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Richmond Road

Dining Out In Lexington, Kentucky

Arbys Archa9 Arirang Garden Bob Evans Burger King Captain Ds Chick-fil-A Chilis City Barbecue Coles Columbias
Durangos Fazoli's FirstWatch GinkgoTree GoldenBuffet Hardees JerseyMikes KFC LaRosas Lees McDonalds Miyako
Mr.Kabab Newks PandaExpress Paneras PennStation Pepes Q'doba's SaucyCrab Savs Sonic Subway Suttons
TajIndia TexasRoadHouse WaffleHouse Wendys
 

Richmond Road exploded from a quiet country lane to a six lane connector route when I-75 was built. Today there are 34 restaurants along Richmond Road, more than along any other Lexington route. Most of them are chains, but there are some outstanding locally owned independent outlets. You do have to navigate access roads, strip malls and heavy rush hour traffic, but it's worth it to get to these very good restaurants. There are three lakes along Richmond Road, plus Jacobsen Park, a fishing club, two golf courses, the city's best sledriding hill and Ashland, the historic Henry Clay estate.

Arby's carved out its reputation with roast beef sandwiches and they still fix the best in town. They slice it thin, oven roast it and put it between toasted sesame seed buns. There are three sizes. They offer it in cheddar cheese and pepper bacon versions. The basic sandwich is one of the most heart healthy fast foods. But there's a corned beef /swiss cheese/ sauerkraut on rye, two roast turkey sandwiches, and three chicken sandwiches. Arby's has added four kinds of subs and three salads. The only concessions to the cholesterol culture are the curly fries, mozzarella sticks and potato bites. In 1981 Arby's added 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 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. Arby's offers a series of Jamocha drinks which are much better than soft drinks.
Archa 9 is Richmond Road's Thai restaurant. It's a sleek glass and steel facility on Old Todds Road next to Lowe's. The menu includes all the Thai classics. Our favorite Appetizers are their Crab Rangoon, Spring Rolls, Banana Leaf Prawns (prawns, garlic and herbs wrapped in banana leaves then deep fried), and Tempura Green Beans, although their Chicken Satay and Thai Chicken Wings are very, very good. Soups include Hot & Sour, Coconut, Seafood Hot & Sour, Duck Noodle, Beef Noodle and Spicy Noodle. Archa offers four Salads. The Nua Nam Tok contains sliced beef, roast rice, onions, basil, lime juice, fish sauce and lettuce. Larb Gel blends chicken, roast pepper, toasted rice, onions, basil, lime juice and lettuce on a bed of cucumber slices. There's also a Seafood Salad and the Veggie Salad, which features peanut sauce and pineapple. Archa does a good job with the iconic Pad Thai and four other Noddle entrees. Eight Wok dishes, six veggie, six Curries and four Grilled entrees round out the menu except for the five House Specials, Archa 9's signature items. These are Lemon Grass Chicken, Ho Mok Talay (seafood, curry, eggs, milk and coconut), Sizzling Duck, Seafood Hot Pot and Hong Kong Noodles (seafood, noodles, bamboo, veggies and gravy).
arirang Arirang Garden sits a block back from Richmond Road, next to Burke's Furniture, in a modest biege brick building. This Korean eatery is full of surprises, a Disney World for your taste buds. On a first visit you might try the buffet. It allows you to sample a wide range of Arirang's offering. On a later visit, you can order off the menu. Of the Appetizers, we love their Kimchee Pancakes, and really enjoy the Potstickers, Rice Cakes, Korean Sushi and Seafood Pancake. Some Soups and Stews are spicy while others are mild, but they're all rich with flavor. There's Kimchee Stew, Yook Gye Jang (thin sliced beef, vegetables, and egg in a broth over noodles), Kalbee Tang (beef rib, onion and egg soup over noodles), Hae Mool Tang (mussels, shrimp, squid, clams, crab and vegetables) and three kinds of Seafood Stew. Entrees are Squid, Shrimp, Vegetables, Pork and Chicken. The HotPot For Two includes thinly sliced beef, shrimp, mushrooms and noodles in a mild broth. If you order "Just For The Grill," they'll prepare your meal at your table right in front of you. We're struck by the Yin & Yang of Korean food; they hit you with spicy and mild, hot and cold, light and heavy, sweet and sour, salty and acidic, all on the same plate. We also love Korean vegetables: Pickled Radish Discs, Spiced Garlic Scapes, Mung Beans, etc. You could drink a glass of Plum Wine or Korean Beer, but the adventurous will try Sake (rice wine). Just be aware it's potent : Sake is 20% alcohol.
Bob Evans uses a down home country America theme, giving old fashioned farm cooking a 21st Century twist. Breakfasts are so bounteous they have a cult following; in every town there is a group of people who begin every day at Bob Evans. Lunch is very traditional, but it's Dinner where Bob Evans really shines. Of appetizers, we like their Blue Ribbon Apple Pie Fries, Country Fair Cheese Bites and Loaded Baked Potato Bites (breaded and fried potatoes stuffed with cheddar cheese, sour cream, bacon, scallions and buttermilk ranch dressing). Deep Dish Dinners, Deep Dish Pastas and Slow Roasted Dinners put you in mind of big family Sundays out on the farm. Soups and salads are excellent, and the open face sandwiches are the best still being commercially served of what was once a staple in every small town restaurant in the country. The Meat Loaf (made with sausage and Angus beef) is outstanding. This may be the best of all chain restaurants.
Burger King's claim to fame is that it broils its meats, rather than frying or grilling them. Burger King started by using the InstaBroiler, and now uses its successor, the Flame Broiler. It places the meat patties in a wire holder that allows them to be broiled on both sides at once. This allows for more even heat, thus a better flavor. But, more importantly, the wire conveyor moving through the flames allows the grease to melt, drain down and drip off the patty. Tests by university labs have proven that broiling is much healthier than either frying or grilling. So you can still have your burger without worrying about cholesterol or trans fats. Burger King is most famous for its Whopper, the healthier version of McDonalds Quarter Pounder With Cheese. In all, Burger King offers 12 burgers, Seven Chicken Sandwiches, a BBQ Rib Sandwich, a Fish Sandwich and a Veggie Burger. There are also three Salads, two Wraps, the usual Fries, Onion Rings and Nuggets, and gourmet Teas, Coffees, Lattes, Mochas and Juices. This Richmond Road outlet is tucked right next to the New Circle Road exit lane.

