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The sunshine state is all about the beaches but let’s not forget the delicious food that can be found throughout the state too. There are a few dishes that you can find throughout Florida that should make it on your Florida foodie bucket list.
One of the best places for these must-try foods in Florida is on a road trip from Miami to Key West. From the key lime pie to the conch fritters and the Cuban sandwich, you will find delicious stops along the way.
However, if you are checking off your Florida bucket list in other parts of Florida, there are many amazing places to try delicious food as well.
Key Lime Pie
There’s no other dessert than can represent Florida better than Key Lime Pie. The tangy, bright flavors bring sunshine right to your palate. The lime, like the name implies is the key ingredient to making this traditional Florida dessert. It was abundantly growing in the Keys which led to the creation of this dessert.
The pie is believed to have originated in Key West, Florida and can be found in many places throughout the Florida Keys. Along with the lime, the custard is primarily made with egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk. Then the custard is filled in a graham-cracker or pastry crust and topped with either whipped cream or meringue. The sweet meringue paired with the tart custard creates the perfect balance of flavors.
While traveling in the Keys, be sure to give this popular dessert a try. One of the best places to stop by is the Blond Giraffe Key Lime Pie Factory in Key Largo. Another must-stop place right in Key West is Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe. These places have many key lime pie variations including the popular treat of frozen key lime pie covered in chocolate on a stick.
Conch fritters is the most popular way to eat conch in Florida. The “meat” comes from the conch shell and is known as the “escargot of Florida”. They started out as a delicacy in the Bahamas and have gained popularity in Florida as well becoming one of the top foods to try in Florida. While it is illegal to catch and sell fresh conch meat in the states, the conch meat is still widely available by being shipped from the Bahamas or surrounding area.
The fritters are made with finely chopped conch meat that is then mixed with a batter made from flour and egg. Sometimes other ingredients are added in like different spices or finely chopped vegetables. Then, the mixture is fried to perfection and served with a sauce on the side.
The place to try some delicious but unconventional conch fritters is Alabama Jacks restaurant in Key Largo. Most restaurants throughout Florida have conch fritters that are very batter heavy. Here, there is more conch meat in the fritters so they are known as the best conch fritters in the Keys.
With the abundance of alligators in Florida, it is no surprise that alligator bites have become one of the foods Florida is known for. You can find this somewhat exotic dish in many restaurants across Florida so for all of the adventurous eaters, it is a fun culinary experience.
The gator bites are typically made from the alligator tail which is chopped into bite-sized pieces, soaked in buttermilk, and seasoned with spices. Then, it is coated in flour and prepared usually by frying. The meat has a very mild flavor which can compare to meat with a slight fishy flavor.
With a strong Cuban influence in the state, the Cuban sandwich has become a staple in many parts of Florida. At one point, Tampa had the largest population of Cubans in the state, but Miami became a Cuban hotspot as well.
The ultimate delicious sandwich is layered with roast pork, ham, swiss cheese, pickles, and tangy yellow mustard, and sometimes a garlic butter spread on a Cuban roll. With all of the layers in place, it is then grilled to perfection to become a pressed sandwich with flavors that make you want to savor every bite. If you are in Miami or Tampa, be sure to seek out this tasty sandwich.
Fish doesn’t get any more fresh than when dining in Florida. In many places around the coast of Florida, restaurants have their own crews getting the daily catch from their boats to the restaurant. That means they get fresh fish daily which is a must-try while in Florida.
In the Florida Keys you will definitely find fresh fish in most restaurants that you go to. The saying there goes, if you want fresher fish, you will have to go out and catch it yourself! However, in other parts of the state it can depend on how close you are to the coast and what restaurants you visit.
Some of the most popular fish in Florida are the Grouper, Snapper, and Mahi-Mahi. Grouper is a local favorite with tender, large flakes. Mahi-Mahi is a favorite as well having tender and flavorful filets. The fish usually have many options on the menus being able to be served grilled, fried, baked, broiled, or blackened. They can come with sides or on a sandwich so if you want to try some of the most popular fish in the state you have many options to choose from.
One of the most popular events of the year for Plant City, Florida is the Strawberry Festival. It celebrates the strawberry season in Florida where you can find tons of these juicy berries. One of the most beloved strawberry desserts that has people coming back for is the strawberry shortcake. You can find it in many places throughout the state during the strawberry season but for the most authentic and fun experience, visit the Strawberry Festival.
At the Strawberry Festival you will find fresh berries, strawberry desserts, strawberry plants and many more strawberry-themed things. You will know the place for the best strawberry shortcake at the festival since there is always a long line. You get a pick of cake or biscuit, then the juicy strawberries and a large dollop of whipped cream. you can put as much or as little of everything as you’d like so dig into this delicious dessert!
If you’re a fan of seafood, be sure to try this Florida delicacy. Stone Crab can be found off of the coast of Florida and the main season for it runs from October to May. So, if you’re visiting Florida especially during the season, be sure to seek out some fresh Stone Crab.
Stone Crab is one of the crabs that can be regrow new claws so when carefully removed by experienced fishermen and only one claw can be harvested at a time. This makes the Stone Crabs one of the most expensive types of seafood you can buy but worth the price tag. The delicate, tender and juicy meat is usually served with some type of mustard sauce or with butter.
Some of the best places to try fresh Stone Crab is Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami Beach or Kelly’s Landing in Fort Lauderdale.
Clams, Scallops & Oysters
There is certainly an abundance of seafood in Florida which is good news for those who love seafood. There is a chance to try clams, scallops and oysters which are harvested fresh from the waters of Florida.
For clams, head over to Cedar Key, Florida. It is known as the “clam capital of Florida” which has provided an opportunity to try fresh clams in the state. Clams can be enjoyed eaten raw, or used in soups and chowders.
Another delicacy are the scallops that you can actually have fun harvesting yourself. One of these places designated for harvesting scallops is Crystal River. The season for scallops is usually during the summer months with a bag limit of two gallons of whole scallops per person per day.
Apalachicola is the place to go for oysters in Florida, however, in the recent years harvesting has slowed due to the decrease in oyster population. If conditions improve, be sure to try the uniquely tasting seafood in Florida.
The Dole Whip first originated at Walt Disney World where the tropical flavor of pineapple as a cold sweet dessert became quite popular in the hot Florida weather. The refreshing treat is served as a pineapple cup or float but a few other flavors have been added too.
If you are visiting Disney, be sure to try the tasty treat. There are a few places around Disney that sell this iconic dessert with one of the most well-known being Aloha Isle.
Fresh Orange Juice
The tropical climate of Florida makes it perfect for growing citrus. In many parts of the state, you will find orange groves with delicious, juicy oranges. There’s nothing like fresh-squeezed orange juice that’s straight from the fruit without any additives or preservatives.
Next time you find yourself on the Treasure Coast, stop by the Nelson Family Farms where you will find freshly-squeezed juice that you can buy. At Maxwell Groves in Central Florida not only can you find fresh orange juice that they squeeze and package in-house but you can try the Orange Ice Cream which is their popular soft-serve and dairy-free ice cream.