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Flying to your choice of Orlando, Tampa, or Ft. Lauderdale just for lunch - which city/restaurant do you choose?

  • m

So here's the deal - I have some unused airline value that I need to expend very soon or it disappears. I can't transfer it to anyone else and don't have any travel plans. So I'm thinking about burning it by flying to one of these cities for the day, having lunch, and flying back in the early evening.

So basically, I'm asking among these three areas, which would you choose and where would you eat lunch? I'll be renting a car so mobility isn't an issue.

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  1. For Tampa, The Colombia in Ybor City is great: Cuban, Spanish Food.
    Also Bern's Steakhouse is the best! We once had a reservation for 1:30 AM because it was the only one available. The steaks are to die for!


    2 Replies
    1. re: multilngl

      ahh yes, I've been to Colombia before...about 20 years ago for dinner. It was unforgettable and I'm glad they're still around.

      Didn't realize Bern's was open for lunch. I'll have to check that out.

      1. re: mikeh

        I don't know if Bern's IS open for lunch, but you almost always need a reservation. So call before you go!

    2. I would fly in to Tampa and take a 5 minute cab to Ocean Prime which is open for lunch. Their menu is on their website. I would choose Tampa because we have the higher rated airport.

      1. Bern's is not open for lunch; dinner service begings at 5:00. However, Joe's Stone Crab in Miami Beach does lunch Tues. through Saturday, 11:30 to 2:00. About an hour drive from Lauderdale airport. If you're going that far for a lunch, you might as well make a memory out of it.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Veggo

          Are they still offering that lunch deal? (Joe's) Don't recall the exact details but think it was stone crabs, creamed spinach, hash browns and key lime for $20 or close

          1. re: The Chowfather

            3 large claws, slaw, 1/2 order spinach, 1/2 order hash browns, pie, coffee. 30 bucks. Poster is coming from somewhere in the Carolinas so he may want to kick it up a notch.

        2. If I were going to fly to town just for lunch, I'd want to combine it with a little ambience. The Columbia in Ybor City is a good choice; I especially enjoy whiling the afternoon away in the sunny central atrium with a pitcher of sangria Cava and their 1905 salad.

          If the weather's nice, head to the beach to enjoy good food with great views. I love Guppy's outdoor deck (in Indian Rocks Beach), and the restaurant at Sandpearl Resort on Clearwater Beach serves a nice lunch with great views and lots of good people-watching. If you decide to hit the beach, try to get a late flight back so you can stick around for the sunset.

          A non-beachy good choice in Clearwater is Cafe Ponte, one of my area faves. I'll admit that I've never been there for lunch, but their dinner offerings are top shelf.

          1. You should come on down to Orlando, and go to Mimi's cafe off of Millenia BLVD. It is a nice layed back place with awesome service and food. And if you would like to kill some time after lunch -- Universal Studios is just 5 minutes away.

            2 Replies
              1. re: mello07

                Yeah, since I have a Mimi's Cafe like 10 miles from where I live, I don't think that would make too much sense.

                But I like a lot of the recs. in this thread so far. keep 'em coming!

              2. Tampa/Ybor would get my vote too. The ambiance and having a funky, historic neighborhood to amble about after or before lunch would add a lot of value to the day, I would think.

                1. I fly to Sarasota and go to Derek's for lunch...it's the most imaginative food on the Suncoast. Amazing, unusual ingrediants and completely delicious food that stands head and shoulders above other restaurants on the west coast of florida. Wish it was open for Saturday lunch so I could get down there from Tampa Bay more often! www.dereks-sarasota.com

                  1. I've spent a lot of time in all of those cities. I would fly to Ft. Lauderdale and have lunch in the beach town of Lauderdale by the Sea, dining al fresco overlooking the intercoastal waterway at Blue Moon Fish Company. Last year, I was craving their Blackened Langostinos and Baby Spinach Salad with Caramelized Onions, Spicy Pecan Goat Cheese Fritters and Walnut Oil Vinaigrette SO much that I had my husband drive me down from Tampa (about 4 hours) just for lunch! You can stroll along A1A after lunch and check out the beach.


                    1. I've lived in both Tampa and Orlando. I agree that lunch in Ybor city or on the Gulf can be wonderful.

                      That said, I'd like to put in some non-chain recs for my current home, Orlando. Specifically, for Graze (downtown near Lake Eola) . Hip decor, lots of great reviews and awards, focus on seasonal cuisine. And more enthusiastically for the Ravenous Pig in Winter Park. If you put the Ravenous Pig into the search for this board, you will get mentions and recommendations in 52 separate threads. We have been there twice, the atmosphere is laid back, the wine list is the diverse and the menu is a fabulous blend of the regional and seasonal.

                      Here's hoping you have a great lunch. Somewhere.