In this part of the Blue Grass state, great restaurants are as big and well known as college basketball and the Kentucky Derby. Lexington is home of some of the finest eating establishments not only in the South, but the entire U.S. From Asian, Italian, and seafood restaurants to downhome Southern cuisine and fine Steakhouses, Lexington has something for every taste. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
The Lockbox is set inside the 21c Museum Hotel in Lexington. With its marble floors, large windows and decorative plaster designs, it’s the perfect place for a romantic dinner for two. Rotating exhibitions of original, commissioned artworks add to the ambience. Dinner is served at communal tables in the lounge and dining rooms. With several rooms to accommodate patrons, the wait time to be seated is short. Dinner is served at communal tables in the lounge and dining rooms. The kitchen uses local ingredients that are of the highest quality, plus some of the finest Bourbons and Ryes in Kentucky.
167 West Main Street, Lexington, KY, Phone: 859-899-6860
2.Carson's Food & Drink
© Carson's Food & Drink
Carson’s Food & Drink is a casual restaurant with a hip, rustic chic ambience. The décor includes oversized chandeliers, and elements of leather, brick, and wood that create a speakeasy vibe. Talented chefs prepare gourmet pub grub with a twist, and Prohibition-era cocktails make the perfect complement. The upscale menu includes lunch items like a delicious soft shell crab BLT, and brunches offer flavorful scrambles, breakfast potatoes, and Bloody Marys with generous garnishes. Diners can expect live jazz music on weekend nights and at Sunday brunch. The restaurant has TVs and outdoor patio dining. They also offer delivery.
362 Main Street, Lexington, KY, Phone: 859-309-3039
3.Azur Restaurant & Patio
© Azur Restaurant & Patio
Azur Restaurant & Patio has an open and stylish, yet organic atmosphere. Azur’s excellent service, unique cuisine, and romantic ambience provides guests with European flair. Although the restaurant is decidedly fine dining, it’s casual on the wallet. The wait staff is second to none, and the chef insists on high quality local ingredients and the freshest of foods. It is no wonder why this jewel is no longer a secret in Lexington. Whether you crave seafood or beef, the culinary team, headed by a talented chef, will have you pining for your next Azur Restaurant & Patio experience.
3070 Lakecrest Circle, Suite 550, Lexington, KY, Phone: 859-296-1007
© Bella Notte
Bella Notte, a true romantic Italian Ristorante, is situated amidst several chain restaurants in Lexington. It has been a staple of romantic dining since its doors opened in 1996. This family-friendly restaurant serves authentic Italian cuisine in a casual atmosphere. With an array of menu choices, Bella Notte’s signature wood-fired seafood and meats have garnered loyal returning customers for more than two decades. Although there are three dining areas, the Patio Room is by far the most romantic. A warm fireplace and mood lighting make this the obvious choice for couples who are looking for an intimate dining experience.
3715 Nicholasville Road, Lexington, KY, Phone: 859-245-1789
5.The Blue Heron Steakhouse
© The Blue Heron Steakhouse
Steak lovers have found their Lexington restaurant of choice at Blue Heron Steakhouse. With its signature Porterhouse steak for two, the Blue Heron is the perfect place to take that special someone for a great romantic dinner. The ambience is southern chic in a renovated historic home on the bustling Jefferson Street corridor. The Blue Heron Steakhouse also serves fried chicken, oysters delivered fresh daily, fried white anchovies, Caesar salad, and premium beef that is a cut above the rest. The Blue Heron bar also has over 50 bottles of wine to choose from with wine specials on Monday nights.
185 Jefferson Street, Lexington, KY, Phone: 859-254-2491
6.Palmers Fresh Grill
© Palmers Fresh Grill
For that special breakfast, brunch, or dinner, Palmers Fresh Grill offers diners a romantic and tranquil ambience. Suspended over the water, every seat in the restaurant has an inspiring view. Whether dining outside on the patio to the sounds of lapping water at the pylons, or inside the upscale dining room, this is a relaxing choice for couples. Palmers serves fresh seafood and an extensive wine list, making it one of Lexington’s premier dining experiences. Guests can expect menu choices like Norwegian salmon, seared diver scallops, and Oriental mahi for dinner. Brunch favorites include Cajun shrimp hash, Palmers waffles, and bottomless mimosas.
161 Lexington Green Circle, Lexington, KY, Phone: 859-273-0103
7.Distilled at The Sire
© Distilled at The Sire
Diners at Distilled at The Sire understand why this restaurant was voted one the 50 top restaurants in the South. When a romantic atmosphere is on the dining wish list, then Distilled is it. With its newly renovated interior, softer lighting, and new private booths, the restaurant creates the perfect setting for a special dinner for two. The menu ranges from tempura halibut to braised rabbit to porcini dry rub filet. Guests can complement their dinners with a wide selection of wines, whiskeys, and bourbons. Reservations are recommended, either by calling the restaurant or by using the Open Table app.
