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Top 11 Restaurants in Lakeland

Enjoy amazing food at our favorite spots around the city.

The city of Lakeland is nearly halfway between Tampa and Orlando. It’s one of those beautiful cities that people often only drive through on their way somewhere else, but trust me, there are plenty of reasons to stop off and visit Lakeland a bit.

chef preparing steak at lakeland florida restaurant

For me, a good restaurant scene is more than enough to attract me to a city, and Lakeland does not disappoint in that area.

This charming city is full of high-quality restaurants serving up any cuisine you could possibly be in the mood for, if you know where to go.

If you don’t, well then I’ve got something that’s going to make your life a whole lot easier. I’ve put together a thorough guide on where to eat in Lakeland at all of the best restaurants the city has to offer.

Best Restaurants in Lakeland

  1. Scarpa’s Italian Restaurant
  2. Nineteen61
  3. Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille
  4. Bay Street Bistro
  5. Cafe Zuppina
  6. The Red Top Pit Stop
  7. Fred’s Market Restaurant
  8. Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant
  9. Fish City Grill
  10. Ovation Bistro & Bar, Lakeland
  11. New Moon Sushi

After reading this, you’ll be able to find exactly what you’re looking for when it comes to breakfast, lunch, or dinner in the area.


Scarpa’s Italian Restaurant

1833 E Edgewood Dr, Lakeland, FL 33803
Phone: 863-937-8940
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Scarpa’s Italian Restaurant is the number one restaurant on my list and anyone who has eaten here before will immediately understand why. You won’t find more delicious, authentic Italian cuisine in the city, if you ask me.

When you come to Scarpa’s, be sure to start your evening with a glass of wine, in true Italian fashion. After that, sit back and prepare to be amazed by the cuisine and service.

You can find Scarpa’s off of East Edgewood Drive, just east of Gigi’s Oriental Market, Inc. near Lake Bentley. Look for the black awning out front.


Nineteen61

215 E Main St, Lakeland, FL 33801
Phone: 863-688-1961
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Next up is Nineteen61 and this place is always a treat. I come here as often as I can whenever I’m in Lakeland. This Latin American restaurant has everything you could want in the way of amazing Latin cuisine.

I highly recommend coming here for lunch and starting with some empanadas. They are so crispy and the filling is to-die-for.

Look for Nineteen61 in the Downtown area of Lakeland, not far west of Lake Mirror, just across the street from Munn Park. I love the location just as much as the food because it’s so convenient.


Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille

101 N Kentucky Ave, Lakeland, FL 33801
Phone: 863-686-2228
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Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille is the next place I want to point your attention towards, and I think you’ll quickly see why.

Harry’s is an incredibly popular restaurant among locals and visitors alike where you can get some of the freshest seafood around.

I love coming here on a Friday or Saturday night for the lively atmosphere. You’ll feel like you’re in New Orleans when you come here during a busy time.

Harry’s is located off of North Kentucky Avenue next to the Explorations V Children’s Museum, right by The Terrace Hotel Lakeland. Definitely check this place out.


Bay Street Bistro

211 E Bay St, Lakeland, FL 33801
Phone: 863-683-4229
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Next up is Bay Street Bistro off of⸺you guessed it⸺Bay Street, right by the Escapology Escape Rooms Lakeland in the downtown area.

Bay Street Bistro brings a bit of class and French influence to Lakeland in the best way possible. I highly recommend this place for a romantic dinner for two, but any reason to come dine at Bay Street Bistro is a good one.

When you get here, I recommend the herb crusted rack of lamb, but they have lots of fresh seafood options as well that are divine. I also like the sea scallops. 


Cafe Zuppina

4417 Florida Ave S, Lakeland, FL 33813
Phone: 863-644-5144
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Just south of the Palm Center mall on Florida Avenue South is a wonderful restaurant called Cafe Zupina. There’s no better place to go for Mediterranean cuisine in town, in my opinion.

I absolutely love everything about this charming counter-serve cafe. From the food to the atmosphere, it’s bound to make for a delightful experience.

Cafe Zupina has a small menu that is huge on flavor. I always go for either the gyro platter or the lamb kabobs for lunch.

