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Where to eat in 2018: New restaurants are coming to downtown, Southland

Ready for some chicken and pie? Looks Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken really will finally open soon at the east end of Main and Vine, behind Carson’s.
Ready for some chicken and pie? Looks Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken really will finally open soon at the east end of Main and Vine, behind Carson’s. Photo provided

Downtown Lexington is set for a big dining renaissance in 2018.

First up: Oscar Diggs, which will open on Limestone in early January with food from Gastro Gnomes chefs Andrew Suthers and Kyle Klatka, who built a following with their food truck, and beer from Rooster Brewing of Paris.

The restaurant will debut in the former Merit Furniture building, which will have a warm feel, with a fireplace and original hardwood floors.

Then, get ready to stand in line for Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, which will open a the end of January at the east end of Main Street, behind Carson’s.

This Memphis-style fried chicken has drawn rave reviews, and franchise owners Gus Oyler and Will Ferguson said the fresh sides are just as good. The restaurant is also known for its homemade Southern pies, including chess and chocolate chess.

Their slogan: “Come for the chicken, stay for the pie.”

The chicken isn’t a true “hot chicken,” Oyler said; it’s brined overnight then fried in peanut oil using a proprietary process. About the only thing they’ll say about it is that it “is never battered.”

The place, which will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, will have seating for about 85 and plans to do a brisk takeout business, Oyler said.

Gus’s, which will also serve beer, will have a jukebox for a “juke joint feel,” Oyler said. You’ll order at the table from a server, not at a counter.

In the summer, the renovated Fayette County Courthouse will open with a new event venue called Limestone Hall, a restaurant from chef Ouita Michel and a bourbon bar. Michel has said that she plans to put a second location of her popular Windy Corner Market, which is open for lunch and dinner on Bryan Station Road, in the courthouse location.

Later in 2018, the first of the CentrePointe development on Main Street could open, with a hotel, retail and offices. Eventually the spot is supposed to be home to a Jeff Ruby’s steakhouse but that probably won’t open until 2019.

▪  The Southland area also is about to see some big changes: The Pie Hole, a wood-fired pizza place is opening at 210 Rosemont Garden any day now.

“We’re getting close; it’s just a matter of construction,” said owner Sean Nealey. The restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, serving lunch and dinner. The Pie Hole also will have a full bar, serving beer, wine and cocktails.

At 341 Southland, The Mill, a Mediterranean bakery and cupcake shop, should be opening soon. Little information was available, but The Mill looks like it will offer savory and sweet baked goods.

And Marikka’s is coming back bigger and better than ever, with brewery and indoor volleyball courts, sometime in 2018. The new Marikka’s, which apparently will cost $2.3 million, will have a restaurant, a microbrewery and much more.

▪  In Palomar, Sedona Taphouse, will open around the end of April after construction of the $2 million restaurant at 3600 Palomar Centre Drive. The chain, which specializes in craft beer and wine, has a menu of steak and seafood, pasta, salads, sandwiches and more, including gluten-free and vegetarian options. It will have a patio area with an outdoor bar and a private dining room.

▪  In Brannon Crossing, Bluegrass Hospitality Group will build a Drake’s bar and restaurant in Nicholasville, to open in 2018. The restaurant will have its classic “smashed burgers” sandwiches, salads, chili, and upscale pub fare along with Aqua Sushi’s menu, too.

▪  On Richmond Road, Chick-fil-A may finally begin putting in a location in front of Southland Christian Church. Although a building permit for the new restaurant where the Applebee’s used to be, the company is being coy publicly about when you might be able to get your chicken fix.

▪  Taco John’s is coming ... but it will take a while to get here. The chain, which used to be in Lexington years ago, plans to open a restaurant in Glasgow in mid-February and move this direction. Taco John’s eventually will open several stores in Lexington, but it might be be here until mid-2019. So you’ll have to drive to get your Potato Ole fix.

▪  On Limestone near campus, Crumzz is scheduled to open in late December or early January serving Philly cheese steaks, hot subs, and fresh-cut fries.

▪  On South Broadway, Miyako Poké Bowl is scheduled to open with poké (pronounced POE-keh) which is sort of like sushi salad, marinated and tossed with vegetables and served over rice, is scheduled to open soon.

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