February is National Hot Breakfast Month!
No, not brunch, although we wish that were a thing, and maybe someday it will be…
For now, we want to celebrate and recognize some of our favorite locally-owned and operated breakfast destinations in Central Kentucky.
What sets these places apart from brunch destinations? We’re glad you asked.
Culturally-speaking, brunch is more than just a ‘late breakfast/early lunch.’
In recent years the term has grown to encompass – and almost necessitate – the inclusion of boozy beverages, such as Mimosas or Bloody Marys.
Therefore, the seven spots below stand apart from the brunch crowd because either
a) they do not serve alcohol at all or b) choose not to make it a focal point.
Opening in 2017, DV8 Kitchen serves up cuisine you can care about. Founder Rob Perez, who also owns the beloved local Saul Good Restaurant & Pub chain, started the social enterprise restaurant to provide jobs to people in recovery. Employees attend weekly workshops designed to pass along basic life-skill knowledge, such as personal finances and conflict resolution, as well as experiential workshops, which expose them to various life-enhancing experiences, such as yoga and cake decorating. Community members invest in DV8 employees by volunteering their time and resources at the weekly workshops. Did we mention that the food is phenomenal? Whether savory or sweet, every dish is packed with flavor. Bonus: Restaurants all over town use their pastries and baked goods in their own dishes!
Lexington catering legend DaRae Marcum has finally left her brick-and-mortar mark with Hayden’s Stockyard Eatery, which opened as part of the Bluegrass Regional Marketplace within the new Blue Grass Stockyards in 2017. Billed as “traditional Southern cooking, prepared with love,” Hayden’s is open for breakfast and lunch, and the menu is packed with homemade jams, pimientos, and desserts, and favorites like Chicken & Biscuits and Shrimp & Grits are available all day. Best of all, they source local ingredients – extremely local, in fact. On-site butcher shop The Local Connection provides the grain-fed ground beef for all of Hayden’s burgers, which is also sold over-the-counter as ‘Hayden’s Blend.’
Josie’s is the definition of a family affair. The self-proclaimed “best breakfast in Chevy Chase” opened as a gourmet grab-and-go deli in 2009, and it was less than a year before the neighborhood favorite morphed into a full-scale restaurant. Named after their daughter, owners Bobby and Jennifer Murray – of Merrick Inn and the former Murray’s – followed with Josie’s in Georgetown in 2017, signaling that this pair of cafés knows a thing or two about breakfast, which is served all day at both locations. PRO TIP: Sit at the horseshoe-shaped counter in Lexington (if you can snag a spot) and order the goetta (pronounced “get-uh”), it’s our favorite.
Lexington has a lot of well-kept secrets, but Keeneland Track Kitchen is bar-none the most mysterious! Hidden in plain sight, the kitchen resembles little more than an unassuming ranch house, and truth be told, it’s a stripped-down cafeteria inside, but therein lies its charm. You don’t have to be a horseman to enjoy the inexpensive, hearty breakfast buffet, however don’t be surprised if you find yourself sitting near a notable trainer, jockey, or thoroughbred owner. Best of all, you don’t have to wait for Keeneland to be in session; the kitchen is open year-round, with extended hours for the September and November sales.
Blink and you’ll miss it! Minton’s is brimming with warmth and the small-town diner feeling that’s hard to come by these days. With seating for less than 30 people, the logistics of ordering and paying can get a bit hairy if there’s a wait, but it’s worth it for the mouthwatering cuisine! A pastry chef by trade, owner Ashley Minton opened the café in 2012, but in our opinion, rose to local foodie fame with the success of her food truck, which debuted in 2014. Stop by Tuesday-Sunday until 3:00 to enjoy a spread of savory and sweet breakfast and lunch entrees, and whatever no matter what, don’t skip dessert!
Described by regulars as “Cheers without the beers,” Wheeler’s truly is a hidden gem. When you walk through the doors all you see at first are typical pharmacy aisles, but nestled against the far right wall out of sight is an old school diner and soda fountain! Gone are the days when you might happen upon famous coaches – like Joe B. Hall (who’s moved away) or John Calipari (who’s way too famous) – lounging around the original horseshoe-shaped counter, sipping hot cups of coffee and trading locker room stories. These days what you can count on are rich milkshakes, crispy and buttery grilled biscuits (yes, GRILLED biscuits, they’re life-changing), and warm smiles from Lee and Ricky, two of the diner’s longest-standing employees.
Last but not least in the hot breakfast month round-up: Windy Corner Market. Situated amid the picturesque backdrop of northern Lexington’s legendary horse farms is this member of the Ouita Michel-family of restaurants, a must-visit when Kentucky is in full bloom! Windy Corner Market is a tourist’s dream destination for delicious plate breakfasts, bakery treats, and an extensive Kentucky Proud products market. The restaurant is also a treasure trove of local ingredients from producers like Weisenberger Mill, Stone Cross Farm, and their very own Midway Bakery.