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Southland Drive



Arbys Dennys El Toros The Ketch Marikkas Tazikis Stein's Winchells
oleika Southland Drive is the core of the Lafayette High School neighborhood. The west end of Southland is the western boundary of the Lafayette campus. On Friday nights in the Fall, lights from the football stadium brighten the whole area. After big basketball games in Winter, fans spill into these restaurants. Southland Drive includes the Oleika Temple, one of the largest Shriners temples in the nation and a landmark since 1951. Shriners are the elite level of the Free Masons. They raise money to support the local Shriners Children's Hospital. Along Southland are also the Southland Bowling Lanes, Don Wilson Music Store (which has suppled instruments, sheet music and other supplies to Kentucky bands and orchestras for half a century), and Good Foods (a regional center for organically raised groceries and health foods). Most importantly, Southland Drive includes nine restaurants. Two of these, El Toro's and Denny's, actually front on Nicholasville Road, but they're an integral part of the Lafayette culture and are only steps from Southland. All these restaurants have a neighborhood feel, with local residents and Lafayette students dropping by daily or weekly and being on first name terms.
Arby's is famous for its Roast Beef and Beef & Cheddar Sandwiches, plus Jamocha drinks, Curly Fries and sauces for the sandwiches. Arby's opened in 1964 with the idea that a fast food restaurant could make a living selling something besides hamburgers. Its succcess has certainly proven that point. In 1981 Arby's added Chicken and Salads. Arby's remains the healthiest of the fast food outlets, using no additives or trans fats. In 2012 Arby's began selling Roast Turkey sandwiches, which have become a huge hit in Lexington. In 2013 they added new Reuben and Fish Sandwiches. 2014's big addition is the Philly, lean sliced Angus beef with fire roasted onions and peppers and melted Swiss Cheese on a Philadelphia Roll. Arby's serves Breakfast, with the most popular items being a Ham Egg & Cheese Sourdough Sandwich, Ham & Swiss Croissant, Biscuits with either Chicken or Sausage, and a Sausage Egg & Cheese Wrap. This Southland location is one of the few remaining that still has the 1975 black and red cowboy hat with the capital "A" and the apostrophe embedded in the red boundary. The new one has a white hat, small "a" and the apostrophe set further out to the right. arby's
Denny's Denny's is the last of the classic 1950s family restaurants still operating in Lexington. 70 years later, it's not fancy, upscale or cutting edge, and service is sometimes spotty. But they've cornered the market on two categories : Ice Cream Desserts (Milkshakes, Banana Splits, Sundaes and Sodas), and Skillets. They offer an array of ingredients prepared in cast iron skillets. Some are Breakfast entrees, some Lunch, and some Dinner, but they're all delicious. Denny's is open all day and offers breakfast anytime. Their Coffee, Hot Chocolate, Omelettes, Pancakes, French Toast and Belgion Waffles are very good. For Lunch there are six Soups, of which the Broccoli Cheddar is best. Chicken Sausage Quesadillas make a fine appetizer, and their Salads are worth ordering. We've never been impressed with their Sandwiches. For Dinner, we prefer the Salmon, Tilapia, and two Skillets : Prime Rib Chicken and Bourbon Chicken. Their Apple Pie, Cheesecake and Hot Fudge Sundae are good. Denny's recently reworked the Beverage menu. Now their Lemonades, Iced Teas, Iced Coffees and Smoothies are good and the Red Grapefruit Juice is unique; we haven't tasted it anywhere else. Prices are very reasonable. This location in the 1950s and 60s was a popular drive in, with roller skating carhops and several rows of roofed pull ins. That's why the parking lot is so big.
El Toro has developed a loyal following by becoming a neighborhood Mexican restaurant. A large number of diners are on a first name basis with waitresses and management. People come for the Camerones Nortenos (jumbo shrimp stuffed with cheese, bacon wrapped, broiled and basted, served with avocado), Filete de Pescado (grilled catfish marinated in olive oil and garlic), and Fajitas. El Toro's takes great pride in its Fajitas. It serves them sizzling in a skillet with spices and vegetables. It serves 10 Fajita selections but the mix of chicken, steak, shrimp and Mexican sausage is hard to beat. For a different kind of steak, try Bistec Ala Mexicana. They cook it in tomato sauce, onions and peppers. Or settle for the Chiles Rellenos. Save room for the Chimi Cheese, another outrageous dessert. This is a rich and creamy cheesecake wrapped in a pastry tortilla, deep fried until flaky and golden, dusted with cinammon sugar, garnished with iced cream and drizzled with rich caramel. There's a shaded patio (behind the wagon wheels in the photo) for good weather. El Toro serves all flavors of Jarritos, the famous Mexican soft drink, but they also offer a good choice of wines and beers. El Toro's
ketch The Ketch is a classic beach shack. These ramshackle buildings with their shake shingles line Cape Cod and the New England Coast. They feature a bar and a dozen tables. The Ketch is an unpretentious building but this is the best Seafood in Central Kentucky. It begins with the Appetizers, such as Calamari, a Beer Cheese Platter, Cat Paws (bites of Catfish in a house dipping sauce), and Hushpuppies. Soups include Louisiana Seafood Gumbo and Clam Chowder. The menu is extensive, but our favorites are the Maryland Crab Cakes, Crab Stuffed Shrimp, Seafood Hot Brown, Broiled Seafood Platter and Fried Clam Strips. Regulars swear by the Southern Fried Catfish, Wood Grilled Shrimp Skewer and Lobster Tacos. There are lots of Platters, Buckets and Samplers if you like variety. A Sunday Brunch features Smoked Salmon Omelet, Shrimp & Grits and Crab Benedict. If you're coming with friends but personally don't want Seafood, there are Memphis Ribs, a Grilled Veggie Platter, Ribeye, and, at the Sunday Brunch, Huevos Rancheros, Breakfast Hot Brown, and some very good Banana Pecan Pancakes. It gets crowded so come early. Regency Road at Southland Drive.
