My wife and I had lunch at Crispers in downtown Lakeland recently. Crispers is a small chain of Florida restaurants. It’s something of a Lakeland institution – the first location opened in south Lakeland in 1989. The downtown location has been in operation for years. It’s a short stroll from Lake Mirror, which makes for a great walk before or after your meal. (Crispers has another Lakeland location in Lakeside Village.)
One thing I appreciate about this Crispers is that you can enter at the front or rear of the building. That seems like a small thing, but gives you more parking options near a restaurant entrance, and windows on both ends of the business allow for better light. At Crispers, you order and pay at a counter, then your food is brought out to you. The server who took our order was cheerful despite the presence of a screaming child that was setting everyone on edge (and whose mother generously took him to one of the restaurant’s outside tables) and patiently answered our menu questions.
Crispers is primarily a sandwich and salad kind of place – the menu and contemporary decor remind me somewhat of Panera Bread, except this is a more personal experience. We both ordered the “Signature Pick a Pair” option – that includes any 2 choices from half-sandwich, half-flatbread, small “Signature” salad, or a bowl of soup. (There is a regular “Pick a Pair” option that comes with a half-sandwich and a cup of soup.) We both chose tomato bisque for our soup. For my second item, I chose a half East Coast chicken sandwich – chicken, bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, and honey-mustard dressing on brioche. My wife chose a half Asiago beef sandwich – roast beef, Monterey Jack cheese, Asiago cheese, lettuce, tomato, red pepper pesto sauce on brioche. My wife had a fountain beverage to drink and I had a Black Forest milkshake (they have milkshakes!).
My wife chose a Pomegranate-water from the beverage dispenser and it was delicious. My shake was brought out shortly and really hit the spot – the Black Forest shake is vanilla ice cream with chocolate/cherry syrup and whipped cream.
We didn’t have to wait long for our food. We both especially liked the tomato bisque (it’s probably not important, but my color balance is a little off in the photos – the bisque was more red and tomato-ey looking in reality). The brioche bread for the sandwiches was also delicious. All of the sandwich ingredients were top-notch; everything came out hot and seemed freshly prepared. Our server was cheerful and checked in with us several times; she even offered us extra crackers for our bisque.
I could see the noise level in Crispers potentially getting to be a little too much for me at peak times, the acoustics inside are not the greatest for dampening sound. But we were there early and the restaurant didn’t start getting crowded until we were finished. So overall it was an excellent experience. With tip our total came to about $32. We enjoyed Crispers and look forward to returning – fresh, delicious food, friendly service, and a great downtown location. Give them a try the next time you go out to eat in Lakeland.
If we have inspired you to visit the Downtown Diner, or if you have already been and want to share your experience, please do so via the comments section below. And if you have Polk County restaurant tips, we would love to hear from you via our Contact Us page. Thanks for stopping by and happy eating!