Happy Monday, y’all!
I am writing today to tell you about the hotspot to dine in Lexington (or Kentucky for that matter): Corto Lima. The name is derived from the location of the restaurant in Spanish – it is on the corner of Short (Corto) and North Limestone (Lima). While it is a small restaurant, it brings unparalleled food to the Kentucky food scene.
The masterminds behind the project? 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. I had the pleasure of tasting ten – yes, ten – menu items with my dear friend Shelby and Brie Lowry, Director of Marketing and Events at Corto Lima.
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 cuisine offerings draw inspiration from all over the Spanish-speaking world, ranging from Mexico to South America. Many courses are served in beautiful wood pieces that were custom-made; furthermore, the decor – from the bohemian and Aztec pillows, to the assortment of cacti, to the beautiful wall mural – was straight out of a magazine.
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.
Back to the cocktails. They were OUT OF THIS WORLD. 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 (again, with the option to add Prickly Pear). The Mezcal Margarita (wow!) 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!
Let’s get to my favorite part – the food. The glorious, mouthwatering, life-changing food.
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.
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 (the best I’ve ever had – pulled pork, honey-jalapeño salsa, queso fresco), Steak Rajas de Poblano Tacos (grilled beef, pico de gallo, fire-roasted poblano chilies), and Quinoa Chaufa (stir fried vegetables with quinoa, eggs, sesame seeds, soy sauce, and the option to add chicken/shrimp).
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 (described above).
Quinoa Chaufa (described above).
The food? Delicious! The company? Top-notch. The atmosphere? Unparalleled in Kentucky. Missing the opportunity to dine here as soon as possible (and as often as possible)? A deep, grave error – one that you will regret.
To the staff of Corto Lima, thank you for hosting me for a fantastic afternoon! Cheers (which reminds me – I need another Mexcal…)!
As always, Happy Eating!
Y’all come back now, ya hear?
FTC: I was compensated for this post. I, at times, am fortunate enough to receive accommodations in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.