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BEST PIZZA

 

PALACE PIZZA DOWNTOWN

114 S Kentucky Ave, Lakeland | (863) 688-0045 | FB @palacepizzadowntown | IG @palacepizzadtwn | palacepizzadowntown.com

Restaurant royalty in Downtown Lakeland, Palace Pizza brings over 25 years of experience to the table. The authentic Italian flavor of their pizzas (by the slice or the pan), calzones, classic pasta, salads, desserts, and more are all thanks to their traditional recipes and only the freshest ingredients. Like Palace Pizza says, “Fresh dough, quality tomatoes, and 100% whole milk mozzarella cheese make our pizza just one of the unforgettable taste adventures.” And holy moly, they have homemade cannolis!

 

2nd: J. Burns’ Pizza Shop

3rd: Ava – The Joinery

 

BEST BURGER

 

THE CHOP SHOP

118 S Kentucky Ave, Lakeland | (863) 603-4040 | FB @chopshopburgers | IG @chopshopburgers | chopshopburgers.com

This one-stop-burger-shop serves up American classics and burgers with a twist. A hot rod-themed hangout since 2006, The Chop Shop is known for their world-famous “Burgers that Rock!” Along with the campy car theme, The Chop Shop gets even campier with their burger names and concepts like the B.A.D. (Breakfast All Day) Burger, Blue Suede, Hawgzilla, and Bunny. Enjoy a cold one with your Bandito Burger from their selection of craft beers on tap by the bottle, wine, and full bar.

 

2nd: Super Duper Spot – The Joinery

3rd: Burger 21

 

BEST TACOS

 

TACO BUS

126 S Kentucky Ave, Lakeland | (863) 816-5407 | FB @tacobus863 | IG @tacobus863 | taco-bus.com

Spice up your taco Tuesday by rolling up to the Taco Bus. We’re talking tacos, tostadas, burritos, quesadillas, tortas, papos, bowls, chimichangas, and more! According to them, “Just one bite of a burrito, tostada, or quesadilla, and your taste buds will be singing traditional Mexican folk songs!” Their Best-Of-winning tacos are made on hard corn, soft corn, or flour tortillas, with a choice of protein and cheese. Their plentiful protein options include grilled chicken, spicy chicken, shredded pork, ground beef, steak, fish, shrimp, vegan ‘steak,’ and more. Treat yourself with tres leches or churros to boot!

 

2nd: Tapatio’s Mexican Restaurant

3rd: Mega Mercado

  

BEST WINGS

 

WINNERS CIRCLE SPORTS BAR AND GRILL

4215 Florida Ave S, Lakeland | (863) 644-9464 | FB @winnerscirclelkld | IG @wcsportsbar | winnerscirclesportsbar.com

Wings are always near the top of the list when you ask Winners Circle regulars what keeps them coming back. This good-time family-owned sports bar started in 2002 and hosts weekly events like trivia, karaoke, poker, corn-hole, beer pong, and the like. The three-time championship title holder of “King of the Wing,” Winners Circle doesn’t mess around when it comes to their wings. Winners Circle Championship Wings are available bone-in (breaded or naked) or boneless (grilled or fried). Mouth watering for some wings? Winners Circle has some 45 flavors to toss them in over the mild, medium, and hot spectrum including classics like BBQ and garlic parmesan, or more unique offerings like PB&J, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Pineapple Habanero, and Zesty Cheddar.

 

2nd: Beef ‘O’ Brady’s

3rd: The WingHouse Bar & Grill

 

BEST CUBAN SANDWICH

 

ELENA’S CUBAN CAFE

2246 E Edgewood Dr, Lakeland | (863) 665-3333 | FB: Elena’s Cuban Cafe

This Edgewood Drive eatery boasts a made-to-order, fresh-pressed Cuban sandwich Best Of LKLD voters can’t resist. Elena’s has been serving their authentic Cuban fare in town for over 18 years. One customer reviewed in part, “Delicious, authentic Cuban food that makes you want to visit Havana. I love this restaurant and the people that run it. They provide such a nice mom and pop shop atmosphere while serving food that’s to die for. We love this place!”