120 West 2nd Street, Lexington, KY, Phone: 859-255-0002
8.Dudley's on Short
© Dudley's on Short
Named one of the Blue Grass state’s best restaurants, Dudley’s on Short is long on romantic ambience. Situated in the center of Lexington’s business district, the two-story restaurant was completely renovated in 2010. Dudley’s offers fine dining in an antebellum setting, which makes it an ideal choice for a romantic dinner for two. Originally built in 1889, it’s one of the most prominent structures in Lexington’s downtown area. Dudley’s on Short serves diverse dishes from oysters to their signature spring lamb. As with most downtown Lexington locations parking is premium, so Dudley’s offers valet parking Thursday through Saturday evenings.
259 West Short Street, Lexington, KY, Phone: 859-252-1010
© Le Deauville
For a romantic, relaxed atmosphere with authentic French cuisine, Le Deauville is the place to be. Eating in the Bouchon Room will make you feel like you’re eating in the City of Lights, as will their tantalizing menu with entrees such as bouillabaisse, escargot and dijonnaise. It’s a perfectly romantic setting. If diners crave a more casual setting, then the choice to dine on the outdoor terrace overlooking Lexington’s historical section will fit the bill. The restaurant has a wine list of over three dozen bottles. Le Deauville is the quintessential French dining experience in Lexington.
199 North Limestone, Lexington, KY, Phone: 859-246-0999
10.Middle Fork Kitchen Bar
© Middle Fork Kitchen Bar
What better way to showcase Kentucky’s pride in their bourbons than by opening a restaurant in a repurposed distillery. That’s exactly what Middle Fork Kitchen Bar has done by setting up shop inside the old James E Pepper Bourbon Distillery on Manchester Street. With an open kitchen concept and few walls, Middle Fork Kitchen Bar is a place where locals and newcomers feel at home. Couples can add a touch of romance dining on the outdoor patio under the glow of warming lamps on cool evenings. Middle Fork Kitchen Bar has become one the most popular restaurants in Lexington, so reservations are recommended, especially on the weekend.
1224 Manchester Street, Lexington, KY, Phone: 859-309-9854
11.Miyako Sushi & Grill
© Miyako Sushi & Grill
Miyako Sushi & Grill in Lexington offers both casual and romantic dining experiences. For couples, quiet, high backed booths provide space for a cozy dinner, and the restaurant’s overall ambience sets a romantic tone. Miyako Sushi & Grill’s highly trained hibachi chefs entertain diners with their incredible skills. They interact with guests while preparing their dishes tableside, adding to the fun. The Miyako’s menu is a tantalizing medley of flavorful dishes from tempura alligator rolls to fresh salmon to juicy filet mignon. There is something tempting for every diner. Miyako also offers a take-out menu for those wanting a tasty dinner at home.
2547 Richmond Road, Lexington, KY, Phone: 859-268-0708
© Nick Ryan's
Nick Ryan’s offers a fine dining experience for couples whether they’re newly together or celebrating years of marriage. The restaurant’s ambience is warm and inviting with private tables for special occasions and large communal tables for working lunches or parties. The chef prepares dishes with local ingredients whenever possible to ensure the freshest southern cuisine in Lexington. From the signature salads and fried chicken to the popular mac n cheese bowls and cowboy cut rib eye steaks there’s a wide range of dining choices. Diners can also expect craft and local beers, as well over 50 regional Bourbons.
157 Jefferson Street, Lexington, KY, Phone: 859-233-7900
13.Harry’s An American Bar & Grill
© Harry’s An American Bar & Grill
Harry’s: An American Bar & Grille is a popular Lexington dining choice for horse racing enthusiasts, since the restaurant pays homage to the rich racing history of Kentucky. The horse racing-themed décor includes jockey silks, saddles and countless pictures of famous jockeys and horses. Diners can also expect an array of flat screen televisions to catch every race. With fire pits and a glass perimeter, the ambience on the patio is warm and romantic on even the coolest months in Lexington. The menu offers everything from Aqua sushi to mini burgers, and of course, there’s a wide variety of bourbons. Harry’s assortment of beers rivals many breweries.
