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  • Tara Crutchfield

LKLD Best of 2023- Food & Drink



BEST PIZZA

PALACE PIZZA DOWNTOWN

114 S Kentucky Ave, Lakeland

(863) 688-0045

FB @palacepizzadowntown

IG @palacepizzadtwn

This pizza shop reigns supreme! Palace Pizza Downtown is royalty in the Best Pizza category year after year. They bring over 25 years of experience to the table, along with fresh dough, quality tomatoes, and 100% whole milk mozzarella cheese. The Palace Pizza fam follows traditional recipes to give guests authentic Italian flavor. You can get pizza by the slice or pan with options like Neapolitan, Sicilian, and supreme. Or, build your own! (They even have gluten-free pizza.)

2nd: J. Burns’ Pizza Shop

3rd: Jet’s Pizza


BEST BURGER

BURGER 21

1601 Town Center Dr, Lakeland

(863) 937-8002

FB @b21lakeland

IG @myburger21

These guys are bun in a million, according to Best Of LKLD voters! Now lettuce tell you why. Burger 21 chefs hand-cut and hand-patty each burger in the kitchen for every order. Their juicy Angus beef is a fan favorite, with plenty of other options, like chicken and veggie burgers (which are free of hormones and antibiotics). Polish your burger off with a shake and fries! “Our goal is to create a neighborhood spot where friends, families, and coworkers can come together and eat delicious quality burgers. With more than 21 burger varieties featuring chicken, seafood, veggie, and beef, a Burger 21 burger is like nothing you’ve ever tasted.”

2nd: The Chop Shop

3rd: Ford’s Garage


BEST TACOS

TAPATIO’S RESTAURANT MEXICANO

734 E Memorial Blvd, Lakeland

(863) 686-6958

FB @Tapatios

6645 Florida Ave S, Lakeland

(863) 646-2199

FB @tapatiostiendasfl

IG @tapatios2

Tapatio’s is totally spec-taco-lar! “We always cook from scratch, using the freshest meats, produce, and ingredients, according to tradition and what our family has handed down through the generations,” says Tapatio’s. Best Of LKLD voters love their traditional tacos with options including al pastor, de carne asada, chorizo, and more! These top-tier tacos are served on a soft corn tortilla and garnished with onion and cilantro. Tapatio’s, you are the chips to our salsa – we think you’re fantas-taco!

2nd: Mega Mercado

3rd: Taco Bus


BEST WINGS

WINNERS CIRCLE SPORTSBAR AND GRILL

4215 Florida Ave S, Lakeland

(863) 644-9464

FB @winnerscirclelkld

IG @wcsportsbar

This is the wingman you need in your life. Tasty American-style bar food, done right. Since 2002, this family-owned sports bar has offered good drinks and good times with weekly events like karaoke, free-play poker night, corn-hole, beer pong, buzz time trivia, live DJs, and comedy shows. This repeat wing winner is a three-time “King of the Wing” Championship Title holder. Winners Circle Championship Wings are available bone-in (breaded or naked) or boneless (grilled or fried) with over 46 flavors to toss them in, from mild to hot, sweet to tangy, and everything in between. Some of their unique wing flavors include Syracuse Hot, Coconut Lime, Sour Creme & Onion, PB&J, Cinnamon Chipotle, Smokehouse Maple, and many more!

2nd: Decisions Grill & Bar

3rd: Beef O’Brady’s


BEST CUBAN SANDWICH

OLE’ TAMPA CUBANS

Alamo Plaza, 4525 Florida Ave S STE 31, Lakeland

(863) 583-4733

FB: Ole’ Tampa Cubans Lakeland

IG @oletampacubans

713 N Church Ave, Mulberry (863) 943-5556 FB: Ole’ Tampa Cubans Welcome to Polk County’s taste of Tampa! These must-try Cuban sandwiches are made with slow-roasted garlic pork, Genoa salami, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles pressed to perfection on authentic La Segunda Cuban bread straight from Ybor City. “Whether you prefer a traditional Cuban, enjoy it a little sweet or a little spicy, we have the perfect sandwich to satisfy your cravings.” One Ole’ Tampa Cubans customer raved in part, “WOW! Best place in Lakeland for an authentic-tasting Cuban sandwich! [...]”

