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Need recs for Florida road trip - BBQ, French, Seafood

On Aug. 16, traveling down I-95 then over to Orlando on I-4, then south to Fort Myers on 27 out of Plant City or I-75 out of Tampa. Any OUTSTANDING chow recs -- esp. BBQ (Love Baby back ribs) or country-style French or Seafood? Also recs for moderate Fort Myers Beach seafood or baby back ribs?

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  1. On I75, at the Ellenton exit, get off and go west about a quarter of a mile. On your left hand side you will a restaurant called Hickory Hollow. The ribs are overdone in my opinion but the Carolina style que is not bad. They also have a very large selection of side dishes. Usually 20-25 different ones. But they are only open Thursday through Sunday. So beware,


    2 Replies
    1. re: RibDog

      Gosh, RibDog, you must be the only person eating in Florida! (no other posts)

      By overdone, do you mean the baby backs are falling off the bone? Do they offer "options" - like dry rub, sauced, etc. or is it just smoked with a dry rub?

      Thanks for the suggestion; that looks like a good lunch stop before hitting Ft. Myers.

      1. re: alkapal

        Yes, I do mean falling off the bone. Which if that is okay with you, then go for it. Plus I can't remember whether they are BBs or St. Louis style ribs.

        No, the ribs only come one way. Their way! I think it is smoked with a dry rub, sauced and then held.

        But the atmosphere and remainder of the menu is great. Nice little place.


    2. We just returned from a interstate road trip. I always love breakfast on the road and all three were super great. The Beachcomber in St Augustine. Clary's Café in Savannah and The Marina Variety Store & Seafood Restaurant in Charleston are gems

      These places were great for dinner, especially Jazz'd.

      St Augustine:
      Cap's On The Water


      Gullah Cuisine

      39 Rue de Jean

      1 Reply
      1. re: 2top

        2top, wow, those are all really tempting! Cioppino at Cap's, Tapas at Jazz'd, Boulliabaise at 39 Rue de Jean, and fried okra at Gullah Cuisine. I'm ready to eat! Fortunately, I have family in Charleston area, so those local recs passed on to them, also. BTW, the Jazz'd website has to be one of the VERY BEST websites I've ever seen -- for anything. How dynamic. Thanks for your suggestions!

      2. As you are traveling through Orlando, plan a BBQ stop at Lee Rd, which is prior to downtown. Bubbalous is one of the local favorites and close to the highway. Not fancy, picnic tables outside kind of place.


        Also have heard good things about O'boys (Winter Park and S. Orange Ave would not be bad off of I-4) http://www.oboysbbq.net/

        I'm sure Bob M Will be able to give the "official" word, I don't eat meat so I'm passing along what I've heard from friends and family. :)

        2 Replies
        1. re: winechic

          Tried Bubbalou's. Shrimp fried in panko-like breading; ribs. Was pretty good, but not so much I would make any special trips if I lived in the area. "Interesting" clientele. Maybe I caught it on a good day! ;-}

          1. re: alkapal

            have eaten at bbbalou's twice in course of two years- only fair. not worth trip

        2. There is an amazing restaurant in Dade City a little north of Plant City on I-75. It is called Lunch on Limoges. Dade City is a super cute town with antique shops and such and Lunch on Limoges is the gem of the town. They have a pecan grouper there that is too die for. They only serve lunch and you generally have to have a reservation, but it is worth any extra drive. They serve great little muffins with flavored butter and the menu is on a chalkboard they bring to your table. Oh and for dessert the chocolate cake and Fairy cake is out of this world! http://www.lunchonlimoges.com/lunchon...

          11 Replies
          1. re: lorilaw

            Small world, lorilaw; I have been there. My sister and husband live in nearby Ocala (and Ft. Myers) so they introduced me to Lunch on Limoges. The pecan grouper was my choice, and it was goooood! I love their flavored butter. What is it, anyway, as we had a debate at the table?

            1. re: alkapal

              It is fruit flavored butter...I have been going there since I was in high school...the town is especially nice at Christmas time.

              1. re: lorilaw

                orange, perhaps? would make sense.

