5 Unique Restaurants in Lexington, Kentucky

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With the World Equestrian Games coming up in 2010, plenty of people will be visiting Lexington, Kentucky, and the Bluegrass region in the center of the state. Whether it is your first time to the area, or you’ve lived there for years, there are plenty of restaurants unique to the region.

In no particular order, here are five:

Hall’s on the River

Whether you’re looking for fine dining or just same place to take the kids, Hall’s on the River has a little something for everyone. Prime Rib, New York strip steak and pasta are just a few of the menu items available, but this restaurant is best-known in the region for its seafood and a little something unique to the area, beer cheese.

The seafood is as fresh as you can find it anywhere away from the seaboard. A fresh catch of the day is flown in routinely just for your eating pleasure, and the shrimp and oyster and frog leg dinners taste just as fresh.

Hall’s Original Beer Cheese isn’t the only beer cheese made and sold in Kentucky, but it is one of the most famous and it has an original recipe including radishes, crackers, celery and, of course, beer.

This restaurant can be found a short drive south of Lexington. Get off Interstate 75 at Exit 95 and turn left. Enjoy your meal just off the Kentucky River.

Giacomo’s New York Delicatessen

Just because you’re away from the big city doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the tastes of your favorite deli. Giacomo’s brings corned beef and pastrami straight from Carnegie Deli in New York City to the region, along with bagels from H&Hin New York. Fine sandwiches and paninis are a daily specialty, but there are also plenty of desserts to tempt your taste buds.

Try out “The Giacomo” sandwich, a deli favorite. It comes with mortadella, sopresatta, mozzarella, mayo, prosciutto, onion, lettuce and tomato and a bread of your choice. And feel free to add or subtract what you want on your sandwich. Soups and salads are also available, as are breakfast foods, hot dogs and more.

If your sweet tooth is working on you, try out the Carnegie Deli cheesecake, whole or by the slice. Other desserts available at Giacomo’s New York Delicatessen are tiramisu, cookies, cakes, biscotti, eclairs and more.

The sandwiches are staples for the restaurant, but the soups and desserts available tend to change every day, giving a variety of offerings over the week.

Giacomo’s New York Delicatessen is located downtown Lexington, Kentucky, just across the street from the courthouse on North Limestone Street.


If you’re in the mood for some simple, greasy diner food, then Tolly-Ho Restaurant is just what you need. Being open 24 hours a day helps to bring in the college crowd, and this restaurant has been a favorite of University of Kentucky students since 1971.

As can be expected, burgers are a specialty, but there’s much more to be fund at Tolly-Ho. Breakfast is served 24 hours a day, and the shakes come in many varieties. For something a little different, check out the cheesy tater tots, the chili cheese fries or any of the other many menu items.

And a word of warning: If it’s your first trip to Tolly-Ho, you are officially a Ho Virgin. What this means is that the person waiting on you behind the front counter will ring a really loud bell and announce to everyone in the restaurant that this is your first trip there. It can add to the environment.

Also, while you’re waiting for your food to be prepared, there are video games and pinball machines throughout Tolly-Ho, and there is a small convenience store area where you can buy gum, candy bars and a few brands of cigarettes.

Find Tolly-Ho near downtown and across the street from the University of Kentucky campus at the corner of Euclid Avenue and South Limestone Street.

 Alfalfa Restaurant

Despite the name, Alfalfa Restaurant does serve more than just vegetarians. Yep, there is meat on the menu.

But this isn’t a steak-and-potato place. Specialties include the fish taco, the alfalfa avocado grill, chicken talese and more. If you’d like to try something vegetarian that’s a little different but still fun and tasty, order the Hoppin’ John, which includes brown rice, tomato sauce, onions, green peppers, black-eyed peas and cheddar cheese.

Make sure to spend time enjoying more than just the food. Live music is often provided for the dinner crowd, and art shows are quite common.

Located downtown Lexington, Kentucky, on East Main Street.

Goodfellas Pizzeria

Say you’re in the mood for pizza? Maybe some New York style pizza? If so, Goodfellas Pizzeria is for you.

Specialty and classic pizzas are readily available, but you can create your own pie by picking and choosing which of the many toppings you want. Buy your pizza by the whole pie or by the slice. Oven-baked subs are available, too, along with bread sticks and salad. Goodfellas Pizzeria prides itself on serving the largest pizzas and bread sticks in the area.

For dessert, try the cannoli. Just like mama used to make! And don’t forget that Goodfellas Pizzeria also caters.

Find this restaurant in downtown Lexington on North Mill Street.


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