NORM'S DINING GUIDE
Updated March 2016
There are many places to dine in and around Lexington. However, the ones I have listed here are those which I have found to be above the rest and most consistent. These are also the restaurants that Barbara and I try to go to as often as possible, not only to dine out, but to also check to see they are maintaining their consistency. I have listed them from the most casual up to the most intimate setting. If you are going to dine out during your stay, I suggest you choose from my list of recommended restaurants and hope you enjoy them! One other note: The dress code for dining in Lexington, as with other tourist destinations, tends to be anything from very casual to dressy. There are places we go to, though, we feel proper dress is appropriate and have listed the catagories accordingly.
P.S. I also have a section on restaurants a little out of the area.
NEW! Breakfast Joints and Breweries.
Lexington Restaurant 810 S. Main St. just south of town. 540-463-5844. Open 7 days for B/L/D. (Reviewed 11/15).
"This is a real down home diner that's been here for years. Decent food and portions, friendly service and no atmosphere. We've started going here often for breakfast on Sundays."
Berky's Restaurant @ Lee-Hi Travel Plaza 2516 N. Lee Highway (RT.11N). 540-463-3478 or 800-296-5344. Open 24/7 for B/L/D. (Reviewed 9/15).
"This is where the truckers eat and was featured on the Travel Channel's "Extreme Truck Stops" basically for the food. Great buffet or eat off the menu. While dining you can see the huge collection of antique toy trucks and pedal cars in the Antique Toy Museum. Barb and I go here about once a month for breakfast. The service is friendly but may be a tad slow."
Niko's Grill (See below).
Blue Lab Brewing Company 123 S. Randolph St., Downtown Lexington. 540-458-0146. www.bluelabbrewing.com. Wed 4:30-7, Fri 4:30-7:30, Sat 2-5.
"Interesting little nano-brewery".
Devils Backbone Brewing Company 50 Northwind Lane (Off of Rt. 11 S just north of Lexington). 540-462-6200. www.dbbrewingcompany.com. W/Th 1-7, F/S 1-8, Sun 1-6.
"This brewery originated and still operates as a true brewpub called The Basecamp Brewpub, in the little town of Roseland in Nelson County just over the Blue Ridge. A few years ago they opened this huge brewery and now are completing an addition that will double it's capacity. This is NOT a brewpub but there is a tap room where you can sample, drink and buy their beers. You are also welcome to bring your own food and dine indoors or out. This brewery has already won numerous national and international awards and is now the second largest brewery in Virginia! My favorites are Vienna Lager and Kilt Flaher. Take a tour - it's educational and fascinating!".
Brew Ridge Taps, E. Nelson St. (across from CornerStone Bank), Downtown Lexington. (Reviewed 12/15)
"Recently opened, this is not a brewery but they serve 18 beers on tap and have an extensive collection of craft beers. Light fair is served and all sandwiches are on waffles of all things! Interesting little place!"
PIZZA & SUBS
Salerno's, 115 S. Jefferson St., Downtown Lexington. 540-463-5757. Mon-Sat 10:30 am-9:30pm. Eat in or carry out, beer and wine. (Reviewed 10/15)
"Salerno's makes great New Jersey style pizza and subs (the half subs are the size of most other's whole subs!) as well as soups, salads and full dinners with daily specials. If you dine there in the warmer weather try the outside deck. It is especially nice on a warm summer day or evening."
Frank's Pizza & Subs, 511 E. Nelson St. (Rt. 60) just east of downtown. 540-463-7575. Open 7 days for lunch & dinner, eat in or carry out, beer & wine. (Reviewed all the time!)
"This is the oldest pizza place in the area and Frank's specializes in New York style thin crust pizza. Subs and other Italian dishes are also available. This is our favorite pizza place!"
The Palms 101 W. Nelson St. (corner of Jefferson), Downtown Lexington. 540-463-7911. www.thepalmslexington.com Open seven days for lunch and dinner, full bar. (Reviewed 11/15)
"This is one of the institutions in Lexington and has been operating for over 30 years. I would call it a college-type place with a full service bar. However, folks of all ages frequent the Palms. They offer a very extensive menu from burgers, sandwiches and salads to pasta, steak and seafood dishes. It may tend to get a little noisy at times but that's part of the atmosphere and the service is usually brisk even during busy times. The Palms changed ownership not long ago and has remodeled and streamlined everything."
