Cuban

Around the World: 6 Local Restaurants with an International Flair

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It's no secret that the Villages of Citrus Hills is surrounded by excellent restaurants of all types, but we don't always show proper appreciation for just how diverse that selection actually is.  

In order to highlight that diversity, we are going to take you on a quick trip around the globe to experience six different cultures without ever leaving the state of Florida.  

Is your appetite ready to handle this adventure?

 Cuban - Havana House Cafe

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For the first stop on our world culinary tour, we are heading south to Cuba for a taste of the tropics at Havana House in Lecanto. The specialty here is the Traditional Cubano, which comes with Spanish ham, sliced or pulled pork, pickles, Swiss cheese, and mustard.  

If you are looking to get even more authentic with your dining choices, you will want to try the Lechon Asado. Or you could also order one of the delicious starters like Tostones Rellenos, Cuban Empanadas, or Caribbean Wings.  

French - La Cuisine French Restaurant 

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When you are ready for a high-end meal, we're heading east across the Atlantic for some of the best French cuisine you've ever tasted. And it's right up the road in Ocala. La Cuisine French Restaurant is owned and operated by Patrice and Elodie Perron.


Patrice was raised in the heart of France, and he has always had a passion for the kitchen, which explains why everything served at his elegant restaurant tastes so phenomenal. Whether you opt for Duck A l'Orange, Bourguignon Beef, or Boneless Beef Short Ribs, you really can't make a wrong decision at La Cuisine.  

Italian - Mesa de Notte 

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The next stop on our world tour is also located in Ocala, but the food has moved to Italy. Mesa de Notte offers a fantastic selection of Italian dishes that include all of the tried and true classics along with some interesting new twists.  

For those looking for the familiar options, there is Fettuccini Alfredo, Angelo Osso Bucco, and Chicken Parmigiana.

But if you are thinking about getting adventurous, there are also choices like Mahi Piccata.  

Mediterranean - Taverna Manos 

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Our final stop for European flair on this world tour will be Taverna Manos in Crystal River. When you are in the mood for great Mediterranean food in Citrus County, this is always going to be one of the top places on the list.  

Like any great Mediterranean spot, the gyros are the star of the show at Taverna Manos, and they never disappoint. On top of serving world-class gyros, they also offer a wide range of other Mediterranean cuisine that will keep you coming back for more.  

Thai - Bangkok Thai 

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This wouldn't be a world tour without a quick stop in Asia for some delicious Thai food, and that is exactly what we are going to find at Bangkok Thai in Beverly Hills.  

If you are a fan of Thai food, then you already know what to order. If this is going to be your first experience, start with the Spring Rolls and then take your pick from one of the curries or the Pad Thai.  

World Fusion 

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This restaurant has been a great edition to the international theme in Citrus County.  World Fusion integrates fresh ingredients with Asian flavors for a unique and delicious fusion of cultures.  

In addition to sushi and sashimi, they also offer a variety of dishes from different Asian cultures, including traditional Japanese, Thai, and Chinese. The menu includes a variety of healthy choices, as well as many vegetarian friendly dishes. 

With all of the amazing ethic cuisine available here in Florida, residents at the Villages of Citrus Hills never have to go very far to find truly spectacular meals of all kinds. The only tricky part is choosing the right type of meal to fit your mood!

Day Trip: Ybor City

Ybor City is a historic neighborhood located just northeast of downtown Tampa. Cigar manufacturers founded this amazing little community in the 1880s, and it has a rich history that combines Cuban, Spanish, and Italian influences into a culture that is truly unique. The neighborhood has maintained its sense of history over the years, and that is what makes just walking through this fabulous place so enjoyable.

Spending the day in Ybor City can take you in a number of different directions, but we highly recommend that each of those paths start out with a cafe con leche from one of the local Cuban coffee shops. After that, the choice is yours, but of course we have some suggestions.

The Ybor City Experience

Anyone interested in learning more about the rich history of Ybor City should make it a point to start their day at the Ybor City Museum. Located inside the historic Ferlita Bakery Building, this is where you will find an excellent base of knowledge about Ybor City.

Another must-see destination for history buffs is the Cigar Industry Walking Tour, which will start at the Ybor City Museum and take you through the neighborhood with a tour guide pointing out all of the historic buildings and explaining the role they played when cigar making was at the height of its popularity.

 

Anyone who is a fan of fine art will love spending time at the Hoffman Porges Gallery. The Ybor City Museum Society also runs regular tours that highlight some of the amazing architecture you will find throughout the community. 

