Corto Lima Lexington, Kentucky: Downtown Dining

JC Phelps

Corto Lima in Downtown Lexington, Kentucky is a small restaurant that serves up big Latin-American flavors.

Photo credit: JCP Eats

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).

Photo credit: JCP Eats

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.

Photo credit: JCP Eats

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.

The Cocktails

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!

Photo credit: JCP Eats

The Cuisine

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.

Enjoying “Corto Lima Lexington”? Read my other blog posts here.

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

Quinoa Chaufa

Photo credit: JCP Eats

Visit Corto Lima Lexington

You can visit Corto Lima at 101 W. Short St in Lexington, Kentucky. Visit their website, follow them on Instagram, and like them on Facebook. Tell them that I sent ya!

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JC Phelps is a Kentucky-based food + southern lifestyle writer.

Louisville, KY

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