Captain D's was founded in Florida in 1969 and has 539 locations nation wide. Their theme is southern styled seafood. Their signature items are Seafood Gumbo, Funnel Cake Stix, and their Seafood Platter. But in Kentucky their Catfish is their best seller. And there's lots more. Captain D's offers both Popcorn and Jumbo Shrimp, Seafood Tenders, and Seafood Stuffed Crab Shells. You can get Tilapia, Wild Caught Salmon, Whitefish and Clam Strips. Appetizers include Jalapeno Poppers and Mozzarella Sticks. The Sides Menu offers Okra, Corn on the Cob, Cole Slaw, Mac & Cheese, Green Beans, Baked Potato and Hush Puppies. If you're trying to avoid Fried Foods (who isn't?) you can order Grilled Shrimp, Blackened Tilapia, Seared Salmon, or Lemon Pepper White Fish. A Giant Fish Sandwich is offered, along with Family Packs and a Children's Menu. For Dessert there's Cheesecake.

Chick-fil-A was founded in 1946 but didn't adopt the Chick Fil A trademark until 1967. It is one of the largest fast food chains and the largest specializing in chicken sandwiches. It has 2605 locations. Chick-fil-A is a controversial chain due to its strong Southern Baptist loyalties. It closes on Sundays and all Christian holidays no matter what. This includes locations in major league stadiums. It closes during Sunday games and even closed during one Super Bowl. Chick-fil-A is also well known for its band of cartoon cows who urge the public to "Eat Mor Chikin." However, it's also the only fast food chain using antibiotic free and dye free meat. Key to the Chick-fil-A menu is the pressure cooker, which is used to cook the chicken. The menu features a set of six chicken sandwiches, with various ingredients or spices. The big one is a $7 extravaganza with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, bacon and spices in addition to the famous chicken. Chick-fil-A has added a Breakfast line of Chicken Biscuits, with eggs, sausage, bacon and cheese options. There are a few Chicken Bagels with the same options. The basic chicken sandwich is insanely popular, with lunchtime lines often extending around the restaurant and parking lot and down the street.

Lexington has two Chili's locations, with the Richmond Road restaurant shown here. The appetizers are mostly fried but we really like the Southwestern Egg Rolls (six flour tortillas filled with smoked chicken, black beans, corn, jalapeno, Jack cheese, red peppers and spinach, served with avocado ranch dressing), and there's a hot spinach artichoke dip served in a hot cast iron skillet with fresh warm tostado chips). One of Chile's claims to fame is its Chicken Green Chile Soup (rice, green chiles, lime, avocado, cilantro, and tomatoes), but there's also the Chicken Enchilada Soup and a very good Terlingua Chile (slow cooked with beef, onions, chiles and cheese). Eight salads include the Caribbean (pineapple, mandarin oranges, cherries, green onions, cilantro, grilled chicken or shrimp, and honey lime dressing) and Quesadilla Explosion (grilled chicken, cheese, corn relish, tortilla strips, cheese and citrus balsamic dressing). Chile's other claim to fame is its 11-entree Grill Menu : Chicken or Beef Fajitas, Buffalo Chicken Fajitas, Steak/chicken/garlic/lime/shrimp Fajitas, Southwestern Quesadillas, Salmon, Monterey Chicken, Margarita Chicken, Cajun Pasta, Classic Sirloin, and Flamed Ribeye. The menu includes very traditional sandwich, burger, taco, dessert and beverage pages.

