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Top Institutions in FLA

1. Joe's Stone Crabs South Beach

2. Bern's Steak House Tampa

3. Sonny's Famous Steak Hogies Hollywood

Ok FLA you know the routine, these are my three favorites, which are yours? Institution = (+ 25) years in business. NO NEWCOMERS!

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  1. In no particular order:

    Villa Rose Pizza, Hollywood.

    The Georgia Pig.

    The Mai-Kai. For drinks, most emphatically not food.

    1. In addition to those mentioned (and unfortunately restricted to my neck of the woods):

      Versailles, Miami

      Tobacco Road, Miami

      1. Without doing a lot more research, I believe there are only about a half dozen restaurants in Orlando that have been open and operating in a single location for 25 years. They are all pretty much family run and primarily neighborhood-type places.

        Barney's and La Cantina steakhouses fit the age requirement, but I don't consider them Florida institutions.

        We do have a branch of The Columbia restaurant here, which was at one time located downtown, about where Robin Stotter's new restaurant will be located when it opens next month.
        Certainly The Columbia in Tampa is an institution, probably ranking with Bern's and Joe's in the top three.

        Bob

        1. I'll throw in the biltmore, even though my last brunch there was poor.

          1. Columbia is definately a FLA institution...good one!

            As for the Biltmore, 1st off I am shocked to hear your last brunch wasn't up to par. Although, I have never been, the word Brunch and Biltmore are practically synonomous in Miami or should I say Coral Gables. Moreover, the Biltmore, although a Golden Oldie here in the MIA, is a relatively new operation. It was a grand old hotel, then became a military hospital during WWII, then I beleive it was back in the late 80's when it reopened as the Biltmore Hotel again. So, I'd give it just quasi-institution status in light of the long interruption in it's operation. A good one nonetheless...keep 'em coming, there have got to more out there.

            I saw someone chatting up Cappy's or something like that the other day. Up off of the Hillsborough inlet...anyone out there can correct me on the name or set us straight on this island oasis?

            Also, I forgot The Forge, that is definately another Miami Beach landmark institution worthy of mention.

            1 Reply
            1. re: netmover

              Last I went to brunch at the Biltmore was when my college bf took me for Valentine's Day, must have been '98 or '99. (GOD do I feel old typing that!) I thought it was wonderful, though they charged "more than usual" at $50 per for V-day. I here its QUITE a bit more now. . .

            2. And Rascal House in Sunny Isles. Would've included Wolfies, but oh well.

              1. good one!

                What of the Floridian on Las Olas, any good? How's about Tropical Acres?

                2 Replies
                1. re: netmover

                  The Flo is great to have around, a neighborhood linchpin and social center, it's got plenty of character, and it's downright necessary if you're in the vicinity, awake, at 3 AM. The food's nothing great, though.

                  1. re: hatless

                    Totally agree with hatless tho I wouldn't trade the Floridian for the world :-) But for a grilled cheese at lunch or 3am, with lots of characters to watch, it can't be beat!

                2. Wow!

                  This is a trip down memory lane...

                  You are referring to Cap's Place (since 1928) - Steaks, local seafood and fresh hearts of palm salad... still there.

                  http://www.capsplace.com/

                  Guests must take a motor launch from Cap's dock located next to Lighthouse Point Yacht Basin & Marina (8 miles north of Fort Lauderdale). To reach Cap's dock turn east 2 blocks north of Copan's Rd & US-1 (N. Federal Hwy) at U.S.-1 & NE 24th St. Follow the double lines and signs on the curvy road as you go toward the Yacht Basin.

                  The Ark has been a local tradition for 25 years. This is indeed a down-home, Southern style family friendly destination that is decorated with all the animals of the Ark (not as cheesy as a Rainforest Cafe but quaint nonetheless).

                  http://www.thearkrestaurantfla.com/

                  Family owned and operated with a friendly staff, this place offers an all you can eat buffet for brunch, lunch and dinner that can not be beat for the price! 6255 Stirling Road, Davie
                  (just WEST of the turnpike on the north side of Stirling) 954-584-3075

                  WAY Old School?

