It’s a new year, which means it’s time to plan some new adventures. The Sunshine State might not be famous for its cuisine (yet), but we think it should be. Here are a few restaurants you have to add to your Florida bucket list for 2018:
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. Joe's Stone Crab, Miami Beach
This legendary establishment has been around in some form since 1913 and serving Florida stone crab since 1921. Joe's was the first place to attempt to serve this dish, which has become a beloved Florida delicacy.
2. Mazzaro's Italian Market, St. Petersburg
Mazzaro's is a deli, cafe, sandwich shop, bakery, gift shop, dessert shop, and a market stocked with hundreds of cheeses, wines, and all of your favorite foods from the Old Country.
3. Blue Heaven, Key West
This low-key but iconic restaurant is the perfect example of Key West culture. It has a whimsical atmosphere with folk art, live music, lush foliage and cats and chickens roaming the grounds. Don't leave without a slice of their Key lime pie topped with mile-high meringue.
4. Columbia Restaurant, (multiple locations)
This impressive eatery specializing in Cuban and Spanish fare is actually the longest-running restaurant in Florida, dating all the way back to 1905. Though there are several locations throughout the state now, it's worth a trip to the original in Ybor City (Tampa) to experience this special piece of Florida history.
5. Lofty Pursuits, Tallahassee
Lofty Pursuits is an old-fashioned soda fountain in Tallahassee's that serves some of the best breakfast and desserts in the city. They have 52 different sundaes (one for every Sunday on the calendar) and hand-crafted Victorian-style hard candy.
6. Yoder's Restaurant and Amish Village, Sarasota
Yoder's has all kinds of amazing home-cooked comfort food, from fried chicken to meatloaf. But you can't leave without a slice of homemade Amish pie.
7. Star Fish Company Seafood Market & Restaurant, Cortez
This Old Florida gem is hidden in Cortez, a tiny fishing village near Bradenton. Here, guests are invited to sit back and enjoy fresh seafood on the waterfront and bring some home for later, too.
8. Old Spanish Sugar Mill, De Leon Springs
This popular restaurant is so much more than your typical breakfast spot. First of all, it's located in a state park, so a visit here is just the beginning to an unforgettable day. Secondly, guests love the experience of preparing their own breakfast on the built-in griddles found in every table.
9. Oxford Exchange, Tampa
Unless you've been to London, you've probably never experienced anything like the Oxford Exchange in Tampa. Here, you can find a gift shop, cafe, restaurant, and a lovely space to read or chat with friends.
10. Frenchy's Cafe, Clearwater
Two words: Super Grouper. This delicious fried grouper sandwich put this tiny seafood joint on the map. Every Floridian with salt water in their veins should try Frenchy's at least once.
11. Guanabanas, Jupiter
Located on scenic A1A in beautiful Jupiter, this open-air restuarant feels like a giant tiki bar, surrounded by a lush tropical setting, with wonderful waterfront views.
12. Just The Cook, Panama City
Don't let its tiny size fool you, this floating food truck serves so many delicious gourmet items, including some of the best burgers in Florida. Check it out at the St. Andrews Marina in Panama City.
13. Ulele, Tampa
Ulele is a unique concept that's both trendy and traditional, with its own spin on native Floridian cuisine. The grounds are gorgeous, as well, with riverfront views and lots of artwork.
14. McGuire's Irish Pub, Pensacola
McGuire's not only serves up a mean steak in a unique atmosphere; they also make their own beer and boast one of the largest restaurant wine cellars in the world. Oh, and if you're looking for a place to be on St. Patrick's Day in Florida, this is it.
15. The Bubble Room, Captiva
The Bubble Room is one of those crazy, quirky places that's just as famous for its atmosphere as its food. This unique restaurant is full of Old Hollywood memorabilia, Christmas decorations (year-round), antiques, and toy trains. If you're looking for a different, even kitschy, dining experience, you'll love The Bubble Room.
How many of these restaurants have you been to? What special Florida eateries would you add to this list?