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The Garden Café at Flag Fork Herb Farm


On a plot of land whose settlement dates from the late 18th century, an area couple grow herbs for commercial purposes and operate a quaint gardening shop. They also make use of the herbs in delightful lunchtime fare, served at the home amid manicured landscaping. The menu features sandwiches, soups, and desserts, tinged with the fragrance of all that grows in the environs. A charming respite from the city and from pre-packaged standards.

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Common Grounds Coffee House


Housed in an historic brick building, this neighborhood coffee house attracts a wide mix of folks, from college students to professionals. The laid-back ambience is ideal for lounging, and more than a few patrons read, chat, and take care of business while indulging in a white mocha latté or some other favored beverage. Hot and cold coffee drinks are featured, along with teas, hot chocolates, and sodas. You can also pick up a brownie, scone, or some other dessert to pair with your drink. From time to time, the place stages art shows and musical performances.

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Coffee Times Coffee House


Hip and funky, this coffee house is one of Lexington's most established and is a terrific place to savor a cup of joe. Coffees are fresh-roasted in-house, and the aromas that greet patrons provide a not-so-subtle hint of the good things to come. A variety of gourmet coffee and tea drinks satisfies eager visitors, who also partake of Italian sodas and hot chocolates. Along with the tasty, requisite desserts and pastries, light fare such as soups, quiches, and deli sandwiches can help ward off hunger pangs.

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Bronte Bistro


The original Lexington location of the highly successful Joseph-Beth Booksellers chain also showcases the culinary strides made with the opening of an on-site restaurant and wine bar. More than a cafe selling coffee and snacks, Bronte offers full-service dining, and it highlights recipes from cookbooks sold on the premises. Featuring dishes created by folks like Ina Garten, Giada de Laurentis, and Jacques Pepin, the cafe delivers truly delicious gourmet fare and offers a pleasant place to while away some time while you peruse a new volume or catch up with friends.

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Alfalfa Restaurant


Known for vegetarian fare, this casual establishment near the UK also satisfies carnivores with its menu's wide-ranging scope. For more than a generation, the place has offered healthy alternatives to favorite dishes, serving everything from quiche to chicken and salmon, not to mention plenty of vegetable accompaniments and side dishes. A terrific weekend brunch features omelets, eggs benedict, scrambles, breakfast burritos, pancakes, and French toast. Breakfast on weekdays offers similar fare.

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Carino's Italian


This Lexington addition to the Italian chain Carino's is a fun place that's perfect for the whole family. With a roster of classic Italian dishes to choose from, you're sure to find something to hit the spot. Start the evening with an Italian specialty drink such as a Bellini or Italian Sangria. Then for an appetizer, try the Sicilian fire sticks, a medley of sausage, bacon, jalapeños and chicken tidily wrapped up in a tasty tortilla. Finally feast on one of their notable entrées such as the signature 16-layer lasagna or five-meat Tuscan pasta.

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Merrick Inn


In previous days, Merrick Inn was a private manor house, but for more than a generation now, it's been a preferred destination for local folks, especially those in the horse industry. The interior boasts fireplaces and civilized details, and the menu offers good American standards like steaks, fresh fish, pork tenderloin, and fried chicken. When the weather's warm, the poolside patio is sublime, and the popular bar draws folks throughout the week, especially the 30- and 40-something crowd.

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Joe Bologna's


Occupying a former Jewish temple, this Lexington mainstay still sports stained glass windows, chandeliers, and other features from the building's late 19th century origin. These days, however, college students and locals munch pizza in the sanctuary and order beer from the pulpit's old location. Homemade pastas, sub sandwiches, and crisp salads round out the menu, but the pizza harks back to Joe B's origins and remains a long-lived favorite. Make sure to try their awesome breadsticks, too, homemade and delicious!

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Dim, atmospheric, and trendy, Pazzo's definitely adds to the cool quotient along South Limestone. The multi-leveled pizzeria is a favorite of college students and makes for a great hang-out any time of day. Constantly busy, the casual place serves up tempting pies in three sizes. Build your own, or choose from one of the standards. Hoagies, salads, and calzones lend some depth to the menu, and lunch specials find favor with area professionals. Three dozen brews are on tap, and a full bar offers other options, should your inclinations alter.

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Tolly-Ho Restaurant


Locally known as "the Ho," this UK campus mainstay is one of Lexington's best bets for a hearty breakfast any time of day. A favorite with college kids, the place also appeals to folks from all walks of life, from blue-bloods to blue-collar. Loaded omelets, packed breakfast sandwiches and pancakes satisfy early-risers or hungry night owls.

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