~ Dining in Lexington during the ABA Convention ~


The City of Lexington has an amazing array of non-chain, independent restaurants with high quality food, beverage, and service.  From time-honored recipes to the latest culinary trends, our restaurant scene is sure to impress! Southern staples? Of course..but so much more! Here’s the inside scoop on some restaurants convenient to downtown Lexington – many are within walking distance of the Hilton Hotel, and others are can be reached in just a few minutes by car or taxi. And of course, it’s always good idea to call ahead to make reservations.


Bella Notte (Italian Cuisine)


Bella Notte provides a very comfortable atmosphere and perhaps the finest Italian food to be found in Lexington. Inspired by the Italian “trattoria”–a local gathering place for family and friends to enjoy honest, wholesome food. Very fresh and tasty!!

$$-$$$ (15 minute drive from the hotel – near Fayette Mall)


Blue Heron Steak House (Steaks and Southern Fare)


The Blue Heron Steakhouse is a comfortable and chic locally owned restaurant and cocktail bar serving a menu comprised of steakhouse classics and Southern fare such as premium cuts of beef, fresh oysters, locally raised fried chicken, and Caesar salad with fried white anchovies along with an extensive, innovative wine and cocktail list.

$$$ (5 minute drive from the hotel)


Carson’s Food & Drink (American / Local Cuisine)


Carson’s Food & Drink represents rustic refinement in a casual and comfortable atmosphere. Welcoming atmosphere with unique decor, using leather, wood, brick, and oversized chandeliers balanced with industrial materials combined with amazing food and perfectly prepared cocktails.  Newly opened and very popular!

$$ – $$$ (5 minute drive from the hotel)


Coles 735 Main (Fine American / Regional Cuisine)


COLES 735 MAIN, one of Lexington’s favorite dining destinations, features a menu full of local inspiration and world-class fare; every dish is hand crafted like a fine piece of art. Set in a tastefully restored historic Lexington landmark, the restaurant radiates a heart-warming and relaxing atmosphere – ideal for romantic fine dining or spirited get-togethers at the inviting indoor bar and outdoor gazebo. The distinctive provençal decor serves as the colorful backdrop to the ever-changing menu.  COLES 735 MAIN is where art is translated into a unique fine dining experience.  Reputed to have the best steak in Lexington…

$$$ (5 minute drive from the hotel)


 Distilled at Gratz Park (Fine American / Regional Cuisine)


Winner of the “Open Table Diners’ Choice Award” in 2015, this recently opened restaurant is located in the Historic Gratz Park Inn in Downtown Lexington.  A beautiful setting reminiscent of old historic Kentucky, and featuring a diverse and imaginative menu of expertly prepared appetizers, salads, luscious entrees, and killer desserts…not to mention one of the better wine and bourbon selections in Lexington.

$$$ (5 minute drive from the hotel)


Dudley’s on Short (Fine American / Regional Cuisine)


Dudley’s on Short has been a Lexington staple and culinary trailblazer since 1981, prioritizing local foods, preparing the finest ingredients simply and with exceptional hospitality. Dudley’s is located in the historic Northern Bank Building in the heart of downtown Lexington with a two story restaurant that continues its award winning creative American cuisine, wine list and service to a steady base of local clientele while making newcomers and visitors feel welcome immediately.

$$$ (5 minute walk from hotel)


Le Deauville (French Cuisine)


Le Deauville offers traditional French bistro food in a renowned relaxed atmosphere. You can chose from an extensive wine list while dining in an airy space or outdoor terrace in the famous historical section of Lexington. “One of the best kept secrets in Lexington!”

$$$ (5 minute drive from the hotel)


Lockbox 21C (Contemporary American / Regional Cuisine)


Located in the nationally acclaimed 21C Museum Hotel in the heart of downtown Lexington, Lockbox offers an upscale and eclectic dining experience like no other in the Bluegrass Region.  The menus at Lockbox showcase a deep network of local providers and the bounty of ingredients fed by Kentucky’s limestone-rich soil, and highlight simple ingredients with a nod to Kentucky’s rich Southern heritage and Lexington’s own cultural and agricultural identities.

$$$ (5 minute walk from the hotel)


Malone’s Steak House (Steaks and American Cuisine / Tates Creek Drive Location)


Named one of the Great Steak Houses of North America, Malone’s has served as one of Lexington’s premier steakhouses since 1998. Less than two percent of beef processed in the world is rated as “prime beef.” Malone’s is pleased to offer the widest selection of fresh, hand-cut USDA Prime steaks. In addition to their steak selection, the diverse menu offers something for everyone, including freshly made salads, fresh fish and seafood selections, house favorites and seasonal chef features. Malone’s is the perfect destination for lunch or dinner with family and friends, professional meetings, and celebrations.