 

2nd: Cuban Delights Cafe

3rd: La Imperial Bakery

 

BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT

 

SCARPA’S ITALIAN

1833 E Edgewood Dr, Lakeland | (863) 937-8940 | FB @scarpasitalian | IG @scarpasitalian | scarpasitalian.com

Open only for dinner, Scarpa’s serves year-over-year award-winning Italian fare. The restaurant is family-owned and operated by Glenn, a former chef at Mario’s for twelve years, and Ashley Scarpa. The Scarpa’s opened their restaurant in December of 2013 and serve local Florida seafood and Italian classics. They’ve since added housemade pasta and even had a visit from Chef Emeril Lagassé for his show, Emeril’s Florida in 2016. Expect food made fresh daily and prepared to order along with an extensive wine list. Be sure to reserve a table for date night at this favorite Lakeland dining destination.

 

2nd: Palace Pizza

3rd: Il Forno Italian Restaurant

 

BEST SUSHI

 

NEW MOON SUSHI

4231 Florida Ave S, Lakeland | (863) 647-1212 | FB @newmoonsushi | IG @newmoonsushi | newmoonsushi.com

Just roll with it! New Moon Sushi offers a sizable selection of traditional Japanese dishes, sushi and sashimi rolls as well as tempura, teriyaki dishes, and more. Their bites are at the intersection of modern and traditional cuisine – you’re sure to find sushi to scream over. Pair your Kiss of Fire Roll with hot sake or your Lakeland Roll with a signature cocktail or glass of wine.

 

2nd: Fancy Q Sushi & Thai

3rd: Tsunami Sushi & Hibachi

 

BEST BBQ RESTAURANT

 

MOJO FEDERAL SWINE & SPIRITS

130 S Tennessee Ave, Lakeland | (863) 937-4226 | FB @MOJOFederal | IG @mojofederal | mojobbq.com

MOJO Federal is bringing the smoke again! The Federal Building is full of sweet heat thanks to MOJO Federal including the likes of Kansas City Burnt Ends, Pulled Pork, and Shrimp and Grits – shut your mouth! This cathedral of classic barbecue offering smoked meats and scratch sides, also has considerable cocktails, spirits, craft beer, and a whiskey bar to enjoy amidst the exposed brick and lofty ceilings of a historic Lakeland landmark.

 

2nd: Jimbo’s Pit Bar B-Q

3rd: Blue Dog Craft Barbecue

 

BEST DONUT SHOP

 

HOLE IN ONE DONUTS

Multiple Locations in Central Florida | 2076 E Edgewood Dr, Lakeland | (863) 665-8385 | FB @holeinonelakeland

Donuts to die for are par for the course at Hole In One Donuts. Again they claim the number one Best Of LKLD spot for their glazed, sprinkled, cream filled, and powdered sugar goodness. Customers rave about their fair prices, friendly staff, and fresh, fluffy donuts. One reviewer wrote, “The only problem is trying not to eat them all by yourself. Donuts are excellent – apple fritters, even better.”

 

2nd: Charlie’s Mini Donuts & Coffee

3rd: The Juice Box Cafe

 

BEST SUB SANDWICH

 

SUBS ‘N SUCH

1008 South Florida Ave, Lakeland | (863) 686-9035

 

4525 South Florida Ave, Lakeland | (863) 370-3774 | FB @subsnsuchlakeland | IG @subsnsuchlakeland | subsnsuch.com

Deep within the ‘sub’conscious of every Lakeland sammie lover, ‘sub’merged just below the surface sits a happy yellow submarine. You know them, you love them, you want some more of them. Subs ‘n Such, family-owned and operated since 1977, is easily recognized by their yellow submarine logo. Whether you’ve got a ham and cheese hankering or a craving for chicken parm, this Lakeland sub spot has you covered with a selection of hot and cold subs, along with soups, salads, hot dogs, specialties, and more. One customer wrote in part, “Love this place. Been a staple in Lakeland since I moved here as a kid. Quality ingredients and unique creations at a fair hometown price.”

 

2nd: Publix

3rd: Jimmy John’s

 

BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT

 

TAPATIO’S RESTAURANT MEXICANO

734 E Memorial Blvd, Lakeland | (863) 686-6958 | FB @Tapatios | IG @tapatios_memorial

 

6645 Florida Ave S, Lakeland | (863) 646-2199 | FB @Tapatios2 | IG @tapatios2 | tapatiostogo.com

Tapatio’s has two locations to satisfy your Mexican food craving using the freshest meat, produce, and ingredients. Their menu boasts traditional dishes from tacos and burritos to enchiladas, fajitas, and more. “The Tapatio’s Restaurants take real pride in serving our guests authentic Mexican dishes made with all the finest ‘south of the border’ ingredients,” according to their social media. Put your Netflix and Chill plans on hold and opt instead for some Guac and Talk at Tapatios, am I right?

