Central Florida is home to some of the most unique variety of dining options. From delicious cruffins to some of the best oysters you’ve ever had, Central Florida’s Polk County is sure to have something that will keep you coming back for more! Use this A-Z dining guide as a reference for your next day trip, vacation, or even date night in Polk County!
A-Z Guide to Dining in Central Florida
Here is our A-Z dining guide to Central Florida!
A. Andy’s Igloo
This retro restaurant has been serving Winter Haven since 1951. Andy’s Igloo features traditional hamburgers, barbecue and seafood baskets, but you have to try their ice cream! They are known for their famous milkshakes, sundaes, hand dipped ice cream, and soft serve. We recommend trying their garbage can milkshake or a Reeses milkshake!
B. Born & Bread Bakehouse
Born & Bread Bakehouse is a bakery located in Lakeland, FL. They specialize in slow dough, both naturally leavened breads and viennoiserie. The wholesale bakery opens to the public on Wednesdays and Saturday mornings. We recommend you try one of their famous cruffins!
C. Cherry Pocket
Cherry Pocket Steak & Seafood Shak, a historic Lake Wales seafood restaurant, has been serving locals and drawing visitors to its waterfront property since the 1940s. This lakeside restaurant is known for fried seafood baskets, oysters, steak and cold beer.
D. Divicious Deli & Coffee Shop
Serving up delicious hot and cold sandwiches, soups, and salads, Divicious Deli & Coffee Shop is the perfect lunch spot in Downtown Lakeland. Their Cuban coffee is also some of the best around!
E. Egg City Diner
Located in Haines City, Egg City Diner is a beloved local institution that serves up classic American breakfast and lunch fare. Whether you’re in the mood for fluffy pancakes, crispy bacon, or a hearty omelet, this diner has got you covered. The cozy atmosphere and friendly staff make it the perfect spot to start your day.
F. Frescos Southern Kitchen
Located in Downtown Lakeland, Frescos Southern Kitchen is Lakeland’s original gastropub. Frescos is a great place sip a handcrafted cocktail, and enjoy some authentic southern cooking. They are most known for their weekend boozy brunch with bottomless mimosas, the best bourbon & whisky selection around, and food that comforts & heals the soul.
G. Gary’s Oyster Bar
If you were to ask a local where to get great seafood in Polk County, Gary’s Oyster Bar and Seafood House would no doubt be on their list. Gary’s has been doing seafood the right way in Lake Alfred for more than 30 years! In fact, they are the oldest oyster bar in Polk County.
Located on Lake Shipp, Harborside is a local favorite. Offering many options from steak, seafood, and an awesome grilled chicken sandwich, there is definitely something for everyone. You can even arrive to this restaurant on your boat or on a tour with Living Water Boat Cruise!
I. Il Forno
For authentic Italian cuisine, look no further than Il Forno in Lakeland. This family-owned restaurant uses only the freshest ingredients and traditional cooking techniques to create delicious pasta dishes, wood-fired pizzas, and savory meat and seafood entrees. With an extensive wine list and decadent desserts, Il Forno is the perfect spot for a romantic date or a night out with friends.
J. The Joinery
The Joinery is a modern food hall featuring 7 specialty eateries, full bar and a floral boutique. Inside you will find quite the variety of food vendors. From sushi bowl and burritos, to craft barbeque or burgers! Bring the whole family and have everyone try a different restaurant for a unique sampling experience!
K. The Krazy Greek
If you’re craving Mediterranean food, head over to The Krazy Greek in Winter Haven. This family-owned restaurant serves up all your favorite Greek dishes, from gyros and falafel to hummus and spanakopita. The portions are generous, and the prices are reasonable, making it a great spot for a casual lunch or dinner.
L. LoveBird – Almost Famous Chicken
LoveBird – Almost Famous Chicken is an iconic fried chicken restaurant in Lakeland, FL. Enjoy Nashville hot-chicken right here in Lakeland. Their menu features all things chicken, made from scratch sides, and a unique selection of beer. They brine their chicken for 24 hours and then hand-batter & bread it throughout the day. We think you’ll agree that it is worthy of being called Almost Famous Chicken too.
M. MOJO Federal Swine & Spirits
MOJO Federal Swine & Spirits is a small Florida chain serving smoked meats, house made sauces and Southern sides, more than 200 whiskies and craft cocktails. MOJO Federal in downtown Lakeland is known for generous portions and delicious Southern platters.
N. Nutwood or Nineteen61
Both of these restaurants are SO delicious, we couldn’t choose just one!
