Restaurants & Dining

Locally owned restaurants in Central Florida offer a distinctive taste, atmosphere and quality.

Polk County’s locally owned restaurants truly epitomize the definition of flavor. From Oysters Rockefeller to flame-broiled steak and delicious desserts, Polk County sizzles as a smorgasbord of dining pleasure.

Each restaurant provides a unique dining atmosphere that can range from funky to elegant and diners are sure to discover a dining experience that suits your mood.

Lakeside Dining

With more than 550 lakes dotting Polk County locals and visitors alike all have their favorite lakeside dining spot. In Winter Haven, with full length windows and a lakeside patio, Harborside Restaurant is a modern American steakhouse, seafood and oyster bar that features only the finest cuts of dry aged meat and daily delivered fresh fish. Also in Winter Haven, with its neighborhood restaurant feel and its location on the shores of Lake Ned, no place epitomizes casual lakefront dining more than Harry’s Old Place.

Cherry Pocket Steak and Seafood Shak
Cherry Pocket Steak and Seafood Shak

Situated on the shores of scenic Lake Pierce in Lake Wales, Cherry Pocket Steak & Seafood Shak provides a perfect blend of entertainment, scenery and fresh seafood. Lake Mirror is best known for its large events and being a perfect place to catch a spectacular sunset over downtown Lakeland, the lake also serves as the backdrop for Texas Cattle Company, which is the place for those that have a craving for a nice juicy steak that is “aged to perfection and cooked to your specifications” over a specially built open-pit mesquite wood fire.

Fine Dining

While it may not have all of the hustle and bustle of New York’s Times Square, downtown Winter Haven’s Time Square is home to an award winning dining experience that rivals those in Manhattan, at a fraction of the price. Arabellas Ristorante utilizes the freshest ingredients to serve exceptional Italian and Mediterranean cuisine in a casually elegant atmosphere. Arabellas was the recipient of the 2011 Diners’ Choice Award and is an ideal spot for an enchanting dinner for two or a relaxing family dinner.

The Lodge at Streamsong Resort provides two memorable dining options that make it well worth the drive down to the resort located just outside of Fort Meade.  Each evening after the golf courses have bid farewell to the final golfers of the day the clubhouse restaurant, Restaurant Fifty-Nine, transforms into an epicurean delight as it serves as the resort’s upscale steakhouse.  Aged steaks, chops and seafood may be the highlight of the menu but be sure to try one Fifty-Nine’s sumptuous salads or flavorful appetizers, such as the Guinness Battered Onion Rings. 

The resort’s limited seating dining experience, SottoTerra, focuses on providing impeccable service while serving sophisticated Italian cuisine in an intimate setting. The menu offers appetizers like Roasted Fennel Soup and Beef Carpaccio, in addition to, entrees such as Lemon Bucatini, Grilled Prawns, Balsamic-Roasted Pork Tenderloin and hearty portions of classic Italian fare.  

Highly regarded for its charm, captivating atmosphere and sweeping views of downtown Lakeland, The Terrace Grille, located within the historic Terrace Hotel, is loved by locals and savored by visitors. The Terrace Grille’s guests enjoy exquisite breakfasts, leisurely luncheons and a dinner menu features elegant fare including Ahi tuna, rack of lamb and filet mignon.

Unique Hometown Favorites

For those looking for a little nostalgia in their travels throughout Polk County, you will want to make a stop at Andy’s Drive-In Restaurant/Andy’s Igloo. Andy’s Drive-In Restaurant’s retro décor will transport you back in time. While they best known for their mouth-watering hamburgers, you cannot end your meal without trying one of Andy’s signature milkshakes. 

If you are looking for a true Florida seafood experience in a cozy setting and friendly atmosphere, Gary’s Oyster Bar & Seafood House is your place. Gary’s has been dishing up Florida seafood for more than 30 years and those seeking oysters, relish having their oysters shucked right in front of the at one of Gary’s oyster bars.

Lake Wales is home to Norby’s Steaks and Seafood, a laid-back off the beaten path hideaway that utilizes a flaming grill, and it’s own signature steak sauce and seasonings, to serve some of the finest steaks and seafood in the area. After you are done enjoying your meal you can purchase Norby’s signature steak sauce, garlic seasoning salt and habanera hot sauce to take home with you as a memento of your visit. 

Grapefruit Pie at Lang's Taste of Florida Cafe
Grapefruit Pie at Lang's Taste of Florida Cafe

If you visit in October through May, a visit to Lang’s Taste of Florida Café is a “must do.” While you’re there savor a tasty afternoon lunch, including fresh salads, sandwiches, and even grapefruit slaw! The café is best known for Mary Lang’s award-winning Grapefruit Pie, which has been featured on the Food Network show “Epicurious”.

Red Door Lakeland is where a California wine country atmosphere is paired with farm to table cuisine, craft beer and boutique wines to im­part a distinctive dining experience. With a regularly changing seasonal menu, an evening at Red Door Lakeland is not your typical night out; each visit to this quaint Lakeland eatery provides a feast for the senses as well as the taste buds. Red Door Lakeland offers live entertainment on Thursday - Saturday Nights, and host enticing wine or craft beer dinners monthly. 

The Mouth-Watering Aroma of Barbecue

Central Florida offers numerous barbeque restaurants so you won’t have to suffer withdrawal from missing out on the South’s famous barbeque. Historic eateries include Auburndale’s Peebles Bar-B-Que, a Central Florida landmark that has been serving up barbeque for more than 56 years, and Jimbo’s Pit Bar B-Q, is a Lakeland tradition dating back to 1964.

Winter Haven is home to family owned Schack’s Bar-B-Que, which has been serving hungry guests since 1979, and Brock’s Smoke Hut was recognized in 2011 by National Barbecue News as one of the “Best of the Best Barbecue Restaurant’s in America.” Bartow’s Curly Tails Barbeque and Fat Boys Bar-B-Q in Lake Wales are also local mainstays that serve up some of the area’s best pork, beef and chicken barbecue.