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Mom & pop restaurants in Florida are all about hospitality, opening their doors to let you in on family traditions and decade-old recipes that have been passed down through generations. While there are endless family-owned restaurants in the Sunshine State to pick from, we did our best in narrowing down some of the stand-out favorites. Often the no-frills type of places, many of these restaurants in the Sunshine State have been open for ages, welcoming locals with friendly faces and menus that feature hearty, calories-don’t-count comfort food. These cozy eateries in Florida do what many chain restaurants can’t – they make you feel like you’re dining amongst family.
Serving anything from American classics to barbecue and Italian and Spanish cuisines, these are some of the best mom & pop restaurants in Florida.
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Owners: Levi and Amanda Yoder
About the Business: Considered an institution in Sarasota, Yoder’s Amish Restaurant is a family-owned business that has been open since 1975. An unassuming dining establishment and a local favorite for many years, hungry patrons come to Yoder’s for hearty portions of Amish home cooking and made-from-scratch pies. Digging into one of the plates here will make you remind you of a family dinner. Not only that, the service here is super friendly, happily offering both regular guests and first-timers a warm welcome.
Why We Love It: The crispy fried chicken is a star on the menu, once featured on The Food Network’s “Man Vs. Food” tv show, while breakfast items like pancakes and raspberry stuffed french toast are also a hit. Don’t forget about the homemade pies, which come in a range of flavors and are served in slices as big as your head.
Owners: John and Nancy Belanger
About the Business: With a down-home country interior, Dixie Belle’s Cafe offers friendly service, excellent food, and a relaxed family atmosphere. Owners John and Nancy have five daughters and 14 grandchildren, with all their kids have worked at the cafe at some point. Breakfast and brunch are the stars of the show here, with its menu featuring classic American favorites. Dixie Belle’s Cafe welcomes all members of your family, including your furry four-legged ones. Well-behaved dogs can dine with you on the outdoor patio and will even be given a water bowl.
Why We Love It: You need to come hungry when visiting Dixie Belle’s, as you’ll be faced with the difficult choice of menu items like biscuits and gravy, chicken pot pie, and country-fried steak topped with Dixie’s famous sausage gravy.
Owners: Blair and Ethan Hensley
About the Business: If you’re looking for classic Southern grub, then Florida Cracker Kitchen in Brooksville is the place to go. Serving breakfast and lunch, this brother-owned business perfectly embodies “Old Florida” and is a small-town favorite in Florida. Taking you back to a simpler time where everyone is treated like family, you’ll find the perfect blend of southern hospitality and comfort food dishes at this local joint.
Why We Love It: Some of the signature dishes at Florida Cracker Kitchen include its World Famous 10,000 Island Shrimp & Grits, Florida Cowboy Classic with corned beef hash made fresh every morning, and Chicken and Waffles. We recommend taking home some of the bread sold by the loaf that is baked fresh daily, including cinnamon raisin bread and homemade cinnamon rolls.
Owners: Richard and Cathy Jones, Thomas Jones
About the Business: A family-owned business located in Jacksonville, Shut Em Down Authentic Southern Restaurant was founded by husband and wife Richard and Cathy Jones, then later joined by Richard’s brother Thomas. Patrons love this authentic southern restaurant for its welcoming atmosphere and home-style cooking, along with some of the best soul food and fried chicken in the Sunshine State. There’s a daily special for every day of the week, from Tuesday’s Family Night to Waffle Wednesday and Fish N’ Grits Friday.
Why We Love It: Family recipes shared throughout generations were the inspiration behind the restaurant and it shows. You’re spoiled for choice with homemade fried chicken, smothered pork chops, oxtails, and wings. Don’t forget the sides, which include cornbread, mac n’ cheese, and collard greens.
Owners: Paula and Angie Wittke
About the Business: Originally founded by Jeff MacFarland in 1976, who named the business in honor of his mother and her recipes, Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen in Key Largo is now run by sisters Paula and Angie. Staying true to the essence of Mrs. Mac’s, this family-owned restaurant offers a classic Florida Keys experience with ultra-fresh seafood and renowned key lime pie. So good it was featured on the Travel Channel, Discovery Channel, and the Food Network, Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen is the longest-running restaurant in Key Largo.
Why We Love It: The key lime pie here is Florida bucket list-worthy, offering the perfect combination of creamy and tangy-sweet with freshly made graham cracker crust and whipped cream topping. Other menu favorites include homemade chili, conch chowder, and fresh fish of the day.
Owners: Nancy, Eileen, and Jonathan Andrade
About the Business: A family-owned and operated eatery in Miami, Islas Canarias was established in 1977 by the late Raul and Amelia Garcia. It’s now run by their daughter Nancy and her children Eileen and Jonathan, who serve family recipes that have been preserved throughout the years. Quality service and a comfortable family atmosphere are why Islas Canarias has been drawing in customers for eons to this laid-back mom and pop restaurant, in addition to its enticing menu of traditional dishes from the family’s original recipes from Cuba.
