12 Unique Restaurants in Lexington, KY: Exploring the Quirky Side of the Horse Capital’s Food Scene

by Jen
Unique Restaurants in Lexington, KY
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Prepare to explore the extraordinary with our guide to unique restaurants in Lexington KY. We’re highlighting spots where unusual flavors meet unforgettable atmospheres. From themed dining experiences to innovative culinary twists, Lexington’s dining scene is anything but ordinary.

Welcome to Lexington, Kentucky – a place that’s buzzing with more than just horses and bourbon. This city is a hidden gem for foodies, boasting Southeast charm. If you’re looking to spice up your dining routine, you’ve hit the jackpot. Lexington is a playground for those who love to eat, offering a mix of flavors that’ll make your taste buds dance.

We’re about to dive into some of Lexington’s coolest dining spots. Think of places where the vibe is just as important as the menu, and where chefs are serving up surprises that’ll have you coming back for more. From hidden gems where locals love to hang out, to spots that are pushing the culinary envelope, we’ve got the scoop on where to eat in the city.

So, whether you’re craving something cozy and familiar or bold and adventurous, Lexington’s got a table with your name on it. Let’s embark on this tasty journey together, exploring the unique restaurants that make Lexington’s food scene one of a kind.

The top restaurants to visit in Lexington, KY right now

Unique Restaurants in Lexington KY: 12 Incredible Lexington KY Eateries

Step into the world of Lexington KY’s unique restaurants, where dining is all about uniqueness and surprise. Here, each spot brings something different to the table, from themed atmospheres to creative dishes.

1. The Sage Rabbit

Exploring the best places to eat in Lexington KY? Don’t miss out on The Sage Rabbit. This gem, a brainchild of John Foster, is where local flavors meet culinary innovation. Right off the bat, the homemade pappardelle will have you planning your next visit. And if you’re in the mood for something light yet bursting with flavor, the gazpacho is a must-try.

What sets The Sage Rabbit apart is its commitment to quality and freshness. Fancy a rare-cooked meat dish? They nail it every time. The wine list may be concise, but it’s packed with affordable and delightful picks.

For a true taste of comfort, the pimento cheese sandwich, with or without the extra toppings, is a heartwarming choice. And let’s talk about the scallops – seared to perfection, they’re a testament to the kitchen’s skill.

Dining here, you’re in for generous portions that reflect the restaurant’s generosity. The use of local ingredients speaks volumes about their dedication to supporting the community and offering fresh, vibrant dishes.

The Sage Rabbit is one of the unique restaurants in Lexington, KY.
The Sage Rabbit features homemade pappardelle and flavorful gazpacho.

2. Bourbon n’ Toulouse

Ever dreamed of a taste of New Orleans right in the heart of Kentucky? Bourbon n’ Toulouse makes that dream a delicious reality. Since 2004, this spot has been a go-to for Lexingtonians craving authentic Bayou flavors. Owners Will Pieratt and Kevin Heathcoat turned their dream into a bustling eatery, starting with just a vision and a leap of faith on credit cards.

Their bold flavors and cozy atmosphere quickly won over the hearts of both locals and students. Imagine stepping into a space that oozes the New Orleans vibe, complete with live music to jazz up your weekends. It’s an experience that transports you to the French Quarter.

Looking for the best food in Lexington KY? The chicken etouffee at Bourbon n’ Toulouse is a game-changer. This spicy, roux-based gravy with shredded chicken is a must-try. And for the adventurous, their alligator etouffee, available during football and basketball seasons against Florida, is a unique treat that won’t disappoint.

Bourbon n’ Toulouse brings authentic New Orleans flavors to Kentucky, fulfilling dreams of Bayou taste buds.
Bourbon n’ Toulouse brings authentic New Orleans flavors to Kentucky, fulfilling dreams of Bayou taste buds.

3. OBC Kitchen

In the quest for unique restaurants in Lexington KY, OBC Kitchen is a standout star. Nestled on Tates Creek Road, this cozy spot wraps you in warmth the moment you step inside. Think leather booths, reclaimed barn wood, and a vibe that’s all about good times and great food.

At OBC Kitchen, bourbon isn’t just a drink; it’s an experience. With a selection that’ll impress even the connoisseurs, they’ve got rarities you won’t find just anywhere. But here’s the twist: their menu takes the bourbon love a step further. Ever tried bacon dipped in peanut butter? It’s their signature move, and trust me, it’s a game-changer.

Brunch lovers, rejoice! Weekends here mean a brunch menu that’s all about flavor. From the Kentucky Kitchen Hot Brown to every dish in between, it’s a feast for the senses. And when dinner rolls around, the menu dazzles with perfectly prepared dishes, ready to pair with your bourbon or wine of choice.

OBC Kitchen is a standout spot, offering warmth and great food on Tates Creek Road.
OBC Kitchen is a standout spot, offering warmth and great food on Tates Creek Road.

