5 of the Best Local Restaurants in Lexington

May 10, 2019

Hungry and looking for a local restaurant in Lexington? We have a great food scene with a mix of chain restaurants and local restaurants so you can find pretty much anything that you fancy.  Here are 5 of the best local restaurants in Lexington.

I like to eat at locally-owned restaurants when I travel.  How about you? Nothing against chains, I just prefer to try something I can’t get at home.  There’s also a better chance that I will have opportunities to try local flavors.  If you are like me and like to eat local when traveling, or if you are in the Lexington area and looking for somewhere new to eat, these five restaurants are some of my faves.

Cheap Eats in Lexington, Kentucky

I could have called this post The Best Cheap Eats in Lexington. All of these restaurants serve amazing, affordable food. Win-win!

1) Windy Corner Market

I know I’m biased, but Lexington is a beautiful place.  Drive just a few minutes outside of town to Windy Corner Market and you will find yourself passing picturesque countryside and gorgeous horse farms.  Windy Corner is located pretty much in the middle of nowhere and somewhere incredible. It’s one of my favorite restaurants in Lexington.

Ouita Michel is our local celebrity chef with a roster of super cool restaurants in the Lexington/Woodford County area.  Windy Corner is one of her ventures and is an amazing place to get great food in a picture postcard setting.

The menu features nightly specials (meatloaf, shrimp and grits), burgers, salads and a long list of po-boy sandwiches.  Breakfast is also served and is pretty fantastic.  If you want something sweet, there are a variety of baked goods available that are made at Michel’s Midway Bakery.

meatloaf special, Windy Corner Restaurant Lexington, KY

A recent dinner there on a gorgeous spring evening included the nightly special of meatloaf for my husband and the Tofu Boy for Topher sandwich for me.  The special featured a hefty slice of meatloaf served alongside buttermilk mashed potatoes and southern style green beans.  An impressive plate of simple southern cooking for $10.99. 

Tofu Boy for Topher sandwich, Windy Corner Lexington, KY

The Tofu Boy for Topher is a massive sandwich piled high with fried tofu cubes, sorghum cole slaw and covered in a tangy BBQ sauce.  Po-boys are served with chips but I opted to spend an additional buck and get one of the many sides available; a corn and black bean salad.  The sandwiches are huge and I tried to pick it up and eat and couldn’t.  I had to use a knife and fork which is just fine.

Michel supports local food vendors and uses as many local products as possible in her restaurants.  She also offers many local products for purchase at Windy Corner Market.  I love when I can shop and eat at the same time! 

Orders are placed at the counter and food is delivered to your table.  There is a comfortable, casual vibe here.  The food is delicious and it’s pretty damn awesome to look out the window and see horses strolling in one of the fields around the restaurant. A really cool place to eat in Lexington!

Windy Corner Market

DV8 Kitchen

DV8 Kitchen in Lexington, KY

DV8 Kitchen has to be at the top of any list of locally-owned Lexington restaurants to support.  Their motto is life-changing food and they are literally changing lives at their restaurant. 

DV8 Kitchen provides second-chance employment opportunities to individuals in substance abuse recovery.  Many of the restaurant’s employees are in recovery and not only learning job skills but being lifted up by being given a second chance.  My family has a history of substance abuse and I know first-hand the challenge that those affected face and the impact it has on those close to them.  I applaud any business that is willing to step out and offer creative, compassionate solutions. 

DV8 Kitchen has been extremely successful and I hope it will serve as a business model for other companies. This Lexington favorite is on Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in the US – 2019 and has been featured in the New York Times.

Now on to the food!  It’s amazing.  Open for breakfast and lunch, they serve a menu of creative sandwiches, salads, breakfast goodies, and daily specials.  Breakfast is available anytime.  The restaurant features an in-house bakery and the breads, brioche buns, biscuits, and cinnamon rolls (made with croissant dough) are incredible. 

DV8 Kitchen in Lexington, KY

One of the highlights of the restaurant is the self-service station where you can slice a hefty slice of homemade bread and slather it with homemade honey butter, apple butter, orange marmalade, or strawberry jam.

I’ve tried many items on the menu and recently ordered the eggs benedict.  The twist here?  It’s served on a biscuit and topped with a fried green tomato in addition to the traditional toppings.  So good!

Best Burger in Town, DV8 Kitchen Lexington, KY

My husband ordered The Best Burger in Town.  A ground beef patty is topped with a fried egg, bacon, caramelized onions and I have heard more than one person deem it indeed the best burger in town.  For dessert, we shared a massive cinnamon roll topped with caramel and pecans.  Decadent!

caramel pecan cinnamon roll, DV8 Kitchen Lexington, KY

The owners also run the local chain of Saul Good restaurants in Lexington. Saul Good restaurants are located in downtown Lexington and throughout the city and offer amazing food and cocktails (including baked goods from DV8 Kitchen).