 

2nd: Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant

3rd: Mega Mercado

 

BEST BREAKFAST RESTAURANT

 

FIRST WATCH

4620 Florida Ave S Suite 130, Lakeland | (863) 272-7929

 

4316 US Hwy 98, Lakeland | (863) 709-8833 | FB @FirstWatch | IG @first.watch | firstwatch.com

First Watch is makin’ the bacon and has plenty of egg-citing bright and early eats. Your hunger will be toast with First Watch breakfast classics like The Traditional (two fresh cage-free eggs any style with your choice of bacon, smoked ham, chicken sausage patties, turkey or pork sausage links. Served with whole grain artisan toast, all-natural house preserves and fresh, and seasoned potatoes), French toast, and Belgian waffles. Or opt for something on the healthier side like avocado toast, a power wrap, A.M. Superfood Bowl, or juice from their juice bar. That sounds like a good morning!

 

2nd: Keke’s Breakfast Cafe

3rd: Fat Jack’s Deli & Pub

 

BEST SEAFOOD RESTAURANT

 

SHELLS SEAFOOD

5125 Florida Ave S, Lakeland | (863) 213-4889 | FB @shellsoflakeland | shellsseafood.com

Shells is a beloved Lakeland seafood staple – a real catch! The restaurant chain opened in 1985, “with a simple philosophy of serving great quality seafood in a casual atmosphere!” Fresh or fried, you can’t go wrong with oysters on the half shell, coconut shrimp, baby lobster pasta, crab cakes, king crab, and the like. Shells’ Clam Chowder loaded with clams, potatoes, bacon, and spices is touted as “the best clam chowder you’ll ever eat!” If you’re feeling crabby, Shells will cheer you right up.

 

2nd: Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille

3rd: Fish City Grill  

 

BEST THAI RESTAURANT

 

THAI OISHI RESTAURANT

1535 Town Center Dr, Lakeland | (863) 333-0657 | FB @ThaiOishiRestaurant | thaioishirestaurant.com

Looking for something spicy to Thai you over? Thai Oishi prides themselves in serving only the freshest and finest ingredients in their Japanese and Thai dishes. Quaint and upscale, this Town Center eatery offers everything from Thai chicken wings and tuna tataki, to a full menu of sushi and sashimi. One reviewer wrote, “Excellent sushi and Thai dishes. Friendly service. Thai Oishi is a favorite with our family.”

 

2nd: Spice Thai & Sushi

3rd: The Rib House

 

BEST MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT

 

CAFÉ ZUPPINA

4417 Florida Ave S, Lakeland | (863) 644-5144 | FB @CafeZuppina | IG @cafezuppina | cafezuppina.com

The food is as pleasing to look at as it is to eat. Chief cooks and owners, Berna and Erkan make everything from scratch and with love. The pair are originally from Turkey and serve Cafe Zuppina customers the same recipes they enjoyed growing up, using fresh fruits and vegetables. Tucked away in the Courtyard Center on South Florida Avenue, this bistro is cozy and compact. No matter what you select off their menu, from the Veggie Platter to Zuppina’s Chicken Limone, expect vivid simplicity and stunning flavors.

 

2nd: Plenty – The Joinery  

3rd: Louis Pappas

 

BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT

 

CURRY MANGO

6625 Florida Ave S, Lakeland | (863) 940-2275 | FB @mycurrymango | IG @mycurrymango | mycurrymango.com

Winner for Best New Restaurant in 2020, Curry Mango has returned this year to solidify their spot on the Best Of LKLD list in a different category. Their menu is vast, brimming with authentic Indian flavors from Mango Chutney Wings to Duck Curry and Chicken Tikka. Bright dishes match that of their modest contemporary digs. Guests appreciate their authenticity, level of service and food, and ambiance. Curry Mango is the perfect place to initiate yourself if you haven’t yet tried Indian cuisine. One review in part reads, “The best Indian food I’ve had In Florida. The flavors were immaculate.”