4. Carson’s Food and Drink

Diving into the heart of downtown Lexington, Carson’s Food and Drink emerges as a standout destination. Imagine a space where the charm of old Kentucky meets a flair for the extraordinary. The ambiance is a nod to speakeasy elegance, with wood, brick, and industrial touches under the soft glow of chandeliers.

In the lineup of the coolest restaurants in Lexington KY, Carson’s truly shines. It’s where Kentucky’s proud history, its love for bourbon, and culinary innovation come together. The walls tell stories with murals of Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve, enriching your dining experience.

The menu is a feast for the senses. Begin with the Bacon in a Glass, a delightful surprise with creamy peanut butter for dipping. The Kentucky Kitchen Hot Brown is the star of brunch, while dinner offers the Prime Top Sirloin with smoked gouda macaroni and cheese. The cocktail list is a journey through time, from prohibition-era classics to modern concoctions.

Carson's Food and Drink is a unique downtown destination blending old Kentucky charm with modern flair.
Carson’s Food and Drink is a unique downtown destination blending old Kentucky charm with modern flair.

5. Lockbox

Nestled within the 21C art museum/hotel, Lockbox is an experience that blends art with dining. With a sophisticated yet relaxed vibe, Lockbox is all about ‘artfully simple’ dishes, proudly incorporating local ingredients.

As one of the best restaurants in Lexington KY, Lockbox is embracing change with a fresh bistro-style twist. The interior redesign brings a more personal feel, with indoor plants and stunning chandeliers enhancing the ambiance. A new entrance and potential patio seating are exciting additions, promising an even more welcoming experience.

The menu revamp introduces platter options alongside beloved dishes like hushpuppies, lamb ragu, and steak frites. The fish of the week and a dedicated oyster section add to the allure. Desserts like the olive oil cake, brownie sundae, and coconut cream pie are irresistible. Plus, the cocktail and mocktail selections are top-notch, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

A pro tip: book the private vault room for an intimate dining experience. This old bank vault turned dining room adds a unique touch to any gathering.

Lockbox embraces change with a fresh bistro-style twist.
Lockbox embraces change with a fresh bistro-style twist.

6. Dudley’s on Short

Dudley’s on Short is a gem in downtown Lexington, offering an unforgettable fine dining in Lexington KY experience. Housed in a building from 1889, Dudley’s combines history with modern elegance. After a thoughtful renovation in 2010, it now serves as a beacon for those seeking a special night out.

The menu is a celebration of American cuisine, with a focus on quality and local ingredients. Whether it’s a special occasion or just a desire for a top-notch meal, Dudley’s sets the stage for a memorable evening. The seafood selection impresses, from the pan-seared pompano to the buttery scallops with risotto. And for starters, the smoked Kentucky trout “Dudley” eggs are a must-try.

Desserts like the bourbon ball cake end the meal on a high note, ensuring every visit is as delightful as it is delicious. With attentive service and a cozy atmosphere, Dudley’s on Short is a standout choice for anyone looking to indulge in the best of Lexington’s foodie scene.

Dudley's on Short is a downtown gem offering unforgettable fine dining since 2010.
Dudley’s on Short is a downtown gem offering unforgettable fine dining since 2010.

7. Merrick Inn Restaurant

Tucked away in Lexington, Merrick Inn Restaurant is your perfect escape for some grown-up time. It’s a spot that’s all about Southern charm, set in a cozy 18th-century house. It’s the kind of place where you can unwind, enjoy some quiet, and really dig into a meal without any distractions.

This spot is a gem for anyone looking for a peaceful dinner, a romantic date night, or just a break from the usual. Walking into Merrick Inn is like stepping back in time, but with all the modern comforts. The vibe? Pure warmth, with those old wooden beams and fireplaces that make you feel right at home.

When it comes to unique restaurants in Lexington KY for dinner, Merrick Inn is a standout. Their menu is a Southern delight, featuring everything from the crispiest fried chicken you’ve ever tasted to a bourbon-glazed salmon that’ll have you coming back for more. It’s all about fresh, local ingredients and dishes made with love.

Merrick Inn Restaurant, a cozy escape for grown-up time within an 18th-century house.
Merrick Inn Restaurant, a cozy escape for grown-up time within an 18th-century house.

8. Marikka’s Restaurant & Bier Stube

Marikka’s is the ultimate hangout in Lexington. Think volleyball, German eats, and a beer selection that’s through the roof. Since opening its doors in 1991, this place has become a legend. Fast forward to now, after a cool $6 million revamp, and you’ve got a 22,000-square-foot playground for adults.

On the hunt for fun places to eat in Lexington KY? You’ve hit the jackpot with Marikka’s. This spot is all about good times. Volleyball? Check. A beer hall with over 800 types of bottled beers? Double-check. And let’s not forget the games – darts, foosball, you name it.

