Corto Lima- Lexington, KY
* Family Friendly Photos by Marie Pullen Photography
Downtown Lexington is a great destination for concerts and ball games but these attractions barely scratch the surface when it comes to all this girl's hometown has to offer.
Corto Lima immediately comes to mind as the haven of freshly prepared, Latin-inspired tapas. It is the perfect spot to sample & enjoy the multitude items on the menu while sharing delectable choices with friends and family. I've discovered they offer fantastic vegetarian and vegan options, as well.
Everything about Corto Lima is a recipe for success! First off, Chef Jonathan Lundy is the creative force behind the distinctive dishes served in his fashionable restaurant. His expertise with flavor combinations is evident in the many delectable selections. Second, pair your meal with one of the refreshingly wonderful cocktails designed by Sommelier / Mixologist T. J. Cox. And finally, the superb location situated on the corner of Short and Lime, Corto (short) Lima (lime) inspired their catchy namesake.
The interior is open and bright with well appointed wall hangings and other Spanish decor. From all seating arrangements, one can bask in the natural sunlight streaming through the numerous, oversized window panes. On a beautiful day patrons will relish the outdoor accommodations arranged along Short Street to take in a few of Lexington's appealing painted murals. These include an intriguing black and white composition by Phlegm and the newer Daughter of Immigrants by the talented Jessica Sabogal.
If you prefer, opt for an overview from the inside of the restaurant by booking the Cielo (Sky) Room in advance. Reserved by email alone, it fills up quickly with just one cozy seating area available for a few patrons.
I tend to linger over an interesting menu and admit to suffering "dinner envy" as servers laden with fragrant alternatives pass my table on their way to another. What I find so appealing about Corto Lima is they serve small plates of goodies encouraging all to partake and thus there's ample opportunity to explore multiple specialties. But enough discussion.... let's dive in!!
Commencing with a restorative cocktail, where to begin? I opted for the Prickly Pear Margarita Slush prepared with Monte Alban Silver Tequila, lime, agave & tinted a lovely fuchsia imparted by the prickly pear. This delectable concoction was so delicious it has since become my favorite margarita in town! I love that it's served so frigid it freezes the glass. In keeping with the Latin theme, try a Brazilian favorite, Caipirinah fashioned with Cashaca 51, demerara sugar and lime. Or how about the classic Mojito made with Trinidad's Cane Run Light Rum mingled with Yerba Buena, turbinado sugar, lime and soda? On the lighter side of Latin libations is the Sangria Roja with red wine, BarSol Pisco, lime, orange & agave. If indecisive, I recommend experiencing more than one. And now here’s a bit of Corto Lima trivia for you… Approximately how many limes do they hand squeeze in an average day? Answer: 300!!
The tantalizing cuisine at Corto Lima is very much on par with their cocktails… you really can't go wrong! So I suggest choosing just a few items that sound interesting and let your taste buds be the judge. Wondering where to start? You won’t want to miss their creamy, hand-pressed Guacamole, tastefully seasoned with red onion and roasted garlic, served in a wooden bowl with a banana leaf. The Salsa Trio is a yummy medley of fire-roasted, tomato salsa presented aside of slightly sweet pineapple-serrano pepper relish & tangy salsa verde. To further satiate your dipping cravings, dive into the luscious coconut oil-refried black beans with pico, queso fresco and green onions.
The Salsa Trio: salsa verde, pineapple-serrano and fire roasted tomato and Black Bean Dip paired with Hemingway Daquiri and Margarita de Casa with prickly pear (on the rocks)
For a quintessential summer delicacy, elect the scrumptious Shrimp Ceviche, a wonderfully light and fresh combo of protein and citrus. For something on the meatier side, I nominate my taco of choice, wrapping their tantalizing Barrel Smoked Pork. But don’t stop there, have a taste of the flavorful Blue Corn or Green Plantain Empanadas. And I’ll let you in on a secret. The barbecued jack fruit has such a hearty flavor, you’ll never miss the meat... seriously!
Shrimp Ceviche and Barrel Smoked Pork Tacos along side a Prickly Pear Margarita Slush
Green Plantain Empanadas, Elote (street corn), and Quinoa Croqueta (all vegetarian)
I could go on but I’m getting stuffed just writing about Corto Lima. What a pleasure! With the finale of your culinary adventure, reserve a bite or two for a sweet treat such as the delectable Tres Leches Cake. I also enjoy a Churro, a tasty pastry or a frosty bite of delightful Jonathan’s Ice Cream.
While you’re in the heart of downtown, take an after-dinner stroll. Turn right out of the restaurant's front door to Triangle Park, just a few blocks away. Make note of the beautifully renovated, old court house. Or venture to your left up Limestone where you’ll encounter many fine restaurants to explore on your next sojourn. Visit Lexington Brew Works, Mulberry and Lime and sample the rich, hand-made Italian gelato at Sorella Gelateria!
Be sure to keep an eye on Corto Lima's website and social media for various events such as the well-orchestrathttps://www.facebook.com/sorellagelateria/ed Seed to Feed dinner series in Georgetown, KY., Castle & Key Ladies' Night Tasting with Marianna Eaves and more.
Cauliflower "Al Pastor" with the Mezcal Margarita