 

2nd: Cafe Roti

3rd: MyIndiKitchen

 

BEST CHINESE RESTAURANT

 

PEKING HOUSE

2411 Florida Ave S, Lakeland | (863) 688-9022 | FB: Peking House | thepekinghouse.com

Peking house has all the familiar Chinese favorites from dumplings and Mu-Shu Pork to Chicken Chow Mein, and Chinese Donuts. Their dishes are made to order, prepared with fresh ingredients, and bound to make you soy happy! Common raves about the restaurant include affordability, yummy food, and friendly service. This is the place to stop for stellar Chinese take-out (or dine-in) according to our Best Of LKLD voters.

 

2nd: Ling’s Buffet

3rd: China Wok

 

BEST OYSTERS

 

GARY’S OYSTER BAR & SEAFOOD HOUSE

660 E Alfred St, Lake Alfred | (863) 956-5055 | FB: Garys Oyster Bar | garysoysterbar.com

Gary’s, “the oldest oyster bar in Polk County,” is a not-so-hidden gem offering a cozy, casual atmosphere and “a true Florida seafood experience.” Their Char-Grilled Parmesan Oysters and the Jalapeño Bacon Oysters compete for guest favorite. Gary’s oysters, steamed or raw, will leave you in half-shell heaven, thinking ‘Why the shuck did I wait so long to try this place?’

 

2nd: Fish City Grill

 

BEST ICE CREAM

 

MAYDAY ICE CREAM

640 E Main St, Lakeland (Inside The Joinery) | (863) 529-6708 | FB @maydayicecream | IG @maydayicecream | maydayicecream.com

Come in close, I’ll give you inside scoop – Mayday Ice Cream is THE BEST! Sorry for yelling. Everyone is screaming for this ice cream shop located inside The Joinery. Mayday prides themselves in dishing out handcrafted ice cream, topped with homemade sprinkles, served in homemade waffle cones (you can smell them when you walk in – holy cow). Enjoy there or grab a pint to go of flavors to melt over like Mint Monster, Cloud 9, Parent Trap, Ice Box Lemon, and Coffee + Donuts.

 

2nd: Bruster’s Real Ice Cream

3rd: Lakeland Ice Cream Company

 

BEST FOOD TRUCK

 

WAFU

FB @wafutaiyaki | IG @wafutaiyaki | linktr.ee/wafu

Cute fish logo, cute fish waffle – Wafu was a shoo-in for Best Food Truck. This Lakeland-based culinary concept started in 2020 and serves a Japanese-style waffle called taiyaki. Wafu taiyaki waffles are made with sweet or savory fillings. For your sweet tooth, the Wafu menu includes Anko, “A Japanese sweet red bean paste freshly made from organic azuki beans. It is a traditional filling used in many Japanese sweets.” Also on the saccharine side are the custard cream, Nutella, and matcha flavors which can be topped with caramel sauce, dark chocolate sauce, pure maple syrup, or powdered sugar. For an adorable fish-shaped savory snack, Wafu offers Bacon + Cheddar taiyaki and a Grilled Cheese Toastie taiyaki.

 

2nd: Jimmy’s Famous Seafood Express

3rd: Salt & Fire Food Lab

 

BEST DINER

 

REECECLIFF FAMILY DINER

940 Florida Ave S, Lakeland | (863) 686-6661 | IG @reececliff.diner | reececliff.com

Since 1934, this iconic Lakeland diner has been serving Americana diner fare in a “down-home atmosphere.” Reececliff offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner Southern classics and credits their long-running success in part to a head chef that has been with the diner for over 40 years. Even their pies have been “crafted by the same expert for more than 50 years.”

 

2nd: Fat Jack’s Deli & Pub

3rd: Britt’s Cafe

 

BEST FINE DINING

 

NINETEEN61

215 E Main St, Lakeland | (863) 688-1961 | FB @nineteen61 | IG @nineteen61_ | nineteen61.com

Chic Downtown dining destination, Nineteen61, was opened in the fall of 2015 by Chef Marcos Fernandez. Year after year, the restaurant continues to claim multiple spots on our Best Of LKLD list for its fine dining, romantic atmosphere, and wine list. According to their website, “The conceptualized Restaurant is an integration of Modern Spanish style with Latin American and Southern propensities, in a setting unique to Central Florida.” Their award-winning fine dining can be credited to Nineteen61 partnering with local growers for fresh ingredients, a dedicated team, and a “system and culture of excellence with personal accountability.” Chef Marcos Fernandez noted Nineteen61 as the “beginning of a change in Lakeland’s hospitality culture.”