Why We Love It: Without a doubt, Islas Canarias offers some of the best croquettes in Miami. Snag a classic ham croquette and enjoy its oozy filling of béchamel and ham or try one of their specialty steaks, like the churrasco a la parrilla (grilled skirt steak).
Owner: Rachel Milsom
About the Business: Family-owned and operated since its start in 1967, Kappy’s Subs is a true Florida classic. They serve tasty diner fare in a casual, vintage atmosphere and it’s easy to see why it’s been a staple of Central Florida for over 50 years once you walk through its historic doors. Bob Caplan took over the business in 1972, then passed it on to his daughter Rachel, who is the current owner.
Why We Love It: The Kappy’s Cheesesteak, which is influenced by northeastern sandwich shops and made with ground chuck, grilled onions, and American cheese. For the perfect combination, wash your meal down with one of their hand-dipped milkshakes.
Owners: Dale Strickland and Marsha Peebles Strickland
About the Business: Peebles Bar-B-Q has been a family-owned and operated barbecue restaurant since 1947. The 70+ year landmark was started by Ellie and Gladys Peebles, who passed their business down to their kids. You can expect large portions of flavorful barbecue when you dine here, as well as an Old Florida ambiance with a screened-in eating area and indoor picnic tables. They’ve perfected menu favorites such as ribs, chopped chicken sandwiches, pork sandwiches, and sliced beef, while traditional sides include baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad, and mac & cheese.
Why We Love It: You can satisfy your appetite with the 70 Year Special, which includes a sampler platter with ribs, pork, beef, chicken, and sausage. If you’re still hungry, order takeout by the pound.
Owner: Will Imondo
About the Business: Family-owned and operated since 1993, Mundi’s takes Italian food seriously. The three generations, family-run restaurant includes Will Imondo, the owner (and chef), as well as his wife Joyce and daughter Yvette. The service at this South Florida eatery is top-notch and the cuisine is equally as enticing, with must-eat dishes like Stuffed Eggplant, Penne A La Vodka, Chicken Parmigiana, and Pasta Anna, which is an old family recipe with penne pasta and a light “Rosa” sauce. Don’t miss the Mundi’s House Specialty, which includes Zuppa Di’ Mussels or Zuppa Di’ Clams.
Why We Love It: Just take a look at any of their reviews as you’ll see why Mundi’s is a long-time favorite in Dania Beach. As soon as you step through the doors of this cozy restaurant you’re welcomed with open arms and treated like a part of their family.
Owners: Julie and Jack Russell and Family
About the Business: Husband and wife Julie and Jack in addition to their daughter and son-in-law run this popular seafood eatery in Tarpon Springs, a charming town on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Open since 2005, this three-generation family-owned and operated restaurant is filled with photos of friends and family and has an inviting setting with a waterfront deck and live music. It’s worth the wait to dine on the day’s catch at this laid-back gem, with its menu featuring dishes named after local fishermen and their beloved boats.
Why We Love It: Rusty Bellies stands apart from the crowd by serving the freshest seafood in town – like caught-today fresh fish. They do this by catching their own shrimp, group, stone crabs, and mackerel with a fleet of fishing boats that haul in seafood every day.
Owners: Chip and Betsy Barnwell
About the Business: Open since 1952, The Farmer’s Market Restaurant in Fort Myers is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Lee County. The long-time owner Bill Barnwell passed the business on to his son and daughter-in-law, Chip and Betsey Barnwell. It’s a hidden gem in Florida, serving generous portions of home-cooking comfort food to locals for decades. The no-frills eatery has been a long-standing favorite since the 1960s for a reason – its menu is filled with deliciously fresh cuisine. They also boast their own fresh farmers market next door.
Why We Love It: The Southern fried chicken is a favorite for many, but the sides are just as enticing, from the collard greens and cornmeal-crusted okra to the decadent mac and cheese and fluffy cornbread. If you’re a fan of desserts, the made-from-scratch pies taste like they’re straight from grandma’s kitchen.
Owners: Ken and Ruth Schiffermiller
About the Business: Drive north of Orlando to find Osteen Diner, a true mom and pop restaurant set on a rural corner where cow sightings are more common than people. Known for their home-style cooking, a blackboard lists the daily specials and their menu includes all-day breakfast items as well as sandwiches, seafood, soups, salads, and burgers. The diner also hosts a venue of local musicians on Saturday evenings, with folk, bluegrass, oldies, and country bands taking the small stage.
Why we Love It: Locals love this diner for its consistently delicious homemade country food. However, the giant cinnamon rolls are known to be the best in the farming community.