City Barbeque was built as a barbeque restaurant, where the other local BBQ outlets were gas stations, fast food restaurants or stores. City serves all types of bbq: Carolina (pork shoulder over hickory w/ sauce), Memphis (pork ribs w/ dry rub), Texas (brisket, sausage, beef ribs, salt and pepper rub), St. Louis (pork, grilled rather than smoked, with sweet tomato sauce), and Kansas City (a cross of Texas and Carolina). We also like their Slow Smoked Amish Farm Chicken. The Sandwich Sampler includes brisket, pork, turkey or sausage (any three) plus two sides. The City Sampler includes brisket, pork, sausage and turkey plus two sides. The Deluxe Sampler includes a quarter chicken, half a slab of ribs, plus pork, brisket, sides, and cornbread. City offers Kettle Brewed Southern Sweet Tea and Cane Sweetened Lemonade. Sides include Green Beans & Bacon, Sweet Vinegar Slaw, Mixed Greens & Pork, Corn Pudding, Potato Salad, Mac & Cheese, Baked Beans, Hush Puppies, and Gumbo. Desserts include Peach Cobbler, Banana Pudding and Triple Chocolate Cake. Between Man O War and Don Franklin Auto Dealership.
Cole's 735 Main features Classic Upscale Southern Cuisine. Among appetizers, we like the Spanakopita (spinach and feta souffle wrapped in phyllo with shallot cream), but the Fried Avocado stuffed with crab salad and the Sea Cake are excellent. The Roast Beet & Goat Cheese With Arugula is the finest interpretation of this salad in Kentucky. The 14 item entree menu includes Beef Shoulder, New York Strip, a Petite Filet and Duck Breast. Cole's does not advertise itself as a Seafood restaurant, but no seafood restaurant in town matches the Shrimp & Grits and Scallops served here, and the Tuna, Salmon and Seafood Medley are also outstanding. Ribs fans will find Baby Back Ribs or Short Ribs excellent. There's Amish Chicken with mushrooms and spinach. For vegetarians, Morrocan Butternut Squash Stew includes garlic whipped potatoes and lemon shallot brussel sprouts. A Bar Food Menu, available by request, is a bounty of items below $12 : Spicy Duck Tacos, Salted Endamame, Baked Brie, Duck Fries, Wild Mushroom Bruscetta, Artisan Cheese Plate and the Kobe Burger. 735 East Main. From downtown, drive East on Vine / Main, and look left. Cole's 735 Main
Columbia's has been a Lexington landmark for 60 years. Their North Limestone original location is famous and has been visited by sports and movie stars, musicians, politicians and other celebrities. However, the Big Secret is that this Richmond Road facility is much nicer. You can see a small open air deck facing the road, but the classy atmosphere is the roofed brick patio behind the trees to the rear right. In colder weather the inside has lots of stone and timber, crackling fireplaces and romantic little niches. The famous entree is the Nighthawk Special. For $15 you get a beef tenderloin broiled in garlic butter, served with baked potato and Diego salad. The special is named for The Nighthawk, Tom Kindall, a midnight to dawn disc jockey on WVLK, voice of rock and roll in Kentucky for 40 years. Kindall is long retired, but the special named for him is in its 50th year. However, the Nighthawk isn't the only thing special on this menu. There are five other steak entrees plus steak fries. Columbia's offers the best Australian wine list in town and the soup of the day is always good. Appetizers and salads are just average, but save room for a piece of the Kentucky Silk Pie, a lingering taste of the Old South.
Durango's is the oldest family run Mexican restaurant here. It has lasted 35 years by keeping its menu simple and doing an outstanding job with classic items. This is down home Peninsula cooking, heavily seafood oriented. Many Lexingtonians rank these Chile Rellenos the best in town. They are tightly stuffed banana peppers cooked in a tomato sauce. Durango's soups are great, especially their Caldo de Pollo (chicken/vegetable/ rice) and Caldo de Camarones (shrimp/vegetable/rice). House Specialties include Camarones Durango (shrimp shishkebab with peppers, onions, tomatoes, lobster sauce and rice pilaf) and Filete de Pescado (grilled catfish marinated in olive oil and garlic). There are five Vegetarian Plates, including Vegetales Fajitas (grilled vegetables with guacamole and sour cream), and Burrito de Vegetales (tortilla filled with grilled fresh vegetables, sour cream, cheese and tomato sauce). Durango's also offers five great Mexican style steaks.
Fazolli's offers a full menu of Italian fast food, although the manager takes issue with the phrase. He insists he serves "Italian food, freshly prepared, fast." It gets its menu and basic ingredients from the corporation, but the pastas, sauces, breadsticks and salads are prepared during the day and the main dishes are not placed in the oven until you order them. Fazolli's carries all the traditional Italian favorites and adds a few unique twists of their own. The core of the menu is the eight pasta entrees baked and served in a white ceramic casserole dish. Of this core, we think their best are their Spaghetti & Meatballs, Chicken Parmiagano and Rigatoni Romano, although we have friends who swear by their Ravioli & Meat Sauce. You might consider the Sampler Platter, which includes a small portion of several major entrees. The Sliced Italian Sausage & Pasta, and the Tortellini & Sun Dried Tomato Rustico are newer creations which have found a loyal following. Fazolli's offers the usual Subs, Pizzas, and desserts like Italian Lemon Ice.
