Mount Dora sits in Central Florida right on Lake Dora and surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of other lovely lakes. The historic downtown area took our breath away with its charm and elegance.
But cobblestone streets, gorgeous sunsets, and plenty of fun outdoor activities can only so far…what about the dining scene? I’m here to tell you that it was top-notch, truly making Mount Dora into a well-rounded must-visit destination. Here are seven of our favorite Mount Dora restaurants.
The one place every person must dine at least once is Goblin Market. First, let’s talk about the aesthetic. There are a few perfect tables set up on the front and back patios, covered with large red umbrellas and tucked underneath humongous live oaks draped with moss.
We selected an inside seat, next to a wall filled with books and art. It felt like a much-loved library, and I half expected to see someone walking through with a whiskey, cigar and tome of Shakespeare.
The Goblin Market serves both lunch and dinner four days a week (Wed – Sat), with a focus on brunch on Sunday. The evening brings a fine dining feel, so we opted for lunch since we were with the kids.
From warm salads to gourmet burgers to local fish or rack of lamb…you can’t go wrong here. Everything is scratch made from fresh ingredients. For example, the (unbeatable) French onion soup we enjoyed included a touch of thyme, freshly made croutons, and perfectly cooked onions.
There is no children’s menu here, as kids are not the typical tourists in Mount Dora, but they were eager to help us find something for them…and a plain cheeseburger and fresh squeezed lemonade did the trick.
If you can’t make it for dining (or you need a quick break) then stop into the lounge for a cocktail, champagne or sangria. There are beer and wine selections, too.
Copacabana Cuban Cafe
There are two restaurants in Mount Dora claiming “authentic” Cuban food so we asked several of the locals which they prefer. They were almost evenly split between the two, but with Copacabana Cafe having a small leg up that’s where we landed for dinner one evening.
If I could give the food 12 stars out of 10, I would do it! The menu is behemoth, with options for everyone including vegetarians and kids. I settled on the Churrasco – skirt steak marinated tender for 5 hours, then grilled and topped with chimichurri . As most dishes here do, it came with Spanish rice and a bowl of black bean soup.
Tamales, stuffed red peppers, plantains, pork ribs…everything was sensational.
The only tip I would give for visiting here is to make sure that you consider it an experience more than a quick bite. It took over 2-hours for us to get our dinner…it was more than 3 hours total between our entrance and exit. Was the food worth it? Yes. Just be prepared for the journey.
It’s really hard to pick favorites with all the delicious restaurants in Mount Dora, but Pisces Rising (like Goblin Market) was one of my favorite dining experiences. In addition to the sensational food, the outdoor dining room overlooking Lake Dora and the sunset make this a can’t-miss dinner option.
When we first arrived, the band was setting up in the far corner. It was a treat to listen to live music as we enjoyed a few cocktails and a plate of oysters.
For dinner, I opted for the Porcini Mushroom Ravioli, which was made locally by Massimo’s Artisan Pasta in Orlando. Dan went with the Herb Marinated Pork Chop…both were absolutely perfect and were served just as the sun was dancing over the lake, creating waves of pink, purple and orange across the sky.
Cooper declared this was “the best meal of my life” and he noshed on Caesar salad, a grilled cheese and sweet potato fries. I know, it sounds unimpressive. But I sneaked a bite, and I assure you it was beyond ordinary.
Olive Branch Mediterranean-Italian Grille & Bar
After a morning of flying over Central Florida with Jones Brothers Seaplanes, we were ready for a huge lunch, and Olive Branch delivered.
There are light bites and salads, but Dan and I splurged on a Gyro Wrap and the Tortellini Bolognese. The. bolognese. was. awesome. It was the perfect balance of meat, sauce and cream…and dressed with a twist as it was served untraditionally with stuffed tortellini.
Dan gave his Gyro two-thumbs up, but I couldn’t attest to this because I was not about to “cheat” on that bolognese sauce. I wanted every ounce of it in my belly!
We skipped cocktails at lunch, but want to let you know about their popular Happy Hour that begins at 5pm Mon – Thurs. Several cocktails, house wines, and a domestic selection of beers are only $3.
Magical Meat Boutique
During our last full day in Mount Dora we had an hour to spare, so Dan and I headed to Magical Meat Boutique to check it out and grab a drink. I am so glad we did; what a cool vibe there is here.
MMB is a British gastropub serving authentic British cuisine like British sausages and bacon – even a full English breakfast (and lunch, too!). And the locals tell us they have the best Haddock and Chips in the US.
We opted for drinks though…they offer a huge assortment of British beers served extra cold with glycol chilling taps, but I went for the Pimm’s Cup. It just seemed right…and it did not disappoint!
If someone should ask me the best place to grab a drink in a fun and casual setting, I’d send them to the Meat Boutique, but I feel compelled to also mention that Mount Dora Brewing is another favorite among the locals. It’s not open currently because of COVID, but if you visit Mount Dora in the future, look them up, too.
Allyson A Bakeshop
An Instagram friend recommended Allyson A Bakeshop when we were there, and I’m so glad she did! We stopped here as we headed out of town, grabbing a few cups of coffee and some treats right when they opened.
First, the coffee was strong and exactly what I needed. Second, the desserts looked so good that we left with a bundle because we couldn’t pick just one. A jumbo chocolate chip cookie, a few pumpkin chip cookies, a lemon scone, a few enormous blueberry muffins…everything was so fresh and moist and beautiful to look at – and to taste!
Lakeside Inn is the beloved historic hotel that sits on Lake Dora, but we have to include them in our list because the food is great, the view is great, and the restaurants are open to the pubic.
The Beauclaire Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with options that offer a little Southern flair. This is where we enjoyed breakfast, selecting from a full spread of warm-plate options.
Dining on the Veranda is a favorite because of the views of Lake Dora. We tried to eat here a few times, but it was always full – just a note that you might want to come early for a seat.
Tremain’s Tavern is ideal for an afternoon cocktail or casual meal. Nightly live entertainment makes it enjoyable. We sipped on an ice tea, listening to the pianist for a bit one afternoon, and it was very soothing.
Finally, Waterside Bar offers cocktails, beer and wine down by the pool. It was the perfect perch as we watched the boys make a splash!
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Disclosure: Thank you to Lake County and Visit Florida for hosting us on our Mount Dora adventure. Opinions here are all our own, and we whole-heartedly believe that Mount Dora is an incredible city for foodies!
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