                  Tropical Acres bills itself as "Broward's Oldest Steak and Seafood Restaurant," and no one will dispute that, with the restaurant well past its 50th anniversary, still under the ownership of the Studiale family. It's more "early-bird" driven now, but it's definitely an institution. 2500 Griffin Road - Fort Lauderdale, 954-989-2500

                  We used to frequent Manero's on the Intracoastal in Hallandale. For almost 50 years, this landmark eatery has been serving horseracing fans, horse owners and jockeys from the Gulfstream Race Track. Not sure if all the construction up that way finally did the old place in, but the gorgonzola salads, prime rib and drinks served "with a dividend" in the dim little bar were GREAT!

                  Catfish Dewey's is nearly 25. Still great fresh all-you-can-eat specials every night of the week plus a monthly hoe-down with a live band and the owner's wife getting everyone to sing along... 4003 N. Andrews Avenue Oakland Park, Florida 954-566-5333

                  Tark's opened in 1966 - 1317 S. Federal Highway Dania Beach, 954-925-8275 ... there's also oldie but goodie seafood spot - Stratford's Bar 2910 Hollywood Blvd. 954-920-6159

                  Anyone recall Curry's, Gatti's, Dino's and Piccolo's on the Beach? I miss the Forge before the Malnick's made it a crap disco, the Famous (and then the Strand) on South Beach, Pumpernick's, the Country Store in the Grove, Fox's Sherron Inn, the Taurus (wayHEAVYsigh), Raimondo's, Mike Gordon's, the Prince Hamlet...

                  ::weeping::

                  AG

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: advisor_Girl

                    oh my, you are making me cry, too! Raimondo's fish soup! sob!
                    I remember Curry's and Piccolo's. Wolfies. Waaaahhh!
                    Aeons ago there was a place on Biscayne Blvd. called The Red Coach. Am I the only one who remembers it? Down by where they now have our new ballet and opera houses...it had to have closed ages ago. (yes, I am getting old-- har, har).

                    1. re: Sloppy eater

                      Was that on Brickell, south of the river? Near where the old WIOD-AM studios used to be? I think I remember it.

                      Bob

                      1. re: Bob Mervine

                        No, the Red Coach was north of the river -- not too far from the Miami Herald Building and what used to be the Omni -- loooong gone.

                        1. re: Sloppy eater

                          Yes, I remember it, across from that big Burger King. There were a couple of other long-out-of-fashion restaurants in that same strip.

                          I grew up in South Florida -- Homestead -- and lived there from 1956 to 1967.

                          Bob

                      2. re: Sloppy eater

                        From a Miami ex-pat: I have often wondered if Wolfie's is still there? I remember the Red Coach. And Tiger Tiger Teahouse. Is Junior's still there? I think it was at 79th and the Highway.

                        1. re: Sloppy eater

                          My parents used to take me to Red Coach Grill all the time. I don't know when it closed though. They used to give you free dinners for your birthday and I always got the lobster. What memories.

                      3. Holy Mole...I do remember many of the aforementioned on the beach and I ate at several too...Gatti's(now Barton G's), Curry's was a great place for a good steak at a great price. Ember's (though you didn't mention it, I am sure you remember it) was the other one I remember fondly.

                        The Ark, Cap's and Tropical are all on my list of places to try.

                        Mike Gordon's was good enough, fortunately, I made it to Maneros just before the wrecking ball. Fox's is still going strong, although I have not been back in years. I heard the Taurus is going to reopen?

                        Here's one on South Beach I forgot and it's almost that time of year to return now that it's cooling down and the creepy crawlers are at bay: Puerto Sagua. CUBA!

                        How's about the Lagoon for Lobster up in Sunny Isles? Any good?

                        Here's one more: Arbetter's Hot Dogs out on Bird Rd...they'll make your belly do backflips!

                        Good eatin' to all!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: netmover

                          Here You Go Net>

                          I got this from a Beach High grad...

                          Embers French Dressing,
                          Embers Restaurant, Miami
                          Serves: 16
                          1/4 cup wine vinegar
                          1/3 cup ketchup
                          1/3 cup granulated sugar
                          1/2 cup oil
                          1/2 cup mayonnaise
                          1 tablespoon lemon juice
                          1 teaspoon grated onion
                          1 clove garlic
                          1 teaspoon salt
                          1 teaspoon paprika

                          Put all ingredients in blender jar. Blend until very smooth. Refrigerate.

                          Now about their duck...

                          Yum!

                          AG

                          PS> Puerto Sagua is waaaaaaaay too dirty for me. You're too right about all their creepy cucaracha crawlers...