Located in Winter Haven, Nutwood is a farm-to-table restaurant that showcases the best of Florida’s local ingredients. The menu changes regularly to reflect what’s in season, but you can always expect innovative dishes that highlight the region’s bounty. The rustic-chic decor and relaxed atmosphere make Nutwood a great spot for a special occasion or a leisurely Sunday brunch.
Nineteen61 is a popular upscale Latin-inspired restaurant in Downtown Lakeland. The restaurant is an integration of Modern Spanish style with Latin American and Southern propensities. You’ll enjoy delicious food as well as exceptional service.
O. Ovation Bistro & Bar
Ovation Bistro & Bar has three locations throughout Polk County. Their menu features mouthwatering ribs and in-house smoked meats as well as delicious pasta, burgers, and fish. Their bar menu offers local brews and deals on specialty cocktails.
Since 1947, Peebles Bar-B-Que in Auburndale has been mastering exceptional barbecue and part of their secret includes a huge smoke pit. You’ll find large portions of flavorful barbecue in an Old Florida setting that includes a screened-in eating area and indoor picnic tables. Located just off the Polk Parkway in Auburndale, Peebles is easily accessible from Lakeland or Winter Haven.
Q. Quinteassence Kava Bar
Located in the heart of downtown Lakeland, Quinteassence Kava Bar offers a unique dining experience. The bar specializes in kava, a traditional drink made from the roots of the kava plant. It has a relaxing and calming effect on the body and mind, making it the perfect drink to unwind after a long day.
R. Reececliff Family Diner
Reececliff Family Diner is the longest running restaurant in Lakeland, FL. The menu features all your favorite comfort foods, from biscuits and gravy to burgers and fries. The friendly staff and cozy atmosphere make it the perfect spot for a family brunch or a casual lunch with friends.
S. Scarpa’s or Smokin’ Jims
Scarpa’s in Lakeland is an authentic Italian restaurant that provides an upscale experience that has been approved by the likes of Emeril Lagasse. Having served as Chef at Mario’s for 12 years, Glenn Scarpa was well versed in the dishes that kept customers coming back time and again. He brought back some of these old favorites, and of course added his personal recipes to the delectably authentic Italian menu.
For over 20 years, Smokin’ Jims in Winter Haven has been serving delicious barbeque. This no-frills joint serves Southern favorites like BBQ ribs, mac ‘n’ cheese, chicken, and the local favorite, Saturday Steak night.
T. Terrace Grille
The Terrace Grille is a fine dining restaurant inside Terrace Hotel in downtown Lakeland. The Grille, open to guests and the pubic, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Favorites at Terrace Grill include new American favorites, such as house smoked salmon on a bagel, frittata, crab bisque soup, stuffed chicken breast, and house meatloaf.
U. Unfiltered Coffee
Unfiltered Coffee is bohemian styled coffee house and restaurant located in Bartow, FL that specializes in specialty coffee drinks and delicious baked goods. They source their coffee from small-batch roasters and offer a variety of brewing methods, including pour-over and espresso. They also have a selection of loose-leaf teas and fresh pastries, making it the perfect spot for a quick breakfast or a mid-day pick-me-up.
V. Victor & Mika’s Bakery
What started as a goal to open a fruit stand, has transformed into opening a healthy and delicious vegan bakery. Now located in Downtown Winter Haven, Victor & Mika’s Vegan Bakery offers vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free treats. Their most popular goods are banana nut bread, donuts, and churros!
W. WACO Kitchen
You’ve heard of a drive-thru restaurants, but how about a fly-in one? WACO Kitchen offers aviation enthusiasts the ability to fly their plane to lunch or dinner! Located inside the Lakeland Linder Airport, WACO Kitchen offers panoramic runway views and delicious, locally-sourced eats.
The closest restaurant we could find to starting with an “X,” Ax-Caliber is a full-service restaurant, coffee shop, AND axe throwing venue. A wide variety of menu options makes this restaurant a great place to visit after a session of throwing or even stopping by for a cup of coffee on the way into work. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with many of their menu options described as “gourmet” by previous customers.
Y. The Yard on Mass
This venue always has a new food vendor to try out! The Yard on Mass is Lakeland’s favorite backyard venue that serves a wide variety of beer, wine, cocktails and offers some of the best local bands and entertainment in the area! Check out their rotating food truck calendar for some delicious local eats!
Z. Zarza Latin Food & Grill
For authentic Latin cuisine, look no further than Zarza Latin Food & Grill in Lakeland. This restaurant specializes in the flavors of South and Central America, with dishes like Peruvian-style ceviche, Brazilian-style churrasco, and Mexican-style street tacos. The colorful decor and lively atmosphere make it a great spot for a festive night out with friends.
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