First Watch made their reputation with breakfasts and they do a great job. The menu is heavy with fresh fruits and vegetables and in house breads. They offer 10 Omelets, served with potatoes and English muffins. They brag about their Bacado, a bacon - avocado - cheese mix topped with sour cream and salsa. But we think their best are their Acapulco, which includes Chorizo, sausage, green chiles, avocado, onions, cheddar and monterey jack cheese; Greek, with roast red peppers, spinach, onions, feta and black olives; and Swiss, with ham, roast mushrooms, onions, herbs and Swiss cheese. There are five Skillet Hashes, cast iron skillets with varying ingredients. They promote the Parma Hash, two eggs any style over potatoes, sausage, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, Parmesan, mozzarella and herbs. But the Farmhouse places those eggs and potatoes over chicken, zucchini, onions, red peppers, cheddar, and a pesto hollandaise. The Hashes are probably the healthiest entrees on the breakfast menu. As you would expect, First Wach offers Pancakes, Belgian Waffles, French Toast, Crepes, Frittatas, and eggs fixed every way imaginable : Eggs Benedict, Scrambled, Creped, etc. The Pancakes are outstanding. First Watch proudly points out that it does not use deep fryers or heat lamps, but makes everything fresh, heart healthy and on order. For lunch you can choose from six Salads and 13 Sandwiches, but they're just average. This is clearly a breakfast place.
The Ginkgo Tree Cafe is one of Lexington's most unique dining stops. It's only open 11 - 3 from May through September. But if it fits your schedule, it's a must stop. It's in the back of Ashland, the estate of Henry Clay, the finest statesman Kentucky ever produced. Clay represented Kentucky in Congress, was Secretary of State, wrote the Missouri Compromise, and came close to being President three times. The Ginkgo Tree offers eight exquisite sandwiches, including the Kentucky, with roasted turkey, applewood smoked bacon, cheddar, arugula, tomato and ranch. The Woodlands contains grilled chicken, salsa ranch, black beans, corn, peppers, Romaine and Monterrey cheddar in a wrap. There are seven outstanding salads and a Gazpacho Soup. They serve Kentucky Beers and Wines. Plan on combining your lunch stop with at least a brief tour of the estate, one of the finest examples of early 1800s federalist architecture. Descendants lived in it until 1948. Clay reintroduced the Ginkgo Tree to Kentucky, planting 100 here. The fan shaped leaves turn a brilliant yellow in the Fall and draw artists and photographers.
The Golden Buffet started out as a Chinese restaurant but added foods from Japan, Italy and America until it offers Lexington's most cosmopolitan buffet. You can order from the menu, but with 180 items on the line most people choose to assemble their own dinners. Exactly what is placed on the line each day is hard to predict. On the regular menu, we really like their Hot & Sour Soup and whatever they offer as The House Special. Their Scallop & Beef is worth ordering, but the Seafood Delight at $10.25 may be their signature item (lobster, shrimp, scallops, crab stick, baby corn, mushrooms, carrots, snow peas, broccoli and Chinese vegatables). As at any good Chinese restaurant, there are half a dozen Beef, Pork, Seafood, Chicken and Moo Shu items, plus three Sweet & Sours, seven Fried Rices, four Chow Meins and five Egg Foo Youngs. A REAL BARGAIN. Golden Buffet
Hardees began in North Carolina in 1960 and now has 3,828 locations in 40 states. The chain has remained in the news for decades due to one ad campaign after another in which bikini clad models eat its burgers while uttering various sexual double entendres. Feminist groups have then sued Hardee's and TV networks to remove the ads. Nevertheless, Hardee's has its own cult fans, who love its charbroiled burgers with cheese. There are the Famous Star, Super Star, Western Bacon, Big Hardee, Really Big Hardee, Double Western, Steakhouse Angus, Swiss and Mushroom Angus, and Frisco Angus. Hardees has introduced a few alternatives, which have become very popular : The Beer Battered Fish, Charbroiled Chicken Club and Original Hot Ham n Cheese. You can even get Chicken Tenders, a Prime Rib Burrito, a Loaded Omelet Biscuit, and a Sunrise Croissant. But Hardee's signature items have always been its Charbroiled Burgers. They taste significantly different from any other chain's burgers and there's a loyal following out there who will drive out of their way to buy them.

