Sanford, FL — who knew?

Starting any fun-filled weekend with tacos, just screams its going to be a fun time.  We found this place several weeks ago and went back for our second visit.  This time we had an expert – Adrienne.  Since leaving CA she’s been looking for some authentic tacos and while not the same, she deemed the meal mighty tasty (my words, not hers).  Oh yeah, this place is located in Orlando, not Sanford……………… made a good stop along the drive.


Naturally we started with some chips, salsa and guacamole.  We ordered a variety of items:  pork quesadilla, campechano taco, huerrvos with beef and marrow & mushroom Sopes,

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We’ve talked for a while about doing an ‘overnight’ in Sanford and the plans became a reality for several reasons. First,  it will give us stamps on our second Ale Trail map.  Second, we get to eat at ‘griddle in the middle’ (more on that soon) .  Third, it’s a friends 40th birthday and we’re invited to the extravaganza.  Fourth, I get to eat (more) German food at a landmark restaurant in Sanford.


Many years ago, I had a friend who was the horticulturist for Sanford so I’m not a total stranger to downtown Sanford, but WOW!  We’ve visited recently for our first Ale Trail map and saw some major differences and improvements.  The weekend we picked to stay in Sanford………..was totally hopping!  After checking into our hotel near the interstate (non blog-worthy) we ubered to downtown Sanford. First stop was Deviant Wolfe Brewing.  Got to love their earth-friendly coasters – just saying.  (In case you can’t tell, it’s a cardboard circle cutout with a stamped logo – simple and effective).


Oh well, we’re here for the beer, not the coasters (kind of).



Apparently their first anniversary is coming up on March 16 (see photo above).

After getting our stamps, we walked to the waterfront and found this little guy at the bottom of a flagpole – “Sanford Rocks!”.  Sanford has developed their waterfront area, adding gardens, statues and porch swings for all to sit back, relax and breathe.


Next brewery…………Inner Compass.   Got to love a beer that is called ‘Meh?”  AND it tastes good too.


I mentioned that Sanford was ‘hopping’  and this was just one of several events – street party.  AND another stamp on our map – Sanford Brewing Company, their logo is on the right of the photo.


About this time we started thinking about dinner and walked back to the main street for ‘Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Cafe’, the german restaurant I mentioned earlier.  They have lots of seating, both inside and out, but apparently LOTS of others had the same idea.  At 6pm for a party of 3………….the wait was 2 hours.  Nope, didn’t happen.  Ultimately we settled on Buster’s Bistro, a Belgium brewpub.  It was also very full, but had an outside garden with tables so that’s where we ultimately ended up.  We prepared for a long wait, and unfortunately was not disappointed.  They were overwhelmed and under-staffed.  An hour after ordering, our food arrived – good, but this wasn’t their best night.  Naturally we had to order frites (French fries) and a meat/cheese platter to share.

Then it was on to the main event……….Sashmeister 4.0 for Sasha’s 40th birthday.


While I was in Shanghai, Eric became friends with Sasha and his wife when they had a downtown Clermont location.  When the building was sold, they relocated to Sanford.  A number of the Clermont gang stopped in for his birthday at their new place Luisa’s Cellar.


There was a lot going on and the night (ours at least) ended after the special Burlesque show in the upstairs bar.  Wow – who knew you would see a Burlesque show in Sanford.

Early on I mentioned ‘griddle in the middle’.  It is part of the De Leon Springs State Park in Deland, FL and our destination of choice for breakfast.  It’s at least a 30 minute drive from Sanford – but worth it in my opinion.  🙂


No, the restaurant is not called that, but a friend coined the phrase years ago, and it has stuck.  It is the…………..


They specialize in pancakes, but other items are available on the menu.


Two batters are available: American pancake and stoneground flour (5) pancake.

We ordered pecans and blueberries for pancake add-ins.  Eggs, sausage and ham rounded out our meal.  The meat is brought to you cooked, but you’re on your own to cook the eggs.


Through the years we have brought numerous family and friends to this restaurant.  My dad never understood why he had to pay for pancakes AND make them himself.  He went willingly (I think), but we always heard the comment.

We arrived knowing there would be an hour+ wait, but willing to use that wait-time (2 hours)to explore the park’s museum and also go on a nature boat tour.  The actual spring is surrounded by a concrete & tile edge with the water bubbling up in the center.  This is a natural spring with one of the largest water outputs in Florida.  One of the museum’s exhibits talked about the fragile eco-system of Florida’s Springs.


Another exhibit highlights their history before it was turned into a State Park in 1982.  This was a family owned & operated recreation spot before the purchase.  This photo caught my eye.  ‘Google’ it to get the entire history of the unique Florida attraction.


We got on the 10am 50-minute boat tour, pretty much perfect timing for our breakfast wait.  Ten minutes upon our return, we were sitting at our ‘griddle in the middle’ table.  In the background of the photo below, you can see the Spanish Sugarmill Pacake House.


Okay, okay, while not the best photos, Adrienne finally got the chance to see alligators in their natural habitat.  We keep telling her the gator she saw in a retention pond at the airport was audio-animatronic and not real.  I believe we spotted 5 gators on our nature boat trip.


Since we’re near Deland, we sampled beers at Persimmon Hollow Brewing Co to add that stamp to our map.  It has a cool vibe, just wish it was closer to Clermont.


I was supposed to get a half-pour, but the bartender was generous.


Last brewery for our weekend was Central 28 Beer Company.


It’s located at the end of the road in an industrial area.  You got to really want to come here to find it, you don’t stumble upon its location.  I reminded the others that our first visit was before Halloween and they had buckets of candy – Reese cups goes really well with dark beer – just saying.  🙂


Normally, this would be end of the post.  Not this time!  Eric was inspired to create some exciting and interesting tapas at home.  Char-grilled oysters, shrimp etouffee and grilled fish with our (home-grown) greens rounded out our meal.

Now that’s the way to end a fun weekend.








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