                1. re: alkapal

                  Update: just recently went to Lunch on Limoges with my elderly mom who does not have a big appetite. 1. you are REQUIRED to order one entree PER PERSON (i.e., my mom could not just get a bowl of soup); 2. the flavoring in the butter is pineapple. I had fried green tomatoes that were good. Accompanied the grouper. Should have had pecan-crusted grouper, but got "crunchy" (?) grouper. Mom got the eggplant/roasted veg. panini, which of course we took away, and used later in an omelet. She got soup, which she liked. She did not like fact we HAD to order an entree each. They are not THAT special to have such policy. They DON'T use Limoges! ;-}

                  1. re: alkapal

                    they may not be that special but they are that busy and are always booked so they can demand it

                    1. re: rhnault

                      Well, as a free market gal, I cannot begrudge them that.

                      1. re: alkapal

                        next time you're in Dade City try Kafe Kokopelli. It's a neat place and your Mom could definitely just order some soup! They have the best white bean chicken chili. I'll drive from Tampa for it ; )

                        1. re: rhnault

                          Have you cracked their recipe? (dumb question if you'll drive that far for chili!) We did cruise by there, and it looked interesting.

                          1. re: alkapal

                            I probably could but then I would miss out on having a scenic ride out there a couple Saturdays a year ; )
                            My husband and I like to take Sat rides on the back roads to interesting places.

                2. re: lorilaw

                  next time you are there try Kafe Kokopelli. My husband and I like it better than Limoge and it's unusual too. Though more in a rustic inn style.

                  1. re: rhnault

                    thanks Rebekah, and good to know a Tampa chowhound. Soon, I will be visiting a friend at John Knox Village, at 4100 Fletcher Avenue.

                    rhnault or other chowhounds, What would you recommend in the way of a good Seafood or Steak (or authentic Florida, southern) place nearby for lunch? Thanks!

            2. Orlando. Seafood. Go to Fulton's Crab House at Walt Disney Village http://www.levyrestaurants.com/Levy/D...

              By the way, I vote for Bubbalou's Bodacious BBQ in Orlando as well. There are two locations: Lee Road ( just off I-4) and SR 436 in Altamonte Springs.

              Not only a fun place for a family, but the seafood bill of lading is posted at the front door: it's flown in daily - see for yourself when you go there.

              1. Regretably,while we have a great quanity of bbq joints,we seem to lack the quality.

                Here is a list from the Fl BBQ Assoc,composed by cooks and other interested folks.



                1. I don't love Bubbalou's, but while traveling through Orlando it seems like you'd enjoy Le Coq au Vin, a fairly casual French restaurant with excellent food.

                  Le Coq Au Vin
                  4800 S Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32806

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: rudykins


                    Le Coq Au Vin's dinner menu on their site. Such a tempting menu, indeed. Nice contemporary twists on some French country classics. Alas, it is only open for dinner. Maybe another trip. Thanks rudykins.

                  2. I suggest a right turn at Lee Road instead of a left and lunch at Cecil's barbecue. It you are not familiar with Texas-style barbecue, you'll love the hot links, the brisket, and tons of great sides.
                    Nothing really great for lunch near I-4. There is a great little crepes place located, of all places, in the Fashion Square Mall about 10 minutes east of I-4 on Colonial drive. It's in the food court, La Creperie, any it is worth the detour.European style savory and sweet crepes.
                    There's a McCormick & Schmick's in the Mall at Millenia (Conroy Road exit and left) for great fresh seafood at lunch.

                    Hope that helps.


                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Bob Mervine

                      Bob, were you there in the days of Mr. Dunderbak's deli in that Fashion Square Mall? They had a rare roast beef, olive cream cheese and pumpernickel sandwich -- which was a horror to my (later) law professor, who was kosher! Eeek, I did not know; but it was good.

                      1. re: alkapal

                        Yes, I was.

                        Most people don't know that the owner of the Mr. Dunderbak's locations -- I think there were three -- was also the owner of the long-gone Chris' House of Beef on what is now John Young Parkway just north of Colonial. It was, at that time, one the city's most popular eateries for the powerful and famous.
                        George Miliotes is still alive and well. He's about 90 and still somewhat active in the restaurant community today. His son, George Miliotes, is one of the state's five or so Master Sommeliers and is the operating VP of Darden's Seasons 52 chain.

