After 17+ years of living at Black Diamond Ranch in Citrus County Florida, I have seen a fair amount of restaurants come and go! This week I update the Crystal River/Dunnellon area restaurants. Believe me, I have not been to all of the restaurants, but these I do mention are probably the best of them all.
I will start with my favorite CR restaurants: Vintage on 5th (off Citrus Ave, (352) 794-0004, http://www.vintageon5th.com, https://www.facebook.com/Vintage-on-5th-114962088570282/) has atmosphere, service and good food plus the prices are good including the wine choices…Make a reservation!
Seafood Seller and Café NEW LOCATION ((352) 228-4936, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Seafood-Seller-Cafe/174332646077094) for Maryland style crab cake, gumbo, clam chowder and fresh fish. The owner is delightful as he chats with all and does tableside magic tricks. There are no reservations except for the big table for 10-12.
Amy’s on the Avenue Café, Bakery and Gift Shop (Historic downtown Crystal River, (352) 563-2697, http://www.amysontheavenue.com/ , https://www.facebook.com/Amysontheavenue) is a great place for lunch and to browse the gift shop. The quiche is delicious and so are the cookies and candy you can buy. Have not tried Amy’s for wine and tapas or dinner. A nice day, eat outside on the patio.
Restaurants to try:
Crab Plant has been in business for quite some time and food is good but a bit pricey for plastic dishes and a lack luster atmosphere, except for the water view. Drinks are cheap. It is also a seafood market.
River Ranch on Citrus Avenue- CLOSED BBQ coming
I still love to take out-of-town guests out to eat “on the water:” Crackers, Bar, Grill and Tiki (Hwy 19 ,(352) 795-3999, http://www.crackersbarandgrill.com/, https://www.facebook.com/CrackersBarandGrill, has an outside tiki bar and a dining room with a menu of fried foods although they do offer other choices you wouldn’t find in your local pub. If it’s a nice day or night, eat outside!
Margarita Breeze (former Ale House and near the Port Hotel & Marina off Hwy 19, (352) 795-3113, https://www.facebook.com/Margarita-Breeze-1106624912699727/) has a nice menu including the scallops, grouper Rueben and trigger fish.
Plantation Inn West 82 Bar and Grill (Fort Island Trail off Hwy 19, (352) 795-4211, http://www.plantationoncrystalriver.com/restaurant-and-bars.htm, https://www.facebook.com/Plantation-West-82-Bar-Grill-473080829378509/) Nice atmosphere and menu… the setting makes you feel you are in a resort, vacationing. NEW CHEF:have to go and try the food!
Charlie’s Fish House (Hwy 19, (352) 795-3949, http://www.charliesfishhouse.com/, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Charlies-Fish-House-Seafood-Market/158221390884204) offers a dining experience on the water but the real “catch” is the retail fish store. It is a great place to buy fish and lump crab meat!
Pecks Old Port Cove (139 Ozello Trail, 352-795-2886, https://www.facebook.com/Pecks-Old-Port-Cove-117475071600867/): If you are looking for stone crab, Peck’s is your place. It is a little out of the way so be prepared to drive a little while to get there.
Cody’s Original Roadhouse (Hwy 19, (352) 795-7223, http://codysoriginalroadhouse.com/, https://www.facebook.com/Codys-Original-Road-House-148887851866603/?rf=115925925095445) is a local favorite-call ahead seating usually a must. It has early bird specials, a large item menu and a nice salad and happy hour. Daily specials include the popular Wednesday 2 for 1 Fajita. Cody’s has good ribs, steak and salmon. Like wings or burgers?
Dan’s Clam Stand (2 locations: Hwy 19-Crystal River and Grover Cleveland, Homosassa (352) 795-9081, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dans-Clam-Stand/116140618410737 ) the grouper fingers basket (when available) and shrimp and lobster specials are a real value. It is my place for lobster.
Olive Tree (Hwy 19 near the airport) :(352) 563-0075, http://www.olivetreedining.com/ has Greek and American dishes. They have been in business for a number of years now and won an award for the Taste of Citrus for casual dining.
Oysters (Hwy 19, (352) 795-2633, http://oystersofcrystalriver.com/, https://www.facebook.com/OystersOfCrystalRiver/) Yes, we like this restaurant for fried chicken and shrimp! Nothing fancy but good food.
Norton’s Riverside Sports Bar and Grill. (16 N E 5 th St, 352-794-6105, https://www.facebook.com/NortonsRiversideSportsBarandGrill/?fref=ts). Great fish dip…A popular spot for live music, it has a nice setting for a sports bar.