Don Tequila Mexican Restaurant 487 E. Nelson St., just east of downtown. 540-317-4701. Open 7 days for lunch & dinner. (Located in the rear of the shopping center behind Cook Out) (Not reviewed since the move to the new location)
"Now I've never had an interest in Mexican food. In fact, this is the first Mexican restaurant I've ever set foot in. Boy was I surprised! The food is really good, the menu is extensive and the service is quick and friendly. There are dishes for every taste from mild to spicy. This is the real thing as all the owners and staff are from south of the border. If you want to heat up your taste buds, give this place a try!"
Sushi Matsumoto, 158 S. Main St., Downtown Lexington. 540-464-8496. Tues-Fri 11:30-2 & 5-9.
"The only authentic sushi bar in town. It's a tiny little place and although I don't care for sushi, I understand it's quite good. I have enjoyed the more traditional hot Japanese cuisine. This restaurant is owned and operated by a Japanese family."
Niko's Grill, 167 S. Main St., Downtown Lexington. 540-464-9499. Open 7 days, Tues-Thurs 7-9, Fri/Sat 7-10, Sun 7-3. Wine & Beer. (Reviewed 1/16)
"Casual dining with a Mediterranean flair. We've been here a few times now and really enjoy it. This is the only place in downtown where you can get an early breakfast!!! The food is good and plentiful and the service is friendly and quick. We've not tried dinner yet but really enjoy a casual breakfast or lunch".
Pure Eats, 107 N. Main St., Downtown Lexington. 540-462-6000. Tues-Thurs 8-2:30 & 5-8, Fri/Sat 8-8, Sun 9-8. (Reviewed 1/16)
"Pure Eats is located in an old 1900's gas station/garage. They specialize in homemade donuts, premiem local burgers and also feature milkshakes and local craft beers. There is dining inside and out. The food is really quite good but somewhat expensive for a burger joint as EVERYTHING is ala carte. A lunch for two will probably run at least $10 more than other places. Fun place!".
Southern Inn Restaurant, 35 N. Main St., Downtown Lexington. 540-463-3612 or 888-427-7979. www.southerninn.com Open 7 days for lunch and dinner, Sunday brunch. Full bar. Reservation suggested Friday and Saturday nights. (Reviewed 1/16)
"The Southern Inn is my pick as one of the best overall restaurant in the area. It is a Lexington landmark established in 1932 and has the only neon sign (grandfathered) in town, a large, old fashion design that runs up the front of the building. The restaurant offers casual, upscale American cuisine and the area's most diversified wine list. There are lunch and dinner menus (you may dine from the lunch menu at night also) and the wait staff is very professional and knowledgeable, something that is lacking in this area. There are usually beef, chicken and fish entrees and nightly specials. The presentation and accompanying vegetables and salads are wonderful and the bread and desserts are all home made. The Southern Inn is a little pricey for Downtown Lexington but I think it's worth it. The facility has been completely redone after a devastating fire gutted the building a few years ago."
Bistro On Main, 8 N. Main St., Downtown Lexington. 540-464-4888. www.bistro-lexington.com Open Tues-Sat for lunch (11:30-3) & dinner (5-9), Sunday brunch. Full bar. "Casual dining with a Southwestern flair". Reservations suggested on weekends. (Reviewed 1/16)
"This is also one of Lexington's best restaurants. It is small and comfortable but can be a tad noisy when full. The menu is an interesting array of items which includes buritos, quesadillas, burgers, salmon, steaks, soups and salads. Everything is nicely presented and the staff is trained and friendly. The wine list is small but good and ranges from affordable to pricy. You can dine from either the lunch or dinner menus in the evening. Try the organic burgers - they are some of the best burgers I've ever had. There really is a difference!"
Sheridan Livery Inn Restaurant, 37 N. Main St., Downtown Lexington. 540-464-1887. www.sheridanliveryinn.com Open 7 days for lunch and dinner. Full bar. (Reviewed 6/15)
"This restaurant has always been very consistent. We have dined there often and have never been disappointed. The food is consistently good with wonderful presentation and healthy portions, and the service is fairly professional and attentive. The Sheridan offers American cuisine consisting of steaks, poultry and seafood. You can dine inside or outside in pleasant weather and there is also a lounge."
The Red Hen, 11 E. Washington St., Downtown Lexington. 540-464-4401. www.redhenlex.com Tues-Sat 5-10. Limited bar. It's a very small place so reservations are suggested. (Reviewed 5/15).