DV8 Kitchen

Wanna do more than eat when you’re in Lexington? Check out this complete list of fun and interesting things to do in Lexington.

Old San Juan Cuban Cuisine

Old San Juan Cuban Cuisine, restaurant Lexington, KY

This is the very definition of a mom and pop run restaurant.  It is run by the sweetest Cuban couple.  Our family has eaten here for years and have come to know the owners and are always greeted warmly.

Located in an out of the way little building next to a laundromat and bar this place is a destination.  If you happen to be driving by (and probably wouldn’t) you wouldn’t give it a second glance.  So pop the address in your GPS and just go. 

The food is traditional Cuban fare.  Lots of sandwiches including the requisite Cubano, Cuban classics including ropa vieja and picadillo and amazing milkshakes (mango and guava are my go-to’s).  Portions are huge and we regularly share dishes.  Beverages are self-service and include Caribbean favorites such as Jarritos, Malta, and Goya nectars. 

Sandwich Old San Juan restaurant Lexington, KY

I recently tried the vegetarian sandwich that included black beans, tomatoes, and cheese. My husband had the Cubano. Our favorite sandwich is probably the roast pork sandwich and my daughter and me love their rice and beans.

The milkshakes are super sweet, but if your sweet tooth still needs a fix, there is a case full of flan, tres leches cake, and pastitos.  Everything is delicious!

Old San Juan Cuban Cuisine – 247 Surfside Drive, Lexington

PieTana

PieTana Lexington, KY

One of the best casual restaurants in Lexington has to be Pietana. Pietana labels themselves as a hole in the wall pizza joint.  Which they are, but a trendy, refurbished hole in the wall pizza joint.  They feature wood-fired pizzas made with fresh, and often local, ingredients. 

Cheese pizza at PieTana Lexington, KY

This little gem hasn’t been open long but has become a regular spot for us.  Their pizzas are amazing.  We usually keep it simple with a cheese pizza but have also tried their Becky B which includes corn relish, goat cheese, mozzarella, spinach, and a garlic cream drizzle.  The Vinnie is perfect for all of the meat lovers out there and includes the standard pizza meat such as pepperoni and sausage as well as local brisket. 

meatball sub PieTana Lexington, KY

We’re big fans of their house salad too.  Mixed greens and spinach are topped with grilled asparagus, tomatoes, red onion, and shaved parm.  We find that sharing a salad and pizza is the perfect amount of food for two. The meatball sub sounded too good to pass up recently and it didn’t disappoint. It was so flipping good!

Pietana

Ramsey’s Diner

Ramsey's Diner Lexington, KY

Ramsey’s Diner is an institution in Lexington and they have been in operation since 1989. Their meat and three option allow you to choose from 13 meats including meatloaf, BBQ chicken breasts, catfish, fried chicken, and my favorite, country fried steak.  Next comes choosing three sides from a standing list as well as daily specials.  Some of the sides include mashed potatoes, honey mustard carrots, sautéed spinach, apple fritters, and more.  It’s a big ‘ol plate of country cookin!

Other menu options include the class Kentucky hot brown, sandwiches, and breakfast served all day.  There are several vegetarian options as well.

meat and three, Ramsey's Diner Lexington, KY

There are several Ramsey’s in town and have a funky vibe with mismatched tables and handpainted chairs.  Casual, southern dining at it’s best.  If you have room for dessert, they sell Missy’s Pies that include chocolate cream pie, coconut cream pie, butterscotch pie and many more.

If you are visiting Lexington, Kentucky for the first time (or the 50th) and want to taste local food, this is one of the best places to go!

Ramsey’s Diner

When I was coming up with a list of restaurants in Lexington to include, I was surprised at how many really cool, locally-owned restaurants there are here.  I have a feeling this won’t be the last post about local restaurants in Lexington. For my friends in Lexington, I’d love to hear your picks for the best local restaurants!

More about Candy Wafford

Candy Wafford is a US-based travel blogger and while she travels frequently for her job, she is happiest when traveling for pleasure. Preferably strolling along a cobblestoned street with an ice cream cone in her hand.

13 Comments
    1. I love small locally-owned restaurants, no matter where I go! These all seem so inviting! Thanks for sharing your favorite spots.

    1. I’d be spoilt for choice with all these! I too prefer to eat at locally owned places too when I travel, you usually get a much better experience don’t you?

      1. Absolutely! I’m really not a fan of chain restaurants at home or when traveling.

    1. I love little local restaurants like these. Those vegetarian sandwiches look great (especially the tofu one!)

      1. I’ve cut way back on my consumption of meat so I love when I discover a restaurant has great veggie options!

    1. These are the places we love when traveling, great local food in small local cafes and restaurants. You had me at the vegetarian sandwich at Old San Juan, looks reaaly yummy.

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