Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Florida >
Oct 19, 2007 07:10 AM

Restaurants that personify "Old Florida"

Since moving here last year I have been intrigued by descriptions of "Old Florida" by old timers and native Floridians nostalgic for a time gone by. Foodwise, what would Hounds on this board consider "Old Florida", and what restaurants or markets in your neck of the woods serve up "Old Florida"-style grub? For example, Ted Peter's smoked mullet in St. Pete comes to mind.

I realize what people think of as Old Florida grub may differ among the various regions of the state, and even from family to family. What's your take?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I agree with Ted Peters. I would also suggest Arco Iris in Tampa due to the inclusion of fried rice on their predominantly Cuban menu. The fried rice goes back quite a way in Ybor City.


    1 Reply
    1. re: RibDog

      Love Arco's Iris they are awesome and cheap. Taco bus in tampa is amazing they have a great old school vibe going also, Roberts on westshore has the best old florida feel and the best filet mignon sandwich if Florida!

      In Anna Maria Rod and Reel is a good place to eat with one of the best views around. It's a old fishing peir in the middle of the water that serves you food!

      Starfish co in Cortez defines old florida. You eat in a fishing marina they server pompano,sword fish,grouper, just about anything and it comes with grits!

    2. The Yearling has got to be the most authentic "Old Florida" place I have ever eaten.This place has been around since the 50's.For such an out of the way place,it is always packed. I had fried frog legs,my friend had gator bites and quail. They serve venison,coon,turtle with wonderful homemade sides,large french fries,hushpuppies to die for,slaw etc.The atmosphere is so backwoods Florida,that it is actually in the middle of two lakes.While waiting for a table,you can browse the antique room that features all Florida antiques of this old house.Willie Green sits on a stack of coca~cola crates playing his acoustic guitar while singing the blues in between two of the dining rooms.
      Arriving early I got to meet the cook and have him autograph my Cross Creek Cookbook,his mother was Marjorie Keenan Rawlings cook.

      2 Replies
      1. re: DenimOrchid

        The Yearling sounds wonderful. Where is it located?

        Ribdog, I've been wanting to try Arco Iris for awhile now. Your post has pushed it to the top of my list.

        1. re: laurie

          The Yearling is in Hawthorne which is in the middle of the state south of Gainesville.


      2. The Hungry Tarpon on Lower Matecumbe Key serves grunts and grits for breakfast. It doesn't get more authentic than that.

          1. Another funky old FLA joint is Allen's Historical Cafe in Auburndale.
            Cooter, gator, rattlesnake and armadillo are on the menu. All kinds of weird old artifacts lying about as well. I don't know if it is still there.
            They had some pretty good bluegrass on the weekends.

            3 Replies
            1. re: keysrat

              Allen's was great but it has been gone for years.

              1. re: EOutlaw

                Too bad about Allen's.
                I ate armadillo for the first (and only) time at Allen's.

                1. re: keysrat

                  Ugh...sounds like possum on the half shell....