Lollygaggers Sports Pub & Grill (744 S E US Hwy 19; 352-794-3888;
http://www.lollygaggers.net/ Had some good lunches there.
Tanya’s House (911 Hwy 44) 352-795-7955, tanaishouse.com I love the Dagwood sub. Variety of sandwiches and sweets.
We went to Claw Daddy’s Raw Bar and Grill (601 SE US Hwy 19, 352-564-2529) this last week. Haven’t been to that restaurant in many years. And probably many years before we go back again. Food is Okay. The wings were not as good as other places. And they did not serve a ground beef taco so they made one up for Art and it was not very good…even though on Taco Tuesday they serve chicken, steak and fish tacos. One waitress hustled for the whole restaurant. There is a bar area and nice restaurant seating. The salad bar is plentiful and prices are reasonable.
Every area seems to have a large number of Italian restaurants. I like Rocco’s (SR 44, (352) 563-0442, http://www.roccosfamouscafe.com/, https://www.facebook.com/Roccos-Pizza-Cafe-115610401795795/Saturday.) They have great Italian food, antipasto salad and thin crust pizza. La Casa Di Norma (Hwy 19 in shopping plaza, 352) 795-4694, https://www.facebook.com/pages/La-Casa-Di-Norma/113337752034283) is called Italian with a Spanish influence. It is a favorite of our friends and you do need to make reservations because it is a cozy size. On busy nights you can plan on a two hour dinner as the owner prepares the delicious meals one table at a time.
Brothers Pizza, (Crystal Springs Publix Shopping Center SR 44 near Hwy 486, 352) 564-9374, https://www.facebook.com/BroPizza) Great lunch and dinner choices and the pizza is good. Husband likes the spaghetti with meatballs and Italian sausage. They are very busy Saturday nights. They have a large carry-outs business.
Chinese: Mr. King’s (off Hwy 19, (352) 564-2488, http://www.mrkingcrystalriver.com/, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mr-King/116198485075888) has a nice oriental menu and great fried rice, fried wontons and excellent wonton soup… but I think this place has got downhill in the last few years.
Mexican:El Ranchito has two locations, (Hwy 19, (352) 795-5251 and Inverness, (SR 44 in Beall’s shopping center, https://www.facebook.com/pages/El-Ranchito-Mexican-Grill/117375374948421). It has great chips and salsa-nice selection and good service I like the fajita chicken salad.
Riviera Mexican Restaurant & Cantina (Hwy 19, 352-564-9636 I have nerve been there. www.facebook.com.Rivieramexicancantina.
Thai: Thai Phoon (Hwy 19, (352) 795-1774, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Thai-Phoon-Restaurant/114057718625596) is newly remodeled and has excellent Thai food.
Greek:Taverna Manos ( 5705 Hwy 44, 352-564-0078, http://tavernamanos.com/ https://www.facebook.com/tavernamanos/photos/a.346709605380852.104615.225372037514610/512631968788614/?type=3&theater) has a Greek influence with gyros, pita bread, etc.
Dunnellon is a little drive for me and so not a frequent place I go for food:
The Front Porch Restaurant & Pie Shop (12039 Hwy 41, 352-489-4798, http://www.frontporchpieshop.com/ https://www.facebook.com/pages/Front-Porch-Restaurant-Pie-Shop/126107277496204?fref=ts) has great pies, good Cubans and a nice luncheon menu. Chicken pot pie for dinner was very good.
Bently’s : closed
The Pizza Joint Wood Fire (352-564-1300, https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Pizza-Joint-Wood-Fire-Pies/283180241724291). Have not been there and have heard good and bad reviews. Pizza lover? -worth a try.
Don Pepe 20744 W Pennslyvania Ave. 352-465-8445 www.facebook.com/Don-Pepe-Mexican-Restaurant. Excellent food and good prices.
Carmela’s has been in Dunnellon since 2000. Primarily Italian, the restaurant does have seafood, burgers, and steak on the dinner menu. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you love a salad bar, Carmela’s has one with lots of items…352-465-1818 1269 S. Williams St (Off Hwy. 41) Dunnellon.
Swampy’s (19773 E Pennsylvania Ave, 352-547-4777) http://swampys.restaurant/
Has a nice setting on the river. Food is pretty good. It is described as a
Laid-back riverside bar & grill with a scenic deck serving Cajun fare, burgers & fish tacos.