 

2nd: Scarpa’s Italian

3rd: Terrace Grille

 

BEST PATIO DINING

 

PATIO850

850 S Tennessee Ave, Lakeland | (863) 940-2030 | FB @Patio850 | IG @patio850 | patio850.com

The brick lined outdoor dining space of Patio850, framed by greenery and dreamy string lights, transports patrons to an Italian piazza. This intimate city hideaway focuses on “food, wine, & fun,” with an emphasis on the former. Their menu is brimming with salads, spreads, shared plates, sandwiches, and meals. For their food (and their award-winning patio dining space) “Think European meets American meets Southern, with locally sourced produce and ingredients to enhance the flavors and support the community.”

 

2nd: Red Door Lakeland

3rd: Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille

 

BEST WATERFRONT DINING

 

HARBORSIDE

2435 7th St SW, Winter Haven | (863) 293-7070 | FB @HarborsideFL | IG @harborsiderestaurant | harborsidefl.com

Harborside’s wave-lapping, sunset views of Lake Shipp make for an idyllic respite to enjoy surf and turf and a beachy cocktail. In a landslide again this year, Best Of LKLD voters singled out Harborside as the premier place for waterfront dining across the county. It is a top destination by car, boat, even seaplane for fresh seafood, steaks, and other casual bites. Their Chain of Lakes views are unmatched!

 

2nd: Tantrum’s Lakeside Grill

3rd: Garden Bistro

 

BEST BAR

 

REVIVAL

119 S Kentucky Ave, Lakeland | (863) 606-6090 | FB @revivallakeland | IG @revivallakeland | revivallakeland.com

As the name would imply, owner and Head Mixologist, Jeannie Weaver has brought a spirits revival to Downtown Lakeland – and this isn’t her first time on the Best Of LKLD list because of that. Speakeasy vibes abound with a sprawling bookcase, velvet chairs, warm wooden shotgun bar, and of course, bespoke beverages. If I wore a necktie, Revival is the place I’d loosen it and settle in for a few Duck Fat Old Fashioneds after a hard day’s work. Revival said it best, “No gimmicks, no snazz, just the belief that a beverage program can challenge you to enjoy the marriage of some of Earth’s finest pleasures. Fine Spirits & Fine Company.”

 

2nd: Swan Brewing

3rd: Rec Room

 

BEST COCKTAILS

 

REVIVAL

119 S Kentucky Ave, Lakeland | (863) 606-6090 | FB @revivallakeland | IG @revivallakeland | revivallakeland.com

Revival Bar has earned a reputation for mastery of the classics and continued ‘spirited’ innovation. Patrons can sip specialty cocktails, the menu lists a full page of Old Fashioneds, absinthe, Tiki drinks, Spritz, or any of the Revival Classics like a Faux-Spresso Martini, Hibiscus Paloma, Penicillin, or Trinidad Sour. Enjoy the BEST cocktail at the BEST bar in all of the Swan City!

 

2nd: The Joinery

3rd: MOJO Federal Swine & Spirits

 

BEST WINE MENU

 

NINETEEN61

215 E Main St, Lakeland | (863) 688-1961 | FB @nineteen61 | IG @nineteen61_ | nineteen61.com

Award-winning fine dining fare, a romantic atmosphere, and a lauded wine list are among the many attributes of this downtown lunch and dinner hot spot. Opened in Fall of 2015 by Chef Marcos Fernandez, Nineteen61 has offerings of reds, whites, blends, sparkling, and dessert wines – a more than modest wine list by the glass and bottle. Cheers with a glass of Caymus or salud with Scala Dei!

 

2nd: Red Door Lakeland

3rd: Scarpa’s Italian

 

BEST COFFEEHOUSE

 

BLACK & BREW COFFEE HOUSE & BISTRO

205 E Main St, Lakeland | (863) 682-1210

100 Lake Morton Dr, Lakeland | (863) 500-9500 | FB @blackandbrew | IG @blackandbrew | blackandbrew.com

More than a coffeehouse, Black & Brew is a place where “Friendships are forged, romances kindled, and business deals sealed in an environment that was created to facilitate connections and remind us of our humanity.” Started in 2006 by brothers Chris and Michael McArthur, B&B’s flagship location is Downtown overlooking Munn Park with a second spot off Lake Morton at the Lakeland Public Library. They offer a menu of drinks including traditional espresso beverages, coffee, tea, hot (or frozen) chocolate, frappes, and even feature wines and craft beer along with nourishments for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

