Florida’s Adventure Coast is renowned for outdoor pursuits, from pristine paddling along the Weeki Wachee River to avifauna-rich hikes in the Withlacoochee State Forest. But one of the region’s best-kept secrets is its vibrant dining scene. From perfectly smoked barbeque to freshly caught seafood to hand-dipped ice cream that wraps up the day on a sweet note, there’s something to please every palate. There are plenty of options for adult beverages, too, from craft brews to vineyards (yes, vineyards!). Here are some of the top culinary stops to dig into during a gastronomic tour of Florida’s Adventure Coast.
Along the Adventure Coast, this quintessentially American cuisine is celebrated at a handful of local BBQ joints. In Brooksville, seek out mouthwatering classics like beef brisket, pulled pork, and ribs, along with homemade desserts and hearty sides, at Bigun’s Bar B.Q., Deep South Family Bar-B-Que, or Ron’s Roadside Grille. This rib-sticking grub makes for a hearty fuel-up after an active day on the Adventure Coast—or an excellent option when you’re just craving some ‘cue.
The Adventure Coast has been enticing road-trippers and vacationers for nearly a century, and the region is still sprinkled with beloved places that have endured the test of time. Once a pit-stop among visitors stocking up on fresh local citrus, Boyett’s Grove & Citrus Attraction stands along the highway outside of Brooksville. These days, the establishment still offers a fresh-squeezed taste of citrus and “Old Florida” at its quirky gift shop. Families can enjoy plenty of other attractions too, including a wildlife park, ice cream parlor, and miniature golf course. Bottom line: Boyett’s is a great place to drop by for oranges or a hand-dipped ice cream cone.
Just down the road in Brooksville, the Coney Island Drive-Inn has also been a famous landmark for decades. Opened in 1960, the eatery boasts none other than Elvis Presley, who visited in 1961, among its most famous guests. These days, Coney Island still serves its iconic hot dogs, along with other drive-in staples like wings, fries, and shakes.
In Spring Hill, Guido’s Pizza Café is another long-standing gem. The old-school pizza parlor has been serving pies for almost a half-century. Not much has changed over the years, and Guido’s still prepares its mouthwatering handmade pizzas, along with a range of pasta dishes and Italian sandwiches.
In historic Brooksville, Sparacia Witherell Family Winery & Vineyards offers a range of wines, from bold reds to refreshing rosé, all produced using sustainable agricultural methods. In nearby Spring Hill, Strong Tower Vineyard also features a wide array of offerings, including robust reds and crisp whites, along with blush, rosé, and dessert wines. Slightly farther afield, Masaryk Winery specializes in fruit wines crafted from produce grown on its farm.
Sample rye whiskey, moonshine, and sipping rum at NJoy Spirits Distillery.
Visitors to the Adventure Coast can also sample artfully crafted local spirits at the award-winning NJoy Spirits Distillery. Located about 10 miles outside of Brooksville in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area, the distillery produces a range of spirits, including rye whiskey, moonshine, and sipping rum. The location also offers free tours for visitors Thursday through Sunday.
An icy craft brew is the perfect ending to a day of fun in the sun on the Adventure Coast. Luckily, the region’s inviting breweries serve up everything from hearty stouts to crisply refreshing Belgian blondes.
Tidal Brewing has something to suit your palate, whether you prefer robust porters or refreshing fruit beer.
In Spring Hill, Marker 48 Brewing was the Adventure Coast’s first fully functioning brewery. It not only offers an eclectic assortment of beers on tap but also hosts an onsite food truck, BarbieCue. Nearby Tidal Brewing appeared on the local scene in 2018 and crafts a variety of offerings, from robust porters to fruit beer. Although not a proper brewery per se, the Tap Room at the Florida Cracker Kitchen in Brooksville exclusively serves craft beers brewed in the state of Florida.
Diners at the Upper Deck Restaurant enjoy views of the Weeki Wachee River.
Got a day of sun-soaked adventures planned? Stop for a quick nosh or a meal to go at one of the Adventure Coast’s express eateries. In Weeki Wachee, grab tasty eats like fish tacos, sandwiches, and burgers at BeckyJack’s Food Shack, or head to the laid-back Upper Deck to tuck into classics like wings, fajitas, and fish sandwiches alongside the Weeki Wachee River. In Spring Hill, pick up subs and sandwiches to go at Donnelly’s Deli, a local fixture since 1981.
The Weeki Wachee Candy Company serves treats like ice cream, pastries, and hand-crafted chocolates.
Sweet toothed-types will find plenty to satisfy their cravings on the Adventure Coast. For frosty treats like hand-dipped ice cream and frozen custard, head for European-inspired Café Adriatic or Papa Clyde’s Ice Cream in Spring Hill. Also in Spring Hill, the Weeki Wachee Candy Company dishes up soft-serve ice cream, pastries, and hand-crafted chocolates, along with light fare like wraps and sandwiches. And if you haven’t stopped by Boyett’s yet, its nostalgic ice cream parlor alone is worth a visit.
For a traditional Southern treat, try the homemade fudge at the Silver Dolphin Restaurant & Country Store in Hernando Beach. They also serve ice cream, and the country store has pails filled with all sorts of candies.
Whether you’re a hardcore foodie or not, no trip to the Adventure Coast is complete without a feast of freshly caught seafood. After a successful day on the water, visitors can even take advantage of the “You Catch-We Cook” option at several local eateries. Have that freshly harvested haul prepared to perfection at local spots like Trader Bay Seafood, R Beach, or The Cove and ZigZag Scallop in Hernando Beach.
Whether you’re enjoying a date night, a long overdue family dinner, or the celebration of a life milestone, the Adventure Coast beckons with plenty of enticing choices. In Spring Hill, chef-owned Nouvelle Cuisine serves a Belgian-inspired menu with options like stuffed quail, filet mignon, and sea scallops. Located along a canal near Hernando Beach, Brian’s Place offers a creative twist on traditional Italian and Spanish cuisine. In Brooksville, Papa Joe’s Italian Restaurant has been serving crowd-pleasing Italian classics, along with steak and seafood, since 1981.
For decades, the Adventure Coast has been known as a top spot for fishing and all sorts of other outdoor adventures. But it’s also just a great place to enjoy a wide variety of culinary treats. From Southern classics to European cuisine and locally crafted wine and spirits, the local food and drink scene is sure to satisfy any palate. Whether you’re looking for upscale dining or a more down-home experience, the Adventure Coast is just the spot for people who find adventure in exploring great food.
Written by Malee Baker Oot for Matcha in partnership with Florida’s Adventure Coast.
Featured image provided by Kimberly Poppke