When you're on a road trip, finding an exciting restaurant is one of the best parts of the adventure. But what area restaurants are ranked the most fun for adventure travelers in Crystal River? Here are our top picks from the restaurants we experienced after days of hiking, paddle boarding, and swimming with Manatees. May they also excite and satisfy your tummy and taste buds. Cheers!
A hot dog stand? Really?
Where I grew up, there was really only one option for hot dogs. Those street vendor hotdogs were really only palatable when your whole group was drunk, there were no other options available, and you were planning to be sick the next day anyway. Seriously.
However, if you were to grow up in any city north of the Mason Dixon line, it would be hard not have a love for hotdogs. Street vendors, ballparks, and amusement parks have collectively taken a German food and evolved it into an American delicacy. Hotdogs are so ingrained into our culture that when someone says "Nathan's” or “Coney Island," everyone understands exactly what they're talking about!
When we travel, we have one rule that is absolute... We do not stop in at restaurants that we can visit back home.
This is how Coney Island Drive-Inn landed on my radar. We weren't in a city with a big hotspot for hotdogs, but the kitchy antique truck out front drew our attention. Plus, we wanted to see if these hotdogs lived up to it's "Coney Island" moniker.
Coney Island Drive-Inn has more variety of traditional hotdogs than I have ever seen on a menu. They don't attempt to be clever in design or edgy with their toppings. For us, this was a refreshing change. No knock on the culinary creatives out there. But, sometimes you just want a classic Chicago hotdog built with pickles and peppers rather than a hotdog smothered in Etouffee.
Not only were these hotdogs absolutely delishious in every single way, they were also inexpensive. The average hotdog meal (with a side and a drink) was around $7.00.
If you find yourself in Crystal Springs with a large group or family, this place is budget friendly and a really fun place to stop in. The decor is quirky from top to bottom and sure to be a conversation starter for anyone you're with.
If you find yourself vacationing in Crystal River, there is a 100% chance you will find yourself standing on the banks of Kings Bay park. This is the launch for kayaks, paddle boards, and touring boats full of visitors interested in scalloping and manatees.
After an hour or so on the water, it's a sure gaurantee that you and your team will have worked up a big appetite. Big appetites mean BIG FOODS! And, it's hard to resist the smokey goodness of low and slow meats wafting across the city, beckoning you with it's Siren call.
BubbaQue's BBQ is located in the historic district of downtown Crystal River, just a few blocks from the Bay. The first thing we noticed when we pulled into the parking area is another kitchy antique car! The second thing we noticed are all the seating opportunities. BubbaQue's has seating outside (perfect for sunsets), seating on a screened in patio area, seating at a large square shaped bar, and more seating inside. It can definately accomodate a party of any size.
My mouth started watering the moment we walked in. There were so many things that caught my eye, but what really got me excited was their house-made BBQ sauce selection - they had every type of Southern-inspired BBQ sauce imaginable! And next to it stood an impeccable salad bar complete with nachos, chili, and banana pudding for when you're feeling ambitious.The distraction was real. I hadn't even looked at a menu yet.
As a personal preference, I always lean towards sliced brisket when I'm in a BBQ joint that smokes thier meats onsite. Yet, the server recommended the smoked ribs and smoked chicken wings as her favorite things on the menu. Always trust the server.
We tried it all, smoked brisket, pulled pork, smoked ribs and smoked chicken wings. Everything was fantastic. But the ribs and chicken were absolutely the stand-outs on this list.
The Mac-n-cheese was pretty good too. However, as far as sides go, check out the fried corn on the cob! It was so good!
Excellent food, excellent service, lots of variety to choose from, including a well stocked salad bar, and really large portions. You're not leaving here hungry. In fact, you better drive directly back to your house or hotel because after this meal, it's nap time!
There are two major requirements for any successful breakfast restaurant. It has to be inexpensive AND the local's have to love it, which usually means that there is a friendly staff that's happy for any conversation.
Whenever we are traveling we make it a point to visit these places to start our day. The staff is nearly always native to the area, so they can often give us great advice on things to do or places to see outside of the touristy options. And, if you're very lucky, the local guy sitting at the next table over will chime in some suggestions as well. We have been able to venture far off the beaten path many times because we intentionally eat breakfast with the locals.
The Biscuit Barn is one such place. Aside from the draw of a hot steamy cup of coffee and the promise of the perfect biscuit, we had noticed a nice crowd assembled outside of this unassuming restaurant a few mornings in a row. All of the cars had local plates, we knew we had to get over there to check it out.
I am so happy we did. They have a pretty exciting menu, especially if you're a biscuit lover.
The biscuits were fluffy, the corned beef hash was crispy, the sausage gravy was seasoned perfectly and the pumpkin pancake was to die for. I'm glad we visited when we did because the latter was a seasonal item.
Luckily, the rest of the menu exists year round. Our only regret is that we did not stop here for lunch or dinner. It looks like this local diner is more than just eggs and biscuits. It will be the first stop on our list during our next visit, bet.
There are so many great restaurants in Crystal River, it was hard to choose just a few to highlight. *Notice we skipped all of the seafood restaurants this go round. It wasn't intentional. There are a ton of fantastic seafood spots in Crystal River, we just didn't get around to trying any of them on this trip.
We hope you get the chance to visit all of them – but if you can’t, make sure you check out our top picks. And, don’t forget to tell us about your favorite spots in the comments!
~ Tiffany... with tim
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*All of the opinions here belong to Tiffany Takes On The World...with tim.
We do not recieve any compensation for our review of the above restaurants.