The Ybor City Restaurant Scene

With the combination of culture that you will find in Ybor City, it is no surprise that this neighborhood is also known for having some of the best restaurants in all of Tampa.

The local icon here is the Columbia Restaurant, which is the oldest continuously operated restaurant in Florida. Started in 1905 by a Cuban immigrant, this restaurant has been serving delicious Spanish and Cuban cuisine for more than 110 years!

 

 

Another favorite Ybor restaurant is La Terrazzo Restaurante Italiano, which focuses on serving Northern Italian classics. If you are craving a perfect Caprese Salad or Scaloppine al Marsala, this is the place you’’ll want to head to.

If you prefer something a little more casual, you might check out Al's Finger Licking Good Bar-B-Que, the Tampa Bay Brewing Company, or The Bricks of Ybor. All are known for having excellent food and exceptional service.

The Ybor City Nightlife

Not only is Ybor City known for its history and dining, but the neighborhood is also famous for having an exciting nightlife scene where you can find all kinds of entertainment on just about any night of the week.

On any given night, there will be multiple venues offering a wide range of live music. There are also more formal shows like the Flamenco Show at the Columbia Restaurant, and if you are feeling adventurous you could also look into Drag Queen Bingo at Hamburger Mary's!

 

 

 

There are also plenty of restaurants that keep serving late into the night, so you are always going to be able to find something to eat in Ybor City!

No matter what type of adventure you are looking for, there is something for everyone in Ybor City. And since it is located just 85 minutes from the Villages of Citrus Hills, it is the perfect distance for a day trip or an overnight excursion that can be planned on a whim any time you like!

Weekend Getaway: The Upper and Middle Keys

There’s no place like home here at the Villages of Citrus Hills, but it’s nice to get away every now and then, and when the time comes there is nothing quite like a getaway to the Florida Keys.

While we have already covered all kinds of great places to stay, things to do, and outstanding restaurants in Key Largo and Key West, there are also dozens of spots in between those destinations that also make for a great weekend getaway.

So, let's explore the Upper and Middle Keys.

Where to Stay

Islamorada is one of the most popular places to stop for many tourists making the journey from the mainland all the way down to Key West, but it is also a destination in and of itself. Here you will find the Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina, which offers every bit of the paradise you would imagine exists in the Keys. With all of the resort amenities offered at the Postcard, this is a one-stop shop for a weekend getaway.

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If you are looking for a more secluded getaway, Duck Key could be the perfect destination for you. The place to stay here is the Hawks Cay Resort, which offers standard hotel-style rooms, as well as more private villas.

If being as close to the beach as possible is important to you, then the Rainbow Bend Fishing Resort in Marathon should be on your short list. This is also the place to stay if you are looking to spend the weekend fishing, which is one of the many ways to enjoy yourself in the Keys.

Things to Do

Craft beer lovers will be thrilled to know that there are two different breweries located right in Islamorada. Both the Florida Keys Brewery and the Islamorada Beer Company Brewery and Tasting Room offer up a fantastic selection of local beer in a traditional Florida Keys atmosphere.

Another fun way to spend a weekend in the Keys is to get right into the water. In Duck Key, you will find swimming with dolphins, scuba diving, and chartering your own fishing expedition. No matter what you are looking to do on the water, there are plenty of choices in the Keys.

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Marathon for animal lovers is The Turtle Hospital.  They have been rehabbing injured sea turtles and educating the public about them since 1986, and it is consistently recommended among the top places for animal enthusiasts to visit in all of the Keys.

Places to Eat

When you are heading out to eat in the Keys, the atmosphere is almost as important as the food. One of the best places to find that environment in Islamorada is the Islamorada Fish Company, where you will find a massive outdoor restaurant with a menu full of great seafood. We recommend trying the Grouper Reuben!

Whether you are staying there or not, the place to eat in Duck Key is Alma, which is located on the property at Hawks Cay Resort. This high-end restaurant divides its menu evenly between local seafood dishes and excellent cuts of meat, and everything is delicious.

In addition to all of the excellent seafood, you will also find plenty of Cuban restaurants throughout the Keys. One of our favorite spots is La Nina Restaurant in Marathon. It might not look like much from the outside, but this little restaurant will blow you away with their Cuban pork and beef dishes.

You can find ways to spend an entire weekend exploring any single town in the Upper and Middle Keys. You can also have a blast cruising from key to key in search of specific destinations. Whatever your idea of a great weekend might be, you can make it a reality in the Florida Keys.