Lakeland locals’ favorite classic restaurants

LALtoday Palace Pizza

A feast at Palace Pizza

Photo by LALtoday team

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Classic”: serving as a standard of excellence: of recognized value (traditional, enduring).

We recently asked: “When you think of a “classic” local restaurant in Lakeland, what comes to mind?” We were pleasantly surprised at the volume of mouth-watering responses we received.

To make your dinner (or lunch, brunch, dessert, etc.) time decision less daunting, we narrowed down the list to 17 restaurants that encompass history, classic dishes, (like ‘za + okra) and a strong, local pull.

From Fat Jacks to Reececliff, here are some of the locals’ go-to tastes of home.

Bay Street Bistro, 211 E. Bay St.

Type of food: Upscale Seafood
Price range: $$$
Open for: Dinner
Order this: Beef Wellington – Filet mignon with dijon, mushroom duxelle, and prosciutto, wrapped in a puff pastry and served with a red wine reduction.

Two brimming glasses drip with condensation on a sunlit table.

Black & Brew has the best beverages.

Photo by LALtoday team

Black & Brew Coffee House & Bistro, 205 E. Main St.

Type of food: Cafe
Price range: $
Open for: Breakfast, Lunch + Dinner
Order this: “Smoked turkey sandwich” – recommended by @gracefullycaptured + “Strawberry toast” – recommended by @davenanna.
Need to know: Make sure to check out the menu at their other Lake Morton location for specialized options.

Café Zuppina, 4417 Florida Ave. S.

Type of food: Mediterranean
Price range: $$
Open for: Lunch + Dinner
Order this: Those brussel sprouts.” – recommended by @theisidoresisters.
Need to know: Swing by The Market to stock up on easy grab + go meals or stay for dessert + Turkish coffee.

Charlie’s Family Restaurant, 2614 Lakeland Hills Blvd. #8

Type of food: All-American
Price range: $
Open for: Breakfast, Lunch + Dinner
Order this: Fiesta Ranchero – Eggs, sausage, onion, bell and Jalapeño peppers, Swiss + American Cheese, all topped with ranchero and sour cream.

Curry Mango, 6625 Florida Ave S.

Type of food: Indian
Price range: $$
Open for: Lunch + Dinner
Order this: You can’t go wrong with their classic Butter Chicken served over basmati or yellow rice. Also, be sure to order a side of Nan bread.

Fat Jacks Deli & Pub, 2940 Florida Ave. S.

Type of food: Deli + pub
Price range: $
Open for: Breakfast, Lunch + Dinner
Order this: The Rueben – Boar’s Head corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing, all served on grilled rye.

Need to know: “FatJacks is always crowded; but they serve you quickly, and the breakfast is great and affordable. Not everyone in Lakeland knows about it, but it’s a great place, and the customer service is great.” – Local, Amelia I.

Frescos, 132 S. Kentucky Ave.

Type of food: Pub
Price range: $$
Open for: Breakfast, Lunch + Dinner
Order this: “The Whiskey Wednesday Burger” – featuring egg, Swiss cheese, tomato, bacon jam, and arugula.

Gosh Asian Bistro & Sushi, 4742 Florida Ave. S.

Type of food: Sushi
Price range: $$
Open for: Lunch + Dinner
Order this: Buddha Delight Roll – Sushi roll with tempura chips, cream cheese, asparagus, avocado, carrots, cucumbers, and scallions.

Jimbo’s Pit Bar BQ, 1215 E. Memorial Blvd.

Type of food: Barbecue restaurant
Price range: $
Open for: Breakfast, Lunch + Dinner
Order this: The Pulled Pork Sandwich with fresh Hush Puppies — and yes, you gotta try their custom barbecue sauce.

Mister Fish, 715 E. Palmetto St.

Type of food: Seafood
Price range: $
Open for: Lunch + Dinner
Order this: Large Famous Mister Fish Sandwich – Fish, buns, ketchup, onion, mustard, pickle. Pro Tip: Make sure to add on hush puppies.
Need to know: “Mr. Fish is more of a food stand, but still a local classic.” – Local, Allison Hart

Miso ramen in a red bowl topped with a heap of cilantro, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and half of a jammy tea egg.

Lake Miriam Square’s latest addition: Oksumi Ramen

Photo by: LALtoday team

Oksumi Ramen, 4790 Florida Ave S.

Type of food: Ramen
Price range: $
Open for: Lunch + Dinner
Order this: Tonkotsu Shio Ramen bowl –– add in fresh cilantro.

Palace Pizza, 114 S. Kentucky Ave.

Type of food: Pizza
Price range: $
Open for: Lunch + Dinner
Order this: Try the Margarita Pizza, topped with fresh tomatoes and basil + their delicious garlic knots dipped in garlic butter.

A front view of the red neon lit restaurant front at night, the blacktop around it slicked with rain.

Reececliff Diner

Photo via @reececliff.diner

Reececliff Family Diner, 940 Florida Ave. S.

Type of food: All-American
Price range: $
Open for: Breakfast, Lunch + Dinner
Order this: Don’t sleep on their selection of pie flavors for dessert.

Scarpa’s Italian, 1833 E. Edgewood Dr.

Type of food: Italian
Price range: $$
Open for: Dinner
Order this: Delmonico steak with herb butter, purple Peruvian mashed potatoes, and squash soufflé.

S & L Restaurant, 2915 S. Combee Rd.

Type of food: Hamburger
Price range: $
Open for: Breakfast + Lunch
Order this: “Definitely one of their regular burgers, but don’t sleep on the okra or sweet tea.” – Local, Kaylee Holland
Need to know: They only take cash so hit the ATM before heading over.

The Purple Onion Deli & Grill, 316 N. Kentucky Ave.

Type of food: Specialty sandwiches, burgers + tater tots
Price range: $
Open for: Breakfast + Lunch
Order this: French Onion Soup – served with grilled Cuban bread + crackers.

LALtoday The Terrace Grille

The Terrace Grille

Photo via @terracegrillelakeland

The Terrace Grille, 329 E. Main St.

Type of food: American Fine Dining
Price range: $$$
Open for: Breakfast, Lunch + Dinner
Order this: Jumbo Lump Crab Cake Vegetable Medley with Creole Mustard Beurre Blanco.

West Caribbean Cuban Restaurant, 2215 S Combee Rd.

Type of food: Cuban Cuisine
Price range: $$
Open for: Breakfast, Lunch + Dinner
Order this: Try their Pollo a La Plancha (grilled chicken) with sweet maduros + congris rice.