Dining at Hidden Gems in Central Florida

By: Peyten Palo

Whether you’re at home or on vacation, the age old questions of “What do you want to eat?” and “I don’t know, what do you want to eat?” can be answered with unique culinary options in Central Florida’s Polk County. Eat like a local by dining at hidden gems in Central Florida.

Dining at Polk County’s Hidden Gems

Andy’s Igloo Drive-In Restaurant

Andy’s Igloo Drive-In Restaurant in Winter Haven offers numerous choices including burgers and fries, chicken, seafood and steaks but you’ll also want to indulge in their ice cream and milkshakes menu. If you’re really daring, take a shake break and order the Chocolate Big Daddy Fruit Salad milkshake. Yum! Note: Andy’s is a cash only business and only the walk-up ice cream “Igloo” window is open on Sundays.

Peebles Bar-B-Que

Locals have been fans of Peebles Bar-B-Que in Auburndale since 1947. Order your pork, chicken or beef barbecue as a sandwich, plate or platter, depending on the size of your appetite. Just save room for some Banana Pudding. Peebles is an Old Florida setting that includes a screened-in eating area and indoor picnic tables and they close during the months of July and August.

Man looking at racks of ribs cooking inside barbecue pit at Peebles Bar B Que in Auburndale, FL

Mister Fish

Mister Fish is a family owned carry-out restaurant that has served Lakeland since 1968. This locals favorite is best known for its famous Mister Fish sandwiches and freshly prepared dinners. You may encounter a line during the lunch or dinner rush, but the wait is worth it. To quote Mister Fish, “Every Nibble… A Good Bite!”

Harry’s Old Place

Not to be outdone, Harry’s Old Place in Winter Haven has their own slogan, “Where the fish is always de-lish!”  Harry’s offers a large assortment of fresh fish from both the Gulf and the Atlantic. Choices might include tilapia, grouper, flounder, cod, haddock, salmon, Chilean sea bass and more. Steaks, chicken and pasta are also on the menu. This casual dining gem is located on the shores of Lake Ned.

Born and Bread Bakehouse

Have you heard of the Cruffin? If not, waste no time getting to Born & Bread Bakehouse in Lakeland to see what all the fuss is about.

Lang’s Taste of Florida Cafe

Looking for something light and refreshing to tickle your tastebuds on a warm day? Consider a slice of Grapefruit Pie at Lang’s Taste of Florida Café or some fresh squeezed orange juice or citrus soft serve ice cream at Ridge Island Groves. Both are in Haines City, and both are seasonal, so they close during the summer. Ridge Island Groves also offers grove tours and U-pick options.

slice of Mary Lang's grapefruit pie at Taste of Florida Cafe in Lake Alfred, FL

This list barely scratches the surface of the dining gems to be found in Polk County. Check out our Eat & Drink section for more delectable dining options.

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