One of the best parts of traveling is making unforgettable memories. In fact, some of your favorite memories may be indulging at your favorite burger joint or cooking your fresh catch from a weekend on the water. While many visitors to Crystal River and Florida’s Citrus County leave with memories of manatees or nature-filled adventures, many savor the fresh flavors from the area’s local restaurants as the highlight of their getaway. Hungry travelers can find fare to please everyone’s palate, from seafood and sandwiches to upscale dining and wineries. With so many flavorful finds, here are seven local restaurants you can’t miss out on during your trip to Crystal River and Florida’s Citrus County.
YOU'RE ALL SET!
Look out for our newsletters in your inbox soon.
Seafood Seller & Cafe
A visit to this local eatery will make you feel like you’ve stepped off the boat and into the bayou. Cajun Jimmy’s Seafood Seller & Cafe in Crystal River is known for its fresh seafood and authentic Cajun cuisine inspired from its Louisiana roots. Get a taste of seafood dishes that are caught from nearby lakes using Seafood Seller’s own boats, then prepared fresh and infused with a classic Cajun kick that will leave you wanting more. Start your meal with signature appetizers like fried green tomatoes with Mardi Gras mustard or a cup of flavorful seafood gumbo. If you fancy a sandwich or some soulful cuisine, opt for the Shrimp or Gator Sausage Po’Boy on New Orleans French bread. Fresh fish entrees you can’t miss include the Florida Grouper — served blackened, grilled or fried — and Catfish Louisanne, featuring two fried catfish fillets topped with blue crab cakes and smothered in crawfish etouffee. Looking to keep it on the mild side? The Louisiana fresh crawfish boil makes a perfect go-to for the straight and simple option.
Katch Twenty Two
For an upscale dining experience, head to Katch Twenty Two in Lecanto where you’ll enjoy clean, classic flavors and fresh ingredients prepared to perfection by a seasoned chef. While this restaurant was only recently established in 2016, Chef and Owner Richard Wiggins brings 20 years of extensive experience in the hospitality industry to the table. With a custom-crafted menu of fresh, locally sourced seafood dishes as well as some of his most renowned dishes from his culinary career, this is a spot you don’t want to miss. Kick start your appetite with a cheese board featuring artisanal cheeses and accompaniments or the roasted beet stack with goat cheese, pine nuts, arugula pesto and a citrus vinaigrette. When it’s time to switch gears to your main course, feast on the seafood risotto featuring lobster, shrimp, scallops and clams with bacon, peas, parmigiano reggiano and a lemon butter crunch. If you choose to opt for land over sea, then the port braised beef short rib will hit the spot. Pair your meal with a thoughtfully crafted beer or glass of wine, and you’re sure to have a delectable dining experience.
Oscar Penn's Restaurant
One of the newest dining establishments in Inverness is located in one of the oldest buildings in the area. Oscar Penn’s Restaurant has taken over the 100-year-old historic home that was formerly the McLeod House Bistro, once a main staple in the Inverness dining scene. Oscar Penn’s now continues the historic property’s reputation for exceptional dining with a menu focused on savory steaks, fresh seafood and delicious sushi, as well as unique dishes like venison meatloaf or Lowcountry-inspired she-crab soup. Whether you stop by for lunch or make dinner reservations, you’ll experience a bit of history and a taste of something you can’t get elsewhere.
Cracker's Bar & Grill
After a long day on the water, relax in the calm atmosphere of Cracker’s Bar, Grill and Tiki. Located along Kings Bay in Crystal River, Cracker’s has been a mainstay in the community for nearly 30 years, offering succulent seafood, burgers, sandwiches and more. And after a day of scalloping or fishing, bring your fresh finds to this waterfront restaurant and let the chefs handle the rest as they transform your catch into a mouthwatering meal. Should you come by boat or by land, you can enjoy some of Cracker’s signature entrees like the Grouper melt with Swiss cheese and coleslaw on rye bread, crabmeat-stuffed shrimp, or gator morsels that are marinated in buttermilk and fried to perfection.
The Freezer Tiki Bar
If you’re looking for an authentic local hideaway, grab a bite at The Freezer Tiki Bar in Homosassa. It was voted one of Florida’s top 10 hole-in-the-wall seafood joints and is known for its plates of tantalizing boiled shrimp and stone crab. This off-the-beaten-path eatery is nestled along the Homosassa River and was previously a seafood and bait freezer — hence its name. In fact, fishermen and crabbers still bring their fresh catches to the market adjacent to The Freezer. While The Freezer’s atmosphere is simple, its flavors are anything but that. The clam chowder and smoked mullet are favorites among locals and visitors alike, while the chicken wings served on Sundays have an amazing reputation as well.
Located in Heritage Village in Downtown Crystal River, Teahouse 650 offers an incredible selection of organic teas and a delectable light lunch menu in a casual and comfortable atmosphere. Dine in for lunch and choose from over 50 loose leaf, fair trade and organic hot teas or one of their many freshly brewed iced teas. Pair your refreshing thirst-quencher with something sweet like a fresh blueberry lemon scone or a lunch specialty like the Tea House Famous Chicken Salad. Best of all, you can bring a taste of Tea House 650 back home with you to enjoy later. Choose from a collection of 70 types of herbal, white, green, black, and chai tea sold by the gram.
It started out as a simple drive-up dog and burger joint and became a Florida legend. Pudgee’s, in new digs on Highway 41 in Floral City, is a culinary journey through America with its limitless regional iterations of the chili dog: The West Virginian Slaw Dog, the Chicago Dog, The Big Apple and the Florida Swamp Dog, just to name a few. The fresh hand-cut fries come by the fist-full and the onion ring—that’s right, singular not plural—is a masterpiece of American roadside dining. Fantastic Burgers are plentiful as well on the menus that line the walls of this favorite stop for locals and snow birds.
Crystal River and Florida’s Citrus County are known for an abundance of outdoor activities, but after all that adventure, you’re sure to work up an appetite. Whether it’s a light bite or an upscale affair, quench your thirst and savor the local flavors at these and many other restaurants in the region during your stay.