If it’s dinnertime, I usually prefer the Icelandic haddock. Anything you order will be delicious, though.


The Red Top Pit Stop

12160 US Hwy 98 N, Lakeland, FL 33809
Phone: 863-853-9222

This next restaurant is a barbecu joint that you simply must try if you’re in the Lakeland area. Even if you’re not, it’s worth a little trip.

Pretty much no matter where you are, though, getting to The Red Top Pit Stop is going to be a bit of a drive because it’s a ways out there on US Highway 98 North, not far from Colt Creek State Park.

The BBQ food here is unbelievably tasty and I can never get enough of their ribs. There are too many delicious items on their menu to even pick just one favorite though.


Fred’s Market Restaurant

2120 Harden Blvd, Lakeland, FL 33803
Phone: 863-603-7080
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Fred’s Market Restaurant is the next place I want to mention and it’s a real treat. This Southern chain has locations all over the state, so if you ever see one in a city you’re passing through, I suggest stopping off for a great meal.

The Fred’s Market Restaurant location I frequent when I’m in Lakeland is off of Harden Boulevard across from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Taxpayer Assistance Center.

When you come here, I recommend it be in the morning so you can enjoy the breakfast menu. There’s no better way to start your day.


Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant

3700 Lakeside Village Blvd, Lakeland, FL 33803
Phone: 863-686-7500
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Now, it’s time for some Mexican flair. Whenever you want some traditional Mexican food in Lakeland, this is the place to go. They have all the favorites you know and love, plus much more.

I highly recommend a margarita and an enchilada, but that’s just my usual go-to. There are endless options on their menu when it comes to food and drinks. You’re bound to find something you like. 

Check out Abuelo’s inside the Lakeside Village shopping mall. It’s a great place to take a break for a bite to eat during a shopping spree.


Fish City Grill

1485 Town Center Dr Suite D112, Lakeland, FL 33803
Phone: 863-683-1243
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Fish City Grill is another fantastic place to eat inside the Lakeside Village shopping mall when you’re out enjoying all the great shops and stores.

After all, shopping can work up quite an appetite, so you may as well refuel with some delicious seafood.

They have some really unique dishes here at Fish City Grill, so don’t be afraid to try something new like the oyster tacos or the honey chipotle shrimp tacos.

For some great deals, make sure you come by during happy hour as well. You can really get your money’s worth that way.


Ovation Bistro & Bar, Lakeland

4715 Florida Ave S, Lakeland, FL 33813
Phone: 863-262-3000
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Just north of the Publix Super Market at Lake Miriam Square on Florida Avenue South is a restaurant called Ovation Bistro & Bar. This place is wonderful and I really think you’ll enjoy this one.

This place never disappoints when it comes to steak and other meats. I absolutely go crazy for their Certified Angus Beef Ribeye and the Baby Back Ribs.

Don’t worry, though, the menu is anything but limited, so there are plenty more options if those don’t really suit you.

Definitely save room for dessert. I recommend the Bistro Brownie Sundae or the New York Cheesecake.


New Moon Sushi

4231 Florida Ave S, Lakeland, FL 33813
Phone: 863-647-1212
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Lastly, I want to end things on a high note with New Moon Sushi. After all, who doesn’t love sushi?

New Moon Sushi is the ultimate destination for the freshest sushi, sashimi, and other delicious Japanese dishes.

This is a great place to experience new foods if you’re not very familiar with Japanese cuisine.

I highly recommend a maki roll to start with. After that, you should try the chicken katsu or the tonkotsu ramen.

There are so many great options to choose from that you may need to grab a cocktail while you decide.


Final Thoughts

Lakeland is an absolute hotspot when it comes to restaurants. You can find Mediterranean restaurants, French bistros, Italian eateries, and basically anything else you can imagine.

Hopefully, now that I’ve laid out a decent groundwork, you can get started checking off places on the list and find your new favorite restaurant in the city.

Did we leave a restaurant out of this list? Make sure you leave us a comment and we’ll check it out!

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Written by Rocco Smith

Rocco is a recent graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor’s in Editing, Writing, and Media. With seven years’ experience in the restaurant industry as a cook, server, bartender, and more, he is deeply passionate about intertwining his fondness for food with his love of language.