The menu is a nod to the owners’ German roots, offering dishes like schnitzels and homemade sausages that taste like they’re straight out of Hanau, Germany. Plus, they’re getting ready to brew their own beer. How cool is that?

Marikka’s is the ultimate hangout since 1991, offering German eats.
Marikka’s is the ultimate hangout since 1991, offering German eats.

9. Infinity: Skybar and Cafe

Dining meets the sky in Infinity: Skybar and Cafe. Eight stories up, this place offers a view like no other. Imagine munching on elevated sandwiches or sipping cocktails while gazing over downtown Lexington. It’s the perfect blend of good food and great sights, making it a must-visit for anyone looking for a meal with a view.

For those on the lookout for scenic places in Lexington KY to eat, Infinity doesn’t just meet the mark; it soars above it. With glass walls and a retractable roof, you’re in for an airy, sun-soaked experience.

Imagine you’re biting into the Provencal sandwich, where every layer of roasted red pepper, olive relish, and ricotta sings with flavor. Or maybe you’re tackling the Bluegrass Burger, a masterpiece of juicy goodness, topped with house pickles and secret sauce. Don’t forget those fries – crispy, golden, and just begging for a dip.

Whether it’s lunch with a view or dinner with the stars as your canopy, every dish at Infinity promises a flavor-packed experience. And when the weather’s warm, the open walls and ceiling panels invite the breeze right to your table. Infinity: Skybar and Cafe is where Lexington’s food scene hits new heights!

Experience dining with a sky-high view at Infinity: Skybar and Cafe.
Experience dining with a sky-high view at Infinity: Skybar and Cafe.

10. Winchell’s Restaurant & Bar

Winchell’s Restaurant & Bar is a hidden gem on Southland Drive that’s all about surprising its guests. At first glance, you might think it’s just another sports bar, but oh, how wrong you’d be! This place takes “bar food” to a whole new level, making it a standout among unique Lexington KY restaurants.

From the get-go, Winchell’s sets the vibe with its sports memorabilia and a welcoming atmosphere that’s perfect for catching a game. But here’s the twist: the menu is a delightful mix of classic comfort foods and unexpected culinary delights. Think pork quesadillas and fried green tomatoes alongside your traditional chicken wings and nachos.

The main dishes? They’re a nod to Kentucky’s rich culinary traditions with a creative twist. Bourbon marinated pork chops, almond crusted trout, and a Kentucky Hot Brown that’ll make you want to come back for more. And let’s not forget about the breakfast crowd – Winchell’s has a cult following for its morning offerings.

Winchell's Restaurant & Bar is a standout gem, elevating the city's dining scene.
Winchell’s Restaurant & Bar is a standout gem, elevating the city’s dining scene.

11. East End Tap and Table

Meet East End Tap and Table, the new kid on the block in downtown Lexington. Betsy and Matt Borland packed their bags in Miami, brought their world travels to Kentucky, and opened a place that’s all about global eats. Imagine a menu that’s like your passport, filled with stamps from all the delicious stops they’ve made around the world.

This spot is all about breaking the mold. From the moment you step in, you’re greeted by a funky, urban vibe, complete with local art and a garage-style window that adds an airy feel. It’s the perfect backdrop for a culinary adventure that spans continents.

On the hunt for unique places to eat in Lexington KY? This gastropub is a jackpot. Their menu? It’s like a world tour on a plate. Picture diving into crispy rice with spicy tuna, biting into a Kofta Burger, or savoring Miami-inspired empanadas. And the drinks? With craft cocktails and 12 beers on tap, your glass will be as globe-trotting as your plate.

Experience global eats at East End Tap and Table.
Experience global eats at East End Tap and Table.

12. Agave & Rye

Shaking things up in Lexington with their epic tacos is Agave & Rye. Imagine fine dining squished into a taco shell – that’s what they’re all about. From butter-poached lobster to kangaroo tenderloin, these aren’t your average tacos. They’re huge, packed with flavors from around the globe, and they’re making taco lovers rethink everything they thought they knew about this classic dish.

Tucked away in the Fayette Mall, this spot is one of those hidden gem restaurants in Lexington KY you’ll brag about discovering. With a vibe that’s as vibrant as its menu, Agave & Rye is where art meets street – think rustic wood meets bright cushions and a whole lot of character.

But it’s not all about the tacos. Dive into their taco bowls for a deconstructed feast, or munch on hand-cut guaca fries. And with a bar boasting 80 tequilas and bourbons, your drink choices are as epic as your meal. Fast, fresh, and full of flair, Agave & Rye is where Lexington’s food scene gets a spicy twist.

