Visiting The Villages, FL and looking for good restaurants
I'll be watching the replies, intently.
I put out a similar call, last year and got nothing.
My folks love the place, but I''ve not visited...would like some Chowish experiences....if possible.
Here's to hoping.
I was just there on Saturday with the family.....not sure it's very chow worthy, but I'm hoping we can find something. We'll be driving through there frequently.
My dad has been living near The Villages for a number of years now so we've had an opportunity to try a number of places in the area and there's certainly very limited Chow-type options in this area. That said, there are still a few places worth trying - especially if you don't mind a bit of drive.
Our favorite in the area is a very authentic taqueria inside a Mexican grocery - I don't even know the name of the store and there is no big sign that indicates this is a taqueria - but it is on Hwy 301 in Dallas, FL (which is pretty tiny). It's a small place next to a trailer park, across the street from a tavern (I realize exactly how this sounds but this place is well worth it). You order at the counter from a very limited menu - mainly tacos and burritos. We always go for tacos - carne asada, carnitas, al pastor - with a bit of chopped onion and fresh cilantro. Fresh, authentic, nicely spiced, very delicious and inexpensive. Grab yourself a Mexican beer or a Jarritos from the cooler, have a seat at one of the 3 tables bolted to the floor right inside the grocery store andReally nice people. Maybe not the nicest atmosphere but some delicious food and a really nice guy running the place.
In The Villages itself, the best place we have found is a Japanese restaurant called Sakura which has decent sushi and a full Japanese cooked menu with lots of options. Maybe not the most innovative but consistently tasty and a nice atmosphere. It's a popular place, probably because just about anyone can find something they will like here and everything seems to be done well with good size portions. They are located in Colony Plaza shopping center.
If you are willing to go for a bit of a drive to Eustis, you can find some good barbecue at the Dam Smoker on CR 19, off 44A. Ribs are a good choice here and since I don't visit that often, I stick with what I like (and can't get at home!). Pulled pork and bbq chicken are popular here as well. Sides are good too - particularly the cole slaw and bbq beans. They have a website so you can check out the menu.
Hope this helps! We'll be down again in May so if anyone finds anything new and interesting - hope to hear about it!
It has been three years since I have been to the Villages, but I agree the area is not very "chow-ish". You may want to drive over to Mt. Dora, a turn of last century tourist town less than an hour away. Several nice cafes, as I remember. My other expereince is that at the Thai restaurants let them know you are looking for authentic dishes and they will turn up the flavor quite a bit.
If my understanding is correct, The Villages is a gigantic, built-from-scratch, high-end retirement community full of people age 60+ whose idea of a good time is to put on their Sansabelt trousers and white shoes and go for a round of golf. It looks like every high-end shopping center, complete with those little turret-like things at the corners of the buildings. It's loaded with businesses of all kinds, mostly national chains. In short, not the sort of place that you would be likely to find chow worthy grub unless your idea of good Chinese is P F Changs.
Best of luck -- I would plan on driving out of there if you really hope to find anything that is likely to appeal.
Pretty accurate, John.
My parents LOVE the place, but are not Hounds.
My wife and I intend to retire to New Orleans...the other end of the nation's culinary spectrum.
I have been putting off my Villages visit for three winters...due in no small part to the dearth of chowishness.
I'll have to knuckle under, eventually, and grab me some Changs....YUM!
There are a few good places to eat in and around the Villages. Having lived in the Villages for 8.5 years, and eating out often, I recommend the following;
1. Giovanni's Ristorantie and Pizzeria - Southern Trace Plaza
2. Vic's Embers - Leesburg
3. Nancy Lopez Country club - The Villages
I wonder if that is the same Giovanni's in winter park and oveido?? If so they aren't bad. leesburg also has some good places to eat. As far as Mount Dora is concerned bring a full wallet if you make the trip!! If you come here wanting to spend less there are four options,, The lost parrot(mediocre bar food), Jerrimiah's(think a country style bennigans),, Copa cabbanna cuban( average to good cuban ) and fiesta grande (americanized mexican). Most of the other places here in the Mount Dora are upscale. If money is not an issue you will want to make reservations at the goblin market. but before you do you will want to have happy our on the deck at piecies rising. Its the place to be seen in in mt.dora and has a beautiful lake view with a jimmy buffet impersonator on hand to make you feel like your in the keys. If the goblin is closed try the palm tree grill or the frog and monkey gastro pub. I have also heard there is a new german place opening here within the next year,,stay tuned!
I live a few miles outside of The Villages, and The Villages lifestyle definitely is not for me. However, I have been curious about a club-restaurant for a few years, but it is for "Residents Only." Katie Belles. Maybe if you are some residents' guests, they let you in, I don't know. But it gets talked about around the area.
I would say look for a restaurant on one of the squares and soak in that planned community lifestyle. Might as well experience The Villages for what it is. Used to eat with my parents on the square every so often. Its pretty active on weekend evenings, food was alright. Afterwards just walked around watching old timers get down to some live music. If you are looking for something a little more chow worthy I would say check out Belleview or Leesburg. They both have some small town restaurants that are a good atmosphere. I am from Belleview so I guess I am biased and like all the local restaurants but I would suggest Gator Joe's, the Dam Diner, and possibly Belleview Pizza.