Review: Does Lexington’s Tolly-Ho Make Kentucky’s Best Burger?

Tolly Ho burger rings

Founded in 1971, Lexington’s Tolly-Ho Restaurant has long been a burger and shake mecca for University of Kentucky students. I went there myself as a UK student a couple of decades ago back at the old location on the corner of Euclid and Limestone.

Tolly-Ho recently received some great press when The Chive ranked the best burgers in each state, crowning Tolly-Ho as maker of Kentucky’s best hamburger. I figured it was time to revisit Tolly-Ho, after all these years, at its new location on South Broadway.

Tolly Ho door

I ordered the flagship burger, a Tolly-Ho with cheese. With fond memories of their onion rings, I chose rings rather than fries. It’s a good thing that Tolly-Ho makes great shakes because they carry Pepsi products, and, well, nobody wants that (they do have Ale-8-One readily available). I tacked on a strawberry shake.

There certainly is no complaining about the quality of the burger. It’s tasty and moist with the right “burger” taste. I ordered mine with cheddar cheese, and I will say it didn’t have that cheddar bite to it. That quibble aside, it was a solid burger experience. The Tolly Ho is, indeed, a great burger.

Tolly Ho Burger bitten

I am also a big fan of the onion rings. They were as good as I remembered. The serving size was generous (maybe too generous considering how badly I don’t need to eat onion rings). The batter was crisp and not crumbly, avoiding frequent onion ring failings.

My wife ordered the cheddar tots as her side, tater tots with cheddar cheese inside. They were good, but I’m not a big tater tot fan so I’m not the best judge. I think if they’re the sort of thing you like, you will like them.

Tolly Ho shakeI don’t want to fail to mention my strawberry shake. It was rich and thick with real strawberry flavor, not the dreaded Strawberry Quick taste. Some strawberry chunks would be nice, as would a dedicated shake glass or mug rather than the standard plastic Pepsi cups. But get the shake.

It was great being back at Tolly-Ho, although I miss the old location across the street from UK’s Student Center and north dorms, not that those dorms are there anymore. If you’re in Lexington and want to try a classic, stop by Tolly-Ho. Tolly-Ho has a great burger with excellent sides, but for the best burger in Kentucky I’m going to keep looking.

Tolly Ho Restaurant
606 South Broadway
Lexington, Kentucky 40508
Open 24 Hours

Tolly Ho sign fern

Tolly Ho counter


2 thoughts on “Review: Does Lexington’s Tolly-Ho Make Kentucky’s Best Burger?

  1. It just depends on your age. Older friends of mine still claim that you haven’t been to the Tolly Ho if you didn’t go to the location on Winslow Street that was occupied by Pete’s Wok when I was in college, and is now occupied by Kennedy’s Greek Store and (I think) a frozen Greek Yogurt place.

    The Tolly Ho is much more of an atmosphere than a plate. The new site still has just as much of a “the grease is 20 years old, but oh, so, tasty” feel as the last site. The food quality is the same. Pepsi instead of Coke is a pain, but they’ve changed that before, and they’ll change it back eventually.

    I can’t be certain that the burger is the best in Lexington, but the Tolly Ho is definitely the best place in Lexington to get a burger.

  2. Lamb burger from Stella’s Kentucky Deli. That or the Griff Burger from Stella’s as well. Can’t beat that local ground lamb or grilled apples and bleu cheese. I’ve only had Tolly Ho at their old location. It’s good hangover food or late night studying food, but it doesn’t hold a candle to other Lexington options.

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