                        2. Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor and Restaurant 50 years and still standing!!!

                          Dania Beach,FL- "an old fashioned ice cream parlor with one of the nation's largest Collections of rural American memorabilia, including a world class automobile license plate collection."

                          The icecream is homemade...even the sodas for their floats are homemade...if your with a group you can get their famous "kitchen sink". Great place to go with kids...

                          1. Jaxon's is an awesome Ice Cream Parlour in fact a true FLA institution, and the memorabilia americana is second to none, BUT, I made the mistake of doing lunch there a while back after picking up my people at the FLL airport...skip the meal - go directly to dessert!

                            How do you screw up a Patty Melt? Use crummy meat that's how!

                            Thanks for the French dressing recipe AG, BUT, aren't we still boycotting the French? Riiight, that was before last Tuesday! (:-)

                            What are we missing??? I know PB and the Key's have to have some institutions out there. Also, I would bet my bippy there are some other Cuban institutions right down here in Dade...give it up MIA & FLA!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: netmover

                              Hey, you asked for top 3, not an exhaustive list, so that's what you got. But Miami Cuban? There's Versailles and El Rey de Las Fritas, for a start.

                              1. re: hatless

                                Thank you so much for reminding me of El Rey de las Fritas! Whooooeeee, I just got back and am wondering what the hell I had been waiting for all these years? My friend had raved about it a while back and I tried going on a Sunday (closed), so upon reading your post, I put it back on my things to eat list... wow am I glad I finally did. AWESOME! The best burgers...in fact right up there with Jack's Old Fashioned...much more gusto that's for sure. They are moving next month to 18th St and Calle 8 (FYI).

                                Alrighty then, how's about a few more Cuban institutions por favor. La Camaronera consitutes one, there have to be more? The first wave came in the 1960's, so there ought to be some others out there I have yet to try.

                                King of the Spicy Burgers lives up to their name-that much is for sure.

                                VAYA!

                                Gracias otra vez....

                            2. Here's a start to the Jacksonville thread:

                              1. Beach Rd. Chicken - Atlantic Blvd. - (40+ years) it is what it is. If fried chicken, rice and gravy, biscuits and creamed peas sounds like your thing, you'll find it here. An institution. My teeth hurt just thinking about the sweet tea.

                              2. Lou Bono's BBQ - Beach Blvd. - (40+ years) Not the best any more, but still pretty darned good - try the ribs.

                              3. Blue Boy sandwich shop - same location on Norwood Ave. between I-95 and Gateway center (on the northside) for 30 years or so. The definition of a 'hound' joint. Did I say that the sandwiches are big, yet? They'll stick this bad boy on a tray wrapped up in butcher paper, and the first thing you'll think when you pick it up is "uh-oh - I didn't know what I was getting into here". Then take a bite and hear the celestial choir.

                              Not to worry - it's all on the world's best in-house baked bread. The subs are normal length, just twice as wide as anything you've ever seen. Try the BLT and get your full monthly quota of nature's most perfect food. They'll put cheese on it if you don't tell them not to. If you ask for onions on anything, they'll grill them if you don't tell them not to. Honest. We're here to help.

                              For you downstate types driving north through Jax, get off the highway and have the 'chowish' experience of a lifetime. It's off the Lem Turner/Norwood exit not far north of downtown, just past the hospitals and MLK Blvd. - take a right at the exit if you're going north, and you'll be there in less than two minutes. Advisory - not the most upscale neighborhood. There will always be a policeman inside eating. Always. They hang here - you'd think it was a donut shop.

                              No atmosphere at all, but great chow and a legendary schitzo jukebox - 50 cent and Bobby Vinton all in one box, no lie...

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: mezzrow

                                Awesome post Mezz, thanks!

                                I wish I knew about that a few months ago when I was stuck down in Orange Park.

                                Who's Next...

                              2. The Columbia in Ybor City

                                McGuires in Pensacola

                                Captain Anderson's in Panama City Beach

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: tiomano

                                  I forgot about the Mai Kai in Ft Lauderdale

                                2. In the St. Pete/Tampa area:

                                  Bern's
                                  The Columbia
                                  Chattaway's
                                  Skyway Jack's
                                  The Valencia Garden
                                  Pepin Resaurant
                                  Ted Peters
                                  El Cap

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Wineman

                                    Add Lenny's in Clearwater to the list!