 

2nd: Concord Coffee

3rd: Hillcrest Coffee

 

BEST BEER LIST

 

SWAN BREWING

115 W Pine St, Lakeland | (863) 703-0472

 

2972 Lakeland Highlands Rd, Lakeland | (863) 698-7250 | FB @swanbrewingco | IG @swanbrewing | swanbrewing.com

Classic and innovative beers, brewed right in the heart of Lakeland. Swan Brewing’s appreciation for the city and passion for beer can be seen (or rather, tasted) across their 30 taps, including two dedicated Nitro lines at their flagship Pine Street location and 16 taps at Swan Brewing South. They feature beers with local names like the Straight Outta Lakeland IPA (the Best Of LKLD beer winner this year) and Poke County Pils. Swan has over 40 years of combined brewing experience backing their beers, so grab a cold one and enjoy the relaxed, pet and family-friendly atmosphere. Cheers!

 

2nd: Cob & Pen  

3rd: Craft + Kitchen

 

BEST FLORIDA WINE

 

KEEL + CURLEY WINERY

5202 Thonotosassa Rd, Plant City | (813) 752-9100 | FB @keelandcurleyatkeelfarms | IG @keelandcurleyatkeelfarms | keelfarms.com

In the spring of 2003, farmer Joe Keel made 10 gallons of blueberry wine in his farmhouse kitchen. Those 10 gallons were the catalyst for what is now the beloved and award-winning Keel + Curley Winery. K+C has three signature wines made with 100% blueberries. Guests love their innovative fusions (a blend of grape wine and fruit juice) like Wild Berry Pinot Noir, Peach Chardonnay, and Key West Key Lime Wine. Keel Farms has a tasting room where you can reserve space to try 1oz. pours of eight different Keel + Curley flavors.

 

2nd: Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards

3rd: Strong Tower Vineyard & Winery

 

BEST POLK COUNTY BEER

 

STRAIGHT OUTTA LAKELAND IPA - American | Swan Brewing

115 W Pine St, Lakeland | (863) 703-0472

 

2972 Lakeland Highlands Rd, Lakeland | (863) 698-7250 | FB @swanbrewingco | IG @swanbrewing | swanbrewing.com

An ode to the Swan City, Straight Outta Lakeland is an IPA with 7% ABV and 55 IBU. On Untappd, this Swan Brewing staple is said to be, “Exactly what you would expect in a West Coast Style IPA - crisp, clean with a subtle bite!”

 

2nd: Tropical Dilemma - Sour | Grove Roots Brewing Co.

3rd: The Bean - Coconut and Coffee Blonde | Swan Brewing

 

BEST U-PICK FARM

 

SHADY OAK FARM

3320 Shady Oak Dr E, Lakeland | (863) 512-1547 | FB @shadyoaklakeland | IG @shadyoakfarm | lakelandberries.com

Though blueberry season in Florida is already over (April and May), it’s never too early to start planning next year’s U-pick outing. There are plenty of pies, cobblers, jam, muffins, and more to be made with Shady Oak Farm’s 26,000 blueberry plants to pick from. The family-owned and operated farm, in business for over 16 years, boasts five varieties of blueberries: Emerald, Jewels, Gulf Coast, Sharp Blue, and Spring High. Have a picnic by the pond and purchase a blueberry plant of your very own which comes with the mulch they are planted in and detailed plant care instructions.

 

2nd: Whitehead’s Blueberry Farm

3rd: 5K Farms Organic U-Pick

 

BEST NEW RESTAURANT

 

LOVEBIRD ALMOST FAMOUS CHICKEN

2101 Florida Ave S, Lakeland | (863) 937-8055 | FB @lovebirdeats | IG @lovebird.eats | lovebirdeats.com

LoveBird’s from scratch chicken has had folks lining up outside the building since opening earlier this year. This top-notch chicken shack is a new Lakeland favorite for its always fresh, never frozen chicken brined for at least 24 hours, hand-battered, soaked in buttermilk, and breaded with LB’s housemade flour and spice blend. Their menu features southern fare done right, like the Nashville Hot chicken sandwich with slaw, sweet pickles, and bird sauce on a fresh challah bun, or the Bird & the Bee with chili-infused hot honey, whipped butter, and sweet pickles on a fresh challah bun. Mmmmmm. According to LoveBird, “We’re not a big conglomerate, not a multi-state franchise, heck, we’re not even a multiple city chain. Just a couple folks doing our best to make the best chicken we know how. People love it, but not everyone has had it. So it’s almost famous, ya know?”