At 14 Peter Cancro went to work at Mike's Sub Shop in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. The shop kept changing owners and when Cancro was a high school senior it went up for sale again. He went to the local football coach and banker and put together $125,000 in loans to buy it. Today Jersey Mike's Subs has 1,910 locations nationwide. The basic format is similar to other sub shops. But Jersey Mike's twist is that the base sandwich comes with sliced onions, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, oregano, spices, red wine vinegar, olive oil and a cherry pepper relish. This gives them a unique taste. You can order Cold Subs or Hot Subs. There's a line of six Philly Cheese Steak Subs with various trimmings. Lexington customers seem to favor the Grilled Portabello Mushroom & Swiss. Among the Cold Subs you can get the Original Jersey Shore, Italian, Tuna, Veggie, Turkey, Ham, Roast Beef, BLT, Club, and Veggie. New employees go to Point Pleasant Beach for a month long course on how to fix sandwiches the Jersey Mike's way. There's a lot of attention to detail here. If you're a lover of Sub style sandwiches, this may become your new favorite restaurant.

Harland Sanders began Kentucky Fried Chicken in Corbin, Ky., in 1930, and began franchising in 1952. He pressure cooked chicken using a recipe of 11 herbs and spices which is still kept secret. Chemists have tried breaking down the recipe and have identified black pepper, salt, sage and savory as four of the 11 ingredients but can't crack the other seven. Sanders was taught by his mother that deep frying ruined food so he never allowed it. He began cast iron skillet frying the chicken but as soon as the pressure cooker was created for vegetables he adapted it for chicken frying. He used soybean oil because it is trans fat and cholesterol free. So even though it's fried, KFC chicken is among the healthier of fast foods. In addition to chicken wings, legs and breasts, you can get very good cole slaw, corn on the cob, green beans, biscuits, macaroni & cheese, mashed potatoes and the potato wedges, which are almost as famous as the fried chicken. The wedges are seasoned with the same secret recipe as the chicken. People stop just for a bucket of wedges. The slaw is made from cabbage, carrots, onions and Sanders' mother's dressing. KFC now offers Grilled Chicken, which is marinated and seasoned before firing. Hot Wings are marinated in a chili pepper sauce. There's also a Chicken Sandwich, Chicken Pot Pie and a "Bowl" of mashed potatoes, sweet corn, chicken bites, three cheeses and gravy. KFC hand prepares each item on the premises just before serving it. You can order a soft drink, but we recommend The Colonel's Sweet Tea instead.
LaRosa's opened in 1954 in Cincinnati, just as Pizza was first beginning to be commercially sold. Donald "Buddy" LaRosa emphasized carryout and delivery and advertised heavily. Buddy used a family recipe created by his Aunt Dena. It features a distinctive thick, sweet sauce and a thick provolone cheese topping. Buddy, thinking way ahead of the competition, obtained exclusive rights to serve pizza at the old Coney Island and now Kings Island amusement parks, at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Riverbend Music Center, Perfect North Ski Resort, and Great American Ball Park (home of the Cincinnati Reds). LaRosa's opened locations in every Cincinnati neighborhood, then spread into the suburbs, northern Kentucky and eastern Indiana. LaRosa's taught the non Italian population of Cincinnati what pizza was, and now, 65 years later, any pizza made by any other company doesn't taste authentic. So now LaRosa has finally come to Lexington. It's a full scale Italian restaurant. It sells the old classic style of Pizza, plus Calzones, Subs, Lasagna, Ravioli, Spaghetti and Meat Balls, Chicken Alfredo, Minestrone, Baked Onion Soup, and seven Salads. There are four kinds of Pizza, but you want the Original, which is Aunt Dena's. LaRosa's has almost a cult following and can get very busy, especially on weekends.
Lee's

Lee's certainly has the credentials. Lee Cummings was the nephew of Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Harland Sanders, grew up in the kitchen learning how to cook, and in 1952 hit the road with his uncle selling his franchises and their special pressure cookers and special secret recipe. Cummings became president, but in 1962 Sanders sold the company. In a clever legal maneuver, Cummings kept control of the recipe. Cummings then founded Famous Recipe. In 1981 the name was changed to Lee's Famous Recipe. Now, it's just Lee's. Basically, Lee's uses only fresh --- never frozen --- chicken, soaks it in a sugar solution, then in a mixture of spices. They hand bread it, honey dip it, and pressure cook it to seal in the flavor. So when you visit Lee's, you're getting a 21st Century, high tech version of Kentucky Fried Chicken. They've diversified somewhat into Oven Roast and Spicy Chicken, plus Breasts and Wings. A lot of attention has been paid to their Sides. People drop by just to pick up an order of Potato Wedges, Mac & Cheese, Corn on the Cob or Red Beans & Rice. but there are also Mashed Potatoes & Gravy, Hot Apples, Baked Beans, Cole Slaw & Potato Salad and Buttermilk Biscuits.

McDonalds is the all time fast food giant, and you can still feast on a Double Quarterpounder With Cheese, Large Fries and Triple Shake so thick you eat it with a spoon. However, even McDonalds has moved on. Their Wraps are very good in Ranch Grilled, or Chipotle Grilled Barbeque. The Grilled Chicken Sandwich is listed by the American Heart Association as the heart healthiest item on the McDonalds menu. The Grilled Premium Chicken Breast Strips are also great, as are six kinds of salads, especially the Premium Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad or the Asian Salad. McDonalds offers Paul Newman's Own Dressings in six flavors. These are nationally noted for their low fat, low cholesterol content. McD's still offers the sugary desserts, but the Fruit Yogurt Parfaits and Baked Apple Pie Slices avoid that problem. There's also Low Fat Milk, Apple Juice, Dasani Water, Orange Juice, and Iced Tea. For a caffeine fix, there are five flavors of iced coffee. McDonalds has 16 locations in Lexington.
Miyako has the most extensive teriyaki menu in town with seven dinners, and offers two tempuras (battered and fried dishes) as appetizers and four more as dinner sides. Its raw sushi menu features squid, sea urchin and octopus. Cooked sushi includes Tako, Smoked Salmon, Ebi, Tamago and Unagi Kani. Miyako's Sushi specialty is its Dancing Tuna Roll, spicy tuna wrapped in seaweed and tart rice, topped with seared tuna, wasabi sauce, scallions and masago. Heavy with wood, the decor conceals the fact six lane Richmond Road is only feet from the building. The Plum Wine is the best beverage on the menu.
Mister Kabab is basically a carryout Middle Eastern restaurant. There are tables for eating here, both indoors and outdoors, but most patrons pick up their food and head home. The menu is also shorter than other Middle Eastern restaurants, and omits many traditional favorites, like Baba Ghannouj and Moussaka and the Arab coffees and teas. Because of that, many fans of Middle Eastern cuisine shrug off Mr. Kabab and go to one of its rivals. But the actual food here is very good. The Entrees appear as Platters. There's a Skewer Platter (two skewers, of chicken, beef or lamb), a Gyro Platter, a Falafel Platter. the Ultimate Shawarma Platter, and a Gyro Platter. Each Platter comes with vegetables and garlic sauce. If you have several friends or family members eating, you might consider the Mashawi Platter, which includes six skewers over rice with vegetables and one large side. Sandwiches include the Beef Kabab, Classic Gyro, Falafel and Shawarma. Salads include Classic Greek, Cucumber Yogurt, Tabooli and Fatoush. Mr. Kabab offers Stuffed Grape Leaves, Falafel and Hummus, plus the classic Lentil Soup (lentils, parsley, garlic).