Agave & Rye is one of the unique restaurants in Lexington, KY.
Agave & Rye revolutionizes tacos with epic flavors from around the globe, redefining the classic dish with every bite.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Unique Places to Eat in Lexington KY

Get ready for insider tips with our Lexington KY restaurant guide, answering all your burning questions about where to eat in the city.

What food is Lexington Kentucky known for?

Lexington is famous for its Southern cuisine. Think hot browns, bourbon-infused dishes, and fried chicken. These classics reflect the region’s rich culinary heritage. Local chefs love adding a modern twist to traditional recipes. So, when you’re in town, dive into these flavors. You’ll find them at many of Lexington KY’s best restaurants.

How many restaurants does Lexington KY have?

Lexington boasts a vibrant dining scene with hundreds of restaurants. From cozy cafes to upscale dining, there’s a spot for every taste and occasion. Whether you’re craving international cuisine or Southern comfort food, Lexington has it all. This diversity makes the city a food lover’s paradise.

Where can I find cheap eats in Lexington KY?

For delicious and cheap eats in Lexington KY, check out the local food trucks and diners. They offer hearty meals without breaking the bank. Many spots serve up generous portions of BBQ, tacos, and burgers. Don’t miss the local bakeries and coffee shops for affordable snacks and drinks.

Are there any themed restaurants in Lexington KY?

Yes, themed restaurants in Lexington KY offer unique dining experiences. From 1950s diners to speakeasy-style bars, these spots are all about fun vibes and great food. Some restaurants feature live music, while others are dedicated to sports or history. Each themed restaurant provides a memorable meal.

What are some fun restaurants in Lexington KY?

Fun restaurants in Lexington KY include places with live music, interactive dining experiences, and vibrant atmospheres. Look for spots with game nights, trivia, or themed events. These restaurants are perfect for nights out with friends or family. They combine great food with entertainment.

Can I find international cuisine in Lexington?

Absolutely! Lexington’s culinary scene is as diverse as its community. You’ll find everything from authentic Mexican and Asian to European and Middle Eastern cuisines. Chefs from around the world bring their authentic flavors to the heart of Kentucky. It’s a great way to explore global dishes without leaving town.

Corto Lima restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky - serving authentic Mexican dishes.
Corto Lima restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky – serving authentic Mexican dishes.

What’s the best way to explore Lexington’s food scene?

Start with a food tour or visit a local food festival. These events showcase Lexington KY’s best restaurants and hidden gems. You’ll sample a variety of dishes and learn about the city’s culinary history. Also, check out local food blogs and social media for recommendations.

Where can I enjoy outdoor dining in Lexington?

Many restaurants in Lexington offer beautiful outdoor patios and rooftop dining. These spots are perfect for enjoying Kentucky’s scenic beauty while eating. From downtown eateries to countryside bistros, outdoor dining is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. It’s a great way to enjoy the weather and delicious food.

Is there a place for vegetarian dining in Lexington KY?

Yes, Lexington has a growing number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants. These spots offer a wide range of plant-based dishes, from creative salads to hearty entrees. You’ll also find that many traditional restaurants have expanded their menus to include vegetarian options. It’s easy to enjoy a meat-free meal in Lexington.

What about Lexington’s dessert spots?

Lexington is a sweet tooth’s dream, with an array of dessert cafes and bakeries. Indulge in homemade pies, artisan ice cream, and gourmet chocolates. Local favorites include classic Kentucky bourbon balls and freshly baked pastries. For a unique treat, visit spots offering dessert-themed experiences, like make-your-own sundae bars.

What’s the best spot in Lexington KY for a romantic dinner with a twist?

Lexington KY is home to several restaurants perfect for a romantic evening, each with its own unique twist. Look for intimate spots offering candlelit dinners, alongside unusual features like live jazz, art-filled spaces, or historic settings. These restaurants combine great food with a memorable ambiance, making for an unforgettable date night.

Are there kid-friendly restaurants in Lexington that offer more than just a kids’ menu?

Yes, Lexington boasts several kid-friendly restaurants where the little ones can enjoy more than just a meal. From interactive dining experiences, such as build-your-own pizza stations, to places with play areas and engaging themes like dinosaurs or pirates, these spots ensure a fun outing for the whole family, making it one of the top places to live and visit in Kentucky. Plus, they offer menus that cater to young palates while still providing a delightful experience for adults.

Final Thoughts On Unique Lexington KY Restaurants

Thanks for joining us on this tasty journey through Lexington! We hope our Lexington KY restaurant guide has sparked your appetite for adventure while staying in Kentucky. From hidden gems to bustling hotspots, Lexington’s dining scene has something for everyone.

Whether you’re craving epic tacos or looking for a scenic spot to dine, remember, the best meals are the ones shared with friends. So grab your crew, explore these spots, and make some delicious memories in this Southeast US gem. Happy eating!

The top restaurants in Lexington, KY for all types of travelers
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