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The Best Restaurants in Lexington, Kentucky

Blue Door Smoke House
Big Kahuna Hawaiian BBQ
Pepe's Mexican Restaurant
Sahara Mediterranean Cuisine
Masala Indian Cuisine
Stella's Kentucky Deli
Sav's Restaurant & Gourmet Ice Cream
Bourbon n' Toulouse
Bourbon n' Toulouse
Pasta Garage Italian Cafe
Winchell's Restaurant & Bar
Charlie's Seafood & Carry-Out Restaurant
Columbia's Steakhouse
Ramsey's Diner
pulled pork dinner with side of sausage and pickles from blue door smoke house in lexington
Blue Door Smoke House
fried fish, rice, and pasta from big kahuna hawaiian bbq in lexington
Big Kahuna Hawaiian BBQ
rice and refried beans, pineapple stuffed dish, and side of nachos from pepe's mexican restaurant in lexington
Pepe's Mexican Restaurant
Mediterranean plate from sahara Mediterranean cuisine in lexington
Sahara Mediterranean Cuisine
curry from Masala Indian Cuisine in lexington
Masala Indian Cuisine
four tacos from Stella's Kentucky Deli in lexington
Stella's Kentucky Deli
masala chicken and plaintains from Sav's Restaurant & Gourmet Ice Cream
Sav's Restaurant & Gourmet Ice Cream
jambalaya from bourbon n toulouse in lexington
Bourbon n' Toulouse
jambalaya from bourbon n toulouse in lexington
Bourbon n' Toulouse
chicken parmesan and a garlic roll from pasta garage in lexington
Pasta Garage Italian Cafe
ham sandwich with side of fries from winchell's in lexington
Winchell's Restaurant & Bar
fried fish and fries from charlie's seafood in lexington
Charlie's Seafood & Carry-Out Restaurant
steak dinner with a baked potato from colubia steakhouse in lexington
Columbia's Steakhouse
dinner with fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, and mac and cheese from ramsey's diner in lexington
Ramsey's Diner

Lexington, Kentucky is more than just the home of the prestigious University of Kentucky.

Whether you’re a Wildcat or not, you’re going to find yourself absolutely charmed by the city. It has the Festival of the Bluegrass, several horse race sites, and countless delicious restaurants.

Here are some of our favorite Lexington eateries that will have you braying like you truly belong in the Horse Capital of the World! 

Photo Credit: Blue Door Smoke House

Blue Door Smokehouse

26 Walton Ave, Lexington, KY 40502

Lexington doesn’t mess around when it comes to BBQ, so you know Blue Door Smoke House has to be tasty since it’s been in business for nearly a decade.

Like any good BBQ joint, it’s all about the Plates, allowing you to enjoy a nice variety: one of their succulent smoked meats, white bread, pickle, onion, and two sides. Might we recommend you get a Sliced Beef Brisket plate with Potato Salad and Collard Greens?

Photo Credit: Big Kahuna Hawaiian BBQ

Big Kahuna Hawaiian BBQ

904 Liberty Rd, Lexington, KY 40505

Enough about southern BBQ, let’s go even further south and enjoy some sweet and tangy Hawaiian BBQ. When you’re enjoying Big Kahuna, you might as well be eating straight from a luau.

Every plate comes with the fabulous macaroni salad as well as sticky rice dressed with house chili sauce, spicy mayo, and sweet soy. As far as your meat choice, it’s hard to beat Kalua Pork (pulled pork in a Hawaiian-style sauce), but Teriyaki Chicken and Coconut Shrimp are both divine choices that will leave you quite satisfied. Throw in an extra side of Spam Musubi (spam and sweet soy on sticky rice, wrapped in seaweed…think spam sushi) and you’ll be saying aloha to your hunger.

Photo Credit: Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant

Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant

3280 Eagle View Ln, Lexington, KY 40509

Pepe’s serves up authentic Mexican food in a cozy and inviting atmosphere fit for students and families alike. 