Newk's opened in Oxford, Mississippi in 2004 and today has 100 places in 13 states. Newk's sells gourmet made-from-scratch-in-front-of-you sandwiches, soups, salads and specialty drinks. They usually have 3-4 flavors of Soup for you to choose from. They also offer pizzas, desserts, fruit, wine, beer, and coffee. Once you place your order, you can stop by a large round table and pick up your choice of gourmet condiments, toppings and their famous breadstick crackers. They rotate their Soups, each day offering three. We think their Lobster Crab Bisque is their best, but the Loaded Potato, Spinach & Feta, and Tomato Bisque are awfully good. They have some creative Pizzas, including Spicy Chicken, Spicy Shrimp, and Newk's Q, but their Margherita Pizza is very basic and still delicious. There are nine Salads. The Southern includes scratch made chicken salad, grapes, pecans, red onions, mixed greens, tomatoes and croutons. But their Greek Salad, with romaine, feta, artichoke, olives, cucumbers, pepperoncini, red onions and tomatoes, is very good. Of their 13 gourmet sandwiches, we like the Turkey Avocado and Pesto Chicken.

Launched in 1983, Panda Express was the first Chinese fast food chain. They began with counters in food courts, expanded to franchises in stadiums, arenas, airports and shopping malls, and finally built free standing restaurants. There are now 2000 locations. The Zandale outlet is a new building on Nicholasville Road. Panda Express is famous for its Orange Chicken, which has almost a cult following, for its three Appetizers (Chicken Egg Roll, Cream Cheese Rangoon and Vegetable Spring Roll), and for its Black Pepper Angus Steak (the steak is cubed and comes in a bowl), Kung Pao Chicken and Honey Sesame Chicken Breast. Unlike typical Chinese restaurants, which offer huge menus, Panda Express limits its menu to only 13 entrees and has learned to do them very, very well. It doesn't have traditional Chinese favorites like General Tsao's Chicken, Moo Goo Gai Pan or Phoenix Dragon, so many Chinese lovers avoid it, but founders Andrew and Peggy Cherng and Chef Andy Kao have hand crafted a menu they think is suited for "fast casual" preparation, and thousands of Panda Express devotees agree with them.
Panera's is famous for drinks, soups, sandwiches and paninis. The outlet shown here, just off Richmond Road on the north side, also features patio seating for Spring and Summer. We like their Ginger Peach Tea, which we have tried and cannot duplicate anywhere else (so we just buy boxes from Panera). Of their soups, which we order in the bread bowl Puritan style, we like Creamy Tomato (pureed with red pepper and oregano in cream) and Garden (Swiss chard, cauliflower, zucchini, tomatoes, beans, peppers, barley, and basil pesto thoroughly pureed). The two salads we think lead the pack are the Mediterranean Salmon (chilled salmon, field greens, romaine, feta cheese, olives, oranges, almonds, red onions in honey tangerine vinaigrette dressing) and Fuji Apple Chicken (citrus herb chicken, field greens, romaine, tomatoes, red onions, pecans, Gorgonzola, apple in white balsamic apple vinaigrette). The Asiago Roast Beef and Mediterranean Veggie top a whole page of sandwiches.

Miami (O.) University student Jeff Osterfeld noticed on a Philadelphia trip in 1983 that the Cheesesteak Sandwich was insanely popular. He came back to Dayton and opened Jeffrey's Delicatessen, selling a version of the Cheesteak Sandwich which instantly became a huge hit. He changed the business name to Penn Station in 1985 and expanded to several locations in Cincinnati, selling four sandwiches plus freshly squeezed lemonade and diagonally cut fries. Today there are 306 Penn Stations in 15 states. Like all Sub shops, they offer cold and grilled foot long sandwiches, in this case nine cold and 12 grilled. The Cheesesteak, Italian, Reuben and Artichoke are by far the most popular, although we like their Veggie and Club versions just as well. Penn Station has also expanded into Wraps and Salads. Recently, they've begun offering the "Snack Sized Sub," a short version of any of the cold or grilled versions. They have soft drinks but you want their famous freshly squeezed Lemonade. There are people who stop by just for the Lemonade. You can even buy a half gallon of it. The Cheesebread is a Penn Station features which loyal customers love. It's hearth baked bread topped with provolone, parmesan and oregono.