                                  2. Bern's. Absolutely unequaled in quality and devotion to excellence. There is none better. None.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: steakman55

                                      How about we leave it as a legit institution. As far as being the best, their wine selection is the best by far and their dessert restaurant is outstanding.

                                      1. re: tpigeon

                                        I agree- a good place but not the best. The servers are not always very helpful or friendly and the portions are not that great. They do make a fabulous steak sandwich (not on the menu) that you can order at the bar and is quite reasonable for the quality of meat you are receiving.

                                      2. re: steakman55

                                        I haven't been to Bern's in eons, nice to see it mentioned and still around. I have very fond memories of the place. It may have been one of the first places I was treated to a "fancy meal". Glad to hear it still is getting high marks.

                                      3. A couple more from the Panhandle-

                                        Staffs in Ft. Walton Beach

                                        Nick's on the Bayou- Basin Bayou (between Niceville and Freeport)

                                        1. In Broward County .....

                                          Lester's Diner
                                          Hot Dog Heaven
                                          La Spada's

                                          Although not restaurants, but certainly institutions .....

                                          Delaware Farm
                                          Mimi's Ravioli

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: cucuzza

                                            How about Ernie's on US1. Not what it used to be before Ernie died but still an institution.
                                            The best Conch chowder with Binimi bread.

                                            1. re: cucuzza

                                              Is Lester's still good? I used to live there in the early 80's and Lester's was THE place to go after a hard night of partying - what an interesting crowd it would get, all the truckers, trannies and various leftovers from the bars. Loved the place.

                                              Ernies was great too - I didn't know Ernie had passed, when was that?

                                            2. An institution in St. Petersburg is Coney Island, on 9th Street North, which unsurprisingly specializes in chili dogs.

                                              Been there for decades (I know my father said he listened to the 1934 World Series on a radio that was set up in front of Coney Island).

                                              It is what it is -- great chili dogs and handmade shakes. It's not unusual to talk to people whose families have eaten there for multiple generations (four for mine).

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: floridan

                                                I don't know how I forgot it. Thanks for the reminder.

                                              2. My faves are already taken but here's a few old-timers:

                                                Wrights Gourmet (sandwiches)
                                                Mel's Hot Dogs
                                                West Tampa Sandwich Shop
                                                Latam (cuban food)
                                                Donatello Italian restaurant (the mafia's finest).

                                                The Chalet Suzanne in Lake Wales
                                                Red Barn in Lakeland for steak
                                                Jimbo's Pit BBQ in Lakeland and Tampa.

                                                1. How about Rusty Pelican in Key Biscayne. The food has gone downhill, but the view is absolutely unbeatable!

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: restaurantelite.com

                                                    You're right...the view is spectacular. In light of the fact that we are virtually surrounded by water here in the MIA, there are very few good waterfront dining options. You're right again, the food has gone down hill...in fact I'm not sure it was ever any good! The brunch is a good deal as I recall and with that view during the daylight hours it is a good waterfront option. Did you know there is one in Tampa? Also right on the water in Rocky Point. I guess the owner has several restaurants, maybe someone out there can enlighten us about the ownership and operation? As the story goes, he is quite the restaurant mogul...can't recall any exact details.

                                                    1. re: netmover

                                                      I second the Rusty Pelican note. I was there for a banquet and it was very bland. I had a nicer sunset dinner (wear your shades) almost across the street at Sunday's on the Bay.

                                                    2. re: restaurantelite.com

                                                      I wondered if the Rusty Pelican was still there. I still make their Rusty Pelican dressing when I'm feeling nostalgic.

                                                    3. Fran's Chicken Haven in Boca Raton -- decent fried chicken and old enough to have a neon sign

                                                      Rustic Inn in Fort Lauderdale -- hit or miss but it usually makes for a fun night

                                                      Boston's in Delray Beach -- I almost never like the food but visitors love to go there for the view and atmosphere

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: JFla

                                                        Reading this thread is a lot of fun for me, to see so many Fort Lauderdale places mentioned. I moved away years ago, and it's great to see so many of my old favorites, like Rustic Inn still making a mention.

                                                      2. just ate at two today down here in the MIA

                                                        1. El Rey de las Fritas

                                                        2. Frankie's Pizza

                                                        I need to stick to the salad bar for the next few days, weeks, months, years! NOT!!!