                        Dunderbak's had some wonderful Dagwood-style creations using extremely high quality imported cheese and lunch meat -- far ahead of its time. I was introduced to a number of European specialties there that I had the chance later on to try in their countries of origin.

                        His is an important legacy to our restaurant community.


                        1. re: Bob Mervine

                          Wow, that is fascinating. Thank you so much. There was one in Fort Myers for a bit, but it too (sadly) closed. Yes, the best quality. If you know them personally, tell them thanks from grateful chowhounds everywhere!

                          1. re: Bob Mervine

                            Is this the same as Dunderbak's at the Volusia Mall in Daytona Beach? We love that little place - it's tucked away near Sears but when you walk in you could forget that you're even in a mall. My sister, who lived in Germany for 4 years, said it is so authentic to the places she used to visit there.

                            1. re: PDeveaux

                              YES!!!!! it's still there? wow! i went to stetson for two years, and we loved dunderbak's. tell me if they still have my favorite sandwich: rare roast beef, cream cheese with olives in it, on pumpenickle, grilled!

                              1. re: alkapal

                                I couldn't swear they still have that one but everything is basically the same and delicious as it was 20 years ago when we first went there. Love it!

                      2. I guess I would be remiss in not mentioning Blackwater Barbecue -- as you progess an penchant for baby backs. They have two locations, one next door to Le Coq Au Vin on South Orange and the other in College Park at 3405 Edgewater Dr.
                        Their ribs are superb.


                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Bob Mervine

                          Blackwater are top comp cooks,so they do know how.

                          They also know how to cook great pork.

                          Hopefully ,you'll catch a good batch.

                          1. re: Bob Mervine

                            Hey Bob, is that the current address or is it 4718 S. Orange Ave., as stated in that BBQ Association website list (purportedly as of May 2007)? I'd like to try it, but don't want to get lost in Orlando.

                            1. re: alkapal

                              The Orange Ave. address you llisted sounds about right. I just said they are next door to Le Coq au Vin, as the OP had already researched Le Coq au Vin. The address I gave is for their second location in College Park. A lot of people aren't aware they now have two.

                              The BBQ Association website is a good resource, but a lot of the information was posted a long time ago and hasn't been updated. You can't depend on it without doing your own checking.


                          2. For seafood on the way down I-95 I highly recommend JB's Fishcamp in New Smyrna Beach. We were on the way back to Boca from NC and got off I-95 to find JB's. It was well worth the effort. Great fish, crabs, and shrimp. If you love oyster stew, this is the place to go. It's everything a seafood-loving chowhound could ask for. http://www.jbsfishcamp.com/

                            You didn't mention your starting point but for some good recommendations between Raleigh, NC and FLA check this post: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/411867 We stopped at Roger's BBQ and Seafood Buffet in Florence and had a great southern-stlye buffet lunch (the seafood is only at dinner.) We stopped twice at Jerome's Old School Diner in Townsend GA (on the way up and back.) It's a little pricey and out of the way but we really enjoyed it. We missed out on St. Marys Seafood & Steakhouse in St. Marys, GA but its on our list for our next trip north.

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: RickL

                              Now I am getting hungry all over again. I should take two weeks to make the trip down from Arlington, VA to Fort Myers, Floirda! :-})

                              1. re: alkapal

                                Fish Camp! That reminds me. Check it out Saltwater Cowboys http://www.saltwatercowboys.com/

                                1. re: 2top

                                  MY, my, my, my, my! Shrimp AND Baby Back Ribs. Can you get fried shrimp?

                                  Weird -- on the google map reviews of the place it seemed really mixed. People loved it or it stunk. Is this your experience?

                                  (Obvioulsy, I printed the directions from I-95 -- says about half an hour -- but there is some backtracking on the map). Is it that long off of 95?

                                  PS What is a "cooter" in the "Florida Cracker" combo?

                                  1. re: alkapal

                                    cooter = turtle

                                    Sorry, we wanted lunch and found out it only served dinner. Have no experience. Passed it on to you becaused it looked so interesting.

