The 10 Best Restaurants in Lexington

Lexington, Kentucky is more than just horse races and bluegrass; it’s a city with a vibrant food scene that appeals to everyone from the gourmet traveler to the casual diner. From upscale restaurants to quaint bistros, Lexington’s top eateries offer distinctive dishes that embody the local culture.

Join us as we explore the top 10 unmissable restaurants in Lexington, where each meal is not just food, but a memorable part of your visit.

Tony’s of Lexington

Step into Tony’s of Lexington and experience the pulse of the city’s dining scene. Renowned for its premium steaks and fresh seafood, this restaurant blends rustic charm with modern style to create a memorable dining experience. The warm, inviting atmosphere is complemented by dishes crafted with care, making every bite a revelation. Each dinner feels like a special occasion, filled with flavors that burst to life on your palate.

Tony’s of Lexington turns dining into an art form, celebrating each meal as a special event. Highlights like the rich, creamy Fettuccine Alfredo and the light, decadent cheesecake showcase the kitchen’s attention to detail and flair for flavor. This acclaimed restaurant is a cornerstone of Lexington’s food scene, offering a taste of Kentucky’s refined culinary standards. A meal at Tony’s is an experience that captivates all the senses.

Carson’s Food and Drink

Carson’s Food and Drink embodies the spirit of Kentucky with its chef-inspired menu and Prohibition-style cocktails. Set against a backdrop of warm wood and brick, complemented by elegant chandeliers, this restaurant offers a menu filled with local flavors and collaborations with nearby breweries. It caters to a variety of tastes, from the adventurous eater to those with specific dietary needs, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

The atmosphere at Carson’s is further enhanced by vivid murals and a lively vibe, making it a key destination for experiencing Lexington’s vibrant culture. It’s the ideal place to enjoy a meal with family or relax with a drink at the bar. Carson’s commits to a great dining experience, making sure every visitor leaves satisfied and uplifted, a must-visit for any trip to the city.

Dudley’s on Short

Since 1981, Dudley’s on Short has been a favorite in downtown Lexington, known for its upscale dining and historical setting. The rooftop terrace, especially popular in the summer, offers diners not only great food like the standout baked goat cheese and bourbon dish but also breathtaking views.

Dudley’s combines elegance with simplicity, providing a welcoming atmosphere ideal for both romantic dates and family gatherings. Its blend of grandeur and coziness makes it a distinguished and beloved dining spot in Lexington.

Merrick Inn Restaurant

For over forty years, Merrick Inn Restaurant has delighted guests with its Southern hospitality and classic cuisine. Located in a historic pre-Civil War manor surrounded by expansive lawns, the restaurant offers a dining experience rich in tradition and local flavors. Weekly specials like the popular fried chicken nights attract both locals and visitors eager to indulge in genuine Southern dishes in a charming, historic setting.

Merrick Inn is more than a restaurant—it’s a significant piece of Lexington’s heritage. Here, Sunday Dinners are an event, featuring traditional favorites like steaks and fried chicken, all enjoyed to the backdrop of live music. The inviting ambiance captures the spirit of the old South, making it the ideal spot for a relaxing meal in a picturesque and refined setting.

OBC Kitchen

OBC Kitchen is a haven for bourbon enthusiasts, boasting an impressive collection of over 300 types. This gastropub marries the warmth of Southern hospitality with the finesse of a chef-driven menu, creating a standout dining experience in Lexington’s culinary landscape. The setting is equally inviting, featuring rustic decor and stylish wooden furniture that enhance the overall dining atmosphere.

Each dish at OBC Kitchen, from the candied bacon served in a glass to the horseradish-infused salmon, starts conversations and pleases the palate with its unique and comforting flavors. The welcoming staff ensures a pleasant dining experience, attentive to every detail. Additionally, the restaurant offers a selection of delicious gluten-free options, ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Bourbon n’ Toulouse

Bourbon n’ Toulouse brings a taste of Louisiana to Lexington with its vibrant Cajun and Creole menu. Situated in a lively, colorful setting, this restaurant offers a casual atmosphere that captures the essence of New Orleans. The menu features hearty dishes that pair wonderfully with a rotating selection of craft beers and local favorites like Ale-8-One, enhancing the spicy flavors.

The atmosphere at Bourbon n’ Toulouse is warm and inviting, making every visit feel like a celebration. It’s a community-focused spot where the festive vibe of Lexington comes to life. Whether you’re stopping by for a quick bite or settling in for a full meal, you’ll enjoy authentic Louisiana cuisine served with true Kentucky hospitality.

Coles 735 Main

Coles 735 Main serves up New American cuisine with a unique Kentucky flair, set in a historic downtown building. The menu features the freshest ingredients sourced from local farms, perfectly paired with handcrafted cocktails and a select wine list. Whether you’re craving juicy steaks or fresh vegetables, Coles 735 Main highlights the best of the region’s produce.

The restaurant’s atmosphere, with its cozy fireplace and elegant decor, creates a welcoming space for diners to enjoy innovative and comforting dishes. Coles 735 Main is a culinary destination that appeals to both local food enthusiasts and visitors, offering a true taste of Lexington’s dynamic food scene.

Corto Lima

Corto Lima offers a taste of Latin America right in the heart of downtown Lexington, making it a favorite for those looking for bold flavors and a lively dining experience. Known for serving some of the best margaritas and unique dishes like churro sundaes, the restaurant also meets diverse dietary needs with its extensive vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.

More than just a place to eat, Corto Lima is a vibrant destination perfect for an enjoyable night out. With its ‘happy food hour,’ guests have the opportunity to try a variety of dishes in a festive atmosphere. If you’re aiming to add some excitement to your dining experiences, Corto Lima is a standout choice that promises both fantastic flavors and a great time.


Zundo offers a taste of Japan right in the heart of Lexington, serving a wide range of Japanese favorites from ramen to sushi. The restaurant features a contemporary setup with a complete poke bowl and bubble tea bar, adding a modern twist to the dining experience. Adding to the uniqueness, Bella, a robot server, delivers meals to your table, blending tradition with futuristic charm.

The quality of Zundo’s offerings, particularly its savory ramen and meticulously crafted sushi, really sets it apart in Lexington’s dining scene. Here, traditional Japanese cuisine is enhanced by innovative technology, providing a dining experience that’s not only distinct but also unforgettable.

Blue Door Smokehouse

Blue Door Smokehouse is a highlight of Lexington’s barbecue scene, attracting meat lovers with its straightforward, no-frills ambiance that lets its expertly smoked meats shine. Known for its tender brisket and succulent pulled pork, every dish is richly infused with deep, smoky flavors that keep barbecue enthusiasts coming back for more.

This eatery is the essence of Kentucky barbecue, melding simple, traditional cooking methods with the robust tastes of Southern cuisine. At Blue Door Smokehouse, each meal is hearty and deeply satisfying, offering a genuine experience of Lexington’s home-cooked goodness.

As you explore Lexington, each of these top ten restaurants offers a unique taste of Kentucky’s rich culinary culture. These spots do more than just feed you—they provide memorable experiences rooted in local tradition and creativity. So, bring your appetite and get ready for a culinary adventure that celebrates Lexington’s spirit of hospitality and love for great food.