Whenever I hit the road for anything, I always attempt to try the local food. Granted, if you like chain places, by all means, keep enjoying them, but if you are traveling to Lakeland to watch the Tigers play, there are several places worth checking out for lunch or dinner.
Whether you like eating just chicken tenders and hamburgers or have more of an adventurous palate, there is something for everyone.
1.LoveBird Almost Famous Chicken
Address: 2101 Florida Ave S, Lakeland, FL 33803
So if you are into fried chicken/tenders, LoveBird should be on your list to try first. A couple I met at Subs n Such (more on them later) said to check this place out as soon as possible. When I arrive, the place was packed. The couple warned me it would be the case. However, when you get in line to order, it goes by so quick and getting your food was the same.
What makes this place unique is the decor. The layout looks like an old gas station, however, parking is limited, so I would suggest beating the lunch crowd or park close by. Their menu features several of their signature sauces, made in-house. I must admit, I went back-to-back days because it was that good. The first day I tried a sandwich called “That Bama Chick”. It features an Alabama White sauce, pimento cheese and bacon.
I was foreign to what Alabama White BBQ sauce but those who are curious about what it contains, according to Hey Grill Hey, it’s mayonnaise-based dressing that also includes horseradish and cayenne pepper for a good amount of heat. Two packed tablespoons of brown sugar add some sweetness to the mix, while apple cider vinegar and lemon juice provide some flavorful acidity. It was one of the better chicken sandwiches I have ever had.
I ordered their skin on fries, which says it has a house blend spice on them. They were fresh and had a nice crunch. On my second trip, I had Dirty Fries, which featured a house-made cheese sauce, green onions, bacon, and buttermilk dill ranch. Like the fries the previous day, they were crispy and the combination of the ranch and sauce was a fantastic mix.
The Bourbon Baked Beans were piping hot, as hot enough to burn the roof of your mouth, not spicy. Usually, in my experience with baked beans, it is a sad affair because they are cold and have been sitting a while. Not the case here. To drink, I tried their peach tea, and it’s the perfect amount of peach and tea that hits the spot. The service was really fast, so the line experience goes by quickly.
2. Mister Fish
Address: 715 East Palmetto Street, Lakeland, Florida.
Several of the locals swear by this place, so I tried it on Thursday night. It has been a staple in the Lakeland community since 1968. If you think you are getting a typical fish sandwich that has tartar sauce and lettuce, you would be incorrect. The view of Lake Morton while you chew on a fish sandwich that is actual more fish than batter is not a bad way to spend your evening.
I tried it with the ketchup, onion, and mustard, and overall, I like it. The fries were fresh, and the coleslaw was not dry, but typical of ones that you may have at fish fries.
3. Subs ‘n Such
Address:1008 South Florida Ave. Lakeland, FL 33803
Subs ‘n Such has been a Lakeland staple since 1977. It is in the historical Dixieland district portion of Lakeland. Their menu features everything from hamburgers and hot dogs to salads.
I tried their Cuban sandwich. If you are expecting a traditional Cuban, it has four key elements of the sandwich, which is the ham, pork tenderloin, mustard, and pickles. It also had mayo, lettuce and tomato. Overall, it was solid.
4. The Chop Shop
Address: 118 S Kentucky Ave, Lakeland, FL 33801
The Chop Shop has been around since 2006, and they are known for their burgers and a variety of shakes. The Chop Shop comes with 50s racing decor and a few tributes to Lakeland’s past as being a place for aviation for planes in World War II. I went with the B.A.D burger, which comes with bacon, ham and a fried egg on top. Yes, the title speaks for itself, all of it put together on top of a hamburger is a bad idea. But overall, the atmosphere was great, and the service was also quick.
For coffee, I would check out Black and Brew that’s in downtown Lakeland. There are a lot of local places to check out in Lakeland for any budget, so if you come down here for Spring Training, check out these four among the others while checking out the Tigers.