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These two Lexington restaurants are ranked among the best Southern eateries

Honey was drizzled over goat cheese squash blossoms with peach mostarda and house Guanciale in 2015 at Distilled.
Honey was drizzled over goat cheese squash blossoms with peach mostarda and house Guanciale in 2015 at Distilled. Herald-Leader

Two Lexington restaurants made the cut for OpenTable’s “50 Best Southern Restaurants in America” for 2018.

The list, published in Travel + Leisure, was compiled by the OpenTable reservation platform based on diner reviews for more than 27,000 restaurants in the 50 states and Washington, D.C.

The Merrick Inn in Lexington and Distilled at The Sire Hotel (formerly known as the Gratz Park Inn) were named among the 50 best.

Although most of the other restaurants cited are located in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, the Carolinas and Texas, High Street Caffe & Vudu Lounge in West Chester, Pennsylvania was cited, as was Maple Tree Inn in Blue Island, Illinois, The Boil Waverly in New York and Acadiana in Washington, D.C.

In a 2016 review for the Herald-Leader and Kentucky.com, restaurant critic Patti Nickell called The Merrick Inn “a bastion of Southern cooking, unapologetically offered to those who love such.” The restaurant has been open for more than 40 years.

A 2015 review by Jacalyn Carfagno said that Distilled uses “very high quality ingredients for imaginative dishes that push boundaries just far enough.”

Distilled opened in 2014. The Merrick Inn has been owned and operated by the Murray family for nearly 40 years. Its website says the Merrick Inn served as the manor house for one of Lexington’s biggest horse farms prior to becoming a restaurant.

After a busy year of restaurant closings, we look back at 10 popular restaurants to which Lexington bid farewell.

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