Food and Drink: Best Mom & Pop Restaurants Off the Beaten Path

With so many fascinating spots to discover, here is an inside guide to my go-to destinations.
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Grab a seat at the counter at Hollerbach’s German Restaurant. Guten appetit! Photo by Roberto Gonzalez

Usually, my week is filled with news of new restaurants popping up around Orlando and Winter Park. My day job keeps me busy writing about all the new hot spots people should keep their eyes on, but that doesn’t leave much time for shouting out the oldies but goodies that have been around for generations, holding their own against the trendy selfie dens that continue to open in The City Beautiful. 

There are so many great spots tucked away off the beaten path or in other towns nearby that are more than worth a tank of gas and an afternoon of sightseeing. But it can be scary sometimes to risk and roll the dice on something new. So let me help you with that. 

Below is a running list of my go-to mom-and-pop destinations in and around Central Florida worth the extra carbon miles. But if you feel badly about driving around, reach out to me, and I’ll give you a link to get a free tree for your yard.

Hollerbach’s German Restaurant

Hollerbach’s is an uber-popular German restaurant in downtown Sanford’s heart. The Hollerbach family opened it in 2001, and it’s been a snowball of schnitzel and spätzle ever since with an added deli, grocery store, a folk wear shop, and a beer hall. Now they’re even opening a weed-themed concept up the street in West End Trading Company called The Joint. 

They often quote the Hollerbach family as saying the restaurant is about more than just food, it’s an “experience.” This is true, as it has some die-hard fans and customers at all times of the day. Lines happen often here and extend up the sidewalk, with large families eagerly awaiting a plate of wurst or sauerbraten.

Vibe: Hollerbach’s feels like your grandpa’s study or an Elk’s Lodge, full of ephemera and comfortable seating that’s seen a lot of use, love, and laughter through the years. You’ll be equally at home wearing jorts and a t-shirt as you would be in lederhosen.

What to get: Almost everything at Hollerbach’s is a shade of brown or tan and sticks to your ribs. The menu is almost overwhelmingly robust and shaped like a newspaper, so take your time to find the perfect plate. That being said, you can’t go wrong with the sauerbraten with a side of sweet red cabbage. The käsespätzle, sauteed egg noodles in a rich cream with crispy fried onions, is also decadently nostalgic. 

Contact: 201-205 E. 1st St., Sanford | 407-321-2204 |

Osteen Diner

Osteen is a rural pocket just southeast of Deltona, with more cows than people. The owners, Ken and Ruth Schiffermiller purchased the spot in 2007 when Ruth had a dream about opening her own business there, and they’ve been serving up their own style of home cooking ever since. 

And while the entrees are all delicious and almost everything could come with gravy, the dessert selection is exceptional. And I’m a sucker for a homemade pie.

Vibe: The country decor is reminiscent of Cracker Barrel, with a little less pretense and a little more mom-and-pop charm. Stop by on a Tuesday evening if you want to enjoy or join in the weekly acoustic jam session and get to know the locals.

What to get: There’s a lot to get excited about here, but the oversized cinnamon rolls are not to be sneezed at. Don’t sleep on the He-Man Country Fried Steak or the fried catfish, either.

Contact: 195 State Route 415, Osteen | 407-323-6469 | 

Peebles Bar-B-Q

Peebles Bar-B-Q is the barbecue restaurant you never knew you needed, and it’s located just over in Auburndale in Polk County. The family-run restaurant has been serving up tasty dishes out of their smoke pit since 1947and they offer some of the most flavorful barbecues in the region since they’ve had a few generations to get the recipes just right. They’ve honed their craft so well that the menu only features 15 items. 

A grease fire in 2022 had them closed for a hot minute, but they’ve been back at it and serving bigger and bigger crowds each month. Get in there before it’s too hot, though. They take July and August off, which makes sense in the Florida heat.

Vibe: This is a roadside, family-run barbecue joint, not a Disney resort restaurant. It’s simple and bare bones and full of heart.

What to get: Try their family meal deal for $44 if you’ve got a car full of hungry mouths to feed. It comes with two meats of your choice and three quarts of sides, like mac & cheese, baked beans, and collard greens.

Contact: 441 Old Dixie Highway, Auburndale | 863-967-3085 |

And pick-up the April 2023 Issue (or subscribe now and never miss another Issue), to read the rest of Brendan’s recommendations.

Categories: Dining