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A Guide to Dairy-Free Eating in Lexington Virginia: Your comprehensive list on where to avoid and where to indulge

People ask me constantly about how I go out to eat around my school. As much as you may think I only eat lettuce and oil, I am here to explain that there are actually tons of great options around here! I also include some tips and advice about allergy-friendliness in general, because I have had some bad experiences… Also: As easy as it is to remove cheese from most meals, sometimes the dish just isn’t worth it without dairy. For example: buttered steak, cheese sandwiches, or quesadillas (obvi).

I love Lexington, but food was a serious concern when I first moved down here. There are few chain stores, which is great, but southern-style buttermilk biscuits and gravy aren’t exactly dairy-allergy friendly. Links to menus are attached to the name of each restaurant.

  • 1. TAPS
  • I love TAPS for the atmosphere and the short menu. Usually I have trouble with restaurants with limited options, but TAPS has something for everyone. It’s not overpriced, either! They also have a ton of gluten free options, if that’s something you’re into. 

    SIMPLE SALAD: Mixed field greens, red wine vinaigrette, candied walnuts. My go-to. I typically add avocado and chicken if I’m hungry and enjoy with a side of fries. (balance, right?)

    FRIED VIRGINIA OYSTERS: Pickled cabbage, smoked citrus aioli, hot sauce. Honestly haven’t tried this because I avoid seafood unless I can see/am aware of a nearby large body of water. (I’m from Boston, so I am a bit spoiled when it comes to fresh seafood.) This is a great dairy free option for seafood fans, though!

    HOUSE CUT FRIES: flake sea salt, roasted garlic aioli, red wine ketchup. Need I say more? Do not hesitate.

    BURGERS: There are a few burgers listed. You can of course request a burger with no cheese, however, the bun has dairy. (ALWAYS ask – this is a very sneaky way to get sick.) If you have a thing for meat wrapped in lettuce, great, and all the power to ya! Feel free to enjoy a burger. Otherwise, I would probs avoid a burger here. Not worth it. 

    2. PALMS:

    I like Palms a lot. This was the first restaurant I ate at in Lexington on my first visit with my mom, so it holds some ~sentimental value~ to me. Also, there is live music on Thursday nights, which makes for a very fun atmosphere. My favorite menu item was the Pulled Pork sandwich, which they unfortunately removed… However, Palms definitely has the most dairy-free options. 

    SPRING ROLLS: These are good, just make sure to request no Chipotle Crema. Not my favorite menu item, though.

    SUPERFOOD SALAD: This salad is INCREDIBLE. Super healthy and fair priced, too. And you can add grilled chicken, salmon, or shrimp! This one has The Dairy Queen’s FULL endorsement.

    FIESTA STEAK SALAD: Good if you request no cheese. However, I wouldn’t order this unless I had absolutely no other options- I have heard the cheese is what really tops off this salad. 

    BEET SALAD: Another amazing salad. Ditch the blue cheese and it’s still incredible. I am a huge fan of beet salad in the fall and winter for whatever reason – order this while it’s still out. 

    THAI CASHEW AND CHICKEN SALAD: Yet another great salad! This one is Asian inspired and super healthy. The great thing about Asian dishes is that dairy isn’t a major part of their cuisine, so you’re safe like 90% of the time. 

    SALMON SALMON: I have a thing for salmon. Ditch the goat cheese, unless that’s not something you avoid (it affects people differently – some aren’t intolerant to goat cheese. My doctor told me the only way I could test my allergy was to just eat the goat cheese and wait… needless to say I have not attempted that and just avoid it altogether. 

    CLASSIC CLUB: This is fine without the cheddar cheese. Very few sandwiches can be made dairy-free here unfortunately, because they are all very cheese-based.

    CALIFORNIA TACOS: Another favorite of mine. Don’t forget to mention an allergy though-slaw and chipotle crème should typically contain dairy. 

    BURGERS: Same rules apply as TAPS. You can always request a burger with no cheese. The good thing about Palms is that they offer gluten free bread, which is also dairy free. If you would enjoy a nice meat sandwich, then this is def the place for you!

    3. HAYWOOD’S:

    Haywood’s is kindof boujee. The meals sound great and the steak is phenomenal, but the options are incredibly limited. I would not recommend planning a dinner here unless you are content to simply eat a salad or plain steak without sides. 

    4. NAPA THAI:

    Napa Thai is almost entirely dairy-free, as I mentioned before with most Asian-style cuisines. Just read the menu and the ingredients before you order, but I typically have no trouble eating here. However, make sure you set aside a few hours to eat – this place takes forever and a day. 

    5. DOMINO’S: 

    Anyone who follows @thedairy.queen on Instagram knows I love ordering Domino’s. Just hit build your own and build a pizza with no cheese! Just don’t forget to get the thin crust – it’s the only dairy free one. 

    6. PURE EATS: 

    Pure Eats is a newer discovery for me. I actually really like it here and I find it’s not too hard to have options. (Unfortunately, their donuts are not dairy free.) I am not going to list all the options here, because almost every dish can be made dairy free. Pro tip: get the fries cooked in animal fat. Trust me. Also, their burgers really are delicious! And the buns are dairy free! Woohoo!

    7. SOUTHERN INN: 

    The name should say it all – this restaurant was not made for the dairy-allergic. However, you can always get a salad or Steak & Eggs if it’s brunchtime! Overall, this would not be my number one pick, though.

    8. THE RED HEN:

    I haven’t been yet so I have no personal recommendations; however, they are farm-to-table, which makes me think they can likely make their options dairy free if requested.

    9. BISTRO:

    Bistro is delicious but a bit expensive. Great for Parent’s Weekend though! (wink wink) I have only been to Bistro once or twice, but I had no trouble ordering there. Definitely limited options, but some are better than none!

    AVOID AVOID AVOID:

    ROCCA

    Rocca served me dairy despite explaining my food allergy not once, but three times. Fortunately I knew it was butter the minute I took a bite, but I would really avoid this place if you are dairy-free or allergic to anything, quite frankly. They handled the situation terribly, too, which made matters worse. (You can bet I left quite the Yelp review. Srry not srry.)

    MANO TAQUERIA

    Honestly, Mano Taqueria is delicious besides the fact that it gave my friend and I horrible food poisoning. We both had the beef, so maybe just order something else??? Kidding – enter at your own risk. Tons of dairy free options, so the food poisoning was a huge bummer for me. 

    Okay, that’s all I have for now! Hope that helps a bit. I am more than happy to answer any questions, give more advice on any restaurants I excluded, or share my Yelp review. (JK) That’s it for now!

    Best,

    Kylie

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