1920 Pleasant Ridge Drive, Lexington. KY, Phone: 859-264-8023
© Malone's Lansdowne
When it’s time to impress a certain someone, Malone’s is the place to do it. This Lexington steakhouse provides a wide selection of hand-cut prime steaks, making it one of the city’s premier steakhouses. Couples can tuck into a private booth and spend an intimate evening over a couple grass fed filet mignons cooked medium rare and a bottle of Steele Lake County merlot. The raspberry and blueberry fruits of this wine combine with notes of cocoa and coffee to complement the grilled steaks. Their seared ahi tuna makes a great substitute for those who prefer fish.
3373 Tates Creek Road, Lexington, KY, Phone: 859-335-6500
15.Coles 735 Main
© Coles 735 Main
Coles 735 Main is a popular restaurant in historic downtown Lexington situated in a restored landmark building. Local cured in-house meats, locally grown vegetables, daily fresh baked bread, and local seasonal ingredients form the basis for this restaurant’s New American cuisine. The Chef De Cuisine has put together a menu that includes delights like marinated lamb shoulder, Black Angus NY strips, and Udon vegetable stir-fry. The rustic-chic fine dining ambience of the 1938 restaurant space in downtown Lexington makes it the ideal setting for a romantic dinner for two. The space has been completely restored to take advantage of its historic significance, right down to the restored murals of English hunt scenes.
735 East Main Street, Lexington, KY, Phone: 859-266-9000
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16.Giuseppe's Ristorante Italiano
© Giuseppe's Ristorante Italiano
For over 20 years, Giueseppe’s Ristorante Italiano has filled the air of their tree-lined lane in Lexington with the sounds of music. Giuseppe’s captivating ambience with soft jazz music, candlelight, and private dining make for an ideal romantic dinner for two. If the occasion calls for a larger gathering, Giuseppe’s has room to handle that as well. Known for its hand-cut steaks, contemporary and traditional pasta dishes, fresh seafood and fish, the menu almost speaks Italian. Diners can expect top-notch offerings like gnocchi, calamari, and tortellini. This neighborhood staple has gathered a long and loyal following, which means a great dining experience.
4456 Nicholasville Road, Lexington, KY, Phone: 859-272-4269
17.Jean Farris Winery & Bistro
© Jean Farris Winery & Bistro
The menu at Jean Farris Winery & Bistro changes with the seasons, so they’re always serving their dishes with the freshest seasonal ingredients. It helps that they grow their own apples, vegetables, and herbs, and have their own vineyard. Their products are all grown, produced, and processed onsite – a true farm to table experience. Diners can expect a menu laden with fresh produce alongside chicken, pork, and beef entrées. The restaurant is a Lexington favorite where locals come to pair beers, wines, and bourbons with their delectable meals. The winery provides a romantic ambience for couples, but is also a lovely space for a business lunch or a night out with friends.
6825 Old Richmond Road, Lexington, KY, Phone: 859-263-9463
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Portofino is located in a 100-year-old building in Lexington’s downtown district. Original brick and reclaimed wooden floors help create a rustic, romantic ambience. There are a number of intimate and large group dining options, including some with fireplaces and some suitable for meetings or receptions. The restaurant grows a majority of their own vegetables and herbs, which brings an element of freshness to their culinary creativity. The Portofino menu is a fusion of Italian and American cuisine. For a true taste of Italy, diners should try the Risotto Del Giorno. Add a wait staff committed excellence to the unique ambience and fabulous food, and diners have it all.
249 E Main Street, Lexington, KY, Phone: 859-253-9300
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19.Shakespeare and Co.
© Shakespeare and Co.
How many times has a person dined at a restaurant, looked around at the furnishings and décor, and thought I’d love to have that? At Shakespeare and Co. restaurant, diners can order food, beverages, and the table and chairs they dine on, plus elements of the surrounding décor. The restaurant’s furnishings are crafted in their own Design House, which makes Shakespeare and Co a uniquely romantic experience. Established in Dubai in 2001, Lexington is home to the only Shakespeare and Co. restaurant in North America. Beautifully crafted furnishings, excellent food and beverages, and great service make Shakespeare and Co. a superior dining experience.
367 West Short, Lexington, KY, Phone: 859-367-0413
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20.Merrick Inn Restaurant
© Merrick Inn Restaurant
The Merrick Inn, a romantic pre-Civil War manor home with a wide veranda, was once one of Kentucky’s premier horse farms. It’s named after the fabled thoroughbred, Merrick, a horse so esteemed that his likeness is etched in his gravestone located on the grounds. For over 40 years the Murray family has owned and operated this icon in Lexington. Merrick Inn Restaurant offers guests a taste of southern dining at its best. This romantic spot serves their signature southern fried chicken, walleye pike, pecan crusted pork tenderloin, and other southern fare. Guests can complement their meals with a huge assortment of Kentucky bourbons.
