Are there any destination-worthy restaurants in Lakeland?
Seattle chowhound here. I was in Orlando for a meeting last week and my sister and brother-in-law happened to be in Tampa. We decided to meet in the middle at Lakeland at Mario's Italian restaurant. I thought the food, atmosphere, and service were outstanding. Great salads, caprese, veal Parmesan with a side of pasta, mushroom ravioli, spaghetti and meatballs, cannoli, and gelato. A very nice wine list as well and my BIL had a delicious port ("Jonesy"). Highly recommended.
Lunch weekdays, dinner on Friday and Saturday only: Antiquarian Restaurant downtown. Lovely, small, quiet, excellent food. Homemade desserts - delicious. Try their house-made pate for an appetizer. Call ahead to check, but some weekend evenings they have a terrific jazz combo. Good wine list, great coffee.
I am a transplant from Fort Lauderdale/Miami here to Lakeland. I have often travelled to Tampa for a great meal since there seems to be severly limited choices here in Lakeland of any real quality. In searching tonight for a close by PHO place I found GOSH. Here the place is cute with VERY HIGH CEILINGS. The PHO did not come with the traditional sides of veggies, herbs and spice but the broth was EXCELLENT. the PHO or noodle houses I have been to gave several types of beef additions. The PHO here is limited to sliced beef, chicken or a combo. Since I do not eat Beef as a rule they were gracious enough to make me a bowl with shrimp for an additional $1.50. If you are becoming more fuel conscience I would give GOSH a try. I will go back and try it again as well as other selections. Maybe if many of us traditionalists for PHO order it and ask for the veggie/herb sides (instead of bringing our own in ziplocks haha) they will include it with the dish. Happy exploring in Lakeland. Any other ethnic choices out there????? All the best.
Ironic that this post came up...
We live in Treasure Island and had to meet my Orlando daughter halfway between, last weekend, so we choose Lakeland. I did a quick check on Chowhound to find a lunch place, and came up with "Schoops" an authentic sounding hamburger joint with a couple of glowing recs. Looked it up and headed out.
Lo and behold, when we get there - guess what - no longer Schoops!
Instead, your typical bland looking pizza place, called Romeo's.
We went anyway and ordered their biggest pizza - a meatlover's 16 inch.
Well, I am here to tell you that pizza was marvelous! Nice thin crispy crust, and covered with meats and fine ricotta. A side of marinara was requested, passed, and that too was delicious. Soon, the owner, an older Italian gentlement (how did we know? it must have been all the gold bracelets and rings!) came over and we got to chatting. He bought it 11 months ago (apparently Schoops has been gone two years! that's how old the thread was, come to think of it!), and has been trying to "upgrade the reputation" - and I'd say it's coming along nicely!
A nice family owned Italian place in the Publix shopping center, Kathleen Road off Exit 31 of I-4.
Lakeland is lucky to have Romeo's!
I had the same experience as Joan. I spent a lot of time searching for Schoop's, a legendary hamburger shop with many outlets in Northwest Indiana, where I grew up. Upon arrival, I found that the Lakeland Schoop's had closed well over a year before, but was still listed all over the internet. (Alas,the one in Winter Garden has closed, too.) Romeo's was closed. It was their scheduled day off, probably a Monday.
However, I do recommend Giordano's Pizza, a Chicago deep dish chain. They got off to a rocky start in Tampa but have come around. I've heard nothing but good stuff about the Lakeland branch, which opened about two years ago.
For lunch or dinner I would recommend Abuelo's. Yes, it's a chain, but its the only one in FL and the next closest restaurant is in SC! Wonderful Mexican food and a higher class decor than most.
3700 Lakeside Village Blvd.
Lakeland, FL 33803
For Sushi, I would try Gosh (listed above) or Shingestsu on South Florida.
While I wouldn't call any of these "destination-worthy", here a few that might meet your needs :)
Doña Julias (South Lakeland) is a small Mom & Pop, diner type establishment - nothing fancy ;). They offer a few Mexican dishes, like Eggs & Chorizo or a Mexican Omelet, that are very good. These come with beans & tortillas or potatoes (home fries or hash browns - both tasty). They also have big, fluffy pancakes that are delicious (a distinct vanilla-y flavor).
Again, nothing spectacular, but Lemongrass (on Memorial) and Spice (Merchants Walk, where Crispers used to be) offer good Thai food (both family owned). Both make stellar curries. (Lemongrass is a little more friendly, but they sometimes forget to bring the soup and/or egg roll.)
Tapatios (on Memorial) is a family-owned Mexican restaurant. Definitely not fancy - it's in a former Burger King - but they've been there for years, and the food is very good & inexpensive. Service is fast & friendly.
Cafe Roti - (Parkview - just north and across from the hospital). Indian food here. They offer a small buffet at lunch, but get there before 12:30 if you want that.
Texas Cattle Company (Next to Lake Mirror) - excellent steak, waaay "rustic" atmosphere (you can take a peek here http://www.texascattlecompany.net/
Other than that, the places I mentioned for lunch are acceptable for dinner as well. The last couple times we visited Antiquarian (lunch) it was fine, but others have had bad experiences there lately - service and food related - so I can't recommend them right now.
Oh, and if a sandwich shop is OK, Purple Onion (downtown on Kentucky) would be a good choice. (they close at 2:30)
Speaking of ultra casual... Mister Fish (across from Lake Morton) is a small takeout only place that offers fish and chips, fish sandwiches, hush puppies, corn fritters, etc. If it's a nice day, picnic at Lake Morton right across the street, with several benches and a small picnic shelter (along with the swans, ducks & other assorted waterfowl - the pelicans are still in town this time of year).
Hope this helps you!
I have recommended the Terrace Hotel in the past, however a "subpar" brunch recently has put me off - a shame with such a lovely setting. Other than chain restos, it's a pretty tough request to meet. For dinner, you might try Mario's - family run Italian, has been around for years....if you are interested in an Asian place, try GOSH! Asian Bistro - actually serve a pretty good bowl of pho....mmmm, I'm struggling!! Good luck!