                                    1. re: 2top

                                      Dadgummit! (that's not profane, is it?) Just a Florida Cracker, phrase (I think).

                                      Is it a "COOTER TURTLE"?

                                      1. re: alkapal

                                        Soft shell turtle rolled in homemade seasoned breadcrumbs - fried to golden brown."

                                        -From ththe menu

                                        Just found this:

                                  2. re: 2top

                                    We ate there for the fist time a few weeks ago. Some of the best fried oysters and frog legs I've had in many years. Definitely a place to revisit.

                                    And yes, cooter is a fresh water turtle very common not only in Florida, but throughout the deep South.

                                    1. re: bkhuna

                                      i love "Snowbirdistan". well done, bkhuna.

                                      freshwater turtles have softer shells, right? and are sort of pointy? (all technical jargon, don't let it put you off. :-})

                                2. re: RickL

                                  Agree wholeheartedly with recommendation for JB's Fishcamp.

                                3. If you are going to be in Fort Myers I think that you should try out The Chocolate Salon at Norman Love. This is better than any chocolate I've had outside of Denmark and Norway. Even better than Keys Chocolate in NYC. The Salon offers fresh pastries, coffees, lattes and smoothies, along with the ultimate selection of chocolates and chocolate specialties. It's a must-do chocolate experience open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. 866-515-2121 for directions.

                                  1. just south of downtown in orlando there is a place called "the fillin station". if you want what could argueably(SP) the best burger you could ever order....

                                    taste restaurant in college park just north of downtown orlando...fantastic small plate restaurant with great wine list and ever better wine prices to go with all of the incredible food they put out.

                                    1. Good seafood at Fort Myers Beach: Matanzas Inn.

                                      loved my stuffed grouper; husband love shrimp and scallops scampi with linguine

                                      very generous portions. fresh.

                                      New Place in Fort Myers, south of town, near I-75, west of airport on Daniels Rd.: Java Moon. EXCELLENT fresh ground burgers. excellent potato wedges with rosemary. good service. Looks like a wide-ranging menu.
                                      http://www.javamooncafe.com/Menu_FINA... -- MoonRanch Cheddar Burger. Will definitely make it a regular Fort Myers spot! ("Chef's secret" in cooking the bacon... MUST ... BE ..... DISCOVERED....)

                                      1. St. Augustine has some really good food. Vilano Beach (north of St. Aug.) has Fiddler's - great seafood, view and atmosphere esp. at night.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: PDeveaux

                                          just left St Augustine's and spent two nights at Scarlett O'hara's eating buckets of oysters. on thursdays they have 25 cent oysters, no less. ask for them barely steamed. first batch was too done, so shriveled. fried chicken was good and so were wings. shrimp is served cold.

                                          Had lunch at columbias. Lobster Canneloni was good but portion not big and served with not one vegetable. 12 dollars for a lunch entree for the lobster for not much food (or lobster) but plenty of sauce, which was tasty. Good service.
                                          Husband had shrimp dish with peppere and onions and rice. Well done but food was served cool not hot. Shrimp was perfectly cooked and very tasty. The Chinese American woman at the hostess station was very helpful and friendly both times we went in (first day to look at menu, second day to eat). The special salad is made table side and much better than I remember the one at Ybor City (the original) which I recall as being iceburg with gloppy dressing. All in all would recommend but have shrimp dish and salad.

                                          Had soup at Anne O'Malley's which was very good. Homemade,cheap, flavorful and friendly. They also serve sandwiches. Not fancy but good place for lunch. Same menu for dinner. Serves beer, but no mixed drinks.

                                          Ate at barnacle bill's near visitor's center. NE clam chowder and minorcan clam chowders were excellent. Had fried shrimp combo, which included two of each fried shrimp type they served: datil(spiced), regular and coconut . Datil was my favorite. Husband had mahi special which was a little overdone.. Fish in florida is served welldone unless you specify, it seems.one

                                          In Daytona had bbq at Hog Heaven and thought chicken was excellent. BBQ sauces are good especially the hot one which is only spicy not really hot.