Middle Eastern
Special Occasion
Fast Food

Lexington Ky Restaurants


Your Guide to Fine Dining



Bonefish Grill
The Ketch
Red Lobster

Obviously, being a long day's drive from the nearest saltwater, Lexington does not have the seafood you would find on either coast. However, Lexington does have five legitimate seafood restaurants. They fly fresh fish in daily and do a great job of preparing it. The menus are not as extensive as you might find on Cape Cod, Chesapeake Bay or the Outer Banks, but what is available is very good. Lexington fish cuisine traces back to Hall's, which opened in 1955 on the Kentucky River half an hour's drive from downtown. Hall's at first specialized in fried catfish, trout, turtle soup and crawfish etouffe, but gradually expanded to included a full seafood menu. Today's, Hall's is a tradition among seafood lovers, but several rivals have staked out their own niches serving people not in the mood for the long drive down to the river and back. With the decline of tobacco, many local farms have turned to fish as an alternative "crop." This has given restaurants a great source of fresh, locally grown, very high quality fish, reducing the amount they have to fly in, and allowing them to avoid the dreaded freezing, which of course means they can better match the taste of their oceanfront rivals. The hiring of local chefs with culinary training and internships at coastal restaurants means Lexington kitchens are now just as good at preparing fish as The Lobster Pot, Austin Creek Grille, Wheelers, Christiana Campbell's or any of the other famous "top 10" seafood establishments.

Regatta's certainly has the best location of any seafood restaurant in town. They look out on their own private lagoon, complete with trees and grass along the banks. Joseph Beth, the largest privately owned bookstore in the country, occupies the rest of the first floor and all of the upstairs. Captain Jack's Pier operates from April through October, serving on the water front and offering live music from 6 to 10 every night. So a visit to Regatta's can become a whole evening. But seafood is still the point. There's a great menu, so you'll have hard choices. The first is between the clam chowder and Creole gumbo. They're both outstanding. There are six salads, of which we recommend the salmon spinach raspberry vinaigrette. There are 10 fresh fish choices, each available grilled, blackened, asian, caribbean or broiled. There's lobster, crab, oysters and shrimp. And if you're nostalgic for New Orleans, there's a Nawlins Platter, with blackened catfish, cajun fried shrimp, creole gumbo, cajun fried okra and bayou stylke hushpuppies. With all of this splendor, however, the best item on the menu may be very simple : the broiled scallops platter in garlic butter and white wine. Quite basic. But they're large, and very hard to beat. 161 Lexington Green Circle. 273-7875. From downtown, go south on Upper Street, which becomes Nicholasville Road. Coming over New Circle Road, move to the far right lane, and turn into Lexington Green. Park in front of the central cupola and enter Joseph Beth's. Take the escalator down. Regatta's is to your left.

The Ketch is a classic beach shack. Common on Cape Cod and along the New England Coast, a beach shack is a ramshackle building with a bar, dozen tables and outstanding fresh seafood. . Start with the Forrest Gump Cajun crawfish nachos. Then go for the git down Bubba peel and eat shrimp, in quarter, half and full pound buckets, or the generous bucket of crab legs. The crab cakes are also way above average. This is serious no pretensions eatin here. Regency Road at Southland Drive. From downtown, take Broadway South, turn left on Rosemont Garden and right on Southland. Pass under the railroad tracks and look for The Ketch on your right.
No restaurant can match the drive to Hall's On The River. From downtown, you head out East Main Street and keep going as it becomes Richmond Road, then Athens Boonesboro Road. You'll wind through horse farms, over Boone Creek and under leafy tunnels. The stone fences you see were built by Scotch Irish stonemasons before the Civil War. But it's the food, not the scenery, which lures people down here. Hall's flies in its seafood daily from Baltimore. The seafood chowder uses Chesapeake clams plus Clark County potatoes. However, you might prefer the award winning Beer Cheese Soup. Among the four salad choices, we prefer the Shrimp Crabmeat Lettuce version. There are nine appetizers but the fried banana peppers are the best in town. Among the entrees, Hall's is one of the few places still serving frog legs. Their Catch Of The Day is always great. Hall's lists "Ocean Catfish" but it's really locally grown. However, it's huge and delicious. Their chefs do a great job with the Orange Roughy.
Bonefish Grill is a conneisseur's seafood restaurant. The menu is not extensive, and depends on availability that day in Baltimore or Norfolk. They use a wood burning grill skillfully. Your big choice is the sauce. We like their lime tomato garlic, but you might try the mango salsa, lemon butter or pan Asian. We like their Salmon, Swordfish, Sea Bass and Scallops. Bonefish also does a special job with their sides. They use locally grown vegetables and when unavailable they bring in the best they can from elsewhere. Owners Tim Curci and Chris Parker are not into down homey. They're into Polished Casual. You'll think you're in Charleston or Savannah.
Red Lobster was the first Corporate Seafood operation to open in Lexington and after the others have come and gone, it remains. This is a standardized menu : reliable, reasonably priced, providing what customers want. They're especially good at combination platters. The Trio includes shrimp, shrimp scampi and shrimp linguini alfredo. The Feast includes a lobster tail, crab legs, shrimp scampi and shrimp. The Admiral's Plate includes shrimp, scallops, clams and flounder. The cheddar biscuits which accompany all meals are good. Broccoli, mashed potatoes and wild rice are solid sides. Nicholasville Road. From downtown, take Upper, which turns into Nicholasville Road. On your left opposite Moore Drive.
Furlong's is a great seafood restaurant masquerading as a friendly neighborhood hangout. It shows a strong Louisiana influence. Among appetizers, we like their Bite Sized Catfish, Grilled Andouille, and Fried Crawfish Tails. There are creative salads like Crawfish Caesar. Furlong's offers four soups, all delicious : Crab Com Bisque, Red Beans and Rice, Jambalaya, and Seafood Gumbo. Their house specials are superb: Crawfish Etouffee, Crabmeat Augratin, and Broiled Seafood Platter. Entrees include 24 seafood items. The Froglegs (sauteed or blackened) and Grilled Amberjack are the best. There are five pasta entrees, the best of which is the Crawfish Pasta. However, the best item on the set menu may very well be the Catfish Stuffed With Shrimp & Crabmeat. With each meal you get a baked potato, Furlong Salad and two of 10 side items, the best of which are usually the green beans, zucchini and corn pudding. This latter is misnamed. It's really creamed corn. But it's still delicious. Save room for Homemade Bread Pudding, one of the best desserts in town.
Riptide is a River Shack half an hour out of town. There's no pretense, just good food. Inside is a fireplace, bar and a dozen tables. Six garage doors swing open to a 4000 ft. patio overlooking the Kentucky River with great views of two bridges and the New Madrid Fault. At water's edge is a Tiki Bar with live music. The crowd includes fishermen, boaters, water skiiers, kayakers and those who just want to enjoy the river breeze and leafy canyon scenery. It's a leisurely place. Linger over your appetizer and drink while the kitchen takes its time with your meal. But these are the best Grilled Scallops in town, large and juicy and done to perfection. The Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Fried Clams, Crab Pasta, and Catfish are outstanding. Their Petite Sirloin is good and there's a whole list of Po' Boy Sandwiches. Among the appetizers, we like the Fried Green Tomatoes when they're in season and the Gumbo anytime. The secret to their food is their excellent seasonings. 9079 Old Richmond Rd. 263-3286. Take East Main / Richmond Road east to I-75, turn South, drive six miles, take Exit 99 (Clays Ferry Exit), turn right and go to the bottom of the hill.
Questions? Comments? Updates? Disagreements? Join us at The Forum.