By Mary Jane Kolassa –
If you’re looking for examples of “out of the box” dining and nightlife encounters in various locals, I’ve some delightful examples (with accompanying photography!) ripe for discovery in the greater Orlando area. Here are just a few:
Unlike in days of yore, folks are trying to break into The Old Jailhouse in Sanford, FL — for a great meal that is. The 1890s building, which started off as a livery, and served as the Seminole County Jail in the early 1900s, is now serving up fare from the American Sunbelt. Their slogan: Kitchen & Spirits Behind Bars. The designers kept a lot of the original décor from the lock up days including barred windows, and period chandeliers. 1113 S Palmetto Ave., Sanford, FL 32771 (407) 548-6964.
Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Cafe – Book a one-way flight to Deutschland at this beloved authentic restaurant. In addition to serving a fantastic selection of imported German wines, beers and schnapps, the seasonal menu features traditional delicacies such as bratwurst platters, Wiener schnitzel and a giant pretzel known as a “riesenbreze.” Willow Tree also offers traditional beer hall entertainment and a gourmet German deli. Around the corner is their shop to purchase lederhosen and other Bavarian clothing and accessories. Prost! 205 E. First St., Sanford
Imperial Wine Bar and Beer Garden in Sanford is a furniture store by day known as Washburn Imports that transforms into an eclectic Bar featuring wines and beers from around the world, vintage cocktails and light bites, Tues-Sat at 5:00 p.m. Shop early, but stay late to party. https://www.imperialwinebar.com
An energetic option for those looking to take in Sanford’s sprawling brewery scene is the Pub Crawl Tour from Limo Cycle Tours. Taking bar hopping to another level, pub goers board a 15-passenger pedal-powered bus and cycle their way through downtown Sanford to explore the area’s pubs and craft breweries. The pedal-powered bus resembles an open-air trolley, but with bicycle pedals for passengers. In addition to enjoying the sites of downtown Sanford, the Riverwalk and Downtown Marina areas, cyclers will be able to quench their thirst throughout the tour, receiving a free drink at every pub and brewery included in the crawl, and best of all beer and wine are allowed on board.
Lazy Gator Bar: Known for their live music, laid-back vibe, and famous Gator Bites, the Lazy Gator Bar is a favorite among lovers of all things “Old Florida,” along the shores of Lake Jesup. The bar is an essential part of the Black Hammock Adventure experience where you can enjoy the thrill of an airboat ride on the most gator-infested body of water in all Florida.
Tennessee Truffle – The Southern-fusion restaurant – which started as a pop up — is renowned for its rave reviews, ever-changing menu and commitment to fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Chef Nat Russell puts a contemporary spin on Southern classics, dishing out plates such as: Nashville Hot Quail with scallion waffle, red onion chutney and smoked maple; Shrimp and Grits with grilled Florida shrimp, Antebellum Anson Mills grits sous-vied, a Lake Meadow Naturals farm egg, orange and celery salad and shrimp cuison; and Summer Pound Cake with macerated Plant City strawberries, buttermilk ice cream, popping sugar and lemon verbena syrup. This is not your grandmother’s Southern food restaurant. 125 W 1st St, Sanford
About Orlando North, Seminole County:
Teeming with old Florida charm and young Florida vibrancy, Orlando North, Seminole County offers visitors nature-based attractions, eclectic dining, a booming micro brew scene, plus a year round calendar of festivals and events. With over 2,000 waterways, you’ll discover a wide array of thrilling outdoor activities from paddling in clear freshwater springs and rivers to airboating among alligators, or zooming through an aerial zip line course. It also features an array of sports and training facilities for amateur tournament play, including the 102-acre Boombah Sports Complex at Seminole County. And getting here is easy via Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB), Orlando International Airport (MCO), aboard the Amtrak Auto Train, or via auto on I-95 and I-4; and you’ll save 30% on accommodations over Orlando and beachfront hotels. All this and it’s less than an hour’s drive to area theme parks and beaches too. 1-800-800-7832 or 407-665-2900 or https://www.DoOrlandoNorth.com
Mary Jane Kolassa