Mai Thai is a taste of Thailand heavy on seafood. Appetizers include the usual egg rolls, shrimp and squid items, but we prefer their 11 soups, particularly the Kao Lao (beef soup with meat balls and bean sprouts), Chicken Bamboo (which also includes mushrooms and onions), and Tom Yum (lime juice, shrimp, squid, mussels and scallops in lemon grass). They offer five salads, three with squid, shrimp and mixed seafood. Eight noodle entrees give you a choice of wide, narrow, clear, and fried, with peanuts, bean sprouts, broccoli, mushrooms, basil, and your choice of meats. Of seven curry entrees, we like the Red Sea (coconut milk, snow peas, basil, squid, shrimp and mussels). Eighteen stir fried items satisfy just about any taste, but the 15 specials are what the kitchen takes the most pride in. We like the Ginger Fish, Eggplant Squid, and Asparagus Shrimp. Mai Thai is in a remodelled house on Southland Drive next to the Oleika Temple.
Marikka's is Lexington's German restaurant, featuring a Bier Stube with 400 imports. Other German restaurants have come and gone in Lexington while Marikka's has survived because it serves outstanding food. Appetizers begin with an Uber Grosse Pretzel With Mustard & Beer Cheese, and include Potato Dumplings, Potato Pancakes, Hot Potato Salad, Red Cabbage and German Noodles. Entrees include Chicken and Seafood, but the greatness of German cuisine lies in its Veal, Sausage, Pork and Beef dishes, and Marikka's offers plenty of those. We particularly like the Sauerbraten (tender cut of beef marinated in red wine and vinegar with noodles and green beans) Jagerschnitzel (breaded pork in mushroom gravy with fried potatoes and red cabbage), Sauerkraut, Breads and Cheeses. The bar has its own cult of regulars. There are dartboards, pool tables and a Summer volleyball league. More importantly, Marikka's offers the best selection of Beers in Kentucky, imported from various countries. Local beer conneisseurs love being able to buy an exotic craft beer by the pitcher and take it to the patio. 411 Southland. 275-1925. In the photo, the entire strip is Marikka's. The restaurant is closest, the Bierstube in the middle.
Stein's is a New York style delicatessen specializing in corned beef, salami, Reubens, chicken salad and soups. Everything is homemade, even the salad dressings. We like their soups: Chili, Vegetable, Chicken With Matzo Balls, and a soup of the day. The salami is worth ordering. It's made from Chicago Vienna beef. They offer Lasagna, Meatloaf, Blintzes, Sandwiches and a page of "Take n Bake" items. These are packages you take home, heat in your own oven, and eat.
Taziki's bills itself as "Mediterranean," but in fact it's mostly Greek and American. That, however, is not bad, because Taziki's does a great job with both halves of the menu. Signature items include Greek Lemon Chicken Soup, Tomato Basil Soup, Grilled Lamb & Skordalia Gyro, Gilled Tilapia w/ Caper Dill Sauce, Chargrilled Lamb and the Spanakopita Rollup. They serve a good Hummus, three good Salads, and seven Gyros. Their "feasts" include Grilled Chicken, Beef Tenderloin, Pork Loin, Salmon, Shrimp and Tilapia. There are two Vegetarian Plates : Grilled Veggies and Dolmades (grilled hand rolled grape leaves stuffed with rice). You can order Take Home Dinners For Four : Chicken Breast, Baked Chicken, Pork Loin and Lamb. There's Beer and Wine. For Dessert you can get Baklava from Hellas Bakery. Tasiki's is on Southland Drive, across the drive from the new hotel.
Winchell's is famous for Fried Green Tomatoes, the best version in town of this classic dish. But we also endorse the Pork Quesadillas. The Tomato Basil and Loaded Potato Soup are excellent. This is one of the last stands of Kentucky Hot Brown : roast turkey, country ham, toast, Mornay cheese sauce, cheddar and parmesan cheese, bacon and tomato. Their Catfish Dinner ranks up there with Hall's. It's a hand breaded catfish filet with jalapeno cheese grits, vinegar slaw and homemade tartar. For lunch try the Grilled Portabella Sandwich. Save room for Bourbon Pecan Pie. There's a heavy UK / sports ambience here, especially on game days. 348 Southland Drive. From downtown, use South Broadway / Harrodsburg Road to Rosemont Garden, turn left, then turn right onto Southland. Winchells's is on your right over in the shopping center just before the Oleika Temple building. winchells
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