes full circle at West 6th. Cricket Press located next door designs the logos and labels for their beers. Tilapia from Smithtown Seafood (also in the same building) is raised by nonprofit aquaponics farm FoodChain (inside the brewery) that offers tours and volunteer opportunities.
Life Brewpub-Off the beaten beer path on Richmond Road, this new Pub offers an excellent English Ale and Lobster Empanadas. Open Mic Nights and the occasional local acts make this a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown scene and enjoy Life.
*Update* The Lexington, Kentucky Beer Scene is blowing up with no signs of slowing down. The official Brewgrass Trail curated by VisitLex now takes beer, and cider, drinkers to twelve different breweries. Included is Kentucky’s only hard cidery that presses apples on site for it’s cider, Pivot Brewing. Also new to the scene are Mirror Twin and Rock House breweries. AND; Those Country Boys got a new location in Georgetown.
CD Central-I cannot stress this enough: CD Central is wonderful. You should go there. They support local music in Lexington and have a wide selection of new and pre-used records/cd’s.
Sqecial Media-Located at 317 S. Limestone, next to CD Central and Pazzo’s. Sqecial is an independent bookstore operating for over 40 years. They offer a variety of goods including jewelry, cards for every occasion, tapestries, and a lot of other fun knick-knacks.
Michler’s-THE florist in Lexington. Recently Kentucky Native Cafe opened inside of Michler’s and serves food/wine/beer when weather permits.
Pop’s Resale-This Leestown Rd. record store is much more than just a vinyl honey hole. It also offers vintage clothing, quirky costumes, wall art, and a great selection of used speakers and record players. Oh yeah, can’t forget that they also have a great selection of old video games and consoles.
Street Scene-Next door to a great little coffee and tea house (Coffee Times) is this great vintage clothing store. They have men’s and women’s clothing, barware, kitchenware, and some really cool vintage furniture. Looking for a good pair of boots to match that stache? Socks that rock? Look no further.
Goodfellas Pizzeria-This might be the official eatery of Lexington. Hit up their N. Mill or Two Keys location for ooey gooey slices after a night out on the town.
Middle Fork-Farm to table in an open kitchen. AMAZING cocktails served by a staff that obviously loves their job. Located in the James E. Pepper Distillery next to Ethereal Brew. Next door, grab a scoop or five at Lexington’s favorite creamery Crank & Boom for dessert.
Wine+Market-Lexington’s premier boutique wine shop featuring craft beer, liquor, cheese, charcuterie, fresh bread, coffee and gourmet sandwiches & salads.
Common Grounds-I,myself, am not the biggest coffee drinker. But when I do want a cup o’ joe I hit up this comfy cafe’s High Street location. Their food menu offers a nice variety with options like thai peanut noodle salad, plus paninis and wraps.
Limestone Blue-A small shop and bar on North Limestone across from the courthouse that offers unique sandwiches, salads, and a house made mac and cheese of the day. Try the “Steve Cristo” served during their Saturday and Sunday brunch for a succulent, sweet & savory sammich.
Dad’s Favorites-And while we’re talking sammies; don’t miss out on Dad’s! With a location on Main, downtown, and one in a strip mall off of Lane Allen; this small Pop shop serves up daily specials (Monday’s is the farmhouse. A BLT with Pimiento cheese and chicken salad) and a stable of classy handhelds. Dad’s also sells their spreadable cheeses in grocery stores around the region. *Update* Dad’s has closed their Main Street location and now opened up in Blue Stallion Brewery. The stars aligned and Lexington was blessed with one of the best combos since Bourbon and the Bourbon glass.
County Club-Smoked meats are sourced locally and used in dishes like Poutine, Chilaquiles, and an awesome Smoked Brisket on Rye. Bottomless Mimosas offered on Sundays for only $12 during brunch.
Blue Door Smoke House-I’m from a little town west of Lexington called Owensboro. We take BBQ very seriously there. Now I’ve eaten mutton, brisket, and burgoos from the best of ’em. But, no joke, this stuff right here will make you rethink your religion. The perfect amount of smoke, perfectly moist… I literally just decided where I am having dinner.
Lockbox at 21C Museum and Hotel-An upscale dining experience in an 88 room boutique hotel next to Fifth Third Pavilion in downtown Lexington. Lockbox is committed to sourcing local, high-quality ingredients from around the Bluegrass region. Led by executive chef Jonathan Searle; Lockbox uses thoughtful, yet simple, preparations and cooking techniques in a contemporary setting.
Smithtown Seafood-Crispy Boudin Balls, Buffalo Catfish, and Shrimp/Oyster Po’ Boys are popular at this Ouita Michel Restaurant. Located in the Bread Box along with West 6th Brewery. You order at the Smithtown counter, pay, and get a number to put on your table for your food to be delivered to you in the brewery.
Mi Pequena Hacienda-This is a Mexican Restaurant you’re probably already familiar with. Combinations #1-#11 include two tacos, one enchilada, and rice..etc. But the kicker; Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays are 2-for-1 margaritas and the service is always great (Victor is muh’ BOY!). Mariachi on Sunday evenings.
