Those who follow us, know we like to dine and there are some restaurants on Florida’s Ridge you need to try Let us take you south down US 27 and highlight some great opportunities. We think there are eight restaurants on the ridge you owe it to yourself to try.
The Ovation Bistro & Bar
Our first stop is just below the exit off I-4 on US Highway 27 in Davenport. There we found a little restaurant called The Ovation Bistro & Bar.
Ovation is located at the south end of the Deer Creek Plaza. We’re told it’s the “number one smokehouse in Central Florida.” They say they’re “unashamedly passionate” about the food and drinks they create and serve. We believe it.
They are famous for their steaks and ribs, to entree salads, pasta, fish, sandwiches and items off the woodfire grill. Our experience shows this is a great little place for good food, tasty drinks and good times.
They gave us options for dining inside or out. Plus, there’s a bar and a comfortable waiting are on busy evenings. It’s one of the best little chains on Florida’s Ridge.
The Cornerstone Grill
Skipping south, we turn onto Highway 17-92. Our next stop is in the town of Lake Alfred. That’s where we find another great restaurant on Florida’s Ridge. This hidden gem is called The Cornerstone Grill. It’s a small family restaurant created with an eye toward local farmers and growers.
We’re told it’s the vision of Executive Chef Matthew Arbuthnot and his wife, Lisa. All of the dishes are made to order, from scratch. They say the idea is to be “100-percemt sustainable/ They do that through a close relationship with local farmers and agriculturalists.”
Specials when we were there included such tasty fare as the “Seafood Trio”- Seared Ahi Tuna, Scallop and Shrimp Ceviche served with Avocado, Herb Crackers and House Slaw. I opted for a simple Angus Burger with pickle chips or sweet potato fries.
Nestled amongst a pair of quaint antique stores, Cornerstone Grill is a treat we would not expect to find in such a tiny central Florida town.
Down the road in Winter Haven. we discovered one of the great little Italian restaurant restaurants on Florida’s Ridge. Bistro Pizza on Central Avenue. We loved the brick oven pizza, the great ambience and a full menu of Italian favorites.
As far as we were concerned, the best part was the fresh ingredients. The salads are as fresh as they come. They’re made with crisp greens, firm tomatoes and cucumbers and other ingredients.
Seriously, it was as if they had a garden in the kitchen.
All the cheeses – from the mozzarella to feta – also taste fresh-made. We’ve had the garlic knots, calzone and even stromboli – which are to die for.
We recommend a window seat by the natural brick wall to people watch and enjoy a great meal.
The Krazy Greek
Now comes the crazy – or krazy – part of our review.
Those who like Greek fare would do well to make a stop in Cypress Gardens at the delicious but unassuming Krazy Greek. This great restaurant Florida’s Rdge is located in a strip mall along Cypress Gardens boulevard. Don’t let its fast food appearance fool you – the Krazy Greek is both krazy authentic and krazy good.
We recommend the Greek Salad. It’s large and packed with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and onion. My tastebuds were piqued by Kalamata olives, feta cheese, pepperocini. And it’s done real Greek – with potato salad underneath.
I think their Spanakopita is the best in the state. Plus there’s Moussaka and tha Domades Platter. Those hand-rolled grapevine leaves stuffed with rice and fresh herbs drizzled with lemon sauce are something special.
The Crazy Fish
A few miles south, just at the intersection of Highways 27 and 60 we find another crazy place – The Crazy Fish. It’s been featured on “Emeril’s Florida” the Food Network program starring Chef Emeril Lagasse. This funky little place in Lake Wales has already made a name for itself.
We’re not seafood lovers – but it’s a seafood lover’s delight for those who are. Their fare comes straight from the ocean. They serve Blue Crab and Lobster. Some of our other choices were Pompano, Fresh Gulf Grouper, Mahi Mahi and Yellow Fin Tuna.Fortunately for us, they have a wide menu We had options from burgers to Fillet Mignon or Pork Chops.
For seafood lovers we agree it’s one of the best restaurants on Florida’s Ridge.
The Wild Turkey Tavern
As we roll south down Highway 27, we arrive at one of our of our favorites. In fact, we think it’s the most unique restaurants on Florida’s Ridge. It’s the Wild Turkey Tavern in Avon Park. The Turkey is easily spotted by the camouflage paint job and the dinosaur holding up their sign. I’m here to tell you it’s a great place for cold beer, great food and friendly service.
We can attest to their claim they have the “Best Gator tail, Wings and Burgers in town!” The Turkey boasts a wide selection of Cracker Cookin’. Their selections include frog legs, fish, chicken fingers, fried oysters and barbecue shrimp.
We like something more tame. Fortunatly they have burgers, subs and club sandwiches. Our plan is to make an evening of it. We can sit back and watch one of the big, flat-screen television sets populated with sporting events.
Our favorite is the live music on the patio.
As we head south we come up on the Faded Bistro and Beer Garden in downtown Sebring. We think it’s one of the best restaurants on Florida’s Ridge, built on “seasonal ingredients and warm hospitality.”
The dining area is dominated by a pre-civil war mahogany bar, ringed by a set of varied stools. Have your favorite brew or mixed drink while nibbling on a cheese board with artisan cheese, marinated olives, local Honey, dark chocolate trail mix and seasonal fruit.
You like salads? Our favorite is the turkey cranberry, spinach and fruit. You might like the Smoked Norwegian Trout Salad.
Their signature dishes include Black Angus Tenderloin & Lobster Mac ’N Cheese, Pesto Chicken Fettucciniand the Vegan Buddha Bowl. The Faded Bistro may be a bit pricey – but it is one of the most restaurants on Florida’s Ridge.
Jaxon’s Bar & Grill
As we head down Highway 27 then out Lake June Road, we windf up at Jaxon’s Bar & Grill in Lake Placid. It too is both a great dining and entertainment experience. Customers come by car and sometimes by boat to enjoy the laid back atmosphere and periodic live music.
There is a large screened in dining area in the back which also features a tiki-bar. Inside is a cozy, friendly atmosphere with a small stage at one end where the restaurant holds live entertainment on the weekends.
As for the menu it’s a sure bet you’ll want to try the Hookiemelt, the signature appetizer and a most ‘wickedly-delicious’ combination of chicken tenders (grilled or fried), hot sauce (mild, medium or hot) and smothered with cheeses, chopped onion and sour cream – all melted in the oven.
But in any event – save some room for Jaxon’s fried cheesecake.
Those are just a few of the options one has between northern Polk and Southern Highlands county – but it’s clear, when coming to the area – bring your appetite!