2nd: Elena’s Cuban Cafe

3rd: Divicious Deli & Coffee Shop


BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT

SCARPA’S ITALIAN

1833 E Edgewood Dr, Lakeland

(863) 937-8940

FB: Scarpa’s Italian

IG @scarpasitalian

Scarpa’s surpasses the competition yet again for Best Italian Restaurant! Since opening in 2013, Scarpa’s has cemented itself as a Lakeland Italian food institution. The restaurant is family-owned and operated by Glenn, former chef at Mario’s for twelve years, and Ashley Scarpa. Their menu boasts housemade pastas, and they’ve even had a visit from chef Emeril Lagassé for his show, Emeril’s Florida, in 2016. Scarpa’s award-winning Italian dishes are made fresh daily and prepared to order, so be sure to call ahead for a sought-after Scarpa’s table. Enjoy your penne bolognese or veal cannelloni with a glass or bottle of wine from their substantial wine menu.

2nd: Il Forno Italian Restaurant

3rd: Palace Pizza Downtown


BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT

CURRY MANGO

6625 Florida Ave S, Lakeland

(863) 940-2275

FB @mycurrymango

IG @mycurrymango

These guys just keep winning, naan stop! At Curry Mango, guests can indulge in authentic Indian flavors like butter chicken, lamb vindaloo, and chicken tikka masala. Patrons appreciate their bright, flavorful dishes, authenticity, and service. One Curry Mango convert wrote, “My first time enjoying Indian food, and it didn’t disappoint. Fell in love with the fresh garlic naan and the dipping sauces. I had the mango curry chicken and my husband had Tikka Masala. Both were delicious. Staff was very attentive and nice. Loved the experience and food! Hidden little gem in Lakeland, worth the drive from Lithia.”

2nd: Chilly Masala Indian Cuisine


BEST SUSHI RESTAURANT

NEW MOON SUSHI 4231 Florida Ave S, Lakeland (863) 647-1212 FB @newmoonsushi IG @newmoonsushi newmoonsushi.com If we’re getting sushi, New Moon is who we’re rollin’ with. Best Of LKLD voters say its soy good! Their vast selection of traditional Japanese dishes, sushi and sashimi rolls, ramen, tempura, teriyaki dishes, and more have guests singing their sushi praises. Wash your South Florida roll down with a glass of hot sake, wine, or one of New Moon’s 20 signature cocktails. One sushi-satiated patron wrote in part, “We had a great experience at New Moon Sushi! Their rolls were very creative with great flavor combinations. Our favorite was the Fuji Apple roll! We had the pork shumai for an appetizer and they were fresh and flavorful. [...]”

2nd: Tsunami Sushi & Hibachi

3rd: Fancy Q Japanese Restaurant


BEST BBQ RESTAURANT

MISSION BBQ 4014 Florida Ave S, Lakeland

(863) 225-8433

FB @missionbbqtheamericanway

IG @missionbbq

Another MISSION accomplished for this Lakeland BBQ Restaurant winner. Meat your heart out with Texas-inspired, oak-smoked brisket, slow-smoked hand-pulled pork, or try a bit of everything with a sampler. Along with Smokehouse Signatures, sandwiches, and salads, enjoy made-from-scratch sides like Maggie’s Mac-N-Cheese, green beans with bacon, or baked beans with brisket. According to MISSION BBQ, “We believe there is nothing more American than BBQ. And nobody is more American than the brave men and women who have sworn to protect and serve Our Communities and Our Country. We do what we do for the love of our soldiers, firefighters, police officers, first responders—all our loved ones in service.”

2nd: Mojo Federal Swine & Spirits

3rd: Blue Dog Craft Barbecue


BEST DONUTS

HOLE IN ONE DONUTS

Multiple Locations in Central Florida

2076 E Edgewood Dr, Lakeland

(863) 665-8385

Hole In One Donuts are like a par-tee in your mouth! You’re going to want to make some time FORE! this Lakeland donut shop. Glazed, sprinkled, cream-filled, and powdered sugar goodness are par for the course at this Lakeland bake shop. Hole In One Donut devotees often rave about their freshness and how friendly the staff is. One happy Hole In One customer wrote, “This is the best place! Family run for many years, we always see the same people when we come in. Their donuts are SO good. The blueberry cake is the best I’ve tried. Everything tastes so fresh! We love getting their special which is a breakfast sandwich, donut and a drink for a very reasonable price. It’s just good simple food from a lovely little shop. Don’t skip on the blueberry cake donut!”