Pepe's The former Mi Mexico is under new management and is now called Pepe's. It retains the colorful interior and the orange building. Sadly, the food quality seems to have declined. We regret this, because for the previous decade they offered several unique items you couldn't get anywhere else. They still have those; they're just not as good. The Pina Relleno is a pineapple stuffed with shrimp and scallops, cooked in red sauce and topped with Monterey Jack Cheese. The Caldo de Camaron, made only on weekends, is a shrimp vegetable soup. Their Hawaiin and Pineapple Fajitas are a rare variation in this category. They also offer seven vegetarian entrees. They have other locations in Lexington and Georgetown, which have also come under the new owners as Pepe's. So we'll keep checking back hoping for improvement.
Qdoba does some very creative things with the basic Mexican menu. We particularly like their Mexican Gumbo, which is a Qdoba creation. You won't find anything like it anywhere else, and we think it alone justifies a Qdoba visit. But there are other reasons. Qdoba uses all local fresh ingredients and makes your order while you watch. There's none of the shipping items in premade and frozen, then quick thawing and heating them in a microwave just before serving. Qdoba's burritos, tacos and quesadillas are made California style, which is more like Mexican and less like Tex Mex. In other words, the taste of the fresh vegetables and herbs comes through without being buried under the heat of peppers and spices. Their Taco Salad is a pile of lettuce and vegetables served in a taco bowl; first you eat the salad, then you eat the bowl. Qdoba lets customers customize your order: first you specify which basics you want, then you choose which additions you want. Qdoba also provides complete nutritional information on each item so if you're dieting or training you can customize your meal.
Saucy Crab has moved into the former Texas Roadhouse building. This is a new Midwestern seafood chain. Richmond Road is only its sixth location. The menu features an assortment of Louisiana and Cajun seafood. It offers several unique items, such as Gator Bites, an Appetizer of lightly seasoned alligator meat fried and served with ranch dressing. There are Fried Crawfish Tails and Conch Fritters. For Sides you can order Fried Okra, Corn Nuggets or Sweet Pickles. Saucy Crab serves two Soups : A Gumbo and Crawfish Sausage Etouffe. The Baskets are interesting. They're an assortment of fried okra, onion rings, cajun fries, sweet pickles and either Catfish, Alligator, Shrimp, Calimari or Oysters. There's a full bar with Beers, Wines and Cocktails.
Sav's offers a West African menu. There are only a dozen tables inside plus the outdoor garden, but owner manager Mamadou Savane has drawn quite a following, so it can get very crowded. Sav himself serves up the food from a dozen large bowls along the wall. The Lamb Raout, Cornish Hen, SAVory Wings, and Tilapia are excellent. We really like the Vegan Keke and Chicken Keke Salads (Keke is Cassava Couscous). We highly recommend the Fried Plantains. They're delicious, and filling enough to be a lunch all by themselves. Sav's Bowls are wonderful. The most spectacular are Peanut Goat and Ginger Chicken Meatballs, but there are various beef, chicken and vegetarian bowls, all made with palm oil, served over your choice of rice or fufu. Cups of Sav's Own Piment (Habanero) Sauce are always optional. There's Fataya (beef and mint in a pastry shell). Drinks include BeeSop (made from hibiscus and lemon), JinJon (ginger and pineapple) and various Beers. For Dessert there are amazing Ice Creams, like Hot Banana, Kentucky Coffee, and Lavender. African art hangs on the walls. Sav's is a serious, authentic African restaurant, the best example of this cuisine in the state. 630 East Main (diagonally across from the Fayette County Schools Offices).
Skyline Chili was founded in 1949 by Greek immigrant Nicholas Lambrinides, who opened that first restaurant on the top of Price Hill and named it after the view of downtown Cincinnati he could see out the window. Lambrinides had been developing the recipe for several years while working as a cook and chef in several restaurants. The recipe does not contain meat. It's actually a sauce, which contains chocolate, spices, cinammon, cumin and chili powder. There are varieties, but the official Skyline Chili is a bowl of spaghetti topped with Lambrinides' sauce, mustard, onions, beans and a layer of shredded cheese, referred to as a "5-way" by Skyliners. They cut up the spaghetti, then stir the ingredients together. Those born and raised in Cincinnati consider this the chili, while visitors, especially from Texas, are skeptical, since they're used to chili with meat and not cheese in it. Skyline serves other creations. They top a Hot Dog, or a Burrito, with the Chili. There's a Chili Cheese Sandwich, and something called a Chilito, which is a Taco filled with Skyline Chili. There's even a Chili Potato, which is a Baked Potato stuffed with Chili. If you enjoy this style of chili, coming here is a culinary adventure.

Sonic is a retro drive in restaurant where for half an hour or so you can pretend you're back in the 1950s. They even have girls on roller skates coming out to take your order and carrying your food out on trays which hook onto your car window. The menu is the classic burger, fries, shake and ice cream, although they've updated it a little with Nachos, Onion Rings and Chicken Nuggets. They play Golden Oldie music over the speakers. On Fridays and Saturdays it's a frequent stop for guys cruising Lexington in their restored 50s and 60s cars, so you might want to bring your camera. If you walk over from one of the dorms or nearby student apartment complexes, there are a few picnic tables set up under the canopy so you can sit outside and enjoy the ambience. Sonic has several outlets in town. This Richmond Road version is the newest and features a more modern design, which will impress some and disappoint others.

Subway is the ultimate enterpreneurial story. College freshman Fred DeLuca explained to Physics Professor Peter Buck that he was going to have to drop out of school for lack of funding. Buck told him to open a sandwich shop. "People are tired of burgers and fried food. What they'd love is a good sandwich, made in front of them, with fresh ingredients that they choose themelves. Keep the shop small to avoid high overhead, and keep your prices low to draw customers." Buck offered an initial $1000 investment to help DeLuca get started. Thus was born Subway, a concept that would revolutionize the fast food industry.

