Homosassa’s Riverfront Revival – part 2
With the recent flooding damage to the west side of the Nature Coast, we wanted to make sure you are up to date on some fun dining choices. The menus may have been limited by Hurricane Idalia’s encroachment on our area, but the staff and places are ready to welcome you NOW! And, the weather is finally cooling down, so my desire for a meal on the waterfront has been growing. How about you?
Some things have changed since our original writing in 2020. I can’t find out if the Freezer is open yet. Be sure to call before driving up there to ensure it’s open for business. Also, the Florida Cracker Kitchen is now open at the Resort. It’s worth a visit and we will update with our findings as soon as we can. Meanwhile, feel free to contribute your suggestions in the comments.
New vibes are infiltrating the waterfront on both sides of Homosassa’s bountiful River. Foodies rejoice! Plan an overnight stay to indulge in fresh seafood, live music, and beachfront parties along Halls River Road and South Boulevard.
This is the second part of our story about the positive change we are witnessing in one of our favorite parts of Florida’s Nature Coast. If you missed part 1, click here to start at the beginning.
West Yulee Drive Leads to more Good Food and Good Times!
Now it was time to visit the other side of the Homosassa River, found by driving on West Yulee Drive. The first thing I noticed was that the old hot dog place had reopened as Nauti Time, a shrimp and wing place.
The Old Mill Tavern is famous for its wings, and The Museum Café features a pressed Cuban sandwich with yellow beans with rice. If you are lucky, the Museum Café will have guava pastries when you visit. Get one. And save time to visit the interesting printing museum that is free to visit onsite, as the owner is a Tampa printer by trade.
The Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins are located right here. This tiny Florida State Park offers visitors an opportunity to grasp the size of the sugar mill operation that Senator David Yulee was operating until the Union armies burned his plantation to the ground. More information here.
A café is open in the River Safaris building, which boasts an expansive yard on the river. Here you can enjoy lunch fare and then experience the thrill of their Homoasassa River airboat tours!
Florida Cracker Monkey Bar
If you follow West Yulee Drive to the end, you will end up in the Homossassa River. Just before you get there, turn right and head to 5297 S. Cherokee Way, where you can check out the Florida Cracker Monkey Bar, part of the Florida Cracker Riverside Resort. Purchased in the last year, the resort’s new owners have torn down dilapidated buildings and renovating what is worthwhile.
It’s got a fresh, open look, offering great views of Monkey Island, where four monkeys entertain countless visitors with their antics. There are more boat slips and the open-air bar and food truck offer some great craft beer, cocktails, and spirits.
The current Monkey Bar menu is somewhat limited – Stone-baked pizzas, flatbreads, sandwiches, dips, and pretzels are offered. We had Grandma McKethan’s Hot Blue Crab Dip with pita chips. It was colorful and a pleasure to share while watching the monkeys and watercraft gliding by.
If you are looking for something more substantial, visit the Florida Cracker Kitchen on the same property.
The Freezer – may not be open due to Hurricane Idalia damage
The Freezer, at 5590 South Boulevard, used to be a wholesale seafood company where Homosassa fishermen would sell their catch. Today, there is a casual waterfront restaurant specializing in steamed shrimp by the pound. No plates. Just great food, beer, and a wide-open atmosphere.
Steamed shrimp and mullet dip – both were a pleasure to the taste buds, and we thoroughly enjoyed relaxing along the tiny tributary at one of the tables on the grass. Our server was attentive and friendly. We learned about how the tiki roof over the Freezer’s bar was crafted by Seminole Indians in only three days! Craft beer and fun are part of The Freezer’s vibe – you can’t help but be in a great mood here! Formality is not part of this scene. Pull up, moor your boat, and enjoy having your food and beverage delivered right to the craft if you want more privacy.
Wild Sassa & Shelly’s Seafood
Wild Sassa is operated by two feisty ladies from a tiny food truck that seems to be permanently fixed behind Shelly’s Seafood. Wild Sassa used to cater charters for some of the local captains, and they may still do that, but today we visited with the simple hope of trying their wares.
Casual is the name of the game here. Picnic tables and lawn chairs offer seating for a few lucky patrons. You can certainly bring your own and set them up or order your food to go because it is DEEEE-licious!
Wild Sassa is known for its “shrimpy burger,” but we chose tacos when we visited. We tried 4 of the six varieties of tacos offered – mahi, shrimp, beef, and tuna. Sold in pairs, each taco comes with sauce, generous portions of protein, slaw, salsa and queso.
While waiting for our freshly prepared food, we visited Shelly’s Seafood, a local fish house that sells the freshest fish! Stone crab claws were in – 3 sizes to boot! Shelly’s is right on the water with a friendly staff and reasonable prices.
The Shed at MacRae’s
Our last stop was The Shed at MacRae’s. This local resort next to the boat ramp is local intitution. Their full liquor bar is right on the water, bait shop adjacent, plenty of boat slips, and a butterfly garden, across from Crump’s Landing. MacRae’s serves primarily bar food from an onsite food trailer; fried pickles and crab balls were our choices. I added a bowl of gumbo and it was amazing! Shrimp, fish, sausage, rice, and roux – lots of fish and even mussels – made it a great choice. As full as I was, I ate all my gumbo and recommend you order some when you visit too.
Homosassa’s New Vibe on the River
After years of being a quiet place to visit for sportsmen, Homosassa’s riverfront restaurants and resorts are coming into their own. From the traditional fresh, locally caught seafood at a picnic table to international cuisine available inside or riverside to a Jimmy Buffet-inspired tiki resort, it is a great place to visit for a day, a weekend, or an entire vacation.
Whether you live ten miles or a thousand-miles from here, Homosassa is a great getaway for anyone to let your hair down, pick up a cold one, enjoy the river breezes and dream the day away. There are hotel rooms, river resorts, RV parks and private home rentals near or on the water. Lodging information can be found here.