Here is a map of some restaurants near White Hall. For lunch purposes, there's a few places you really need to avoid:
- Mellow Mushroom
- Joe Bologna's
The quality of the other places should be covered below.
Anything that says "#1 pick" is one of my more favorite places in town.
Okay, so you've traveled from where ever to Lexington. In terms of dining, Lexington's a pretty nice place because it has a good range of restaurants at different price points, and there is a lot of quality. I'm going to be lazy and not list restaurants' addresses, because Google is a thing.
#1 pick: Osaka. Great prices, great quality. If someone's visiting from out of town, this is probably my favorite place to take them. I've taken some Richmond-area quiz bowlers here while they were traveling through town (and I'm pretty sure Cody was one of them), and they ranked it above their local options. Keep in mind there's a Toyota plant in town, so sushi quality has to be higher than average to make it. They also do hibachi, teriyaki, udon and other options.
Tomo is another good choice, but tends to be noticeably more expensive. I don't really think there's an upgrade in quality here.
#1 pick: Bourbon & Tolouse. Again, the food here is great and the prices are pretty good. I love their jambalaya and their etouffee.
Also a strong choice is Gumbo Ya-Ya. Similar in quality to B&T, but maybe a half step behind. Maybe I just like B&T better because I ate there first, though.
Chains include the obvious suspects, plus Five Guys and Cookout.
Bru Burger is pretty good if you're looking for a higher-end kind of deal.
Tolly-Ho is a combo bar/burger joint. This is a dive, but one of the ones with good food.
#1 pick: Bella Notte. Great, great food. Noticeably fresh. Entrees range from $10-20.
I personally think Joe Bologna's has fallen off badly in the past five years, but some people still swear by it.
Sutton's is great if you enjoy having air conditioning run-off pour onto you and then having to move yourself while the manager and waitress do their best to ignore it.
Ignoring chains. Smashing Tomato does a different kind of deal with Neapolitan pizza. Really great stuff.
Puccini's has more of a local feel with interesting pizza options. Sometimes they cross over into "interesting," but YMMV. Also have good Italian entrees, especially their lasagna.
Mellow Mushroom is really good, but can be slow.
I've only recently tried Pies & Pints, but was really impressed by their chicken & gouda pizza. Also have some of the best nachos in town (competing with Saul Good).
Goodfellas is great if you're a fan of grease.
I don't like Pazzo's. Their pizza isn't as good as Mellow Mushroom's, and their customer service can best be described as disdainful.
#1 pick: Sahara: hopefully if you go here, they'll still have food. They sell out regularly.
#1 pick: A Taste of India. They have a lunch buffet. Their tandoori & saag options are all great.
Planet Thai is quite good.
I recommend Pho BC. They shine, unsurprisingly, in their pho.
Han Woo Ri. Close to the tournament site, very affordable.
#1 pick: Saul Good is on the higher end of things. They have great specialty pizzas and entrees like chicken & waffles. At least two locations.
Winchell's is a good diner kind of place. If they have their meatloaf on the menu, you're in luck. Ramsey's is also good, though a little more of a greasy spoon.
If you want wings, you can do worse than Rooster's, though Lexington is weak in this area. I would recommend eating elsewhere if you want a really good look at the best food you can get in town.
#1 pick: Joella's Hot Chicken. I speak about this at the end.
#1 pick: Local Taco. Pretty close to White Hall. They do fusion tacos which are really good. You have to try the Mexi Tots.
#1 pick: Malone's. Nicest steakhouse in town, so of course it has a higher price tag. If you want to do the old 'take the team out to celebrate a great year with a fine dinner' kind of deal, this and The Tulip are probably your two best options for that. Probably will need reservations.
#1 pick: The Tulip. Again, higher end. More of a fine dining place. Great food, more expensive than most options on this list. Will probably need reservations.
Sal's: Another really good steakhouse. Again, expensive. Need reservations.
Copper River Grill. "Alaskan themed." Really good, but disgustingly large serving sizes. Located out in Nicholasville, which can be a good half hour drive one-way.
Columbia's. Imagine a 1960s steakhouse transported today, and this is what you have. I recommend the downtown location - I think they have 2. Might be 3.
Marikka's. It's German food, so mainly sausages and fried meat. Still good, though. Their mashed potatoes and green beans are great, though.
Old San Juan. Literally a mom & pop joint. Mom runs the stove, barely speaks any English and really hopes you like what you eat. Looks like a dive, but you will like their empanadas.
#1 pick El Rancho Tapatio. More authentic than other Mexican places in town. I've yet to have anything here that I didn't like (well, other than lingue, but I just don't think I'm a fan of tongue). Great tacos, great enchiladas, great tamales.
Chuy's. A mini-chain, but Tex Mex that seems really good to me. Waiters can be a little hit or miss.
Mi Pequena Hacienda. More Americanized Mexican, but it's done really well. 3 locations.
Region delicacies of note: ah, the hot brown. Basically, if you ever looked at yourself and thought "jeez, I wish I was fatter, had a higher cardiovascular disease risk and was inched closer to diabetes," this is the meal for you. Basically a bowl filled with turkey, bacon, maybe ham, plus Mornay sauce and tomatoes with cheese melted across the top. The tomatoes make it healthy, obviously. It is a food item that you look at and instantly know it is not good for you. If this is something you want to try for yourself, Winchell's and Ramsey's are your best options. I claim no responsibility for what happens after you eat this, and I wouldn't recommend eating this more than once a year. But it is pretty darn good.
There's also hot chicken. KFC tried doing some version of this, but I've heard it's a violation against God. Joella's Hot Chicken does a great version of this. Basically it's fried chicken, but covered in hot sauce and additional sodium. Again, you're in Appalachia - any kind of regional dish isn't going to be healthy. I'm probably underselling this, though - this is ridiculously tasty, possibly because of the discomfort it can cause.