Food Adventures 2: Road Trip
Tag along as we explore new culinary worlds to add to the discoveries made during last fall's inaugural food adventures mission.
Bob’s Train Sarasota
Its not so much the food that’s interesting (although, they do serve an angel hair pasta dish coated in chocolate sauce, vanilla ice cream and peach Schnapps) but the atmosphere. Bob Horne owns this (non) rolling stock circus museum and diner, situated in three beautifully restored brass lantern-lit Sarasota Suncoast circus train cars. He's renovating a fourth car, once owned by circus tycoon John Ringling himself. bobstrain.com
Clark’s Fish Camp: Jacksonville
Opened in 1974, it’s a funky, shall we say unusual kind of place, with a menagerie of animals of the taxidermic variety—displays of wolves, foxes, tigers and deer line the restaurant—and the edible kind. Bits of an entire smoked gator (also stuffed, but with sausage) can be had, along with an appetizer menu including turtle, llama, camel, yak, kangaroo and “bison mountain oysters.” Yum. clarksfishcamp.net
The Garbage Can Food Truck: Ormond Beach
Advocating that “Sometimes the best food is the messiest,” Garbage Can creates heaping platters like The Dumpster (macaroni salad, fries, cheeseburger patty, meat sauce) and Gobblers (sweet potato fries, goat cheese-stuffed turkey meatballs, raspberry chipotle sauce). facebook.com/thegarbagecanfood
Dolores, But You Can Call Me Lolita: Miami
Taking up two floors of the 1923-built Miami Fire Station No. 4. Dolores, the chef-driven restaurant, is upstairs (the signature baby back ribs come with shoestring potatoes and a pair of gloves); Lolita is the downstairs daytime deli and nighttime music lounge. doloreslolita.com
Royal Palm Railway: Tavares to Mount Dora
Monthly rail trips spotlighting brews and the passing scenery. October’s trip features a rail-based Oktoberfest with brews and bratwurst. There are also pizza, barbecue and wine excursions throughout the year. thefloridatrain.com/rail-ales
For Space (Coast) Travelers
Heidi’s Jazz Club/Heidelberg Restaurant: Cocoa Beach
Jazz clubs—real jazz clubs—are so rare that even mediocre ones should be applauded. That Heidi’s is a great club, recognized by Downbeat magazine, just makes it better, welcoming artists like Larry Coryell, Boots Randolph and our own Jeff Rupert since 1992. The attached Heidelberg Restaurant, opened in 1986, deserves just as much attention. Chef Edmund Deleuil (his wife, Heidi, is next door) prepares Austrian jaegerschnitzel, German sauerbraten and roast duck with flair. heidisjazzclub.com; heidelbergcocoabeach.com
Mustard’s Last Stand: Melbourne, Cocoa Beach
Open since 1987, serving Chicago-style hot dogs (and grilled veggie dogs) in a dizzying array of styles, including the Spudtacular Cheese Dog with melted Cheddar, potato pancakes and Swiss; and the Elvis Pigsley grilled hot dog with pulled pork and bacon. Two dozen French fry choices (Insanity Fries with grilled onions, bacon, jalapeños, melted Cheddar and a fried egg), fish tacos and fried pickles, too. mustardslaststand.us
Quarters Brewery: Melbourne
A brewery/arcadery making about a half-dozen in-house brews like Dad’s Breakfast English porter (“tastes like dunking a honey-glazed doughnut into coffee”). Filled with cabinet video games from the ’80s and ’90s, with play available for a quarter (it actually costs 25 cents, so save your change), letting you claim space in front of Centipede or Galaga to your 15-year-old heart’s content. quartersbrewing.com
Secret menus and hidden gems abound at several theme park locations:
Upon request at Disney’s All Star Movies Resort food courts, a secret agent-worthy briefcase will be proffered containing old-fashioned Viewmasters, loaded with 3D off-menu pictures, including poutine with gravy and cheese curds, and a cinnamon bun burger with candied bacon (yeah, that’s a thing).
Jungle Skipper Canteen in Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland usually has a secret menu special like spicy “Shrimp in a Cup” served in a souvenir Skipper Canteen mug.
Nestled among the bar items at Universal’s Hopping Pot in Diagon Alley, and The Hog’s Head Pub in Hogsmeade is a magical, 70 proof distillation straight out of J.K. Rowling’s books called Blishen’s Fire Whisky, cinnamon flavored and concocted in North Carolina. Hog’s Head Pub, in fact, has a secret drinks menu of beer cocktails and mixed potions.
Not-so-secret but off-the-beaten-track treats can be found at Epcot’s L'Artisan des Glaces, a très French dessert shop tucked away behind Chefs de France, where one can enjoy croque glacé, a fresh-baked brioche filled with house-made ice cream and toasted in a special press.