1074 Merrick Drive, Lexington, KY, Phone: 859-269-5417
21.The Sage Rabbit
© The Sage Rabbit
With an award-winning New York chef, The Sage Rabbit will surprisingly tick all your Southern cuisine boxes. John Foster, owner and Executive Chef along with Nance Everts, his wife, welcome guests to one of Lexington’s most relaxed dining experiences. The restaurateurs are huge proponents of local growers who provide farm fresh goodness to area restaurants. They take advantage of the local bounty with traditional Southern, Italian, and seafood selections on their farm-to-table menu. Diners can expect entrées like house gnocchi, house-ground burgers, and local organic chicken. House-made desserts include a triple chocolate cake with a cabernet reduction.
438 South Ashland Avenue, Lexington, KY, Phone: 859-523-2095
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22.Tulip Bistro & Bar
© Tulip Bistro & Bar
Tulip Bistro & Bar is not your typical Lexington dining experience. The restaurant appeals to an eclectic mix of patrons coming in for juicy burgers, lighter fare, or romantic dinners on their garden patio. This casual upscale restaurant serves a European fusion menu that includes appetizers like blistered shishito peppers, their Tulip taco, or Chesapeake Bay oysters on the half shell. Dinner entrées feature grilled yellowfin tuna, wild shrimp and linguini, and their Frenched pork chop. Saturdays, college football fans pack the house to watch games on their many TVs and enjoy casual pub eats like their Tulip burger with applewood bacon or beer battered haddock.
355 Romany Road, Lexington, KY, Phone: 859-367-6687
23.Tony's of Lexington
© Tony's of Lexington
When romance is in the air, Tony’s of Lexington provides couples with a great option. This restaurant offers plenty of opportunities for an intimate dining experience. Named one of the nation’s best steakhouses, diners can feel confident choosing Tony’s for their special night out. The restaurant offers a fresh modern menu with plenty of steakhouse classics, complemented by a diverse and an expansive list of wines and bourbons, plus an award-winning wait staff. Tony’s of Lexington is also a great choice for couples tying the knot who are looking for an intimate rehearsal dinner experience, or an upscale wedding reception venue.
401 West Main Street, Lexington, KY, Phone: 859-955-8669
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Omakase is the tradition of letting the Japanese chef choose the meal. At Zen, diners can experience this Japanese tradition, or make their own selections. Either way, dinner at Zen is a must. Three days a week the restaurant flies in fresh fish from two prominent fish markets in Japan – Toyosu and Fukuoka. Freshness is the essence of Japanese cuisine, and Zen is no exception. With locally grown vegetables, fresh fish, and select meats, Zen brings the flavor of the Far East to the South. Diners can also expect Japanese-inspired soups, salads, and home-made noodles. What better way to end a romantic dinner at Zen than with a warm sake or Japanese whiskey ice cream?
3070 Lakecrest Circle, Suite 500, Lexington, KY, Phone: 859-219-2166
25 Best Restaurants in Lexington, Kentucky
- Lockbox, Photo: Lockbox
- Carson's Food & Drink, Photo: Carson's Food & Drink
- Azur Restaurant & Patio, Photo: Azur Restaurant & Patio
- Bella Notte, Photo: Bella Notte
- The Blue Heron Steakhouse, Photo: The Blue Heron Steakhouse
- Palmers Fresh Grill, Photo: Palmers Fresh Grill
- Distilled at The Sire, Photo: Distilled at The Sire
- Dudley's on Short, Photo: Dudley's on Short
- Le Deauville, Photo: Le Deauville
- Middle Fork Kitchen Bar, Photo: Middle Fork Kitchen Bar
- Miyako Sushi & Grill, Photo: Miyako Sushi & Grill
- Nick Ryan's, Photo: Nick Ryan's
- Harry’s An American Bar & Grill, Photo: Harry’s An American Bar & Grill
- Malone's Lansdowne, Photo: Malone's Lansdowne
- Coles 735 Main, Photo: Coles 735 Main
- Giuseppe's Ristorante Italiano, Photo: Giuseppe's Ristorante Italiano
- Jean Farris Winery & Bistro, Photo: Jean Farris Winery & Bistro
- Portofino, Photo: Portofino
- Shakespeare and Co., Photo: Shakespeare and Co.
- Merrick Inn Restaurant, Photo: Merrick Inn Restaurant
- The Sage Rabbit, Photo: The Sage Rabbit
- Tulip Bistro & Bar, Photo: Tulip Bistro & Bar
- Tony's of Lexington, Photo: Tony's of Lexington
- Zen, Photo: Zen
- Cover Photo: dima_sidelnikov/stock.adobe.com