I have often been told that the best way to experience a new location is by doing what the locals do. Shop where the locals shop. Hang out in local hot spots. Eat where the locals eat. One our recent trip through Daytona Beach and St. Augustine, we decided to eat in popular local restaurants.
The catch phrase for the Dancing Avocado Kitchen is “Where herbivore & carnivore eat together in harmony”. They have developed a health conscious menu that offers a broad spectrum of vegetarian meals as well. Kellen devoured some waffles while I enjoyed a tomato bisque and a watermelon lemonade. The prices are very affordable and you can eat inside or on the front patio.
At Crabby Joe’s Deck & Grill you not only find delicious cheap eats, but you get an extraordinary view while you eat. Clearly a popular local hang-out, this restaurant on a pier had a fun and energetic atmosphere. We started our day there with an omelette and a Mickey shaped pancake. We sat inside next to an open window, but we had the choice of a closed window or sitting out on the pier. Crabby Joe’s has very reasonable prices and the food was delicious.
Be prepared for a bit of a wait if you choose to have dinner at Aunt Catfish’s on the River. It is a very popular spot! However, they provide a children’s outdoor play area and lots of places to sit while you wait for your table. The salad bar was a highlight for me because of the great selection and variety of sides. The shell shaped plates were fun too. I chose blackened mahi mahi and sweet potato fries for dinner, while my son opted for a grilled cheese sandwich. My fish was great, but after I tried a sweet potato fry in the sweet marshmallow dip, I thought I had gone to heaven. I may need to move a little closer to Daytona Beach. There is indoor or patio seating available and the prices were moderate.
We dined at the water’s edge again when we went to Caribbean Jack’s. This is a large restaurant with a bar and souvenir shop in the center. They have a large drink menu with a variety of cocktails, but alas, I was driving. We chose some coconut crusted shrimp as an appetizer, which we both enjoyed. Kellen ordered another grilled cheese (it was his “go to” meal) and I treated myself to some ribs with Jack’d potatoes. I’m not sure what is in the potatoes, but they are so rich and have a bit of bite to them. It is worth going back just for more Jack’d potatoes. We were given a choice of indoor seating or sitting out on the dock. Prices are moderate.
As we walked along the cobblestone roads in St. Augustine we were offered some pizza to taste test from Pizzalley’s. This spot had already been recommended to me by two different people, so we gave it a taste. It had a crisp crust and tangy tomato sauce, and I was instantly hooked. Sadly, my son doesn’t share my pizza passion so rather than eating in Pizzalley’s, we made our way through the restaurant and a back alley to the Chianti Room. There we found the same delicious pizza and several other delicious options. We were given some fresh warm bread and salads to start, and then I chose a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs that I wouldn’t have been able to finish over two meals. Next time I’m getting pizza! There’s indoor seating only and prices are low to moderate.
The Inlet Harbor Restaurant is another local spot right on the water. We stopped in for a light lunch when the place was empty except for a group of Red Hat ladies enjoying their monthly meeting. I had a Shipwreck Salad (the ingredients were similar to a cobb salad) and Kellen had yet another grilled cheese sandwich. The real appeal here was the view. Kellen spent his whole meal pointing out turtles and pelicans in the water, and watching the boats come and go. Prices at the Inlet Harbor are very affordable.
On your next Florida road trip, make a point of skipping the restaurant chains and trying some of these local spots. You will usually find better food at lower prices!