Fajitas are always a crowd favorite, and at Pepe’s, they’re served with rice, beans, pico de gallo, lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, flour or corn tortillas, and obviously a killer sizzle that’ll make your table the talk of the dining room. Their chimichangas are absolutely massive, and that’s not even counting the Super Chimichanga. And what is a visit to a Mexican restaurant without a margarita? Luckily, Pepe’s serves a stiff yet tasty one.

Photo Credit: James Heath

Sahara Mediterranean Cuisine

3061 Fieldstone Way, Lexington, KY 40513

Ask anybody in Lexington one spot that you NEED to try and chances are, they’ll tell you Sahara. It’s consistently recognized as the best Mediterranean cuisine in the city (and even state). They don’t do anything fancy, but everything is done just right.

Don’t overthink your order: get shawarma with garlic sauce (or maybe two) and prepare to enter a state of bliss.

Masala Indian Cuisine

3061 Fieldstone Way, Lexington, KY 40513

Whether you’re a Wildcat or just a Lexington resident, chances are you love Indian food. Lucky for you, Masala serves the finest in town. 

You’ll certainly love the Chicken Tikka Masala and Lamb Chop Masala (it is in the name, after all) but there’s plenty of other options if you’re willing to step outside of your comfort zone. The Goat Curry is a unique treat, as is the Paneer Pakora (cottage cheese dipped in lentil flour batter and deep fried).

As an added bonus: if you’re vegetarian or vegan, Masala has a massive section of the menu just for you.

Photo Credit: Stella’s

Stella’s Kentucky Deli

143 Jefferson St, Lexington, KY 40508

Stella’s Kentucky Deli includes the state in its name because it pays tribute to everything that makes Kentucky such a unique state. Stella’s emphasizes fresh and local ingredients (thanks to their many farm partnerships) to produce simple yet high quality foods.

This focus is best exemplified by the Kentucky Burger: a local Black Angus patty with lettuce, tomato, onion, dijon, mayo, and ketchup. The perfect burger lets the ingredients speak for themselves, and Stella’s knows that. The BLT is also perfectly restrained, with their basil mayo added to take things to the next level. Make sure you pair any of these with the house-made specialty sodas.

Stella’s also serves a weekend brunch (9am – 2pm both days), specializing in all the usual favorites, like eggs, ham, sausage, buttermilk biscuits (with chipotle gravy), hash browns, and more. 

Photo Credit: Sav’s

Sav’s Restaurant & Gourmet Ice Cream

630 E Main St, Lexington, KY 40508

The story of Sav’s begins in West Africa in the country of Guinea, where Sav, who grew up there, met his future wife Rachel while she was serving in the Peace Corps. Once they moved to Lexington, Kentucky, they opened up a restaurant in 2008 and an ice cream shop in 2012, before combining the two into one limitless Main Street spot.

Anything you order will be a glimpse into Sav’s West African upbringing. The Peanut Goat is goat meat in a complex sauce of peanut butter and local tomato puree with onions and other veggies, served over rice but it’s definitely worth the upcharge to get it over fufu (a doughy African staple made from plantain flour). There’s several vegan options as well, like Mafen Vegan: fresh local eggplant and cabbage with carrots in a tomato puree with onions and dried organic lavender.

No matter what you get, it’s essential that you remember to get two things: Sav’s Piment, their house-made habanero hot sauce, and the gourmet ice cream, available in all kinds of lovely flavors, ranging from classic (Cookie Dough and Strawberry) to unique (Hot Banana). 

Photo Credit: Visit Lexington

Bourbon n’ Toulouse

1080 S. Broadway, Suite 107, Lexington, KY 40502

829 Euclid Ave., Lexington, KY 40502

Cajun and Creole food is all about comfort, and Bourbon n’ Toulouse knows that comfort food is a surefire way to guarantee that. This hole-in-the-wall joint specializes in all your favorites from a few states down south in Louisiana.

The award-winning Cajun Red Chili is the moneymaker, a beanless tomato chili loaded with beef and pork. There’s also the culinary classics, like Jambalaya and Red Beans with Smoked Sausage. Every dish you order can also be served half and half, so you can enjoy two half orders at extremely reasonable prices.