2nd: Charlie’s Mini Donuts & Coffee

3rd: Krispy Kreme


BEST SUB SANDWICH

PUBLIX

FB @publix

IG @publix

Pub Subs are pretty deli-ghtful! This iconic sandwich has become the nation’s envy, with an array of subs to savor, from the Boar’s Head Italian Sub to the Publix Ultimate Sub. The options are ‘sub’stantial, but the tried-and-true sammy is the Chicken Tender Sub made with Publix Deli’s famous double-hand-breaded chicken tenders. Little known fact, if you don’t have a Pub Sub every so often, they’ll revoke your Florida card. I’m due for mine soon!

2nd: Subs ‘n Such

3rd: Firehouse Subs


BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT

TAPATIO’S RESTAURANT MEXICANO

734 E Memorial Blvd, Lakeland

(863) 686-6958

FB @Tapatios

6645 Florida Ave S, Lakeland

(863) 646-2199

FB @tapatiostiendasfl

IG @tapatios2

Not only are they taco titans, but this restaurant also boasts the best Mexican fare. Fresh meats, produce, and ingredients are used to make authentic family recipes that have been handed down through generations. Tapatio’s has a sprawling menu offering everything from flautas, guac, and chips and salsa, to burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, fajitas, and of course, Tapatio’s Best Of LKLD-winning tacos. End your meal with churros and ice cream or a piece of toothsome tres leches cake. “Favorite authentic Mexican restaurant in Lakeland. Their food tastes amazing like it’s homemade and portion sizes are huge. The food is always hot for takeout and tastes fresh. [...]” reads part of one Tapatio’s five-star review.

2nd Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant

3rd: Azteca D’ Oro Mexican Restaurant


BEST LATIN RESTAURANT

NINETEEN61

215 E Main St, Lakeland

(863) 688-1961

FB @nineteen61

IG @nineteen61_

Passionate and creative chefs use fresh ingredients to craft authentic and modern Latin cuisine. Nineteen61’s Owner and Chef Marcos Fernandez has “traveled to where the food takes him. This unrestricted approach translates into a diversified career of industry experience, spanning over 16 years and several countries.” These travels have broadened Chef Marcos’ culinary creations from the native Cuban cuisine of his youth to Peruvian, Italian, French, Spanish, and the American South. Hundreds of five-star reviews laud Nineteen61 for its exceptional Latin fare, upscale atmosphere, and unmatched service.

2nd: Zarza Latin Food & Grill

3rd: Tapatio’s Restaurant Mexicano


BEST SOUL FOOD RESTAURANT

FRED’S MARKET RESTAURANT

2120 Harden Blvd, Lakeland

(863) 603-7080

FB: Fred’s Market Restaurant

IG @freds_market

Family dining and southern hospitality are at the heart of this Lakeland eatery. Fred’s Market Restaurant was started in a gas station where Evelyn Johnson would cook family meals for her husband, Elton, and their children. Over the years, it grew into three restaurants offering farm-to-plate fresh dishes with the same southern hospitality it started with. “Our food is slowly cooked in a natural and unprocessed way, served in a cozy atmosphere full of warmth and fun. We don’t compromise on quality or character, whether it’s the ingredients in our dishes or the attitudes of our people. It’s southern comfort that’s pure and hearty all the way to the core, and it’s all found at Fred’s Market Restaurant.”

2nd: Country Chicken & Fish

3rd: Plates on Deck


BEST BREAKFAST RESTAURANT

KEKE’S BREAKFAST CAFE

3615 Florida Ave S #110, Lakeland

(863) 937-9666 4115

US Hwy 98 N, Lakeland

(863) 937-7395

FB: Keke’s Breakfast Cafe

IG @kekesbreakfastcafe

“It’s like your hometown diner grew up and went to the city.” Keke’s serves up an eggcellent handmade breakfast using the best ingredients available, with fresh fruits and vegetables delivered daily and the highest quality bread and dairy products. Their menu includes waffles, pancakes, omelets, French toast, create-your-own combos, and more. One Keke’s patron writes, “Everything was perfect, fresh strawberries, eggs seasoned/cooked right. No wait on the weekend around 10 am and we didn’t have to wait long for our food. Definitely would come back.”

