Recently I posted about going to Blackberry Farm in Tennessee. You know I would never leave on a 6-hour road trip without picking a place to stop for lunch on the way. So, thanks to Twitter, I chose Corto y Lima in Lexington, Kentucky, conveniently almost exactly half way there. I could have gone with a more traditional choice but knowing the kind of food we would likely be eating all weekend, some Latin-themed food seemed like a good plan.
We started with the guacamole and chips ($10) at the recommendation of the server. Now, I make a pretty darn good guac myself, so I am sort of particular about it, but this is probably one of the best ones I have had in a restaurant. It had roasted garlic in it and was really nice and acidic. It also had plenty of salt. Salt and acid are the things that make or break good guac in my book. It had some diced tomatoes and red onions on top and freshly made chips alongside that were also nicely salted. They gave extra limes on the side, and you really didn’t need them. It was a miracle. The only bad thing I can say about this is that I wish there was more of it. The serving bowls makes for a deceptively small portion. It looks like more than it actually is. We licked it clean. I also had a margarita because it just sounded good and I wasn’t driving, and it was delicious. Nice and fresh and limey as well.
We just got a bunch of stuff for the rest of the meal. I really liked the elote ($5), which was an ear of corn cut into smaller pieces and seasoned with lime aioli, queso fresco and Tajin (which is like a Latin seasoning salt). It had all the good stuff too—lots of salt, lots of seasoning and lots of acid. It was pretty decadent too with all that mayo and cheese. Again, gave us limes and we didn’t need them. Also, the blue corn empanadas ($9) were great. They were little fried pockets of masa filled with rock crab, green chilies, and cream cheese. They were topped with little pieces of fresh diced pineapple. Again, loved the use of acid in the pineapple to balance the rich crab and cheese. There was also a hot sauce on the side that was studded with some hunks of cheese and also had a bit of pineapple flavor to it. It had a thick, almost buttery texture. It was great for dipping the empanadas. I would love to eat these again.
The other items we had were not quite as good as the first items, but still had redeeming qualities. The crispy shrimp tacos ($8) weren’t bad, although they were smothered in peppers that gave a lot of heat! We both pulled a lot of them off in order to be able to eat them. There was also jalapeno aioli on there, which was nice because while it had a little kick, the creaminess of the aioli balanced it. There was also some shredded romaine on there for texture. The least successful dish, and my biggest disappointment, was the chicken chicharron ($8), which is described as fried chicken thighs, crispy chicken skins, chili escabeche, cilantro and lime. Sadly, there was nothing crispy about this dish—almost like it had sat too long somewhere. I couldn’t even differentiate the chicken skin part of the dish. We barely touched this one, which was fine because we had a lot of food really.
All in all, it’s a place I would go regularly I think if I lived in the area…I would like to try all the various dips they offer and there are several menu items that are very tempting. But I would always get the guacamole too.
Corto y Lima
101 West Short Street
Lexington, KY 40507
Noise rating: 3 bells (out of five)
Noise rating: 3 bells (out of five)