110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Fish camps to fine dining
Whether you are hungry for grits and gravy or chateaubriand and crème brûlée, you will find restaurants in West Volusia to suit your palate and your pocketbook.
Dining experiences unique to this area include having breakfast of lunch in an old Spanish sugar mill, dining trackside at a harness-horse training facility and eating beside a waterfall in the basement of a bank building.
At Mainstreet Grill, a distinctive waterfall cascades over an underwater scene of manatees. The beautiful artwork is composed entirely of 1-inch mosaic tiles. You hear the waterfall from a distance, before you reach the basement-level restaurant beneath the sidewalks of Downtown DeLand.
The sugar mill and trackside eateries are in DeLeon Springs. The Old Spanish Sugar Mill restaurant inside DeLeon Springs State Park is famous for its tables with griddles in the center, where you cook your own pancakes. Later, you can work off those pancake pounds by paddling a kayak or canoe over to Lake Woodruff.
Spring Garden Ranch is the largest training facility in North America for harness race horses. The restaurant provides a picture-window view of the track. You will have plenty to look at while dining. The ranch is on 148 acres, and has 18 barns and 650 horse-stalls.
Diverse ethnic restaurants are located throughout the area: Chinese, Cuban, Mexican, Japanese, Pan-Asian, French-Vietnamese, Thai, German, Italian, West Indian and Irish. Increasingly, Deltona's ethnic diversity is reflected in its locally owned restaurants and delis and, in Downtown DeLand, you can sample the cuisine of at least four countries in a four-block area.
National restaurant chains have a strong presence in West Volusia, including Olive Garden, Applebee's and Kentucky Fried Chicken, along with the usual fast-food fare. However, many eating places are owner-operated, and not affiliated with chains.
From Swamp House Grill in DeBary to Blackwater Inn on the north, where State Road 40 crosses the St. Johns River, several restaurants are situated along the banks of the river that defines West Volusia's western boundary. Some are fish camps that serve a menu of the catch of the day, with a side of hush puppies. As you dine, your imagination can take you back to the time when paddle-wheel riverboats and steamships plied the St. Johns as the main visitor route from Jacksonville to Central Florida.
A chain hotel may not be your first thought as a place for fine dining. A visit to Gustoso Pizza & Grille in the Deltona Inn Best Western will change your mind. Fresh, Homemade Italian & Greek Cuisine sets it apart from usual hotel fare.
Like any business, restaurants come and go. West Volusia has several that have been in business for many decades. Hunter's in Downtown DeLand is legendary as the place where home-style cooking has been bringing customers back for more than 30 years.
Holiday House in DeLand near Stetson University has been the Cook family business since 1959. The good food and attentive service have made it a favorite for generations of visitors and locals alike.
Karlings Inn in DeLeon Springs has been serving its continental cuisine for more than 20 years. The restaurant has consistently received rave reviews from diners and guidebook authors.
Don't let the name throw you Emmy's Time Out Tavern is a longtime area restaurant that serves excellent food. Every Wednesday and the third Sunday of each month, German food is on the menu. Emmy's Wiener schnitzel, red cabbage and pan-fried potatoes are just like grandmother used to make.
The gourmet-coffee era has not passed us by. Boston Gourmet Coffeehouse in DeLand and Orange City serves your favorite latte, along with soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts.
Whether this area of Florida is the place you call home or you are visiting, you can choose from a fast-food eatery or a night of fine dining, all right here. A visitor recently remarked, "This is the friendliest place on earth." We hope you feel the same way. If you don't live here, we're sorry but do come back for another visit real soon.
Clauser, a freelance writer, is the former owner and operator of a bed-and-breakfast inn in Lake Helen.
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