Jimmy’s Bar: Lexington’s Hidden Gem

Bar Entrance

The secret door to a world of magic.

The city of Lexington is full of many things for families to do during the day–there’s The Candy Factory, a place that has hard-to-find treats; there’s the Bob Timberlake Gallery, which exhibits many of the local artist’s works; or there’s Lanier’s, which is Lexington’s only downtown hardware store.  But, if you’re over twenty-one, and don’t  want to go to bed before 10:oo p.m., there’s very little to do.

Enter Shoto, a very unassuming Japanese hibachi restaurant, which sits just off of Main Street. 
The interior of the restaurant is neatly decorated with high ceilings that let in light through big windows,  Japanese woodcuts hanging on the walls, and intimate tables.  The upstairs is a little more private, and hidden away from the main floor.  There is no real indicator that the restaurant is anything more than just a restaurant, besides a set of curtains sitting in the back of the upper room.

Featured Artwork at the Bar

Featured artwork by local artists. This month's artist, Stewart Knight.

Stepping behind those curtains, though, is like walking through a door in Alice in Wonderland–a completely different world exists therein.  The walls, mostly brick, are covered with art from local artists, there is a pool table, and a bar stocked with artisan beers.  Jimmy Huynh, the owner of the bar, and of the restaurant, is the Sam Malone of Lexington, he literally knows everybody’s name.  (This might have something to do with the fact that Lexington is such a small town, and his bar is, to my knowledge, the only one in town.)

The place had been redecorated since we had been there last because a fight between two strippers in the bar had left it a wreck.  Jimmy gets all kinds of characters in there, but they are mostly young people, which is refreshing since, as mentioned, there is little to do in Lexington.  Jimmy also has all kinds of stories about the bar’s many frequenters.  We asked him why there was a pair of mangled glasses dangling from the bar and he said, “Oh, someone tried to run out on their tab.”  Apparently, a person tried to leave the bar without paying, and was chased down by bar patrons in a group effort, and then beaten up.  All they could get were his glasses.  So, now they remain a grisly trophy, and a reminder to other patrons.

-Zach Leonard

Jimmy at the bar.

Jimmy mans the bar all night, every night.



Filed under Nightlife, Reviews, Uptown Lexington

10 responses to “Jimmy’s Bar: Lexington’s Hidden Gem

  1. Donna Leonard

    I think you need to approach someone connected to Lexington’s advertising industry and let them see your work. It’s “awsome” and the city would be crazy not to let you publish a newsletter of some sort about these places. Keep up the good work and thanks for making it so easy for me to respond here.

  2. Luis Gonzalez

    This sounds like my kind of bar, minus the fights of course, I am a man of peace.
    How is the food? I’m sure the beer is great, but what about the food?

    • zachleonard

      The food is good enough to warrant another entry, which Cindia is going to do in a couple of weeks, so stay tuned. Thanks for the post!

    • Pennypacker

      The food is incredible as well. Jimmy’s brother Daniel is like Elvis in the kitchen…Da King!!!

      Jimmy and Dan are two of the coolest cats in Lexington.

  3. Cheryl

    I absolutely LOVE Jimmy’s Bar!! Jimmy uses no mixers, using instead all fresh ingredients. He takes the art of mixing drinks to an entirely new level…he is an artist. The bar has a fantastic atmosphere, very friendly and comfortable. I would highly and heartily recommend Jimmy’s Bar to everyone.

    • zachleonard

      I think it’s awesome, too! Jimmy’s actually brings a young, fresh art scene to Lexington–something, that exists outside of the realm of the Bob Timberlakes and Dempsey Essicks, through his exhibition of young, local artists. I wish now that I would have written more!

      • Pennypacker

        oh yeah, the art is GREAT…Jimmy has sped up the progress timeline in Lexington considerably.

  4. stewart knight

    Thank you zack for shedding some much needed light on jimmys……I’ve lived in lexington for twelve years now and have yet found anyplace else that brings somuch to the table…the food and drink is always great..the conversations are always honest..and the art is always interesting (if I say so myself)..jimmy and his family are hands down the best

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