Corto Lima in Downtown Lexington, Kentucky is a small restaurant that serves up big Latin-American flavors.
Dining at Corto Lima (Lexington) provides a few guarantees: exceptional flavor, courses, and cocktails. While it is a small restaurant, it brings unparalleled food to the Kentucky food scene.
Fun fact: the name is derived from the location of the restaurant in Spanish – it is on the corner of Short (Corto) and North Limestone (Lima).
Dining at Corto Lima Lexington
The masterminds behind the restaurant? Chef/Owner Jonathan Lundy (former owner of Jonathan at Gratz Park and a James Beard Award Semi-Finalist for Best Chef in the Southeast) and Owner/Director of Operations TJ Cox.
At its core, Corto Lima is a small plate and tapas restaurant; however, there are larger menu items and I found the offerings to be great for sharing. The Latin American plates draw inspiration from all over the Spanish-speaking world, ranging from Mexico to South America.
Corto Lima is known for their wide-ranging menu, amazing cocktails (most notably their margaritas – be sure to try it with Prickly Pear!), house-made sauces, and friendliness to all diners: meat-eaters, vegetarians, and those requiring gluten-free options.
If a small restaurant makes 300 margaritas/day… while hand-pressing each and every lime… they are clearly doing something right.
I tried three of the offerings. The Margarita de Casa features Sauza Blue Reposado Tequila, Lime, and Agave. The Mezcal Margarita boasts Vida Mezcal, Lime, Agave, and Charred Jalapeño. The Hemmingway is composed of Cruzan Light Rum, Lime, Grapefruit, and Luxardo Maraschinos.
All three were show-stoppers!
Queso Blanco: warm cheese dip with onions, peppers, tomatoes, and the option to add chorizo.
Blue Corn empanadas: Chilean rock crab, green chilies, cream cheese, served with a pineapple-banana pepper hot sauce.
Cauliflower “Al Pastor”: achiote-sour orange marinated cauliflower, pineapple, onions, cilantro, and coconut-cashew crema.
The best guacamole in Kentucky: avocado, roasted garlic, red onion, tomatoes, and barrel smoked salt.
Huitlacoche Quesadillas: corn truffles, epazote, onions, jalapeños, Oaxacan cheese.
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My favorite dish: Chicken Chicharron – fried chicken thighs, crispy chicken skins, chili escabeche, cilantro, lime.
Tamales: freshly-ground masa stuffed with barrel-smoked pork, served with salsa verde.
Barrel-Smoked Pork Tacos, Steak Rajas de Poblano Tacos, and Quinoa Chaufa.
Quinoa Croqueta Ensalada: quinoa croquettes with mixed greens, snow peas, green onions, carrots, tomatoes, and a creamy coconut-cashew dressing.
Steak Rajas de Poblano Tacos