“There is nothing like Southern hospitality. It’s such a beautiful and genuine thing.”—Abigail Spencer
We had to go back. The lure of its hospitable people, and the family ties to this state that run deeply in both of our families, acted as sirens beckoning for our return. Of course, there’s no denying our love for a good meal—especially dinner; and, there were so many unexplored eateries vying for our attention. Sigh, yep, we had to go back—even for a short visit.
It was love at first encounter for John, my husband, and me despite it occurring under a rather stressful situation. In fact, like an old friend, Lexington, KY was, during our first visit, the calm in the chaos; the salve for the wound; and, the lullaby for the colic. Okay, I’ll stop with the corny metaphors and get straight to the point. You, Dear Reader, should add Lexington to your short list of towns to visit for a weekend getaway.
First stop, back to Home2 Suites by Hilton Lexington University/Medical Center. During our previous visit, about a month earlier, John and I were with family, supporting a loved one at Albert B. Chandler Hospital a few blocks down the road from the hotel. Due to the fact our stay was hospital related, we received a steep discount from Home2 Suites for our rooms—a considerate policy for customers who require a long term hotel stay in order to remain near loved ones receiving treatment/services at UK hospital. Plus, the hotel staff could not be nicer. They go out of their way to ensure you have a comfortable, warm and welcoming stay; and we discovered the same was true on this return trip!
This is the out-of-doors patio complete with grill, numerous tables/chairs, and it is located just outside the salt water pool of the Homes2 Suites in Lexington, KY.
This time, we did not have the discount; however, we took into consideration the following facts regarding the price: 1) Home2 Suites offers large, comfortable rooms with full size refrigerator, sink, dishes, glasses, cups, utensils, microwave, thus permitting us to bring along a few food items (mostly for me), but also allowing us to store any leftovers from dinners for later consumption. 2) Breakfast is included in the price, and it includes a wide array of food choices. In fact, I think the hotel advertises that there are over 400 breakfast combinations that can be created. 3) Therefore, the only meal for which we would need to buy was dinner. Plus, at Hilton hotels, fresh fruit, afternoon cookies, as well as hot and cold beverages are always available to the customer at no extra cost. 4) Plus, we were only staying two nights, making this stay budget friendly.
This is the just the oatmeal/cereal station section. It is the section of the breakfast bar I visited, but there is soooo MUCH more offered here.
The comfy lobby and breakfast area of Homes2 Suites.
We left on a Wednesday, immediately after school, because the school in which John and I teach, St. Joseph Catholic Middle School, was closed in honor of Easter for a few days. Of course, that meant we hit Lexington at the height of rush hour. Ugh! By the time we navigated traffic, and what seemed like an unending sea of stoplights, we made it to the hotel after 6:00 pm. Once settled in our room, we quickly made plans for an early evening, in order to be more rested and fully ready to enjoy the following day’s activities.
We quickly decided to use Uber and head to Pies and Pints, a favorite of ours–though we had not visited this location. Using Uber is something John and I enjoy doing when traveling because it allows us to ask questions, fully view the town, and gain insight into the location in which we are staying. As we drove through the heart of Lexington, the driver highlighted different spots along the route, noting those popular with University of Kentucky students versus spots favored by locals. The weather was fine and students, professorial types, as well as all walks-of-life were strolling the walks of Lexington soaking up the last of the evening sunshine.
Menu from Pies and Pints. Notice all of the gluten free options.
As it turned out, Pies and Pints is next to Lexington Visitors Center in the square just across the street from the Convention Center and Triangle Park as well as within walking distance of Rupp Arena! The ambient sound of the nearby water fountains filled the air with a satisfyingly serene sound. A man sang and danced across the street on the sidewalk opposite of ours, and colorful flowers sprouted along the walks. It reminded us of the drive to Lexington that afternoon as we passed one red bud tree after another—a long purple parade of petaled soldiers standing at rapt attention as we drove past one colorful roadside display after another. Scents of spring abounded all around, followed by aromas of. . . . pizza, of course!
Just like other Pies and Pints, this Lexington location offered the same menu staples with plenty of gluten free and vegetarian options for me, along with plenty of carnivore choices for John! However, for those who enjoy beer, each location of Pies and Pints features a unique menu of craft beers, many of which are local to the location. In fact, Lexington Pies and Pints offered 35 beers and root beer (non-alcoholic) on tap, plus an extensive bottled beer menu.
Devan (I think that was our waiter/bar-tender’s name!) was courteous, attentive, and prompt with service. John and I decided to relax and take our time with dinner. Therefore, we gave their chips and salsa a try while enjoying conversation before ordering our meals. Big mistake! Why? Because their salsa is so stinkin’ delicious that we ate MUCH more than we needed, but boy, was it good!!
Chips and salsa for an appetizer hit the spot!
We eventually decided upon our meals. I had to have their simple salad. Maybe it’s the way they thickly cut cucumber slices and hollow out the center before cutting each piece in half, but there is something special about their simple salad that I cannot get enough of it! Of course, it could also be their creamy Gorgonzola dressing that I always get served on the side. Whatever it is, it all comes together in deliciously tasting salad. But, did I stop there? No!
This salad . . .
I also ordered the Black Bean Speciality Pie with a gluten free crust. This pizza is served with black beans, cheddar, jalapeños, salsa, cilantro & crème fraiche. If you like a spicy beans and salsa, then this pie is sure to please! Plus, the gluten-free crust is actually quite good!
Meanwhile, John ordered a small pizza pie with traditional red sauce. He had it topped off with pepperoni, sausage, and extra cheese. Boy, did it look and smell good! Unfortunately, he was so full from all of the chips and salsa we had noshed on earlier, that over half of his pie went uneaten that night. Of course, it made a delicious lunch for him the next day!
Throughout our time at Pies and Pints, our service was excellent, and the atmosphere was relaxed and yet upbeat. I can only imagine the number of pizza pies made, and pints drank on afternoons/evenings of UK basketball games! What an ideal location for this tasty food venue! John and I would certainly return, and we would highly recommend it for fun and a festive food atmosphere with friends and family!
After the Uber ride home, taking in more of the sights of Lexington, we decided to amble across the hotel’s parking lot to Trader Joe’s Grocery. John and I cannot help ourselves! We love to visit grocery stores that we cannot find at home in order to see what’s trending food-wise outside our local area. As with the one other Trader Joe’s we have visited, this one wasn’t large, but boy did it offer a wide variety of items not necessarily available in our local grocery market at fairly reasonable prices. We found a few treats to try in the true spirit of further food adventures, and I could not help but feel a envious of the gluten free, non-dairy, and vegan options available there, but not available here locally. Oh well . . . that’s what made it special!
Thus, the end came to a great first, albeit short day, in Lexington. Part 2 of our Lexington stay will follow next week. . .