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Eat Up Florida – dining in

Ok, not all of Florida.  More like some nibbles around central Florida.  A couple of bites at some restaurants and some food shopping.  And I tried out a BurgerFi, which seemed like a nice opportunity for a preview since All Over Albany tells us that we can expect the chain to be invading Latham and Saratoga Springs soon.  Let’s start with some sit-downs and the rest will follow in a bit.

First up is Squid Lips Overwater Bar & Grill in Sebastian.  A hopping bar after work, tables looking over the intercoastal, nice breeze, fresh Florida seafood, decent service.  A nice casual spot where you can get caught in a longish wait if you hit it wrong, but you can wait outside with a pager, looking over the water.  It’s Florida, waiting outside often isn’t the annoyance it can be here.  We had fish & chips, shrimp, fried scallops, and fried shrimp.  It was all perfectly acceptable, neither outrageously amazing or subpar.  I had sweet tea basically everywhere and it was different everywhere.  Squid Lips’ was pretty sweet with a good tea flavor.  Fries with the fried baskets were nice and crispy.  I had the scallops, my usual seafood go-to, and these were nice – breading that stayed in place, not watery, great scallopy flavor.  House tartar sauce I liked, although my wife claimed it was spicy.  I also had a small caesar to start with a super tangy, lemony dressing.  It was good.  Strong and bitey, but good.

Let’s head over to First Watch The Daytime Cafe location in Winter Park.  We’d been here before, but they have a lot of locations.  Perhaps visiting around brunchtime wasn’t the best idea on a Sunday, but it was what we were looking for and, although quite hungry, we decided a bit of a wait would be worth it.  It’s Florida.  You sit on a bench outside and chat, people watch, play with your phone, whatever.  In addition to pagers I think they can text you when you’re up and they may have even had something where you could see your place in line on your phone, but I’m not positive.  Nearest locations are PA.  Food is trendy, upscale breakfast/lunch healthier fare, although plenty of basics available, also.

Speaking of basics, I went with The Traditional – two eggs, bacon, english muffin, seasoned potatoes.  Thanks to a long Albany winter I was loving the fresh, delicious fruit and veggies in Florida, so I added on a fruit cup that was probably the best part (I could’ve swapped it for the potatoes).  The potatoes were sort of boring, but the rest was…traditional.  Someone else got two pancakes, I think one chocolate chip and one carrot cake that both went over well.  Sweet tea had more of a fresh brewed taste, not too sweet.  Yummy.  Can I mention how great the whole ‘to go cup’ is?  Basically everywhere will give you a refill in a to go cup if you ask, and some will offer it with the check, like First Watch.  Strongly recommend First Watch for breakfast or brunch, although I can’t guarantee it would be the same in the north.

Let’s get some Greek!  Off we go to Acropolis Greek Taverna in St. Petersburg.  There are three other locations, but we were in St. Pete to visit a highly recommended attraction, the Salvador Dali museum.

Salvador Dali museum

Salvador Dali museum

I don’t think I can oversell this one.  The three of us that went all sort of thought it would be something fun to do inside since the weather is already blazing in Orlando and standing in lines at Disney or Universal had little appeal this time around.   However, we all left big Dali (Dah-LEE) fans.  So, despite a two hour drive we headed off to see what we could see in St. Pete along with the museum.  Despite admission being a tad high, over $20 for not a huge museum, the location on the water is amazing and their new building is gorgeous.  They had an exhibit about Dali and da Vinci, artists with more than I expected in common.  It runs through the end of July *hint hint*.  I wasn’t interested in the tour, but I was wrong.  We took one with a docent and it was totally worth it.  We learned a lot.  His giant masterworks are especially amazing.  I came home with a print for the wall and a new mouse pad featuring The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus.  Despite the seemingly heavy admission fee, the gift shop was packed with items that are very reasonably priced.  They also have a little ritzy looking cafe.

But let’s eat first.

Acropolis in St. Pete

Acropolis in St. Pete

We sat outside to enjoy the shady, breezy spot and people watch.  The sweet tea here was a refreshingly light green tea variety, very lightly sweetened.  If you want a strong tea, this isn’t it, but it hit the spot.  The table was presented with a warm loaf of fresh bread and a little tub of whipped feta that was amazing.  Lunch was chicken souvlaki wraps and a gyro, all with Greek fries.  The fries were perfectly cooked with crumbled feta.  The gyro was really nicely done, just enough veggies, not so many that they made it impossible to eat.  None of the wraps looked like they had much tzatziki, so we asked for extra (turns out a little cup was 50 cents, which is pretty ridiculous for a Greek restaurant), which was probably unnecessary since there was enough down in the wrap once you got into it.  It was all really tasty and again made us wish we had a great local Greek place nearby.

Looking for Chinese?  Yes, apparently one can find good Chinese in Florida!  In this case that would be Imperial Dynasty in Longwood, FL.  Shall we start with sweet tea?  Of course.  Pretty sweet rendition here, although still tasty.  It’s not like you want to drink the water in Florida, right?  My dining companions got the udon noodles, one with shrimp and one with chicken.  Not my cup of tea, really thick and chewy, sort of salty.  But I guess they’re good enough if they’re up your alley.  Our host warned us that they don’t come with much by way of veggies, so they both got extra.  I went for the sesame chicken, which oddly enough is classified as spicy, as reiterated by our waiter.  But they weren’t, despite a few red pepper flakes, but it was fantastic, a huge pile of crispy, sesame-coated goodness with a sweetish sesame dipping sauce.  All three, including the noodle dishes, came with rice (brown or white) that was nice and soft.  My only complaint was the utter lack of veggies with the chicken, I should have gone for a side of broccoli or something, but I guess I didn’t think it would come with NO veggies.  It was easily enough food for 3 meals that I made into 2 (really hungry both times).  Better fresh, but OK microwaved.  OK prices for the quantity of food.  The noodle dishes were also a good 3 servings.

That’s it for now, BurgerFi and snacks coming up soon.