The Lexingtonienne



When I moved to Los Angeles from Lexington eight years ago, I had no idea that my internal Zagat guide would require a serious edit. There are staples I used to eat all the time in Lexington that I just can’t get in LA, which means that when I come back to the Bluegrass, I’m on a mission to devour as many of these elusive eats as possible. Since this visit to Lexington lasted two whole weeks, I was determined to get to it ALL. Here I will highlight my favorites for you. They are not gourmet or fancy or expensive (maybe I can do a Lexington restaurant review on my next visit) — just grab-and-go stuff that’s really good and not available in LA.

Jimmy Johns Beach Club Sandwich. I ate these all the time in college. If you ignore the fact that their sandwiches have like six pieces of cheese piled onto them and are slathered with Hellmann’s mayonnaise, you can almost convince yourself that you’re eating something kind of good for you.

Qdoba Chicken Nachos. The only person I know who loves nachos as much as I do is my mother-in-law. She’s my nacho buddy and will always split them with me at a restaurant. Maggie, this one’s for you.

Great Harvest Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. You already know how I feel about oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. These cookies are gigantic and chewy and made fresh in the Great Harvest bakery, which smells like heaven and honey. Their breads are fabulous too — whole grains, no preservatives… oh wait, for a second there, I almost started writing a health food blog. Sorry about that. Moving on.

The Mouse Trap Turkey and Swiss Sandwich with Secret Sauce. I don’t have a photo of the sandwich itself because, frankly, they don’t look that special. But the sauce is downright magical. The Mouse Trap has, for years, employed a revolving door of super cute high school and college girls behind their counter. The sauce recipe is top secret, but I’m considering flashing a fifty and seeing if I can’t get one of those canaries to sing.

Billy’s Bar-B-Q. Billy’s has been open for as long as I can remember. They call their sandwiches “sammiches,” and they sell t-shirts that say, “I got porked at Billy’s.” Yes please.

Joe Bologna’s Pizza. Joe B’s makes its home of a former synagogue, complete with stained glass windows and a pulpit-turned-bar. Their pizza and breadsticks are legendary in Lexington… my parents have been going there since college.

Steak’nShake Steakburgers, Shoestring Fries, and Chocolate Shakes. LA, what is up with you that you don’t have this burger joint slash Southern staple? Steak’nShake needs to get a Conestoga wagon train moving westward.

Bourbon & Toulouse Chicken Etouffee. Have you ever made a roux-based cajun dish? It takes a long time and it’s easy to burn the roux, so I love being able to walk into a place and just eat it. Etouffee is basically GRAVY served over white rice. (Are you starting to see why I am so waif-like? Skin and bones, I tell you.)

Chick-Fil-A’s Chicken Sandwiches. Breaded chicken breast. Pickles. Bun. Wicka-wicka-what?

Donato’s Pizza. This post started out as fun for you and now you think I’m disgusting. You are correct. I can’t come to Lexington without ordering a Donato’s pizza with pepperoni and banana peppers. I should mention that I’ve never met a pizza I didn’t like, but this one truly is special. 

Graeter’s Ice Cream. Graeter’s is like the Willy Wonka of ice cream stores. The seasonally-available peach ice cream tastes like fresh, farmer’s market peaches. The snozzberries taste like snozzberries. Mama and I went for black raspberry chip and strawberry chip. Warning: their “chips” are more like full-size chocolate bars.

Yes, y’all, I ate each and every one of these things, and I very nearly had to buy new pants while I was here. Upon my return to LA, I will be commencing my diet of ice water and smog. But it was worth it, because this trip was a working man’s gastronomical WIN.

Mission accomplished,



  • Comment by Allison — June 17, 2010 @ 3:40 pm

    Please stop with the food. I think I have gained 10 lbs reading your blog today!! Oh how I miss all of these yummy places!!

  • Comment by Emily — June 17, 2010 @ 3:48 pm

    Love it all, Hannah! I always thought I was kinda weird for liking banana peppers on my pepperoni pizzas, but I appreciate your validation here. And speaking of the Mousetrap (one of my absolute favs too!), I came across that top secret sauce recipe during my tenure behind the sandwich counter…We’ll have to chat about that later;)

  • Comment by Maggie Duffy — June 17, 2010 @ 7:43 pm

    I am SOOOO hungry……bring on the nachos….yummmmm

  • Comment by Brandi — June 17, 2010 @ 8:33 pm

    Indiana knows about the beach club (is it #9?) and Steak and Shake! Yum:)

  • Comment by Hannilou — June 17, 2010 @ 8:42 pm

    Emily, I had completely forgotten that you worked at the Mouse Trap. If this blog post leads to me getting my paws on that secret recipe, every pound I gained these past two weeks in Lex-Vegas will be So. Worth. It.

    Brandi… gurrrl, that’s a #12 in the hizzy…

  • Comment by Marcia — June 23, 2012 @ 9:36 am

    Did you ever get the secret sauce recipe? I lived in Lexington for 20 years and would have lunch there at least twice a week. I always got the turkey and cheese on pumpernickel with the magical sauce. I would love, love, love that recipe.

  • Comment by Hannilou — June 23, 2012 @ 11:01 am

    Marcia, a friend of mine worked there in high school, and when I asked her about it recently, she told me the employees were trained to say that the sauce is “a mayonnaise-mustard blend with special spices.” She said it’s a spicy dijon mustard (probably only a very little bit because the sauce never tastes spicy to me) and that there’s also a dash of A1 steak sauce in the mix. Unfortunately, she said the owner special ordered the other spices and that not even the employees knew what was in that spice blend. I’ve experimented with it a little but haven’t figured it out, but you can get something pretty close just by mixing mayonnaise with a little bit of Grey Poupon and a dash of steak sauce. Maybe we should write to Bon Appetit and see if THEY can get the recipe from the owner – ha.

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