                                                        1. L'esquina de tejas in Miami

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                            I can report back to you that the famous "La Esquina de Tejas" is now another place. Quetzal or some such name. Ronald Regan ate at the Esquina when he was president and it was a solid place for good cuban food. Seems like little havana is metamorphing into little central america!

                                                          2. Didn't Esquina de Tejas close??? I know it closed down for a while then reopened, but I'm not sure what the story is now?

                                                            I've been to 3 institutions in the past three days and am going to have to be institutionalized if I go to another one soon!

                                                            El Rey de las Fritas
                                                            Frankie's Pizza
                                                            Joe's Stone Crabs - Takeaway

                                                            I promise to sort thru this thread and make a list before the end of the year, so get your's in soon!

                                                            1. In South Miami, you've got the Captain's Tavern in Pinecrest, Walter's Coffee Shop in Perrine, and there is always Shorty's.

                                                              1. Bernard's Surf in Cocoa Beach, favorite hangout of astronauts (and cast members from I Dream of Jeannie) back in the day. . .which I heard has just been sold to new owners. Hope they don't go the way of Billy's Tap Room in Ormond Beach. . .

                                                                1. So many oldies but goodies here!
                                                                  I was going to post Esquina de Tejas, but someone else posted that it was closed?!?
                                                                  I miss Coney Island on 163rd Street. The world's greasiest food, but man was it good.
                                                                  And there's a tiny Jamaican Institution on same street, same side, called Irie Isle. Curry goat and jerk chicken!
                                                                  How about Los Ranchos? That's been in Bayside for a looong time.

                                                                  1. Oh, and how about the Loggerhead? That was a Flannigan's somewhere in South Miami or the Gables maybe? (I was NEVER sober when we went there for late night/early morning breakfast!)

                                                                    And did anyone post about Skeeters in Gainesville? The only thing worse than the food is the music, but man do they have big biscuits! (I'm assuming Burrito Bros doesn't quite make the 25 yr criteria yet.)

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: diablita FL

                                                                      Did Skeeter's survive?

                                                                      Some of the staff moved to Orlando a few years ago and tried to make a go of it, ultimately not cutting it. One of the chefs moved to another restaurant I wrote about, which is how I heard the story.

                                                                      Skeeter's BBBIIIIIGGGGG biscuits !!!!

                                                                      Bob

                                                                    2. Harbor Docks in Destin

                                                                      1. Used to love Arbetter's Hot Dogs -- but they have gotten bad, IMO. Mel's in Tampa is still great, however.
                                                                        La Esquina De Tejas is not the same. They sold out and have new owners-- and the food is not the same!

                                                                        1. I can think of a few in Central FL.

                                                                          1. The original holiday house in deland
                                                                          2. Johnson's Diner in Orlando
                                                                          3. Charley's steak house on OBT

                                                                          1. Can someone please describe the food quality at Cap's Place in Broward. It's the place on a "so called" island where you need to take a boat to. circa 1920's

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: netmover

                                                                              It used to be a real island. I think the Army Corps of Engineers were responsible for connecting it to the mainland at some point after the place had been there for a few decades. By coming over on a ferry and mostly hiding the physical connection to the neighborhood, it still keeps the feel.

                                                                              They generally did a good job with the fish in my one experience: broiled snapper and sauteed scallops (and vice versa) were terrific. The less modern/froufrou/Pacific-coast one ordered, the more things shone. Incidentally, the saute involves butter, cream, breadcrumbs for texture, etc., none of that olive-oil-for-health nonsense. Julia Child would approve, if you know what I mean.

                                                                              Beyond that, the place's age shows: their bacon-leek mashed potatoes are good, the sauteed vegetables mushy, the tossed salads made on site but dry, as though prepped in advance and refrigerated; opt for the excellent Manhattan clam chowder instead. Friends who'd been there before said it was consistent with other visits and recommended a (fresh) heart-of-palm salad special when it's available. I skipped dessert, but the key lime pie down the table got enthusiastic reactions.

                                                                              The setting -- a 1920s wood-frame speakeasy jutting into the Intracoastal, creaky floors and all -- is the star, though you can have a surprisingly good meal that very much defies the low Zagat scores if you order right and understand its strengths. Order things that would have been on a Florida menu in 1940, expect them to be cooked like they would have been in 1940, and you'll probably fare best.