"This is our pick as THE BEST place to dine in town and is Lexington's first farm-to-table restaurant featuring well prepared, progressive dishes made from local ingrediants. We've dined here with our long time, restaurant savy, repeat guests who stay with us all the time. It is wonderful! This is not a place where you'll get that big, fat juicy steak. Instead you'll be treated to a very unique menu with items you'll just have to trust and try. The portions are not huge but satisfying and the wine list is quality and pricey. We have now dined here many times and love everything about it! "
Haywood's (at the Georges Inn) 2 N. Main St, Downtown Lexington. 540-463.2500. www.thegeorges.com Wed-Sat 5-10pm. Full Bar. Reservations suggested. (Reviewed 3/16)
"This is Lexington's first and only piano bar/restaurant. It opened in 2014 and began serving small plate dinners. Now full size dinners are also served. It specializes in locally sourced seasonal cuisine including beef, seafood and poultry. The combinations and presentation are excellant. The wine list is good and the martinis excellant. There are different piano players nightly beginning at 6pm. Dining is available in the main room/lounge, side porch and in warm weather, on the patio."
Taps (at the Georges Inn), 11 N. Main St., Downtown Lexington. 540-463-2500. www.thegeorges.com Mon-Sat 3-9pm. Full bar. (Reviewed 6/15)
"This restaurant was opened in 2014. It is small and serves what I'd term bar food including salads, cheeses, burgers, po'boys and fries. Wonderful place that keeps in simple. Full bar.
Rocca Bar & Ristorante (at the Robert E. Lee Hotel), 30 S. Main St., Downtown Lexington. 540-461-8484. www.roberteleehotel.com Lunch - Fri & Sat, Dinner - Wed-Sun. Full bar. Reservations suggested on weekends. (Reviewed 2/16)
"The R.E. Lee Hotel was build in 1926 and is the tallest building in downtown. In most recent years it had been an SRO until a group of investors bought it and restored it to its original splendor in 2014. It is quite stunning! Rocca's, the only Italian restaurant in town, is on the second floor in the former ballroom and it's a very pleasant bar and dining area. In the summer there is dining on the open balcony overlooking Main Street. The cuisine is stylish, contempory Italian with salads, antipasti, flatbreads, pastas with seafood and chicken. The dishes all have an original flair and the service is efficient and friendly. The wine list is very good and reasonably priced."
RESTAURANTS A LTTLE WAYS OUT!
Original Italian Restaurant 2055 Magnolia Ave., Buena Vista 540-261-7992, 6 miles east (take Rt.60 east) of Lexington. Open 7 days for lunch and dinner.
"The Original is a family-style restaurant with absolutely no atmosphere. However, the food is really good, the portions are large and the prices are cheap! They serve thin-crust pizza, subs and the normal array of pasta dishes. Many Lexingtonians travel over to this little storefront gem."
INTIMATE DINING/DRESSY CASUAL
Osceola Mill Restaurant & Inn, 352 Tye River Turnpike (Rt. 56), Steeles Tavern. Take Rt. 11 north about 15 miles, turn right. 1-540-377-6455, 1-866-747-6455. www.oceolamill.com Saturday nights (spring-fall) by reservation only. Full bar. (Reviewed 12/13).
"This is a fine dining restaurant in an old historic mill serving steak, seafood and veal. We've dined here a few times and have really enjoyed it. There is fairly large menu and wine list. The service is good and the atmosphere is wonderful. Ask for a room to the left as the kitchen entrance is throught the room to the right. Pricey!
Cafe Macheel, 424 E. Ridgeway St, Downtown Clifton Forge, Va. 540-862-4119. www.michelcafe.com Tues-Sat 5-9pm. Full bar. Reservations a must at least 48 hours in advance. (Reviewed 6/15)
"This has been one of the best restaurants in the whole area for years, opened in 1979. Some years ago, chef/owner Michel, who has experience from all over the world including France, the Caribbean and the Homestead Resort up in Hot Springs, moved his wonderful restaruant into the former Franco's location here in Lexington. In 2014, though, he lost his lease and moved back to his former location (which has been totally renovated) in Downtown Clifton Forge. Michel prepares French and American cuisine dishes that are fabulous and his pastries are out of this world. The wine list is very nice, carefully chosen but reasonably priced from $30-$38/bottle. Everything from appitizers to deserts is wonderful and the service is friendly and attentive. Cafe Michel is a little pricey but well worth the 45 minute drive out I-64 W."
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