Located in Central Florida, Ocala has a great mix of southern cuisine as well as modern and ethnic foods. We’ve spent quite a bit of time exploring the best things to do in Ocala and the best restaurants. We loved the variety that we found as well as the quality.
The downtown Ocala restaurants that border the historic square are probably the most popular, but there are delightful eateries scattered all around town. Below are a few of our favorite places to eat in Ocala.
Brick City Southern Kitchen & Whiskey Bar
One of the most popular downtown Ocala restaurants is Brick City Southern Kitchen & Whiskey Bar. They offer classic southern favorites like fried pickles and fried green tomatoes. They also have an impressive whiskey bar. We couldn’t even tell you the amount of whiskeys and other liquors we saw along the wall of the bar.
While we were there we ordered the Shrimp & Grits and the Buttermilk Fried Chicken. Both were flavorful but the Shrimp & Grits were especially incredible.
The Lodge Brick City Craft Pub & Eatery
If you’re looking for the perfect place to watch the big game, The Lodge Brick City Craft Pub & Eatery is the place for you. They have multiple large HDTVs as well as great food and over 200 craft beers. They have a fun and casual atmosphere that we really enjoyed.
Because we stopped by on a Sunday, we took advantage of their Brunch special of bottomless mimosas for only $12. We also had a Mac-N-Cheese sandwich. We loved that it came with crispy bacon in it!
The Corkscrew Winery and Brewery
A really fun place to hang out is The Corkscrew Winery and Brewery. They often have live music and they offer wine tastings and small appetizers like cheese boards. They also have Make Your Own Wine and Beer experiences where you and your friends make the wine or beer according to your taste preference, come back a few weeks later when its ready to bottle it, and then take it home!
Because we weren’t in Ocala long enough for the whole process, we only sampled wines in their tasting room. And tried one of their cheese platters, because… cheese!
Infinite Ale Works
Another great place to have some beers is Infinite Ale Works. This local brewery has 34 craft beers and ciders on tap and you can purchase a flight of four Infinite Ale Works Brews for $10. Even if you’re not a beer drinker though, you can still enjoy their small collection of wines. They also game a game room with puzzles and board games, so it’s definitely a fun place to relax and chill.
Big Hammock Brewery & Bites
One of the newest Ocala restaurants is quickly becoming a big hit because of their delicious ramen and rice bowls. They’ve also recently started producing their own beer. The service was also probably some of the best we had while in Ocala. We could tell the staff was passionate about the food they served.
Big Lee’s Food Truck
Without a doubt, one of the best places to eat in Ocala is Big Lee’s Food Truck. Their popularity has soared since winning Guy Fieri’s “Guy’s Big Project” on the Food Network and they often sell out of food, so get their early. We got there shortly after they opened and there was already a line.
We had the brisket with a side of coleslaw and baked beans as well as their brisket stuffed mac n’ cheese, known as “The Kathy.” Everything was so delicious, but we’d drive all the way back to Ocala just for that mac n’ cheese.
Chelsea Coffee Company
If you’re looking for great coffee in Ocala, stop by the Chelsea Coffee Company. They use Fairtrade Certified coffee and they make a variety of both hot and cold drinks. They also serve breakfast and lunch, with fresh pastries, bagels, and quiches. They also have sandwiches and salads.
During our visit we had a bagel and mocha. We really loved the mocha and the fact that it came with extra house-made chocolate drizzle on top. Yummy!!
Great Wall NY Style Chinese Food
One of the best places to eat in Ocala, and one of our favorites, Great Wall has the best Chinese food. It’s a family run operation and everything they make is fresh and delicious. There are a couple of tables inside, but people mostly order carry-out. We always get the sesame chicken and are never disappointed. Plus, the portions are big so usually I have enough for a second meal.
Formaggio Pizza and Italian Restaurant
Considered one of the best restaurants in Ocala for their authentic Italian cuisine, Formaggio’s has won many awards for their pizza. They have all of the classic dishes you’d expect, but they also like to create new dishes and have a few specialty pizzas like BBQ and Buffalo Chicken.
We ordered their Cheesy Garlic Bread as an appetizer and loved just how cheesy it was. And for our main meal we ordered a large cheese pizza and added pepperoni and ricotta cheese. You might not be able to tell in the photo, but the pepperoni was huge!
We’re big fans of Thai food so we were excited to discover Royal Orchid. Inside, restaurant was beautifully decorated and the atmosphere was calm and relaxed. To start we ordered spring rolls and for our main dish we had Pad Thai. Everything tasted wonderful and fresh.
A big surprise for us though, was seeing they had Thai Donuts on the menu. We don’t see that often, so even though we were already feeling full, we had to get it. We were so happy we did! They were warm and soft and the cream sauce that came with it was sweet and silky.
Final Thoughts On Ocala Dining Spots
We were really impressed by these best places to eat in Ocala. No matter what you’re craving, you’ll find it here; from southern comfort food to Thai food, and everything in between.
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This article was written by Vicky Sosa of Buddy the Traveling Monkey.
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