Tam and I get the pleasure of traveling around the state and partaking in many fun activities, including attending concerts, eating at fantastic restaurants, participating in bourbon events and a lot more. Since we are both from Lexington, however, one question we are asked over and over again is, "What are your favorite restaurants in Lexington?" This answer mainly depends on what we are in the mood for, but there are some standard places we know offer consistently delicious offerings and in a great atmosphere. Below are each of our top 3 picks.
Tamara Top 3 Fav's
1. Carson's Food and Drink - Is it wrong to love a place for the music they play over anything else? If it's wrong, I don't want to be right. Fortunately, Carson's does more than just play great music. They have a fantastic chef-driven menu that incorporates traditional offerings, like a prime rib steak, but elevates it to the next level with sriracha bourbon bbq sauce and tops it with onion straws. Even though it is a relatively new restaurant, opening at the end of 2016, it has already been voted Best New Restaurant in 2017 by the Lex Herald-leader Readers' Choice and voted one of 100 Best Restaurants for a Big Night Out by OpenTable in March of last year. It's easy to see why. The owners want you to have a full-sensory experience, so everything is geared around that desire. I mentioned the music because the jazzy vibe of the 1940's music makes you feel like you're in a prohibition-era speakeasy. The service is excellent, and with cocktails like their Old Fashioned Honey made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, you are sure to leave happy. And if you're downtown for lunch and want to have the perfect escape from the monotony of cubicle life, come to Carson's for one of their made-from-scratch soups with a big chunk of bread. It will get you ready to tackle whatever the boss might throw at you on your return to work...even if your boss is Al Capone.
2. The Tulip Bistro and Bar - Tucked away on Romany Road in Chevy Chase is a quaint little place that all the locals living in the '02 love, and it's called The Tulip. Owned by the same people who have a couple of other popular Lex restaurants, A.P. Suggins and Nick Ryan's, this is the perfect place if you just want to have really good food without all the hoopla. Tastefully decorated, warm and cozy, with a small bar, I'm always sure to run into several friends. They locally source their ingredients as much as possible to create unique menu items. I'm in love with their Tulip Tacos that you can get with your choice of grilled pork belly, grilled or fried barramundi, grilled shrimp or fried oysters. Oh, boy! Whatever you do, be sure to order the Low Country Dip for an appetizer. The bay scallops, wild shrimp, roasted corn, fontina and bleu cheese combine to make the most mouthwatering dip that you will be tempted to lick the bowl after you run out of chips. They also have a great patio where I have spent many a summer night eating and laughing. Bring on the warm weather!
3. Malone's - Malone's, one of the six restaurant concepts under the Bluegrass Hospitality Group umbrella, and it is definitely my favorite. It is the best representation of Lexington and what Lexingtonians like to eat, IMHO. You like steaks? They do them really well here, and they're named after local celebrities like Coach Calipari and Coach Mark Stoops. You want a really big salad like the one from that Seinfeld episode? Nothing beats the Bottomless Lexingtonian. And what can be better than bottomless, right? They even have fried chicken, y'all. You absolutely cannot go wrong with anything on their menu. I also love the fact that they have a great atmosphere, multiple locations, carry-out, and can host big parties with their Malone's Prime Events and Reception space in the Landsdowne Shopping Center. If you're celebrating anything special, or just if it's Tuesday and you've made it this far in the week, then get to Malone's or one of their other restaurants. I also want to mention the owners, Bruce Drake and Brian McCarty, are really swell guys and do so much for our community. They are a class act all the way!
Leigh's Top 3 Fav's
1. Planet Thai - I never tried Thai food until last year and let me tell you, I am addicted. Not known to usually like what I would consider "exotic" food, I was super skeptical when I first tried Thai. After all, I'm a country girl raised on fried chicken and mashed potatoes. However, Planet Thai is unlike any food I've ever eaten. There is no way for me to adequately describe the taste other than to just say yummmmyyyyy. Each bite is one delicious explosion of flavor after another. From the Pad Thai, to the Yellow Curry, to the Fried Wonton, Crab Rangoon and Pot Stickers platter, I just can't get enough of it. Planet Thai is not the fanciest of places with it's laid back and casual style, but the food is as good as anything you will eat in a high-end restaurant. It's definitely a must try for everyone, even 'ole country folk like me.
2. Giuseppe's - Giuseppe's is touted as Lexington's favorite Italian Restaurant and I understand why. Anytime our family has a major celebration, Giuseppe's is our first pick. Everyone loves Italian. But it's not just the authentic cuisine that I adore so much, such as the lobster ravioli, scampio aglio e olio or the pan seared sea scallops. Nestled away in a quite little country setting, the cozy interior is sprinkled with soft lighting and warm decor all while bluesy jazz plays in the background evoking an old 20's vibe. So peaceful and relaxing, the biggest challenge I have while savoring my favorite dish, the lasagna, is how I am going to limit my bread intake to less than a loaf. It's not easy my friends; the struggle is real.
3. Saul Good Restaurant & Pub - I have one word for you - Beer Cheese Nachos. Okay, three words. Saul Good makes the best beer cheese nachos ever! In fact, this dish is in my top 5 favorite meals. Yes, it's considered an appetizer, but this is what I order for dinner every time I go. While Saul's has many other delicious items on their menu like Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale BBQ Pork Sandwich and Kentucky Hot Brown Pizza, their food is as eclectic as their atmosphere. Not to mention, we just love owners Rob and Diana who also own DV8 and might possibly be the nicest couple on the face of the planet.
Well, that is our top 6 for today. I am sure if you ask us tomorrow, you may get a different answer. Lexington has so many great restaurants and it really does depend on what you are in the mood for, but you just can't go wrong with any of these places. Check them out. We know what's good!