                                                                            2. Thanks...

                                                                              Here's another one:

                                                                              Rickey's-Hollywood (Wings and Lobsters)

                                                                              1. Jimbo's on Virgina Key-MIA for smoked fish, bocci ball, live bait and canned beer...bring your Banjo!!!

                                                                                1. Ziggie's Crab Shack - Islamorada
                                                                                  John G's - Lake Worth
                                                                                  Wolfie Cohen's Rascal House
                                                                                  The River House - F.L.

                                                                                  They all bring back so many memories...

                                                                                  and haven't been, but definitely on my must list -
                                                                                  Bert's Bar and Grill, Matlacha/Pine Island
                                                                                  Dollar Bill Bar, Matlacha/Pine Island

                                                                                  1. There's got to be more institutions here in the great state of FLA? I'm drawing a blank at this very moment...can you please help me out?

                                                                                    Heck St Augustine is the oldest city in the USA for Pete's sake! Bingo the light just went on in my head:

                                                                                    O'Steen's specializing in fried shrimp and is NOT to be missed when perusing FLA's oldest city.

                                                                                    good eats 2 U FLA...one blood.

                                                                                    BAM!

                                                                                    1. JOE"S Stone Crabs Miami Beach again...

                                                                                      Merry + Happy 2 U & Yours

                                                                                      1. I know the criteria is 25 years, but Gourmet Diner is right there. I was driving by today...they have been around since 1983. I have a bunch of family in Montreal, and all of the montrealers love this place and claim it is the best french food down here

                                                                                        1. That's a good run-seeing how it's about to be 2007 soon! Truth be told, it is my favorite French joint here in the FLA. I used to go to it when it was across the street next to the RR tracks. Good grub for sure...couple more years and it'll reach true insitutional status!

                                                                                          1. Joe's Stone Crabs
                                                                                            Rustic Inn
                                                                                            Bostons

                                                                                            1. can't believe shorty's bbq (US-1 by kendall station in south miami) has only been mentioned once and in passing. a pilgrimmage site every time i'm in town.

                                                                                              alas, wolfie's...

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: eulaliax

                                                                                                My thoughts exactly regarding Shorty's/Shivers.

                                                                                                However as for the state's top three restaurant institutions, I'd have to give way to The Columbia in addition to Joe's and Bern's in netmover's original post.

                                                                                                You and I can agree to make Shorty's fourth.

                                                                                                bob

                                                                                                1. re: Bob Mervine

                                                                                                  I grew up in Kendall and lived there for over half my life. We weren't exactly regulars at that Shorty's, but we definitely ate there a LOT, and always loved it.

                                                                                              2. 'Papo Llega y Pon' World Famous Pan con Lechon Emporium

                                                                                                17th Ave and NW 29th St Alapattah in the MIA aka Dominican Town

                                                                                                Don't be fooled though, this institution is 100% cubano VAYA!

                                                                                                1. Runway 84- FTL (Italian)
                                                                                                  Padrinos-Hallandale Beach (Cuban)
                                                                                                  S&S Diner-Miami (Diner, although this place has gone down hill since Charley sold)
                                                                                                  Arnie & Richie's-Miami Beach (Deli)
                                                                                                  Oasis-Key Biscayne (Cuban)
                                                                                                  Shorty's BBQ-Kendall (BBQ)

                                                                                                  1. May not be the best but its as old Florida as you can get - The Pit BBQ Tamiami Trail West Miami

                                                                                                    1. I liked Shorty's in Kendall better before they Burned down, never has been the same since to me

                                                                                                      1. My favorites are as follows:

                                                                                                        1) The Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City (none of the others are quite the same)
                                                                                                        2) Le Coq au Vin in Orlando (I'm pretty sure it's been there over 25 years... but I don't remember much from when I was 3)
                                                                                                        3) McGuire's in Pensacola (it's 30 this year)

                                                                                                        I also like Jack Benny's Barbecue on US27 in Minneola. I have no idea how long it has been there, but I know some of the hats on the ceiling are at least 25-years old. FSU fans will hate it!

