Micanopy lunch is historic adventure
By Jon Roosenraad, GLOB Historian
Micanopy. Just a few miles south on "faw-fawty-one" as Tom Petty would say, this village of 500 or so is named after a Seminole chief and is credited as being the oldest inland white settlement in Florida.
In fact, it is the first all-American settlement in Florida (1821) as it was the first one established after Spain ceded our lovely peninsula to the United States. It wasn't until after World War I that folks could drive directly south to Micanopy across Paynes Prairie. Before then, the Wacahoota Road around the west side of the prairie was the only road to Gainesville. Back in the 1890s, the Prairie was actually flooded and one had to take a steamboat to cross Lake Alachua between Micanopy and Gainesville.
Most visits to Micanopy are usually for one of two reasons – to enjoy the annual Fall Festival in late October or to attend a wedding in the Herlong Mansion. But try it as a relaxing visit back to old Florida just to get away from it all. In fact, along with Apalachicola, it is one of the most authentic "old Florida" places remaining. And for food, how about the Old Florida Café on Cholokka Boulevard?
But don't go there looking for an old Florida meal.
Open 11 am to 4 pm, the Café serves up tasty sandwiches – traditional ones like ham, turkey, roast beef, and veggie or special ones such as Cubans and Reubens. Also available are salads; "crock pot" dishes of soups, chili or black beans; and excellent desserts.
On a "spring" day that was about to turn 90 degrees, the GLOB Master and I sat on a porch surrounded by live oaks and Spanish moss and enjoyed the reasonably priced and tasty food.
I tried a side of chili and a ham/turkey/swiss cheese on some nice fat rye bread while Mike had a side of black beans he said were the best he has had recently and a pressed Cuban sandwich. Both side dishes are available over rice for what would be a very filling lunch. Sandwiches are $5.95 and the sides are $3.95.
Besides the shaded porch, there are a few tables in the cool inside surrounded by knick knacks that resemble a mini-antique store. This treasure trove of unique items is fun to look through while the food is being prepared. One can even buy copies of two movies filmed in Micanopy – "Cross Creek" (1983) and "Doc Hollywood" (1991). (Ed note: Speaking of Doc Hollywood, it was during that filming that Michael J. Fox was first diagnosed with Parkinson's disease at UF/Shands.)
Two other excellent Micanopy lunch spots have been reviewed in the GLOB – Pearl's Country Store BBQ and the original Blue Highway Pizza, but both are out on faw-fawty-one. The Old Florida Café, in the heart of Micanopy, is a retreat from the pace and noise of Hogtown and is worth the drive.
The Pluses and Minuses of Micanopy's Florida Cafe
Florida Cafe + Indicators: Quality lunch choices, good prices, lovely atmosphere.
Florida Cafe – Indicators: none unless lack of beer or wine is a downer.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Dr. Jon Roosenraad is a University of Florida Professor Emeritus of Journalism. Dr. Jon loves sports, a good cigar, and the smart economy of a cheap, tasty lunch special.