2nd: Fat Jacks Deli & Pub

3rd: First Watch


BEST BRUNCH

FRESCOS SOUTHERN KITCHEN & BAR

132 S Kentucky Ave, Lakeland

(863) 683-5267

FB: Frescos

IG @frescoslakeland

Bottomless blood orange mimosas and sweet buttermilk pancakes, anyone? Frescos Owner and Chef Tina Calhoon believes that “with good food comes comfort and happiness. THAT is the Frescos’ philosophy and tradition that she continues to build on – offering warm, southern hospitality and creating an experience through food that brings joy to others.” And that’s just what you get with Frescos’ fabulous brunch – pure joy. Some of the southern goodness includes fried green tomatoes, apple bourbon monkey bread, shrimp and grits, and spicy chicken and waffles. Imbibe in a bellini or Bloody Mary and end things sweetly with butter pecan cake or creme brulee. I could keep going… Their brunch is just that good!

2nd: First Watch

3rd: Momma and Friends Brunch Show


BEST SEAFOOD

HARRY’S SEAFOOD BAR & GRILLE

101 N Kentucky Ave, Lakeland

(863) 686-2228

FB @harrys.seafood.lakeland

IG @hookedonharrys

Voters are hooked on Harry’s! “We’ve taken the best of Cajun, Creole, and Southern flavors and infused them with a modern twist to create some truly unique and award-winning dishes.” Award-winning indeed! You can’t go wrong with Southern seafood staples like shrimp-n-grits, blackened redfish, Harry’s Signature Crab Cakes, and shrimp po’boys. One customer reviewed in part, “Harry’s is an amazing place for some great seafood, drinks, and atmosphere. Very authentic New Orleans cuisine. [...]”

2nd: Fish City Grill

3rd: Mr. & Mrs. Crab


BEST THAI RESTAURANT

THAI OISHI

1535 Town Center Dr, Lakeland

(863) 333-0657

FB: Thai Oishi Restaurant

Looking for great-tasting Japanese and Thai dishes? If you haven’t been, it’s about Pad Thai-me you try out Thai Oishi! From Drunken Noodles to Panang Curry, they have all you’d need to Thai you over in a cozy atmosphere. Traditional Thai dishes may be ordered mild, medium, hot, or Thai hot, and most dishes can be made vegetarian upon request. One Thai Oishi patron wrote, “My absolute favorite Thai restaurant in Lakeland. Their duck dishes are superb and their sushi is always fantastic and fresh.”

2nd: Spice Thai & Sushi

3rd: Fancy Q Sushi & Thai


BEST MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT

CAFÉ ZUPPINA

4417 Florida Ave S, Lakeland

(863) 644-5144

FB @CafeZuppina

IG @cafezuppina

A taste of the Mediterranean, not too far from home. Cafe Zuppina owners Berna and Erkan Nar have shared their Turkish culture with the Lakeland community for over a decade through fresh, healthy Mediterranean food. The dishes at Cafe Zuppina are made from scratch with fresh ingredients, which the owners shop locally for each day. Everything on the menu, from the Veggie Moussaka and the Aegean Salad to Zuppina’s Lamb Chops, are as stunning visually as they are to taste. In 2019, Cafe Zuppina opened The Market next door, which serves as a coffeehouse and curated collection of international goods.

2nd: Louis Pappas Fresh Greek Lakeside

3rd: Street Cafe


BEST CHINESE RESTAURANT

PEKING HOUSE

2411 Florida Ave S, Lakeland

(863) 688-9022

This award-winning Chinese restaurant is praised for its tasty cuisine made to order using fresh ingredients. Peking House offers an extensive menu with familiar dishes like sweet and sour chicken, lo mein, chop suey, and dumplings, along with house specials like spicy crispy shrimp and Mandarin seafood delight. End your meal with some tasty Chinese doughnuts! “Best traditional Chinese food in Lakeland. Love the hole in the wall aspect of this place that has stayed true to its roots. Large portions, quality ingredients and nice friendly people!” wrote one customer.

2nd: China Wok

3rd: Ling’s Buffet


BEST RESTAURANT FOR OYSTERS

FISH CITY GRILL

1485 Town Center Dr., Suite D112, Lakeland

(863) 683-1243

FB @fishcitygrill

IG @fishcitygrill

The best shuckin’ place for oysters in Lakeland! Fish City Grill offers oyster nachos made with fried oysters, chipotle tartar sauce, and fresh pico de gallo, or guests can keep it classic with oysters on the half shell with a varying selection from Fresh Gulf Oysters and East Coast Oysters from small farms. For an entree, you can make it a Pick 2 or Pick 3 combo with beer-battered cod, catfish, shrimp, and oysters. Yum! One customer writes, “I have only been here twice, and let me tell you I will keep coming back! I’ve tried different dishes and have loved everything I’ve had so far. The Mango Margarita was refreshing and so good. The Chargrilled Oysters and Calamari are a must every time. Love this place! Money well spent!!”

