In recent years, the North Limestone neighborhood has increasingly been a magnet for small businesses that are invested in bringing a new sense of vibrancy to the community, from bars to hair salons to tattoo parlors. One of the more recent additions to the corridor, the small cafe Minton’s at 760, has attracted a small but loyal following in its first year of business, expanding from a daytime-only schedule to offering dinner three nights a week in recent months.
With a unique vegetarian- and vegan-friendly menu, Minton’s fills a void in Lexington of locally owned, affordable cafes with a creative, gourmet flair. Overseen by chef and owner Ashley Minton, the menu intersperses classic southern dishes (Johnny Cakes, Minton Hot Brown, Granny’s Beans & Cornbread) with inventive urban fare – the “Porkies” sandwich, for example, features French toast dusted with powdered sugar and stuffed with pulled pork, served with a balsamic-BBQ dipping sauce; the “Little Brother,” a smoked sausage sandwich, is topped with the unlikely condiment of macaroni and cheese.
On a recent Tuesday afternoon, a guest and I partook in the Minton’s classic lunch experience, which includes choosing an item from the handwritten chalkboard menus lining the walls, ordering at the counter, helping yourself to a soda from the refrigerator and finding a seat. The dining room is small but cozy, with just a few small tables and additional seating on the front patio, and the staff is also small – the same friendly face who took your order at the counter is likely the same one who will bring out your food and clear your plates.
We ordered two popular items, the Minton Hot Brown ($9.75) and the Spicy Tempeh Salad sandwich ($9.50). The hot brown was classically prepared: an open-faced ham and turkey sandwich covered in cheese sauce then topped with crisp bacon and a tomato, served with potato chips on the side. While it was nothing special as far as hot browns go, it was perfectly executed, and it is worth noting that the restaurant also boasts a vegetarian version, with zucchini, mushrooms, and onions.
The spicy tempeh sandwich is where our lunch really shone. Tempeh, a soy product that inexplicably doesn’t show up very often on local menus, is sauteed with cilantro, apple, green onion and avocado, then mixed with a Sriracha-infused vegan mayonnaise to create a creamy salad, served on a delicious fresh whole wheat bread with mixed greens. I’m not one to typically go for items that are specifically labelled as vegan, but Minton’s opens up a whole new world for curious diners who are open to new combinations of vegetarian and vegan foods, even those who typically have carnivorous leanings.
While my dining experiences at Minton’s have thus far been relegated to lunch-only, the dinner menu is enticing, with options that include dry rubbed spare ribs, Teriyaki-seared pork tenderloin and Italian sausage gigli bolognese in the $10.95 - $15.95 range. (Notably, the restaurant doesn’t have a beer or liquor license.)
Our lunch came to $22.75 before tax or tip – interestingly, a 25 percent gratuity was added automatically to the tab, which was settled before we even sat down. Presumptively, this is a consequence of the “Square” system that processed the credit card. While tipping that percentage wasn’t an issue for us personally, it is worth noting; providing guests the option to choose their own gratuity is something I hope the restaurant will address in the future.
Minton’s at 760
760 N. Limestone St.
11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Tues. - Sat.
5 - 9 p.m. Thurs. - Sat. (dinner)