Quick Bites: Come In For A Landing

The new trademark for the city of Tavares is America’s Seaplane City. This past April was the grand opening for the sea base and marina, where seaplanes now have a landing zone on Lake Dora. In the past pilots were as confused as boaters where they were going to land. Today, a flight plan and approach pattern is on all nautical and aeronautical charts for both the boaters and pilots to follow for safety.

Beyond the safety it offers, the new water-based airport is quite a conversation piece for restaurants nearby, particularly those that face the base like Al’s Landing.

Newly opened and with its landscaping still in progress when I arrived, Al’s Landing is very basic, nothing fancy, and boasts a relaxed, “beachy” atmosphere. Large windows overlook Lake Dora with plenty of seating inside and out. Exotic plants and palm trees are interspersed among the pavers.

The menu is simple for their soft opening, including sandwiches, salads, wings, and specials. Sherwood, who was bartending, says steak and seafood is in the future. Happy hour from the full bar is from 4pm to 7pm daily.

Al’s Landing is located in what is called Tavares’ Entertainment District. “In this area,” Sherwood says, “you’re allowed to purchase a drink here and legally carry it to another restaurant. It’s awesome that you don’t have to sit and finish your drink before you move on to the next restaurant that may have other entertainment.”

Of course, certain restrictions apply, including the size of the drink and staying within the designated areas. For more information about Al’s Landing’s hours and entertainment, call (352) 742-1113. Or you can find them on Facebook. The restaurant’s website, alslanding.com, should be up and running soon.

Within walking distance from Al’s Landing is another restaurant that is still in the preparation stage but should be open by the time you read this. Lucky Dog Gallery Café fits right in with the area’s quaint shops and culture. A gallery of artist’s paintings, jewelry, and other works will soon line the walls and shelves for purchase. Track lighting is already suspended from the ceiling, focused on paintings, and each wall in the front room is lined with shelving that reminds me of a wine cellar to be filled with artists’ creations.

Owner Peter Napoles could not say enough about the town of Tavares. “It’s the greatest city to grow with,” he said. “Everyone here is so friendly and accommodating.”

He, too, loves the fact that patrons can walk from restaurant to restaurant with their drinks.

“It’s awesome how all the restaurants work together and help each other here, rather than compete,” he says.

Out back, Lucky Dog Gallery Café has a deck with open-air seating and umbrellas. The restaurant is close to the Tavares Splash Park, a water playground with an aeronautical theme, and offers a nice view of Lake Dora. Here, local musicians are welcome to bring their instruments or use the keyboard and guitars that Napoles has in the restaurant to create a little live entertainment for patrons.

The menu is a mix of Latin and Mediterranean fusion, which includes pizza, empanadas, Cuban-style chicken with a mojo marinade, black beans and rice, and delectable desserts, including baklava. Beer and wine is also available. Call (352) 343-1308 for a faxed menu and hours.

Nibbles: Beef O’ Brady’s has opened in Clermont. In upcoming issues, I’ll be highlighting three new Mount Dora eateries—Billy Joe Ken Bob’s, a Florida Cracker eatery that used to be Gables, Somewhere in Time Bakery where Sunshine Bakery was once located, and Saucy’s Uptown Bistro.

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