Photo Credit: Pasta Garage

Pasta Garage Italian Cafe

962 Delaware Ave, Lexington, KY 40505

The Pasta Garage aims to provide customers with casual food that never skimps on the quality and, thanks in large part to their fresh in-house pasta made by Lexington Pasta, they have become a Lexington sensation.

They serve up many of your usual Italian cafe favorites, like Chicken Alfredo, Chicken Piccata, and Ragu Alla Bolognese. One of the hidden gems of the menu, however, is the Mac & Cheese: pasta with smoked gouda mornay sauce and prosciutto. Also, whatever you do, make sure there are breadsticks. Lots and lots of breadsticks.

Photo Credit: Winchell’s

Winchell’s Restaurant & Bar

348 Southland Dr, Lexington, KY 40503

This family-owned sports bar has been the go-to spot for countless University of Kentucky fans to watch the Wildcats play for nearly three decades. 

One of their most famous dishes is a Kentucky favorite: Kentucky Hot Brown. This regional food is made up of roasted turkey and shaved country ham on toast points, topped with mornay cheese sauce, shredded cheddar and parmesan, bacon, and tomato. A few other Southern favorites include the Shrimp & Grits and deep-fried Chicken Livers topped with country gravy.

Photo Credit: Charlie’s

Charlie’s Seafood & Carry-Out Restaurant

926 Winchester Rd, Lexington, KY 40505

Since 1981, when Lexington residents have had a craving for fish, they’ve probably turned to Charlie’s. 

It all comes down to Charlie’s Whitefish Sandwich Special, which includes a side of two: fries, slaw, or hushpuppies. The other seafood options are fresh full of flavor. Take your pick of the Clam Strips, Sea Scallops, Crab Cakes, Jumbo Shrimp, or more. Or go for broke and get the Seafood Platter: whitefish, jumbo shrimp, oysters, and all three sides.

Photo Credit: Nefertiti


1301 Winchester Rd, Lexington, KY 40505

This authentic restaurant will definitely scratch your Mediterranean itch. 

You can get a gyro sandwich, Greek salad, or a wide range of platters. If you want the best bang for your buck, opt for the Ultimate Mashawi Platter: six skewers of chicken, beef, and/or lamb over rice with veggies and a side (baba ganoush, hummus, stuffed grape leaves, falafel, and more).

Photo Credit: TripAdvisor

Columbia’s Steakhouse 

​​2750 Richmond Rd, Lexington, KY 40509

Columbia’s Steakhouse, one of Kentucky’s most prolific steakhouses, has been in business since 1948. Clearly they have plenty of goodness going on to stay popular for over 70 years.

Start your meal off right with the tangy Fried Banana Peppers or the savory Lamb Fry Appetizer. Columbia’s is perhaps most famous for their Nighthawk Special. It includes an 8-ounce tenderloin smothered in garlic butter with your choice of two of the following: a generous baked potato, the veggie of the day, steak fries, or their iconic Diego Salad, which is chopped lettuce with tomatoes, celery, onions, radishes, and a special seasoning salt. This meal will be elevated even more by the cozy ambiance, thanks to the roaring fireplace.

Photo Credit: Fabulous in Fayette

Ramsey’s Diner

​​4391 Old Harrodsburg Rd, Lexington, KY 40513

Ramsey’s has been serving Lexington students and adults alike since 1989. While they may have relocated and opened several additional locations, the quality of the southern cookin’ and the passion of the customers has not dwindled.

No matter what meal you’re hungry for, they’ve got you covered. The Traditional Ramsey’s Breakfast is five eggs with bacon, sausage, hash browns, pancakes, and toast. They also serve a killer Meat & Three special with your choice of one meat – meat loaf, chicken livers, pan-blackened catfish, and plenty of others – and three veggies – mac and cheese, mashed potatoes with gravy, honey mustard carrots, fried green tomatoes, and even more. Good luck deciding what to get!


To learn more about the delicious food spots at other SEC schools, check out our Best Restaurants in the SEC guide, which includes all 14 college towns and their amazing eateries.