2nd: Lucky’s Sports, Oyster, & Tiki Bar

3rd: Gary’s Oyster Bar & Seafood House


BEST ICE CREAM

MAYDAY ICE CREAM

640 E Main St, Lakeland (Inside The Joinery)

FB @maydayicecream

IG @maydayicecream

Sprinkle some Mayday goodness on your day! Cancel your plans immediately and head for a scoop of handcrafted ice cream. Based in The Joinery, Mayday Ice Cream dishes out tasty cold treats topped with homemade sprinkles, served in homemade waffle cones. Their cones smell so good you might just cartoon float your way to their shop when you walk into the food hall. Enjoy it there or grab a to-go pint of flavors like Blueberry Toast Crunch, Cloud 9, Parent Trap, Ice Box Lemon, Key Lime Pie, Coffee + Donuts, Gillespie’s Bourbon Pecan, and more.

2nd: Andy’s Frozen Custard

3rd: Bruster’s Ice Cream


BEST FOOD TRUCK

JIMMY’S FAMOUS SEAFOOD EXPRESS

FB @Jimmysflexpress

IG @jimmysseafood

If you know any good seafood jokes, let minnow! Maybe you’ve had their steamed crab at Swan Brewing or their grouper sandwich at Grove Roots? You’ve definitely heard of them – they are famous, after all! According to Jimmy’s Famous Seafood Express, “We are a food truck bringing you the amazing tastes of Jimmy’s famous seafood from Baltimore to the streets of Florida!” Jimmy’s is well-known for fresh, delicious seafood bites on the go, like their award-winning Jumbo Lump Maryland Crab Cakes, The Crabby Patty (an 8 oz hamburger patty smothered in house crab dip and topped with fresh crab meat), and Kung Pao Shrimp Tacos (hand-breaded shrimp fried to perfection served with homemade coleslaw on flour tortillas). Swim over to their social media to see where they’ll be next.

2nd: Fat Maggie’s

3rd: Omusubee


BEST DINER

REECECLIFF FAMILY DINER

940 Florida Ave S, Lakeland

(863) 686-6661

IG @reececliff.diner

Reececliff Family Diner is the longest-running restaurant in Lakeland, serving Americana diner fare since 1934. They pride themselves on consistency and a down-home atmosphere. The diner offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner Southern classics from their Ranchers Breakfast to Reececliff Honey Chicken. Guests rave about their food, portion sizes, ambiance, and customer service. We’ve heard the pie, which has been “crafted by the same expert for more than 50 years,” is worth a visit alone!

2nd: Fat Jacks Deli & Pub

3rd: Cozy Oaks Restaurant


BEST FINE DINING

NINETEEN61

215 E Main St, Lakeland

(863) 688-1961

FB @nineteen61

IG @nineteen61_

“Phenomenal dining experience. The service was superb, the food was exceptional, and the white sangria was perfect. The Grand Marnier creme brulee was absolutely divine. The perfect upscale spot for a special occasion,” writes one Nineteen61 patron. Nineteen61, opened in 2015 by Chef Marcos Fernandez, continues to be a Best Of LKLD voter darling. This posh downtown restaurant prides itself on authentic cuisine with menus that are “both authentic and modern in Latin culture,” fresh ingredients, and creative chefs. “At Nineteen61, we position ourselves as a benchmark for Lakeland dining. A new standard that shows what is possible – what Lakeland diners should expect from their restaurants.”

2nd: Scarpa’s Italian

3rd: The Terrace Grille


BEST PATIO DINING

THE PATIO - LAKELAND

850 S Tennessee Ave, Lakeland

(863) 816-3101

FB: The Patio-Lakeland

IG @thepatiolakeland

String lights and lush greenery abound in this centrally located oasis. The Patio - Lakeland offers an intimate hideaway dining experience with sophisticated brunch and dinner menus. This locally owned and operated fine dining establishment specializes in outdoor dining and features a substantial selection of dishes, including seafood, pizza, and wine. According to The Patio, “Our chefs use the highest-quality ingredients in our dishes and prepare them with care to ensure every bite is full of flavor.” This restaurant is also pet-friendly, so you can bring your four-legged BFF! Enjoy refined fare with your friends and family amid an upscale, cozy ambiance at The Patio.