$$$ (10 minute drive from the hotel)


Merrick Inn (Steaks, Seafood, and Regional Specials)


The Merrick Inn is an institution that has been a tradition and favorite dining destination among Lexington locals for the past 40 years. Many fine entrees including steaks, seafood, and chef specials.  Fried food fiends will savor their famous southern fried chicken and walleye pike entrées or the fried green tomatoes starter. If you’re looking for something on the lighter side, you can opt for the pecan crusted pork tenderloin that is topped with Maker’s Mark apple chutney.  Terrific food in a beautiful setting that once serve as the manor house for one of Lexington’s finest horse farms.

$$$ (10 minute drive from the hotel)


Portofino (Contemporary Italian / American)


Portofino restaurant specializes in artful Italian and American cuisine and offers an award-winning wine list and a selection of more than 130 Bourbons, whiskeys and moonshines.  Located in a beautifully renovated building on Main Street in downtown Lexington, KY, Portofino has an elegant interior design, a menu with the highest quality ingredients, and an extensive wine list.  The restaurant features elegant décor, and indoor you will find the walls lined with paintings from Kentucky artists. There are several dining areas and deciding where to sit is always a pleasure. Between the wine room, sun room, patio, and party room there’s an environment for all occasions.

$$$ (5 minute drive from hotel)


Saul Good Pub (American Fare)


Known for an abundance of good food, beverage, and a enjoyable atmosphere, Saul Good is a locally owned restaurant specializing in burgers, pizza, assorted entrees, and incredible desserts!  Located in downtown Lexington’s historic Victoria Square, this family-friendly restaurant is always a popular destination for Lexington locals and visitors.  Always good, it’s Saul Good!

$$ (Across the street from the hotel)


Shakespeare and Company (Eclectic International Cuisine)


The Dubai-based restaurant chain features an atmosphere that is unique in terms of colors, décor and layout that are indeed unique! Each restaurant is conceived, designed and decorated by an in-house Design Team, and every piece of furniture and fixture is handcrafted in their very own workshops. Shakespeare and Co.’s menu comprises classic dishes from the world’s favorite cuisines with classic cooking methods and fresh ingredients that concoct quickly prepared, crave-able meals that persuade a nostalgic feeling of home.

$$-$$$ (5 minute walk from the hotel)


Table Three Ten (American Farm to Table Cuisine)


Having been hailed by Southern Living Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Restaurants in the South”, it is a staple of the Lexington dining scene. It is also one of its most iconic spaces. Located in a 150+ year old building, the all glass-front space has a warm-chic-industrial feel. Along with its outstanding food, Table Three Ten also has a well-deserved reputation as one of the best craft cocktail bars in Lexington.

$$-$$$ (5 minute walk from the hotel)


Tony’s (Fine American Cuisine, Steaks, Seafood)


Originally established in Cincinnati, the recently opened Tony’s Steak and Seafood in downtown Lexington’s is the city’s most highly regarded upscale dining establishment – and is always a winner!  The combination of setting, atmosphere, service, and remarkable food make for a memorable dining experience, and owner Tony Ricci will be on hand to make sure all ABA members receive their best possible service.  Enjoy the best steaks to be found in the Bluegrass, and the bar is as one of the most impressive in all of Kentucky!  Make your reservations early!

$$$ (Across the street from the hotel)


Village Idiot (American – Locally Grown)


Lexington’s first “gastro-pub” – The Village Idiot – offers locally sourced food, well-conceived and affordable entrees, and assorted appetizers and desserts that earn a spot at the table with our outstanding craft beer selection, quality wines, and exciting house recipe cocktails.  The atmosphere in the 19th century manor comes with attentive service and an overall exceptional experience for customers.  Always good…always a winner!

$$-$$$ (Five minute walk from the hotel)


*Wines on Vine (Cody’s Favorite!)


Lexington’s most European inspired wine bar and bistro – and a hidden gem in the community – Wines on Vine offers a selection of over 450 wines for you to enjoy while dining in one of the city’s most welcoming and revered restaurants. Cozy up to the bar before being treated to one of the most enjoyable dining experience possible in the Wine Room! The cuisine is as diverse as the selection of wines, and the goal is to provide an extraordinary culinary experience in one of Lexington’s more relaxing and finer dining atmospheres.  Ask Larry, Mick, or Chris for the “ABA Specials” at Wines on Vine!

$$-$$$ (Five minute drive from the hotel)