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If you look hard enough, you will find a plethora of unique food experiences scattered throughout Florida that provide a glimpse into how many Floridians really live. For a true appreciation of all the Sunshine State has to offer, make a stop at one of these local spots for an authentic Florida food experience.
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With fish harvested by local fishermen, Star Fish Company is one of the best seafood restaurants in Florida. It’s as fresh as Florida seafood comes, where you’ll find locals noshing on deliciously fried, grilled, blackened or sauteed fish with a side of coleslaw, cheese grits, or hushpuppies. A cash-only establishment with picnic-style outdoor seating, here you have a fantastic view of the mangrove islands, Jewfish Key, Longboat Key and Bradenton Beach in addition to the bustling local commercial fishing fleet. If you like what you see, take some home at their attached Star Fish Market.
Supplying over 90% of Florida’s oysters, Apalachicola Bay is the place to be for a straight-off-the-boat Florida food experience. Harvested by hand from oystermen in tiny wooden boats, these salty treasures are best tasted from one of the local raw bars. In Port St Joe you’ll find Indian Pass Raw Bar, one of the best places to get your oyster fix. A classic example of Old Florida, this laid back bar has been serving locals for over 100 years. Grab a beer from the cooler, take a seat at the shared table, and make your choice between raw, steamed, or baked oysters with Parmesan cheese.
Fun for the whole family, scallop diving in the Gulf is a true Florida adventure everyone should experience at least once. Known for some of the world’s best recreational scalloping, you can find these tiny treasures in Florida waters with a little bit of effort. From the months between July and September, grab your snorkel and fins and hunt for scallops in the Gulf waters around Cedar Key, Crystal River, Homosassa, Suwannee, and Steinhatchee on organized tours. Later you can reap your rewards and savor your catch of the day with a fresh Florida dinner you won’t soon forget.
You can’t go to Miami and not taste the flavors of Cuban cuisine. For a true cultural experience and a complete immersion into the vibrant Cuban culture, you can’t go wrong visiting Miami’s famous Little Havana. Stop for the croquetas, ropa vieja, Lechon Asado, and Cuban sandwiches in Versailles or get a caffeine jolt with a strong Cafe Cubano at their outdoor coffee window for a true South Florida food adventure.
Loved by visitors and locals alike, Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlour and Restaurant in Dania Beach is a Florida institution. Cooling off residents and fulfilling every child’s dream for over 60 years, this 1950’s style restaurant serves large portions of crazy delicious ice cream concoctions. With a funky decor and 45 flavors to choose from, sweet treat lovers will be in absolute heaven as you end the day at the beach with one of Florida’s most popular dessert spots.
With a menu-driven by conscious, healthy, and clean eating philosophies, fresh is key at the Farmer’s Table in Boca Raton. Joining the farm-to-table movement in Florida, Fresh Farm serves sustainably farm-raised or harvested seafood, hormone-free and antibiotic-free protein, and fresh herbs from their garden. Impressively serious about the Florida farm to table concept, in addition to obtaining ingredients from local farmers, they also avoid using cream, butter, or microwaves to make delicious dishes like chicken meatballs with homemade mozzarella and grass-fed beef short rib tacos.
You cannot discuss local food experiences in Florida without mentioning the iconic state dessert, the Key Lime pie. There are a plethora of different variations of this classic recipe with many foodies searching for their absolute favorite, but only a few restaurants in Florida are consistent with the authentic ingredients that include real key limes from the Florida Keys. These tiny yellow delicacies are the key to creating the perfect slice of tart filling heaven. Blue Heaven is a popular spot in Key West that tops each slice with a pile of meringue, serving guests one of the most iconic Florida food experiences in the state.
Known as a Florida delicacy, stone crabs have strict harvesting regulations to preserve the population of these creatures. Served cold with a side of tangy mustard sauce for dipping, this dish is full of delicious meat perfect for indulging on one of Florida’s notoriously hot summer days. Head to the iconic Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami for a Seafood Bisque with stone crab and grouper or treat yourself to the Cold Seafood Platter that includes stone crabs, shrimp, oysters, and ½ Florida lobster for one of the best seafood experiences you will only find in Florida.