A Year of Dining Out in Polk County

Pizza with sun dried tomatoes and meatballs
Mellow Mushroom, from Polk Eats first post

I tend to be a creature of habit, and that includes eating out.  I can easily go to the same 2 or 3 restaurants consistently.  So I started this blog for primarily selfish reasons, as a motivator to visit a more diverse range of restaurants in Polk County.

I already knew there was a lot to choose from throughout the county, but I’m still impressed with the range of food options my wife and I have experienced over the past year.  Pizza, sushi, subs, pancakes, pasta, steak, seafood…we’ve tried the range of low-cost fast food like Krystal to the higher-end gastro pub experience like the Red Door; we’ve been to national chains like Boston Market and locally owned establishments like the Downtown Diner.

Bacon cheeseburger with hush puppies at DIno's Drive In
One of many nice surprises in 2017 – our first trip to Dino’s Drive-In in Winter Haven

A couple of things happened while writing this blog that I hadn’t anticipated.  One is that I have a much better appreciation of the importance of food service in the overall community.  When Hurricane Irma passed through in September, we found a break from the stress of storm preparations at the Broadway Diner in Bartow.  After the storm, we found comfort at Scores Downtown in Winter Haven.  We were fortunate at our house as we never lost power.  Restaurants were even more important to the many residents who did lose power and found both a hot meal and air conditioned relief when they really needed it.

Blueberry pancakes at Britt's Cafe in Lakeland, Florida
Blueberry pancakes at Britt’s Cafe in Lakeland

Another development was how meals out for Polk Eats turned into a weekly date for my wife and I.  Already enjoying a happy marriage, we found that we bonded even more as we took time each week to get away from the stresses of work and the distractions of home and focused on a shared experience that always involved good conversation.  We talked about creativity at Slyce Pizza Kitchen, about public education at Tapatio’s, about family at Fish City Grill, religion and spirituality at Crispers, and celebrated a successful medical procedure at Reececliff Family Diner.  A marriage that was already as perfect as I could ask for became even stronger.

Two mango lassi beverages at Cafe Roti in Lakeland, Florida
Mango lassi at Cafe Roti in Lakeland

I often think about the sign on the wall at Big Tom’s Diner in Winter Haven: Good food brings people together.  So my advice is, if you’re going out to eat, be adventurous and try something new, whether it’s a Polk Eats recommendation or some other source.  And when you do, don’t take the experience for granted.  Take time to appreciate the food, the people who prepare and serve it, and the shelter of the restaurant.  Then put away your electronic devices and give your attention to whoever you’re sharing the meal with.  Even if it’s someone you’ve known your entire life, it still might bring you closer together.



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