2nd: Nineteen61

3rd: Frescos Southern Kitchen & Bar


BEST CASUAL DINING

THE BACK NINE

124 S Tennessee Ave, Lakeland

(863) 603-3700

FB: The Back Nine Lakeland

IG @thebackninelakeland

The Back Nine owners, Ethan and Jenna Smith, “had a desire to create a place of togetherness, where you can just be and enjoy the people around you.” According to Best Of LKLD voters, that’s just what they created. The Back Nine is a relaxed pub offering exceptional hospitality, tasty drinks, craft food, and state-of-the-art golf simulators. One Back Nine patron writes, “A wonderful family dining and virtual sports entertainment venue. An outstanding addition to our downtown choices. I know where the golfers are going to be when the rains come. Pet Friendly dining outside with easy access from the street for your furry children. Nice menu line up with lots of unique offerings. Two words, ‘Cuban Eggrolls.’ Will definitely be regulars.”

2nd: Frescos Southern Kitchen & Bar

3rd: (TIE) LoveBird Almost Famous Chicken

3rd: (TIE) Black & Brew Coffee House & Bistro


BEST BAR

REVIVAL

119 S Kentucky Ave, Lakeland

(863) 606-6090

FB: Revival

IG @revivallakeland

Our ‘spirited’ voters say Revival is the Best Bar around! “You may have guessed that we’re quite passionate about our cocktails and the experience they leave you with. 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.” Innovative bespoke beverages and unmatched service in a speakeasy atmosphere – what’s not to love? An excerpt from one review reads, “One of my absolute favorite cocktail bars. They deliver high-quality, creative, and rotating cocktails as well as exceptional and personable service. [...]”

2nd: The Back Nine

3rd: Molly McHugh’s Irish Pub


BEST COCKTAILS

REVIVAL

119 S Kentucky Ave, Lakeland

(863) 606-6090

FB: Revival

IG @revivallakeland

Good cocktails have been revived in the Swan City. Revival patrons can sip specialty cocktails, a full page of Old Fashioneds, seasonal offerings, beer, wine, Tiki drinks, Spritz, or any of the Revival Classics like a Faux-Spresso Martini, Jack Rose, or Savoy Swizzle. “Our master mixologist, Jeannie, a detail-obsessed creative force, is constantly creating unique handmade cocktails that are unparalleled. Driven by passion, you can find her experimenting weekly with new spirits and ingredients, defining the Lakeland cocktail scene.”

2nd: Nineteen61

3rd: The Back Nine


BEST WINE MENU

NINETEEN61

215 E Main St, Lakeland

(863) 688-1961

FB @nineteen61

IG @nineteen61_

With unparalleled service and the Best Fine Dining atmosphere, there’s nowhere better to relax with a glass of pinot than Nineteen61. The establishment prides itself on authentic cuisine, fresh ingredients, and creative chefs, but they should add ‘impressive wine menu’ to that list. According to Nineteen61, “What started as a beer and wine bar has blossomed into a comprehensive and compelling bar program with the support of the community, and under the direction of Nineteen61 partner, Emerson Bamaca.” Join Nineteen61 for Happy Hour, including $6 glasses of wine Monday - Saturday, 3-5 pm, and Sunday, 3-4 pm (drinks only).

2nd: Scarpa’s Italian

3rd: The Pink Piano


BEST COFFEE SHOP

BLACK & BREW COFFEE HOUSE & BISTRO

205 E Main St, Lakeland

(863) 682-1210

4209 Florida Ave S, Lakeland

(863) 250-8554

100 Lake Morton Dr, Lakeland

(863) 500-9500

FB @blackandbrew

IG @blackandbrew

The community’s favorite coffee shop, Black & Brew Coffee House & Bistro, now serves Lakeland with three locations. Started in 2006 by brothers Chris and Michael McArthur, B&B is the perfect place to enjoy “community over locally roasted coffee and fresh fare.” They offer a menu of drinks, including traditional espresso beverages, coffee, tea, hot (or frozen) chocolate, frappes, and even featured wines and craft beer, along with sustenance for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. One customer wrote of Black & Brew’s newest Florida Ave. location, “Love this new location! The decor is very cool and the staff is so sweet. They make you feel like a regular and you can tell they enjoy working together and serving their community. I come in about once a week to have breakfast, coffee, and get some work done.”

