Sunday, July 01, 2007

Eating along the road less traveled

Little Manatee River

We've been down in Osceola County for the past two weeks, using it as a hub from which to launch adventures into the the vast and exotic lands of the Florida peninsula. We visited the Atlantic coastal beaches at Canaveral National Seashore, the interior jungles and savanna of Lake Kissimmee State Park as well as the crystal white sands and deep blue surf of the southwest coast along the Gulf of Mexico.

Generally I pack my own food when traveling but we did patronize two excellent establishments for lunch that were welcome culinary throwbacks to a bygone era.

Our first discovery was on Canal Street in the old downtown section of New Smyrna Beach, along the Atlantic coast, where we accidentally stumbled onto a gem of a drugstore that still had a functioning lunch counter that also happened to be the social hub of this small close-knit community.

Little Drug on Canal St. in New Smyrna Beach, FL

The old-fashioned lunch counter in Little Drug.

We sat down and ordered our lunch while I wrote postcards. In no time at all people sitting nearby took an interest in us and we began engaging in friendly conversation. A lot of the talk was fond reminiscing about eating in places like this when we were all kids.

I had the Hot Dog Platter

It reminded me of the old luncheonette in the Kresge's at Wheaton Plaza in Maryland where my mother would take us after shopping for school clothes. If we were good we'd get a banana split or ice cream sundae afterwards and if you ordered a lunch you were eligible to choose from one of the balloons hanging from the ceiling that contained a lower price for dessert inside of it, that your waitress would pop, revealing a small piece of paper with the price you had to pay written on it. I'll never forget the day I got my dessert for a penny! Talk about your cheap thrills.

Butter pecan!

Locals relax at the counter.

The other culinary gem was Junior's Barbecue on Hwy. 46 in Sanford. This was some of the best southern style pork and chicken barbecue I've tasted in a long time. Owner Elic Green, Jr. (hence the name) was nice enough to let me take a sneak peek at his smoker and kitchen, which is about the size of a small pop-up camper.

Junior's in Sanford, FL

He will soon be relocating to downtown Sanford by taking over the space that was formerly the old Stokes Fish Market. Give him a holler if you're ever down in Seminole County and you're hankering for some of the best barbecue this side of Georgia.

Pork Sandwich Special



Audie said...

I especially like the balloon story.

I also like it when "platter" means a plastic basket lined with wax paper.

Got me hankerin' fer a malted shake from Corner Drug (extinct) in Waller, TX.

Devastatin' Dave said...

If anyone is in Jackson, WY, stop at Jackson Drug on the town square. They have a small diner counter that serves the best chocolate malts I've ever tasted. The ice cream is homemade in the basement.

Shane said...

I went to our local watering hole, The Flatbranch Pub, where the beer is all homemade and the food is tasty and found to my surprise a "Carolina-style, vinegar-based, pull-pork sandwich" on the new menu. "Mmmmm-hmmmm" I thought. "I'm all kindsa over dat!"

Well let me say that the Flatbranch still brews good beer and has a great buffalo meatloaf sandwich or Irish style shepards pie. Don't buy the barbeque.

I'm heading to NC in about a week and a half and I've already got me sights set on some good homestyle BBQ.

Thanks for the primer Dave.


beamis said...

The truth is that Missourah is a border state of the Confederacy and as such the barbecue is bound to be hit or miss at best. You have to travel well south of the Ozarks to have a little more confidence in the ability of folks to produce what is truly southern style barbecue.

By the way, there's a new place opening in Auburndale, south of Orlando, that advertises on their sign "Carolina style" barbecue. I can't wait to give 'em a try, but may need a taster from Gaston County, NC to help me determine the validity of the claim. You game Burdick?