 

2nd: Andy’s Frozen Custard

3rd: Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux

 

BEST CATERING

 

TERRIE LOBB CATERING

1239 E Main Street, Bartow | (863) 533-6483 | FB: Terrie Lobb Catering, Inc. | IG @terrielobbcatering | terrielobbcatering.com

After attending The American Culinary Academy, Terrie Lobb opened the Bartow-based cafe, The Docket. She catered on the side and found it was suited to her culinary and hospitality abilities. In 2000, she started Catering by Chef Terrie Lobb out of her home, preparing, delivering, and serving each dish herself. Over twenty years later, Terrie Lobb Catering, Inc. employs full-time chefs and professional servers and has proven to be the Best Of Catering in Lakeland. One client wrote, “Amazing experience all the way around. Food was amazing & staff were so helpful & kind. Cannot say enough good things about them & looking forward to crossing paths again.”

 

2nd: Blue Dog Craft Barbecue

3rd: Essential Catering Solutions 

  

BEST ROMANTIC RESTAURANT

 

NINETEEN61

215 E Main St, Lakeland | (863) 688-1961 | FB @nineteen61 | IG @nineteen61_ | nineteen61.com

Date night has been decided! The mood, thoughtful cuisine, and extensive wine list makes for the perfect romantic evening out. Reserve a table at Nineteen61 and make your date feel really special with an experience that has become the standard for fine dining in the city. Order a nightcap from Bar61 and stroll Munn Park for a memorable evening.

 

2nd: Scarpa’s Italian  

3rd: Patio850

 

BEST VEGAN RESTAURANT

 

VEGETATION PLANT FOOD

FB @vegetationplantfood | IG @vegetationplantfood | vegetationplantfood.com

A scroll through Vegetation Plant Food’s social media will make even the most ravenous of meat-eaters think, ‘Veggies sound really good right about now.’ Founder Rima Schillinger prepares whole food plant-based meals that are available weekly in Lakeland. Some of the hearty options on her changing menu include the likes of mac & cheeze & peas, creamy alfredo sauce, nacho cheeze, karma shawarma, and pecan cardamom cookies. In a note on their website, Rima writes, “I cook whole food plant based meals for you so that you can reach and maintain optimum health. I want to nourish you and your family in the most healthful way possible and I want you to love this way of eating as much as I do.”

 

2nd: Plenty – The Joinery

3rd: SoFresh

 

BEST DOG-FRIENDLY RESTAURANT

 

THE JOINERY

640 E Main St, Lakeland | (863) 337-4583 | FB @thejoinerylkld | IG @thejoinerylkld | thejoinerylkld.com

Finally! A place where Fluffy can join in on the fun! The Joinery is a ‘modern food hall’ started by Jonathan and Sarah Bucklew. The Lake Mirror hangout is home to a florist, craft cocktail bar, and seven food vendors with offerings from ice cream, ramen, and street tacos, to burgers, pizza, plant-based fare, and poke bowls. Patrons love to bring their pets and The Joinery loves to have them! According to their FAQ page, well-behaved and leashed dogs are welcome on the back patio, as well as the side and back lawns, and service animals are permitted inside according to federal and state regulations. If you bring your pup for a pick-me-up, be sure to ask one of the bartenders for a water bowl!

 

2nd: Frescos Southern Kitchen & Bar

3rd: Swan Brewing

 

BEST BAKERY

 

BORN & BREAD BAKEHOUSE

1113 Florida Ave S, Lakeland | FB @bornandbreadbakehouse | IG @bornandbreadfl | bornandbreadbakehouse.com

Get your baked goods hot and fresh and “handcrafted with love” from this Lakeland gem. From the farmers market to a Florida Avenue bakehouse to the “Forbes Next 1,000” list, owner Jenn Smurr built and grew a following of folks far and wide that happily line up every Saturday for some of B&B’s fresh bread, cruffins, cookies, croissants, breakfast sammies, and other handcrafted treats. In 2019, Born & Bread debuted their Wednesday evening services featuring crave-worthy sandwiches from Banh Mi’s to BLTs, house-made pot pies, and other inspired fare. Wednesday and Saturday preorders for B&B goods are available on their website!

 

2nd: Honeycomb Bread Bakers

3rd: La Imperial Bakery

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