2nd: Concord Coffee

3rd: Mitchell’s Coffee House


BEST BEER LIST

SWAN BREWING

115 W Pine St, Lakeland

(863) 703-0472

FB @swanbrewingco

IG @swanbrewing

“We believe traditional beer styles are a vital part of any taproom, and new world beers highlight our spirit of innovation.” And with almost 40 years of combined brewing experience backing their beers, you know it’s good. Swan’s brews pay homage to the community they love with names like Poke County Pils and Straight Outta Lakeland. Enjoy cold craft beers made with only the finest (locally sourced when possible) ingredients in a family and pet-friendly atmosphere. Craft beer connoisseurs appreciate Swan’s array of brews across 30 taps. Cheers to Swan Brewing for another year atop the Best Beer List!

2nd: The Brass Tap

3rd: Cob & Pen


BEST POLK COUNTY BEER

ROME CITY, IPA BREW HUB

3900 S Frontage Rd, Lakeland

(863) 698-7600

FB: Brew Hub

IG @brewhub

Did you know at its founding, Lakeland was almost named Rome City? It’s true! And that’s where Brew Hub’s 5.8% ABV, 70 IBU American IPA gets its name. Rome City is a GABF 2017 Gold-medal and US Beer Open 2022 Silver-medal-winning IPA, “packed with the juicy goodness of hops, [and] an homage to our flagship brewery in Lakeland, Florida.” One Untappd user said, “I can see why this is award-winning,” and another noted, “Have to travel over 1500 miles to get this … worth every single mile!!!”

2nd: Straight Outta Lakeland, IPA - American Swan Brewing

3rd: The Bean – Coconut and Coffee Blonde Swan Brewing


BEST U-PICK FARM

FANCY FARMS MARKET

5204 Drane Field Rd, Lakeland

(813) 478-3486

FB @fancyfarmsinc

IG @fancyfarmsmarket

Carl and Dee Dee Grooms started this family-owned strawberry farm and market in 1974 with just 15 acres of strawberries. Son Dustin and daughter Kristi eventually joined the family farm. Today, Fancy Farms operates seasonally from December to June on nearly 125 acres. They offer local produce, fresh flowers (mid-May through the end of June), and seasonal desserts like Strawberry Shortcake, Strawberry, Peach, and Blackberry Cobbler, Hand-Spun Strawberry, Blueberry, and Peach Milkshakes, Strawberry, Blueberry, and Peach Lemonade, and more! “Once you have a taste of our berries – you’ll see just how fancy they are!”

2nd: Keel Farms

3rd: Whitehead’s Blueberry Farm


BEST NEW RESTAURANT

VEGETATION CAFE & KITCHEN

1439 E Gary Rd, Lakeland

(863) 216-8534

FB: Vegetation Plant Food

IG @vegetationplantfood

“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,” says owner Rima. And patrons do love Vegetation Cafe & Kitchen’s fresh, tasty meals like Sausage Rigatoni & Ricotta and Tuscan Kale & Bean Soup. Visit the cafe to pick up freshly made, ready-to-go plant-based meals, snacks, and sweets or stay and enjoy them there. Vegetation is a 100% vegan cafe focused on fresh, minimally processed food. One customer writes, “We are so lucky to have this healthy gem in Polk! The dishes are creative & delicious, the employees are all friendly, and the space is perfect for a relaxing lunch. And the espresso drinks are an added bonus!”

2nd: Fresh Kitchen

3rd: 4 Rivers Smokehouse


BEST CASUAL DINING

THE BACK NINE

124 S Tennessee Ave, Lakeland

(863) 603-3700

FB: The Back Nine Lakeland

IG @thebackninelakeland

The Back Nine owners, Ethan and Jenna Smith, “had a desire to create a place of togetherness, where you can just be and enjoy the people around you.” According to Best Of LKLD voters, that’s just what they created. The Back Nine is a relaxed pub offering exceptional hospitality, tasty drinks, craft food, and state-of-the-art golf simulators. One Back Nine patron writes, “A wonderful family dining and virtual sports entertainment venue. An outstanding addition to our downtown choices. I know where the golfers are going to be when the rains come. Pet Friendly dining outside with easy access from the street for your furry children. Nice menu line up with lots of unique offerings. Two words, ‘Cuban Eggrolls.’ Will definitely be regulars.”

2nd: Frescos Southern Kitchen & Bar

3rd: (TIE) LoveBird Almost Famous Chicken

3rd: (TIE) Black & Brew Coffee House & Bistro


BEST CATERING COMPANY

TERRIE LOBB CATERING

1239 E Main Street, Bartow

(863) 533-6483

FB: Terrie Lobb Catering, Inc.