                                                                                                        1. McGuires is the place that has well over 100,000 $$$ (all denominations, all currencies)stapled to it's walls, no? That place is cool!!! It's been +/- 7 years since I've been there, so they're probably up to 1/2 a million by now? A true Irish Institution...here in the FLA.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: netmover

                                                                                                            That's the place. They say they have over $250,000 on their website (http://www.mcguiresirishpub.com/) My mother and I always go when we're in Pensacola. You can't beat 18 cents for a cup of bean soup (as long as you order something else). Just make sure you pay attention to the bathroom door signs ;-)

                                                                                                          2. John G's in Lake Worth
                                                                                                            Dale's Barbeque in Ft. Pierce
                                                                                                            Brass Ring in North Palm Beach
                                                                                                            Lightsey's in Okeechobee
                                                                                                            Corbett's Hideaway in West Palm Beach
                                                                                                            Roxy's in West Palm Beach
                                                                                                            Country Kitchen in Riviera Beach
                                                                                                            Testa's in Palm Beach
                                                                                                            Herb and Marilyn's in Port Salerno
                                                                                                            Dixie Chicken in Orlando
                                                                                                            The Buccaneer on Singer Island
                                                                                                            Howley's in West Palm Beach
                                                                                                            Helos in Tarpon Springs
                                                                                                            Mario's in Stuart
                                                                                                            Shakra's Deli in Jensen Beach
                                                                                                            Chuck's Seafood in Ft. Pierce

                                                                                                            1. How often do you get to go to two institutions in one day? Well yesterday was my lucky day!

                                                                                                              First was:

                                                                                                              Sonny's: I am in love with their steak sammies! The hoagie roll they use is fresh baked and a Godsend. I finally tried their meatballs yesterday and can atest they too are delish as is their red gravy...yummy! Get the red sauce on the side with your Philly Cheese steak and sip and smile as you savour a true FLA Istitution! 66th Ave just North of Taft.

                                                                                                              Second was:

                                                                                                              Ricky's. Their special secret breading tecnique is the bomb! Having went to school near Buffalo, breading wings is sacreligious. Once you get beyond that fact and move on to these crunchy critters you will think you're in wing heaven!

                                                                                                              Hollywood, FLA has some gems...there can be no denying it. WOW!

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: netmover

                                                                                                                More about Hollywood ...I just ate at Le Tub. I thought the sirloin burger was tasty but a bit too large to handle. As a "normal" sized human, I could have used a forklift. The fries were good too. My friends had mozzarella sticks and fish sandwiches which were okay, but to tell the truth, the best part of the experience was clearly the lovely sunset atmosphere. The funky vibe transformed into something quite lovely as the candlelight and vegetation were romantic and magical. If only the heavy, bottom feeding drinkers would have kept quiet and drunk more gently...

                                                                                                              2. Spring Creek Restaurant in Spring Creek, FL (Panhandle)
                                                                                                                The Yearling Restaurant in Cross Creek, FL (Central FL, by Micanopy)
                                                                                                                Catfish Pad in Tallahassee (best catfish in FL)
                                                                                                                Kojak's Ribs in Tampa
                                                                                                                Clark's Fish Camp in Jacksonville
                                                                                                                Versaille in Miami
                                                                                                                Joe's Stone Crab in Miami
                                                                                                                The Forge in Miami Beach
                                                                                                                The Original Conch Fritters Stand (since 1934?) in Key West
                                                                                                                Sloppy Joe's in Key West (for drinks, but do jello shots count as food?)

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: Everythingirl1

                                                                                                                  Yes they do...a round of jelly shots for all my chowhound friends!

                                                                                                                2. I'm amazed no one's mentioned Burn's Steakhouse in Tampa. That place is great and has been around since the 50's. Certainly not cheap, but it's a great place.

                                                                                                                  Lee and Ricks Oyster Shack in Orlando Florida (Kirkman and Old Winter Garden) has been around just as long. It's a hole in the wall cheap seafood bar where they'll shuck the oysters in front of you right onto the bar as you eat them. The place probably looks like it did 50 years ago as well.

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: AdamFortuna

                                                                                                                    Adam..that was mentioned in the original post.

                                                                                                                    1. re: mbfergie

                                                                                                                      Berns is on the OP...there had been a lot more about Berns at one time, but it got a little heated and henceforth was truncated. Seems there are some polarized opinions about that Tampa institution! I'm still baffled ordering by the cut, inch and weight equation...no easy task. I guess that's one of the many things that makes it a true FLA institution.