Today's Subway is that concept carried to extremes. The sandwiches themselves can contain ham, chicken, tuna, steak, bacon, sausage or meatballs along with cheeses, lettuce, vegetables or mushrooms. You can order those ingredients as a Salad rather than a Sandwich. There are Wraps, Flatbread Breakfast Sandwiches and Protein Bowls. The Breads are excellent.

But lately, rivals have passed Subway at its own game. They've gone to local produce delivered daily, while Subway still relies on twice a week deliveries from regional warehouses. This especially impacts the lettuce, which by the third day is wilted and tasteless.

However, if you visit a Subway on the day of or the day after delivery, these are still excellent sandwiches.

Sutton's is an upscale Italian/American restaurant which operated in Danville for two years and moved to Lexington in May 2010 with a short menu and focus on quality. The inside is a classy example of casual elegance with a three season roofed brick patio. Of their appetizers, we like their Meatballs but the real stars are their three Soups : Wedding (very delicate blend of chicken, sausage, spinach and Parmesan cheese), Baked French Onion (one of the city's better renditions), and Loaded Potato Soup (a hearty hit for cold Winter nights but be careful as it's a meal in itself). Of the entrees, we like the Scallops (grilled, with lemon and white wine), Tilapia (broiled), and the Seafood Platter (shrimp and scallop skewers and tilapia). There are Pasta Giovani (chicken, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, black olives, garlic, capers, red pepper, basil and penne pasta), FRA Daviolo (angel hair with lobster cream sauce, marinara, scallops, shrimp and scallions), and Chicken Fiorindo (baked chicken stuffed with spinach, tomatoes, cheeses, herbs, and spices). But they offer one Lexington's best Hot Browns, and the Tuscan Rib Eye is one of the best steaks in town. They also have excellent Pizza.
Taj India is the latest incarnation at the old Oriental Garden / India Palace location. Taj opened in 2009 and has already developed a loyal following. They lured longtime Lexington chef Benny Head from his former UK campus location, and offer a Northern India menu. The decor has a regal ambiencewith ornate chandeliers, a waterfall and rich wall hangings. The lunch buffet (seven days a week) is spectacular, with over 20 dishes and various tandoor baked breads and other sides. Lexington has eight good Indian restaurants, but the Chicken Tikki Masala, Saag Paneer and Tandoori Chicken here are as good or better than any of them. Among appetizers, we like the Lamb Kebabs. They offer eight good vegetarian dinners. The Tandoori Mixed Grill is a great way to sample the variety of their menu. Goat Curry was new to us, and we found it quite unique and tasty. Although their Rice Pudding is the traditional dessert, we were more impressed with the Mango Pudding. This is not a good location, out of sight of Richmond Road, on a dead end street. Both their predecessors were really good, developed a loyal following, but never attracted enough walk in or drive by traffic to survive. We hope Taj India makes it.

A "road house" was a restaurant out on the highway far from any town where travellers could stop for a long break, order a hearty meal, and spend half an hour at the bar while they fixed it. A road house tradition was bowls or baskets of peanuts at the bar where men could shell them and toss the shells on the floor. Texas Road House tries to honor this tradition with its emphasis on steaks, ribs and beer for the men and chicken and seafood for their families and, sure enough, lots of peanut shells on the floor. Texas Road House really does do a fine job with steaks for a lower price than most steak restaurants. But this is their reputation, and people tend to overlook their other entrees. The ribs, seafood and chicken here are competitive with the restaurants specializing in those foods. Even the soups are good. This is a brand new building, across Richmond Road from the former location. The new building is in the old Wal Mart parking lot.

Waffle House is famous for their waffles but ironically their menu features everything else. They promote their Steak & Eggs, Pork Chops & Eggs, Grilled Chicken & Eggs, Omelettes (Cheesesteak, Chili Cheese, Jalapeno and Ham & Cheese), Egg Sandwiches, Hash Browns and classic EggsnBacon or Ham & Egg plates. They're also pretty proud of their biscuits, sausage and bacon sides. Then, over there in the corner, they get around to their Waffles. Their basic is the classic Butter Milk Waffle. There are Double Waffles and Waffles With Sausage or Ham or Eggs. You can pick from Pecan, Chocolate Chip, Blueberry and Strawberry. Actually, we regret the evolution of Waffle House. Way back there, they served ONLY waffles, two pages of every variation imaginable. We could try waffles here we could never find anywhere else and couldn't fix ourselves. Now they've diversified, but the waffle choices are narrowed. Luckily, they still do a good job, with waffles and everything else.

Wendy's was the first national chain to openly challenge McDonald's in the burgers and fries wars, and the Ohio based company still makes fine burgers, in that unique square shape Dave Thomas created. You can get hamburgers or cheeseburgers in single, double or triple stacks with bacon and other additions. There are grilled chicken and fish sandwiches and wraps, and a line of stuffed and baked potatoes with sour cream, chives, broccoli and cheese and bacon. Wendy's has really focused on its salads. They offer Mandarin Grilled Chicken, BLT, Grilled Chicken Caesar, and Southwest Taco Salads. As sides you can have dishes of Mandarin Oranges, bowls of Chile and a Strawberry Yogurt Squeeze. Wendy's has always taken great pride in its milkshakes and still offers Vanilla, Chocolate, Fudge, Strawberry, and Nestles Toll House Cookie Dough.
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