IG @terrielobbcatering

“Terrie Lobb Catering offers an excellent menu, professional and courteous staff, and some of the best food that you could have catered in, [...]” writes one client. Terrie Lobb Catering, a repeat winner in this category, has forged a reputation of excellence. They have menus for every occasion, including breakfast, hors d’oeuvres, cold lunch, hot lunch, dinner, wedding, and corporate lunch specials. 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 a kitchen staff with full-time chefs and professional servers to create tailored client experiences that exceed expectations.

2nd: Essential Catering Solutions

3rd: Lakeland BBQ Company


BEST VEGAN FOOD

VEGETATION CAFE & KITCHEN

1439 E Gary Rd, Lakeland

(863) 216-8534

FB: Vegetation Plant Food

IG @vegetationplantfood

Offering fresh, minimally processed, 100% vegan food, Vegetation Cafe & Kitchen has become a Lakeland darling, taking home Best New Restaurant, Best Vegan Food, and Best Hidden Gem. Guests can visit the cafe to pick up freshly made, ready-to-go plant-based meals, snacks, and sweets or stay and enjoy them there. One patron raves, “Fantastic food. We tried several things and everything was excellent. The Sesame Tempeh Noodle Bowl was my favorite, but the Smoothie Bowl and the Chimichurri vegetable plate were excellent as well. Most of the dishes are “grab and go” so you pick them up without any wait. A couple are made to order. Definitely recommended!”

2nd: The Juice Box

3rd: Street Cafe


BEST BAKERY

BORN & BREAD BAKEHOUSE

1113 Florida Ave S, Lakeland

(863) 450-4513

FB @bornandbreadbakehouse

IG @bornandbreadfl

“Each day, our lifework is to make the highest quality product, to maintain excellence, to serve our community with our hands and our hearts and to work as a team with love and empathy. Together we will create, learn, and travel through life. We were made for greatness,” says Born & Bread Bakehouse. Each Saturday, resident baking badass, owner Jenn Smurr and her team make fresh bread, cookies, pastries, breakfast sammies, and other handcrafted treats that the community craves. On Wednesdays, Born & Bread is a hub for hungry patrons seeking bread, pastries, breakfast, and lunch. We recommend, well, everything… But to be more specific, you haven’t lived until you’ve had a B+B baked pot pie (which you can order hot or get a take + bake) or their Benton’s BLT finished with a scallion cream cheese, crisp butter lettuce, and fresh tomatoes.

2nd: Publix

3rd: Meraki Bakehouse


BEST HIDDEN GEM

VEGETATION CAFE & KITCHEN

1439 E Gary Rd, Lakeland

(863) 216-8534

FB: Vegetation Plant Food

IG @vegetationplantfood

This vegan cafe and kitchen has five stars across the board. Guests can visit the cafe to pick up freshly made, ready-to-go plant-based meals, snacks, and sweets or stay and enjoy them there. “Vegan, in Lakeland? I am so happy. We have visited her booth at events. So glad to see a store front to visit anytime we want, [...]” writes one satisfied customer. This is a sentiment we can get behind as well. The community is so glad to see Rima and her team set up shop at a brick and mortar so we can have exceptional, 100% vegan fare anytime we want! This ‘hidden gem’ is sure not to stay hidden for long, with so many singing their praises.

2nd: (TIE) Street Cafe

2nd: (TIE) Uncle Nick’s Italian Deli, Bagels and Catering

3rd: Krazy Kombucha


BEST SERVICE

NINETEEN61

215 E Main St, Lakeland

(863) 688-1961

FB @nineteen61

IG @nineteen61_

This Best Fine Dining and Best Wine List winner also has exceptional service. Guests rave that it’s the perfect place for a special occasion, with world-class fare and unmatched attention to detail that make for an incredible evening. Displaying Nineteen61’s commitment to service to a T, one patron writes, “Hands down best customer service and food I’ve had probably ever! Zach F. was our server and went out of his way to make sure we had an incredible experience! My friend and I were celebrating graduation and they made me a custom menu, free mimosa for the first time visit, and had the entire team sign a card for me!!! Blown away. 10/10 recommend!” This is just one of hundreds of glowing reviews for this Main Street mainstay.

2nd: The Back Nine

3rd: (TIE) Krazy Kombucha

3rd: (TIE) Vegetation Cafe & Kitchen




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