Taqueria Ramirez-Ramirez is the real deal. They make the corn tortillas in house and outsource them to other local (some of them very “high end”) restaurants. Tacos, Tortas, Platillos, and small or large burritos are on the menu at one of favorite places to eat in Lexington.
Pazzo’s-Great place close to UK campus to grab some Za, put back a couple of great brews, and catch a game. Multiple patios. Wednesday night pint night gets you a free pint glass with the purchase of the featured beer.
Indi’s Chicken-However many wings you think you may want; go ahead and double it. This drive-thru is quick to serve some serious bird. 670 N. Broadway.
Honorable Mentions: Willie’s Locally Known, Local Taco, Tolly Ho, Joella’s, Any taco truck you can find in the Cardinal Hill area off of Versailles Rd.
Rolling Oven Mobile Pizzeria-You’ve gotta see this truck. Owner Nick Ring has managed to squeeze a Neapolitan style stone oven FROM Italy inside of a moving shipping container. The za? If a picture is worth a thousand words:
Gastro Gnomes-Fusion Fare served by some seriously kick-ass cooks. You might see anything from a Kentucky Fried Pork Bowl to a Grilled Chicken Chipotle Burrito on the menu. Don’t sleep on dessert, here.
*Update* The food truck scene in Lexington has exploded recently and there are a number of great options. You can usually find out where they’re at by checking the links below!
Misfit Commissary-Classic Italian made into Po’ Boys, plus other delicious entrees, desserts, soups and salads. Anything is possible at Misfit Commissary.
Rico’s Empenadas-Puerto Rican cuisine in Lexington, KY.
Rupp Arena-Home to the greatest tradition in college basketball, the University of Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team.
Commonwealth Stadium-Home to a less great tradition, the University of Kentucky men’s football team.
Keeneland-Bet the ponies at one of the most beautiful (maybe we’re biased) venues for ANY sporting event. Live racing in April and October.
Whitaker Bank Ballpark-Peanuts and Crackerjacks paired with the pipe organ has aways been one of my favorite food + music combos. Home to the Kansas City Royals Single A Farm team Baseball team the Lexington Legends.
TeeDee’s Blues Bar-TeeDee Young is a Lexington legend. On Monday nights you can find him and his band rocking the 266 E. 2nd Street location. T invites guests onto the stage to sing and play instruments with the band for the second half of the show.
Arcadium/Al’s-This arcade bar located across the street from Al’s Bar (a great dive to grab a burger and catch a show) offers craft cocktails and great draught beer options as well as about 10 classic arcade games like Galaga, Tetris, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Best Friend Bar-You have no idea what it means to have a bar like this in this location. This place used to be a bar called the “Fish Tank”. Fish Tank was Lexington’s premier music/bar venue (If you’ve heard of a band called Moon Taxi, this was one of the early places that the band would play) in the 90’s-2000’s before closing. BFB now holds down the location and does it very, very nicely. Shot and beer specials and a GirlsGirlsGirls Burritos window make this a great place to spend an evening taking in regional and national acts.
Bluegrass Tavern-When I originally published this article it was brought to my attention that I had forgotten this Lexington staple. I just want to say I AM SOO SORRY. This is far and wide my favorite place to get a pour of the brown stuff around town. I “do not know” how I could have forgotten to tell you about it. Maybe subconsciously I was holding on to it for myself? Maybe I DON’T want someone from out of town taking the last pour of Elmer T. Lee or Pappy, sue me. Two dart boards in the back so watch your face after you’ve had a few.
Also try taking a Bourbon Tour at any of the great distilleries near Lexington.
Comedy off Broadway-Lexington’s premier place to kick back and chuckle. This standup comedy venue located in Lexington Green offers both regionally and nationally recognized talent regularly.
Shilito Park-Just next to the Fayette Mall off of Nicholasville Road. Trains regularly running by make for added scenery. 18 holes in a park that allows for numerous other activities.
Jacobson Park-18 holes in one of Lexington’s most beautiful parks. You can also take a canoe or kayak/rent a paddle boat around the lake in the middle.
Free For All
While everything mentioned above always makes for a great evening, you don’t have to spend money to have a great time in Lexington.
Central Bank’s Thursday Night Live-Every Thursday from April to October the Fifth Third Bank Pavillon is home to a series of free concerts in the heart of downtown Lexington.
The University of Kentucky Arboretum-Neighbors with the University of Kentucky Commonwealth Stadium this urban forest offers 100+ acres of nature.
Walk around Gratz Park. Located next to the Transylvania University campus, this historic district was not originally part of Lexington. Now it is at the epicenter of a constantly growing city.
Ride your bike on the Legacy Trail. 12 miles through horse country.
See the castle on Versailles Road. Spend some time planning your route to knighthood while gazing upon an authentic ’60’s B&B.
Visit a Lexington Farmer’s Market. Lexington’s diverse climate allows for the growth of a wide range of produce. You ain’t had a ‘Mater til you’ve had a Cantuckee ‘Mater. And you’ll find that most of these vendors will gladly give you a sample.
We hope that you enjoy your time in the Bluegrass as much as we do. If you’re ever in doubt about where to eat or what to do while in Lexington, don’t be afraid to ask a Local. You’ll find that we love to talk about our city, food, bourbon, horse racing, basketball and are always up for making a new friend!